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April 18, 2023

How to Maintain Text Marketing Compliance | NSSF Firearm Industry Compliance Webinar Summary

By Peter B. Mathiesen

Understand the Benefits and Compliance Rules of Text Marketing

This recap will walk you through the key points of the March 20, 2023, video webinar presented by Ben Nelson, Founder of Otter Technologies. A recording of this webinar and past Firearm Industry Compliance Education sessions are available through NSSF’s SHOT University™ Online – the firearm industry’s premier resource for education and training – available for free to NSSF Members and their staff. Log in today!

Webinar Text Marketing

Watch at SHOT University Online

Increasing Your Marketing ROI

Text marketing offers an impressive return on investment of up to 25x, outshining old-school email’s performance by a factor of 10x. At this moment in the firearm marketplace, only a fraction of brands and retailers use it, leaving significant revenue on the table.

Following Federal SHAFT Regulations

Our goal from this webinar is to familiarize you with the Cellular Telephone Industries Association-established S.H.A.F.T. (Sex, Hate, Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco) regulations. We want to ensure your text campaigns will not get flagged, your number blocked and or your company fined.

It’s critical that any marketing through text follows federal law. Any retail or firearm company is responsible for the downstream user. If your company has discussed text marketing with a media company, make sure they have a clear understanding of the S.H.A.F.T. requirements. These rules are critical to successful campaigns with legal, secure and sound operations. Here are some of the basics.

Understanding the Rules: Over 21 Opt-In Campaigns

One vital issue to address, retailers and ranges are required to have an age-gated opt-in, and… there are no exceptions. When a customer wants to communicate with the retailer, they must verify their age on their cell phone and accept the text. Age acceptance is 21 or over. Like other text marketing, the consumer must also understand the data rates may apply. Companies must also have a clear knowledge of the Opt-in, Opt-out, “Stop,” and “Help” rules.

Establishing Standard Operating Procedures

Even informal texting for simple tasks or services requires age verification. Sending a reminder text that the customer’s ammo can be picked up or their shooting lane is ready requires a 21-plus age verification. It cannot be a yes or no answer; it must be communicated in a month, day and year format.

The system should only operate through the formal company’s communication system. Even in states that have younger-than-21 firearm rules, the cell phone user must still be verified as over 21, and personally Opt-in through their cell phone.

Retailers may be under the impression their web disclaimers and or age verification covers texting. However, it does not. Only an age verified Opt-in from the specific cell phone is acceptable.

Implementing Stop & Help Protocols

As long as you have properly age gated and are using “Stop” and “Help” auto responses, you should be in good shape. Realize that as a company, you are responsible when a user responds with “Stop” or “Help.” Stop requires you to terminate all consumer’s active communication after he or she texts “Stop.” “Help” requires you to offer additional contact via a toll-free number, or email address.

Texts that include hate speech, intention to incite violence or those of a threatening nature must follow a remove call to action.

Sending Texts at Appropriate Times

In addition to age gating and speech, there are times you can send a marketing text, and times when you cannot. According to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, you cannot send a promotional text message during “quiet hours”- the time between 9:00 pm – 8:00 am per the local consumer’s time zone.

Statistics have proven the best days of the week to text are Thursday-Saturday. The best times of the month are at the beginning and end, with the 13th being the best outlier. Midday at lunchtime is also considered to be an ideal time for most marketing texts.

Two-way communication can allow you to respond during different hours if the consumer texts you first. Nelson recommends stores set up auto texting hours for specific times of the day. Frequently, they match the store’s hours. After business hours, the consumer can receive an automated response that the store will contact them the next day.

Registering for a Ten-Digit Long Code

Registering for a DLC, Ten-Digit Long Code, with your text provider will significantly reduce your usage costs. The alternative is to use Short Code, which can have a higher delivery rate, but at a much higher cost. There are also limitations with two-way communication with Short Code. Registering with your provider can be rigorous. This necessary step could take several weeks.

Another issue is T-Mobile. This cellular firm has not been accepting registration with companies that have firearms, ammo or guns in their names. They have made it clear; they are not accepting links to firearms and ammo promotion. An option is to work with a third-party carrier. To date, other national carriers have accepted industry texting.

Staying Corporate: Eliminating Personal Consumer Texts

Retailers and ranges should eliminate all personal texting to customers. While it feels convenient and a benefit to the consumer, maintain strict communication procedures. Having SOPs is paramount to guarding secure communication that follows cell phone regulations. Again, any texting must be age verified.

Although traditional communication methods, email and social media have a place in your marketing mix, text marketing is a strong addition. Adding this alternative is cost effective and highly measurable. Moreover, it offers a competitive advantage. Few firearms companies use it, and it offers a tremendous opportunity to gain new customers.

Text media companies are in every major market. Parlay their expertise to stay compliant and develop a program for your store or range’s marketing plan.

Watch the NSSF Webinar…

To learn more, we invite you to watch Otter Technologies Founder, Ben Nelson’s, detailed and helpful webinar on this subject by hitting this link…

This webinar is apart of a larger compliance series; see full series here:

2023 Firearm Industry Compliance Education Webinars

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