There are some clear dos and don'ts when it comes to business texting, just like there are with business phone calls and emails. Make sure you know what to do and what not to do before you start texting your customers.
There are plenty of benefits to business texting, like a 98 percent open rate and conversion rates around 45 percent, both of which are significantly higher than other business communication channels. Ultimately, if you’re considering adding business texting or if you already use it, it’s likely because you want to communicate with your customers more effectively and offer the best customer experience possible. Your customers want a good customer experience too. In fact, 86 percent of customers are willing to pay for the best customer experience—that’s how valuable it is.
Every communication channel you use for business is different and some are better for certain situations. It’s important to note that business texting is no exception and comes with different etiquette than emailing or making phone calls. To get the most possible out of business texting, here are the basic dos and don’ts to review before sending that first text to a customer.
10 dos and don’ts of business texting: What’s the proper etiquette?
When it comes to business texting there are some pretty standard rules to follow. These are the dos and don’ts that you should keep in mind when using business texting.
- Only text your customers or leads
- Consider time zones and business hours
- Introduce yourself
- Lead with value
- Keep it to one call to action per text
- Send spammy texts
- Spam your customers
- Share bad news via text
- Ghost your customers
- Make your messages too long, or unclear
5 dos of business texting
First, let’s look at the five things you should do when texting your customers.
Do: Only text your customers or leads
This “do” goes for whatever you’re using business texting for. Only texting customers or leads who have made it clear they’re okay with hearing from you can help build trust with them in the long term. So make sure your customer has given you their mobile number to text them in the first place, or that they would be comfortable receiving a text from you.
While each company can decide their rules around opt-in for messaging, many choose to get permission to lower the risk of customers opting out. There are a few different levels of “opt-in” that you can decide to implement.
The lowest form of opt in would be customers who have volunteered their number, via a lead form, at a trade show, or in a prior conversation you’ve had with them. The second level of opt-in you might use is those customers who have given you their number and who have explicitly given you permission to contact them. The third, and highest level of opt-in is for those customers who have opted in via a direct text you send to them asking for permission.
Getting opt-ins goes hand-in-hand with the rule “don’t spam your customers.” If you’re texting someone who hasn’t offered up their number and they don’t want you texting them, you’re simply spamming them and they’re going to opt out. This will break down trust and can hurt your relationship with the customer, and hurt your business.
Do: Consider time zones and business hours
Before sending a message, make sure you’ve thought about your customer’s time zone and the most relevant time for your customer to receive your text message. Texting outside of business hours might upset your customer. One survey showed that 27 percent of respondents thought it was inappropriate to text outside of business hours.
If you’re texting a customer to confirm their appointment for the next day, texting them during business hours is important. Texting a customer outside of business hours is disruptive and not generally considered socially acceptable. It might also result in a no show for the appointment. Not only is it more likely they’ll respond during business hours, it gives you the workday to fill their appointment if they happen to cancel.
Another example would be if you work with customers across the country. If you’re on the East Coast and you text a customer on the West Coast at 9 a.m. EST about an order, you could potentially wake them up because it’s only 6 a.m. for them. But you’ll do more than wake them up, you could potentially sour your relationship with a customer this way due to the unpleasant customer experience. Your goal in adding texting is to improve the customer experience, so don’t risk ruining it by not following some basic rules.
Do: Introduce yourself
You should always introduce yourself when texting a customer; it’s fairly simple but that simplicity can go a long way. Plus, introducing yourself will help increase your response rates.
Don’t assume they’ll know who is texting them based on context or past conversations. Give them the courtesy of mentioning who you are and what business you’re texting from. The introduction can help build trust between you and your customer which then leads to higher response rates. Plus, introducing yourself and personalizing the text by mentioning your customer’s name can help increase how much they spend with your company. Roughly 40 percent of consumers actually buy more from companies that personalize across all channels, according to E-Tailing.
Do: Lead with the value
Make the reason for texting your customer far more relevant, is to include the value add or relevance right there in the text. Leading with the value of your message will also help you get the responses you want.
You can think of this as the why of your message and the reason for sending it in the first place. This will also impact when you send your text message, for more on that read our “When to Text your Customers” article.
The value of your message can be tied to an event, like an order delivery, an upcoming appointment, or even an actual event like a concert or show. These are all things you would mention in your text message to make it apparent why you’re texting.You can also use it to anticipate the needs of a customer, effectively improving the customer experience and increasing the likelihood of a new sales.
Do: Keep it to one call to action per text
Your messages should be fairly short and to the point, so don’t load them down with several calls to action or questions for your customer. Some common examples are:
- Scheduling a call
- Reviewing a link or an attachment
- Confirming an appointment or delivery
But you should ideally only do one of those things per text message. The reason for this is that you’re more likely to get a response to one request than you are to get a response to several. Focusing on one thing at a time makes it easier for your customer to prioritize and then ideally, you only need to ask your customer once.
Remember, it’s a two way conversation so you want to give your customers room to answer and not overwhelm them or make the text too daunting or long. If you ask them to complete more than one action per text you might find yourself having to ask more than once because things can more easily fall through the cracks.
5 don’ts of business texting
Now that you know what to do, here are five things to avoid doing in your business text messaging.
Don’t: Send spammy messages
Good business texts are well written and clear (to learn more about how to write a business text step-by-step you can check out our article on writing the perfect business text message).
Taking care in your writing means making sure to use good grammar and proper spelling, not going overboard with the emojis, and being clear and concise. It also means not including more than one link or photo per text. While a well-placed emoji or photo here or there can be beneficial, too many or the wrong ones can be distracting. While emojis can increase open rates and show personality, you can have too much of a good thing.
Don’t: Spam your customers
This “don’t” goes hand-in-hand with the “do” we already covered when it comes to getting permission to text. You shouldn’t be texting people who aren’t your customers. Ideally, whoever you text will know who you are and why you’re texting them.
Your messages should have a reason and should be clearly relevant. Remember that it should be a two-way conversation, spamming them with coupons and promos they don’t want is illegal. Even huge brands like Papa John’s have been sued for spamming their customers with texts. Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act you need permission to text your customers advertisements. If a customer simply doesn’t answer after a few tries, take that as another sign that they don’t want you texting them and stop. Remember, customers can also unsubscribe to your texts and if they do, you’ll be left with no way to contact them via text.
Don’t: Share bad news via text
Just like you wouldn’t give bad personal news via a text message, you also shouldn’t deliver bad business news via text message. Instead, you can use business texting to schedule a phone call or even an in-person meeting to discuss the bad news.
Remember that on the other end of your text message is a person with their own worries, feelings, and to-do list. A good way to get in this mindset is by imagining yourself in your customer’s shoes and thinking about how you would feel receiving bad news via text.
Don’t: Ghost your customers
Part of treating your customers like they’re humans and recognizing that they have feelings means not ghosting them. Nobody likes to be ghosted whether it’s by friends, dates, potential employers, or businesses they support. When a customer texts you, you should take care and respond to them. 82 percent of customers expect a response within 10 minutes. So try to reply in a timely manner, even if you respond just to let them know that you’re still working on getting a more complete answer for them. Keep in mind that the average customer service response time is about 12 hours.
When it comes to customer service, 71 percent of customers say poor customer service would be reason enough for them to break up with a brand.
Don’t: Make your messages too long
The last “don’t” to keep in mind when using business text messaging is don’t make your messages too long. Messages are meant to be short, using 160 characters or less for an SMS message. So long messages that can get broken up are a no go. Messages sent in several parts can make it hard for customers to figure out why you’re texting them in the first place, obscuring that value you want to make sure you do highlight.
Remember, texting is natively short back and forth communication so you should work to keep that at the heart of your messages. Keeping your message on the short side should be easier when you only include on CTA per text.
Business texting etiquette: The takeaway
The etiquette you have for your business communication channels is going to of course, vary by channel. But now that you’ve read through the 10 dos and don’ts of business texting you should have a better idea of what is and is not okay when it comes to texting your customers. Use these tips for writing your business texts and you’ll be off to a great start.