Collecting phone numbers at your brick and mortar place of business is as simple as filling out forms or collecting business cards, but what about online? Again, that can be as simple as asking customers to email or text you their information, or you can go high-tech and actually set up an online form, linked from your website, Facebook page, or even advertising links.
SMS messaging follows the rules of permission based marketing. It’s 100 percent opt-in based. Simply put, customers have to give their expressed consent before receiving SMS messages. This can be done in one of three ways. New subscribers can double opt-in¹ via web widget, add their cell number to a compliant sign-up form or text to join. The latter is the most common. After opting in, the new subscriber will receive an auto reply confirming their subscription. If the opt-in was accidental, they can simply reply STOP, and all messaging will cease.
Unfortunately, this is a loaded question because one portion of the question is 100% legal and then one portion of the question is 100% illegal. So, let me explain. You can purchase mobile phone numbers. There is many data brokers that are out there that will sell you mobile phone numbers. On the other hand, you cannot text message those phone numbers because it is illegal. So, while you can, yes, buy mobile numbers, you cannot text message those phone numbers. Now why can’t you text message those phone numbers and why is it illegal? Well, here in the United States, we have the FCC. And FCC developed federal law called the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. It’s pretty long but some people call it the TCPA. And essentially, it says you cannot text message consumers without their consent. And it has to be prior consent. It can’t be consent after the fact because that’s really not consent, I think. So, in the TCPA, it’s very clear that you cannot text message customers without their consent. Now, if you do text message customers without their consent, so let’s say you purchased a list of mobile phone numbers, and you text message those phone numbers, that would be text messaging people without their consent. Now, if you do that, under the TCPA, which is federal law, consumers have the right to sue your business for anywhere between $500 and $1,500 per text message. Now that’s not text message you sent out. So if you send 1 text message to a million people, you’re not gonna be sued $500 to $1,500, you’re gonna be sued for a million times $500 or $1,500. So you can see that buying phone numbers, while that is usually cheap, the consequences of buying mobile phone numbers and then text messaging those phone numbers can be in the millions or hundreds of millions of dollars. So you do not want to buy mobile phone numbers and text message them because while it is legal to buy the phone numbers, it is 100% illegal to text message those phone numbers that you purchased that never gave your business consent to send text messages to them. So hopefully that answers the question as to, “Can you buy mobile phone numbers for text message marketing?”
Social media started getting its roots deeper and deeper, for example, the inventor of Facebook and YouTube never knew that what they have created will be so big that it can be used as tool for shaping the perception of people, the world largest companies even cannot neglect their presence on social media, theyknow that the image of their products and services can shape through social media.
Once you've collected your mobile numbers, verified that you have followed all of your legal responsibilities you can start your SMS marketing campaign. I'd suggest using a 3rd party service provider to ensure that you are able to track the return on investment for your campaign, embed an unsubscribe message, and easily manage your SMS marketing database including unsubscribes.