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Text can be a great way to communicate with your loyal customers. In fact, in the US, text messages are the preferred channel for customer service, with 33 percent of customers preferring text vs. 24 percent who prefer email.

With more and more consumers using their mobile phones to engage with businesses, SMS is a smart way to communicate. However, it can also be a tool that alienates your clients if you use it the wrong way.

Your business texts should reflect the tone and style of your brand, be relevant to the customer, be sent at appropriate times and at consistent intervals. However, many brands struggle with perfecting the art of the business text and end up turning a great customer engagement tool into something that turns customers off their brand.

Don’t be that brand. Pay attention to these common pitfalls to avoid:

Make Sure They’re Opted In

There are strict laws about texting consumers who haven’t given you explicit permission to text them. And a lot of businesses have paid some heavy fines as punishment for doing so.

Make sure your texting campaign is organized so that you text only opted-in clients. It’s easy to create an opt-in option: “Text 1331 to opt in to our SMS Loyalty Club”.

Just as you can only text opted-in customers, you must also offer customers an opt-out option that’s clear and easy to understand such as: “Text STOP to stop receiving text messages.”

Don’t Send Irrelevant Texts

This is the age of personalization, when everything from Google Ads to Netflix knows what we like and tries to cater to us. And segmentation matters.

For example, it can look like a great idea to send out a discount for the first month of subscription to the entire SMS list. But you’re likely to somewhat alienate your current customers who already purchased that subscription more than a month ago.

In other words, those customers would get the message from a business that haven’t put much effort into learning about their needs and aren’t interested in selling to them.

Use your customer history to send texts that speak to your customer’s preferences and demographic information. Don’t make them feel like just another number on your list.

Don’t Send Them Messages at Inappropriate Times

A full 77 percent of consumers keep notifications settings on for messaging apps. That means that your text, no matter when you send it, is going to make some noise. Nobody wants to be woken up by a business text at 5AM or have their evening at home interrupted.

This is a sure way to see an increase in opt-outs and alienate customers. Be responsible and professional by respecting your customer’s private time. Appropriate texting hours are during business hours (9am-5pm to be safe).

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Ditch the All Caps, Emoticons and Abbreviations

Your business texts should look professional. Here’s a short list of things to avoid when sending SMS on behalf of your business.

Writing in all caps: This is the visual equivalent of yelling. It’s cheesy and looks at bit too used-car salesman style. Using all caps to highlight important information is fine, but the whole message should never be all caps.

Emoticons: A sprinkling of appropriate emoticons can work but over-using them can look mighty unprofessional.

Abbreviations: They may seem like a good idea when you only have 160 characters to work with, but don’t assume that all your customers will know what the abbreviations stand for. You might just leave them scratching their heads and have wasted the entire message.

Don’t Spam Them

Getting too many messages from businesses can be annoying. Customers like to have a breather in between promotions so launching endless messages at them will make them feel like you’re abusing their time. Frequency of messaging depends on the types of texts you’re going to send; however, the common recommendation is to send SMS messages no more than once a week.

Don’t Disappear on Them Either

It’s important to strike a balance between too many and too few texts. If you send too few messages, your customers may start to feel abandoned or they may just plain forget about you. Stay on their radar by sending texts consistently.

Don’t be Too Casual

While it’s important to get your customer’s attention with your messages, you don’t want to send sloppy, slangy or inappropriate texts.

  • Sloppy – Texts with spelling mistakes will be viewed as spam. Expect opt-outs.
  • Slangy – Using slang usually speaks to a small percentage of your customers. While they might enjoy that language with their friends, don’t expect that they’ll think it’s cool for a business to talk that way to them.
  • Inappropriate – Anything with swear words, politically incorrect language or other potentially offensive words should never find their way into your business texts.

Smart businesses know how valuable text marketing is, but not every business knows how to use it well. Texting clients who haven’t opted in, texting them at inappropriate times, sending promotions that are irrelevant to them, sending too many or too few texts, using unprofessional language or texting styles can all lead to opt-outs. Avoid them to keep your customers buying from you.

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