You're living in a world where almost 7 billion people have smartphones. They receive and send countless text messages every single day, and there’s no sign of the trend easing any time soon. Quite the opposite — almost 8 billion people could be using mobile technology by 2030.
That means you should consider incorporating business text messaging into your marketing strategy. It’s a fast and responsive way to spur engagement, nurture new leads, and raise the bar for customer experience higher than ever before. Yet, these promises can only come true if you use business text messaging the right way.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the best practices of business text messaging and go over exactly what you need to know to get started.
Business Texting Best Practices
The chief issue with SMS marketing is to avoid carrier filtering, which refers to negative actions taken by phone carriers, such as AT&T or T-Mobile, against a particular phone line. If the targeted phone line happens to be your business phone number, you could be in for a serious headache.
Email providers like Google do the same thing but with one massive difference. Users can customize their email preferences to let marketing messages through their spam filter, but they can’t do this with phone carriers.
In fact, phone carriers are very secretive about their text message filtering systems, so you often won’t know why your phone line was zapped or if you’ve been blacklisted until your text messages stop working altogether.
This is definitely a problem but one that can be solved. Phone carriers have a legitimate interest in shutting down spam texts for their customers, but they don’t want to stop SMS marketing in the process. The easiest way to avoid filtering is by raising the quality of your marketing so that no one confuses it for spam in the first place.
Increasing the value of your customer marketing isn’t as hard as it looks. You can start today by focusing on:
- Asking customers to opt in to receive marketing messages from you.
- Staying up-to-date on the latest industry guidelines regarding text message marketing.
- Personalize the content of your text messages so that each seems tailored to that specific customer.
- Sending text messages during reasonable business hours.
This is only the beginning of best practices to use when SMS marketing.
Leverage Social Media to Your Advantage
SMS texting can be a powerful business marketing strategy when used correctly. Social media has a built-in user base. Your social media accounts are full of people who’ve already expressed an interest in your company, giving your SMS marketing campaign a powerful jumping-off point.
Many social media platforms and mobile apps have their own private, built-in messaging systems. One example is Facebook Messenger, which connects Facebook’s billions of customers in one easily reachable space. You can use it and other messaging platforms to communicate important, time-sensitive marketing messages to some of your most interested customers — those who’ve agreed to receive marketing messages from you.
This is a core demographic for you to focus on. Rather than wasting time sending “cold” marketing messages to people who’ve never heard of your brand, you’ll be messaging “warm” leads. They already know who you are and what you do, so they’re much more likely to welcome marketing messages from your small business.
This is a crucial aspect of:
- Customer satisfaction. Messaging potential customers through social media lets you send exclusive discounts that expire on short notice. You can also handle customer support questions quickly through this communication channel.
- Improving the customer experience. Remember that 60% of people actually prefer communicating with businesses via text message.
- Tracking your return on investment (ROI). Business text messaging provides a ready-made platform for tracking and analytics tools. You’ll know every message you send out, including its content and destination, so you’ll also know exactly who responds and why.
The key ingredient in this meal, of course, is to know where your customers spend their time. If they favor a particular mobile app, you’ll have to send your teams there to meet them. Use the platform they prefer in your text messaging campaign, and your chances of success will grow.
Don’t Look or Act Like Spam
It’s understandable for businesses to want to share their messages widely and often, but there’s a serious hurdle to doing so: Spam policies. Your message can be perfectly legitimate and upfront about its purpose, but if it looks like spam, phone carriers could refuse to deliver it.
It’s your job to keep that from happening, and you can do that by ensuring the messages don’t look so much like spam that they set off red flags. Some common red flags to avoid include:
- WRITING IN ALL CAPS LIKE THIS
- Including uncommon or special characters, such as @, #, $, %
- Making your messages too long or full of grammar errors
Sending too many identical messages is also a massive red flag. Phone carriers use specialized adjectives to detect mass drops like that and prevent delivery. Maintain a steady messaging volume, don’t send too many messages to the same person too often, and avoid repeating the same thing over and over.
Also, be sure to monitor your SMS campaigns closely. It’s easy to miss filtering by your phone carrier, especially if they only filter a few select messages. A few messages being filtered isn’t such a big deal, but it’s a strong warning sign that your SMS campaign is too “spammy” and needs modification.
Gradually Ramp up Your Text Message Marketing Campaign
So why not just jump right in? Filtering, regulatory restrictions, and even ignorance of your target audience should be reason enough to take it slow.
If you haven’t been doing a lot of business text messaging before now, suddenly throwing out a mass marketing campaign could mess with the filtering algorithms. You want those algorithms to stay nice and calm, so don’t give them any red flags to use against you.
Plus, you need a little time to find the right footing and text messaging frequency. Not every marketing message will do its job effectively in the beginning. You won’t know your audience, and you run the risk of accidentally annoying someone (and inciting a complaint) at this stage.
Take it slow, learn the ropes, and maybe even find help from a partner who’s experienced in business text messaging practices.
Register Your Phone Line and Use Proper Consent Policies
The people you send text messages to need to agree to receive them first. They do that through a number of means, such as opting into your SMS subscriptions list, sharing their phone number on a website form that you provide, or even sending you a text message themselves to opt-in.
Don’t send marketing messages to people who don’t want to receive them. If you do, you'll have regulatory problems.
Likewise, it’s smart to register your business phone line with the phone carriers you’ll be using. The Campaign Registry includes detailed instructions for registering your phone number. Taking the time to register and verify your number lets phone carriers know you’re a business line, so they’ll be more likely to allow a large volume of texts from you.
Dos and Don'ts of Business Texting Through Scorpion
Scorpion’s in-house acceptable use policy determines the nature and scope of our SMS marketing activities. These guidelines are necessary for ensuring the success of any marketing campaign built around text messaging. Without it, you could run into problems with industry regulators that can put a damper on your efforts in a hurry.
Do Attain Consent Properly
Consent is the process of having someone agree to receive messages from you. Their consent should be clear — there’s no room for confusion here. If you intend to send marketing messages via text, say so. Don’t try to couch your sign-up offer behind some other incentive just because you’re embarrassed to be upfront about your marketing plans.
There are three basic things to keep in mind here:
- Keep detailed records of your consent agreements, whether it’s timestamps of the customer’s sign-up or a documented signature.
- Clearly identify yourself as the one sending the text message. Don’t try to play “coy” with your marketing.
- Include opt-out options. You’re required to include clear ways for customers to opt out of your messaging in every message sent out.
There are also a few common-sense consent issues to be aware of. Be professional in your text messaging and recognize people don’t want to receive potentially vulgar, offensive, or even legally questionable materials in their business communications. Keep marketing campaigns clean and respectful at all times.
Don’t Falsify the Message’s Origin
It might feel tempting to send out camouflaged text messages, made to look like they’re not marketing texts. That’s a guaranteed way to land yourself in trouble. It’s unethical, and it annoys your customers. Worse, it gives the impression that you’re not running an honest business—which is a terrible fate for any small business to fall into.
Instead, tell people openly that the message is from you and what its purpose is. Never be afraid to tell someone you’re selling something. It’s true that many customers are jaded by modern marketing practices, but shady or “pushy” marketing practices are the true causes of their cynicism. If someone is genuinely interested in your product, there’s neither need nor reason to hide the origin of your message.
In the same vein, trying to circumvent phone carrier restrictions is both unethical and against Scorpion’s marketing policy for text messaging. We don’t allow anyone to:
- Use intentional misspellings or other tricks to avoid a carrier’s content filters.
- Rephrasing the content of text messages to send many similar messages in an effort to avoid filtering detectors, a practice called “snowshoeing.”
- Using URL shorteners to conceal the destination of a link. Be transparent about your URL destinations in every text message you send out.
Scorpion’s business text messaging clients have to agree to these conditions when we work with them. It’s part of ensuring a safe operating environment for ourselves, our clients, and their customers. Industry regulators take spam and deceptive marketing very seriously, so don’t get caught on the wrong side of the law on such an important issue.
Do Monitor Text Message Marketing Campaigns for Compliance
Given the regulatory environment over text messaging marketing services, it’s more important than ever to keep a strict watch over business text messaging. Not everyone on your team may fully understand the scope of SMS text messaging regulations. They could accidentally break a rule, whether by over-promising, trying to be too “creative,” or something else. The consequences for your small business could be severe if that happens.
When Scorpion aids clients with their business text messaging campaigns, we make compliance-focused marketing a priority. We don’t always actively monitor your marketing campaigns, but we do provide a comprehensive list of guidelines for you to follow. Our acceptable use policy also illustrates a number of clear “dos and don’ts” for the marketing work that we assist with.
Business Text Messaging With Scorpion
With so many customers showing a clear preference for SMS-based business communication, there’s a self-evident need for businesses to get on board with business text messaging. However, the potential to step on any of the regulatory landmines is serious, and the consequences of doing so are high. That’s why having an experienced partner like Scorpion guide you through the process is such a smart move.
Companies can leverage Scorpion’s years of business texting experience into one effective communications passage. We can help you coordinate SMS text messaging across multiple channels with an eye on compliance requirements. If you’re looking to get a head start on text message marketing, reach out to one of our representatives today.