Federal Communications Commission Exempts Text Message Marketing in the 2015 Telephone Consumer Protection Act

King of Prussia, PA – November 13, 2015 – The July 2015 Telephone Consumer Protection Act from the Federal Communications Commission clarifies what the new rules to the act will mean for Text Messaging Marketing systems.


Since the publication of the TCPA, telemarketing and text service industries have asked for clarification and grace periods in regards to written consent for the use of telemarketing through phone calls using a recorded voice or text messages. According to the July 2015 Order it is essential that a written consent is given to the provider by the consumer before they are able to market any kind of material to that consumer. This prevents any unwanted and unknown marketed products to flood a consumer’s phone.

Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), a Text Message Marketing provider for a number of big retailers, filed a petition to contend that their market does not object to the July 2015 Order. RILA made it clear that their services revolved around an on-demand message sent immediately after consumers text a keyword to a short code, therefore applying for that specific market. RILA also made it clear that their reply messages only provide information that the user is looking for; there is no material marketed in the text other than the information the customer is requesting.

The FCC agreed with RILA and made it clear that Text Message Marketing will be exempt from the July 2015 Order as long as messages are requested by customer, are one time only messages sent immediately after the keyword is received, and only market the information the customer is looking for. If the marketing system defies these rules, sends repeated messages after the initial message, or sends text messages that are not specifically requested by the consumer then that marketing provider is in violation of the July 2015 Order.

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Vegas Gentlemen’s Club Wins Text Messaging Case


On August 19, 2015, the US District Court for the Norther District of California granted summary jedgment in favor of Shaw LLC, proprietors of the Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club in Las Vegas, in a proposed class action lawsuit under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

The court ruled that, because the text messaging system used by Shac involved human intervention, it was not an autodialer for TCPA purposes.

A Shac employee used a system similar to 84444.com and typed customer numbers in to the website or by uploading a pasting a large number of an existing list of phone numbers.  Some customers added themselves to the platform via an interactive text message solution.  Messages were sent to the customer list after the actual copy was typed into the system by a Shac employee.

The court ruled a summary judgement in favor of Shac, because “the capacity to dial numbers without human intervention is required for TCPA liability.”  The court determined that “human intervention was involved in several stages of the process prior to Plaintiff’s receipt of the text message, including transferring of the telephone number”…..

Read more about the court case here.

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84444’s Bob Bentz and Barb Breeser Interviewed on Smart Pizza Marketing Podcast

Smart Pizza Marketing for Pizza Restaurants

If there is just one category that has worked the best for SMS text message marketing, it is pizza restaurants.  Pizza is something that you can eat every day and we all have our favorite places to get America’s favorite food.  We also know that deciding where to go for your next meal is mostly a spontaneous choice so a well-timed and targeted text message can get that consumer into your restaurant now.

In this podcast, Bruce Iriving of Smart Pizza Marketing, interviewed Bob Bentz and Barb Breeser about the following:

  • Mobile marketing defined.
  • Why mobile marketing is so important for pizza restaurants.
  • What tools make up a mobile marketing strategy for a restaurant?
  • How to make more sales with mobile from mobile search.
  • Mobile is now way more important for restaurants than desktop is.
  • Should your pizza shop do text message marketing or email?
  • How to use SMS text message marketing.
  • Bob Bentz’s one tip for anyone getting started with mobile marketing

Listen to the complete pizza marketing podcast here.

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Learn More About Pay Per Click

Our team at 84444 is relentlessly dedicated to providing innovative digital marketing solutions for brands of all niches and sizes, which is why we’re excited to partner with Grasshopper for their next live, online fireside chat event: Pay-Per-Click Essentials: How to Use PPC to Grow Your Small Business.

Three expert PPC marketers will make up a guest panel at this free event on Wednesday, July 29, at 2:00 pm EST. Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro), Sean Dolan (@_seandolan), and Steve Hammer (@armondhammer) will discuss the pros and cons of PPC, winning strategies, how to get started, tips for improving ROI, and more.

Registration is free, and open at http://grasshopper.com/firesidechat/.

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Just How Many of Your App Push Notifications are Being Read?

You May Be Shocked to Learn the Answer

(Statistics via Localytics.)

App Push Notifications vs. Text Marketing

open rates app push notifications
App push notifications are essentially free, but they don’t replace text message marketing due to paltry open rates.

At first glance, it may appear that using push notifications negates the need for text message marketing.  After all, you can eliminate the text messaging costs, reach your best customers that have downloaded your app, and eliminate those nasty TCPA concerns.

Not so quick.

Remember that 20% of apps that are downloaded are used once and then never used again.  To some degree, push notifications help keep your customer engaged.  When push is employed within an app, only 11% of consumers never open the app.  So, score another point for push notifications.


Segmented Push Messages are Better, but Results Still Suck

Marketers that segment their push messages by behavior and preferences to target appropriate audiences receive a 7% open rate.  But, the data shows that broadcast push messages are only opened by 3% of overall users!

Click rates for push messages are fairly consistent throughout the week at 5.8%, but the weekend rate drops to a paltry 3.5%.  The largest majority of apps send push messages in the evening likely thinking that this is the time when consumers would be more likely to engage.  This, however, appears to be a misconception.  Push messages actually have the greatest click rate in the afternoon when 6.7% are opened versus 4.6% at night.

Keeping your message short also helps.  Those push messages with ten or less words result in an 8.8% click rate versus 3.2% that are 21 or more words.


Text Message Open Rates vs. App Push Open Rates

For years now, SMS text message marketing providers have been advocating a 97% open rate for SMS, even the promotional ones.  Now, we have evidence that it’s probably way too early to kill your text message marketing program in favor of just doing app push notifications which result in only a 3% overall open rate.

Of course, it’s not to say that your business doesn’t still need an app.  Time spent with apps is ever increasing.

But, app push notifications don’t replace text message marketing.  That is pretty obvious when you look at the paltry open rates.


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The Demise of the Landline

It’s amazing how quickly the landline phone has become a dinosaur.  The drop in landline usage would probably be even a more dramatic statistic.

Why is this important for text message marketing?  It just points out that the only way to reach your target audience is via mobile.  In fact, for those businesses that have landlines, we are enabling landlines for text messaging anyway!

Landline phones in USA
Cutting the Cord: The Demise of the Landline
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Smartphone Ownership by Age Group

2015 Starts with 75% of Americans Owning Smartphones

Americans continue to switch to smartphones at a rapid pace.  As of this December, 2014 study, 74.9% of Americans own a smartphone.

smartphone ownership 2015
75% of us now own smartphones in the US.

Here is an interesting look at smartphone ownership by age group in the USA as you consider embarking on your mobile marketing strategy for 2015.

Smartphone owners by age USA
WE’RE ALL GETTING SMARTER: Smartphone ownership increases are most prevalent in the older age groups.


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Text to Landline with TextAnytime

Text-Enable Your Business Landline Phone

woman using a tablet

There’s no disputing that Americans love to send text messages. In fact, Americans send 3 times more text messages per day than they make phone calls. Increasingly, more and more Americans, especially young adults, simply prefer texting to talking. So, if you reach them initially with your text message marketing, you will want to continue that conversation via text message.

If you wish to communicate with your target audience, you had better speak with them on the medium of their choosing. Ever have a potential customer send you a text message, only to reply with a phone call? That’s a great way to lose a potential sale.

With ATS’ TextAnytime product, we text-enable your landline phone so that your company can speak real-time to customers and prospects through text messages received via short code and sent via computer. But, the great thing about TextAnytime’s Text to Landline is that your customer service people don’t have to communicate with the masses by typing large amounts of text messages on a small screen.

TextAnytime is a web-based solution that allows your sales and CSR’s to interact with consumers real-time via two-way SMS/Text conversations on their desktop PC or tablet. All communications and contact information is archived and easily exportable to CRM tools. Moreover, your personnel can be alerted via email or text message whenever a new message arrives.

Some uses for ATS’ TextAnytime product are:

Communication today isn’t as simple as it used to be. You need to communicate with your customers and prospects in multiple ways. TextAnytime from ATS makes it easy.

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Why Aren’t Short Codes Working on My Phone?

Occasionally, we do get calls from our clients who have been contacted by a particular customer that is unable to participate in their short code marketing services.  There are essentially five reasons why somebody wouldn’t be able to participate with short codes.

frustrated short code block
DON’T YELL: A short code block may be on your phone. Just call the carrier to have it removed.
  1. The short code aggregator has not linked up with the carrier.
  2. The carrier does not participate with short codes.
  3. It is a prepaid phone that does not permit short code use.
  4. The owner has not purchased a text message package.
  5. There is a requested short code block on the phone.  This is usually something requested by parents for their children in the past to prevent them from making premium SMS purchases such as ringtones.  (Of course, premium SMS is gone now in the USA, but is alive in Canada for now.)

I use short codes to communicate with my youth baseball players.  Inevitably, there is one player every year that has a short code block on his phone.  It’s easy to get removed; all you have to do is make a phone call to the carrier and ask to remove it.

Here is a list of participating carriers on 84444.com.

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How to Gauge the Effectiveness of Your Mobile Coupon

Mobile Coupon Examples from Two National Retailers

Mobile coupon redemption is one of the most common Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) used in tracking the effectiveness of text message marketing.

coupon code mobile coupon
Dress Barn uses a coupon code for its text message promotion.

There’s a few ways that businesses use mobile coupons via text message.

  1. “Show Text” — This is usually done at a small business or restaurant so in this case manual tabulation would be used.
  2. Code — Usually an alpha-numeric code.  (See the Dress Barn example)
  3. Click through to web — The mobile coupon is acquired via an embedded link in the text and the click-throughs to the website and the redeemed mobile coupons are quantified.  (See Toys R Us example)
  4. Phone Call — For this, you would need to use an embedded tracking phone number.  In  other words, it would be a phone number that you don’t often use.

The one thing that I would like to see added to the two promotions above is an expiration date.  “Exp. 1/31/15.”  That drives store traffic NOW.

mobile coupons via text and web
Toys R Us uses a link to its website where the consumer can get the discount.
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