Archive for the ‘Opt-Ins’ Category
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is cracking down on text message spam, primarily in that area of annoying opportunities to get a free gift card.
According to a press release today by the FTC, more than 180 million spam text messages were sent by 29 different defendants. The spam messages promised consumers free gifts or prizes, including gift cards worth $1,000 to major retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart and Target. Consumers who clicked on the links in the messages found themselves in a quagmire of elaborate websites that requested personal financial information.
According to the report, 12% of Americans received the spam text messages. In many cases, the spam messages went to consumers that did not have a text message subscription plan, thus causing the recipients to pay for exorbitant text message costs for the unwanted spam.
These charges are serious, which is why 84444.com requires a legitimate opt-in from its consumers. A year ago, 84444 implemented a policy where customers could not immediately upload a list of supposed opt-in phone numbers until proof of the legitimate opt-in was supplied to 84444. You can read the Anti-Spam Policy of 84444 here.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) was written to address consumer concerns about telemarketing calls. The TCPA covers sending unsolicited advertisements to fax machines (about the only thing we get here any more are just that), the use of auto dialers, and sending text messages to mobile phones.
The law is designed to protect consumers against unwanted solicitations which is why when it comes to text message marketing, you always need an opt-in from the consumer prior to sending out your text message marketing messages.
But, hold on, the same rules don’t necessarily apply to political messages. Wonderful, how politicians carved out their own exemption from this rule when it is precisely their messages that most consumers would least like to receive.
So, now that we are in the throes of an election campaign, what are the rules for telemarketing when it comes to political candidates?
In a nutshell:
- LEGAL — Calling a voter on a landline phone from an auto dialer to leave a robocall message without any prior consent of the voter.
- ILLEGAL — Calling a voter using an auto dialer to their cell phone without their prior written consent.
- LEGAL — For a campaign worker to send a text message to a voter’s cell phone.
- ILLEGAL — For a campaign to use an auto dialer to send texts to a voter’s cell phone without prior written consent.
Editor’s Note — 84444.com is not considered an auto-dialer.
A franchisee of Jiffy Lube, Heartland Automotive Services, has agreed to pay $47 million to settle a class action lawsuit stemming from spamming millions of text messages to consumers.
If approved by the courts, Heartland will provide settlement claims of a $17 discount for any Jiffy Lube service. The settlement also bans Heartland from future text message marketing.
The company sent 2.3 million consumers a discount offer in April, 2011, according to the claims. Now, that should say something there. Really? Who has an opt-in list of 2.3 million consumers that have agreed to receive your broadcast text messages?
Violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act can result in a liability of $500 per violation.
It seems like Heartland got off pretty easy here. They will offer a $17 discount to those that accept it, but that is almost like a coupon in itself, isn’t it? Especially, if they can raise their prices.
The people who made all the money? The lawyers. The lawyers representing the consumers will receive $4.75 million!
The Jiffy Lube case points out the importance for all of our 84444 customers to have a legitimate opt-in from consumers on your text message list. That’s why we now require all new customers to first contact us prior to doing their first text message broadcast from an uploaded list. We want to know that this is an opt-in list with proper verification. This protects all of us.
At 84444, we believe that the future of the text message marketing industry remains with promoters obtaining a legitimate opt-in prior to sending broadcast text messages to its customers and prospects. Unfortunately, there are always going to be people that try to beat the system and we are all starting to get increasing amounts of unwanted promotional text messages on our phones.
But, there is an answer to the problem. Each major cellphone carrier offers help for stopping unwanted text messages.
If you are an AT&T customer, simply forward the text to 7726 to block the sender. AT&T also has Smart Limits, which for $5 a month, enables you to block as many numbers as you want.
At Sprint, you can forward a spam text to 9999. Customers can also go to sprint.com and turn off the ability to receive text messages all together, or block certain numbers. Now, we don’t recommend that last one.
Verizon is another carrier that provides blocking capabilities at myverizon.com. Click on “spam controls” then click “Internet spam blocking,” and enter the offending text message sender’s phone number.
If you are so inclined, you can also report spam text messages to the FCC.
In today’s world of fast-paced rising technology, text messages may be the closest thing in the digital marketing world to a guaranteed read. Unlike e-mails, SMS remains to be a spam-free marketing network. According to the New York Times, 97% of all received text messages are opened, 83% within the hour they were received. So if consumers are more likely to read text messages over e-mails, why not promote the specials and discounts offered at your restaurant through an SMS instead?
84444.com allows you to market your business through the use of a text message. Patrons can opt to engage in mobile marketing and receive special offers by sending a keyword to a particular short code. Imagine walking in to your favorite restaurant and seeing a sign that says, “Text PASTA to 84444 and receive 20% of any pasta entrée.” Would you do it? With text messages being so quick and easy to produce, most likely the answer is yes.
After the consumer chooses to receive your mobile coupon, their cell phone number is now stored on your mobile marketing list on 84444.com. You can use these lists to send out a broadcast message to all or a select few of your customers promoting your drink specials, half-priced entrees, or reservation openings.
In addition, you can also choose when you would like the message to be sent. Imagine sending a free drink during happy hour to your opt-in list. The restaurant would immediately flood with thirsty customers.
Moreover, paper coupons are easy to forget. Around 5 billion people own cell phones and most carry them with them at all times. With a coupon stored on your mobile device, it is almost impossible to forget to use when out at dinner.
Case and point, 84444.com offers the marketing assistance your restaurant needs to reach your customer base and successfully promote your specials how you want and when you want.
You may have noticed recently that we’ve changed the way that we allow you to upload a list. We used to allow customers to load a database from Excel or .csv files so long as they confirmed that it was indeed an opt-in list.
We have had to tighten this policy to ensure that all customers that use the shared short code 84444 are adhering to the Mobile Marketing Association Best Practices in regards to what constitutes a legitimate opt-in. Now, we must first review the methodology used during your opt-in process to ensure that you’ve met all of the necessary guidelines.
So, the first time that you wish to upload a list, we will need to approve it first. If you have a consistent track record of low complaints and opt-outs from your lists, we will re-instate the ability for you to upload lists directly on the site.
While this may be a bit inconvenient for you, be assured that this is being done to protect the predominantly legitimate users of our text message marketing service and to discourage those spammers looking for a quick hit or willing to stretch the rules of what constitutes a legitimate opt-in.