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Opting out from text messages: Your complete guide for 2024

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Many customers hesitate to subscribe to SMS notifications. They fear that once they provide their phone number, it becomes nearly impossible to unsubscribe.

This myth arises from the belief that businesses purposely complicate the opt-out process. In fact, there’s usually a quick and simple way to do it.

The existence of opt-out text messages is a powerful tool designed to empower customers. It ensures that individuals have the control to unsubscribe from promotional texts if they wish.

Giving recipients the option to unsubscribe from texts is generally a legal requirement, and it’s also a crucial element of building trust and maintaining a positive reputation.

This article will give businesses the knowledge and best practices for handling opt-out text messages.

Let’s get started.

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What is text message opt-out?

An opt-out text message is when a customer tells a business they don’t want promotional texts, the opposite of opting in.

To stop receiving these messages, customers can use words like QUIT, OPT-OUT, CANCEL, or STOP.

The option of opting out is crucial because it lets people have control over the messages they receive. This plays a key role in maintaining a positive brand image. It shows customers that their preferences are valued.

Moreover, it ensures businesses comply with legal requirements and SMS regulations

Every time a recipient opts out of text messages, you can trigger an auto-response like this one:

You can also provide information on how to subscribe again in the future.

How to opt-out of text messages? 

In this section, we’ll explain how customers can opt-out of text messages. This will give businesses insights on how to facilitate the process effectively.

The variety of opt-out methods can differ depending on the type of text subscription. Let’s explore several of them.

Opting out from promotional and marketing text messages

Many individuals choose to opt-out of receiving promotional texts. They may do this when their interest in the advertised product or service decreases.

In such cases, here are three common ways to opt-out:

1. Using keywords for opting out

Customers can easily opt-out by following the instructions provided in the message. Typically, they can reply STOP to opt-out.  Other such words are CANCEL, or UNSUBSCRIBE. The system will then automatically unsubscribe them from receiving further messages.

2. Using unsubscribe links in SMS

Some messages may include links that customers can click to unsubscribe. Clicking on these links will often take them to a webpage where they can confirm their decision to opt-out. It’s a convenient method, especially for those who prefer not to send text replies.

This visual shows what occurs when recipients click an unsubscribe link. After clicking “Confirm,” their status changes to “Unsubscribed.” Then, they receive a success message.

3. Contacting the sender directly

If customers encounter difficulties with the provided opt-out methods, they can always reach out to the sender directly. So, businesses should provide contact information in their messages or on their website.

Opting out of transactional messages

People may find a constant stream of transactional messages overwhelming. This will naturally result in a desire for a more orderly inbox. Additionally, some focus on privacy and opt-out to limit shared personal information.

1. Reporting spam to the carrier

When transactional messages appear spammy, individuals can report them to their mobile carrier. Carriers often provide mechanisms for reporting and blocking unwanted messages. This is one way to help users keep their inbox clutter-free.

2. Using third-party spam filter apps

Another effective way to manage spam messages is through third-party spam filter apps. These apps can identify and filter out unwanted messages. This allows users to focus on important notifications while keeping their inboxes tidy.

3. Opting out from notifications and alerts

Individuals can opt-out of specific alerts that they no longer wish to receive. Most apps and services offer settings where users can customize their notification preferences. This allows for a more tailored and less overwhelming experience.

Opting out from spam and unwanted messages

Recipients may want to unsubscribe from texts when they appear spammy or irrelevant. It helps them maintain privacy, reduce frustration, and focus on essential messages.

1. Customizing app and service settings

Users can personalize notification and messaging preferences within various apps and services. These settings enable users to filter out undesired messages and receive only the most relevant ones.

2. Blocking specific numbers

One can combat spam and unwanted messages by blocking specific numbers. Most smartphones have built-in features to block calls and texts from specific numbers. This ensures a more pleasant mobile experience.

3. Contacting regulatory authorities

If individuals receive unsolicited marketing messages, they can contact consumer protection agencies. This is particularly useful when they believe there are violations involved. Reporting such instances can help protect individuals from unethical communication practices.

Opting out best practices

Opt-outs need not be challenging either for senders or recipients. They can be designed to be simple, ensuring a positive experience for all parties.

Let’s explore opt-out text message best practices for both customers and businesses.

Best unsubscribe practices for senders

Offering a seamless way for recipients to unsubscribe is as important as gaining their consent.

Here are some best unsubscribe practices for senders:

1. Obtaining clear recipient consent

It’s crucial to start on the right foot. So before sending any marketing messages, get clear consent from individuals.

Consent should be explicit, meaning that it’s given willingly. Moreover, it should be documented to ensure SMS compliance.

Provide recipients with a clear picture of what to expect from your communications. Keep in mind that consent should always be reversible. This enables recipients to opt-out whenever they wish.

2. Offering opt-out options for brand communication

Transparency and respect for recipient choices are essential. So you should include easy-to-find opt-out instructions in every communication you send.

Moreover, sending an opt-out text message should demand little effort for recipients.

This aligns with legal requirements and respects individual preferences. These actions collectively enhance the overall user experience.

Here’s one way to provide clear instructions for recipients to send opt-out text messages:

3. Complying with relevant laws and regulations

Get acquainted with the pertinent laws and regulations related to electronic communication. Keep in mind that these regulations can differ depending on the jurisdiction.

Federal laws prevent businesses from sending unsolicited spam text messages. Businesses are also prohibited from collecting personal information for any purpose other than providing value to recipients.

Here are some of the governing laws in the United States:

  • Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA): Under the TCPA, businesses must obtain prior express written consent from individuals before sending them marketing messages. It also mandates clear opt-out mechanisms and robust record-keeping.
  • CAN-SPAM Act: CAN-SPAM shields consumers from receiving commercial text messages from companies they haven’t engaged with. Moreover, senders must honor opt-out requests within 10 business days. Penalties for non-compliance can be substantial.

4. Maintaining opt-out request records

Implement a robust system for recording and processing opt-out requests. Moreover, protect personal information and promptly remove unsubscribed recipients from your messaging lists.

This aligns with privacy laws, along with preventing unintended recontact. Such contact can lead to legal problems and harm your brand’s reputation.

5. Delivering valuable content only

Respect your audience’s time by sending content that is relevant to their interests. Tailor communications to meet their needs, ensuring that each message serves a purpose.

Sending irrelevant SMS will make people want to opt-out of text messages.

For targeted SMS campaigns, you can leverage segmentation. This helps categorize SMS recipients into smaller groups based on specific criteria. 

6. Preventing over-messaging or offering frequency customization:

Balancing engagement and avoiding message fatigue is extremely important. It’s yet another way to maintain SMS compliance.

Allow recipients to have some control over the frequency of messages they receive. This shows that you value a customer-centric approach. It also reduces the risk of excessive messaging causing opt-outs, thus enhancing the overall user experience.

Best unsubscribe practices for recipients

Ever wondered how to stop receiving text messages from companies? This section explores the best practices for recipients. Learn how to manage your messaging preferences and take control of your inbox.

1. Checking sender authenticity before unsubscribing

Before you unsubscribe from texts, make sure that the sender is genuine. Scammers may use fake unsubscribe links to confirm active numbers, so exercise caution.

To confirm a sender’s legitimacy, you can look for their:

  • Website
  • Official contact information
  • Online presence

Legitimate organizations will usually provide clear and traceable contact details.

2. Review privacy policies and terms

Before sending an opt-out text message, delve deeper into the sender’s privacy policies. These documents shed light on how the sender collects, uses, and manages your data.

Understanding the sender’s data-handling practices is essential. It will help you ensure that your privacy preferences align with their policies. Genuine businesses typically make these documents readily available on their websites.

3. Exercise caution with unfamiliar links and numbers

Unfamiliar links and numbers in text messages can be potential sources of risk. They may lead to malicious websites or phishing attempts, compromising your digital security.

Moreover, responding to unknown numbers can confirm your active number, resulting in spam. To stay safe, be cautious with such links and avoid responding to unfamiliar sources.

Wrap up

Understanding the nuances of an opt-out text message is important. It’s the first step to respecting customer preferences and building trust.

Understanding why customers send an unsubscribe text message is also crucial. This can occur due to message frequency, content relevance, or timing. This knowledge can also aid in sending personalized messages by allowing you to make informed adjustments. 

Remember, opt-out mechanisms empower customers. Moreover, they ensure that your communication aligns with regulatory standards. It’s all about building meaningful connections and respecting your audience’s choices.

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Richard White
Article by
Richard White

Richard is a Content Marketing Manager at Omnisend. An avid writer, he's said to have been born holding a pencil. Fascinated by all things handmade, if he's not reading or writing he can often be found practicing leathercraft.


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