SMS Marketing Podcast: New T-Mobile SMS Cart Abandonment Rules

SMS Marketing Podcast

Left on Read is back from a short hiatus to discuss new rules imposed by T-Mobile regarding SMS cart abandonment messages. Nate and Drew discuss what these new rules mean and how they will impact SMS marketing in the short and long term. Read more about the new rules at: https://chatitive.com/abandoned-shopping-cart-sms-rules-t-mobile/

Drew:
Hello and welcome to Left on Red. My name is Drew and I’m joined here today with Chatitive’s VP of Marketing, Nate Odell.


Nate:
Hey Drew.

Drew:
Hey, how’s it going this morning?


Nate:
Going well, I am excited to be back podcasting.


Drew:
Yeah, we for the listeners out on the internet, we took a couple of weeks off here. We’ve been busy on-boarding new customers and creating some new product features and buttoning up some existing accounts here. Also taking a step back to look at what the podcast is and what we’ve done with the podcast up to this point and planning for the future. We want to make sure that the content is always relevant and fresh to whomever might be listening to it. And you decided to start this new string of podcasts with something that is incredibly relevant and that is a significant change that has occurred specifically with T-Mobile for SMS cart abandonment use cases. So we’re talking about a message that a brand might send a consumer that would say, “Hey, we noticed that you left something in your cart. Would you like to complete that purchase?” So I guess, Nate, what are these new requirements?


Nate:
Yeah. it’s a, you know, it’s a pretty interesting development. I personally think it’s really good. I think it’s great for consumers. I think that there has been, you know, candidly there has been some pretty flagrant abuse of using SMS marketing for cart abandonment type of notifications in the same way that, you know, I think a lot of brands still you know, blast their customers with offers that they may or may not be you know interested in, yeah. And I think, you know, it’s okay. Like this is the evolution, right? Like we’re living the evolution from, you know, the transition from email marketing to texting. And I think, you know, some of the bad habits are the old hard to die from email marketing or sort of encroaching into the text marketing or SMS marketing space. And I think that these are, we’re starting to see carriers make decisions to protect consumers, which I think is ultimately really, really good. Yeah. And so but you know, to your point, the requirements for this, this is being pushed out by T-Mobile mostly because they’ve received a lot of complaints from their customers about, you know, the, the egregious text marketing use cases for cart abandonment messages. And I think, you know, it’ll be virtually for a lot of SMS marketing vendors, it’s very difficult for some of them to parse, you know, which customers are on which carriers. So I suspect that this move by T-Mobile will be adopted across all major carriers. And if you’re a brand and you’re using SMS for cart abandonment use cases, you really should start paying attention now and make the changes because it’s likely to affect and, and be implemented, you know, more broadly, very, very quickly.


Drew:
Yeah. It always seems like one, one carrier does make the change like this. All the other ones seem to follow suit pretty quickly.


Nate:
Yeah, that’s right. So in terms of requirements, Drew to go back to your original question, there are really four hard requirements with the change that T-Mobile has implemented. And again, this is effective May 1st, 2020. So today is May 8th these policies and changes have already taken place. There’s a, there’s a good writeup on the Chatitive blog with details, but we’ll cover them off. We’ll cover off on them here. Mmm. The four, the four hard requirements for using SMS marketing and cart abandonment are as follows. First of all your eCommerce website call to action has to mention within the opt-in terms and conditions. Your, your called action must mention that the message program includes shopping cart reminders. So it has to be very specific, right? Like, whether that’s a check box that you have on a post-transaction you know, for example, Shopify experience or on the front end, you know, signing up to acquire a mobile user for, you know, offers or alerts or notifications or you know, more specifically conversational messaging that the, the T’s and C’s or the call to action must also refer to shopping cart reminders. The, and then as a, you know, as a follow onto that, the shopping cart message program itself must incorporate a double opt in via text. So that means is like, look, I sign up and when I sign up, I get a message. It says, “you will you know, you agreed to get marketing messages included, including card abandonment, respond Y or yes, to opt in.” And then so that’s the double opt in content. That’s both bullets two and three. And then the fourth one is that campaigns must be filed as an account information campaign with detailed descriptions highlighting the message program. That includes shopping cart reminders. So like, if you have a campaign that’s going or you have a form where you’re collecting information, all of this, all the shopping cart information as part of the quote unquote campaign, has to be very clearly defined for the customer prior to them. You know, not only opting in, but being, being part of a future campaign.


Drew:
Cool. So what does this mean for existing I guess existing customers both of Chatitive and and other SMS vendors, anybody with a SMS marketing channel, what does it mean for them in terms of pushing out purely e-commerce messaging,


Nate:
Meaning like?


Drew:
They haven’t bought yet. Maybe they don’t even have something in their cart.


Nate:
Yeah. I think these rules apply specifically to Mmm, to cart abandonment use cases. And so, you know, for eCommerce companies that are either using text messaging on some level, whether they’re marketing or notifications or whether you know, or whether you’re thinking about it or want to. If you go, you really should make sure that the vendor that you’re, I’m evaluating is one current on all compliance and policy managers such as this. And, and two has the, Mmm. How has the campaigns and the automations and all the, the features that make it easy for you to instrument? So, you know, those are the things that you certainly should look for when evaluating vendors.


Drew:
Absolutely. I think it’s really important to point out that what T mobile is attempting to do here is try to cut down on the ambiguity of potential bad actors in the channels such as, you know, maybe if you say, you know, you had something in your cart and a consumer and you wired it up so that the consumer, when they replied, it purchased that item for them, right. Without their explicit consent. So then I went through with the transaction. I think that they’re trying to cut down on some of those instances. And basically what the goal here is, is not to put a dampener on your revenue through the channel. What it is, is, it’s, it’s actually an opportunity to make your customer experience better, more transparent, and also increase the loyalty and trust that a consumer has with your brand.


Nate:
Yeah, that’s totally right. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I, you know, I, I, that’s dead on. I view this change as a user experience improvement, right? Yeah. And you know, I think we’ve, we’ve talked about this before in previous podcasts, like everything that you do from a marketing perspective should be in the best interest of the customer. And I think T-Mobile is actually doing a pretty good job here, protecting consumers and forcing the action of SMS marketing vendors to think about what’s best for the customer. You know, this is something that we do all day long at Chatitive, but others sometimes lose sight of that and just, you know, want to create features that, you know, bombard customers. And I think, you know, that’s fine. It’s part of evolution. But again, being customer centric, thinking about quality user experiences and, and w improving how you communicate with your customers is always going to be better for your brand and and, and as an indirect cause will increase revenue for you.


Drew:
Yeah, absolutely. And you know, those, these guidelines are being put in place to but I don’t think that we would have ever as coming from coming to this as a vendor, I don’t think that we would have ever guided a customer to create an experience where they might be deceiving one of their subscribers into purchasing something. Right. I don’t think that, I think that if you’re being, frankly, if you’re being guided by your vendor to do something like that, then I would take a step back and seriously ask yourself, why am I doing business with this company? Because if that experience goes through on the consumer end, I guarantee you that your consumer is going to have a similar thought when something that they maybe didn’t want arrives at their door.


Nate:
That’s right.


Drew:
Cool. was there anything else that we needed to cover with these, these important updates?


Nate:
Yeah, I think you know, there’s a few other things that brands, you know, want to make sure that they do as part of this. Two of them are related to privacy policy disclosures. So your privacy policy content must explicitly state now how information is captured at, and as it relates to, determined by abandoned cart use cases. And then T’s and C’s, I think we mentioned this to some extent, must also reflect the new policy. So you’re gonna want to make updates there. Again, working with somebody like Chatitive, we will help fold that information into your T’s and C’s for these particular use cases. And then you do what is called delivering content restrictions. These are actually really important. Text reminders must be sent within a 24 or sorry, within a 48 hour period and they’re limited to one SMS Cart abandonment alert. So I’ve experienced this. I know I have friends that have experienced this. Drew I’m sure you have at some point in your life as well, where like, like, no kidding. I’ll get like three SMS Cart abandonment notifications via text message from a brand like in less than 36 hours and it’s like, it’s egregious and I’m delighted to see that these policies are in place because it’ll tamp that stuff down.


Drew:
I’m going to say that for the email channel. For instance, I’ve been in the market for a new mattress and there is a specific mattress brand that has sent me, probably 15 emails with the subject line your order didn’t go through, which is incredibly deceptive because I’m not going to purchase a mattress from them. Uh and it’s an abandoned cart, the message and it’s just so, it’s an annoying, I should probably go and take that item out of my cart or on subscribed for them from those emails, but it’s just so it’s deceptive, A, and B they’re not, they’re not, it’s not a creative way to get me to purchase your product. It’s actually kind of like, it’s strong arming me to go through with my purchase.


Nate:
Yeah. And it’s interesting like there’s, there is actually one requirement or restriction that I fundamentally disagree with.


Drew:
Yeah. What is that about?


Nate:
That’s using a keyword as a response to confirm the transaction. So let’s say Drew, you go and you pick out your mattress. You get a notification and a reminder that says, “Hey, Drew, like the mattresses are still here waiting for you. Um you know, would you like to buy?” And in my opinion, in a better, more perfect world, you should have the ability to say “no thanks” and that it removes the item from your cart and then therefore you don’t get any more notifications for that item. You say yes. And they hit the credit card that they have on file. If they’ve got one in the transaction complete. And, and you know, a couple of days later you get your mattress delivered to your door. Fortunately, the new restrictions for delivery and content. Say that abandoned cart notification must not collect payment information or accept approval for purchase via a keyword confirmation from the consumer. Especially in today’s world where, you know, e-commerce is because of Covid-19 and sort of the new world that we’re in. The world of eCommerce has just accelerated like a decade. The CEO of Shopify just wrote an amazing article talking about this very thing and I think like in that world, frictionless commerce over mobile is super important and super valuable. Not only from a, again, consumer experience perspective, but also for brands that are trying to reinvent how they go to market, how they sell products. So I think this is a miss on T-Mobile’s part. We’ll see what happens in the future. My hope is that they relax a little bit, but for now those are the, those are the rules.


Drew:
You can still though send the keyword “buy” text messages, just not in the abandoned cart scenario.


Nate:
That’s correct. That’s right. That’s a good point of clarification. And I, you know, perhaps a way around that is like, you know, if you say, yeah, I’m still interested in it rather than, you know, the perfect in my, again, my estimation, the perfect thing, which is just doing a transaction, maybe you just generate the URL again and say, okay, you know, all you need to do is click on this URL and complete your order. I suppose that’s a healthy compromise. But again, I really hope that T-Mobile and other carriers reconsider this particular one as it relates to SMS Cart abandonment use cases only in the future.


Drew:
And it seems like that’s the, that’s sort of the last restriction or just content piece of content that the T-Mobile is trying to drive home here is that the consumer must complete the transaction by processing the payment themselves, the brand cannot process the payment on behalf of them, and they must be taken out of the channel to a link to that cart where they would complete the order, which it’s fine. Right. I get what you’re saying. But.


Nate:
It’s an extra step man. Like, if, if I’m invested in and opted into a brand’s texting, then I should understand what I’ve opted into as a consumer. I gotta tell ya, if I’m routinely buying something and I have to click on it and then I have to go on my mobile device and fill out a form and then hit submit as payment. Oh. And then let’s say I don’t have my credit card information saved on my phone, so now I got to get my credit card out and I got to fill that out. And like, I’m sorry, it’s just a crappy user experience. Does it have to be this way? But it is, you know, it’s just the reality it is today. And you know, like I said, I hope that they changed their policy on that.


Drew:
Yeah. I mean, I just don’t think that, I don’t think that the space has been innovated in enough for to see the opportunity there. Right. Like, I believe that what we’re doing is innovating at a rapid pace toward what you’re talking about. But I don’t see other SMS marketing vendors sort of pointing in that direction. So this might not even mean anything to them, right. And I don’t think that there has been meaningful or positive innovation toward that yet except for what we’re working on, which if you look at our customers, like Universal Music Group’s Sound of Vinyl, right? You can buy within the channel. It’s right there. And so there’s, there, there’s a lot of innovation that needs to occur there. There’s a lot of failure obviously that needs to occur. But I think that Mmm, exploring ways to increase shopping SMS Cart abandonment conversion rates is something that we’re focused on with these new requirements in mind.


Nate:
Yep. Absolutely.


Drew:
Well, Nate, thanks for joining me again today. I hope you get outside to some of those wonderful weather we’re having. And I just wanted to see if you had anything else to add.


Nate:
No, that’s it. Thanks, Drew. Thanks for setting up the time to cover this. And again, it’s pretty, so it’s a pretty drastic change. And brands need to make sure that they’re compliant. So yeah, sooner we can get this message out the better.


Drew:
Absolutely. This episode of Left on Read was about T-Mobile’s new abandoned shopping cart messaging policies. You can read more about these new requirements and rules at our blog. That’s chatitive.com/blog you can also subscribe to Left on Read anywhere that you listen to your podcasts. And we are at buzzsprout.com/leftonread. Thanks. This has been Drew and I am signing off.

 

Conversational Messaging Evangelist at Chatitive