Business texting is a fast-changing, growing technology. To keep pace with the new technology and high adoption rates of texting, CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association) recently updated their Messaging Principles and Best Practices. These serve as industry guidelines, and now stress the importance of opt-in consent to protect consumers from fraud and spam.
In this episode of Zipcast, host Scott Heimes sits down with Zipwhip’s director of messaging operations, Brad Biltz, to discuss key takeaways from the CTIA guideline updates and how these rules will affect the Texting for Business ecosystem.
If you’re wondering:
- What’s the difference between A2P and P2P messaging?
- Why do the three types of text messages require different levels of opt-in consent?
- And how do any of these best practices help prevent fraud and spam from polluting Texting for Business?
Find out below:
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- The Ultimate Guide to Texting Your Customers: Zipwhip created this free, downloadable e-book to serve as a roadmap for businesses wanting to start or improve their texting strategy
- Our Resource Center holds more in-depth conversations on TCPA compliance, legal risks and fraud prevention in our on-demand webinars
- Need a refresher on compliance, fraud and spam? Check out this Crash Course guide
- Find out just how spam-savvy you are with our 10-question quiz
Scott Heimes: Welcome to the Zipcast where we talk about the latest trends in texting for business, customer communication strategies and technology. I’m your host, Scott Heimes, chief marketing officer at Zipwhip, and thanks for tuning in. Most people have probably never heard of an organization called CTIA, but if you use a cell phone, the CTIA affects your life. That’s because they’re the wireless industry trade association and they recently came out with a new set of industry guidelines for wireless communication. Zipwhip’s, Brad Biltz, joins us today to help explain the significance of these new guidelines for business texting, stick around and learn more. Welcome to the Zipcast, Brad.
Brad Biltz: Thank you, Scott.
Scott Heimes: So, tell us about your background and what your role is here at Zipwhip.
Brad Biltz: Yeah, so I’m the director of messaging operations here at Zipwhip. I’ve been with the company for about two and a half years and oversee the provisioning and porting of phone numbers, the deliverability and spam of the messages on our network, as well as manage our wholesale partners and carrier relations.
Scott Heimes: Got it, and you’ve been doing this for a long time, right?
Brad Biltz: Yeah, I’ve been in the messaging ecosystem for about eight years now with a different provider for about five, six years.
Scott Heimes: Right on. All right, so the reason we invited you on the show is we wanted to talk about these new messaging guidelines from the CTIA, which is an acronym that stands for Cellular Telecommunication Industry Association, but they basically just go by CTIA and they’re the wireless industry trade association, as we all know, and they recently published some new messaging guidelines, which is pretty big news actually. So, we wanted to talk a little bit about that today. Why don’t we start off by telling us a little bit about what are these new guidelines that they published?
Brad Biltz: Yeah, so the new guidelines are the messaging principles and best practices and they’re actually a voluntary set of best practices that were made up by the CTIA members, which is mostly the wireless ecosystem. Zipwhip is actually a member of it as well, and if you’re familiar with the industry at all, this is actually the second iteration of this document. The first one was launched in January of 2017, so about two and a half years ago, and they were a great starting foundation for the industry, but over the last couple of years the industry has changed and been dynamic. So, it was time for the ecosystem to come out with a new set of guidelines.
Scott Heimes: Got it, and we were able to actually participate in the design of these guidelines as well, right?
Brad Biltz: Yeah, so they were initially drafted by CTIA and the wireless carriers, and then they opened up a round of edits for all the other members and we were able to red line and give some feedback.
Scott Heimes: Got it. So, you know, before we go deeper into the guidelines themselves, why should anybody care about this? What’s the sort of implication to business messaging?
Brad Biltz: Yeah. So, you know, these guidelines are basically the rules of the road for how businesses should operate in the United States for messaging. So, they have the do’s and don’ts, they define what is consumer messaging versus what is business messaging and then, you know, the best practices to how to behave within the ecosystem.
Scott Heimes: Got it, and that differentiation between consumer and business messaging is kind of a big deal, right?
Brad Biltz: Yeah, and it was probably, you know, my opinion, where I wanted the biggest changes within the document, so they’ve now defined consumer, which you may have heard as P2P messaging, as an individual who subscribed to a specific wireless messaging service. So, you have your own messaging client on your phone with your wireless carrier, and then they defined what non-consumer messaging is, which is A2P messaging, and this is a business in organization and entity that uses messaging to communicate with consumers. So, this is business messaging. It’s not limited just to small or large businesses, it includes financial institutes, medical practices, nonprofits, political messaging, and so basically if you’re a business doing messaging, you’re a non-consumer doing A2P.
Scott Heimes: Got it, and A2P stands for application to person?
Brad Biltz: Correct.
Scott Heimes: That’s right, and we’ve been doing it for a long time, obviously it’s the core of our sort of texting for business solution out in the market. Tell us about some of the best practices for A2P messaging that fall in line with these guidelines that CTIA is proposing.
Brad Biltz: Yeah, so, you know, a big part of the guidelines that changed for best practices is around consent and how consent is controlled and the different levels of it. So, within this document we’ve kind of fallen into three different types of messaging. You have conversational, informational and promotional. Depending on each one of those types of messaging you’re doing, you have different levels of consent. So, conversational, it’s implied consent. It’s like me giving you, Scott, my cell phone and then you can text me, right? It’s a two-way street, you’re just asking for simple questions. Informational is more of the alerts or notifications that go out and promotional is more of the marketing type messages.
Scott Heimes: Okay. So, you mentioned there’s these three categories. Tell me more, do you have any customer examples of the kind of messaging that constitutes these three different categories?
Brad Biltz: Yeah. So, how about take a gym, for example, so if you’re doing conversational messaging or implied consent with a gym, I could text in “Hey, what are the hours the Saturday,” right, I’m giving implied consent to the business for them to answer my question. I’m not necessarily letting them know that they can promote something to me, but, you know, come say I sign up for a class and I have a class coming on Sunday now and I’ve filled out the form and I’ve told the business or the gym that they can now text me.
Brad Biltz: They can now send me informational messaging to say, “Hey, you know, your class is this Sunday, can you confirm? Can you deny?” Then, you know, for express written consent for them to do promotional messaging, you know, make sure that I’m signing a form check box, signing up for the terms of service to receive that type of messaging, and then they could say, “Hey, you know, if you renew early for next month, you get 30% off.” So, the different levels of consent really dictate of what type of messages I, the consumer, am expecting to receive.
Scott Heimes: Yeah, great examples, and none of this is really new for Zipwhip. We’ve been doing this for a long time, right?
Brad Biltz: Yeah. So, you know, we’ve been operating in a business texting world for years now and these guidelines are actually very similar to our actual best practices and guidelines that we coach our customers on. So, you know, these guidelines and ours, there wasn’t too many surprises in them, they’re very much in line.
Scott Heimes: Yep, and one of the things that these guidelines do help is fraud prevention and just kind of management of the ecosystem in terms of, you know, controlling the purity of messages flowing and trying to avoid spam or bad actors inside of the ecosystem.
Brad Biltz: Yeah. So, I think the biggest thing when it comes to messaging and businesses, any messages, is making sure that the consumer wants it, and if they don’t want it, you know, then it kind of falls into a classification of spam. So, these guidelines actually lay out a bunch of different techniques that are not allowed in the ecosystem.
Brad Biltz: So, one of them is called snowshoeing, and this was a practice used for many years to use a whole bunch of numbers to kind of bring your traffic volumes down on each of them, did not look like you were spam, not like you are doing business messaging and that’s now called out as a disallowed practice in the ecosystem. Other ones, you know, you’re supposed to have tools to monitor your traffic and block spam within the network and run real time filtering.
Brad Biltz: The last one is, it’s not been a huge issue in the messaging ecosystem, but it’s been kind of problematic on the voice side, is spoofing of a phone number. This is something that Zipwhip has never allowed. You have to be the owner of the number to use the line, but they call it out here that, you know, it’s now not expected and you should avoid spoofing a phone number in the messaging ecosystem.
Scott Heimes: Yeah, interesting stuff. So, where can people go deeper on this material or can they find this report?
Brad Biltz: Yeah, so it’s published on the CTIA website, ctia.org, and the documents called Messaging Principles and Best Practices, and we also have a bunch of support material in our own resource center. We have a newly published e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Texting Your Customers. I think that’s a great place to, you know, those two areas to read up on the guidelines and understand what’s going on.
Scott Heimes: Awesome. Well, thanks so much for joining the Zipcast, Brad, it’s been great to have you.
Brad Biltz: Yeah, thanks Scott.
Scott Heimes: Thanks for joining us. Hey, if you haven’t heard, Zipwhip recently published The Ultimate Guide to Texting Your Customers, whether your business is considering texting or you’ve already adopted a texting tool, this new e-book has all the info you need for a successful texting strategy. For a free download, just go to Zipwhip.com/ultimateguide. Until next time.