Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. You should always consult your legal counsel for advice on specific compliance issues.


By now, every savvy marketer knows the power of SMS. The average open rate for SMS is 98%, compared to emails at just 24.8%. SMS is a high-impact, low-cost way to engage with valuable customers.


However, the one big caveat to SMS is the stringent compliance guidelines put in place to protect consumers. Without the proper precautions, brands could face hefty fines and legal repercussions.


Before you start shooting off messages to prospects, you must understand the many SMS compliance rules and regulations.


Thankfully, we’re here to help. Here’s your complete guide to SMS compliance. 

SMS compliance overview 

A customer’s text message inbox is their personal property. As such, there are many established laws to protect consumer privacy when it comes to business-to-consumer communications. A brand can’t simply text a person all day long. Doing so could be seen as a form of harassment. To interact with a customer via SMS, they must opt-in first.


To keep consumers safe, various organizations have instituted SMS rules to uphold these rights, including:






Only the FCC and the FTC can create and enforce text messaging compliance rules and requirements.


The majority of SMS compliance laws fall under two acts: the CAN-SPAM Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).


If brands don’t comply with these laws, they can get smacked with fines starting at $500 for every SMS sent illegally. 

Key SMS compliance terms


Some essential text messaging compliance terms every business owner should know are:


  • Opt-in: This is a customer’s act to join your SMS program. They can opt in through their phone or a website form.


  • Opt-out: This is when a subscriber indicates they no longer want to receive a business’s messages. Customers can easily do this by replying “Stop” to the sender.


  • Spam: These are unsolicited texts sent to consumers who have never opted into an SMS program.


  • Terms and conditions: This is a detailed outline of a brand’s SMS program. It must include the types of SMS a consumer will receive, data rate notices, privacy policies, all associated costs, opt-out instructions, and other relevant information.

Your handy SMS compliance checklist

Before you launch your next SMS campaign, consider these key factors:


Always include the following opt-in details:

Business name

Frequency of texts

Data rate notices

A link to your terms and conditions

Instructions for opting out


Emphasis on consent: Under TCPA, a brand must get written permission before it can text a customer. You can obtain consumer consent on an online form. However, you must clearly state that enrolling means subscribers agree to receive SMS messages.

Always confirm opt-ins: Set up automated texts to send to customers who have opted-in to verify their participation.


Clearly state your terms and conditions: Before any SMS campaign, a business must create a detailed document outlining its terms and conditions. Subscribers should be notified whenever the policy changes.


Never send promotional texts before 8am or after 8pm local time.

Include a business name in every text

Make it simple for subscribers to opt-out.


Banned content: Under the CTIA rule called SHAFT, brands cannot send messages on alcohol, firearms, hate, sex, or tobacco.


Never text opt-outs.

How to legally leverage SMS 

While these compliance rules may seem intimidating, you can still achieve optimal success through SMS.


Use these quick tips to keep your texts compliant:


  • Obtain consent
  • Immediately provide disclosures to new subscribers.


  • Always triple-check your subscriber list to ensure everyone has opted-in.
  • Send your messages in the late morning to early afternoon.
  • Never text a consumer who is on the Do Not Call Registry.
  • Always send subscribers relevant, personalized content.


With these simple tips, you can enjoy fantastic SMS campaign results while remaining compliant.

Take the first step in your SMS journey

If you want to enhance your marketing campaigns, consider adding SMS to the mix. Mitto Campaign allows you to seamlessly segment your customers, craft engaging messages, and launch your campaign at the most convenient time.


To learn more, contact Mitto today.