Ensure SMS/MMS Carrier Compliance
In recent years we’ve seen an explosion of text messages clogging our smartphones, followed by new efforts by the FCC and carriers enacting new rules that are designed to staunch the flow. Most businesses are simply trying to share legitimate communications with prospects, customers, and even employees – but keeping up with the latest compliance requirements can be difficult, confusing, and worst of all, expensive.
Enter your text messaging provider. There are thousands of messaging vendors in the communications marketplace, most of which offer short code, long code (also known as 10DLC), and toll-free messaging; some are better than others at delivering texts and at a reasonable cost; and some lag others in ensuring that their customers are registering and vetting their brand, campaigns, and messages. But the real differentiator these days is the extent to which they support their customers’ compliance efforts.
Here are seven business-critical traits to look for when selecting a text messaging provider, so you can survive and thrive in today’s omnichannel communications environment.
1. They State Their Values Clearly and Articulately
When people start to get serious about whomever they’re dating, it becomes important to ensure that they share the same values—because who wants to be in it for the long haul with someone you can’t trust? The same should hold true for business partners.
Most companies of repute publicize their corporate “ideology,” or mission statement, if you will, which should include their values. At Commio, for example, we post our values on our website and the team exemplifies our “there is a better way” business philosophy in everything we say, do, build, and send.
These values include transparency, partnership, diversity, and respect, but perhaps first and foremost integrity. We strive to do what’s right and send only the highest quality voice and messaging communications, to recipients who have opted in to these communications. Our efforts to minimize fraudulent communications include strict adherence to industry standards and carrier requirements. As a result, Commio has proactively blocked millions of non-compliant & spammy messages from reaching upstream providers and mobile carriers.
If you’re unsure what your prospective provider values, ask them! They should be able to answer quickly, and hopefully point to something in writing.
2. While You’re Scouting Them, They’re Scouting You
The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) “know your customer” rules need to kick in before the messages start sending. The process for ensuring the integrity of a provider’s messaging communications should begin well before you sign on the dotted line—and the provider should be doing due diligence on you to ensure it’s a good fit. If your messages are legit but your provider’s other customers are not, it could still affect your campaigns down the line!
Many messaging providers allow prospects to sign up directly online without any verification process, a sure sign that the provider is open to less-than-compliant messaging campaigns. Rather, there should be a sales process with people actually talking.
At Commio, for example, we do not take on new customers without going through a verification process, which includes a variety of questions to qualify new prospects. Essentially, we work to confirm that each prospect is an established company engaged in legitimate business, we look at where they’re located (since business laws vary), and we carefully review examples of previous messaging before we create an account.
When customers are onboarded, they agree to Commio best practices, which include TCPA, CTIA, and carrier code of conduct policies. We ask our legacy reseller customers to audit their existing customers periodically, as well.
A provider’s list of best practices may vary, as might their questions, but their level of concern should not. Even if your business is legitimate, do you want to trust your pipeline to a less-than-ethical partner? (And bear in mind that if a provider gets shut down, all of their business will be shut down, not just the offending campaigns!) Make sure your provider cares about your best interests, and not just your pocketbook.
3. They have Network Processes to Eliminate Bad Traffic
No matter how good the verification process, spam still has a way of sneaking into the pipeline. So, all reputable providers have numerous manual and automated checks and balances to keep fraudulent messages from being forwarded to carriers.
Despite our best efforts to eliminate bad senders from our customer base, Commio recognizes that automated filters and other measures are needed to keep fraudulent messaging from reaching our carriers and message recipients. Some of the systems we have in place include:
- Commio utilizes proprietary spam filters that block over 10,000 forbidden keywords and phrases and, as previously noted, has blocked millions of non-compliant messages each month
- We perform daily content audits to validate our customers are using mandatory stop language in every message, as well as avoiding content that is forbidden under CTIA and TCPA
- We actively track customer 10DLC campaign registration status percentages to identify any customers who are not working to get traffic registered and verified
4. They Make It Easy to Register your Brands and Campaigns
Carriers are done with the whole issue of spam. Right now, 50% of all messaging campaigns must be registered, and that number will be 100% by the end of June; coupled with that are additional fees for unregistered traffic. It only makes sense for a provider to offer direct access to The Campaign Registry (TCR) through their portal or APIs, in the same place the campaigns are ultimately sent.
Commio was one of the first providers to offer full brand and campaign registry passthrough APIs for customers and resellers, and now includes contextual clues for many of the fields. The Support team is also happy to walk you through the process. Campaigns that get approved the first time they’re submitted are a win-win for everyone involved—the carrier, the provider, the customer, and the customer’s budget!
5. They’re Connected to Their DCA
Messaging senders → Providers → Providers → DCAs → Carriers
Most messaging providers connect to other providers, but some (like Commio) have direct binds (connections) to their Direct Connect Aggregator (DCA). DCAs are messaging experts with the most up-to-date information from the carriers, and can provide quick answers and guidance to ensure your messaging traffic is optimized for approval, delivery, and conversion.
6. They Communicate Updates to Their Customers
It is important for providers not only to stay up to date on and adhere to carrier and FCC policies, but also to share this information with customers in a timely manner and easy-to-understand language.
Given the frequency and urgency of changes in the industry, Commio works hard to keep prospects and customers up to date with the latest information regarding messaging and The Campaign Registry, utilizing a range of media to reach as many people as possible, including:
- Customer emails whenever there’s an industry update—a new requirement or fee, or a change to The Campaign Registry—reiterating the importance of compliance and how to access support
- Webinars/videos on messaging requirements, including many of our monthly “Telecom Wise Guy” and Industry Briefings, plus a registry “how-to” video on our blog; we’re also open to more in-depth sessions on a one-to-one basis
- Conference and webinar speaking spots on messaging compliance, with industry leaders such as The Campaign Registry
- Regular social media posts across the Commio pages on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, with links to more information
- Website compliance and best practices content (see fee page below)
- Messaging and compliance deep-dives—an SMS ebook plus blogs and comprehensive “hot topics” on the website
7. Enforcement: Removal of Non-compliant Senders
Nobody wants to lose a good customer or a revenue stream, but a provider that becomes aware of illegal traffic and continues to accept it, puts all of their customers at risk. If a provider comes under scrutiny, all of their traffic could be under scrutiny; and if a provider is shut down, all campaigns are halted—simple as that. Before you sign on with a new provider, ask them what their policy is.
Commio works hard to ensure that the voice and messaging communications sent via our systems meet the highest industry standards, and is proud of its reputation as a top-rated CPaaS provider. Our system administrators are constantly reviewing processes to ensure the highest integrity of text messaging; our sales staff vets each prospect and customer carefully; our marketing team provides regular updates, overviews, and educational pieces; and our U.S.-based support team works with customers to make sure they are up to date and compliant with the most current requirements.
Each provider will handle these issues a little differently; they may have a slightly different array of tactics to enforce compliance, or emphasize different aspects. And, spam will occasionally slip past every provider, regardless of their diligence—with millions of messages every day, it’s impossible to read each and every one of them. What matters is that they’re concerned about compliance, they’re up to date on the latest requirements, and working with their customers to keep traffic clean. When looking for a new provider, ask questions, take the time to get to know them, and be sure your values are aligned!