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4 Etiquette Tips for Business Text Messages

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4 Etiquette Tips for Business Text Messages

Despite the common myth that email is the primary tool for communication in the business world, the reality is far from it. 

According to the recent stats:

  • SMS is the fastest way for the businesses to reach their customers, with 78% of consumers supporting this claim
  • 80% of US consumers say they prefer businesses to send them text messages, providing basic information
  • 68% of consumers say they would view a business more seriously if they offered an SMS option
  • 91% of consumers say they find text messages from brands ‘somewhat’ or ‘very useful’

On top of that, 31% of consumers claim they prefer receiving SMS messages from brands so they don’t have to visit a physical location, a website or an app to receive information. 

This means that consumers are expecting businesses to allow the option of texting. In terms of marketing, business texting improves engagement, as it gives an additional option for consumers to receive customer support, confirm a reservation, change the appointment, and interact with a brand in general. 

Since texting is an important communication tool between a business and its customers, there is a certain strategy to follow and rules to comply with. 

Above all, there are several etiquette issues that may arise, when using texting as a marketing strategy for your business:

  • Timing – sending SMS for business purposes after business hours is forbidden
  • Optimal length – too long SMS messages can annoy customers, while too short texts can be found uninformative
  • Language – etiquette issues may arise when finding the optimal tone and style since texting is mostly perceived as a personal means of communication 

Other etiquette issues may be connected to response time, frequency, confidentiality, etc. 

How can you take it all into account?

Let’s take a look at the 4 etiquette tips for writing business text messages. 

#1 Obtain Permission First

Some companies obtain private phone numbers without permission to use them for marketing purposes. KeepSafe reports that companies resort to the following sources to obtain phone numbers:

  • directly from mobile carriers
  • data aggregation platforms
  • sweepstakes
  • credit companies, etc. 

Through these sources, mobile numbers are obtained without getting permission from the customers or without notifying them about a company purchasing the number. 

Customers greatly dislike this strategy. Chron reports that the Federal Trade Commission receives over 18,000 complaints from consumers, angry about telemarketing and companies illegally obtaining their phone numbers. 

The truth is that the above-mentioned sources often have customers sign / agree with the terms of use, which customers don’t usually read. These terms of use often contain outrageous entries that violate personal consumer data and arise certain ethical issues.

On top of that, if you obtain private phone numbers through such sources, your consumers won’t greet you with trust or respect. 

Every sign-up form, which uses a phone number, must have links to Terms of Use and Data Policy. You can take it to another level and make reading this information obligatory and have your subscribers check the box after getting familiar with this information. 

This way you legally obtain permission to use their phone numbers for marketing purposes, and you don’t have to worry about causing any privacy issues. 

#2 Set the Tone and Nourish Clarity

In business communication, text messages can be used for different purposes, from marketing to customer support. Naturally, the tone of text messages should correspond to their purpose. 

Consequently, businesses may face certain etiquette-related issues, which need to be taken into account:

  • What language should be used? Normally, for any business-related communication through texting, you should use a formal tone, except when using SMS for marketing. Marketing strategy allows setting a bit more relaxed tone with the purpose of personalization (IKEA is a good example of using ‘you’ in all their communication). However, beware of making your text messages too presumptuous and slangy. 
  • Are emoji allowed? Avoid using emoji if you’re writing text messages in a formal language. Emoji aren’t universal, they don’t always work as intended as they are associated with personal experience. So, with the exception of marketing SMS, avoid using emoji in text messages. 
  • Are abbreviations allowed? Since business text messages shouldn’t contain too many characters, you may be tempted to use abbreviations. While common abbreviations are allowed, specific terminology should be avoided. And, since the main goal is to deliver information in a clear but concise manner, don’t overuse abbreviations in your text messages. 

Like any other content, used for business purposes, text messages should always be checked for style and clarity. To help you out, you can use online proofreading tools like Grammarly (automated tool to check grammar, punctuation, and style), TrustMyPaper (an online hub of professional writers, specializing in different areas), BestEssay Education (a community of writers, specializing in may topics, including marketing), or Hemingway App (a tool to check readability and style of your texts). 

Beware of autocorrect. T9 can create an embarrassing situation if you send a text message in a bulk mail-out with a mistake. Switch off autocorrect before writing a message to avoid confusion. 

What not to do: since we’re talking about the style, there’s also an ethical issue of content, which you will use in your SMS. While business text messages may serve different purposes, you should never deliver bad news via a text message, neither to a business partner nor to your customer. This concerns not only native SMS but messaging apps as well. 

#3 Set the Schedule 

We mentioned timing at the beginning of the article as one of the etiquette issues related to business text messages. 

With business texting, normal time rules don’t apply to everyone. Not all your consumers have nine-to-five workday, and some might be awake at 11 a.m., while others might be resting after a tiring night shift at work. 

Considering these factors, scheduling your SMS mail-outs may be tricky. Thus, companies often follow the rule of an ‘awake customer’ and send text messages in the afternoon, when the majority of their target audience is awake. 

Another solution to find the optimal time for SMS mail-outs is checking the activity of your audience via social media analytics tools. If your followers are the most active in the morning, then this is a perfect time to send them a text message. 

With the issue of schedule, there’s also an issue of follow-up text messages. “When writing follow-up messages, timing should also be taken into account”, says Neightan White, a professional writer at WowGrade and a contributing blogger at SupremeDissertations. “Follow-up text messages should be too intrusive, thus, should be scheduled every week or once in two weeks.”

The mail-out schedule and the schedule of follow-up messages can be automated with a recurring text message app that works for different purposes, including setting appointments, customer support, and other reminders. Automating this feature will help you control the schedule of SMS mail-outs and message follow-ups and collect data in real-time. 

#4 Provide an Easy Opt-Out

Like with any other marketing tool, customers should always have an opportunity to opt-out of receiving business text messages and SMS mail-outs. 

According to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, a company, which uses business text messages for marketing and other purposes to interact with a consumer, they should provide an opt-out feature by sending a keyword, which customers then sends back to a phone number, mentioned in a message. This allows customers to revoke the consent of getting SMS messages from a company. 

Wrapping Up

As you can see, there’s an extensive set of rules to follow, when it comes to the etiquette of sending business text messages. You need to take into account such aspects as style, language, clarity, and time. They are important not just for the marketing results, but also for customer satisfaction and mutual respect between the company and the consumer. 

Hopefully, our tips will bring more clarity to the etiquette-related issues that business text messaging may result in, and will help you avoid confusion and set the right tone of communication with your customers. 

Bridgette Hernandez is a Master in Anthropology who is interested in writing and is planning to publish her own book in the near future. Now she is a content editor at TrustMyPaper. She works with professional writing companies such as Wow Grade Grab, My Essay, and Studicus as a writer.

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