Compliance. Sounds boring but important, right? Um, exactly.
Email, call center and SMS marketing campaigns aren’t just about striking graphics and compelling messages. Making sure each and every contact falls in line with what’s legally required is just as key — even if it isn’t as glamorous.
It’s not something only big businesses need to worry about, either. Every single business that contacts its customers via email, text or phone calls (hello, you) is subject to the U.S. laws that govern opt-out availability. (Oh, and heads up — other countries rules about these things too — some more and some less strict.)
The CAN-SPAM Act, which was passed in 2003, requires that each and every commercial email includes a clear and conspicuous opt-out message telling customers how they can refuse future messages from you (among other points). Do you run multiple email programs? You guessed it — you must have an option for customers to opt-out of all email as well as each program individually.
Each unsubscribe should be processed as quickly as possible. The law gives you 10 days to make it happen, but acting faster is better. “Why wait when a user has explicitly stated they do not want to receive more email? Waiting 10 days and sending another email will only reduce user engagement and possibly lead to an increase in spam complaints,” says the Online Trust Alliance, an industry organization that seeks to increase trust and innovation online.
Texts are even more specifically regulated. The Mobile Marketing Association’s code of conduct (which the FCC has endorsed as its own) demands that consumers both opt into receiving marketing texts and are made plainly aware of how to opt out of them. (That “Text STOP to STOP” line at the end of automated texts from businesses? This is why.)
Do you use a call center to generate leads? You are legally required to restrict calls to only numbers that aren’t on the National Do Not Call Registry. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act — which has been around since 1991 — allows households to opt out of receiving phone solicitations, which puts them on the Registry (essentially, a blacklist) for five years. Households can request that any given solicitor who calls have them added to the list, which means marketing over the phone requires accessing the National Do Not Call Registry in real time (and occasionally adding newly restricted phone numbers).
Really, if you look at all of these restrictions through the eyes of a consumer, you can see why they make sense — they’re exactly how you’d want to be treated if you were a receiving marketing or other messaging from a business you follow or have made purchases from. So outside of the fact, of course, that it’s legally required, think of it also as a way to treat your customers they should to be treated.
And then, of course, there’s the bottom-line-type threat that’ll really get you moving. Marketers who don’t manage for these restrictions can be burned — via fines or even lawsuits that could potentially rise into the multi-millions.
So now you’re armed with the info you need to understand compliance. [INSERT APPLAUSE TRACK HERE.] But now you’re probably finding yourself thinking, uh-oh, we need to take care of some things before our next big marketing push…and none of this makes the actual day-to-day business of identifying, aggregating and tracking opt-outs any easier.
What does make it easier? Ezepo. Obviously, we had to get a plug in there — want to hear more about why (including the fact that we’re the only compliance software in town that works with telephone numbers)? Send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or give us a ring (510.619.4745).
Plus, watch for future blog posts that break down these must-know topics even more.