Text First Services – Part 3: How to Keep Them Listening and Talking to You

This is the third article in a series about implementing SMS for your business. The first article talks about why SMS text-messaging is important for businesses, and the second one is about how to implement text-messaging. In this article, we’ll talk about some best practices – what messages to send, and more importantly, what messages to avoid sending.

The Golden Rule

It’s straight-forward when you think about it: Treat others like you’d like to be treated. The same applies to SMS – you should message your customers how you would like companies to message you. Remember, SMS is an engagement channel – the intention is the use SMS as a channel for promote conversations.

Here are some more specific ways you can make sure you’re delivering the best text-messaging experience for your customers:

Get permission first

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Ask permission

This goes hand-in-hand with don’t spam your customers. Allow customers to control how much or how little they’d like to communicate over SMS. Sometimes customers don’t want to be contacted via SMS.

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Should’ve asked for permission!

Your customers are trusting you with a very personal channel and it is your job not to abuse that. Ask them for their explicit permission to text message them (unless they sent you a message first) and explain to your customers exactly what kinds of messages you’ll be sending and how frequently you’ll be sending them.

Don’t spam

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No one likes spam

SMS is great when providing a high-touch personalized experience for your customers. If you start using spammy tactics such as sending too many text messages, only sending marketing messages, cold-texting people (texting customers that never asked to be texted), not only will your customers lose trust in your business but it is also illegal! Not only that, but carriers block phone numbers that spam people. They do this silently and you’ll probably not know that your number is being blocked until much later.

Make it personal

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It should be personal

SMS is a very personal channel – it lets you It builds a deeper connection with your customers. Since customers are most likely use to receiving texts from their friends and family, it’s your duty as a company to make sure you’re not just sending generic marketing messages.

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Aw, you made it personal.

Keep messages concise

Phone screens are still small for the most part and SMS is limited to 160 characters per message. Unlike email, it is very important that you keep your SMS content nice and short. Only provide the most useful information and remove anything else. This also helps with responding to large volumes of messages quickly, which is very difficult to do on other channels. The built-in restriction of 160 characters can be a benefit!

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And by concise, I mean short and sweet

Practice good grammar (mostly)

While SMS-style shorthand is appropriate in personal conversations, it is less effective for business because customers belong to a wider demographic than our personal-circles. This isn’t always the case though. Depending on your customers’ demographics, they may not only enjoy shorthand but can also expect it. This is something that you can decide as you see how your customers are responding to your messaging.

Be polite and clear

Sarcasm and humor over text and can very easily be misunderstood – there are no audio-visual cues to indicate that you’re joking. Emoticons may help, but not always. This is very similar to the “practice good grammar” suggestion, it highly depends on your customers. Being polite is always good but you might be able to get away with humor/emoticons if your customers expect that from your brand.

Respect the recipient of the message

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Mad Respec’

Ultimately, all the above points boil down to respect. Treating customers as fellow human-beings, and respecting their time. This includes respecting the unsubscribe request. If one of your customers doesn’t want to receive text messages from your business anymore, it is critical that you respect this wish.

So there you have it, the Golden Trifecta of Why, How, and What you should SMS – your customers want it, it’s easy, and you can talk to them in a way that will get you the best results!

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