SMS Opt-In Essentials: Guidelines, Best Practices & Examples
By Silvana Lucido-Balestrieri
| 20. June 2024 |
Service & Support, Communication
By S. Lucido-BalestrieriSilvana Lucido-Balestrieri
| 20 Jun 2024 |
Service & Support, Communication
    By S. Lucido-BalestrieriSilvana Lucido-Balestrieri
    | 20 Jun 2024
    Service & Support, Communication

    SMS Opt-In Essentials: Guidelines, Best Practices & Examples

    Did you know that 63% of consumers engage with brands’ SMS campaigns at least twice a week?

    This statistic underscores the immense potential of SMS marketing as a powerful tool for engaging with customers. However, ensuring that customers are enthusiastic about receiving those text messages is important.

    And that’s where the SMS opt-in comes in.

    Join us as we delve into the advantages, regulatory guidelines, best practices, and examples of SMS opt-in.

    Key Takeaways:

    • With SMS opt-in, customers explicitly consent to receive promotional or informational text messages from a company.
    • Choosing SMS opt-in keeps you compliant with the law, makes customers happier, and prevents spam complaints.
    • Incorporating practices like setting clear expectations, implementing double opt-in, and personalizing messages can boost the effectiveness of SMS marketing and foster stronger connections with your customers.

    What is SMS Opt-In?

    SMS opt-in means the customer agrees to receive texts from a particular company with ads or alerts. In many countries, it is mandatory to comply with laws such as GDPR, as prior consent from the user is required to send them advertising.

    Subscribing to SMS opt-in is simple. Customers must provide their phone numbers and confirm that they agree to receive the messages.

    For example, an opt-in SMS would be:

    “[Business name] wants to send you discounts and marketing promotions. To consent, reply YES.”

    What Is SMS Opt-Out? 

    Just like customers agree to get text messages, they also have the right to say they don’t want them anymore. That’s called opt-out.

    So, opt-out means the customer confirms via message that they want to stop receiving sms and alerts from a company via text. It’s essential to comply with legal requirements, maintain a good brand image, and respect what customers want.

    That’s why it’s key to tell people how to opt out of the texts you send. You can just tell them to reply with words like STOP, UNSUBSCRIBE, CANCEL, or QUIT to stop getting these messages.

    SMS Opt-in Examples

    Feeling stuck on crafting your SMS opt-in? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Discover an example for every scenario.

    #1 Promotional Opt-In

    Use it to build a list of customers interested in receiving promotional offers, discounts, and exclusive deals. 

    Example: “Join our VIP list! Text ‘SAVEMORE’ to 800123 and get exclusive access to discounts and special offers directly on your phone.”

    #2 Event Updates Opt-In

    This is perfect for keeping attendees informed about upcoming events, ticket sales, schedule changes, and any exclusive perks or offers related to them.

    Example: “Stay in the loop! Text ‘EVENTS’ to 555888 to receive updates on upcoming events, special guests, and exclusive offers.”

    #3 Customer Feedback Opt-In

    Use it to ask your customers about their experience with your product or service. It’s an effective way to engage with customers, show that you value their opinions, and incentivize them to provide their opinions with a special offer.

    Example: “We value your opinion! Text ‘FEEDBACK’ to 123456 to share your thoughts and receive a special thank you offer.”

    #4 Appointment Reminders Opt-In

    This SMS opt-in helps reduce no-shows, improve customer satisfaction, and streamline appointment scheduling processes.

    Example: “Never miss an appointment again! Text ‘REMINDME’ to 789012 to receive reminders for your upcoming appointments with us.”

    Benefits and Importance of SMS Opt-in 

    SMS opt-in is no small matter. Implementing it is very important if you’re going to do SMS marketing. 

    Here’s why you should take it seriously:

    #1 Stay Compliant

    As mentioned, SMS opt-in ensures compliance with laws such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the CAN-SPAM Act. Failing to include it can result in financial penalties.

    #2 Increase open and conversion rates up to 98% 

    By requesting consent, only those genuinely interested will be included. Therefore, those customers or leads will be more qualified and likely to open, respond to, and purchase from those messages. 

    #3 Prevent spam complaints

    About 10% of SMS marketing messages received are considered spam, while 46.8% are accounted for in email marketing. But if people get texts they didn’t sign up for, expect a flood of spam reports. That’s a hit to your brand’s rep you can’t afford.

    #4 Make your customers happy

    85% of smartphone owners prefer messages over calls or emails. The advantages are clear: it’s a direct, personal, and practical communication channel.

    #5 Build reliability and transparency

    Getting opt-ins isn’t just about following the rules but building trust. When you’re upfront about your SMS game, customers know that you’re being honest with them.

    Types of SMS Opt-In

    #1 Single Opt-in

    Most common and quickest method. The customer is automatically added to your SMS list by completing a form or sending an SMS. No additional confirmation is requested. 

    For example, the case we previously saw of “[Business name] wants to send you discounts and marketing promotions. To consent, reply YES.” 

    #2 Double Opt-in

    Involves sending the customer a text message to reconfirm if they want to join your SMS list. 

    You can ask them to reply to the message with a keyword, such as “CONFIRM”.

    #3 Soft Opt-in

    Is a less intrusive option for obtaining consent from your customers, as you’ve already contacted them through other communication channels. 

    A common example would be sending an email to your customers stating they can subscribe to your SMS list by replying to that email.  

    Tell customers interested in receiving text messages to respond to the email with the word “SUBSCRIBE.”

    Regulatory Guidelines for SMS Opt-In

    Let’s have a look at the laws you should consider to ensure compliance. Please note that these are only guidelines. If you want to know the laws that apply to your specific situation, it’s better to talk to a lawyer.


    The TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) states that companies should not send messages to customers without their prior express written consent, but it also establishes other requirements for opt-out:

    • Your company must identify itself in these texts and provide opt-out instructions.
    • Consumers must have an easy option to opt out.


    The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) applies to any country that wants to do business in the European Union or use the personal data of its citizens. It sets requirements for:

    • Obtaining consent to send text messages.
    • Promptly informing consumers about security breaches.
    • Allowing consumers to access their personal data and completely erase it if desired.

    CAN-SPAM Act of 2003

    The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 primarily focuses on email but contains clauses applicable to text messages:

    • It states it is illegal for companies to send unwanted text messages to mobile numbers.
    • Any commercial message must be easily identifiable by the recipient.
    • Consumers must also have the option to opt out of receiving messages.
    • It also states that companies ignoring these laws and sending unsolicited text messages may face fines of up to $1,500 per violation.

    Industry Standards

    Mobile operators and industry groups like the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) have guidelines to prevent spam and ensure messages are sent responsibly. They focus on obtaining user consent before sending promotional messages, blocking spam messages, and implementing measures to reduce the impact of spam calls and messages.

    State-Specific Regulations

    Lastly, some states may have additional laws regarding SMS marketing. Therefore, it’s also important to be aware of local laws if you’re using SMS opt-in.

    For example, according to the Florida Telemarketing Act, individuals residing in Florida must only be contacted from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

    6 SMS Opt-In Best Practices

    Follow these 6 key tips to make the most of all the benefits of SMS opt-in.

    #1 Set clear expectations

    Just like with email marketing, customers must understand what to expect when they join your SMS list. Do this:

    • Explain the benefits of joining your SMS list with exclusive offers, insider information, and updates.
    • Specify how often you will send messages.

    #2 Use double opt-in

    Sometimes, users may receive messages by mistake, or they don’t understand what they’re accepting. Double opt-in helps prevent such situations by requiring a second confirmation.

    After the initial subscription, send a confirmation message with a keyword to verify consent and ensure the number is valid. For example, “CONFIRM” or “ACCEPT.”

    #3 Include clear opt-out instructions

    We’ve already explained why opt-out is important and why customers need to know how to do it. To do this, add these instructions to the welcome SMS and all messages you send.

    Example in the welcome message: “Welcome to our community! You will receive exclusive updates about our offers and promotions. If you want to unsubscribe, reply with the word “STOP”. Thank you for joining!”

    Example in a promotional message: “Hello [Customer Name]! This week, we have a special offer just for you: a 30% discount on your next purchase. Interested? Reply with “YES” for more details. If you don’t want to receive further messages, reply with “STOP”.”

    #4 Personalize Messages

    Make your customers feel like VIPs by following these tips:

    • Include personal data: This can include the customer’s name or their company’s name, location, or reference to previous purchases.
    • Segment your list: for example, you can segment your list by the customer’s product category of interest. This means that only customers who have shown interest in a specific category will receive this special offer related to that category.

    Example with personal data: “Hello [Customer Name]! Would you like to receive updates on exclusive promotions near [Customer Location]? Reply with “YES” to join our VIP list and enjoy personalized offers in your area.”

    Example of segmentation: “Hello [Customer Name]! We want to reward your loyalty. Therefore, this weekend, we offer you a 20% discount on your next purchase in the [Customer’s Product Category of Interest] section. Present this message at checkout.”

    #5 Include other contact options

    SMS marketing works best when it’s part of an omnichannel marketing strategy.

    So, if you have space in your message, include other contact options in your SMS (phone, email) or direct them to a website where these options are available, as not all issues can be resolved via SMS.

    #6 Be Brief and Sweet

    SMS has a very limited number of characters (specifically, 160), so it’s crucial to be concise and direct.

    For example, if you’re sending information about an offer, the most important thing would be to mention the discount or promotion and then include the CTA on the landing page or the discount code to apply.

    Example: Hello [Customer Name]! 🎉 Don’t miss out on our exclusive spring offer! This week, enjoy a 25% discount on all products. Use the code “SPRING25”.🌷🌿 More details on the website: [link].

    Sometimes, sending a single message may be insufficient due to the character limit. You can send a second message, but remember, it shouldn’t be a common practice.

    Consent First, Sales Later

    In essence, SMS opt-in is not just a legal requirement but also boosts open rates, reduces spam complaints, and keeps customers happy. 

    By following best practices like clear communication, personalization, and compliance with regulations, you can make the most of SMS marketing while respecting your customers’ preferences.

    Are you ready to start? Explore SMS CloudTalk’s features, such as automated SMS follow-ups, reusable templates, and MMS capabilities, to boost your text message marketing efforts.


    How to increase SMS opt-ins?

    To boost SMS opt-ins, consider these strategies:
    – Ask customers to opt-in during various interactions like in-person, calls, emails, chats, or social media.
    – Optimize opt-in forms for mobile devices to enhance convenience and user experience.
    – Simplify web push opt-ins with single-step processes to increase subscription rates.

    What language should I use for SMS opt-in?

    When crafting an SMS opt-in message, using specific language for compliance and effectiveness is crucial. Here are key components to include:
    Business Name: Clearly state your business name to identify the sender, e.g., “I agree to receive texts from [Your Business Name].”
    SMS Disclaimers: Include message and data rates disclaimer, e.g., “Message and data rates may apply.”
    Opt-Out Information: Provide clear instructions, e.g., “Text STOP to unsubscribe.”
    Customer Help Information: Include support details, e.g., “Text HELP for assistance.”
    Terms and Privacy Policies: Link to your company’s policies for transparency and carrier approval.
    Use Case: State what subscribers will receive, e.g., “Emergency alert text messages.”
    Message Frequency: Inform subscribers about message frequency, e.g., “Up to five texts about your order.”

    What are OTP SMS messages?

    OTP SMS, or One-Time Password SMS, is a secure method of authentication that involves sending a unique alphanumeric or numeric code to a mobile number. This password serves as an added layer of security to verify a user’s identity when logging in online or confirming an action. For example, your verification code is 123456. Please do not share this code with anyone. Thank you!

    How to increase SMS opt-in rates?

    To increase SMS opt-in rates, you can employ several effective strategies:
    – Promote your SMS opt-in list across various channels like in-store, website, social media, Google My Business, and email marketing1.
    – Give customers immediate rewards for opting in, such as discounts, promotions, or free gifts24.
    – Send personalized and relevant messages to the right audience to maintain a high opt-in rate1.
    – Market your SMS list benefits not only through email but also on social media, in-store, and other physical and digital platforms4.
    – Leverage customer service interactions to invite customers to opt into your SMS list, offering special discounts or bonuses as a thank-you for their loyalty