There was a point in time when people paid special attention to their emails. Inboxes weren’t overflowing with messages and promotions, and you probably had a connection with everyone who sent you a note. But once email usership hit critical mass, people started to abuse the medium, and use it as a marketing tool rather than a platform for critical connection. This has brought us to where we are today; where our emails are piled high and achieving “inbox zero” requires strategic planning and advice from productivity experts.
Email servers like Gmail have since tried to help consumers by automatically filtering incoming emails into categories: Primary, Social and Promotions. Outlook also introduced a “Focus” inbox feature, which prioritizes messages from actual people, rather than other businesses. But band aids like this can’t solve the problem itself – that we get way too many emails, and we’re increasingly uninterested in reading them. Email is a long-format, low-priority form of communication.
Businesses have grappled with how to deal with this, and how to make sure their messages reach their audiences. But just as we expect a response when we text a friend, businesses can expect a response when they text a consumer. That’s because texting is a short-format, high-priority form of communication, with a nearly 100 percent open rate.
Texting holds a sacred space in our lives – we know that when we hear that ding, we can usually glance at our phone and immediately read the message. The brief nature of the medium is the key reason for that, and in fact, texts sent through Zipwhip are limited to 250 characters. Some of our customers have requested the option to send longer texts, but the reality is that longer messages deter people from responding or even reading at all. The moment that lengthy texts become commonplace is the moment that texting loses its biggest value – that it gets an immediate response.
Remember that email used to be a high-priority form of communication, like texting is today. But years of increasing email lengths and frequency have eroded its impact and threatened its core purpose to help people connect.
In order to keep texting relevant and save it from the fate of email, we need to keep it short.