In the past few years, leveraging SMS text capabilities to communicate with customers has become a top strategy for brands looking to engage with both new and returning customers. From B2B organizations texting with marketing contacts to B2C companies communicating directly with customers, texting is no longer a novel engagement tool. After all, the benefits of text messaging have quickly made it a go-to form of communication over email or phone calls. Texts are read in an average of five seconds of notification, they’re preferred by a growing number of Americans, and they are much more successful in soliciting a consumer response than an email.
This being said, many brands still have plenty of questions about the basic guidelines and logistics of actually texting customers. Because text messaging is a much more casual communication channel than phone calls or emails, there is an inherent want to be casual and fun. But is this really the best way to engage with customers – especially if the end goal is to increase repeat customers or drive new revenue?
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. So next time you’re wondering if an emoji is okay for a customer text, have no fear – Kenect is here to help!
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.
Let them know who you are. If you haven’t texted with a customer yet, make sure you introduce yourself in your first message. Just a simple “Hi Kevin, it’s Kate with Super Car Dealership” can work wonders. This quick introduction will make customers feel more comfortable and more likely to text you back.
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.
Get straight to the point. Texting with customers isn’t the same as texting with your friends. This isn’t the time or place for a long conversation about how their day was or how the kids are doing – you can save this small talk for an in-store, face-to-face meeting. While still keeping your tone light and personal, get to the point. Trust us, your customers will appreciate it.
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.
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.
Text at all hours of the night. While it might be okay to send emails after hours (especially if you’re sending a mass email out to customers asking for online reviews or promoting a new special), texting is a whole different beast. Try to send direct-to-consumer texts during normal business hours as to not disturb your audience. Since most people have their phones on them at all times, you don’t want a text notification interrupting someone’s sleep or family time.