SMS spam complaints can cause big trouble for your business. Not only can they result in customers wanting to unsubscribe from your campaigns, but they can also lead to bad reviews online and even hefty fines for violating text spam laws!

In this article, learn how business SMS messaging can quickly turn spammy if you don't keep a close eye on your strategy. Plus, we cover some key points from text spam laws and explain what you can do to avoid spam text complaints.

When business SMS messages turn spammy

Text marketing is often carried out with good intentions. Many businesses aim to engage customers, not only to drive sales and growth but also to build loyal relationships and provide better value.

As a marketing channel, SMS is incredibly effective. It offers 98% open rates, and most text messages are opened within just three minutes of receipt. Response rates are fast, too – if a response is required, most people do this within 90 seconds. (Read more fascinating facts about SMS.)

The problem is that once you begin to get great results with SMS marketing campaigns, it's easy to overdo your strategy and send out too many texts. This is where you can start annoying people, especially if you're sending texts blasts that aren't relevant to everyone on your list.

If you notice an increase in customers starting to opt-out of your SMS campaigns, act now to avoid SMS spam complaints. The best way to do that is to brush up on text message marketing laws and regulations and make sure you follow them to the letter.

What the law says about SMS complaints

Text message marketing rules vary by country, so you may need to familiarise yourself with several laws depending on where your customers are based.

In the U.S., the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and CAN-SPAM act apply. In Europe and the UK, the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 govern SMS marketing.

The U.S. wireless industry (represented by CTIA) has created a set of Messaging Principles and Best Practices for businesses and organisations. These are guidelines, not laws, but should be stuck to when carrying out text marketing to consumers in the U.S.

Some of the key points you need to be aware of include:

1. Obtaining consent

Before you send out any type of text, you must obtain consent. There are different levels of consent depending on what kind of SMS messages you're sending.

The strictest type of consent is for promotional texts, where you need to obtain express written permission from each customer first. It sounds complicated, but it's as simple as asking them to opt in to receive your text marketing campaigns by signing a form or ticking a checkbox on an online or paper form.

Another way to attract opt-ins is to ask customers to text a shortcode number with the words 'OPT IN' or 'SUBSCRIBE'. You could display these details on a flyer, social media post or website landing page.

However you decide to get signups, you should tell potential subscribers exactly what they're signing up for at the point where you collect their phone number or ask them to subscribe, so there can be no misunderstanding. For example, you might include a statement like:

Want to be the first to know about our special deals and latest news? Subscribe to SMS marketing text messages by texting the word 'SUBSCRIBE' to [shortcode number]. You can opt-out at any time.


From time to time, we may want to send you promotional texts to keep you updated about special offers and discounts. Tick this checkbox if you would like to opt-in. You can opt-out at any time.

2. Send messages at the right times and frequency

Text marketing rules include only sending messages at reasonable times, namely within the hours of 8am to 9pm. No one wants to receive messages during the night, yet some brands get this basic etiquette badly wrong.

Always check where subscribers are based in terms of time zones so that you don't unwittingly send them a text messaging campaign that wakes them up!

Example of SMS marketing sent at an unreasonable time

Don't bombard customers with too many texts, either. You may be keen to get your message across, but too many texts are irritating and will have subscribers opting out left, right and centre.

Try sending a few texts per week and monitor your opt-out rates to check that you've found the right balance in terms of frequency.

3. SMS content matters

When you do text your customers, send them content that you know they'll love. Irrelevant content will lower your engagement rates and will likely annoy subscribers too.

Dig deep into your data insights and segment your customers based on order history, engagement levels, communication preferences, etc. Then send them highly targeted and valuable content that they'd be crazy to miss out on. Keep your text copy conversational, not ‘salesy’ or robotic.

Example of unsolicited or spam text complaint

4. Always provide an opt-out method

Although you don't want customers to opt-out of your texts, you must offer them a way to do so if that's what they wish. This is another legal requirement for promotional SMS campaigns.

The easiest way to do this is to ask customers to text a keyword, like 'STOP'. Alternatively, add a URL that they can click to opt-out.

Use a trusted SMS service provider to avoid customer complaints

Partnering with a reputable SMS provider will ease the burden of SMS messaging compliance and help you prevent text spam complaints.

Messente, for instance, helps you attract SMS signups legitimately, provides campaign unsubscribe links and offers plenty of advice and tips on the type of content that works to improve the customer experience.

Discover how Messente can help you create SMS campaigns. Register for an account today and start sending your first few texts for free.