Don’t Be White Noise, Get Mobile Opt-In
Point of View
July 20, 2022

Don’t Be White Noise, Get Mobile Opt-In

What you need to know about compliance to navigate mobile opt-in.

When you watch a streaming service like Amazon Prime, Netflix or HBO, the service likely makes suggestions on content. If you watched “The Godfather,” you might like “Goodfellas.” People who watched “Gilmore Girls” also watched “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” But imagine your streaming service inundated your phone with suggestions when you were reading, playing chess, gardening or working out. You would likely be turned off. Communication with a brand isn’t always welcome. Knowing when customers want communication from your brand is the heart of mobile opt-in.

Not only does mobile opt-in allow you to avoid privacy pitfalls surrounding customer data, it can ensure you are only sending customers correspondences they want while allowing you to capture information about them to better market your products.

Compliance is King

Salesforce Mobile Connect enables businesses to send SMS and MMS to customers by using a short code. The mobile carriers are the gatekeepers of these types of communication. They approve your company’s code to ensure it meets the guidelines, protecting the customer’s privacy and respecting their preference for only receiving messages they want.

The idea behind mobile opt-in is to allow the customer to take the first step in establishing a relationship with your brand. For example, maybe your bank puts up a billboard on the interstate telling customers they can text a keyword to a number to receive alerts about potential fraudulent activity on their account. Once the customer texts the number, they are agreeing to receive notifications of a specific type, in this case regarding potentially fraudulent activity on their account.

Although not strictly necessary, having a vanity code helps build brand cohesion. Approval for vanity short codes — numbers that, instead of being randomly selected by the carrier, are selected by the company — typically takes longer. So, you need to weigh whether having such a code is beneficial to your company.  

Getting approval requires you to have set keywords established. “JOIN,” “STOP,” and “HELP” are some required keywords that your company will need to define. These keywords are unified across carriers for simplicity, allowing the customer to implicitly know what they have to do. Not only do they give the customer a clear sense of opting-in, but they also cement in the customer’s mind what they have to do to opt out, which is almost just as important. It is similar to using an automated phone tree where, even if you have never called this particular company for support, you know saying “agent” will connect you with a person instead of navigating the automated system.
Other information must be embedded in that first message as well. The business name, a phone number to call in case of issues and such disclaimers as “standard message rates apply” are examples of such information. In order to get approved, your company will also need to show carriers your privacy policy and terms and conditions.Tweaks to those policies might be necessary in order to get approved.  Further, letting the customer know how frequently they will receive messages once they opt-in is required by carriers.

Getting on the Same Page

Before ever sending a customer a text, you need to understand what consent is required based on how you got the customer’s phone number. Where you got the customer’s phone number — be it on the web, a written form or a keyword opt-in — will determine the consent language. This will determine what sort of opt-in is necessary. There are three opt-in types: single, double and double with age verification. Which of these you use will depend on your business needs and the requirements set by the mobile provider.

The difference between these three types is what is required by the customer. As in our above example, single opt-in simply requires the customer to text a keyword to the short code or give their consent on the website. Double opt-in sends a reply to the customer after this step, asking them to confirm that decision. Double opt-in with age confirmation is the same as double opt-in only that the reply — instead of being “yes” or something similar — asks for the customer to provide their date of birth.

Whether to decide on double opt-in with age confirmation will depend if capturing the age of your customers is important for marketing purposes. Double opt-in is considered the default, with businesses needing to offer justification for single or double with age confirmation. Carriers often will reject single opt-in requests unless firm justification is there, instead asking the business to consider double opt-in.

For certain businesses, such as ecommerce, single opt-in makes the most sense. Companies selling insurance policies to people in a certain age range or companies that sell products to people above a specific age like hotels or rental car companies will benefit most from double opt-in with age confirmation.

Another consideration is whether to have only SMS or to also have MMS. Depending on your company’s needs, MMS might get you results that SMS messages alone could not achieve. If your company wants to use MMS, you will need to apply for it as part of getting approval from the service provider.

Assuming the service provider approves your opt-in campaign, you will be poised to get the full benefits of mobile opt-in.

The Right Channel for the Right Message

Not only can you schedule ad hoc messages — let’s say for your Black Friday sale — but Salesforce Mobile Studio allows you to schedule automated messages.The software works in tandem with other types of communication like push notifications and email, allowing for maximum lead nurturing by creating specialized customer journeys. The goal, of course, is to convert each lead through the most effective channel.

Knowing what carriers expect is paramount to ensure your company is giving carriers what they need in order to approve your code. If carriers reject your application, your campaigns will be delayed in getting set up. And, everybody knows time is money. This is where an experienced partner can help. By helping you navigate the carriers’ expectations and determine which type of code best suits your business needs, you can streamline the entire process and begin connecting with customers sooner.

At the outset, your company’s legal team may need to be involved if you need to adjust your terms and conditions or privacy policy to get approval. After that, your marketing team will work with a partner to manage the opt-ins and opt-outs and how to best put the information you gather to use.

Having mobile opt-in increases the number of channels across which you can contact customers, broadening your company’s reach. Giving customers peace of mind that you will contact them with content that interests them bolsters engagement. As much as it may interest you, you don’t want to hear about the latest season of “Westworld” while meditating. Neither do they.

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