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Dos and don’ts of mass texting customers: How to make sure you’re doing it legally

Nina Godlewski
10
minute read

Mass SMS messages can make your business communications easier without any loss of personal touch. But you should know the dos and don'ts of sending announcements to your customers first.

When it comes to sending mass text messages to your customers, or your employees, you need to be careful. There are restrictions and etiquette to follow around regular business texting, and the rules get more strict as you move on to sending mass messages with a feature like Textline’s Announcements.

What are announcements?

When it comes to business texting, Textline refers to sending one text message to multiple recipients at the same time as an Announcement. This feature allows users to send one message to a group of recipients instead of having to copy and paste the message to every person they wish to contact.

Other industries might call them bulk messages or mass messages, but no matter what they’re called, you must be aware of the regulations around sending announcements or mass text messages. The same rules apply to the messages you send whether you send one or 100. More information about the regulations around SMS messages for marketing can be found from the Mobile Marketing Association.

In addition to marketing messages, SPAM and cold sales pitches are also highly regulated. The Announcements feature is not meant for sending these messages. Sending a message to a group of employees for organizing purposes or for informational purposes is less likely to be restricted. Using the Announcements feature is meant for two-way communication with individuals who have consented to receive messages through opt-ins and only those who are customers or potential customers.

When using Textline, you have the option to send mass messages by using the “Announcements” feature, as we mentioned. This feature is available to all users, no matter the plan level.

How are announcements used?

Announcements can be sent to your customers or your employees who have opted in to receiving texts previously. We’re going to cover some specific ways that announcements are regularly used. Texting has a 98 percent open rate so the benefit to texting is clear, your customers or leads will in all likelihood, see the message you send.

Sales

If you work in sales you know how difficult it can be to reach a whole batch of leads when you have to contact each one individually. You can use announcements with Textline to send a batch of messages to that whole group of leads, as long as they volunteered their phone number to you and you didn’t buy a list of contact information.

It can also be useful for those businesses that have an account management function to them or have customers who make repeat purchases. Announcements can be a great feature to use to check in on customers about a monthly restock, or for annual appointment reminders.

Improving the customer experience

Another popular reason for using the Announcements feature, or sending mass messages, might be to improve the customer experience or to check in on customers. You can use it to update your customers and let them know you now have the added channel of texting. Be sure you ask for your customers to opt-in if you’ve never texted them before or have never gotten their permission to do so. You can get these opt-ins in a few different ways, for more details regarding what SMS opt-ins are, and when you need them, check our opt-in blog post.

Example of asking for text consent in an initial message
You can get opt-ins by letting customers know you recently added texting capabilities.

Checking in

You might also use mass messages to check-in with customers throughout the customer experience. This is a great way for businesses to keep customers engaged and to keep their business top of mind.

Businesses might set an announcement to go out to customers who made a purchase five days, one month, or several months ago to check in on customer satisfaction. This gives businesses the chance to make sure their customers are happy with the product they received and the possibility to upsell or offer another product. With Textline you can set messages to autofill a customers name so the same message is personalized for each customer in the bunch.

Using text announcements to check-in with customers and upsell
You can use announcements to check in with a batch of customers who made recent purchases at once.

Collections

Billing and collections is another prime reason to use mass messages. You can use it to update a batch of clients who are late making payments to your business. Adding business texting to your billing and collections process can help reduce the number of late payments you receive and increase the likelihood that your customers pay on time as well.

You can use business texting to remind customers of upcoming payments, adjust any billing discrepancies easily and quickly, get your invoices to the right people, and more.

Status and procedural updates

If your business involves any sort of logistics around appointments or deliveries you might need to periodically update customers or clients. Mass business messages can be a great solution for this. You can easily message customers in a certain region or who are receiving a certain item to let them know about delays due to weather or production issues. You might also opt to send updates if your service is down or experiencing some sort of maintenance timeout.

Mass texting to update about delays due to weather
Use mass messages to update customers on delays or shipping issues.

This is a common use case for businesses that have to update customers on health and safety updates as well. This is a common use for businesses during COVID. Doctor offices, schools, tutoring facilities, and more businesses all update customers on protocol changes for health safety via announcements.

Recruiting

When it comes to recruiting, bulk business texting can be used for everything from last-minute job assignments and coordination to traditional recruiting efforts. You can use mass messages to put a call out to contractors who might be able to fill a last-minute job. This is particularly helpful for businesses that have employees in the field who don’t work out of a centralized office. With texting there’s no need for field workers to check their email or pick up a call, they can simply read and quickly respond to a text instead.

Mass texting field employees to fill a last-minute job
Use bulk messages to find an employee to fill a shift.

8 dos and don’ts for sending announcements or mass messages

Here’s a high-level overview of the dos and don’ts you should follow when sending mass automated messages.

Do:

  • Focus on two-way conversations
  • Get permission to text with opt-ins
  • Personalize your messages
  • Make it clear why you’re texting
  • Be prepared to respond to everyone

Don’t:

  • Simply market
  • Don’t spam
  • Don’t forget that your customers are real people

5 dos of mass messages

Let’s review the five things dos when sending mass messages.

Do: Focus on two-way conversations

Remember, even when you’re sending a message to multiple customers, your goal should still be to have a two-way conversation with them. Your goal in texting should always be to have a meaningful connection with your customer that improves your business communication. Even when writing a message for multiple customers keep in mind the key components that make up the perfect business text message.

Do: Get permission to text with opt-ins

You need to get an opt-in from any customer you’re planning to text. This applies to mass messages as well as regular one-to-one messaging. When using business texting, the law requires that you get an opt-in from your customers before you text them, you need a double opt-in if you’re texting anything that’s HIPAA related.

You can get a single opt-in by asking your customer for their phone number and explaining that you plan to use it to text them. Or by having them fill out a lead form or contact form that has those details in the fine print.

Do: Personalize your messages

Studies show that your customers prefer personalized conversations and experiences. Making your conversations two-way instead of simply using texting to send updates or vague messages can help your customers feel that personalized experience.

That personalization will go a long way in strengthening your relationship with your customers and making it clear that you are being intentional with your communication.

Do: Make it clear why you’re texting

Another rule that applies to any text message, but especially those that are mass messages, is to always be clear. You should have your call to action as the central point of your message. You want your customer to look at the message and quickly know exactly who is contacting them and why. If you’re sending a message that might ever look like spam or a mass message you need to make the reason for that communication obvious. Using links might even help make it more obvious as well.

Do: Be prepared to respond to everyone

Just because you’re texting multiple customers at once doesn’t mean you don’t need to answer them all. You’re likely going to get many responses if you’re texting many customers at one time, so be sure you have the bandwidth to answer them all. This point goes back to what we mentioned about focusing on two-way conversations.

Consider sending your announcements in batches or over a few days if necessary. This can also save you money. The cost per interaction for business texting, especially when used in a mass messaging manner, can be as low as $.25 per interaction. This is a significantly lower cost than other channels you might use to contact customers.

The cost per interaction for business texting can be as low as $.25 per interaction

3 don’ts of mass messages

Now that we know what to do when sending mass text messages, let’s take a look at the don’ts.

Don’t: Simply market

You can not use business texting, let alone mass messaging, to simply market to your customers. Marketing messages can only be sent via short code, something Textline doesn’t even offer. The Textline platform is meant for two-way conversations with customers that go beyond simple marketing.

Marketing messages are those that serve to only offer a deal or discount, share information about new products for sale, or those that aren’t personal at all. Messages that are considered marketing messages can be blocked by carriers and not even delivered. So you should be careful with your messages if you want to make sure they’re properly delivered.

Don’t: Spam

Similar to not marketing to your customers via SMS you also shouldn’t be sending spam. Spam messages are those that are unwanted and sent to a mobile device. Messages that customers haven’t opted into are considered spam. They sometimes offer prizes or coupons or claim there’s an issue or suspicious activity on an account. This is illegal and has some serious consequences for those who don’t abide by it.

Understanding opt-ins is important to covering all your bases. You specifically must ask your customers if they want to receive SMS messages from you and explain how you plan to use SMS messaging. Your customers have to voluntarily give you their phone number too, you can’t buy their contact information.

Don’t: Forget that your customers are real people

Always remember when you’re using business texting that there is a real person on the other end of the message. Your customers are real people who have their own busy and complicated lives. Don’t forget that in texting them you’re using some of their valuable time and asking them for engagement. You want to make sure that whatever you’re contacting them about is worth taking some time from their day. Keeping the messages personal and relevant will help you guarantee that the messages you’re sending are important and necessary. Remember that 86 percent of customers are willing to pay for a better experience, and that means being treated with consideration and kindness.

Don’t forget that if you spam your customer or if you abuse their trust by texting them too much, or using texting to market to them, you could lose that trust. A loss of trust can be a significant detriment to your business.

The bottom line

When it comes down to it, there are rules around sending mass messages to customers. You can not spam them or send unsolicited marketing messages and you absolutely need to have permission to text them. Once you’re past the restrictions on sending mass messages and have moved on to sending them, you’ll see the value they can offer your business.

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