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Consent and Opt-In Best Practices Updates

7 min read

Best practices indicate that message senders should gain contact consent and maintain their preferences in order to text through platforms like Cadence (including all third-party texting platforms and CRMs).

The benefit of following the best practices around consent is that you will be less likely to be filtered by the carriers. 

By gaining consent, you ensure you have an engaged audience for texts-- which is better for everyone. Mongooses’ goal is to be proactive in keeping up with new guidelines so that we can help clients achieve success using our product and ensure that potential issues are avoided.

This article empowers you with the information you need to decrease your risk of being filtered due to increase carrier sensitivity to high opt-out rates and spam complaints. Implementing these changes will positively impact your Cadence experience, ensuring you maintain an engaged, attentive audience. Follow the below guidelines to safeguard your ability to deliver text messages and set your school up for long-term success.

Here's the best practices we recommend you follow:

1. Obtain Consent Before Texting

Consent to text must be established before sending the contact any messages. In order to obtain proper consent to send the recipient relevant text messages, the collection method should include:

  • What types of messages the recipient can expect to receive
  • An indication of the frequency of messages
  • A place to provide a valid phone number

Collecting consent can be as easy as adding a check-box next to a phone number field with the above requirements.

Some examples:

"Would you like to receive text updates from Mongoose University? You can expect monthly messages with information on important deadlines, student resources, and upcoming events."

"Check here to opt into text updates from Mongoose University regarding deadlines, support resources, and school events. Up to 4 messages/month, message & data rates may apply."

 Ensure that these boxes are not pre-checked. It's recommended that you ask new subscribers to confirm their subscription via text. This is called "double opt-in" and is a great way to ensure you have documented permission to communicate with them via text. 

Advertise YOUR texting NUMBER

An effective way to get contacts to opt into text messaging is to advertise your texting number at key entry points so contacts can share their mobile phone number to receive text updates.

Five easy ways to collect opt-ins include:

  1. Initiate an e-mail blast to notify contacts of the ability to opt-in for text updates
  2. Keep inquiry forms simple, fun, and to the point
  3. Update social media pages with your virtual phone number
  4. Update your email signature with your virtual phone number
  5. Update your online application to include language for opting into text messaging

Example - Text “Go Cats” to xxx-xxx-xxxx for University updates

From there, figure out whether you want a single or double opt-in experience. We recommend you include a double-opt-in the first time you engage any contact via text.

Single OPT-IN:

A single opt-in is a one-step action and only requires a person to text a keyword. No confirmation is required, and they instantly become a subscriber.

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DOUBLE OPT-IN:

A double opt-in involves a two-step action where a person texts a keyword and then is required to confirm their subscription. The main benefits of utilizing a double opt-in are that you will have more engaged/responsive contacts and a decreased likelihood of being flagged as spam.

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Watch for "Trigger Words"

There are some words that you'll want to make sure you are strategic in using when sending text messages. There are words that carriers have identified as trigger words that can result in contacts "Opting Out" or being flagged by the carrier. These words are "STOP", "CANCEL", "END", "QUIT", "UNSUBSCRIBE", "HELP" and "INFO".

Example:

What you should say-"Hello <FIRST NAME>, this is Ashley at MU. We saw you started your application but haven't finished. Do you have any questions about your application?"

Avoid messages like this- "Hello <FIRST NAME>, this is Ashley at MU. We saw you started your application but haven't finished. If you need help or have questions, reply HELP"

 

2. Establish and Document Your Collection Process

Methods for obtaining consent should be documented and provable in the event that your institution’s messaging activity leads to large spikes in opt-out rates or spam complaints. We recommend keeping a record of all opt-ins.

Places to ask for consent (opt-in) include:

  • Application or document submissions
  • Forms that ask for contact information 
  • Websites or student portals
  • Event registrations
  • Appointment scheduling

3. Store Texting Preferences by Team

Contacts should opt into texting on a per-team basis. Each contact should have a separate preference per team or department which is aligned with how opt-in status is stored in Cadence.

Data fields associated with texting preferences should include:

  • Contact name and mobile number
  • Opt-in status
  • Date/time that the status was last updated

4. Re-Establish Consent When Necessary 

Obtaining consent to text an individual does not mean that consent is provided indefinitely. Your institution’s texting policy should take into account when consent to text was last established.

Storing a date/time stamp along with a contact’s opt-in status is the best way to track this information.

Consent and opt-in should be re-established if a reasonable time (10-12 months) has passed without any messages being sent to the contact.

5. Manage and Record Opt-Outs 

There are a few possible ways that a contact may opt-out of receiving text messages which can include: texting a keyword such as “STOP”, texting a statement such as “stop texting me” or indicating a desire to opt-out or remain opted out via a form, document, email, etc.

6. Include Opt-out Language in the First Text

Every message you send should clearly identify you (your institution’s name and department) as the sender, except in follow-up messages of an ongoing conversation. The initial message that you send to an individual needs to include instructions for opting out at the end of the message such as “Reply STOP to unsubscribe”.

 

Cadence-Specific Features to Help:

  • Mongoose offers a built-in notification process to help you manage opt out status changes. Based on your institution’s opt out notification settings (configured by Admin users under " Team Name" > Notifications), the platform can send an email to a specific person or multiple people each time a contact's opt out status changes. 
  • Contacts can opt-out by replying to a text sent from Cadence with one of these trigger words: STOP, STOPALL, UNSUBSCRIBE, CANCEL, END, or QUIT.  This type of Opt-Out is maintained at the carrier level and the contact will receive one final automated message confirming that the opt-out has occurred. 
  • Within Cadence, any user/admin can go into the contact's conversation view (or Contacts > Search) and click OPT-OUT.  The contact will be opted-out of receiving texts from anyone in that team. 

    • There is not a way to automatically opt a contact out across all users and all teams. The easiest way would be to find the contact in each team and opt the contact out.
  • If your institution imports a contact for the first time and does not include the OptedOut column, Cadence will automatically opt the contact in.
  • Unless you include the OptedOut column in your imports, the opt-out status of an existing contact in Cadence will be preserved and will only change if an automatic or user-initiated opt-out occurs in the platform.
  • A contact who has automatically opted-out cannot be changed back to opted-in via import; that contact would need to text one of the accepted trigger words in order to opt back in.

 

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