Is It Legal to Send Political Text Messages?
Winning political candidates and campaigns know that text message marketing is a vital marketing strategy. Many campaigns see open rates as high as 99%, receive $5 back for every $1 spent, and use SMS marketing to reach their fundraising goals and increase voter turnout.
However, there IS a right way to use SMS marketing to ensure that your political campaign is compliant with the rules and regulations of the industry—and NOT at risk of costly fines of up to $1,500 per unsolicited text message.
In this blog post, we walk you through the most important guidelines to be aware of, helping you ensure that your political campaign is within its rights and not at risk of sending unsolicited text messages.
Political Text Message Compliance and Guidelines
Two main organizations regulate communications and set up laws and regulations to protect consumers from spam text messages and phone calls:
The FCC and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act
The FCC regulates and oversees communications throughout the United States. The FCC enforces the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
The TCPA helps protect Americans against spam, unwanted phone calls, and unwanted text messages. It specifically protects consumers against unwanted phone calls through auto-dialed systems or pre-recorded messages. This act also protects consumers against unwanted text messages, spam text messages sent by scammers, and unsolicited election-related texting campaigns.
To comply with the TCPA, election-related campaigns must do two things.
First, they must obtain written proof that each text message recipient has given consent to receive text messages from them. Written consent can be obtained via a web form, point of sale, mobile device, or even pen and paper. The political campaign or organization must disclose the following statement: “By participating, you consent to receive text messages sent by an automatic telephone dialing system.” It’s important that the “automatic telephone dialing system” disclaimer is visible to subscribers as they are opting in to the SMS campaign. Failure to do include this disclaimer will result in your election campaign sending spam text messages.
A political campaign may have a list of thousands of phone numbers, but if they can’t prove that they have written consent for each phone number, it’s illegal for them to send them any political text messages through an automated text messaging system. However, the campaign could use P2P texting by enlisting campaign volunteers to send individual text messages one-on-one.
The TCPA also requires that any organization sending text messages must ensure recipients are aware that consent for receiving SMS messages is not a condition of purchase.
If an election campaign fails to abide by these two requirements, they will be liable to pay a fine of $500 to $1,500 for each unwanted text message—per recipient.
Watch the video to learn more about TCPA compliance for political candidates.
Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association
The CTIA represents wireless carriers (such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon) and manufacturers and providers of wireless products and services. The organization also oversees all aspects of short codes, so it’s vital to be in good standing with the CTIA. The guidelines established by the CTIA aren’t laws, but failure to comply with them may result in the suspension of your short code.
When a political campaign sends election-related text messages, they must include the following in their opt-in and opt-out texts:
Requirements upon opt-in:
- Program name or description
- How to opt out, sent at least once a month (“txt STOP 2 end”)
- How to find more information (“text HELP for help”)
- Recurring-messages disclosure (“3 msgs/mo”)
- “Message and data rates may apply” disclosure
Requirements upon opt-out:
Compliance is key to a successful election text messaging campaign, and organizations must make an active effort to comply with all guidelines and laws to avoid legal action.
Choosing the Best SMS Marketing Platform for Political Campaigns
Choosing the right SMS marketing software is key to sending text messages that resonate with the American people and lead potential voters. Several features can’t be overlooked when choosing the right SMS marketing platform.
Explore the features that set Tatango apart from other SMS marketing platforms:
Messaging workflows: The Tatango platform allows clients to manage simple and complex workflows, ensuring all your communication goes smoothly and can be automated based on your campaign’s needs.
Subscriber segmenting: With Tatango, you can segment your audience into various categories and use message workflows to send targeted communications based on zip code, donation amounts, city, state, and more.
Subscriber analytics: Tatango provides in-depth data about your subscribers and allows you to create and export custom reports. This helps you get a higher ROI every time you send a text message.
Merge tags: With merge tags, you can customize every SMS message so you can speak directly to your supporters. For example, you can include first name to personalize your messages and make it feel as if you’re speaking directly to your constituents.