11 must-learn lessons on good business texting etiquette

People check their phones constantly.

That’s why using texting for business purposes can be extremely effective. That is, unless you overstep the mark on how often you message or how you write your message. Even with all the power of mobile messaging in your hands, failing to follow basic SMS etiquette is all it takes to ruin a long-built relationship.

Or, in the case of high volume sends, many recipients!

Before sending your first broadcast, we suggest learning these 11 simple rules for modern manners when messaging: 

1. Ask permission 

Before commencing with your first broadcast, it’s recommended to confirm recipients’ consent to receive business messaging.

Not only is it polite to ask, it will set a friendly tone for future conversations. Additionally, in many countries consent is a legal obligation on the part of the business. In Australia, permission to engage via electronic messages must be gained by asking a recipient directly (express consent) or through a prior business relationship (implicit consent). 

Consent is a complex issue and may change according to a recipient’s geographic location. We suggest seeking legal guidance and counsel first in order to ensure you are meeting local compliance laws.  

RELATED: Have a question about consent or compliance? Call or email us and we might be able to point you in the right direction. 

 2. Choose the correct forum 

Ask yourself: is SMS appropriate for this form of communication? 

While many customers prefer text, it isn’t always the best choice. Imagine you are receiving life-changing news from your doctor or a termination of employment. A text message would not be appropriate. 

SMS is good for: 

  • Short prompts 
  • Time-critical messages 
  • Text-based comms 

SMS is not good for: 

  • Big news 
  • Discussions 
  • Confidential information  

Ask yourself before sending: is this better received through an email, face-to-face or phone call? Each medium has its pros and cons, and these should be thoroughly weighed and assessed against its impact on your recipient.   

That said, SMS is versatile in how it can be transformed to overcome some, if not most, of these challenges.  

If you want to give customers more information and personalise an offer, use MLPs (Mobile Landing Pages).

If you want to include dynamic media to attract higher clicks or remind a customer about a product, choose MMS.

Connecting your current tools to a messaging service through an integration can expand text messaging’s versatility and marketing effectiveness. Government engagement platform Bang the Table worked closely with MessageMedia to build an SMS facility into their software. This allowed customers to strengthen public forums by simply automating feedback and surveys via SMS.  

RELATED: Connect your current tools and software to MessageMedia’s SMS service through our integrations marketplace.

3. Make yourself known  

When recipients receive countless anonymous business messages, identifying yourself will increase the likelihood of clicks and consumption.  

Like consent, many countries around the world also require identification as part of legal compliance schemes. It is important to ensure you are adhering to local regulations before sending. Again, we recommend conferring with legal counsel first. 

When customers are expecting business communications, they are more likely to open, read and act upon your messages. Think about how we read texts from friends but remain wary when they come from numbers we do not recognise. 

There are a few ways that you can consistently identify yourself to recipients. Many business do so within the text but there are other options such as Alpha Tags or Dedicated Numbers.

Dedicated numbers give senders full control over their identity with all messages and replies coming from the one number.

Alpha Tags are more limited but easily identify the sender to a recipient increasing trust and confidence in your communications.  

RELATED: Find out how you can get your own Alpha Tag (Sender IDs) or Dedicated Numbers

4. Send salutations

When writing your message, always begin with a greeting.

  • Hey Sally! 
  • Hello Matt 
  • Hi there Bob 
  • Dear Tess 

Not only is it personable and polite, it immediately endears you to the recipient. It’s a small effort that goes a long way. Even better, customise your greeting to include their name.

At MessageMedia, this is easy to do by connecting or uploading your database into our platform and adding in a variety of custom parameters such as first name, last name, location, product plus many more!

 

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 5. Brevity is key  

If you can say more with less, do it.  

Think about something such as an elevator pitch or a 5-second ad. If you can boil your message down to 160-characters, that should be all it takes to get your message across. 

If you feel like your message may take more than 160 characters, is SMS the best medium for your message?  

RELATED: Heed our 8 golden rules for crafting a compelling text.

6. Get tough on tone and text  

Keep your communications professional.  

When sending a text, it can be misinterpreted even at the best of times. According to communications theorist Dr. Nick Morgan, only 50% of what we say via text is understood as we mean it. In his research, two word replies such as ‘nice job’ or ‘good work’ are read as sarcastic 60% of the time. While a funny tone of voice might be on brand, you still run the chance it could be misconstrued.

There are always exceptions but to play it safe, stick to a professional tone where you can. Ensure your messages are also read and checked by as many people as possible before sending.   

Which one would you prefer to receive?

Proof, reread and review your messages thoroughly. Poor punctuation and spelling will also impact on your reputation. It will give recipients cause to suspect that your text messages may be fraudulent. 

RELATED: Read our guide on how not to send SPAM-looking text messages

If you’re considering using emoticons or modern slang, we recommend erring on the side of caution. Recipients may not always understand what you’re saying. This may severely impact the effectiveness of your broadcast. It could also reinforce unintended negative associations with your brand.  

7. Get your facts straight 

Ensure you are always sending clear, specific and factual information.  

Don’t try to hide the truth from recipients. Consumers today are smart and clued onto the various tricks and tactics of underhanded marketers and businesses.  

For example, if you’re promising a 50% off discount, lay out the exact terms and conditions in your SMS. Customers will be annoyed if they click through and find out the deal also requires a minimum spend of $50. 

Don’t leave anything up for nuance or ambiguity. You have 160 characters so use them wisely. And refer to Rule 5 & 6 again! 

8. Keep it to minimum  

The less used, the more power SMS will have. 

Ever been hassled by constant telemarketing calls? Think about how that made you feel. 

CREDIT: ABC

Like Rule 5, keep your broadcasts infrequent, but deliberate. There is no hard and fast rule as recipients will differ greatly in their appetite for text message communications. 

That said, you do not want to overwhelm recipients with text messages every hour or even every day. This could push recipients to unsubscribe. 

9. Send at the right times 

Timing is everything. 

It is not socially acceptable to email your boss in the middle of the night to ask for next weekend off. Similarly, it is not socially acceptable to send business messages when recipients may be annoyed by the intrusion.

Annoying your recipients will only ensure your message will not produce results you desire. When sending to recipients in international locations, you must be mindful of the time difference. There’s help at hand such as MessageMedia’s Socially Aware Sending tool that will only send broadcasts within certain hours of your recipient’s timezone.

We recommend: 

  • Doing research to find out when customers are most likely to read your messages (i.e. business hours, after work, rush hour)
  • Contextualising that data with regards to geographic region 
  • With large volume sends that require replies, make sure to stagger it. This will help your team manage any responses while providing data on which times are best to get the most ROI.

RELATED:  Try out our Socially Aware Sending tool when you sign up for a free account. Plus get 25 free SMS to send right away!

10. Don’t make them wait   

The sooner you attend to them, the more they will value you. 

These days, most consumers expect immediate gratification when engaging with a business. Whether that’s receiving a package promptly or hearing back about a customer support query, they don’t want to wait.  

One of text messaging’s singular qualities is its time-critical nature. They engage recipients often within 90 seconds, and so recipients often expect that replies as fast. 

Example of a SMS-based contact tracing automation. Find out more.

In order to keep pace, make sure you: 

  • Have someone on hand to deal with replies and queries  
  • Set up automated confirmations for receipt of replies  
  • Automate replies and further actions through workflows (i.e. REPLY 1 if yes, 2 if no) 
  • Give recipients an idea of how long they will have to wait  

RELATED: MessageMedia allows you to reply to texts straight from our platform’s inbox. To get 2-way messaging set up, contact us now.

11. Respect their needs 

Respectfully adhere to all requests, especially if they do not wish to hear from you again. 

One of the most important, if not the critical rule to follow, is respecting your recipient’s needs.  This means always including an opt-out with your messages and following their direction if they decide to unsubscribe. 

Text messaging generally has a low unsubscribe rate, however those who do not respect customers needs will ensure declining customers too. 

 

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Final thoughts, future reading 

Before you hit send, remember that the art and etiquette of text messaging isn’t difficult to master. It’s similar, in many ways, to how we deal with and engage with others on a daily basis.

Be polite and considerate. Answer when spoken to. Consider the content and delivery of your communications. And always heed what others ask of you – especially if it’s to leave them alone! 


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