This article highlights how having a solid Opt-in/Opt-out consent process is crucial for 10DLC registration and toll free verification. There are several tips, examples, and common pitfalls to look out for to support a strong opt-in/opt-out strategy. Providing thorough information and evidence of your opt-in/opt-out strategy will help support your compliance registration for 10DLC or Toll-free.
What is opt-in and opt-out consent?
Opt-in consent for text-messaging refers to how an individual explicitly agrees and provides consent to receive text messages from a business or entity. Opt-out refers to how the individual can withdraw their consent, and ensure they no longer receive any more text messages. (You can read more on our blog post What Do Opt In and Opt Out Mean?).
Do these compliance requirements even apply to me?
Having strong opt-in and opt-out processes to manage your contacts is a crucial part of your business messaging strategy. Not only does it keep your contacts organized, but it is actually a mandatory requirement from carriers and messaging providers to prove you have adequate consent to message your contacts.
Whether you are a small or large business, whether it's your internal staff or customers you are messaging, whether its promotional marketing or not, compliance applies to everyone! A common misconception is that compliance and opt-in collection only applies to promotional or mass-marketing text messaging.
Carriers need to know who you are, why you are messaging, how you got permission to message your contacts, and will continue to monitor your traffic to ensure you are abiding by compliance regulations.
How does this relate to 10DLC (ten-digit long code) numbers?
10DLC (ten-digit long code) phone numbers sending traffic to the US must be registered for 10DLC. This registration process involves submitting information about your business, messaging objectives, opt-in/opt-out processes, and more (You can read more on the 10DLC registration process here). Opt-in consent collection is an extremely important component of the 10DLC registration, as carriers and messaging providers have a stringent set of reviews to judge whether your opt-in collection is adequate. Failing to provide adequate proof of opt-in consent can lead to registration delays, message blocking, and message filtering down the line.
How does this relate to Toll-Free Numbers?
Similar to 10DLC, Toll Free numbers also go through a verification process where you must submit information about your business, messaging objectives, opt-in/opt-out processes, and more. Opt-in consent is also an extremely important component of the Toll Free verification process as well, for carriers and messaging providers to judge whether your opt-in collection is adequate.
How do I make a strong opt-in/opt-out strategy which carriers and messaging providers will accept and approve?
The expectations and requirements set by carriers and messaging providers in the industry have greatly evolved overtime, and continue to change as new regulations and strategies to reduce spam and monitor compliance form. Here you will find some recommendations, dos, don'ts, and examples of how you can best support your opt-in strategy, and how to best report this in your 10DLC registration or Toll Free Verification.
Do: Use a tangible form of opt-in collection which can be proved to carriers and messaging providers.
There are several tangible methods which can be used for opt-in consent collection. Here is a limited list of examples:
- Inbound SMS - Posting a public number where customers can message you. Opt-in verbiage is included where the number is posted, and confirmed via text with the customer.
- Web Forms - This could be a Contact Us form, or application filled out on a website. The form includes verbiage on how the phone number will be used for SMS.
- Paper Forms - This could be client or customer applications which are filled on paper, and the phone number is collected. The form includes verbiage on how the phone number will be used for SMS.
- Email - You may explicitly ask for a phone number and permission to SMS via email.
These methods provide concrete evidence that can be verified by carriers and messaging providers. They can be publicly accessible, internal, behind a login, behind a paywall, or in any touchpoint relevant to your customers.
Don't: Rely on verbal consent, implied consent, or casual/informal use case excuses, since it’s not tangible consent.
Avoid relying on verbal opt-in collection or word of mouth, as it's challenging to provide tangible proof of how and when the opt-in was collected. Most carriers and messaging providers require URLs, PDFs, or images as evidence of opt-in, making verbal methods insufficient. Use cases describing casual or informal settings are not acceptable reasons for lacking tangible consent. For example, saying “We are just texting our internal staff…” will not bypass the need to provide an evident opt-in process. Regardless of the context, opt-in consent should always be collected using verifiable methods to ensure transparency and compliance.
Do: Include a URL, Picture, or PDF evidence showing where consent is collected
When collecting opt-in consent, always provide supporting evidence such as a URL, picture, or PDF displaying explicit opt-in language. This evidence is necessary to validate the opt-in process. If the content is in an internal document, application, behind a paywall or login, a screenshot is the best way to provide evidence if a direct URL cannot be provided.
Don't: Submit without a URL or image, claiming it’s hidden on an internal site.
Carriers and messaging providers require tangible proof of opt-in examples. If the content is not publicly accessible, provide a screenshot of the internal form or application as evidence. Simply claiming that your opt-in collection is on an internal site without providing a supporting screenshot will likely result in rejection.
Do: Use clearly visible, explicit verbiage when collecting the opt-in. Disclaimers matter!
Whenever collecting phone numbers, ensure there is explicit verbiage about how the phone number will be used. This disclaimer should be visible and explicit, explaining the purpose for which the phone number is being collected. For example, your form or webpage could say “By checking this box, you are opting in to receiving SMS messages for regular account updates and appointment reminders to your provided contact phone number. You can opt out at any time by replying STOP.”. Include screenshots and webpages which include this type of verbiage for a strong submission.
While privacy policies and terms and conditions can provide additional context, we recommend that they should not be the sole method of collecting opt-in consent. Avoid relying solely on these documents to vaguely state that customers will be contacted. Consent should be presented as an optional opt-in, with the communication channel stated (i.e. SMS), and clear, explicit methods of consent collection should be used to ensure compliance and transparency.
Examples of Description of Messaging Use Case and Messaging Opt-in/Opt-out Flow
As part of 10DLC registration, there are two main components you will need to submit: a Description of Messaging Use Case, and Messaging Opt-in/Opt-out Flow. The Description of Messaging Use Case is where you describe who you are as a business, what products/offerings you have, and why you plan to use SMS messaging. The Messaging Opt-in/Opt-out Flow is where you describe when and how you collect consent to send messages to your contacts.
Here are some examples of common use cases and opt-in methods businesses might use, along with some tips on what makes each submission strong.
Using a Phone Number for cases where “they message us first”:
Many businesses have a textable phone number which clients, customers, or prospects can message into with inquiries or for support. This messaging method is called “Inbound SMS” since the first message is inbound to the business. Ensure that the verbiage about opting in and opting out is explicit and consistent wherever the textable phone number is posted, be it on your website, PDF documents, posters, or social media posts. This consistency helps in maintaining transparency and clarity for anyone who interacts with your business through SMS. Additionally, the first message received from the client, customer, or prospect should confirm their opt-in status explicitly. It should include a statement such as "Thank you for reaching out to us! By sending this message, you have opted in to receive SMS messages from [Your Business Name]. To stop receiving messages, reply STOP at any time."
Description of Messaging Use Case
We are a dog food retailer which offers online products for various pet food and pet accessories. We use SMS to help answer customer support or product inquiries when customers prefer to communicate over SMS.
Messaging Opt-in/Opt-out Flow (Example with Inbound SMS)
On our main website, we have a support number posted where customers can either call or text the number for any inquiries. Beside this posted number there is clear verbiage stating “By texting this number you are consenting to receiving SMS messages from us, and can opt out at any time by replying STOP. Once they message us, the first message will introduce us (S.M.S Dog Food Inc.) and ask them to text “confirm” to confirm they want to opt-in. The messages always include the opt-out phrase “Reply STOP to unsubscribe from messages.”.
Using a Phone Number for messaging internal staff or employees:
Employers will often assume that there is an implied consent for them to message employees’ phone numbers. However, relying on verbal or implied consent to send messages does not provide evidence to carriers and messaging providers that you are following due diligence to follow compliance. Wherever you collect the employee phone numbers, there should be some verbiage on how that phone number will be used for SMS, and how they are consenting to receiving messages.
Description of Messaging Use Case
We do Garage Door installations and other home improvement services. We have a team of 10-12 servicers who do regular visits to customer homes for services, and share various equipment and service vehicles for our shifts. We use messaging to manage our resources and give updates on any field work, delays, coordination, or resource needs.
Messaging Opt-in/Opt-out Flow (Example with Paper Form)
We use messaging with our internal team or service professionals. When a member joins our team there is a paper form they fill with their contact information and other employment information. The contact info section has a section for phone number and distinct verbiage asking for consent to receive SMS messages related to work. They can opt out by letting the texting STOP, letting team lead know, or if they ever leave the team they will be opted out. Attached is a PDF version of the paper form, showing the section where we collect opt-in.
Using a Phone Number for Recruitment and Hiring:
There might be several sources or channels where you collect job applications, but avoid assuming that simply providing a phone number in the application is sufficient for opt in. Ensure that any job descriptions or submission forms have explicit text indicating that the provided number will be used for text-messaging.
Description of Messaging Use Case
We are the Research Faculty of Engineering and Technology at the University of S.M.S.. We regularly have job openings for different teams, and need to communicate with current and prospective applicants about their candidacy. We provide candidates with resources and reminders related to recruitment events and interviews via SMS.
Messaging Opt-in/Opt-out Flow (Example with Electronic Form)
When applicants fill out a job application form on our school portal, the job descriptions will always include the verbiage: “By submitting your application and contact information, you opt-in to being contacted by us via email, phone call, and/or SMS messaging. You can contact us at any time to opt-out of any communications.”. For text messages, messages will always specify that they can reply STOP to opt-out of receiving messages at any time. These job postings are not publicly visible, but you can see a screenshot of a posting here at this URL: <link>. Additionally, when they fill out the actual job application webform, section 3 will ask for their email, phone, and other contact details. In this section it also clearly states that the phone number may be used for SMS communications, and that they can opt-out at any time by replying STOP.
Using a Phone Number for managing client relations or sales:
If you are in an industry or business which engages in regular networking and informal or formal communication with clients and prospects, like in Sales or Real Estate, you must still collect tangible opt-in consent. Relying on verbal or implied consent to send messages does not provide evidence to carriers and messaging providers that you are following due diligence to follow compliance. Try to use contact us forms, paper forms, applications, pdfs, or some evident method to collect opt-in consent.
Description of Messaging Use Case
We are a real estate agency with a team of agents managing buying and selling engagements with our clients. Text messaging will be used to communicate with prospective clients or buyers that have shown interest in our services for transfer of real property. We will use SMS messaging for customer service purposes to respond to questions and help customers. Customers inquire to be reached out and are also asked if they want marketing emails as well.
Messaging Opt-in/Opt-out Flow (Example with Web Contact Us Form)
Our website has a Contact Us form where they can make initial inquiries and provide their contact information. On this form there is a section where clients will be given the option to opt-in to receiving SMS messages via their provided number. Here is a link to the Contact Us form: <link>. The organization that is represented for initial Messages will be for S.M.S Real Estate Agency. Opt-out messages will be sent at the bottom of each message by replying "STOP."