GDPR and SMS Marketing: What You Need to Know

November 14, 2022 Julio Romero

Reading time about 4min


GDPR and SMS Marketing: What You Need to Know

Mara Lam on Sep 28, 2021 10:04:39 AM

SMS marketing is one of the best ways to foster real connections with your shoppers. Once you’ve set up your SMS software, you might be chomping at the bit to start texting shoppers, but there’s one very important question you should ask before you start texting.

Are you GDPR compliant?

gdpr sms marketing

Legal requirements like GDPR feel like a buzzkill complicating your already busy SMS marketing schedule. But requirements like GDPR protect shoppers from overly zealous businesses and empower consumers to manage their own data. Since data privacy is a big deal to most shoppers, GDPR SMS marketing is a must. Plus, if you violate GDPR, you could be on the hook for stiff fines that might ruin your business.

But don’t let that scare you! As long as you understand what GDPR requires, you’ll be able to send SMS messages that promote your business while complying with the law. Learn how GDPR and SMS marketing work together and the three best practices you should follow to stay compliant.

How GDPR and SMS marketing works

The European Union began enforcing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018. GDPR is an important law that revolutionized data protection and privacy. The goal of GDPR was to give consumers more control and visibility over how businesses collect, store, and use their data. This applies to any piece of personal data, including a shopper’s phone number, address, health status, and more.

The law applies not only to businesses within the EU, but any business that processes the data of shoppers in the EU. So, if your business is in the US or Canada, there’s still a good chance you need to comply with GDPR. To put it simply, if any of your shoppers are in the EU, you have to follow GDPR.

While shoppers love the control they have under GDPR, businesses are less thrilled about the changes. However, transparency, consent, and boundaries are all important in fostering deeper connections with your shoppers, so GDPR should be a business best practice anyway.

And if doing the right thing isn’t enough motivation for you to comply with GDPR, you could receive fines up to €20 million ($24.1 million) for breaking the rules.

3 tips to follow GDPR for SMS

Curious how GDPR affects your SMS marketing campaigns? Never fear: We’ve broken down the three most common best practices you should follow.

Remember that these are just general guidelines. Every Shopify store is different, so if you’re really worried about GDPR, consult a lawyer to learn exactly what you should do.

1. Gather phone numbers legally

You can’t just text random people or phone numbers you found on the internet. GDPR requires you to have prior written consent to contact shoppers anytime you grow your list.

The easiest way to do this is to require shoppers to subscribe to your SMS list themselves. Don’t make SMS opt-ins required to make a purchase; put the power in shoppers’ hands so you have the cleanest SMS list possible.

P.S. You may want to use a platform like Winback to document how you acquired shoppers’ phone numbers. It could come in handy if you’re ever audited.

2. Follow opt-in best practices

Aside from acquiring phone numbers legally, GDPR also requires your Shopify store to follow opt-in best practices like:

  • Double opt-in
    Don’t subscribe someone to your list when they submit their number on a form. Send them an SMS to confirm that they really do want to opt into your list.
  • Clear messaging
    Don’t mix your double opt-in request with other messaging. This isn’t the time to tell people about a new sale! Get consent first and then send a separate welcome message.
  • User consent
    Customers have to willingly subscribe to your list. For example, you can’t force shoppers to sign up for your SMS list to buy something from your store.
  • List segmentation
    The GDPR says that you can only use a shopper’s information for a single purpose. If they subscribed to receive SMS messages about tips and how-tos, you can’t suddenly start sending them messages about sales. You’ll need a separate opt-in for that.

3. Allow people to easily opt-out

GDPR SMS marketing requires you to create a simple, fast, and easy opt-out process. Your system needs to allow shoppers to withdraw consent at any time. Platforms like Winback make this a cinch: Your shoppers can simply reply “STOP” to any message and we’ll remove them from that list.

And yes, you need to honor opt-outs. Your store will be on the hook for steep fines (or, at the very least, a harsh reprimand) if you text someone who withdrew their consent.

Master GDPR and SMS Marketing with One Simple Platform

GDPR compliance can feel like a headache, but compliance is a breeze when you have the right tools on your side. While these three best practices are a good starting point, a solution like Winback is the easiest way to do GDPR SMS right.

Our platform helps Shopify business owners master GDPR thanks to:

  • Double opt-ins
  • TCPA-compliant forms and popups
  • Simple opt-out settings
  • List scrubbing

Why fret over GDPR when you can use a platform that has compliance baked in? Start your free trial of Winback now to see our privacy settings in action.

Topics: SMS Marketing, Best Practices