What is Express Written Consent?

Best Practices: Text Messaging for Doctors and Healthcare Practices

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From a legal standpoint, “express written consent” is key to communicating via text message to large lists of contacts you may have gathered from multiple sources. But knowing the difference between this term and “consent” in general can be confusing. From the definition itself to how it should be interpreted and applied, we’ll help you understand how to set up your opt-in process to include this important step.

The phrase express written consent comes from the Federal Communications Commission’s definition from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) as well as subsequent FCC regulations. In these regulations, express written consent is permission given by a consumer either digitally or in person to receive marketing messages sent – and this is the important part – by an autodialer or other automated process. It also includes the stipulation that the consumer is under no obligation to consent in order to receive goods or services from the company requesting permission for these messages.

The adjectives that make this type of consent different are the key to understanding express written consent. First, “express” means that you can’t assume a person consents to receive marketing texts because they, for example, already made a purchase at your business. The consent must be separate from other transactions or agreements. The “written” aspect is a little looser; consent can be given by texting a code to a specific number, checking a box after inputting their phone number, or by signing their name.

The short answer for why consent is important for setting up successful text message marketing campaigns is because otherwise it’s illegal. Companies have been fined and punished in the past for failing to obtain consent for automated campaigns, and routinely signing people up for marketing texts they don’t want is a recipe for a bad user experience.

Fortunately, giving consent for text marketing is familiar to many people these days. Everyone is enticed by having access to the latest offers, specials, new services, etc., and texting is becoming more and more synonymous with brands that offer it.

In addition, having a consent-driven opt-in process allows you to identify the most qualified leads on your contact list. These people are among the most likely to not only pay attention to the marketing texts they receive, but also to make purchases that help grow your business. In this way, compliance is not only required, but encouraged to enhance your ROI.