How Do You Get People Enrolled?

Unlike billboards, newspapers, and radio ads, your end users have to choose to receive messages from you. That is, they have to subscribe or enroll in your program—and it's required by cell phone carriers if you are using a short codeFive or six-digit special telephone numbers used for sending SMS messages. to send your messages. Even if you're not using a short code, requiring enrollment is still a best practice. This gives you permission to send them texts until they opt out, or unsubscribe.

What Is Opting In?

To opt into a program, a user must do one of the following:

  1. Sign up via short code. End users will text a key word (like "enroll") to a number. In response, they will receive information about terms and what to expect from the program.
  2. Sign up online. End users will fill out a form and accept terms.
  3. Manual enrollment. End users can fill out a hard copy form agreeing to terms and a program administrator can add their information to the web-based systemAn online platform that allows text message program administrators to send messages to many end users. These systems may also allow administrators to sort, track, and report on specific campaigns or programs..

Why Opting In Is Good

People who have opted into a text message program are already engaged. They believe you can provide them with something valuable, so all you have to do is deliver on your promise. After all, if you don't, they'll opt out.

Why Opting In Is Not-So-Good

The process of opting in creates an additional barrier between you and your subscribers, so marketing your program to encourage opt in is a critical step in program development. To effectively market a program, it is important for you to understand why texting is appealing to your end user. It doesn't matter how powerful your messages are if you can't get people to opt in to your program. It's also an industry best practice to ask for consent on an ongoing basis, generally once a year.

Confused about these technological terms? Go to the Technology section to learn more.

The Importance of Carriers

Carriers play a major role in your text message programs, even though you probably won't interact with any of them directly. Your web-based platform vendor will lease "space" on a short code. In order to do this, they'll pay a substantial fee (reimbursed by you), and they'll provide the carrier with details about the program. If carriers audit the vendor and find the short code isn't being used according to the original agreement, the carrier may stop supporting the short code. As you might have guessed, it's important to keep the carriers happy.

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The Exception to the Rule

The federal government has developed a mobile phone based emergency alert system called CMAS (Commercial Mobile Alert System) that uses cell-broadcast, a technology similar to SMS to geo-targetGeo-targeting is a method of sending text messages based on users' current location. It requires a specific vendor and platform, and circumvents the opt-in rule. It is typically only used in emergency situations. text messages in emergencies. Offices of Emergency Management and other emergency response organizations may have access to this system in the future for use in specific types of emergencies.Because geo-targeting circumvents the opt-in requirement, this is the exception rather than the rule.