“There’s no [expletive] etiquette these days..”
A friend and I had let a man play past us on the golf course because he was alone and playing faster than we were.
Instead of making him wait behind us at each hole, we let him tee off first and play through.
Not soon after, we caught back up to him. He was sitting, waiting for another large group in front of him to finish teeing off. They hadn’t let him play through.
As we sat with him waiting, he leaned over and whispered, “There’s no [expletive] etiquette these days.
While your customers overwhelmingly want you to text them instead of call, there still are rules of etiquette to follow.
Business texting etiquette has the power to make or break the relationship you have with your customers. Don’t ignore it!
We’ve put together a quick-hits list of the do’s and don’ts for texting with customers to help B2C companies navigate the sometimes tricky world of text message marketing.
Be personal and conversational. You’re right in thinking that text messaging is a more casual channel than email or voice calls, and this casual tone is one reason that it’s so popular with customers. While you shouldn’t text your customers the same way you text your friends, it’s okay to bring ‘text slang’ into your conversations.
Using emojis are appropriate, as long as they make sense and are used sparingly. Well-known abbreviations are also okay if they help drive the message home. Texting directly with customers is all about creating an efficient and direct line of communication, so a good rule of thumb is this: if anything in your message (an emoji, abbreviation, etc.) will make a customer confused or waste time, then don’t include it.
Introduce yourself in the first text message. The customer shouldn’t need to become a detective to figure out who is sending the text message.
Odds are, they don’t have your contact info saved in their contact list. So when that first text is sent, be sure to introduce yourself, or at least hint at who you are.
Include a clear CTA or directions. If you’re asking customers to click on a link, fill out an online review, or text you back, make sure you include clear directions. It’s tempting to just say something vague like “Let us know when you can come pick up your order!” but this doesn’t give any clear instructions. Instead, saying “Text us back to let us know when you’ll be by!” lets your customer know what you’re looking for.
By following good professional text message etiquette, you set the stage for the customer to be willing to complete a call to action. Maybe shoot an online review request, or an invitation to a weekend sale.
Be brief in your messaging. TL;DR. (Too Long; Didn’t Read) We live in the age of short attention spans. Customers want messaging to be short and to the point. As Kevin from “The Office” famously states, “Why waste time say lot word when few word do trick?”
Don't be afraid to experiment with capitalization and punctuation. While marketers have seen punctuation and capitalization rules become increasingly lax in email marketing, text messaging has always been a little tricky. After all, you still want to be professional. A general rule of thumb here is to try things out and see what works. It’s okay to experiment with using ellipses (…), dashes (-), and other punctuation to see how customers respond.
The same goes for capitalization. You can test out capitalizing your sentences (or even entire words, if applicable) to see how response rates are affected.
Don't send super long URLs through texts. Nobody likes looking at long URLs, and reading a text that’s overtaken with a long, unruly URL is just maddening.
While many modern text services auto-shorten URLs, brands shouldn’t leave anything to chance. Send your URLs through a shortening service like bit.ly before sending to reduce the risk of long URLs.
Don't forget to respond. DO respond promptly. You wouldn’t leave a customer sitting in your waiting room for 3 days, so don’t leave your customers on “read” either! As a good rule of thumb, try to respond as fast, or faster than your customer responds (preferably faster).
Response time is a good indicator of interest in the conversation, so make sure your customers know that you are VERY interested in talking with them. Be quick.
Don't send texts when customers could be sleeping. While you and I might go to bed at 1:00 AM, many normal people are in bed by 9:00 PM. Keep that in mind.
A good rule of thumb is to keep the bulk of your messaging between 9:00AM - 6:00PM unless the customer reaches out first.
Don't be impersonal. Create a relationship with the customer. Texting customers is a fantastic opportunity to build a relationship. Be friendly, and be helpful.
This is the most powerful tool you have to stay in contact with your customer base and retain your market share.
Drafting a text message to send to a customer doesn’t need to be complicated.
Ask yourself these questions:
What does my customer gain from this message?
Does this message follow business texting etiquette?
Let’s say I want to message a customer about a boat they came to look at on the dealership lot yesterday. My message might go something like this:
“Hi Ashley! This is David at Wilson Marine. There is a special financing offer this weekend that applies to the unit you were interested in. I’ll drop a link below with details on the offer!”
How much of business texting etiquette do you already implement in your communication with customers?
What do you need to do better on?
As texting customers becomes more and more vital for the survival of companies, it is essential that we understand what good etiquette is and keep the focus on the customer.