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One of our top priorities at SnowShoe is to help our merchants get the most out of their Spark Loyalty system. This includes making sure that our staff is always up-to-date on regulations surrounding marketing communications with your shoppers, as well as passing along related resources and information to you, our retail merchants.

One important area of regulation concerns SMS or text message marketing campaigns. Rules and regulations around this form of communication are created and monitored by an organization called the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA). All phone carriers belong to the CTIA, so all phone carriers–and consequently, their customers–must comply with these rules and regulations.

CTIA outlines some general principles and best practices around SMS marketing, including always getting a consumer’s consent before sending them a message and always giving them an easy way to opt-out.

Additionally, CTIA maintains a list of words and content categories that cannot be included in SMS marketing campaigns. This is to ensure that inappropriate content does not reach an unintended audience. This prohibited content is summed up by the acronym SHAFT, and it stands for sex, hate, alcohol, firearms, and tobacco. In short, including information related to this type of content in your SMS campaign message is considered in violation of CTIA regulations, and it will result in your text message being blocked. It can also result in your business being banned from sending out future text campaigns.

Now, there are nuances to this rule when it comes to promoting federally legal businesses and products. Sex (adult content), alcohol, firearms, and tobacco are all federally legal, and thus they can be marketed through SMS campaigns as long as a functioning age-gate is in place. The age-gate needs to prompt the user to enter their birthdate, rather than simply clicking “Yes,” to confirm that they are at least 21 years old.

If you are a business that sells wine and beer, for example, you are able to use SMS marketing, but you have to avoid certain words in your message until you have confirmed that a consumer is of legal age to use your product. The words “alcohol,” “wine,” and “liquor” cannot be included in your SMS campaign, but you can start by inviting consumers to sign up for your newsletters, at which point they will receive a prompt to confirm their age.

Spark Loyalty merchants can be assured that SnowShoe’s standard configuration of our text messaging software is entirely SHAFT compliant. Our system does not allow transmission of information in clear text that is in violation of CTIA’s rules and regulations, so your business will never be at risk of penalty from CITA.

For more in-depth information on SMS marketing regulations, visit this page on our website. And if you have any questions, our Customer Success team is always here to help. You can reach us at or by calling 707-797-7275.

Our Customer Success team is available Monday through Friday from 6am-5pm (Pacific Time). Messages left after hours will be answered the morning of the next business day.