Blog Post

Business Texting Etiquette: Dos and Don’ts of Texting Customers and Prospects

business texting etiquette

Every new communication technology comes with its own etiquette challenges, especially when that technology is applied to the business world.

Texting etiquette for business is particularly tricky because while business communications tend to be more formal, personal text messaging is more casual.

Texting is also a very direct line of communication — you are literally dropping a message right into someone’s pocket! This is what makes texting so effective, but can also make SMS feel intrusive if text message etiquette for business is not applied properly.

The secret to sending great business texts isn’t really a secret—it comes down to having manners and how to apply those to SMS texting etiquette.

SMS texting etiquette: The Dos

Do ask permission to text

You need to make sure people want to be contacted by text. Business texting etiquette says the proper way is to ask them.

SMS compliance says there are certain ways of collecting permission based on the type of number you have in order to opt contacts into receiving text messages. In this case, text message etiquette and compliance go hand-in-hand.

Professional text message example:

Short code text: Do you want to subscribe to receive texts about promotions and events? Text SALE to 85558.

Response: SALE

Shortcode automated response: You have been subscribed to receive promotions from BrightLights Inc.

Do respect your contacts’ time and attention

According to our own customer data and SMS usage, text messages have a response time of 12 minutes, compared to 90 minutes for email.

With better response rates and times, you will want to send text messages that contain valuable information. Text message etiquette for business also uses personalization to make your message friendly and conversational.

Professional text message example:

Hi, Natalie: We have an opening for a travel nurse in the midwest–are you interested? Thanks, Angie from StaffPlus

Do use proper spelling, grammar, capitalization, and punctuation

Sloppy writing isn’t acceptable in any medium. Texting etiquette for business is more critical to showcase your professionalism. Text messages can still be personal without sacrificing proper grammar.

We also see better SMS response rates when active voice is used instead of passive voice.

Professional text message example:

An error has occurred with your account, but every attempt was made to remedy it. (Passive voice)

We made an error with your account, but we have made every attempt to remedy it. (Active voice)

Do keep it short

SMS texting etiquette keeps business text messages under 150 characters so your contacts don’t have to read a novel. We also see better response rates and faster response times when business text messages are shorter and include a direct question or single, call-to-action.

Professional text message example:

Hi Mariah! Can you please send your bank statement so we can complete our paperwork? Thanks, Casey at LendRight

Do respond to texts

You want your customers and prospects to respond to you, so business texting etiquette means you should respond to them in a timely manner. Especially if they ask a question or need help with something — don’t leave them hanging.

Engaging with your contacts will keep your brand and product front of mind, and the first thing a prospect thinks about when they are ready to purchase. Positive customer engagement will increase your brand credibility and impact reputation.

Professional text message example:

Your text Tuesday, 3PM: Gabby – saw on LI that you’re looking for a new position. I’m searching for a strong traveler like you with L&D experience. Are you interested?

Gabby, Tuesday, 3:05PM: Yes! Can you send me the app?

Your text, Tuesday, 3:30PM: Here you go!

Gabby, Tuesday, 4PM: Just applied – thanks!

SMS texting etiquette: The Don’ts

Don’t use inappropriate abbreviations

“Thx” for “thanks” is ok, but don’t use abbreviations like “WTF” or “LMAO.” Business Insider provides a very good rule of thumb for abbreviations: “only type what you would be comfortable saying out loud.”

Text message etiquette for business means not sending inappropriate emojis or overusing emojis, too. If you’re engaging with different age demographics, emojis mean different things to each audience. Make sure you know what your emoji means to the intended audience—it may not be what you think if you are a different age!

Professional text message example:

Happy birthday, Bethany! Come in for a free scoop of ice cream anytime this month! Just show this text to receive! 🥳

Don’t text at weird hours

Remember that people will most likely read your texts immediately (within 12 minutes), so don’t send them in the middle of the night. Texting etiquette for business means sticking to normal business hours and what is normal for your audience.

Automation lets you schedule your business texts when it’s convenient for you and for contacts to receive.

Professional text message example:

Your text 10AM: Black Friday starts soon! Are you ready to shop? Use code BLACKFRIDAY to receive 15% off!

Don’t send inappropriate rich media

Similar to not sending inappropriate emojis or abbreviations, MMS has become a great benefit of business texting. You may need to send a PDF or share a video, but you should err on the side of caution with photos that may seem offensive or unprofessional—including selfies.

SMS texting etiquette also makes sure you aren’t sending sensitive or confidential information in an image by accident—this could include client information on your computer screen, a piece of paper with your company’s financial information on it, or patient info that would violate HIPAA that may be in the background of your photo.

Professional text message example:

Shawn: Please watch this short training video before your first day- thanks! (insert video)

Don’t skip proofreading

Remember SMS texting etiquette means we are still using text messages for business and you should always proofread your text. Just because it is smaller in character size, it doesn’t mean it’s less valuable than a long-form business proposal. Voice-to-text and autocorrect are beneficial features but you need to make sure they are functioning properly. Don’t forget to dot your i’s and cross your t’s! Avoid embarrassment (and losing a sale or customer) by double- and triple-checking every text before you hit send or schedule a campaign.

Professional text message example:

Haley: Your doing a grate job keep it up exclamation point (not proofed, voice only)

Hailey: You’re doing a great job. Keep it up! (Proofed for correct spelling and punctuation (and name!).

Don’t call and email and text and…

Since text messages do have a better response rate than phone and email, it is common to include text follow ups when the other platforms are ignored. But maybe skip sending an email, voicemail, and text message all at the same time. Better yet—start with business text messaging to engage with your contacts faster from the get-go!

Professional text message example:

Mary: Following up to the email I sent you yesterday. Do you still want to schedule time to demo Acme this week? Schedule time with this link! Thanks, Olivia {insert scheduling link}

Text messaging can be a huge boon for your business. These tips will help you do it right.

Lastly, here are a few professional text message examples for specific industries:

State of SMS Engagement 2024

Looking to increase engagement with your candidates, prospects, and customers in 2024? Look no further! We conducted a survey paired with usage data to figure out which communication channels are most effective for which industry and size. Discover all of the tips about business communication and download our free report today!

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