February 27, 2024

5 SMS Rules and Regulations for Businesses

5 SMS Rules and Regulations for Businesses Use AI technology to turn web leads into live calls for your sales team.

SMS marketing, also called text messaging, has become ubiquitous in our digital world. Many sales companies are turning away from phone calls to instead harness the power of direct consumer outreach via SMS marketing.   

As of 2023, 86% of businesses have used SMS marketing in the last year, and over 90% of them report that SMS is an effective sales tactic. If your team isn’t yet using SMS marketing, you are losing out on large revenue streams that are currently going to your competition.

But implementing SMS marketing isn’t as simple as sending a text message to a friend. For businesses, there are many laws and regulations that limit the ways SMS marketing can be used. These are the five most important aspects of SMS regulations:

1. Express Written Consent

The foundational principle that guides most of the SMS laws in the United States is express written consent. In order for consent to comply with this standard, an initial message to a potential customer must consist of five things: 

  • Business name and purpose
  • Planned frequency and content of future text messages
  • Link to full terms and conditions
  • Ability to opt out through a direct reply
  • Notice that standard messaging and data rates will apply

You’ve likely received a text message like this yourself from a company at some point. It’s not just a courtesy; these aspects of an initial message are required by law.


Perhaps the most well-known telemarketing law in the United States is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or TCPA. First passed in 1991 and updated several times by the Federal Communications Commission, the TCPA regulates autodialers, hours of operation, opt-out requirements, business identification, and express written consent.

Fines for violating the TCPA are steep. Individual violations cost $500, so if you have thousands of customers, a single erroneous text message sent to everyone can add up to millions of dollars in fines.


The Federal Trade Commission adopted CAN-SPAM in 2003: the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act. This legislation functions as a supplement to the TCPA by expanding restrictions beyond autodialers to encompass all commercial entities. 

This legislation was originally created with email marketing in mind. Although it has not been specifically updated to refer to SMS marketing, the language within the Act refers to “any electronic mail message” sent out for a commercial purpose. Because of this, companies are beholden to abide by its rules for text message marketing in addition to email marketing.

4. CTIA Guidelines

The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association is not a governing body. It is a trade group on behalf of wireless communications companies. While it cannot legally enact fines for violations of the TCPA or CAN-SPAM, it does have the power to discontinue and block text messages from businesses that don’t comply with its guidelines.

Businesses can reference the latest version of the guide “Messaging Principles and Best Practices” to understand how they can stay in compliance with these guidelines.

5. Location

Finally, consider the location of both your business and your customers when implementing SMS marketing for your company. Laws vary state by state, and if you sell products or services internationally, other countries may have different privacy and technology laws to consider.

For example, the European Union put the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, into practice in 2018. This legislation focuses on seven protection principles: 

  • Transparency
  • Limitation of purpose
  • Data minimization
  • Accuracy
  • Limitation of storage
  • Confidentiality
  • Accountability

This is just one example of international laws to consider when marketing to customers outside of the United States with SMS.

Pipes.ai can handle SMS marketing for you

If you fear your current SMS strategy is non-compliant or you’re looking to implement SMS marketing for the first time, consider Pipes.ai your expert in this area. An award-winning lead optimization tool, Pipes.ai is compliant with SMS regulations right out of the box. 

As a full service, human-guided AI, Pipes.ai can sort through countless leads via SMS marketing to deliver your sales team only the most interested prospects. Better yet, you can participate in a free trial before you purchase the product, all without worrying about SMS regulations. Try our AI today.