Texting Etiquette | Text Message Etiquette For Business

Kyle Kuczynski,
Business Messaging Expert
Feb 15, 2021

Texting Etiquette | Texting Rules and Text Message Etiquette For Business

We know that over 39% of businesses already use some form of text messaging to communicate with their customers. And that many more are expected to adopt the technology in the coming years.

We also know that customers check their phones all the time. And that 67% would rather text with a business than talk or email.

There are also clear advantages to texting your customers. Text messages have up to a 90% open rate and a near 45% response rate. Compare that to email with a 20% open rate and 6% response rate.

But there’s a lot of anxiety around texting etiquette for businesses and organizations.

We always get questions like:

  • What’s considered good text response time etiquette?
  • Is it ok to use emojis in my business texts?
  • Are texting acronyms like “LOL” acceptable?

To answers these questions and more, we’ve put together a list of texting rules and ten texting etiquette best practices.

Top 10 Texting Etiquette Rules for Business

  1. Avoid sending and receiving confidential information over text
  2. Move complex conversations to a different communications platform
  3. Personalize your text messages to feel human and conversational
  4. Write clear calls to action (CTAs)
  5. Respond to inbound text messages quickly
  6. Keep your text messages short, simple, and to-the-point
  7. Send your texts during normal business hours
  8. Limit Your Text Message Frequency - Don’t Double Text
  9. Sign off from conversations properly
  10. Get the right kind of permission, and stop texting when asked

Read on for more.

What’s Considered Good Text Response Time Etiquette?

What does good text response time etiquette look like? The maddening answer is, “It depends.”

But just because it depends, doesn’t mean we can’t nail down some truths.

For starters, we know that 98% of text messages get opened immediately. And that for 74% of customers the average text message response time is within an hour.

But consider that customers are increasingly expecting instant response times. They want your business to respond when it’s most convenient for them. They have all the power and you can’t miss the sale or provide lousy customer service.

So...

Depending on your business, the average text response time should be 90 seconds or less.

But this is really for inbound text messages from customers with sales questions.

For other, less urgent text messages, you can hold yourself to a different standard (based on your business). Between 20 minutes and the end of the business day may be acceptable. That should keep you from breaking any texting etiquette rules and from offending the sender.

Is It OK to Use Emojis in Business Texts?

Smiley faces and big red hearts may feel natural when texting friends and relatives. But when it comes to business, you need to check your emoji etiquette.

There’s a time and place for emojis and business may not be it.

In most cases, businesses should avoid casual or unnecessary emoji use. If you don’t nail the context, then emojis can cause confusion or even offend message recipients.

However, emojis can increase message open and engagement rates. They’re also a valuable tool in your conversational messaging strategy. But this all comes down to context and the types of messages you’re sending.

When used correctly, emojis can help your business text messaging by:

  • Boosting the personal and positive aspects of a message
  • Softening the tone of a message
  • Humanizing your brand
  • Encouraging engagement
  • Creating humor and brevity

As a best practice, only use relevant emojis. Don’t overdo it. Pay attention, “read the room ”and understand the context before you send a message.

If your message recipient responds in a light-hearted tone, then emojis may work. But if they’re approaching your conversation more seriously, you may want to leave the emojis out.

Are Texting Acronyms Like “LOL” Acceptable?

You should always aim for clarity when it comes to business communication. This means excluding text abbreviations from your messaging.

It is true that many text abbreviations like LOL are now mainstream. But when it comes to important messages you’re better off leaving them out.

The only exception to this rule is audience and context. If your business messaging strategy targets younger demographics, then acronyms might work well.

But if you’re like the majority of businesses, then there’s no place for texting acronyms in your text messages.

Top 10 Texting Etiquette Rules for Business

1. Avoid Sending and Recieve Confidential Information Over Text

Sending and receiving confidential information can open you up to liability. So it’s smarter to not send confidential or personal information via text.

SMS text messaging is an unsecured technology. This is because messages travel across carrier networks and get stored on carrier servers.

Some messaging platforms offer encryption, like Signal. But so far no one offers encrypted text messaging technology.

Texting on behalf of a doctor, dentist, or medical office? Then you’ll need to stay conscious of patient health information (PHI). Texting this information, especially without consent can be a serious HIPAA violation.

Suggested Article: Guide to HIPAA Compliant Texting

2. Move Complex Conversations to a Different Communications Platform

It’s sometimes more beneficial to move conversations away from your texting platform. This is especially true if a customer sends a message that requires a complex answer or lots of explaining.

Text messaging is a great tool for customer service inquiries. But as messages get longer, it becomes harder to effectively communicate.
A face-to-face digital meeting, phone call, or email may be a better solution for handling complex issues.

3. Personalize Your Text Messages to Feel Human and Conversational

You don’t want contacts and customers guessing who’s texting them. The first thing you want to include in a text is your name or business or organization.

This is a best practice unless it’s otherwise obvious as part of the conversation.

Letting a customer know who you are is the first step in being courteous. However, you’ll also want to greet contacts and customers in a personalized and positive way.

Text message personalization tags make this easy because each customer can feel like you’re talking directly to them.

Some text messaging platforms (like MessageDesk) actually give you the ability to insert customer information like {{ FirstName }} automatically into a message.

4. Write Clear Calls to Action (CTAs)

Whether you text appointment reminders, notifications, updates, payment reminders, or even promotional messages, your message needs to be clear.

Always convey the action you want your customers to take with a call to action (CTA).

CTAs are always very simple and direct and they typically start with a verb.

Effective CTAs look like this: “Start 14-Day Free Trial”, “Schedule Appointment”, “Learn More”, Connect with Us” or “Pay Bill Now”.

5. Respond to Inbound Text Messages Quickly

Contacts and customers expect an immediate response when they text your business.

The best text messaging platforms help you manage all of your incoming text messages in some sort of an inbox. Just be sure to double-check any spelling or grammar mistakes before you hit send on a rapid reply.

MessageDesk features like recurring scheduled messages and text message automation can help you save time and keep your messaging momentum going.

6. Keep Your Text Messages Short, Simple, and To-the-Point

Text messages for notifications, updates, and promo offers work best when kept short and to the point. Text messaging isn’t a platform for lengthy messages. It’s designed for quick answers to questions.

When it comes to professional texting etiquette, time is literally money. No one likes having their time wasted.

7. Send Your Texts During Normal Business Hours

Sending texts at the right time is what makes text messaging incredibly effective.

Have you ever received a text at odd hours? Well, early morning, middle of the night, and weekend texts will obviously annoy your customers.

But this can depend on your organization and the type of business you conduct.

Bottom line: you want to know your customers and understand their messaging preferences.

Suggested Article: How to Set an Out of Office Message for Text & Email

8. Limit Your Text Message Frequency - Don’t Double Text

Don’t spam your customers with non-relevant mass text blasts. Only send communications when it’s important and relevant to your business and your customers.

Let communications happen in customer time. Give customers more power to choose when they want to interact with your business or organization.

9. Sign Off From Conversations Properly

Don’t leave your customers feeling unsatisfied with the conversation. You don’t want them waiting for a further response. So make sure to clearly end the conversation.

This lets customers know this is the end of your communication. Customer service representatives will also know that they’re not leaving any important questions unanswered.

10. Get the Right Kind of Permission, and Stop Texting When Asked

This is an essential aspect of business texting etiquette. Depending on the type of messages you’re sending out, you need consent first. This is all part of TCPA guidelines and best practices.

For marketing and promotional messages, you need express written consent. This is the highest level of consent in the messaging world. Not having the right kind of consent for the right message, can cause legal problems.

Also, be sure to stop texting when asked. Most all text messaging platforms allow message recipients to text STOP and opt-out of messages. Just be sure to always have this option available to all contacts and customers.

Suggested Article: TCPA Compliance Guide and Checklist

BONUS: Group Text Message Etiquette

Think twice about your group texting etiquette before pressing send. Does your business text messaging platform enable group text messages without reply all? If it doesn’t, then every contact in the group will see every message and recipient.

Everyone hates being stuck in a group chat. Constant notifications, especially when you can’t mute the conversation or put your phone on silent.

When a contact or customer responds to a text, that message should be private and separate from all other contacts. This is an essential part of keeping your clients satisfied and happy with their service while communicating at scale.

Next Steps

Ready to start texting? MessageDesk is here to help with smarter, simpler ways to send text messages.

Visit our learning center for information on how to get started with MessageDesk. You’ll find a quick start guide to texting, a features overview, and an explanation of what MessageDesk is.

You’ll also want to check out our list of free SMS text message templates. Just copy and paste to start texting.

Finally, feel free to start a 7-day free MessageDesk trial with 50 free text messages.