What’s a typical Monday morning like for you? For many business owners, it starts with a quick scroll through your email. You decide which emails to trash, which to act on, and you hope they don’t continue to pile up as you go.
Then, you grab your phone to tackle your text messages. Perhaps you missed a text or two from a client over the weekend. Or, maybe you have some new prospects to reach out to.
There’s the dilemma. If you work in a business-to-business (B2B) environment (providing accounting, legal or consulting services, for example) most of your business contacts are at work, too.
Is it appropriate to text your clients at work?
Is it professional?
The short answer is, yes. These days, texting your business contacts, even while they’re at work, can be totally acceptable.
For business-to-consumer (B2C) businesses, texting during the work day is a pretty common practice. The average small business’s customers may want to check the status of their kitchen remodel, and they definitely want text updates on their pup’s pampering session at the groomer.
But if your small business operates in the business services space, the concept of using text messages to communicate with B2B clients can seem taboo. Accountants, bookkeepers, consultants, insurance providers and more regularly walk the line of keeping things professional while still delivering a personal client experience. So you may default to email to keep in touch.
However, there’s no reason to fear text messaging your professional contacts. Work-related mobile usage is on the rise, and your clients aren’t immune to the trend.
- 87% of companies expect their employees to use their personal devices for work.
- 68% of companies said their employees spend at least 4 hours a week using their smartphones for work-related purposes.
- 60% of workplace buyers say mobile played a significant role in a recent purchase.
Employers used to frown upon personal cellphone usage at work. Now, most know it’s a necessary part of the job.
According to Google:
“B2B buyers are becoming increasingly savvier with technology, using mobile for work, and multitasking across multiple screens. They are also no longer tethered to a desk. The B2B buyer is more likely to work from home or stay productive on mobile while commuting and traveling.”
The Benefits of Workplace Texting
If your typical Monday doesn’t include text message exchanges, it’s time to start texting your clients. Let’s talk about why text messaging is the next big differentiator in business communications.
Benefits of texting your professional contacts:
- Text messages almost always reach their recipients. Text message apps don’t have spam filters (at least, not yet). And if you’ve ever tried to report a text as spam, you know it’s not easy to do. So compared to email, your message is much more likely to deliver without issue.
- People actually prefer getting text messages from businesses. This is especially true with millennials. Since recipients can choose when to respond to text messages, texts are more convenient and less intrusive than phone calls.
- Texts feel more personal. Think about the last time you communicated with your significant other. Was it via email? Snail mail? Chances are, you communicate most often with your closest contacts over text. By nature, texting can feel more personal and intimate.
- The response rate is incredibly high. The average response rate for text message marketing campaigns is around 30%, compared to an average email response rate of 5 – 15%. It’s easy to ignore an email. It’s not easy to ignore a text.
- The average reaction time is even better. 90% of text messages are read in 3 minutes or less. This makes sense, because 89% of smartphone users always have their phone within arm’s reach.
We know texting is effective. But you may still feel unsure about workplace texting, especially when it comes to your business.
Here are the top 7 B2B texting mistakes to avoid, with our help.
7 Common B2B Texting Traps to Avoid
Before you send your next big campaign from your smartphone, hang on. The rules of engagement for more traditional business communication channels still apply. If you approach workplace texting haphazardly, it can feel unwelcome and unprofessional.
Don’t risk your business’s professionalism. Consider the texting traps other business texters fall into, so you can avoid them.
Trap 1: Breaking the Law
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) heavily regulate text message communications and marketing. Read through the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and CAN-SPAM Act regulations that apply to business texting. These laws protect consumers from unwanted messages and explicitly define what you can send and who you can send it to.
Trap 2: Texting Someone without Their Permission
To add some additional protection, include an opt-in (or out) option in your initial texts with business contacts. Doing so covers your business legally and gives your contacts a sense of control.
Simply ask for a “YES” or “NO” response in your initial texts, or offer a link to subscribe or unsubscribe.
Trap 3: Sending Long, Complicated Messages
Not everyone has the latest smartphone, but nearly everyone can receive text messages. Still, older devices tend to break up longer strings of text into multiple messages or speech bubbles. If that happens, your texts could deliver out of order or not at all.
To deliver your texts in one shot, keep the messages short. The ideal text message is limited to 160 characters, max.
It may be tempting to use text slang (IMHO, TTYL, and the like) or emoji to shorten your messages. More on that in a sec.
Trap 4: Hogging Their Data
Be respectful of your contacts’ data. Don’t send large files, high resolution images, or cumbersome links.
Not sure what to do about unsightly or long URLs (www.thislinkiswaytoolongtouseinbusinesstexting)? If you need to include a link, shorten it.
Trap 5: Being Too Self Serving
No one likes being sold to, so if all you do is send sales pitches and bills, you’ll make enemies pretty quickly.
Instead, send more helpful text messages, too. One study broke down the most helpful types of texts respondents like to receive:
- Product offers or coupons
- Account activity, payment reminders, and fraud alerts
- Order alerts or delivery notifications
- General appointment reminders
- Security authentication prompts
- Satisfaction surveys
Trap 6: Contacting Someone Outside Business Hours
While business text messages are less intrusive than phone calls, they’re still not welcome outside of work hours. Be considerate of your contacts’ personal time, and don’t text too early in the morning or late in the evening.
Oh, and definitely don’t text on holidays or weekends unless a client asks you to. That time is sacred!
Trap 7: Being Too Informal
While text messages to business clients should feel friendly and personal, they should still reflect your business’s high level of professionalism.
Unless it’s part of a cute or clever campaign you’re running, try to avoid using emoji and slang. It sacrifices clarity and could easily confuse your audience. And, if misinterpreted, you could accidentally end up offending someone enough to miss out on a sale.
Best Practices for Business Texting
Now that you know what not to do, here are a few quick reminders about how to do text marketing the right way.
Workplace texting best practices:
- Send helpful notifications. Don’t oversell or pester contacts with transactional texts. Mix in product offers and coupons, friendly appointment reminders, and requests for online reviews and feedback.
- Mind mobile restrictions. Respectful your contacts’ data. Don’t send large files, images or links. And always point to mobile-friendly web pages.
- Text enable your business phone number. Thumbs getting tired? Text enable your business phone number with software like Thryv, so you can manage all your texts at once. This will reduce the time you spend squinting at your phone and save your thumb muscles some serious heavy lifting. It’ll keep you organized, too.
If you ask us, the benefits of B2B texting outweigh the potential traps. Avoiding these common mistakes and follow mobile marketing best practices, and you’ll be a workplace texting expert in no time.