Today people spend more time on their phones (doing everything except talking!) then ever before. Americans check their phone an average of 344 times a day or once every four minutes! Surveys show that 90% open every text message received, and 50% respond to text messages within three minutes.
Many businesses use text messaging to communicate emergencies, events, or closings/cancellations to their customers.
Business to Consumer SMS Best Practices
- Consent to Text
Transactional and conversational messages are required to have either implied or express consent. Transactional messages are informational, educational, or account-based. Implied consent is casual or inferred permission. And if you already have a business relationship with a customer, you already have implied consent. Express consent is an oral or written agreement that applies to transactional messages. Customers can grant this consent through intake forms, email, accepting terms and conditions, written or verbal agreements, or a prior or already-established relationship.
- Identify Company Name
Identify your Company or School name in your first (and every) message to any Customer. Not everyone will save your contact information or recognize the number you are using to text (which may be a general number). This introduction lets your customers know who you are and why you are texting them, will increase the number of people who read your text, and decrease the number of people who want to opt out.
- Plan to Respond
When you send out texts, plan on getting responses. You will probably receive responses within an hour after you send the message. Some may ask why they are getting messages. Be prepared to answer these and other general questions. One essential texting etiquette is to treat those you are texting with the same kind of respect you want to receive. If someone asks you a question, be sure to respond promptly.
- Send at the Right Time
Be sure you send text messages at the right time. Usually, that is between regular business hours (in the recipient’s time zone). Refrain from sending any messages between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. (recipient's time zone). More people will see your message and respond if sent between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. However, this will also depend on your class/program schedule. Be sure you know your customers’ messaging preferences.
NOTE: Send messages only when you have vital information to share. This will keep people engaged and see your texts as helpful rather than annoying.
- Limit Frequency
Limit the frequency of your text messages. Even if your messages are important, no one wants to be inundated with texts daily. It’s best to space out text messages to one or two each week, so you are not overwhelming busy families. Keep your messages informative and relevant to your classroom, school, etc. Don’t send mass text blasts and spam your customers or staff.
- Be Succinct
Keep your message short and sweet, no more than 160 characters. Texting is used for short messages. If you need to send a more prolonged, detailed message, it’s best to use a different method (say, email). Only use texting for notifications and updates.
- Limit Abbreviations/Proofread
Don’t use a bunch of text abbreviations to maximize your 160-character limit. The meaning of your text will, more than likely, be lost in the process. Only use abbreviations that are known to your recipient. Before hitting “Send,” be sure to proofread your message for spelling, punctuation, and meaning. If your recipient can’t understand your message, you may have more work to do than you want to try to explain your message.
- No Confidential Info
Text messaging isn’t 100% secure. Never send confidential information through texts. Keep in mind the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This federal law protects the privacy of student education records and applies to schools that received funds under the U.S. Department of Education. Keep your messages focused on updates, notifications, and reminders.
- Add CTAs
Add a “Call to Action” or CTA to direct your recipient to act on your message. CTAs can be simple and often start with a verb, such as “Sign up here” or “Contact the office.” A clear and direct CTA gives recipients a way to take action. So write a CTA when you want a response and include any pertinent information on how to respond.
- Avoid Promos
The text messages should be either transactional or informational, not promotional. So you should not use texting to sell a product or service. Those types of messages can be shared via a newsletter or flyer. Also, don’t send text messages about non-school-related subjects.
It’s crucial to get implied or explicit consent to send text messages to customers. Introduce yourself (and your company or school) when you text and plan to respond to texts promptly.
It’s also vital to monitor your outgoing and incoming text messages and to make sure they are professional and accurate by making sure all texts are:
- Sent at the right time and day
- Limited in frequency
- Succinct and clear
- Free of errors and unnecessary abbreviations
- Free of any confidential information
- Include a CTA (call to action), if needed
A good practice is to add yourself to the messaging list. This way, you can easily monitor all outgoing messages.
Enrollsy offers a secure texting platform. Our texting features include:
- A Notification Center that houses all your outgoing/incoming messages
- Each Admin user gets their own personal Notification Center
- Quickly send messages to an individual, a Class, or your entire customer base
- All messages sent are private messages (even those sent in a “group”)
- Low cost plans for business SMS
Schedule a demo to find out more.