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SMS opt-ins explained: Everything businesses should know

Alia Paavola
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No matter how you use SMS for business, you must first get permission to text your contacts. This consent to send texts, called an opt-in, is required by law. 

So let’s delve into the topic and understand what text opt-ins are, why they are important, and how to get SMS opt-ins.

What does opt-in mean in texting?

Opt-in is the process of businesses getting permission from their customers to send them text messages. Customers must first enter their phone numbers into your opt-in form to give you explicit permission to send them text messages. 

This is legally required by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Otherwise, without consent, you will be illegally texting customers. 

Difference between single opt-ins and double opt-ins

There are two types of opt-ins in texting: single and double.

Single opt-in is the most common. By simply entering their phone number in an opt-in form or initiating the first interaction, customers agree to receive text messages from your business.

A single SMS opt-in example from Lotus Thai.
A single opt-in example from Lotus Thai.

On the other hand, double opt-in requires additional proof of consent. Upon entering their phone number into an opt-in form, customers immediately receive a text message asking them to confirm they want to hear from the business by responding with a provided keyword. 

A double SMS opt-in example from Outdoor Voices.
A double opt-in from Outdoor Voices.

The law doesn’t require businesses to use double opt-ins in all scenarios. However, most SMS providers highly recommend using them as they can protect your business. As a result, Textline requires companies that use our platform to exchange marketing messages or HIPAA-protected information to use a double opt-in. 

Check out: 10 ways to phrase opt-in text messages

What is an opt-out?

Opt-out is the process of removing customers from a text messaging list by explicitly giving them the option to unsubscribe or opt out. Customers can simply reply back with a specific keyword, like STOP or END, asking to stop receiving texts. 

Importance of opt-ins in texting

  • Stay compliant with the law. Failure to comply with TCPA opt-in requirements can result in fines and reputational damage. Avoid these penalties with a rock-solid SMS compliance strategy.
  • Avoid spam complaints. Customers who get unsolicited text messages are more likely to report them as spam. These complaints can lead to message deliverability issues as carriers may flag your phone number. 
  • Boost open and conversion rates. An opt-in means customers want to get text messages from your business. As a result, you can get an engaged SMS contact list. This can result in better metrics like open rate, reply rate, and conversion rate.
  • Gain trust with customers. Obtaining opt-ins helps you establish a relationship of trust and transparency with customers. 

How to get texting opt-ins

Building your SMS subscriber list is the first step to executing successful text marketing campaigns or outreach strategies. Here are a few ways to get more text opt-ins from your customers and leads.


Create a form to generate more SMS marketing opt-ins. Host this form on your website, make it part of an existing signup workflow, or ask customers in person to fill it out.  

The form could be:

  • A physical form customers can fill out in person
  • A pop-up on your website
  • A banner on your website
  • A separate landing page
  • A check box customers can click at checkout or while subscribing to other communication channels

The best method depends on your business. However, each form fill should include:

  • Text message frequency (recurring, one-time, etc.)
  • The type of messages customers will receive (marketing, transactional, operational)
  • How subscribers can opt-out
  • Terms and conditions
  • Privacy policy
  • Your business name
  • A sign-up offer, if applicable

See the following example of an SMS subscriber pop-up form from NaturAll. 

An SMS opt-in example from NaturAll. 
A pop-up form fill encouraging SMS subscriptions from NaturAll.

Here’s another example of a form fill that’s a landing page. In this example from Office Depot, customers can subscribe to email or SMS communication. Many businesses also use this check-box strategy at online checkout.

A mobile opt-in form example from Office Depot.
A landing page form fill example from Office Depot.

When using forms, it’s best to get a double opt-in. 

Keyword shortcodes

Another way to encourage SMS subscriptions is to get customers to text your business first. You can promote a text-to-join campaign or tell customers they can text you first.

For text-to-join campaigns, you’d encourage customers to text your number to subscribe to SMS marketing campaigns.

See the following example from SKIMs. The online retailer asks customers to text the keyword “SKIMS” to 68805. After a customer texts, the business sends a follow-up message to confirm the opt-in choice.  

A text-to-join campaign and double opt-in from SKIMS.
A text-to-join and double opt-in example from SKIMS.

You can also let your customers know they can text you first by displaying your business texting number. See the following example from Super Coffee. 

Example of encouraging customers to text first.
Super Coffee encourages customers to text in first.

Opt-in text messaging best practices

  • Follow the TCPA guidelines. The law exists to protect customers from SPAM messages and fraud. Ensure your business complies with these guidelines to avoid fines and other reputational repercussions.

  • Don’t be afraid to use a double opt-in for added protection. The onus is on businesses to prove that they received an opt-in from customers. Protect yourself and your business by using a double opt-in to confirm subscription preferences in writing quickly. This second opt-in message will ensure you have express written consent.

  • Clear and concise language. Be clear about what customers are opting into. Plus, texting is built for short messages, so make them concise and to the point.

  • Give opt-in incentives. Increase the likelihood that customers and leads will subscribe to texts by offering early access, discounts, and other incentives.

  • Allow opt-ins from other channels. Make it easy to opt in from other communication channels. For example, provide a way for your email subscriber list and social media followers to opt into SMS.

  • Clear opt-out option. Always make it clear how customers can unsubscribe. Give them an easy way out to avoid frustration.

Get more SMS opt-ins with Textline

Textline makes it easy for your business to comply with opt-in and opt-out requirements. In fact, we even earned a patent for our messaging consent process. 

Take your SMS outreach to new levels with Textline’s secure and compliant features. Give it a try today for free, and start growing your subscriber list.  

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