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If you haven’t heard of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), it’s the legislation that keeps mobile marketers up at night

Chances are you have heard of the “Do Not Call” registry. That falls under the TCPA. But it’s the new addition to the TCPA guidelines that’s really got mobile marketers worried. Though amended back in early 2012, the new guidelines only took effect on October 16 of this year. If you own a business that has a mobile marketing strategy, it’s important that you are up to date with the TCPA’s new guidelines and that you know how they affect your business and your customers.

What are the TCPA changes?

Until recently, text messages didn’t fall under the category of automated calls. Now they do.

As a result, there are new regulations in place to protect consumers from receiving excessive and unwanted text messages. The most important change to the TCPA guidelines is that any business that sends out automated texts needs to first obtain and maintain a record of written consent. It’s no longer sufficient to have consumers text in a keyword to a short code. A request for consent has to be sent and it must specify that the consumer’s “consent is not a condition of purchase.” In other words, it needs to be clear to consumers that they do not have to consent to receive a business’s messages in order to purchase from that business.

Businesses should have already been obtaining consent before the new guidelines took effect and as a result, many businesses already have a business relationship with many consumers. This does not override the written consent requirement however. Even consumers who have given prior consent need to receive the new request for written consent that contains the specific language.

How these changes affect you and your customers

The most important implication of the new guidelines is that you’ve got some work to do in regard to your texting list. You’ll need to contact everyone on your subscriber list to obtain written consent. For all those who do not respond, you can no longer continue to send texts. If you’re not sure if your prior consent was valid according to the new regulations, it’s best to play it safe and send out the new request. Currently, the Mobile Marketing Association is working on a petition asking the FCC for clarification about the new TCPA guidelines

The only real effect the new guidelines are having on customers is that they are being asked to consent for the second time and in some cases it is causing some confusion. Also, because text messages are limited to a certain number of characters, the new legal language that must be included in text correspondence may cause texts to be sent as a two-part message.

Short term, the new guidelines are causing some confusion and fear of legal action. In the long term however, the new guidelines will serve to strengthen the relationship between brands and consumers.

Source:  Marketing Land

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