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Cold texting is illegal. Here's how to legally text your customers instead

Fatima Puri
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Cold texting for sales and business is illegal. But that doesn’t mean you can’t text with your leads and customers. There are many ways your sales team and company can get the benefit of texting without breaking the law. 

What is cold texting?

In the sales and business world, cold contacting a customer is generally done via phone or email without context or a prior business relationship. Cold text messaging is similar to cold calling and emailing in this way. 

Some specific examples of cold texting include texting a customer without their consent. If you purchased a contact list, found a customer’s information online, or got their contact information in a way they don’t know about, then you are likely cold texting them.

Why you should NOT cold text

Unlike cold calling and cold email, cold texting is illegal. The Telephone Consumer Protection Agency (TCPA) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have regulations that require businesses to get an opt-in from customers to text them. Failure to do so can result in substantial charges. 

Not only is cold texting illegal, but it’s also poor etiquette. Texting is a personal platform, and it requires preliminary relationship building for it to be successful. It’s doubtful that someone will respond to your cold text enthusiastically. The consumer will probably flag your number as spam instead, and you lose out on a potential customer because they will have a negative perception of your business.

How to turn a cold text into a warm text 

While you can’t use cold text, you can attract new leads in other ways that will allow you to text them. Here are some ways to turn cold texting into warm texting.

Make your texting number available to prospective customers

While you can’t text a sales prospect without their consent, they can text you first. But the only way they can text you is if they know your number. Making your number available whenever you think your potential customer is looking is a simple and crucial step to getting new leads to contact you.

Here are some places you can share your mobile texting number:

  • Website header and footer
  • Contact page
  • Landing page
  • Social media accounts
  • Physical mailers
  • Display ads

Read our article “11 top ways to let your customers know they can text your business” to learn more about places to share your texting number.

Create value to attract new leads

One way to capture new leads is to create content that adds value to their lives. You can add value in various forms via webinars, articles, or social media posts. You can also collect leads through non-content channels, including giving a demo, consultation, giving a quote, etc. 

Adding these extra lead capture tools can increase the number of leads your marketing or demand generation team can generate for your sales team. The more sales opportunities you have, the more chances you have to close a deal.

Get explicit consent

The law requires opt-ins, and getting an opt-in from someone is a green light that they want to text your business. At least 78 percent of people wish they could have a text conversation with a company, so stick to good business texting etiquette and ask your customers to opt-in to text with you. 

Phone with a check mark and 78 percent
At least 78 percent of people wish they could have a text conversation with a company

There are a few ways to get an opt-in from your customers. One way is to have them text you first, so you must make your texting number public and easily accessible. Another way to get an opt-in from your customers is to ask them if they would like to text you. You can ask in person or over the phone for verbal consent to text them.

You can learn more about opt-ins and how to get them in our article, “Business SMS opt-ins: What they are and when you need to use them.”

5 ways to initiate a text conversation with a sales prospect

After collecting an opt-in, here are a few ways you can begin a new conversation with a sales prospect.

1. Follow-up with new leads via text

Once a lead has given you their contact information and opted-in, you can follow up with them via text. It’s best practice to ask a lead if they’re still interested in texting with you. Remember to introduce yourself, your company name, and why you’re reaching out to them (relevant to their needs.) Keep your initial text concise. 

For more tips on how to write a sales text, you can read our article, “Examples of how to use business texting to convert new leads.”

2. Text them after leaving a voicemail

If you couldn’t reach a new prospect via phone and left a voicemail, try sending them a text, too. We check our text message inbox more frequently than our voicemail. Texting is also the preferred method of communication, and your prospect is more likely to see if since most texts are read within three minutes of being sent (and have a 98 percent open rate.)

Example of following up with a text after leaving a voicemail
A small business vendor reaches out to a potential customer via text after leaving a voicemail.

3. Follow-up via text after sending an email

Some messages are best sent as an email, especially if they’re longer and more detailed. But that doesn’t mean you can use text to increase your email open rates. You can text a sales prospect before or after sending them an email to let them know to check their inbox. By comparison, texting has a nearly four times higher open rate than email. So, shoot a quick text to ensure your emails don’t go unread.

Mail envelope icon with 4x
Texting has a nearly four times higher open rate than email.

4. Follow-up throughout the sales process

If you’re already in conversation with a sales prospect, ask them if you can ask if you can text with them to get an opt-in. From there, you can now stay in touch with the sales prospect via text to gauge their interest and keep a close eye on opportunities to close a sale. Studies show that texting in the sales process with a qualified lead can increase conversions by over a hundred percent.

5. Follow-up with an existing customer

One of the best things about business texting is that it allows you to keep in touch with existing customers. You can proactively reach out to current customers to find opportunities to upsell. Or, you can simply let customers know that they are valued, so they stay happy and keep doing business with you.

Following up with an existing customer via text
A salesperson lets a customer know they can now be reached via text.

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