Does your organisation use SMS to communicate with customers?

While text messages are a powerful way to reach customers, the format does have its own characteristics that differentiate it from email.

In this post we’re looking at some of the unique qualities of SMS and how you can send more effective text messages.

Respect the personal space

The first thing to note is that our text messages are a very personal domain.

It’s the place where we receive private messages from our loved ones, our best friends – and often our parents too.

Email inboxes have a much more mixed role.

We may organise social engagements by email, but this is relatively rare. For the most part, email is a working space and we’re all used to receiving marketing and corporate communications by email.

Compare this to SMS, and it’s clear that the two are very different.

We may get a few text messages relating to orders, or appeals from charities, but our SMS applications are typically reserved for personal messages.

When sending customer communications by SMS, consider the impact on the recipient. How will they feel about receiving your message? Is it important – or essential? Are you sending something useful or valuable?

Make sure you have a great reason to invade this personal space.

Would an email be better?

Text messages convey a sense of urgency – and are obviously limited in terms of character counts. This means that many messages are better off as emails.

Only send consent-based communications

Given the personal nature of SMS, it’s especially important to only send communications to customers who want to receive them. And consent must be specific; don’t send product updates to customers who have asked to receive news about their deliveries.

Time zones are important

You could cause a lot of annoyance by sending text messages in the middle of the night – given the annoying ‘ping’ that most phones make when they receive an SMS.

Keep it casual

Text messages are a personal, private space, so don’t waltz into inboxes with corporate jargon and complex languages. Speak plainly and naturally, but resist the temptation to get hip and talk like the cool kids.

Restrict frequency

Save text messages for important and urgent occasions. If any message will work better as an email, do send an email instead. Reducing frequency will ensure that people pay attention to your messages – and reduce the chances of them opting-out.

Easy opt-out

Make it easy for customers to opt-out of receiving your text messages – ideally by simply responding with ‘no’.

If you send text messages sensitively, and only when they are truly important, then they will be a powerful asset in your customer communications arsenal.