Can I send text message marketing to people who haven't opted-in?
I manage a bar and currently send out occasional marketing texts to a database of a few hundred. One of my regulars suggested I add some of his friends who are contacts in his mobile phone address book. He says he'd only include the people who would definitely be interested in receiving our texts. It sounds quite reasonable, but I'm worried about breaking the law. Can we do this? If not, is there a way around it, some sort of loophole?
Scott, the short answer to both questions is no. Text message marketing is subject to exactly the same anti spam act as email marketing. This means those contacts would have to opt-in (or at least had the option to opt-out, AKA the 'soft opt-in') to receiving your sms campaigns.
So, just randomly adding mobile numbers to your database like this would definitely put you in breach of the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).
Note too that even if you did send them an initial message that offered the option to unsubscribe, you would still not be complying with the law. The opt-in must come first.
For more info on the soft opt-in and PECR, go to the following page on anti spam laws
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