How to Make Sure Texts Reach Customers
3 Min Read By Tom Sheahan
Text messaging is now mainstream for many restaurant and food retail businesses and their communications plans. And rightfully so. Research from Gartner has found 90 percent of all people read texts within three minutes of receipt, and notes that short message service (SMS) boasts a 98 percent open rate. It’s no surprise that restaurants big and small are tapping into text messages to reach their customers.
Restaurants can take full advantage of the power of SMS by sending messages like:
- Sending texts to let customers know their table is ready after a wait
- Sending texts to ask customers to join a loyalty program, or let them know they’ve reached a loyalty member milestone
- Sending internal text messages to coordinate staff schedules
- Sending texts to customers that link to an online menu
There are, however, some considerations for texting that restaurants must be aware of. Chief among them is the fact that business text messages are subject to being blocked at a much higher rate than person-to-person (P2P) texts. Within the past year, mobile carriers have implemented new rules for local business texting with 10DLC, short for 10-digit long codes, that are used to send business texts. Among other changes, like registration requirements and new fees, these rules also are more stringent about what kinds of text messages can be sent. More messages from businesses are being blocked, and many senders don’t even realize it’s happening until they hear complaints from their customers, as many business texting platforms don’t notify the user when there’s an error.
Knowing that rules for business texting have intensified alongside the 10DLC rules, restaurant owners and marketers should take time to analyze and reevaluate the texting campaigns used throughout the year. During that analysis, it is important to ensure all sends follow these guidelines.
Make Messages Personal Whenever Possible
A personalized message is less likely to be blocked. This doesn’t mean each text needs to vary dramatically. It can be as simple as changing a message that said, “Your table is ready. Please see the host,” to “Andrea, your table at Oceanside Cafe is ready. Please see the host.” Adding the name of the recipient and the restaurant name brings validity and personalization that will help ensure the message is received.
You may be thinking that not every successful text message has personalization (perhaps you have received some yourself that didn’t include personal information). It is true that some messages without personalization are not blocked, and there could be several reasons for that, one being that these messages may have been approved by the carriers, or the brand sending them is deemed highly-trusted. But it’s also possible the message just slipped through the cracks.
Include Domain in Links
Messages are blocked because carriers are trying to keep spam out. This means you want to remove any possibility of looking like your message is a spam send. Including full domains in texts that include links is key here. While many companies utilize URL shortening tools to make for shorter overall messages, those often remove the domain name from the shortened link. Showing the full domain gives the link more credibility and allows for the mobile operators to align the link to the sender if something were to become problematic.
Offer Opt-Out Option with All Messages
While it’s important for restaurants to have it be easy for people to join a text list, it is important for carriers that people can easily opt-out of these lists. With that in mind, including opt-out messaging with your text sends is helpful. Something quick, like, “reply STOP to opt-out” will keep your messages compliant and customers happy.
Send Clean Content
It may be appealing to send humorous text messages, but do so with care. Anything deemed even slightly inappropriate will likely be blocked. It is best to reserve humor for your social channels and keep text messages squeaky-clean. Avoid content that may be deemed:
- Sexual in nature
- Problematic or controversial (avoiding anything related to religion, drugs, politics and violence)
Send to a Relevant Audience
Keeping text messages targeted will help ensure blocking doesn’t occur. For example, restaurants with multiple locations should have separate text lists for each location so people who frequent a restaurant in Atlanta, for example, aren’t receiving updates about specials in Denver.
Modern restaurant owners should be tapping into text messages in order to communicate with customers in a way that is fast, affordable and welcomed by recipients. But sending a text does no good if no one receives it. Spend some time analyzing your messages using these guidelines, and ensure your operations are getting the most out of SMS.