Tim Fujita-Yuhas, Director, Product Management – October 4, 2016
In the United States, businesses are required to collect the consent from the mobile phone owner before they attempt to send text messages to him or her. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been addressing this requirement with some Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) petition- related clarifications. The TCPA, which became law in 1991, reflects what used to be a common billing model where mobile users pay for their text messages (at least they used to before the majority of US consumers switched to carrier plans with unlimited texting).
Normally a business advertises its short code with a call to action to text a keyword like “JOIN” to gather a person’s consent (sometimes referred to as “opt-in”). Note that companies have other ways in which they can collect their customers’ consents to receive text messages from them. Many businesses have websites where their customers sign into and agree that they want to receive text message notifications for a variety of situations. For example, banks use text messaging to send balance alerts; retailers send coupons via mobile messaging; and customer service organizations send SMS surveys to gauge consumer happiness with their experience.
Many businesses new to texting or those who want to shift their non-marketing interactions with their customers from e-mail and voice to SMS often take action faster based on their customers’ communication channel preferences. For example, over 80% of text messages are read within 90 seconds, compared to as few as 20% of emails being opened with an average time to view of 6 hours. The issue here is that the business has their customers’ phone numbers, but they haven’t received permission (end user consent) to send non-marketing A2P (Application to Person) text messages to them. So how do they tackle this text messaging consent problem?
Frequently, businesses end up using existing communications channels and programs to advertise the ability to join their SMS messaging campaigns. They might send postal mail like bill notices with their short code advertised on it, or they may promote the short code in their emails to consumers, or even provide the option to receive text messages in their business’s IVR system.
However, there is a new and novel way that some political and advocacy organizations are using to build their text messaging lists that other businesses may also consider leveraging. The adoption of Hustle, and its alternative (Megaphone), has been happening as a result of this year’s election cycle. Without exception, political campaigns were forbidden from sending text messages to voters unless granted specific permission to do so.
Bernie Sanders’ organizers discovered http://hustle.life/, a mobile app developed by a San Francisco-based startup. It’s a grassroots organizing app that empowers and mobilizes thousands of supporters. It allows users to send individual text messages to a long list of recipients in rapid-fire fashion. By ensuring that each message was manually sent, Hustle satisfied legal requirements associated with Person to Person (P2P) messaging, while nonetheless permitting text message tactics at scale. Once a voter responded to the person’s message, the he or she could begin a personal exchange and gather the end user’s consent to receive subsequent automated messages commonly referred to as Application to Person (A2P) messaging. The Clinton campaign picked up on this solution and developed their own called “Megaphone”.
The interesting thing about this “consent management” solution is that many businesses have telephone numbers for their customers. They can even use services like OpenMarket’s mobile operator lookup service to identify if those telephone numbers are mobile phone numbers. They could then do their own “Hustle” by having their employees use the Hustle app to reach out to those people to gather their consent to subsequently send A2P messages.
Imagine that a bank with branch offices or a retailer with physical stores distributed the Hustle app to their local office’s employees along with the mobile numbers of their local customer base. Those people could use Hustle to send a P2P message to their customers inviting them to opt-in to receive subsequent A2P messages for non-marketing use cases. Hustle now becomes another tool for gathering customer consent for receiving text messages for non-marketing use cases. It requires employee time and effort, but we’ve consistently seen business after business show very positive results in switching their mobile customer engagements from either automated email or automated voice calls to A2P text messaging as a channel that many customers prefer as well. For example, SMS surveys can see in excess of a 20% response rate – twice as high as phone-based surveys and 5 times higher than online. In addition, SMS text messaging can replace a relatively expensive automated telephone call with just pennies per interaction.
OpenMarket’s direct relationships with US carriers is one of the reasons why enterprise businesses prefer using OpenMarket to help guide them through mobile messaging’s evolving industry best practices. Contact us if you want to learn more about how your business can benefit from our subject matter expertise and demonstrated performance and reliability.