Text Marketing Compliance for S.H.A.F.T. Industries: A Roadmap to Success

Text Marketing Compliance for S.H.A.F.T. Industries: A Roadmap to Success

Suppose you’re operating within the S.H.A.F.T. (Sex, Hate, Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco) sectors. In that case, mastering text marketing compliance can be complex, particularly for those in the alcohol and firearms industries.

This blog post offers a clear, easy-to-understand guide to help you navigate text marketing compliance effectively in the alcohol and firearms sectors. 

By familiarizing yourself with the regulations and best practices, you can unlock the full potential of text marketing while remaining compliant and ensuring a positive experience for your customers.

Text Marketing Compliance Overview

Introduction to S.H.A.F.T. Categories

As a business owner in one of the S.H.A.F.T. sectors, it’s crucial to be familiar with the categories that fall under this umbrella:

  • Sex: Sexually inappropriate content
  • Hate: Hate speech or profanity
  • Alcohol: Alcoholic beverages
  • Firearms: Firearms, accessories, and depictions or endorsements of violence
  • Tobacco: Tobacco products, including vaping, and endorsements of illegal or illicit drugs, such as marijuana and cannabis

These industries are subject to stricter regulations to ensure responsible marketing and protect consumers.

Key elements of SMS marketing compliance

To maintain compliance in your alcohol or firearms business, consider the following key factors:

  1. Age-gating: Implement age-gating procedures (21+ for alcohol and firearms) and require electronic confirmation of consumers’ ages for verification.
  2. Opt-in and opt-out processes: Ensure customers provide express consent before receiving promotional text messages and offer multiple opt-out mechanisms, promptly honoring opt-out requests.
  3. Message content: Avoid sending promotional messages during “quiet hours” (9:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m., local time for the recipient), and ensure your message content aligns with industry guidelines.

Consumer opt-in and opt-out requirements

Understanding and following consumer opt-in and opt-out requirements is crucial for maintaining compliance in your text marketing campaigns:

Opt-in requirements:
  • Conversational: If a consumer initiates a text conversation, no additional permission is expected, provided the conversation remains relevant to the consumer’s inquiry.
  • Informational: Obtain express consent from consumers for receiving informational messages, such as appointment reminders or alerts.
  • Promotional: Obtain express written consent from consumers before sending promotional messages, such as sales or marketing promotions.
Opt-out requirements:
  • Provide multiple opt-out options, including phone calls, emails, or texts.
  • Honor opt-out requests by sending a confirmation message and ceasing further communication.
  • Keep records of opt-out requests to ensure future compliance.

OtterText SHAFT compliant for firearms

Age-Gating and CTIA Audit for S.H.A.F.T. Content

Age-gate requirements for alcohol and firearm businesses

Age-gating is critical to maintaining compliance in the S.H.A.F.T. industries. To meet the age-gate requirements, you must:

  1. Implement age-gating procedures requiring customers to be 21+ for alcohol and firearms.
  2. Request electronic confirmation of customers’ ages for verification purposes.
  3. Apply age-gating procedures to opt-in processes and any external links shared through SMS.
Importance of age-gating in the S.H.A.F.T. industries

Age-gating serves several vital purposes in the S.H.A.F.T. industries, including:

  1. Protecting minors: Age-gating helps prevent underage individuals from accessing content related to alcohol, firearms, and other S.H.A.F.T. categories.
  2. Maintaining compliance: Implementing age-gating procedures helps businesses comply with industry regulations and avoid potential legal issues.
  3. Promoting responsible marketing: Age-gating demonstrates a commitment to responsible marketing practices, helping maintain a positive brand image and build customer trust.

CTIA audit of S.H.A.F.T. businesses

The CTIA, a trade association representing the wireless communications industry in the United States, conducts audits of S.H.A.F.T. businesses to ensure they adhere to the established guidelines. 

The CTIA evaluates businesses based on the severity of their S.H.A.F.T. text marketing practices, assigning a score to determine the necessary corrective actions.

ViolationSeverityAction Required
Contains SHAFT (sex, hate, alcohol, firearms, or tobacco) content that is federally illegal0Remove call-to-action associated with SHAFT content
Contains SHAFT (sex, hate, alcohol, firearms, or tobacco) content that is not federally illegal0Add a functioning age-gate to associated SHAFT content 
Contains SHAFT (sex, hate, alcohol, firearms, or tobacco) content that has been flagged as hateful, violent, or sent with the intention to incite violence.0Remove call-to-action and disable keyword associated with SHAFT content
Incorrect response to STOP command 1Terminate all of Consumer’s active programs after they text STOP, and send one opt-out message
No product or program name2Display program or product name
Failure to reply to HELP keyword2Reply to HELP keyword with additional contact information (e.g., a toll-free helpline or email address)

Adapting to Carrier Policies: T-Mobile’s Suppression

Implications of T-Mobile’s policy on firearm campaigns

T-Mobile has implemented a strict policy for firearm campaigns, which can affect your marketing efforts. Key points to consider include:

  1. T-Mobile rejects firearm campaigns that include links to gun stores selling ammunition, even with age-gating.
  2. Advertising gun accessories is prohibited on T-Mobile and its sub-networks, such as Mint Mobile, if your store sells ammunition.
Strategies for navigating T-Mobile’s suppression

To adapt to T-Mobile’s policy and continue reaching your target audience, consider these strategies:

  1. Inform customers about T-Mobile’s suppression, encouraging them to use a different carrier if they wish to receive your messages.
  2. Explore alternative channels for marketing your products and services, such as email or social media.

Understanding quiet hours and optimal times to send messages

To maximize the effectiveness of your text marketing campaigns, be mindful of:

  1. Quiet hours: Avoid sending promotional messages between 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. (local time for the recipient) as per the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
  2. Optimal times: Send messages during the most effective days and times, such as Thursday through Saturday, the beginning and end of the month, and between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.

Navigating 10DLC Registration and Capabilities

10DLC, or Ten-Digit Long Code, is designed for sending Application-to-Person (A2P) messages, specifically in the SMS industry in the United States. It provides an alternative to using unregistered long codes or short codes, which have a rigorous approval process and higher costs. Here’s what you need to know about 10DLC registration and capabilities:

Short Code10DLC
One-time fees$650-$1000$54 ($4 company registration + $50 T-Mobile registration fee)
Monthly fees$995-$1500$11 ($1 phone number lease + $10 campaign registration fee)

10DLC registration considerations for firearm businesses:

  • Brands with “Gun” or “Ammo” in the name are not being approved.
  • Brands that sell ammunition are not being approved.
  • Gun accessory companies and ranges with no retail are being approved at a low rate.

To learn more, read our guide to mastering SMS Marketing for S.H.A.F.T. Brands: 10DLC, Short Codes, and Toll-Free Numbers.

Launching a Compliant Text Marketing Campaign

Identifying trustworthy text marketing service providers

To ensure your campaign’s success, choose a text marketing provider that understands the unique needs of the S.H.A.F.T. industries and is willing to work with you. Look for companies with a proven track record of compliance and a commitment to supporting businesses like yours.

Implementing age-gating and addressing carrier policies

Proper implementation of age-gating is crucial for alcohol and firearm businesses. Follow the best practices laid out earlier in this guide to complying with age-gating requirements. Additionally, be aware of carrier policies, such as T-Mobile’s suppression, and develop strategies to navigate these challenges.

Avoiding pitfalls with non-supportive companies

Avoid working with companies that do not support the firearms space, such as Twilio, Podium, Klavio, and Voyage. Instead, focus on building relationships with providers dedicated to helping you succeed in the S.H.A.F.T. industries.

OtterText: A Solution for S.H.A.F.T. Businesses

OtterText is a platform tailored to the unique needs of S.H.A.F.T. businesses, alcohol and firearm companies in particular. With over 30 years of marketing and advertising experience, our team offers onboarding, list growth, and campaign recommendations support, ensuring your business remains compliant and thrives alongside other industries.

OtterText’s platform includes easy age-gating features to keep you compliant while selling alcohol, firearms, or hemp-based CBD. Our experts are adept at navigating carrier policies, such as T-Mobile’s suppression, to ensure your marketing efforts remain effective.

By partnering with OtterText, you can bypass non-supportive companies and work with a text message platform dedicated to the unique needs of S.H.A.F.T. businesses.

Watch the NSSF Webinar…

To learn more, we invite you to watch Otter Technologies Founder Ben Nelson’s detailed and helpful webinar on this subject by hitting this link… https://www.nssf.org/event/text-marketing-compliance-what-is-s-h-a-f-t/. Ensure you are logged into your member’s account on NSSF for the link to work.


In conclusion, alcohol and firearm businesses can elevate their text marketing strategies and maximize reach by partnering with OtterText. Ensure compliance with age-gating and carrier policies while benefiting from our competitive pricing, including 10DLC and Toll-Free numbers in our monthly rates. Short Codes are available as an extra option for those seeking more impact for $1,000/month. Discover the power of SMS marketing with OtterText, and try it for free today!