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Ultimate Guide to Getting Your 10DLC SMS Campaign Approved

Ultimate Guide to Getting Your 10DLC SMS Campaign Approved

SMS messaging is a powerful marketing tool, but businesses must properly register campaigns to access this channel, especially shooting ranges and firearm ones. The 10-Digit Long Code (10DLC) system outlines specific steps companies must follow for approval.

This guide will clearly explain the key requirements and process for 10DLC registration, enabling businesses to launch compliant and successful SMS campaigns.

To register 10DLC numbers, companies must provide complete contact information, have an online presence, submit acceptable content types and disclosures, and align privacy policies with industry guidelines. Following these crucial steps properly helps streamline manual reviews while upholding the integrity of the messaging ecosystem.

Overview of 10DLC Registration

1. Importance of Proper 10DLC Registration

Proper 10DLC (10-Digit Long Code) registration is crucial to maintaining the integrity of the messaging ecosystem and ensuring the smooth operation of your business’s SMS campaigns. 

Like a driver’s license validates your driving right, 10DLC registration legitimizes your SMS campaign. Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) want to ensure that companies using their networks comply with standards that preserve the quality and integrity of their services. Your 10DLC registration proves to MNOs that you’re committed to meeting those standards.

A well-managed 10DLC registration can lead to benefits such as:

  • Increased efficiency in sending SMS messages
  • Faster approval process
  • Reduced risk of non-compliance penalties
  • Enhanced trust and credibility with MNOs and end consumers
2. Preparing Your Business for the Registration Process

Preparing for the 10DLC registration process is essential, like studying for your driver’s license. The primary steps to consider are:

  • Know Your Business’s Unique Campaign Requirements: Each business has unique SMS campaign needs based on its target audience, content type, frequency of messaging, and other factors. Understanding these requirements will help you present accurate information during the 10DLC registration process.
  • Gather Necessary Documentation: Having the right documents ready can expedite your 10DLC registration. This typically includes proof of business registration, your EIN (Employer Identification Number), contact information, and details about your SMS campaigns (e.g., content type, messaging frequency, opt-in procedures).
  • Align Your Privacy Policy with Industry Guidelines: Your privacy policy should meet Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) guidelines, ensuring it adequately protects the privacy rights of your customers.
3. Following the Specific Rules and Regulations for 10DLC Registration

It’s crucial to comply with the rules and regulations the CTIA and MNOs set forth for 10DLC registration. Here’s a brief rundown of what this involves:

  • Comply with Messaging Content Guidelines: The CTIA sets guidelines for acceptable types of messaging content. Avoid spammy practices and ensure all content that provides value to the recipient aligns with these regulations.
  • Adhere to Opt-in/Opt-out Procedures: The recipient must agree to receive your messages (opt-in) and be provided with a straightforward way to stop receiving them (opt-out). This consent-oriented approach is a fundamental rule for running SMS campaigns.
  • Ensure Data Privacy: The CTIA prioritizes protecting customer data, as should you. Your privacy policy should detail your business’s steps to safeguard customer information.

Clearing Up Misconceptions About Firearm Businesses and SMS Marketing

Is it true that firearm businesses can’t pass the 10DLC registration?

Firearm businesses can indeed pass the 10-digit Long Code (10DLC) registration process. Success in this process relies upon adhering to all regulatory requirements specific to the firearms industry (outlined below), similar to other legal industries.

Do carriers deny firearm content in SMS campaigns?

This is a misconception. While carriers have specific guidelines regarding firearm content, they do not universally ban such content. Firearm businesses must ensure their content complies with these carrier guidelines and legal regulations.

Will text message providers refuse to work with firearm brands?

While many SMS providers are actually open to working with firearm brands, many of them don’t provide the guidance needed to avoid fines and other legal repercussions. The crucial factor is choosing providers, like OtterText, that understand and adhere to the firearms industry’s specific regulations and best practices.

Is an 18+ age gate sufficient for firearm businesses in SMS marketing?

This is incorrect. For firearm purchases, customers need to be 21 years of age or older. Additionally, robust age verification processes are often required to ensure full compliance with state and federal laws and regulations.

10DLC Registration Requirements

This section will examine the 8 principal requirements for 10DLC registration and provide examples and step-by-step instructions for better understanding. By following these guidelines, you’ll quickly grasp the necessary steps and feel confident in successfully registering your campaign.

1. Phone Number and Email

It is vital to submit the contact information—including phone number and email—of the individual responsible for managing your messaging campaign. This key player is tasked with liaising directly with Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), making the contact details necessary for a smooth 10DLC campaign.

While the phone number and email provided can be the same as those listed on your company’s website or online platform, it is not required.

If your business primarily depends on social media, ensuring that the contact details match those displayed on your social media profiles is recommended. Consistency in this regard can lend credibility to your brand.

Remember, email domain recognition plays a significant role in campaign approval for companies of various sizes:

  • Large companies, regional businesses, and national brands should have email domains matching their business names. Using generic email domains like Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook could result in campaign rejection.
  • Smaller businesses typically can use Gmail or other public email solutions without issue. It is common for these businesses to own a website domain while still using Gmail for email correspondence.

Please note that larger businesses are the primary focus regarding the necessity of using a brand’s domain for email. The campaign reviewers will make the final decision during the vetting process.

2. Website/Online Presence

We strongly recommend providing a URL for your website or online presence. This could also be a social media page, provided our aggregator can access and verify the authenticity of the business.

Our aggregator will search for any associated website if the company fails to provide one. The resulting campaign will be denied if such a site contains forbidden content.

Acceptable Criteria
  • The website should be operational and secure.
  • The website may contain a form to collect mobile numbers but must include opt-in language and SMS disclosures.
  • The site’s content and offerings should align with the proposed message use cases.
  • The website must have proper age-gating procedures for firearm businesses.
  • The Privacy Policy on the site must explicitly state that the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of consumers will not be sold or shared with third parties for marketing purposes. It should detail the kind of information collected, how it is used, and how users can opt out.
Rejectable Criteria
  • Websites that are unsecured and non-functional.
  • Websites that redirect to domain parking sites (e.g., GoDaddy, Wix, etc.)
  • Websites with placeholder (“coming soon”) pages.
  • Websites with a data collection form that doesn’t include opt-in language.
  • Inactive Privacy Policy links or policies that fail to explicitly state that PII will not be shared with third parties.
  • Websites lacking SMS disclosures.
  • SHAFT brands without an age-gate.
Don’t worry if you have never invested in an authentic website and have relied on an E-commerce site, Facebook, Yelp, or the like. Our team at Otter can create a fully compliant website to ensure 10DLC compliance. You can have a compliant live website for a setup fee of $200 and a monthly charge of $50. You can view a sample website here.

3. Content Type

The content you plan to broadcast in your SMS campaign is a significant part of your 10DLC registration. It’s important to ensure it meets all existing standards and guidelines.

Content guidelines are provided by regulatory bodies such as the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). Understanding and adhering to them is fundamental to creating and running a successful and compliant SMS campaign.

Knowing What is Permitted

Highlighted below are some indications of permitted content under typical guidelines:

  • Messages related to your business or organization’s core services, products, or mission.
  • Information about upcoming events or initiatives.
  • Customer care messages related to services or products previously acquired or requested by the customer.
  • Campaigns designed to raise awareness or funds for a non-profit initiative.

To align your campaign with these guidelines, consider the nature of your services or products and convey vital information that is relevant, clear, and aligned with your organization’s key objectives.

Understanding What to Avoid

Just as important as knowing what is permitted is understanding the restrictions. Below are examples of content that can lead to campaign rejection:

Being Mindful of S.H.A.F.T. Content

S.H.A.F.T. content necessitates additional scrutiny as it determines areas where content restrictions are particularly strict. Understanding these limitations can save your SMS campaign from potential rejection:

  • Sex and Hate: Avoid explicit or suggestive content in your text messages, as well as any content promoting violence, discrimination, or hatred.
  • Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco: Contents promoting alcohol, firearms, or tobacco may be acceptable in some cases, but they require a secure age-gate to ensure that individuals receiving the messages are legally eligible. (More on this later)

4. Opt-in Language and SMS Disclosures

The explicit consent of consumers is an essential part of the success of your SMS campaigns. It ensures compliance with telecommunications laws and establishes trust between your brand and the consumer.

Opt-In Language

An important component of obtaining consent is using clear, concise, and compliant opt-in language on your web forms. This language should convey the nature of the messages consumers will receive and allow them to consent to receive them willingly.

Opt-in language could look like this:

I agree to receive marketing text messages from [Your Brand Name] by ticking this box. I understand I can opt-out anytime by replying STOP.

Ensure your opt-in language communicates the following: 

  • Consumers consent to receive messages.
  • The types of messages they will receive – whether promotional or informational.
  • They have the right to opt-out at any time.
  • Confirms that the user is of the appropriate age to opt in (21+ for firearm brands).
Example screenshot of age gate form

Successfully crafting and incorporating opt-in language can make your SMS campaigns more effective, boosting open rates and engagement.

Double Opt-In for Firearms Brands

A double opt-in process can serve as an effective method for verifying the age of subscribers. Here’s an overview of how to incorporate age verification into your SMS campaign’s double opt-in process:

Double opt in example from OtterText

Step 1: Initial Opt-In

  • Consumer Action: The potential subscriber is invited to initiate the opt-in process by sending a specific keyword via SMS.
  • Example Opt-In Invite: “To join [Your Brand Name] for updates and exclusive offers, TEXT ‘JOIN’ TO: XXX-XXX-XXXX. By joining, you confirm that you meet the legal age requirement for purchasing firearms.”

Step 2: Age Verification and Second Confirmation

  • Automated SMS Sent: Once the initial opt-in is received, an automated SMS is sent to the consumer. This message should request age verification and a second confirmation for opting into messages.
  • Example Message: “Reply with your birthday MM/DD/YYYY to verify age & finish opt-in. Msg & data rates may apply. STOP to stop. HELP for assistance.”

Step 3: Consumer Reply

  • Consumer Action: The consumer replies with their birth year and a confirmation (e.g., “01/01/1975”).
  • Age Check: Your system checks if the provided date meets the legal age requirement.

Step 4: Final Opt-In Confirmation

  • Confirmation Message: Once age verification is successful, send a final confirmation message.
  • Example Confirmation: “Thank you for verifying your age. You’re now subscribed to [Your Brand Name] updates. Reply STOP to unsubscribe at any time.”
SMS Disclosures

Detailed SMS Disclosures let consumers know what they’re opting into when subscribing to your messages. These disclosures must be detailed enough to make the consumer understand they are giving express consent to receive messages.

Every SMS disclosure should contain these elements:

  • Notification that message and data rates may apply.
  • Instructions on how to opt-out of future messages by replying STOP or other keywords and asking for more information by replying HELP.
  • Estimated message frequency.
  • A link to your Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions, if any exist.

Making these disclosures visible and legible is important so consumers can make fully informed decisions.

Example of full SMS Disclosure:

When you click “Submit,” you agree to receive emails, text messages, and phone calls, which may be delivered using automated software unless you opt-out. Consent is not a condition of purchase. Message and data rates may apply, and the number of messages will vary. Refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions for more details.

By providing your phone number in this contact form, you consent to receive phone calls from us for communication regarding your inquiry or the services/products we offer. Additionally, if you want to opt-in for text notifications, you can do so by texting “JOIN” to XXX-XXX-XXXX. By texting “JOIN,” you consent to receive text communications from us. You may reply “STOP” anytime to cancel text notifications or “HELP” for assistance. Message and data rates may apply. View Privacy Policy: [add link]

5. Privacy Policy

At the heart of every customer interaction lies their Personally Identifiable Information (PII). A privacy policy serves as a blueprint for managing this crucial data. It’s a publicly accessible document that clearly defines what kind of PII is gathered, its purpose, and the unique cases where it may be shared or sold.

Ensuring Your Privacy Policy Meets Regulatory Standards

As businesses, our ultimate goal is to provide services or products that keep our customers returning for more. At the core of this relationship is trust. And in the digital age, that trust often hinges on how well we protect our customers’ data. Compliance is not a chore or an afterthought but a way of respecting our customers and their rights.

For a 10DLC messaging campaign, your privacy policy should indicate the following:

  • The type of information collected.
  • The purpose behind collecting the information.
  • The circumstances under which the information could be shared or sold.

Specifically, your policy should clarify that no information will be shared with third parties for marketing or promotional purposes. Above all, it should leave no doubt about your commitment to safeguarding users’ information.

How To Apply Privacy Policies in Social Media

It’s not uncommon for a company to have a more intensive presence on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram than on a standalone website. Fortunately, a robust privacy policy can be easily implemented in such scenarios.

You can create a post that concisely declares your SMS services and links to your detailed privacy policy. This post can then be made “sticky,” keeping it visible at the top of your page. Alternatively, the link can also be integrated into your page’s ‘About’ section, ensuring that your audience always has easy access to how their data is handled.

Mandatory Requirement for Compliant Privacy Policies in Certain Campaigns

Having a compliant Privacy Policy is a non-negotiable requirement for certain campaigns. These campaigns typically involve higher regulatory scrutiny because of the nature of their operations or message volume. 

A compliant privacy policy is mandatory for the following campaigns:

  • All Political Campaigns
  • All Marketing Campaigns
  • Any campaign engaged in the business practices of buying houses (Think real estate or investment firms). These campaigns may use various Application-to-Person (A2P) 10DLC use cases. 

The use cases of the latter include:

  • Marketing: To advertise properties and generate leads.
  • Mixed: Combination of marketing and transactional messages for diverse business scenarios.
  • Low Volume: Limited messages for niche markets or selected clientele.

It’s worth noting that there has been a surge in the number of such campaigns in recent times. Several of these campaigns have faced regulatory actions, including citations and suspensions, primarily due to excessive spam traffic.

If your campaign collects contact numbers through your website—typically via a web form with appropriate messaging disclosures and consent notifications or checkboxes— your business must be meticulous about privacy regulations. This is especially true if you operate in the following domains:

  • Mortgages and Loans: This typically includes mortgage companies, banks, savings and loans, and credit unions.
  • Financing: This encompasses funding of any kind, including automobiles, other motor vehicles, medical equipment, home improvement, etc.
  • Medium to Large Businesses: Companies that may use a pool of numbers or have many employees (typically greater than 49).
  • Age-Gated Campaign Registrations: Campaigns of any kind that involve registrations are subject to age restrictions.

6. Campaign Description

The registration process for an SMS campaign requires you to formulate a description that precisely and succinctly portrays your campaign’s objective, company, target audience, and reason for dispatching messages. 

Your campaign description must serve the following purposes:

  1. Identify Your Organization: Clearly state who you are to build trust.
  2. Define Your Target Audience: Specify whom you intend to reach through the campaign.
  3. Clarify the Campaign’s Purpose: Express why you are sending messages to your audience.
Sample Campaign Description Examples

Let’s consider examples to understand how these factors integrate into a meaningful campaign description.

  1. Car Dealership Service Center: We represent G-Motors’ service center, intending to communicate with our valuable customers. Our campaign will dispatch messages regarding appointment reminders, repair updates, online bill payment methods, customer satisfaction follow-ups, and engage in 2-way conversations.
  2. Firearms Safety Course: We are Guns Shooting Academy, committed to promoting responsible gun ownership. Our campaign targets new and experienced firearms owners, offering essential safety training courses, legal compliance updates, and advanced shooting techniques.
  3. Shooting Range Membership Updates: We are BC Shooting Range, your go-to place for honing your shooting skills. Our campaign is designed for our members, providing them with updates on new range features, member-exclusive events, and special discounts on equipment.
  4. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): We are Global ABC Tech, a global technology company. Our campaign targets registered users, distributing 2FA codes for login and password resets. We aim to validate users’ phone numbers after sign-up, thus activating their accounts.
  1. Retail Store Promotions: We are DEF Retail, a widely acclaimed clothing store. Our campaign aims to reach our patron customers with periodic promotional offers, new product launches, and special event announcements to elevate their shopping experience.
  2. Healthcare Appointment Reminders: As GHI Healthcare, our target audience includes our registered patients. We plan to send out appointment reminders, test result announcements, and health check-up reminders to ensure our patients receive timely healthcare services.

7. Sample Messages

The sample messages below are examples of campaign-specific messages your company may send out as part of the SMS campaign. 

Firearms Safety Course:

[Guns Shooting Academy]: Boost your gun safety knowledge! Join our next Firearms Safety Course on April 10th. Limited spots available – enroll now at [LINK].

Shooting Range Membership Updates:

Hey [FirstName], BC Shooting Range here! Exciting news – our new indoor range is now open! Members get exclusive access this weekend. Come and be the first to try!

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA):

[Your Company Name]: Your login verification code is 769032. This code will expire in 10 minutes.

Conference Invitation:

Hello {FirstName} from [Your Company Name]. We cordially invite you to our digital cross-industry conference scheduled for Dec 3-7. Discussions on IoT, AI, and Blockchain await you. Register at [LINK].

Car Dealership Appointment Reminder:

Dear Jane, [ABC Motors] here to remind you of your appointment on May 5th, 2022, at 11:00 AM. Reply YES to confirm, NO to decline. If you need to reschedule, let us know when you’re available. Thank you!

Healthcare Appointment Reminder:

[Dr. Healthy’s Clinic] reminder: Hi Jane, your dental check-up is scheduled for 2:00 PM tomorrow. We look forward to seeing you!

You can find more examples here:

Remember to design your campaign’s sample messages around its intended use, which should align with your campaign description to maintain consistency and build trust with your audience.

8. Campaign and Content Attributes

When configuring your campaign, it’s essential to accurately set up campaign and content attributes as they provide vital information about your campaign’s nature. 

Please note that you can’t change these fields later and must submit a new request.

Embedded Link/Phone Number

You must select “YES” for any campaign intending to include embedded links (like your website) or phone numbers within the messages. We recommend ticking “YES” even if your sample messages don’t currently involve a URL or phone number. This means you can easily adapt if your campaign strategy changes.

It’s worth noting that DCA typically rejects public URL shorteners (bit.ly, tiny.url, etc.). If your brand owns a URL shortener, they will review it to determine if it’s acceptable. In situations where the sample content involves links, but the “embedded link” is marked as “NO”, the DCA may reject the campaign leading to a resubmission requirement with “YES” selected for the embedded link.

OtterText has a built-in and fully compliant link-shortener, so you won’t have to worry about that aspect when using our service. 

Direct Lending/Loan Arrangement

If your campaign involves monetary loans or third-party financing, setting the attribute to “YES” is necessary. This includes institutions such as:

  1. Banking Institutions: Banks dealing in loan disbursements.
  2. Credit Unions: These memberships-based cooperatives offer various kinds of loans to their members.
  3. Vehicle Dealerships: Whether cars, trucks, or boats, dealerships often provide or arrange customer loans.

Additionally, the reach of this attribute extends beyond traditional finance-focused businesses. Various companies that facilitate finance in some form should also select “YES.” Here are some examples:

  1. Window Companies: If these corporations provide an option of financing window installations, they fall under this category.
  2. HVAC Dealers: Dealers offering financing for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems must consider this attribute.
  3. Home Builders/Remodelers: Businesses that offer financial aid or payment plans for home building or renovation services essentially arrange financing.

Age-Gated Content

Firearm brands, alcohol, and other brands within S.H.A.F.T. restricted to consumers over 21 must undergo age verification, often by validating the consumer’s date of birth. Businesses dealing with alcohol, tobacco, and firearms are a few examples. If your business falls under such categories, select “YES” for this attribute.

Example form of age gate

If you’re adopting age verification methods, ensure compliance with age-gate mechanisms like those provided by OtterText. It requires explicit date of birth checks during the opt-in process and not simple yes/no verifications. The latter can lead to a campaign decline by 10DLC and possibly incur a $500 fine from T-Mobile.

Types of Age-gates Required for Firearms

Age gated website

Must be 21+ and MM/DD/YYYY

Age-gated opt-in form

Double Opt-in

Double opt in example from OtterText

Simplifying the Journey to 10DLC Compliance With OtterText

With the complex world of 10DLC compliance, having a partner like OtterText to illuminate the path and spare you the headache is reassuring.

We ensure every service, feature, or advice is 100% compliant with all regulations. We go as far as handling our clients’ complete 10DLC registration process.Bookmark the following easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide:

  1. Sign Up with OtterText: Kickstart your journey by signing up for an account with OtterText. Your business registration and 10DLC number with The Campaign Registry (TCR) will be handled.
  2. Provide Essential Information for Registration: As part of the sign-up process, you will be asked to enter important business details, including your legal name, registered address, tax number/ID/EIN, website URL, and industry, among other details.
  3. Specify Your Messaging Use Case: Be clear about the purpose behind using the 10DLC number. It could be for marketing, customer care, delivery notifications, etc. Remember that specialized use cases like charity or emergency services might require additional fees.
  4. Dole Out an Example Text Message: Illustrate what your messages might look like by providing an example. This helps TCR understand what your patrons can anticipate from your business.
  5. Special Business Requirements: If your business involves selling firearms or ammunition, you’ll need an age-gate on your website to make the grade for registration. This is a fundamental step for maintaining compliance, so OtterText support is available to help.
  6. Submission of Your Information to TCR: Post the input of the required information. OtterText will submit this to TCR for inspection and confirmation. The timeline for approval may differ but generally takes a few minutes in most cases.
  7. Start Sending Messages: Once you have the green light of approval, you can send messages via your registered 10DLC number without worrying about carrier filtering or added costs.

For further assistance, you can consult with our CEO and resident industry expert, Ben Nelson, who can readily offer authoritative guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What information should I have before registering for my 10DLC SMS campaign?

The process of 10DLC registration calls for specific business information and a clear understanding of the compliance requirements that apply to your business. For example, if your business sells firearms or ammunition, you should implement an age-gate on your website before registration. 

How is my registration data submitted to TCR? How long before I get their response?

Once you have collected and carefully filled in the required information, the registration details are forwarded to the TCR (The Campaign Registry) for examination and validation. 

While the approval times can vary depending on the complexity of your campaign, it usually takes minutes. Regardless, aim to ensure everything is correctly filled the first time to avoid unnecessary delays.

Is it mandatory for my business to have a privacy policy when conducting specific types of campaigns?

Yes. If you are running political, marketing, or property-buying campaigns, then having a privacy policy compliant with all relevant regulations is non-negotiable. This is because these types of campaigns attract high regulatory scrutiny, so having a compliant privacy policy safeguards against potential legal complications.

What factors should I consider while crafting my campaign’s sample messages?

The sample messages of your campaign should reflect its intended use, acting as a representative snapshot of the larger campaign. These messages must align with the stated description of your campaign, as any disconnect between the two can lead to mistrust among your audience. 

What exactly are campaign and content attributes, and what role do they play in the success of my campaign?

Campaign and content attributes are essentially descriptors of your campaign that provide crucial insights regarding its nature and function. These attributes are set during the campaign’s initial setup and cannot be changed later; therefore, they must be configured accurately. 

For instance, if you plan to include embedded links or phone numbers within your campaign messages, select “YES” in these fields. Any misrepresentations can lead to complications down the line.

Once my campaign has received approval, can I send out messages immediately?

Absolutely. Once the TCR gives the green light for your campaign, you can immediately initiate message dispatch from your registered 10DLC number. Rest assured that you won’t have to worry about carrier filtering or surprise costs if your campaign has received approval.