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Mind your manners: 10 golden rules for texting etiquette

Just like you’d mind your manners with your grandma, mind your manners when texting your customers, too.

SMS is one of the most effective ways to reach your customers. That is, until you overstep the mark and are permanently blocked. To help you stay in your customers’ good books, follow these simple rules when sending messages.

1. Ask for permission before you hit ‘send’

Not only is it polite to ask for permission, but it helps set a friendly tone for future conversations. Plus, it’s the law in Australia (and many other countries). 

You can ask for permission directly (express consent) or through a prior business relationship (implicit consent). If you’re not sure what rules apply in a recipient’s geographic location, we suggest you seek legal guidance.

2. To text or not to text? Choose the right channel

Let’s face it. While SMS is awesome, it’s not always the best choice for business communication. You wouldn’t want to find out you’ve lost your job in a text message, would you?  

For big news, complex discussions, and confidential information, it’s probably better to pick up the phone or send an email. Consider the nature and impact of the news you’re conveying before choosing the right channel for your message.

3. Don’t be a stranger

Identify yourself upfront to stand out from the crowd of anonymous business messages. 

Customers are more likely to open, read, and act upon your messages when they know who it’s coming from. On the flip side, they’re likely to ignore or block texts from numbers they don’t recognise. 

To make yourself known within a text, you could start the message with your business name or explore options like alpha tags and dedicated numbers.

4. Make sure you say ‘Hi’

Hello. Hi. Howdy. Aloha. G’Day. Whichever way you say it, a warm greeting is not only personable and polite, it immediately endears you to your recipient. It’s a small effort that goes a long way. 

Even better, customise your greeting to include the recipient’s name – a personal ‘Hey Sally’ is sure to grab her attention, right? It’s easy to customise your messages and use things such as first name, last name, location, product (and many more).

5. Keep it brief

With a text message, you’ve got 160 characters to get your message across. So it’s best to keep it short and sweet. Think about an elevator pitch or a 5-second ad. If you can’t boil your message down to 160 characters, SMS may not be the best form of communication.

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

6. Think about how you sound

It’s easy for text messages to be misinterpreted. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to tone. Communications theorist Dr. Nick Morgan says only 50% of what we say via text is understood as we mean it, and that two-word replies like ‘nice job’ or ‘good work’ are read as sarcastic 60% of the time.

With this in mind, go easy on the puns, frivolity, and modern slang. While these might be on-brand in other communications channels, there’s a risk in text that these styles could be misunderstood.

A good rule of thumb is to ask colleagues to review text messages before you send. Make sure the meaning’s crystal clear, and there are no spelling or grammar mistakes. Not only do these make your business look bad, but they could be mistaken for spam and prompt your recipients to hit ‘Block Sender’.

RELATED: Read our guide on how to avoid being mistaken for spam.

7. Get your facts straight

Always send clear, specific, and factual information. And don’t try to hide the truth. Today’s customers can see through marketing tricks and tactics. 

For example, if you’re promising a 50% off discount, lay out the exact terms and conditions in your SMS or include a link to Ts and Cs. If the deal requires a minimum spend of $50, say so.

8. Don’t push the friendship

The less you use SMS, the more powerful each message is. With this in mind, keep your broadcasts infrequent, but deliberate. 

Send too often and you run the risk of losing customers – they either unsubscribe or simply lose interest. 

While you certainly don’t want to bombard customers with texts every hour – or even every day – there’s no hard and fast rule as to how often you should be sending. Listen and learn from previous campaigns, and adjust accordingly.

9. Choose the right time

It’s not OK to email your boss in the middle of the night to ask for the weekend off. And it’s not OK to send business messages at inappropriate times, either. 

The same applies when messaging your customers. Think about when they’re most likely to read your messages. Is it during the daily commute? After business hours? Also, think about your team’s ability to respond – you might want to stagger bulk sends to help them manage replies. 

Be mindful of time differences, too, when sending to recipients in different locations. Our Social Sending tool can help here – use it to make sure broadcasts are only sent in certain timeframes, no matter the timezone.

10. Don’t leave them waiting

Text messaging is a time-critical communications channel. Your customers typically look at the text within 90 seconds and, if it leads to a two-way conversation, they’ll expect you to respond just as fast. 

Automation is a great help here. You can set up automated replies that reassure customers their messages have been heard. Or, you’ll need to make sure a team member is ready to reply whenever you send out bulk messages.

Ready to hit ‘send’?

Before you do, review your message with good manners in mind. Use our top tips for texting etiquette to make sure every message you send is polite, considerate, and helpful.

And don’t forget to always respect your customers’ wishes. If they don’t want to hear from you again, then take them off your list. It’s that simple.