By Rich Hamilton, Director of Marketing & Product Development
First, here is a little background. Businesses are increasingly using texting to communicate with current customer and prospects. One of the primary ways that businesses send and receive text messages is by enabling their landline to send and receive text messages. In short it’s called landline texting for business. Yes, you can text to landline!
With the surge of increased usage in using landline texting for business purposes, it is important to know how to most effectively use texting for a business. Here are my top 6 best practices and a few other tips when utilizing texting for business.
Nothing is worse than getting a text message from a company that totally looks like spam since it is not personalized at all. Whether you are using an SMS platform for mass SMS marketing or something built more for 1-on-1 conversation, such as landline texting, the time should be taken to create a well thought out messages that can be personalized.
The easiest way to start personalizing a text or SMS message is to use the customer’s name. To take it to the next level, send text messages that are customized for the individual, such as talking about products or services the customer has purchased. For example, sending a text a few days or a week after the customer has purchased a specific product and asking them specifically how the product is working out for them. Ask for feedback on the product or provide a few tips on how to best take advantage of the product.
Tip: Use a small signature similar to an email signature block to identify for your customer who is sending the text.
When is the right time to send a text message? The obvious answer is to only send text messages during normal hours. Federal consumer protection laws states no calls or texts after 9pm (although there are exceptions in certain states!). Whether you are sending text messages that are considered telemarketing or not, the better question to ask is when would your customers expect to receive a text. Just before 9pm at night might be too late.
Tip: One of the great things about text messaging is the ability to invoke an immediate response. The timing of your text message will greatly depend on the message and the desired response you want from your customer.
3. Ease of Use
What do I mean by this? Isn’t texting easy enough? Think about your customers experience when they receive the text message. What phone number are you sending the text from? Is it recognizable, such as your business landline or main business phone number? Are you using common language? Or are you using shorthand which can be perceived as very unprofessional. Are your messages so long that no one will want to read them? I would suggest keeping messages to 1 or 2 lines if possible.
Tip: If you are sending appointment reminders through texting, put the date, time and address of the appointment. Your customer should be able to just click on the details of the message and create a calendar item without having to type anything. Easier for your customer!
4. Exit Strategy
Make sure that you make it easy for customers to opt out if they wish to, even if you’re doing the texting via text to landline. Text messaging should be a way to communicate and engage your customers more effectively. If your customer no longer wants to receive text messages, the process to opt out should be simple and intuitive.
Even with text to landline, keep in mind that text messages are not secure. If part of your interaction with your customer is to take a credit card number or other Personal Identifiable Information, PII, then you should consider receiving that information in a different method, such as through a secure online web form. DO NOT ask for credit card information through texting.
This one is huge. Depending on the type of text message being sent, some form of consent may be required. Sending a text to a friend is much different than sending a text to a customer about a new product your company is introducing to the market. Not only should you obtain proper consent from anyone you wish to text, you should also give them expectations on how often you will text or what types of texts they could receive. Last thing you want is a lawsuit. We have found a great resource online to help with these laws and all other consumer protection laws.
Tip: Web forms with clear disclaimers is a great way to allow customers to opt in to your messages and advise them on the frequency and types of messages they will receive.
Rich Hamilton is the Director of Marketing & Product Development for Quality Voice & Data, Inc., a leading provider of Local Caller ID numbers, enhanced texting solutions and a non-ATDS telephone system. He works tirelessly to bring new products to the teleservices and call center market and is also the creative powerhouse behind executing on a wide spectrum of marketing initiatives for the organization. Rich’s current project is focused on building out marketing for the company’s new product called TextBetter™ where landline texting for business has become a reality. In addition, Rich is a consumer protection compliance guru with a Customer Engagement Compliance Professional (CECP) certification to back it up . You can contact him by email at [email protected] or by phone at 516-656-5105.