Sending text messages to customers gets more opens and has higher engagement rates than email. Texting is fast, affordable, and creates a positive customer experience.
However, incorporating text messaging into your communication strategy has to be done with compliance and specific rules in mind. Several things are to be considered for successful implementation of texting with customers that meet regulatory requirements.
At Telzio, we provide texting solutions and personalized support from our experts to help you build your SMS strategy. Here, you'll find background, guidance, examples, and best practices for writing business text messages. By the end of this article, you'll know how to effectively use text messaging to strengthen customer relationships.
First and foremost, is to make sure your text messages get seen. Learn about SMS compliance, and how to avoid getting blocked by customers and carriers.
Statistics on business text messaging
Understanding why text messaging is effective can help shape your strategy. Everything from the copy to the timing impacts engagement, and these are considerations to take to the drawing table. Here are the numbers and trends garnered by the industry.
- **Break free from the email noise.**Text messaging allows you to bypass the Spam folder and cut right through the noise. Instead of competing with the hundreds of promotional emails in their inbox, you’re competing with a much-smaller group– the recipient’s friends and family. According to one report, text messages have a 98% open rate, while email opens hover somewhere closer to 20%. Texts have a 209% higher response rate than phone, Facebook, or email.
- **Customers prefer to text.**Surveys show that customers prefer their smartphone’s native texting app to any other messaging platform. They also found that native texting is used 3 times more often than Facebook Messenger, 6 times more often than WhatsApp, and 11 times more often than Instagram.
- Texting is faster. A 2020 survey found that 54% of businesses say it’s hard to reach customers and 78% play phone tag with customers – at least some of the time. Another recent report found that 59% of customers respond within five minutes, while a third respond in one minute or less. That same report also found that 54% of businesses say fast delivery is the biggest benefit that texting offers.
- Limit no-shows and missed meetings. Studies have shown that a simple reminder text is enough to lower the no-show rate for businesses consulting customers in person or scheduling meetings online. Preventing missed appointments makes a significant impact on the bottom line for physicians, psychologists, restaurants, and businesses of all types.
Before we dive into composing a text message, there are two types of text messaging you should know about.
What is P2P and A2P?
There are two types of SMS text messaging - P2P, or person-to-person, which is a message between two people, and A2P, or application-to-person, which is a message sent to someone from a brand using software.
P2P (person-to-person messaging) describes typical two-way messaging between consumers. Essentially, P2P messaging is any text conversation you’ll have with your contacts – one-on-one or messages exchanged via group text. In the US and Canada, the P2P designation excludes any app-mediated text exchange. In other words, business texting only falls into this category if a live human is manually texting a customer.
**A2P (application-to-person / non-consumer messaging)**describes the automated SMS or MMS messages you might receive from a brand. These include appointment reminders, marketing messages, and communications with chat-bots or virtual assistants. In North America, carriers interpret A2P messaging as any communications that pass through a messaging platform. Additionally, A2P messaging is subject to local regulations – you’ll need to be aware of these before messaging customers in other countries.
Who regulates SMS?
Benefits aside, it’s important to understand that if you want to text your customers, you’ll have to play by the rules set by three different organizations – the FCC, the CTIA, and the MMA. Luckily, there’s some overlap and we've summarized it for you here.
Here’s a quick look at what each group is responsible for.
Federal Communications Commission
The FCC developed theTelephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) back in the 1990s to restrict telemarketing calls and the use of autodialers and pre-recorded voice messages. Later, it was expanded to include text messaging.
Under the TCPA, customers have the right to sue a business for texting them without permission, and sometimes, these cases are pursued as class action lawsuits. Additionally, the FCC, the FTC, and state attorney generals all have the power to bring claims to action on behalf of citizens.
Violating the law can result in fines ranging from $500 to $1500 per unauthorized message, so it’s easy to imagine how quickly one marketing misstep can have dire consequences for your organization.
Ultimately, the core focus of the TCPA is securing and validating permissions are in place. The FCC rules define what actions indicate whether a person gave consent and what marketers can send once permission has been granted.
Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association
The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) is an organization that represents the US wireless industry – namely to protect mobile phone users from receiving unsolicited text messages.
The organization established aset of messaging principles and best practices that lays out precise parameters for SMS. The CTIA rules are guidelines, and as such, not legally binding. Yet failing to comply with the guidelines can result in other types of damages (ie, having your number marked as spam).
Mobile Marketing Association
TheMobile Marketing Association (MMA) is another professional association (members include Amazon, Citibank, and Walmart) that publishes standards and practices related to commercial SMS.
They’ve also recently published a Code of Conduct for upholding consumer privacy standards in mobile marketing.
It’s worth noting that while the TCPA is the only one of the three with the power to legally enforce compliance, failing to meet the standards set by the CTIA and the MMA isn’t often without consequences.
The #1 rule of business text messaging
you must have documented consent
Businesses should consider opt-in requirements a positive thing. Customers are more selective about which brands have permission to text them, meaning if they sign up for your text message list, they already like something about your brand. Always put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Ask yourself; how can I provide genuine added value for my customers – without becoming a nuisance.
That being said, it’s vital to be transparent about what opting in entails. Explain what you intend to message them about and how it would benefit them.
10 best practices for texting customers
Here are 10 rules on how to write a business text message. Rules 1 through 3 are not ones you want to forget.
1. Capture the opt-in
The first (and most important) rule of business texting is you must have explicit consent from recipients before you can start sending them messages. You can do this through text or another method such as email or web form. Think ”text YES to receive notifications from X brand” to ensure the recipient does want to hear from you. Only when you have documented that “YES” should you move forward.
2. Avoid using link shorteners
Carriers will block messages containing shortened links due to widespread use by spammers who use them in phishing scams. If you need to include shortened links in the content of your text messages, avoid using generic tools like tinyurlbit.ly or and use a custom, branded link that’s unique to your company.
3. Include a STOP reply
4. Use the recipient’s name
Texting is all about that personal connection, so be sure to use your customer’s name in the opening line. That way your customer knows it's not a mass text and your message doesn't get dismissed as marketing material.
5. Have something to offer
Make sure your text message benefits the customer in some way. Whether it's to follow through with an appointment confirmation, or provide a code, give a reason for the customer to want to open your message.
6. Be concise
Keep in mind, you’ve only got about 160 characters (just over a standard Tweet) per text—so make it count. Focus on short, attention-grabbing offers—think adding “Limited time offer” to the beginning of your message to capture subscriber interest and get them to take action.
7. Disclose conditions
If a customer opts in to your text message, what does that entail? Let the customer know if you intend on texting them for other purposes. Transparency builds trust and can lead to higher opt in rates.
8. Include instructions
Text messages can be an effective way to deliver relevant, near-term information, such as leading up to an appointment or redeeming an offer. Make it easy and accessible for the customer, without overloading them with promotional messages. And, if you can’t explain it in under 160 characters, link to page with more detailed instructions.
9. Mention dates
If the subject matter or reminder is time sensitive, include this information. Keep in mind, you can use this to your advantage by writing copy that plays into recipients’ sense of urgency; ”act now,” “don’t miss out,” etc.
10. Identify your brand
Make yourself known straight out of the gate—otherwise, subscribers might assume your message is spam. You can do this by mentioning the brand name at the beginning of the message and registering your caller ID name.
Text message examples
If you plan to send marketing messages to your customers, you'll want to be especially diligent to add in the right messaging to stay compliant. In addition to the opt-in requirement, be sure to use STOP messages and custom URLs.
For one-on-one texting with clients, your messaging will be more organic and personalized.
A customer service text message should include an opt-out message with the first text. For example:
Hi John, this is Veronica from the dealership. Thanks for dropping off your vehicle. I'll text you when it's ready to be picked up. Reply STOP to opt-out.
Here's an example of a text message from an e-commerce company that is connecting with a new shopper.
- Message 1 They kick things off by confirming the opt-in
- Message 2 Once the recipient texts “Y” to confirm, the brand shares terms & conditions and opt-out info.
- Message 3 The third message presents the offer, tells the recipient how to redeem the discount, and provides a link for easy access.
- Message 4 The fourth message is a follow-up. The offer might be about to expire or the brand may just be trying to lock in a repeat purchase.
There are countless ways brands get creative with text messaging to engage customers. Here are some additional examples of business text messages.
Text messages can be used to send customers updates about their orders, and can be especially useful if the customer is able to reply directly to the text for customer support.
Hi Stan, great news! Your order #3654534 has been shipped. Track your shipment here https://metacorp.com/track/156488. Reply STOP to opt-out from order alerts.
Sales & promotions
Texting campaigns can be used to promote limited-time offers like flash sales or exclusive offers. Some businesses use text to follow up on an email promoting the same offer like this retailer does in the example here.
30% OFF EVERYTHING IN THE SHOP This Labor Day Weekend (Until 9/7) Exclusive to text subscribers. Your personal code is XG5B2. Reply STOP to opt-out.
Here is a classic example demonstrating how texting can be used to get referrals. Because people tend to be more comfortable engaging brands via direct messaging platforms, combining text with word-of-mouth recommendations is an easy way to bring new customers on board.
Your friend gifted you a $25 discount: https://metacorp.com/gift/8094
For brands, the fast-paced nature of texting makes texting a valuable source for customer feedback. Companies use texts to follow up on a delivery, a service interaction, or to capture insights about app usage/satisfaction. The message is typically short and sweet (we’re talking one specific question at a time) so that customers can leave feedback in one or two clicks.
We'd love to hear your feedback. How likely are you to recommend us to a friend, on a scale of 0-10, 0 being not at all, 10 being very likely?
Promote texting on other channels
The best way to invite customers to text you is to display your phone number where they'll see it. Here are some ideas.
One way to capture subscriber opt-ins is by giving customers the option to sign up for text message alerts when they’re checking out. For example, you might create a simple form with an opt-in box to ensure “active consent.” Different categories can help segment your audience, but avoid overwhelming your visitors by asking for too much too soon.
Email and social media
While you might already have email subscribers’ phone numbers in your records, you can’t text them unless they explicitly consent to receiving texts. Promote texting to your existing email subscribers/social followers the same way you might promote a product or downloadable resource. Consider inviting your customers to text you in your next email newsletter, and adding a call-to-action on your social media profiles with your business texting number.
Developing a customer service SMS strategy
Adding text messaging as a customer service channel can be done with minimal friction and resources. Here are some ways you can plan ahead.
Define the objective
First, you’ll want to define exactly what it is you want to achieve with text messaging. Is it needed for managing appointments? Keeping people informed? Providing consult?
Identifying the use cases for texting within your organization and what the goals are will help guide you to the right practices and text messaging service.
Consider how text messages fit in with your overall communication. The general rule of thumb is, text messages should serve as a complement to other customer communication channels. Mapping out a complete plan of touch-points for your customers is beneficial to keep an overview of communication across all channels, including automatically personalized emails, onboarding sequences, and customer satisfaction surveys. This is often referred to as customer journeys and serves a great way to understand the total experience your customers are having.
Use a modern texting solution
As a calling and texting platform for businesses, Telzio provides web and mobile apps to make texting convenient for people to work from any location. More importantly, we enable you to customize your messages and stay compliant.
Our texting solutions integrate call center and texting capabilities for customer service teams. We enable a holistic approach to managing customer conversations over phone calls and texts. For example, Telzio users can respond to customer texts, return customer calls, and assign conversations to a colleague – all from inside the dashboard.
Add value in every message
Beyond meeting compliance requirements, every message customers receive should provide them with value. According to a, respondents were most interested in receiving texts from businesses about tracking a shipment (75%), order confirmation/status (65%), and scheduling reminders/alerts (46%).
Additionally, 60% said they’d like to have the option to text brands about customer service issues like processing returns, troubleshooting, installation, or questions about a product/service.
A study found that 72% of consumers say they’ll only engage with messages that align with their interests and preferences. While that stat applies to all marketing communications, it’s important to remember that texting is inherently personal. It’s a valuable opportunity for brands to communicate with their audience in a conversational, one-on-one manner.
The more personalized the intent and the messaging is, the more likely the customer will engage and have a positive experience.
Modernize texting with Telzio
We provide a full suite of calling and text messaging solutions for organizations to stay connected to their customers and communities from anywhere. You can add texting capabilities to your existing phone numbers, and enable customers to call and text the same number to reach your business.
With Telzio, you can:
- Manage text messages online through our dashboard and mobile app
- Reassign text message conversations to other team members
- Add internal comments to text messages and collaborate with colleagues
- Handle multiple customer conversations on the same phone number
- Use local and toll free numbers for texting
Secure & confidential texting
Telzio provides a secure way for professionals to text with clients on their cell phones without giving away their personal number. Our customers include healthcare providers, attorneys, and counselors that use Telzio for private communications with patients and clients. Our secure and HIPAA compliant texting service enables you to implement SMS into your communications strategy with confidence.
Sign up for a free trial and start texting in minutes.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is not legal advice. Following these guidelines does not ensure that your messages will be compliant or delivered to the recipient.