How to Send Business Text Messages Without Annoying Your Customers
Texting is more intimate than other marketing channels like email or social. It's a ring in our ear or a buzz in our pocket. And, because it gets to us so directly, there are different rules to the game.
Before you jump in and start texting with the same strategy you use for email or social, stop and think through what your customers want in a text message. If you do business text messaging wrong, you'll annoy your customers and damage your brand. But do it right, and you will build higher levels of customer engagement, build brand loyalty, and give your customers an experience they will appreciate.
So, what's the secret to doing it right?
How Not to Annoy Customers with Business Text Messages
Creative marketers started using text messages to beat a new path to customers a decade ago. Politicians have used text to secure donations in campaigns. Conference speakers have used texting to share slides. And live text messaging has been responsible for catapulting newcomers to stardom through the live voting on shows like American Idol.
The result of these trailblazing efforts is that customers are now used to connecting with organizations of all kinds via text. Studies show that customers actually prefer to communicate with businesses by text message.
Business text messaging has become so widespread that customers now have expectations when connecting with a company by text. There's an often unspoken new etiquette surrounding mass text messaging. Here's the inside scoop on how to use business text messages without breaking those unspoken rules and annoying your contacts.
The Do's of Business Text Messaging
Do Text About Things Your Customers Care About
You may be doing mass business texting, but don't treat your contacts as a mass. Treat them as individuals. Take your time to segment your contact database by interest or location so that you can send them messages and offers which are relevant to their wants. Personalize your messages with first name or other contact information. And, always, always, always share value. If the message doesn't contain something which makes your contact's life better, don't hit the send button.
Do Give a Clear Next Step
You can excite customers and prospects by offering "90%-off on Converse today only!", but if you don't tell them how to get the discount, you'll annoy them (and miss out on revenue). Use a link in that text and tell customers what to do when they tap it. Effective mobile marketing Calls To Action (CTAs) can make or break your texting campaign.
Do Give a Way to Opt Out
Law actually requires this, so don't try to skip it. Your subscription confirmation text must include a message like "To unsubscribe from this list, reply 'STOP'."
Do Respond to Replies
If a contact replies to one of your texts, you have an opportunity to delight them with a response. Don't miss this chance to gain a new fan. Many companies are even moving support operations to text because customers are demanding it. The best text message service providers offer an easy-to-use web interface so that you can handle replies and support requests efficiently.
Do Mention Who the Message Is From
Business text messages almost always come from a 5 or 6-digit short code which doesn't correspond to your business name. If you don't include your company name in the message, your contacts might not figure out who it is from. That will cause frustration and drive higher unsubscribe rates. Not to mention, you lose out on building brand awareness.
The Do Not's of Business Text Messaging
Don't Text Without Permission
Just because someone has done business with you and given you their phone number doesn't mean they want text messages from you. Text messaging, like email, is a permission-based marketing activity. You can use other marketing channels to offer text message subscriptions, but just because someone has liked your Facebook page doesn't mean they've given you permission to text them. Our EZ Guide to Getting Text Marketing Opt-Ins includes some excellent tips to help you build your contact database.
Don't Text Too Often
According to the Mobile Marketing Association, a best practice is to decide on a message frequency and advertise it. You can do this either in the subscription call-to-action, or in the auto-reply subscription confirmation. The frequency of texts largely depends on the type of business you run. A pest control business, for example, might want to send monthly or quarterly texts with home maintenance tips and service reminders. A fitness gym might use SMS to send daily texts with motivational quotes.
Don't Text Late at Night or Early in the Morning
There may be a couple of exceptions to this rule (such as a fitness gym which might send early morning texts), but most business text communication should be sent during business hours. Don't interrupt family time, a night at the movies, or a weekend at the lake. Even though you should send during business hours, keep in mind that mass text services give you the ability to schedule message sends ahead of time so that you don't have to be at a computer when the text goes out.
Don't Always Try to Sell
Sometimes you can provide value by offering good information without asking for money. A ski resort may offer daily text updates of weather conditions, for instance, without asking contacts to buy a lift pass. A sporting goods store might recommend a little league baseball training video to contacts who have purchased little league equipment without asking them to come in and buy more.
There are lots of ways that you can make your contacts' lives better without asking them to open their wallets. Moreover, you should always tell people what kind of text program they're getting into when they join and then only deliver the kind of content that you promised!
Don't Text in ALL CAPS
Caps should be used sparingly to emphasize certain words, not every word. Don't try to emphasize how important you think your text is by using ALL CAPS. This tip goes along with our advice to keep your brand voice in mind when sending text messages. Keep a consistent voice throughout your marketing materials such as your website, in-store signage, emails, and texts. A bank, for instance, would want to stay away from trendy abbreviations in text messages because they would lose continuity of brand voice.
Continue Your Business Text Messaging Education
In this post, we've covered how not to annoy your customers with some basic principles. If you follow these guidelines, you can be sure that you won't upset your contacts. But that doesn't mean you've mastered the art of business text messaging.
There's a lot more to it. A great next step would be to dig a little deeper on secrets which can increase your database size, response rates, and conversions. Read more in our Free Text Marketing Guide.