Even though SMSs have been around since the invention of mobile phones, it is only in the recent past that marketers are waking up to the benefits of using it for marketing communication. According to https://www.entrepreneur.com, it is a rare person who ignores a message coming in and an unbelievable 90% of all SMS are read within three minutes of being received. The report goes on to quote a Dynmark.com study that discovered that an amazing one-third of people receiving advertising campaign text messages respond to them and one half of them go on to make purchases. SMS marketers have discovered that while text messages are fast, convenient, and have a very high open and response rate, the method has its own challenges, which include misinterpretation of the content, truncated messages, and even violation of acceptable etiquette that can significantly reduce its impact.
Some common texting etiquette violations that marketers need to be sensitive about and avoid:
Not Considering the Audience
Since every text message that you send is a projection of your business and brand, it is really important that you think very hard about how to represent yourself. When you are texting different audiences, it is important to keep both the message and the tone appropriate. Striking the wrong chord with the recipients can play havoc with the expected returns of your SMS campaign and damage your brand equity.
Not Maintaining a Professional Tone
Because SMSs are restricted in length, you need to be really brief and to the point to persuade recipients to act on the message. Often this can cause the message to be brusque or even harsh depending on the sensitivities of the audience. Since it is not the intention of the marketer to cause any offense, you should make it a point to maintain a very professional tone and remembering to use “please” and “thanks” to lend the message the warmth it deserves. It is very important that despite the need to work within the 160-character limit, you should never use the informal abbreviations that are popular in personal texts. Using informal abbreviations and casual language like “u” for you can end up damaging your professional reputation. Also, be very sensitive to the different meanings that word often have to people belonging to other cultures and mistakes may not just be considered funny.
Not Communicating Clearly
Whatever it is that you are trying to communicate; you should ensure that the message is crafted in such a way that there is simply no scope of any confusion or misinterpretation. If your message is unclear or open to different interpretations, it could lead to confusion and conflicts with customers that can hurt the business prospects dearly. It is important to ensure that all the text messages are clear and completely unambiguous. Rather than depending on any single individual marketer’s opinion, the message should be tested out with different recipients to verify that it is indeed meaning the same thing to everyone.
Not Responding Promptly
When you shot off your text messages, it is quite natural that you will expect a lot of people to respond in some way. If you receive messages, you should make it a point to respond immediately with the information that has been requested. Since most of the responses will come within minutes of the message delivery, it is really important that you have adequate infrastructure to handle all the incoming calls, emails, or text messages to your toll-free SMS number from your target audience. Not being available to respond or sending in the responses after an inordinate delay just shows customers that you have a lackadaisical attitude and your business is not professional. Remember the longer you take to respond to the queries, the bigger is your loss in terms of sales opportunities and damaged reputation. Sincere apologies are called for in case, the delay is beyond your control.
Unrestricted Use of Symbols and Emojis
It is really important to restrict the use of symbols and emojis in your text messages because of three principal reasons. Firstly, emojis and symbols constitute an informal presentation and may detract from the projection of your professionalism; secondly, not everyone knows the right meaning of these emojis so there could be a lot of confusion. In addition, these symbols may not reproduce well or even correctly across all the different types of mobile screens so people may be left guessing regarding your intentions. Unless you are very sure that the use of symbols and emojis is appropriate in the content of the message and the audience, it is better to leave them out.
Responding With Too Much Detail
If a recipient of an SMS responds with a simple and brief query, while you should definitely address the issue or concern, however, it is very important that you do not overreact and respond with very lengthy details unless the customer has specifically indicated his desire for such responses. Generally, people using SMS are in a hurry and all they want is a quick response and not something that they will need to read in detail. If you think that a brief response is inadequate, you should go ahead and tell the customer so and offer an alternative channel to communicate your views.
Not Being Patient and Carrying On With the Conversation
Since text messaging is just the same as an actual conversation, it is important for you to let the customer speak and not try to assume that you know exactly what he is trying to voice without dominating the conversation. It is vital to be patient and give the recipient enough opportunities to react to what you are saying without drowning him in a flurry of messages. Similarly, it is also very important for you to know when to end the conversation because the other person does not want to continue. If you continue to persist with messages, it can only cause irritation and spoil the chances of you getting a customer.
SMS marketing can be extremely effective in the hands of professional marketers due to its huge open rates and the rate of engagement. It is simple to execute and get results from as long as you know who your target audience is, what their expectations are, and do not commit any breaches of texting etiquette that can give them a bad impression and cause reputational damage.