I recently wrote about the new Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) rules and how they will prohibit using auto-dialing technology to place solicitous calls (live or prerecorded) to wireless numbers without prior express written consent. With the rollout of the revised TCPA rules right around the corner, many of our customers and prospects are looking for guidance on all forms of communication to a prospect’s wireless device, including text messaging.
While text messaging to a consumer device has been covered under the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, the FCC’s order notes that “text messaging is a form of communication used primarily between telephones and is therefore consistent with the definition of a ‘call.'” Thus, the commission “concluded that text messages would be subject to the TCPA.”
With more than 9.6 trillion text messages sent worldwide in 2012, according to Pew Research, it is not surprising that many sales organizations are looking for ways to reach prospects through this growing, new communications channel. So it seemed appropriate to spend some time researching how many of our clients were using text messaging in the sales process. Our recent Velocify research provides new insights for sales teams on how to effectively integrate text messaging into a sales engagement strategy with a prospect, and the best part is, the findings are not only good for sales, they are TCPA friendly.
The research found text messaging, when used appropriately, can lead to conversion gains of more than 100%, running in parallel to TCPA regulations and emphasizing the importance of establishing a relationship with the prospect via phone before sending a text message. Here are some best practices to consider when implementing text messaging into your sales strategy:
Know the rules
Encourage all sales managers to get familiar with the TCPA rules and educate their sales reps on what they can and cannot do with their auto-dialing / SMS technology. Organizations should implement the most appropriate strategy to prevent losing sales and current customers, and getting hit by fines and lawsuits. Sales teams must team up with their marketing and legal departments to craft consent statements so that they can arm their sales and customer service reps with best practices.
Obtain “prior express written consent” from all prospects and current customers
Work with your legal team to build clear and concise disclosure, informing prospects that they agree and authorize your business to call them and send text messages. The terms should include an electronic or digital form of a signature. For texting, “prior express written consent” includes a mobile opt-in option.
Track whether or not a contact has given consent
Before sending a text message to a customer or prospect, ensure that your software is tracking whether or not the contact has given consent to receive text message communications. Teams need to have a reliable record keeping process of all consent for five years. This allows easy access in case you’re ever questioned on your practices. It will also help you significantly increase conversion rates and safeguard you from the new rules.
Establish a relationship before sending a text message
Our recent research found that texting in business is an earned privilege. Even if your marketing efforts generate permission to send text messages to a prospect, our research suggests sales reps should make voice-based contact themselves before sending a text. Sales reps that sent text messages before contacting a prospect cut the probability of converting a prospect by 39.2%. However, texting after having spoken helped improve conversion rates by 112%.
Bottom line: All businesses that are implementing a text message program must take a permission-based approach and offer the ability to opt out. They should also follow all of the TCPA rules that have been put in place by the FCC.
Download the full report on text messaging best practices, which drive increased conversion rates and are TCPA friendly.