The Marketer’s Manual to SMS Compliance and Deliverability

Disclaimer: This guide should not be relied on as legal advice. Klaviyo encourages you to work with your legal counsel to make sure your SMS program is compliant with the laws that apply to it.

When you buy a new car, you can bundle a variety of add-on features that will help you be a better driver and let you make smarter decisions on the road—features like back-up cameras, blind spot detection, and lane departure alert, for example.

But regardless of the extras you tack on, you can be confident of two things: The car will help you avoid dangerous situations that break the rules of the road, and it’ll get you where you need to go.

Shopping for your first or next SMS platform is similar.

While text messaging can be a powerful marketing channel on its own, like with a new car purchase, there are features and functionalities you can add onto an SMS marketing platform to make it an even more valuable tool to grow your business.

Say you bundle SMS and email into a single marketing automation platform. You can see how your customers are interacting with both of these channels in one place. This helps you make smarter marketing decisions, like sending messages to your customers through the channels they prefer, while creating a cohesive experience.

What’s more, like the safety standards and performance capabilities of a new car, the top SMS platforms on the market bake compliance and deliverability features right into their technology. They’re something you should care about, but not something you should spend all your time worrying about.

Your attention should be on growing your SMS audience and creatively communicating with your customers with text and email. So fasten your seatbelt and discover how Klaviyo helps you handle compliance and deliverability must-haves like:

• List growth compliance
• Message compliance
• SMS deliverability

Once you’ve chosen your new SMS marketing platform, you’ll work on building up a list of subscribers who sign up to receive your text messages.

But this can’t be a process that you undertake lightly. In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) implements and enforces laws—like the TCPA (The Telephone Consumer Protection Act) and CAN-SPAM—that regulate SMS marketing to protect the rights of consumers. That’s a fancy way of saying the government wants to make sure people don’t receive text messages they haven’t directly given consent to get.

In Canada, the law governing commercial electronic messages—which includes email, SMS, and more—is the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). SMS in the European Union (EU) is regulated by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and SMS in the UK is regulated by the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and the Public and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR). SMS messages in Australia are regulated by the Spam Act 2003 and the Spam Regulations 2021.

It’s imperative, and frankly mandatory, that you grow your SMS subscriber list and send your text messages in a way that’s compliant with applicable laws, industry guidelines, and carrier requirements. If you don’t, you could face hefty fines and complicated lawsuits, which is probably the last thing you need.

To have peace of mind that you’re growing your list and communicating in a compliant way, you need an SMS marketing platform that takes compliance seriously.

That way, you can focus on segmenting your audience and brainstorming different ways you can personalize your customer outreach to build strong relationships across all of your owned channels—like email and SMS.

Confidently grow your SMS list, without sacrificing compliance

Compliance can be a tricky topic to navigate, and you shouldn’t be alone left to wrangle with its complexities—your SMS provider should be a true partner that provides the resources and tools to help you comply with the laws that apply to your text messaging program.

As you begin to build your SMS list, you first need to collect express written consent from your subscribers. In the US, this means that your SMS signup forms need to clearly communicate the TCPA and the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) required opt-in language like:

• Messages received by your subscribers will be marketing/promotional in nature
• Messages may be sent via an autodialer
• The agreement to subscribe is not a condition of any purchase
• Message frequency (e.g., “Message frequency varies”)
• “Message and data rates may apply”
• Link to your brand’s mobile terms and conditions and privacy policy
• Opt-out and help instructions

Regulations have the right of way:
What you’re required to include on your signup forms as you collect consent differs from country to country. Review what the list growth requirements for Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia are before sending messages to customers in those regions.

It would be a hassle for you to remember to include each of these points as you try to design eye-catching signup forms, which is why Klaviyo’s SMS signup forms include this language by default.

Klaviyo only supports SMS list growth tactics that gather express consent from each of your subscribers, which means all of your SMS signup forms will automatically include required opt-in language. You can use it as-is or modify it to fit your needs with the help of your legal counsel.

List growth tip:
Any place you’re asking people to join your SMS list besides your website—like physical retail locations, in-person events, or product packaging—share the phone number people can text to sign up for your text messages, along with your dedicated signup keyword (i.e., WELCOME21) and required opt-in language so your potential customers can subscribe in a compliant way.

In the UK and Australia, when using branded sender IDs, it’s only possible to text one way. This means you can text your customers, but they can’t text you back (or at all).

List growth compliance doesn’t just apply to new subscribers who’ve signed up to your SMS list. If you’re importing your existing SMS contacts into Klaviyo, you’ll automatically get a prompt to upload the date that each subscriber consented to receive your SMS messages, along with their phone number.

That way, you can stay organized from the get-go and you won’t have to worry later on if you have all of your SMS subscribers’ express consent on file.

More ways to grow your SMS list:

• Embed a signup form in the footer of your website or on a shopper’s order confirmation page
• Use a pop-up to serve a signup form to new website visitors
Use an Instagram swipe up feature
• Invite your shoppers to sign up for SMS on one of your product detail pages (PDP) and then follow up with specific questions about the products they viewed on your page via text
• Send an email to a segment of your email subscribers who haven’t yet signed up to receive your text messages and invite them to do so with a specific call-to-action (CTA)

Another thing you shouldn’t have to fret about? Your SMS platform charging you for compliance-related SMS messages that welcome your new subscribers.

For example, in the U.S. CTIA guidelines require that you immediately send your new subscribers a reply message that includes your business or program name, STOP instructions, HELP instructions, and the phrase “Msg&Data rates may apply.”

But if new subscribers are signing up to your list and you’ve already sent all the messages your plan allows for, you may worry that this required message won’t get sent.

Your SMS plan shouldn’t dictate your ability to keep your business legally compliant and abiding by standard SMS requirements. That’s why Klaviyo automatically pulls your brand name into this message and sends it to all your new SMS subscribers, without charging you for it—because compliance doesn’t have to come at cost.

Want to learn more about how to get started with SMS marketing?Check out these five tips