Tips and Tutorials
November 9, 2022

Dos and Don'ts of SMS Texting With Customers

According to Statista, Americans spend 5-6 hours daily on their cell phones, not including work-related smartphone use. 92% of this time goes to apps like social media and entertainment, with numerous notifications from family, work, friends, and... brands!

The tiny problem:

Fed up with tons of useless and time-wasting notifications, people often disable them. For brands, it means one more challenge to promote their products and services. That's why creating an omnichannel customer experience takes place, and that's where SMS marketing helps.

While the email channel brings an average 17-28% open rate, 98% (!) of people open SMS texts they receive. More than that, 45% of them reply to branded text messages.

So, if SMS isn't in your omnichannel marketing campaign yet, it's high time to adopt it. Below you'll find some proven SMS texting tips for more effective customer communication, with both dos and don'ts to consider.

5 Dos for Effective SMS Texting With Customers

1. Personalize your text messages

Personalization matters to customers: 54% get more inclined to purchase if a brand calls them by name; 68% expect customization in every interaction; 71% click a link within SMS with personalized offers and deals.

SMS texting provides a more personalized feel, so customers will appreciate it if you connect by using their names and including small talk in messages. Also, remember to introduce yourself: Receiving a text from an unknown number brings nothing but frustration. There's no need to write long sentences about who you are; just mention your brand name for a person to understand from whom the message comes.

In the case of customer support communication via SMS, your team member's name is also worth mentioning for a person to know who's writing.

SMS personalization is not about customer names only. According to research, 91% of customers are more likely to buy from brands that recognize and remember them. So, it's critical to build the communication based on all the information about a client (age, gender, location, purchasing history) for stellar customization and providing relevant offers and recommendations.

Personalized text communications build a loyal audience that will see your brand appreciates them as people, not a number of purchases, and provides offers exclusively for them.

2. Use a conversational tone

One of the most common mistakes marketers make when it comes to SMS texting is their super official and salesy tone. For customers, phone conversations are more about personal touch; that is why brief, light-hearted, and friendly messages will sound more persuasive and responsive.

  • Write as you chat with a friend. 
  • Keep your SMS concise yet informative: 160 characters is a maximum length in most cases, depending on the platform you use and the phone your customers have. Long messages might fail to arrive or get broken into several parts, which hurts usability and is not user-friendly.
  • Use simple language, aka words everyone knows (no professional jargon or slang, no complex sentences or sophisticated lexical items).
  • Emojis are OK to use if they fit your brand's tone of voice, but ensure you don't overdose: Too many smileys make a message look messy.

3. Add a clear call to action

As you've already noticed from the above examples, a good practice is to use active voice and power verbs in SMS. "Visit," "receive," "check," "reply," "tap," and other short yet clear words help customers understand what you want from them.

It stands to reason that you don't need a call to action when sending order confirmations or appointment reminders. Yet, do your best to include it in every text message aimed at engaging customers:

Feedback or review requests, exclusive offers, customer service, sales, generating leads, payment reminders — all these SMS texts will lose their point if sent with no CTAs.

When adding a link to your SMS, ensure it's short: Use an SMS marketing system with a link shortening feature or consider shortener services. Otherwise, your link will take the whole SMS space, with no chance for you to communicate a message. It's not about blogging or freewriting; plus, long text messages with no shortened links look spammy.

4. Send text messages within working hours

Customers will hardly take your brand seriously if it bombards them with promotional SMS texts at night or early morning. 

One of the etiquette rules for written communication is to send text messages during working hours. It signals to a person that you respect their privacy, and it's your chance to boost brand loyalty and its human-like aspect. Plus, it's an opportunity to address a customer's FOMO (fear of missing out) when you have last-minute sales and events:

If, say, your discount expires on Friday night, you can send a message about it on Friday afternoon to encourage customers to act faster. Such SMS texts also work when messaging reminders, to gently nudge a recipient to action.

The best time to send SMS varies depending on your business and message type, but the general rule is to keep it between 11 am and 8 pm during working days.

5. Respond immediately

When sending SMS to customers, you don't do that just to remind them about yourself but to provide some value, right? Your messages should be relevant and useful, providing the information your customer needs: special member-only sales, discounts, new product launches, delivery timing, appointment reminders, etc.

But with the information may come some questions, so you need to be ready to respond. The only critical factor here is the speed of your response:

Response time does matter in customer service interactions. When a person sends you a message, they expect a reply within two minutes. And it's especially true for younger audiences (age 16-24): 71% of them believe a quick response from a brand can drastically improve their customer experience.

5 Don'ts to Avoid for Effective SMS Communication With Customers

Where there are dos, there will always be don'ts. Based on the above information, it is not difficult to imagine five major don'ts to avoid in SMS texting with your customers.

So, please don't send them:

  1. Abbreviations and too many emojis. It may confuse customers and make your brand look unprofessional. One or two emojis (like "hi" or "smile") are OK to add, as well as common shortenings like "pls," "tnx," or "b-day," but ensure you don't mention any abbreviations users may misunderstand. Stick to the basics and make your SMS feel natural.
  2. Lengthy URLs. Not only do they "eat" the SMS text space, but they also confuse customers: Users won't be willing to copy-paste those extremely lengthy URLs into a browser. More than that, the statistics say that users click on shortened URLs more often than complete ones.
  3. SMS from unknown numbers. If using a new number for your brand text messaging, ensure to introduce yourself in the first message. Prevent confusion about who's texting: Most people are suspicious about texts from the unknown, especially if you send them promotional messages.
  4. Complicated messages. Avoid sending too serious and complex information in text messages: People are more likely to read easy-to-digest texts. If you need to notify something individual and essential, it's better to call on a customer.
  5. Marketing messages too often. While it may be tempting to communicate all the news and updates via SMS texting, know your limit and don't overdo SMS marketing. The top two reasons people unsubscribe from business texts are because they find them spammy (31%) and receive too many messages (30%). Instead, create a stellar text message marketing campaign — and send SMS to a particular number of customers when necessary.

Integrate SMS With Your Other Channels

Your customers visit a website, get your emails, follow your brand on social media, and read SMS texts from you — this is what the heart of omnichannel marketing looks like. To make it beat and work genuinely, you need to integrate and unify all those channels, including SMS.

Please do your best to provide customers with a seamless experience throughout their journey regardless of their preferred channel. But ensure your content is consistent and up-to-date across all your communication channels to avoid confusion.

Lesley Vos

Lesley is a professional copywriter and guest contributor, currently blogging at Bid4Papers. Specializing in data research, web text writing, and content promotion, she is in love with words, non-fiction literature, and jazz. Visit her Twitter @LesleyVos to say hi and see more works.