8 Common Text Message Marketing Mistakes That Make Us Cringe

Woman looking at her smartphone

Hello. You’re likely making mistakes when texting your customers.

Don’t feel bad, though. Given that texting is still fairly new to many businesses, we see messaging snafus all the time. Some are harmless (oh, autocorrect), but others could land your business in hot water (TCPA stuff).

Here are the top mistakes that make us cringe, and because we can’t leave you hanging, we also offer ways to correct them.

Mistake 1: Sending unsolicited texts

Why it makes us cringe: Unsolicited texts don’t just make the Zipwhip team cringe – they make your recipients cringe, too. Getting a text from someone you don’t know is invasive, especially when it’s coming from a business. The recipient will wonder how you got their number, and they’ll be annoyed you texted. This means your first interaction is already off to a shaky start.

What to do instead: Always get permission (also known as an “opt-in”) before you text a customer or client; it’s best practice according to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). If you haven’t brushed up on TCPA do’s and dont’s, you can download our free guide here. We break everything down in easy, digestible language.

Whether you use texting software to message customers or you’re texting them from your personal phone number, you (like any business texting its customers) should be following TCPA best practices.

There are many ways to get permission before you text, and it will vary depending on your business and the types of messages you send. Here are a few common examples we see from our customers.*

If the customer or client prompts you first.

A text opt-in example with the customer inititating the conversation

A text opt-in example with the customer initiating the conversation.

If the customer fills out a form online 

An opt-in example using a form filled out online.

A text opt-in example using a form filled out online.

If you want to extend a previously consented conversation.

An opt-in text example from a previously consented conversation.

An opt-in text example from a previously consented conversation.

Mistake 2: Texting too much

Why it makes us cringe: Consumers wish that more businesses would text them, but they don’t mean they want texts from you all the time. Sending message after message will undoubtedly annoy your recipient, giving them every reason to silence you by unsubscribing from your texts.

What do to instead: There’s no set rule for how many texts you should send customers; it really depends on your business. A good rule of thumb is to keep texts relevant.

For example, if you’ve just scheduled an appointment with a customer or client, your cadence may look like the following:

  • Send a confirmation text
  • Send a reminder text before the appointment; and
  • Send a text following the appointment to thank them for coming in and ask them to leave a review if they can

If you need further information or need to reschedule, it’s OK to send a text during the timeline because it relates to the appointment. However, sending texts about your business’ upcoming calendar of events seems out of place (and could better be communicated via email).

When customers opt-in to your texts, they should know what kind of texts they should expect to see from you. So if they’re opting in to appointment alerts, they shouldn’t be getting any other types of messages.

Mistake 3: Sending looooong texts

Why it makes us cringe: It’s tempting to want to fit every piece of information into a single text bubble, but what you may think is convenient for the recipient is just the opposite. Your long text isn’t getting your point across efficiently, and it’s leaving your recipient frustrated that they have to scroll through your message.

What to do instead: Not every interaction requires a text. If your message requires a hefty length, consider sending an email or scheduling a phone call via text instead. Text messages should be used in conjunction with other mediums, not replace them.

Keeping messages short helps you communicate effectively and saves you time. Zipwhip software caps the character count at 600 for the times you do need to fit a little more in a text, but we only recommend reaching the limit when you really need to.

Mistake 4: Not including a call to action

Why it makes us cringe: Your messages are taking valuable real estate in the recipient’s phone. Not providing a clear purpose makes your texts seem out of place, and you’re showing your customer that you don’t respect their time.

What to do instead: Providing a call to action helps you stay concise and get exactly what you need from your recipient. Saying something like, “Please email me your completed forms by 5 pm today” lets your recipient know that they need to get moving and which platform to send them to.

Texting is a rapid communication channel. It’s always best to cut down on the back-and-forth texts by being clear in your messages to avoid having to clarify and drag on the conversation.

Mistake 5: Not using natural language

Why it makes us cringe: Using unnatural language makes interactions less friendly, but it can also send the wrong signal to your recipient: they may mistake it for spam.

Smishing is on the rise (phishing attempts sent through texts), so consumers might be a little more sensitive to messages that look fraudulent. The TCPA also warns against using anything but natural language because the consumer may find it untrustworthy and prompt a spam or TCPA complaint.

What to do instead: Texting offers the opportunity to create relationships with your customers. Use friendly, conversational language where applicable to lighten the mood and keep recipients comfortable during the exchange.

Natural language also lets your recipient know that there’s a human on the other end of the text, not a robot. They’ll be more likely to reply to your text instead of ignoring it out of the assumption that there isn’t a human waiting for their response.

Wrong

An example of unnatural language to used in a text message to confirm an opt-in.

An example of suspicious text from a business to confirm a text message opt-in.

Better

An example of a natural language to confirm a text message opt-in

An example of natural language used to confirm a text message opt-in

Mistake 6: Waiting too long to reply

Why it makes us cringe: You’re killing the momentum. When sending a text, consumers expect a fast reply. With a missed call, they can assume you’ll call them when you’re available. With an email, they know a quick response isn’t likely.

What to do instead: Keep your customers’ attention and respect their time by not sitting on their messages too long. Texting elicits an urgent response from consumers; the same should go for your business when you receive a text.

There will be instances when your business receives a text when there’s no one available to reply, such as after business hours. With business-texting software, you can set up auto-reply messages that trigger when a customer sends a text after closing time, letting them know you got their message and that you’ll reply when you’re back in the office the next day. This type of message does two things: it doesn’t leave your customer hanging and sets the expectation for when you will text them back.

Mistake 7: Sending texts at weird hours

Why it makes us cringe: Texting for Business is not the same as texting your family or friends. Texting a customer or client at 8 p.m. when they’re binge-watching Stranger Things is going to annoy them because they’ll be under the impression that you expect them to pause and answer your text. Or, they could choose to ignore your text altogether.

What to do instead: Don’t interrupt their down time. Keep texts during regular business hours unless you’ve set expectations with your recipient ahead of time. And don’t forget to make note if you’re in a different time zone.

Mistake 8: Not giving an explicit way to opt out of messages

Why it makes us cringe: The CAN-SPAM Act says that email senders need to provide a clear way for recipients to opt-out via an unsubscribe link; with phone calls, recipients can put their phone number on the Do Not Call Registry. Customers have the right to know how to unsubscribe from your communications, and with texting, it’s granted to them under the TCPA. Leaving your recipient to figure out how to unsubscribe from your texts is a broken user experience and will frustrate them.

What to do instead: If it’s in the TCPA, your business should follow it. Let your recipient know that they always have the option to opt-out of your text messages with simple language at the end of your texts. They don’t have to be included in every message but consider including the language at the start of every new conversation. Using texting software with a text signature that you can turn on and off is really helpful for this scenario.

 

Now get out there and fix those mistakes! Need some more guidance on how to appropriately text your audience? Read through our tips for top texting etiquette your team should follow.

 

*Legal disclaimer! These examples are not intended to be used for legal advice regarding compliance with TCPA or any other statute. Businesses should consult legal counsel for specific legal guidance about adoption of any listed best practice or use of any particular texting solution to meet compliance requirements – Love, Team Zipwhip 🧡

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