from Luke Nuttall, Business Development Officer, Wow 1 Day Painting.
As interpersonal communication continues to move away from long telephone conversations, more companies are using text messages as a quick and easy means of touching base with clients.
Texts are much faster to send than an e-mail, dispatched in an instant, and on average are read within three minutes of being received. The question is, how best to incorporate texting into your company’s communication plan?
The first step is to take the time to consider whether or not this practice best suits your business needs.
Ask yourself the following questions:
What information will be communicated via text?
Texts lend themselves well to urgent or important communications, or as means of touching base on timely topics, especially when you are travelling, or are out of the office. They can also be used to send photos or video and allow for quick viewing of these media. Businesses are now incorporating them into marketing platforms and use them to communicate offers or surveys; individuals may be more inclined to respond to these messages popping up as an SMS, over an email that can quickly get lost in a busy inbox.
How often will this application be used?
Just because texting is an option does not mean it must be used all of the time. In fact, much like all other communication vehicles (emails, telephone call, and mail-outs) it should be worked into your communication plan and schedule, and serve a specific purpose.
Building off of this, your next step is to clearly define your desired texting outcomes. At our office we use texts as reminder mechanisms, and as a way to confirm attendance at webinars and conference calls. As it becomes increasingly hard to reach people via telephone or email, it is important to have a method of reaching our clients in order to confirm meeting attendance and numbers. We found, and continue to find, that people are much more likely to respond to a short, simple text message, over replying to an email or returning a voicemail. Using text messages is the best way for us to prepare and manage expectations around these virtual meetings.
Texting is also dependent on the rapport you have with your client and what stage you are in the sales process. The individual needn’t provide you with express permission to text, but there should have been prior communication from their end articulating their interest in your product or service. Never, under any circumstances should you cold-call through text messaging.
As our business’s texts are sent simultaneously to multiple recipients, we use the SMS Application “SMS Magic.” This allows us to personalize each message and schedule the date and time they will be sent. The platform operates similar to a mail-merge and is a great time saving measure. For each message we send, we follow a very specific set of guidelines, as outlined below:
Clients are more likely to respond when they see their names in print. If you are using texts as a means of mass messaging, be sure that each message contains a first name. Without this option the text will come off as impersonal at best, or “spammy” at worst. Remember, texting is supposed to ensure your message is read; you don’t want to do anything that will decrease the chances of this happening.
Stay on topic
First and foremost, be specific. Information you are sending must be pertinent to the client and must have a clear call to action: should they respond, by what deadline, etc. Follow the five Ws (who, what, when, where, and why) and make sure that whatever it is you are communicating can be conveyed in 160 characters (or less). If it runs much longer, reconsider if text messaging is the best means to communicate your information.
Keep communication to a minimum
Texting is still seen by some as an informal means of communication, so it should be used sparingly. We either send texts the night before, or one hour before a webinar, and only as a reminder. It is rare that a client will receive more than one text message from us in a short period of time.
Remember to keep your texts “business appropriate.” Don’t substitute numbers for words or employ acronyms. If you can’t fit the entire message into the text, consider other options, including email.
Always double check
The last thing you want is to be known as an autocorrect cautionary tale. Be sure to read over your message prior to sending, and consider disabling autocorrect. Both face to face and telephone conversations are becoming increasingly rare. It’s important to start thinking about ways in which your company will adapt to new means of communication and how text messaging can be incorporated into your own company’s systems and plans.