Customer Experience,How to Use TCPA Regulations to Your Mobile Marketing Advantage
As you may or may not know, back in 2012, the Federal Communications Commission revised its guidelines under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) to adopt additional protections for mobile wireless consumers. As of October 16th, these regulations are now in effect.

These changes present a challenge and an opportunity for mobile marketers.

To sum it up, these changes basically require express written and auditable consent for all autodialed text messages sent to cell phones for marketing or advertising purposes.

Before your entire team panics about the new regulations, remember that with every change, comes a new opportunity -- to be smarter, better and more creative with your current strategy. And if SMS messaging is going to be a part of your mobile marketing strategy, here are a few innovative ways to get your audience excited to opt-in to your marketing programs.

1. Make Your Opt-In Campaigns Fun, Relevant and Worthwhile

Depending on your campaigns, the new TCPA rules may require you to re-opt everyone in or perform a double opt-in if other advertising will be included in addition to your campaign. While this sounds daunting or even a would-be detriment to your existing mobile efforts, it can actually present an opportunity for a fresh start or even a little fun.

Easy-to-use mobile opt-in capabilities mean that self-selected consumers can express interest in what you have to say by giving you their information -- and permission to contact them -- whenever they feel so inspired. In other words, quantity and quality aren’t mutually exclusive. And more often than not, consumers are actually willing to do so when they feel they’re getting something of value in return.

Starbucks made use of the government shutdown to reinforce its mobile savviness, while capitalizing on opt-ins, SMS and alerts. The campaign encouraged petition sign-ups to end the conflict in Washington via an SMS opt in, prompting consumers to text the keyword JOIN to 20757. Once the consumer sent the message, they received a reply message notifying them that they officially supported the petition, along with language to opt-out of future campaigns.

2. Pair Sweeps and Contests with Mobile and Social

Great news! One-time campaigns -- those where a user calls or texts a number and receives one message such as a sweeps entry, link to download an app, single coupon, etc. -- are all exempt from the new TCPA guidelines as long as they don’t contain additional advertisements. Sweepstakes are a great complement to existing efforts and fairly easy to implement. Plus, they can also become a real-time mechanism for measuring the efficacy of media placements.

On the heels of a new sandwich launch, QSR giant Wendy’s is offering their customers a range of prizes if they upload a short mobile video clip -- dubbed the “6 seconds flat” campaign. A dedicated, mobile-optimized, microsite for the campaign has been set up, and consumers are asked to shoot a mobile video that covers their thoughts on the new sandwiches.

By including a hashtag and the ability to upload via Vine, Instagram or Twitter, participants have a chance to win a $6,000 American Express gift card. Now these consumers are much more likely to engage in any type of SMS or mobile campaign going forward -- which means future mobile campaigns for coupons, app downloads and the like will be promoted to an already-engaged audience.

3. Use Mobile Web Pages to Offer Content and Consent

A straightforward mobile Web page can also function as written consent under the new guidelines -- making it easy for you to leverage existing resources to be compliant.

Offering a piece of rich content, such as a song download, movie clip, etc, is a smart way to get consumers something they want, as well as get them to opt-in. Having a simple checkbox and language prior to content access is the easiest way to do this. “By checking this box, I agree to receive marketing/autodialed text messages from <brand> at the mobile number I have provided. Consent is not required to purchase goods or services.”

Retailer Target used both mobile promotions and landing pages to put content in the hands of consumers with a free song download. After calling the number instructed, users received a text message with a link to the landing page to download the song after disclosing their email address and ticking a box. Target saw its customer engagement levels quadruple without scaring up any privacy concerns from consumers.

As with most recent regulatory changes related to the mobile world, there is a level of uncertainty and ambiguity around the effects. But assuring your marketing tactics are compliant is usually not as difficult to achieve as it may appear. Once you've gotten through legalities, the fun can begin. Make it appealing for consumers and your brand will continue to reap mobile engagement rewards.

Title image courtesy of Dirk Erkin (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Read more of Ashley's mobile advice in 4 Reasons Your Mobile Channel is Falling Behind + How to Get Back on Track