Last updated May 2023
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 for texting etiquette for businesses.
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. Asking for permission is not only proper business texting etiquette, but it’s also federal law.
Some of the best ways to do so are by asking 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.
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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 recognize.
We have helpful information on deciding which is right for your business in our blog: SMS long codes vs. shortcodes
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, customize your greeting to include the recipient’s name – a personal ‘Hey Sally’ is sure to grab her attention, right? It’s easy to customize 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.
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’.
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: guidelines for respectful texting.
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.
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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.
- Tips to prepare to send bulk SMS (avoid an awkward moment)
- Small touches to make a big impact on customers
- 5 steps to refine your business texting
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What is proper etiquette for texting?
It’s important for businesses to remember that sending unsolicited text messages may result in a loss in engagement and may even land the business in trouble with local regulations.
Businesses also should make sure to clearly identify themselves and use a personal greeting in their text messages. This helps maintain trust with the customer.
Is texting appropriate for business?
Text messages can be a very useful tool for businesses to communicate with their customers.
For example, an automated text message informing a customer that their order is ready is both appropriate and beneficial for providing quality customer service.
What are the tips for effective business texting?
Some helpful tips for effective business texting are:
- Make sure you have permission to text the customer.
- Clearly identify yourself in your messages. Your customers need to know who you are.
- Use a personal greeting. This will help you be more friendly and engaging.
- Make your messages as short as possible to reduce costs and keep your audience engaged.
- Pay attention to tone.
- Present factual and clear information.
- Use text messages sparingly to maximize their effectiveness.
- Respond to customers as soon as possible.
Can a business send a text without permission?
In many countries, it is illegal for businesses to text customers without their permission. It’s very important for businesses to seek consent from customers.
What things should you avoid when texting in a professional setting?
It’s important for businesses to avoid the following pitfalls when texting in a professional setting:
- Don’t send customers text messages without their permission.
- Never forget to identify yourself. This will help your audience get to know you.
- Avoid writing a novel. Text messages are supposed to be short.
- Don’t spam. If you send too many text messages, they will lose their importance. You also run the risk of driving customers away.