Almost 40% of businesses today use text messaging to reach out to their customers in some form or another. And as more and more businesses begin using the technology each day, it means more customers will be receiving marketing texts.
So first things first– if you’re not using SMS marketing as part of your digital strategy, we would be remiss if we didn’t encourage you to start doing so as soon as possible.
It’s one of the most powerful marketing channels that exists today. With open rates as high as 90%, and a response rate that’s close to 50%, if you’re not using SMS marketing, you’re losing out on an enormous market share.
But many businesses are just plain terrified to send text messages to their customer base. They don’t know what they should say, how they should say it, and due to paralysis by analysis, they just avoid SMS marketing altogether.
This is a huge mistake.
Instead of sticking your head in the digital sand, get ready to learn the exact techniques and etiquette you should use in your text message marketing campaigns. You’ll know what to say, and when to say it.
Text Etiquette Education
There are going to be several things on this list that are best practices, and should be tested with your audience. These are road-tested pieces of advice, so as you begin your campaigns don’t deviate from them. As you collect data and see how your audience responds to your marketing, you can start to tweak and fine-tune from there.
Be Sure to Have Consent
This isn’t just text message marketing etiquette, it’s the law. Have you ever heard of something called TCPA? If not, read this portion of the article carefully or it can cost you thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of dollars.
The TPCA is the abbreviation for the telephone consumer protection act. It’s a set of laws and regulations that have actually been around since 1991, but they’ve evolved since then. TCPA is in place to protect consumers from what is known as “abusive telecommunications”– more commonly known as robocalls and SPAM texts.
If you break TCPA and send a text message to someone who hasn’t consented, you can get slapped with fines starting at $500 and that can go as high as $1,500… per text. As you can see, not getting consent can be a painful, costly mistake.
To avoid violating someone’s privacy and breaking TCPA you must have provable, written consent that the person opted in to receive messages from you.
Now that you understand the importance of consent, let’s dig into some less stringent etiquette rules to follow.
What not to do: Don’t send a single text until you’re 100% sure you have consent.
Write Your Texts With Your Brand in Mind
Take yourself out of a business mindset for a minute, and think about the kinds of texts you receive on a day-to-day basis. You know what kinds of texts you might get from your friends, or your mom, or your off-color brother-in-law. So if you think about it, each person that text messages you has a distinct voice. There are things that you expect, and things that would feel out of place.
Now take this and scale it up to a business level, and try to achieve the same thing with your SMS campaigns. The things that you say in your messages should align with your company’s idealogy, style, and “voice.”
Here are some examples. A company that’s very laid back and sells hot sauce with irreverent flavor names wouldn’t send a text that felt like a rigid, formal “business inquiry.” They’d probably send a tongue-in-cheek message and be extremely conversational (even to the point of including GIFs and emojis… more on that later). Conversely, an auto insurance company would need to project a sense of trust, confidence, and reliability. If they were too tongue-in-cheek or laid back, it would actually hurt their brand.
Send texts that sound like your company itself is speaking directly to your customers– because that’s exactly what SMS marketing does.
What not to do: Don’t try to use trendy language, or copy another brand that doesn’t match your company’s identity. What works for someone else might be damaging for you.
Write Great, Punchy Messages
Easier said than done, right? When it comes to staring at a blank screen while writing your campaign messages, it can be tough to know where to start. Or what to include. How much is too much? What’s the best way to phrase your message? There’s a lot to consider, but an excellently written message can make a huge difference in conversions. As long as you stay within the guidelines of what we recommend as a starting point, you’ll do fine.
Remember that text messages have a limit of 160 characters, so if you send anything longer than that and you’re in trouble. But also remember that you don’t have to use all of the characters. Keep your message lean, and only include what’s needed.
When you’re drafting your message, stick to these basic rules:
- Mention who you are (don’t assume they know)
- Show immediate value or benefit
- Keep your message length as short as you can (while saying what you need to say)
- Don’t use industry jargon, abbreviations, or slang (unless that’s on-brand)
- Use a strong call to action (more on this in the next section).
The last step to writing a great, punchy message is proofread. Like seriously, slowly, re-read your messages out loud at least twice before sending (it’s also ideal to have at least one other person look it over). Nothing gives a great SMS message a black eye like a typo, so re-read before you give your customers “hell” when you meant to give them “hello.”
What not to do: Don’t write a book-length string of messages and send it out to clients expecting that they’ll read it. You have about one second to catch a customer’s attention, and a wall of text greeting them when they open your message is a turn-off.
Ask for the Sale By Using a Call To Action
Don’t send a message without explicitly asking your customers to take some sort of action. We see so many SMS campaigns fall flat because they simply don’t have a direct, clear, well-written call to action included.
A call to action is typically at the end of your message and asks the customer to do exactly what the name suggests: take action. Keep the following things in mind.
Be sure to start out strong using action words like “click”, “join”, “shop”, “get”, etc. And don’t be shy with your persuasive language either. Really show some benefits like saving money, free stuff, or exclusive opportunities. Finally, create a sense of urgency by putting a time limit on it, and instill a fear of missing out.
Here’s a generalized example wrapping all of those things into one: “Click now to save up to 50% with this limited time offer.”
What not to do: Don’t send a message that doesn’t have a purpose, or doesn’t explicitly ask for the sale. Be sure to include a direct call to action that is clear and enticing.
Be Ready to Have a Conversation
Text messaging is a conversational platform, so treat it that way. Don’t waste an opportunity to interact with your customers, answer questions, and help them along to a sale. Conversational marketing is the future, and customers are even coming to expect it. Don’t just blast out a message and then hope that sales roll in. Keep an eye on replies, and look for any questions or comments that come through– and then respond. Remember that your goal is to lead them toward the sale, so try to keep the former tips of staying on brand, writing punchy messages, and having a great call to action in mind as you reply.
What not to do: Don’t just blast out a message to your list and check out. Be engaged in the potential conversation, and you’ll see much more revenue as a result.
Should You Send Emojis, GIFs, and Images?
So, it really depends. If you’re looking for a simple, short answer, it would be “essentially everyone can use emojis and GIFs in their SMS campaigns in the right doses.” But that’s like asking “should I use jalapeno peppers in this dish?” Because even if you get a yes, it all depends on the quantity.
Emojis can pop off the screen, stand out, and get people to engage more heavily with your messages. By using the right blend of emojis you can convey virtually endless ideas, and these blends of images tend to stick in the customer’s mind. But don’t overdo it. Maybe a couple (2) or a few (3) at most.
Let’s go back to our jalapeno analogy. With each emoji you include, you’re adding more and more spice to the message until eventually, it won’t be palatable to anyone. Also, keep this in mind: for some brands, emojis would be a death sentence to your customer base.
Here are some specific examples: If your brand deals with serious topics, finances, or trust-based services, stay away from emojis altogether. The rule of thumb is: if you’re not sure, don’t do it.
GIFs and images follow much of the same advice as emojis. Use them sparingly– only one per message, and not every message. Also, there’s another layer to consider when using GIFs. They are typically just small clips of existing media. While this typically doesn’t matter, if you accidentally send a GIF that is associated with a movie or TV show that has the wrong stigma about it, it could be a turnoff to your customers.
What is the Best Time to Send SMS Marketing?
This is one of the trickiest things to decide when it comes to your SMS campaigns. You can have the perfect message, a brilliant call to action, and a great list of opt-in customers… but when should you send your campaign to your list?
The good news is you’ll be able to gather data after each campaign and dial in the answer to this question using data. The bad news is– you need to start somewhere. So where do you start?
You’re going to want to try to send at peak times, and that can vary wildly from industry to industry. Here are some basic benchmarks to give a try (but your mileage may vary):
- 9:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on weekdays
- 5:15 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on weekdays
- 10:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m. on Saturday
- 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Sunday
The truth is that people have their phones on them all the time, so you may see a different pattern emerge as you send and test.
Something else to strongly consider is that you should only send text messages within a reasonable window of time during the day (as in, don’t send them super early or super late).
Also, beware of timezones. This can get tricky, but it’s something you need to consider or you can risk some very angry customers who you’re texting very early or very late.
Check the TCPA guidelines for yourself, but as of the writing of this article, marketers should only be sending messages between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. based on the message recipient’s local time. Some states also have their own laws that are different (typically more strict) as well.
Be Warned: Many text message platforms do not handle this automatically. But TextCalibur does.
TextCalibur can handle schedule sends for you perfectly, and is fully coded to account for every nuance of TCPA compliance. Our time zones feature works by letting you choose a time for your message to be sent, and then intelligently sends it at that time across all time zones. This means that if you want to send an SMS message at 2:00 p.m., TextCalibur will do the math, and automatically send it at 2:00 p.m. to every customer no matter what time zone they’re in.
Get a Free TextCalibur Account Now
Even if you follow all of these basic rules of texting etiquette, if you don’t have the right tool to manage your SMS marketing, you’re not going to find the success your campaigns deserve.
Stop limiting the potential of your SMS marketing campaigns. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran, someone brand new to the world of SMS marketing, or somewhere between the two, the perfect tool for your text campaigns is TextCalibur.
Use TextCalubir’s amazing suite of tools to get more responses and increase revenue. Couple our incredible successful delivery rates with your marketing know-how, and reach your customers like never before.
Start your 100% free TextCalibur account here.