How to set up SMS marketing in the USA and Canada?

SMS feature is available only in MAX plans. Click here to learn more about GetResponse MAX.

Due to the risk of SMS mass pumping attacks increasing on a global scale, note that whenever your’e launching a campaign in a new market you should get familiar with local market-specific guidelines directly from our provider Vonage website. We’re not able to ensure top-notch deliverability without meeting those requirements by our customers, often this means P2P contact with Vonage to go through formalities:

Country-Specific Features and Restrictions – Vonage API Support

To send outbound SMS in the United States and Canada, you’ll need to follow the regional regulations. As a result, you’ll need to register a brand and a separate campaign if you plan high volume marketing SMS campaigns to your audience. The ultimate “vetting” body are carriers operating in the region. Your GetResponse Account Manager and our SMS API provider Vonage run it on your behalf to make it as smooth as possible.

The process is connected with some extra costs and a vetting procedure, however you don’t need to undergo it for every planned SMS campaign. It also guarantees high delivery rates, better brand reputation and whitelisting your content with all locally operating carriers.

Here’s a quick summary of the procedure:

  1. Register brand – provide details of your registered company
  2. Register campaign – provide details of the SMS campaign that you want to send
  3. Purchase and link a dedicated phone number

1. Registration of the brand and campaign

To start sending bulk marketing text message campaigns in the +1 country code (the US and Canada), you, as the sender, need to register your brand and campaign with all the regionally registered operators/carriers. This procedure is carried out by your GetResponse Customer Experience Manager and our provider Vonage.

The brand is the official company-related information that will help US-based carriers identify you as the sender and increase your brand reputation.

A campaign can be described as the use case of the messages being sent. Each type of use case that a brand sends must be registered within the specified campaign types displayed within the 10DLC (10 digit long code) number registration.

The whole procedure needs to be finalized before you can start sending text messages in the region. Here’s how it looks and what information you need to provide for each step:

Step 1 – Register a brand

The brand is the company that your end-user believes they’re receiving messages from. We’ll need your official company details and your GetResponse Customer Experience Manager will reach out whenever certain company information is missing.

The cost of registering one brand is a $5 one-time fee, however this might increase in the future based on the local carrier charges.

Step 2 – Register a campaign

Each of your SMS campaigns should have a specified use case and you need to provide sample messages. This will influence your allowed throughput (defined by network operators). Each campaign will have an additional setup and subscription fee that is usually $30/mo.

You can have a couple of campaigns per brand.

For each brand, you will need to specify a unique use case and provide a sample of the message content. A campaign cannot serve two use cases, but you can provide up to five examples of the messaging that the campaign will send.

Each campaign requires assigning a unique phone number that you will need to purchase or port.

Popular use cases and their explanation:

Use caseDetails
Customer CareAll customer care messaging, including account management and support.
Fraud Alert MessagingFraud alert notification.
Higher EducationFor campaigns created on behalf of colleges or universities. It also includes school districts etc that fall outside of any \free to the consumer\” messaging model.”
Low Volume Mixed A low number of send-outs with a combination of different use-cases. Examples include test, demo accounts.
MarketingAny communication with marketing and/or promotional content.
Mixed Send out includes mixed messaging reserved for the specific consumer service industry.
Polling and votingPolling and voting.
Public Service AnnouncementAn informational message that is meant to raise the audience’s awareness about an important issue
Security AlertA notification that the security of a system, either software or hardware, has been compromised in some way and there is an action you need to take.
Agents and FranchisesFor brands that have multiple agents, franchises, or offices in the same brand vertical, but require individual localized numbers per agent/location/office. Final fees are under review.
Charity Includes 5013C Charities. Doesn’t include religious organizations.
EmergencyNotification services designed to support public safety/health during natural disasters, armed conflicts, pandemics, and other national or regional emergencies.
K-12 EducationCampaigns that are created for messaging platforms that support schools from grades K – 12 and distance learning centers. This is not for Post-Secondary schools. This use case requires approval from at least 1 MNO.
Political (0/5)Part of an organized effort to influence the decision-making of a specific group. All campaigns have to be verified.
Social (0/5)Communication within or between closed communities (For example influencers’ alerts)
Large CSP Trial Large CSP free trial offers with strict controls and MNO audit rights (MO opt in)
Step 3 – Link your numbers

Each campaign requires assigning a unique phone number that you will need to purchase or port. It needs to be linked to you approved campaign before you can send outbound messages. The US traffic sent from unlinked 10DLC (10 digit long code) numbers will be blocked.

The number is added to your account as Sender ID at the end of the proces. Once it’s in your account you can start sending SMS campaigns.

The monthly cost for a 10DLC (10 digit long code) can be $1-40, but usually it’s below $5. Short codes monthly fees are much higher, starting at $500.

2. Purchase of phone number

For SMS marketing, GetResponse and our third-party provider enable purchasing and porting of 10DLC (10 digit long code) numbers or dedicated shortcodes. It’s not possible to send SMS marketing communication via toll-free numbers.

Quick facts on phone numbers (supported by the US legislation and recognized by the US and Canada-based carriers):

  • Marketing traffic needs to go over Dedicated Short Codes or 10DLC numbers.
  • 10 digit long code aka Commercial Long Codes (CLC) is a new sanctioned standard for A2P (application-to-person) messaging.
  • US carriers apply high filtering on the toll-free numbers and any marketing traffic will be flagged and quickly blocked.
  • It’s not possible anymore to share any type of number (short code, 10DLC, or toll-free number) across brands.

Main differences and use cases for 10DLC and short codes might help you decide which number type is right for you:

Short code 10DLC (10 digit long code)
Description 4-6 digit number for A2P messaging. 10 digit number for A2P messaging.
Target customer Global enterprise Local businesses
General Pricing/fee ~500-1500$ / month 1-40$/ month
Use Cases Alerts, 2FA (two-factor authentication), marketing Alerts, 2FA (two-factor authentication), marketing
Volume High volume Low-medium volume (200K messages or less per day)
Throughput 50+ MPS (messages per second) Use case based, up to 50 MPS (messages per second))
Delivery Receipt Yes No

3. Vetting, assigned throughput and volume limitation

Upon registration, most of carriers run a vetting procedure based on the information you provided. Marketing campaigns based on 10DLC (10 digit long code) are additionally assigned a certain daily throughput and allowed message volume. You will be informed about the allowed volume and throughput as soon as the initial brand and campaign registration procedure is complete.

You can negotiate the applied limits to higher, but they always have to be managed individually.

Detailed information on default volume and throughput limitations provided by our SMS service can be found here.

4. Payments and invoicing

We base the SMS rates on the SMS pricing available in your GetResponse account. The cost will be deducted from your balance upon sending.

You need to add credit to your SMS balance before your planned send-outs. It’s invoiced and managed by your Customer Experience Manager on top of your agreed contractual monthly fees.

Additional SMS cost billed separately:

  • 10 DLC phone number: $5-$50/month 
  • Dedicated short code: starting at $500/month
  • Brand registration: $5 (one-time fee)
  • Campaign registration: $30/month

These fees are billed and invoiced separately to your SMS balance.

Please note that the campaign registration fee is charged every month once campaign is registered, even it you’re not sending any text messages in a given month until it’s unregistered. To unregister your campaign, contact your Customer Experience Manager.

Carrier pass-through fees: please note it’s a standard procedure with other SMS marketing providers to apply additional cost imposed by the majority of carriers. However, with GetResponse, this fee is already included in your standard SMS rate, so no additional cost is applied.

An additional charge will be added only for delivering opt-out confirmations which is a mandatory flow required by carriers operating locally in the US nad Canada. Failure to deliver the confirmations might result in higher bounce rates.

5. SMS content recommendations

Details of content prohibited across all channels can be found in GetResponse Terms of Service and include these and more examples of legally prohibited content:

  • Illegal substances (cannabis),
  • fraud, spam, and phishing,
  • deceptive marketing,
  • sex and nudity, hate, alcohol, firearms, tobacco-related content.

You also need be aware of all other content regulations in your destination.

Please note that in some locations there are publicly and legally recognized “quiet hours,” during which your messages will not be delivered by carriers. GetResponse will still charge you for the send-out. It’s up to you to know and observe these quiet hours.

6. SMS opt-outs policies

GetResponse supports mandatory opt-out methods by using the “STOP” keyword (and other industry standard phrases) at the network level. This opt-out system is active by default and for all types of SMS communication sent from GetResponse. A “STOP” request blocks all text messages between an individual recipient mobile number and a text-enabled business number.

The phone number of a recipient who opted-out will be added to GetResponse system opt-out lists, which are not available to GetResponse customers for security reasons. It will also be logged as “opted out” from all text messaging communications on the level of sub-account. This means that if you have more than one sub-account in your GetResponse account with multiple sender names and contact lists, the recipient might still receive communications from your other sub-accounts and brands allocated within them.

Message senders receiving high volumes of opt-outs could be an indication of poor sending practices or that the opt-in data may be in question. When the daily opt-out rate on a sending phone number is 5% or greater, then the account is flagged for monitoring which may result in immediate suspension of services.

It’s recommended but not mandatory to include transparent information about opt-out, e.g. include a phrase in message content saying: Send STOP to stop, etc.

Supported universal opt-out keywords also include:

  • STOP
  • END
  • QUIT

A high rate of opt-outs is usually related to sending unsolicited content. We strongly encourage you to respect all the consent-related regulations and best practices as listed in the section below.

When someone replies to the message with “STOP” or another keyword, a second outbound SMS is sent. A message saying “You have successfully unsubscribed and will receive no more messages.” will be sent by GetResponse on your behalf. The cost of delivering confirmation will be deducted from your SMS balance as per standard delivery rates.

Re-subscription is also available on keywords: JOIN or YES or SUBSCRIBE is also supported.

7. Recipients consent

Messages can be delivered to a consumer’s mobile device only after the user has opted in to receive them.

In the US, SMS marketing consumer rights are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which enforces laws like the TCPA and CAN-SPAM to execute people’s right to protect their contact details and restrain brands and businesses from sending content that recipients didn’t directly consent to.

For other regions the corresponding regulations are: in Canada: Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), in the European Union (EU): the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), in the UK: the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and the Public and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR), and in Australia: the Spam Act 2003 and the Spam Regulations 2021.

If you’re planning to launch SMS campaigns in any of the following countries, it’s recommended that you get a good knowledge of these documents. Please contact your Customer Experience Manager for recommendation on regulations in any other region.

It’s crucial and mandatory that you grow your SMS subscriber list and send your text messages in a way that’s compliant with applicable laws, industry guidelines, and carrier requirements.

Not respecting local regulations might result in fees, lawsuits, and other penalties that might not be good for your business.

That’s why it’s mandatory that you grow your contact base in a way that’s based on transparent and direct consent of your recipients to receive information from you via any channel. GetResponse requires that the message sender must obtain proper recipient consent for each message sent.

However, collecting and managing consent of their recipients is sender’s sole responsibility. GetResponse role in this process is exclusively of the data processor, as transparently expressed in GetResponse Privacy Policy.

The type of consent that is required depends on the type of message content sent to the recipient. The table below includes the types of messaging content and the associated required consent. Consumers can revoke consent at any time and in any way. Recipient opt-out requests must be honored, whether they are made by phone call, email, or text.

Conversational Informational Marketing
If the recipient initiates the text message exchange and the business only responds to each consumer with relevant information, then no verbal or written permission is required. The recipient should give permission before a business sends them a text message. The recipient can give permission over text, on a form or website, or verbally. Written permission also works. The recipient should give written permission before a business sends them a text message. The recipient can sign a form, or check a box, to allow promotional text messages. Participation in text promotions should never be a requirement.

Consent can only be obtained from the individual recipient and not on behalf of another individual. Opt-in data and consent may never not be shared, sold, or bought.

Please note that sending content that your recipients didn’t subscribe too usually results in high rates of opt-out and spam reports and these will immediately lead to blocking your sending channel both by carriers as well as by our SMS third party provider. It will also affect your brand reputation in general.