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Texting 101

Master SMS with business texting etiquette

Alia Paavola
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Table of contents:

Understanding professional texting etiquette is the key to success in the world of business communication. Whether you're diving into marketing strategies or simplifying internal communication, learning the art of business texting creates meaningful connections and is critical to your long-term success.

In this guide, we’ll reveal the secrets to mastering professional messaging. We’ll uncover essential etiquette rules for SMS marketing, customer support, B2B communication, and employee texting. Remember these text message etiquette rules to keep customers happy and build better relationships.

Jump right to professional texting etiquette for:

<h2 id="Marketing">SMS marketing etiquette</h2>

One of the most popular use cases for business texting is SMS marketing. With 98 percent open rates and up to 30 percent click-through rates, companies use SMS marketing to get their promotional messages seen. However, you must remember some general manners and expectations when creating a text marketing strategy.

Good manners for text message marketing

Keep these good SMS marketing etiquette rules in mind when using SMS marketing.

  • Get an explicit opt-in. For SMS marketing, brands must get express written consent from customers. This is defined as explicit permission someone grants a business to get promotional text messages. This opt-in, required by law, can be obtained digitally or in writing.

    You can collect this opt-in by creating a form, using a checkbox at online checkout, or setting up an SMS keyword campaign. Many brands using SMS marketing get a double opt-in. This requires a user to provide express consent first and confirm their subscription choice via text as an added layer of protection.

  • Honor opt-outs quickly. Ensure your contacts can quickly and easily unsubscribe from text marketing messages. For example, you want to automatically unsubscribe contacts that reply with words like STOP, END, or UNSUBSCRIBE. This will help you stay in good graces and comply with text marketing rules.

  • Follow marketing quiet hours. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) governs business texting and prohibits brands from sending texts before 8 am and after 9 pm. These hours are called “quiet hours.” Curious about when you should send your mass texts within these appropriate hours? Check out this blog for Textline data and insights.
  • Keep it to one CTA. Add only one call-to-action to your marketing text messages. This keeps your marketing text clear and guides the desired behavior of your marketing contacts. Don’t add confusion by adding multiple CTAs or links within a text message.

  • Introduce your brand. Customers most likely don’t have your phone number saved as a contact in their address book. As a result, you must mention your brand name in the text message to ensure your contacts know who is messaging them. This reduces confusion and the likelihood that your message gets flagged as spam.

  • Create tailored messages. Irrelevant marketing messages will fall flat. Make sure you’re tailoring text messages to your audience. You can segment your contact lists by demographics or past purchase behavior.

  • Proofread for grammar and language. Always ensure your messages are error-free. Misspellings, improper grammar, and off-brand language can result in a negative brand image or increase spam complaints. You can reduce errors by proofreading and sending a test message to yourself.

  • Craft short yet engaging messages. Keep marketing texts concise yet interesting. You can create entertaining messages by sharing exclusive content for SMS and personalizing the messages.

Bad manners to avoid in text message marketing

Here are the etiquette mistakes to avoid when sending SMS marketing messages.

  • Sending too many texts. One of the biggest mistakes brands make is sending too many SMS messages. Pay attention to how many promotional texts you send. The more you send, the more likely customers will experience fatigue and stop engaging with your offers. Find a sweet spot by testing different frequencies.

  • Missing a plan for handling replies. Always have a strategy to handle replies to a mass text message. You can assign a company representative to reply to any inbound messages or set up an auto-reply letting customers know how to get in touch if you aren’t manning replies. If you don’t, it feels as if you’re ignoring customers.

  • Using too many emojis. Don’t be afraid to use emojis in your marketing text messages for a splash of personality and to help set a tone. However, using too many in one text can make it seem unprofessional.

  • Using too many acronyms. Using too many text acronyms is also something to avoid. While using a well-known abbreviation like ASAP or VIP can make sense, consistently overusing acronyms (especially not widely known ones) can be seen as a negative when communicating with a business.

Dive deeper into 27 SMS marketing best practices to set your business apart.

<h2 id="Support">SMS customer support etiquette</h2>

Businesses are turning to SMS customer support to give customers a more convenient way to get their issues resolved. Texting allows customers to send and receive texts wherever they are and whenever is convenient for them. This improves the experience since customers don’t have to stay on a computer or phone call while waiting for a response. 

Keep the following texting etiquette rules in mind to ensure customer satisfaction while using SMS for support.

Good manners for SMS customer support 

Keep these etiquette tips in mind to keep customers satisfied with SMS support.

  • Only text about the problem at hand. When using SMS for customer service, don’t veer off-topic. Keep the text conversation on point and focus on resolving the customer’s question or problem. Text support aims to solve customers' issues as quickly and efficiently as possible.

  • Respond quickly. Customers expect prompt replies when using any form of live chat, including SMS. In fact, two-thirds of customers would choose ease and speed over a deeply conversational experience. Keep this in mind when replying to customers.

  • Focus on accuracy and clarity above all. Effective SMS support messages are clear and accurate. Don’t sacrifice accuracy or clarity for a faster or shorter response. Being thorough helps resolve issues faster. This also includes asking for clarity if you don’t understand what the customer is asking.

  • Introduce yourself. Create a more human-like experience by introducing yourself as an agent while responding to a message. This creates a more personalized experience and lets customers know they’re speaking to a human representative.

  • Personalize messages. You want customers to feel heard. One of the best ways to do this is to personalize messages. You should address the customer by first name and make it clear that you understand their problems, concerns, and use cases.

  • Keep a professional and positive tone. No matter what, stay professional and positive over SMS. You can do this by focusing on proper spelling and grammar, using acronyms sparingly, being polite, avoiding ALL CAPS, and staying focused on the issue at hand. 

Bad manners to avoid in SMS customer support

Let’s look at some poor etiquette for SMS customer support.

  • Initiating texts about unrelated topics. Conversational messaging, including support SMS, only needs implied consent. Implied consent is an agreement or consent given by an action. If customers text your brand first to initiate a customer support conversation, you’re allowed to reply via text about that particular issue. Avoid initiating texts to customers about unrelated topics or adding that customer to your marketing lists. If you want to add them to a marketing list, you’d need to get that opt-in explicitly.
  • Using too many scripted replies. Don’t only use canned responses to reply to customers. This can make you sound scripted and robotic and can frustrate customers.

  • Avoiding setting reply expectations. If you’re unable to reply right away, let customers know when to expect a reply. For example, you’ll want to set an automatic response if customers send messages outside business hours. This will help properly manage expectations.

  • Ignoring customers. Don’t ignore customers or forget to follow up. Always respond to a customer, even to let them know you need a few moments to read their message. Additionally, don’t forget to follow up if you said you’d look into something for them. Pro tip: If an issue takes longer to resolve, follow up with them, saying your team is still looking into it.
  • Typing long, verbose messages. Texting is built for short, digestible messages. Since you only have 160 characters to work with, your messages must be short and to the point. Lengthy and verbose messages will lead to customer confusion and frustration.

  • Being dishonest. Never lie to boost conversions. You must always provide the most helpful and honest information for customers and leads.

  • Using unprofessional language. One of the biggest mistakes is using an unprofessional tone or language. Don’t let frustrated customers provoke you. Stay focused on the task at hand and avoid lashing out to keep the conversation productive.

  • Avoiding moving the conversation to the proper channel. The reality is that some requests are hard to handle over SMS. Be sure to move these conversations to the appropriate communications channel. For example, if you need to share sensitive information, move it to an encrypted email or patient portal.

<h2 id="B2B">B2B texting etiquette</h2>

More businesses are texting to communicate with clients, vendors, and partners. That’s because texting allows them to communicate without playing phone tag or waiting for email responses. But, to keep your B2B contacts happy, keep this texting etiquette in mind.

Good manners for B2B texting

Here are some etiquette tips for texting clients, vendors, and partners.

  • Focus on items that need immediate attention. If you’re using texting to communicate with another business partner, you should focus on sending things that need a prompt response or can be answered quickly by the recipient. For example, you wouldn’t want to solve a complex supply chain issue via text message. However, you could warn clients to place orders quickly if an item is close to selling out.

  • Know your audience. B2B is all about building relationships and establishing trust. This means it's essential to understand your clients and how they prefer to communicate. Knowing if your clients or partners prefer communicating over text or email is imperative.

  • Stick to business hours.  Unless an urgent message impacts business operations, keep B2B texting within business hours and work days. It’s an excellent medium for fast responses, but be mindful of working hours, or it can feel intrusive.

  • Keep it simple. Text messages are good for simple, back-and-forth communication – avoid complex explanations. Texting is best when it's clear, simple, and straightforward.

  • Be professional. Maintain professionalism during business texting. Some ways to help you stay professional include sticking to work-related topics, using professional greetings, responding quickly, proofreading your messages, and limiting emojis and slang.

Bad manners to avoid in B2B texting

Avoid these when using B2B texting.

  • Lengthy delays. Make sure to reply to texts promptly – don’t let texts sit unanswered for long when communicating with business contacts. A good practice is to use an auto-response if you’re out of the office.

  • Sending confidential information over text. Keep B2B texts general. Don’t send personal information over SMS. For example, you wouldn’t want to send a contract via text, but you could send a message stating you sent it to their email for review.

  • Not clarifying. If you don’t understand a client or partner’s question,  ask for clarification before responding. This helps you get the proper context to react appropriately.

  • Being too technical. Another critical thing to avoid is being overly technical over SMS. Texts are short and don’t provide much room for additional explanation. As a result, avoid being too complex.

<h2 id="Employee">Employee texting etiquette</h2>

SMS for internal communication allows businesses to reach employees with important information regardless of location. This is especially helpful for field teams that must keep staff informed on company updates, assign jobs to staff, schedule appointments with customers, or share job details. But, when texting your employees, keep these rules in mind to protect their personal time.

Good manners for texting employees

  • Keep texts work-related. When using SMS to communicate with employees, keep them work-related. Often businesses use SMS to communicate with field workers who may not be behind a computer all day. Treat texts like you would email, keeping them on-topic and work-related.

  • Try to message during work hours. There may be some scenarios where you must send a professional text message after work hours, but try to avoid it to protect employees’ personal time. Before hitting send, ask yourself if the message could wait for the next day.

  • Set clear response expectations. Be clear about response expectations or required actions when texting your employees. You want them to know what you need from them if they must respond, and when you expect a reply.

  • Be concise. Don’t take up too much time by creating lengthy messages. Keep it short and sweet while texting employees.

  • Be polite. Sometimes it's hard to convey tone over text messages. Be mindful of messages sounding harsh or negative over text. Plus, always use a warm greeting, even if it’s a simple “Hey!”

  • Minimize abbreviations. Be mindful of the abbreviations you use over business text messaging. While some abbreviations are well-known, others aren’t. You may risk confusing some employees if you’re using many abbreviations.

Bad manners to avoid when texting employees

When it comes to internal communication with employees, avoid these etiquette mistakes.

  • Messaging outside of working hours regularly. While occasionally you may need to send text messages outside of typical business hours, don’t make it a common occurrence. Employees value their personal time, and texting could feel intrusive if you’re messaging consistently outside of typical hours.

  • Sending a text during a team meeting. Make sure you time your texts to employees well – don’t schedule a text to send while everyone is supposed to be in a meeting. This can come off as rude or appear as if you’re not taking the meeting seriously.

  • Sending negative or sensitive information over text. It’s essential to understand when to use text messaging to communicate. For messages that need more context or explanation, don’t use SMS – use email or another medium. For example, you won’t want to announce negative news like layoffs in a text. A good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t put it in a company newsletter, don’t text it.

  • Getting too personal. Keep work texts professional. Don’t use the channel to build a relationship with your employees. Use it for generic time-sensitive information like important announcements, schedule changes, staff surveys, or coordinating logistics.

  • Sharing customer data. Text messaging is not end-to-end encrypted. Don’t share any client data or protected information when texting with your employees.

Put these etiquette rules into practice with Textline

Now that you know proper business texting etiquette, put it into practice on Textline’s user-friendly SMS platform. 

Textline is a feature-rich text messaging platform built for businesses to improve and scale SMS communication. Take advantage of features that make it easy to reply quickly, personalize messages, and reach many customers simultaneously.

Try Textline’s platform free today, or request a demo to see our powerful features in action.

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