Follow the consent requirements for text and voice messages

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Follow FCC sending guidelines

According to the FCC, students, parents, and faculty who provide mobile numbers to schools are effectively granting consent to receive SMS text messages for “important information" — sent as Important Announcements — as well as sending out non-emergency messages related to the school's "educational mission."

Just as bulk emails are governed by regulations such as the CAN-SPAM Act, automated text messages and recorded voice messages are required to comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Per the TCPA, text communication must occur between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. (not including "Important Announcement" messages, such as school closures, which may be sent during hours outside this time frame).

A few types of messages are explicitly disallowed, including:

  • High-risk financial services
  • Third-party lead generation services
  • Debt collection or forgiveness
  • “Get rich quick” schemes
  • Illegal substances
  • Gambling
  • "S.H.A.F.T." use cases

Allow users to unsubscribe from text messages

Users who text "STOP" to your SMS message number will be unsubscribed from all SMS messages. If they have unsubscribed and wish to begin receiving messages again, they should text "START" to your SMS number.

Allow users to unsubscribe from voice messages

When recipients listen to the voice message, they will hear an audio prompt to press a number to unsubscribe.

Best Practices

  • With the recipient's permission, a Messages admin can view the recipient's notification preferences and subscriptions to troubleshoot as needed.
  • Provide easy ways for your users to opt-out of messages by letting them know to "reply with STOP." Doing this will help you maintain a very low opt-out (STOP reply) rate from your recipients.
  • Send SMS via Important Announcements, and limit it to notices such as school closings and important deadlines and announcements.
  • Perform a start-of-school subscription check. We’ve all had those “This is a test” alerts come across our devices that help us ensure that our systems and subscriptions are working properly in case of an emergency. These checks are a great way for us to verify that we have the correct contact information and subscriptions set.

 Real World Example

At the start of each school year, send out a “We are testing our school communication platforms” message to your school community. This message should be sent to all forms of communication (email, mobile app, SMS, voice, etc.). Following are a few things you could include in this message:

  • Why are they receiving this message? Explain that it is a test to ensure all recipients are subscribed and are receiving the necessary information from the school.
  • When will this be used? Help recipients understand when and for what types of messages they will receive communications from the school this way.
  • How do they update contact information? Provide steps for users to follow if they need to update their contact information.
  • Where do they verify current subscriptions? Include a brief explanation of how to verify the user’s current subscriptions or how to subscribe to other types of information. This is another great time to remind users how they can unsubscribe or stop receiving messages.
  • Can I stop receiving these message if I choose? Remind users that they can stop receiving these messages altogether. For example, "You can opt out of receiving these messages at any time by clicking 'unsubscribe' on any email or by replying STOP to (###) ###-####."
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