The importance of SMS marketing compliance is something that can have a major impact on your business.
The Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) has become a major priority for companies across South Africa. This act ensures consumer data protection on a nation-wide scale. Originally signed into law in 2013, the law came into effect in 2019, giving organisations two years to ensure full compliance. That means that all companies within the country will need to be POPIA compliant by 2021, or face the consequences.
Despite the potential consequences of non-compliance, which could range from fines to various other penalties, many companies are still not fully prepared. A Sophos commissioned survey done online with ITWeb in November 2018 showed a staggering lack of understanding on POPIA.
Just 34% of organisations were ready for compliance. 77% were aware of the reputation damage their companies could face if found guilty of non-compliance. 30% had only a basic understanding of POPIA. 62% placed a high priority on the POPI Act. As of 2020, we hope that there has been a better understanding of SMS marketing and the role that compliance plays. For those who are still unsure or not prepared, the repercussions can be severe – not just to reputation but also to increased risks of blacklisting and profit loss.
Why exactly is SMS marketing so important and why is it something you cannot afford to overlook with POPIA on its way? Let's take a look to find out more.
Why is SMS Marketing Compliance so Important?
First, it helps to understand what SMS marketing compliance means in terms of POPIA and consumer rights. All consumers are expected to protect personal information, sharing only with trusted businesses. Consumers should be able to opt out of messaging with the expectation of businesses removing them from their lists.
Consumers have the right to find out which information the business records and they have the right to ask for such information to be deleted. Companies need to have clear privacy policies in place and should make consumers aware of any personal information that is kept or used. Consumers should have the right to lodge complaints to businesses violating any regulations or lodge complaints to the Information Regulator if companies do not respond accordingly.
POPIA is an act that applies to all areas of digital communications, including email and websites. Today, we are focusing specifically on SMS marketing and how compliance is not only essential but also beneficial. When you adhere to POPIA requirements, you have the opportunity to build strong relationships with your clients and drive loyalty as well as reputation. Of course, compliance benefits customers in many ways as well. Some of the ways that compliance is a win-win for you and your customers include the following:
Recipients know where messages are coming from
Every single person in the country has received text messages with no identification and no clue who has sent the message. These are annoying enough, and more so when messages are unsolicited. If messages consistently come through without any identification, from random numbers, there is a high chance you will be blocked – even if your messages are solicited. Compliant, permission-based SMS marketing means that your recipients always know exactly who is sending them messages. Your company name is clearly displayed and you have a set number that recipients eventually come to recognise. Shortcodes should be simple and easy to remember, too. A dedicated shortcode can be even more useful, allowing you to customise your number even further. Number and name recognition can add reassurance to customers and help them easily identify your messages.
Recipients choose SMS they want to receive
Fully compliant, well-run SMS campaigns are always done via opt-in. You can go further than this and give recipients more options to have better control over the messages they receive. Sending generic messages that are not relevant to all of your recipients is never a good idea. This could include push or USSD opt-ins to choose message types such as promotions, general messages, sales or events. Over and beyond compliance, this can have plenty of value for customers, too. By giving them the choice of what messages they want to receive, you are preventing them from getting bombarded with messages that may not be relevant or useful. Having choice over messaging helps to build trust, furthering engagement in the process.
Recipients know when to expect SMS
Another way to ensure better compliance and SMS marketing best practices is to ensure that recipients know when to expect your messages. Messaging multiple times a day on one day, at all hours of the day, only to message again weeks later at another time can quickly get frustrating. Ideally, you want customers to have an idea of how often they will hear from you and when they will receive messages. The best timing is to focus on business hours. You can test to identify best open times for your specific audiences or you can choose a time that most people are likely to read a message, such as 12h00 to 14h00, for example. Being consistent is also recommended. You can include an estimated message frequency in your confirmation SMS. Daily, bi-weekly or weekly messaging can all help to engage and inform your audience without sending multiple messages sporadically in the early hours, on random days or worse, more than once a day at different times.
Recipients know they can opt-out easily
This is easily the most important aspect of compliance. Grapevine helped a large home shopping retailer reduce resource time by at least 20%, increasing customer retention rates in the process. This retailer had previously manually updated SMS opt-outs, typically received through SMS or the call centre. Along with SMS opt-outs, the retailer also had to manually manage opt-outs via other channels, too, quickly taking up resource time. Despite great time and effort spent on the opt-out process, there were still many that were overlooked. This had a knock-on effect, causing customer frustration as well as the risk of breaching SMS regulations. Grapevine helped this retailer simplify and automate the SMS opt-out process from various providers, through a single platform updated in real-time.
Compliance does not only mean sticking to regulations purely to avoid fines, blacklisting, and other problems. It also means improving your customer service and making your marketing campaigns more engaging and more relevant. When you put customers first in your text campaigns, you have the chance to see far more ROI as well.
To find out more about how Grapevine Interactive can help you cut resource time and ensure better SMS marketing efforts, contact us today.