Do you ever send text messages and feel like they don't get the response you want? You're not alone. In fact, many people and businesses alike have this problem. Why do some text messages get many answers while others fall flat?
One of the defining characteristics of conversation is the expectation that there will be a response. A conversation would simply be a monologue without one.
Those responses come astoundingly quickly in person or on the phone: After a person speaks, the other answers within an average of just 200 milliseconds, according to conversational expert, N.J. Enfield.
That expectation shapes how we use language. We leave brief pauses to signal that we're finished speaking so that the other person can jump in. We adjust our volume and rate of speech to match the other person's. We mirror their body language.
All of these things contribute to the flow of conversation and help make sure that it doesn't break down.
But many of those communication cues aren't present in text messages, right? It's no secret that you can easily ignore text messages. And even when you do reply, you know that you don't have to answer immediately.
The same thing happens in business and within communities. Texts go out, and sometimes, there is very little response.
A few factors contribute to this, and in this article, we'll discuss them as well as what you can do to boost response rates.
Because who likes one-way text conversations?
Nobody. That's who.
Check To See If Your Texts are Actually Sending
You might roll your eyes at this suggestion, but you should first make sure your texts are getting sent out. As crazy as it may seem, there are more than a few reasons your messages may not get delivered.
You Put In the Wrong Number
It's happened to the best of us — you're eagerly awaiting a response to a text you sent, but there's nothing but silence no matter how long you wait.
You double-check the number you sent it to and only then do you realize you've made a mistake. You've sent a text to the wrong number.
While it may not seem like a big deal, it can be pretty embarrassing, not to mention frustrating, if you were hoping for a reply. So before you hit send on your subsequent text, take a moment to check that you've entered the correct number. Having contacts opt-in to your text subscriber list via Shout bots can help eliminate accidentally entering incorrect phone numbers.
Your Message Got Reported to a Carrier
If your message was undelivered, the recipient may have reported your message to their carrier. This can happen if the message looks like spam or if the recipient doesn't want to receive more notifications from you.
Either way, the carrier has blocked your message, and it will not be delivered. Learn more about TCPA compliance here.
There Was a Billing Issue with the Recipient's Carrier
Pre-paid plans are an excellent option for people who want to save money on their monthly cell phone bills. However, there are certain things to recall if you're texting someone on a prepaid plan.
One is that if the person has an outstanding balance on their account, many carriers will block messages from being received until the balance is paid. So, if you're attempting to get in touch with someone and not getting a response, they may have an unpaid balance on their pre-paid account.
Another thing to remember is that some pre-paid plans have limited data usage. So, if you're sending or receiving a lot of pictures or videos, the person you're texting may quickly reach their monthly data limit.
Just something to be aware of as you send marketing messages to customers or community members.
Your Message Contained Illegal Content
Now, it's not likely that your messages will have illegal content in them. That's particularly true if you're a conscientious entrepreneur, side-hustler, small business owner, or community leader.
Still, this is one potential reason texts aren't delivered.
CTIA is a regulatory body that ensures guidelines for SMS messages are followed. You must make sure that the content of the text messages you send complies with the legislation of the jurisdiction in which the recipient is located.
CTIA's guidelines state that message content must not include anything illegal, obscene, or harmful to minors.
Additionally, any references to drugs, alcohol, or other controlled substances are prohibited.
Finally, CTIA requires that all messages be sent in good faith and that recipients can opt-out of receiving future messages. Violating these guidelines can result in your messages being blocked by the receiving carrier.
You're Sending Too Many Messages
In a lot of ways, getting inundated with too many messages can cause your recipients to stop paying attention to anything you send.
Moreover, if you're sending a lot of SMS messages, especially in the form of SMS blasts, you're taking the risk of having your messages caught in the spam filter.
Try to strike a relatively even balance between incoming and outgoing messages to avoid this. If you're sending 300 messages but only receiving ten responses, that's a red flag and can result in your messages being blocked.
You can help ensure that your SMS messages don't get caught in the spam filter by utilizing bots to collect responses from the recipients and maintain the organic conversation.
You Really Are Sending Spam
There are a few super common reasons why text messages may get filtered out by a carrier. These include:
- Suspicious links, particularly if you're using a URL shortener
- Many messages with the same content.
- Lengthy messages. Every SMS segment is just 160 characters, so if you're sending overly long messages, that'll raise a red flag for the receiving carrier. Focus on keeping your texts short and sweet.
- Using all caps in your texts like "SIGN UP NOW FOR FREE."
All of the above look suspicious and aren't effective ways to communicate with your audience. So if that's the kind of thing you've been sending, start by editing the content of your texts to see if that helps with delivery.
Other Reasons People Aren't Responding to Your Texts
There are tons of good reasons for someone not to respond to a text or an email—they're busy, haven't seen the message yet, and they're thinking about what they want to say.
But it doesn't feel that way in a society where everyone seems to be on their smartphone all the time.
(Hey, a Pew survey revealed that 90 percent of cellphone owners "frequently" have their phone with them, and 76 percent mentioned that they turn their phone off "rarely" or "never.")
With constant access to email, text messaging, and social media, it's easy to see why we're so attached to our phones. However, there are some downsides to this constant connection. It can be difficult to disconnect from work or family obligations outside of regular business hours.
Plus, constantly being reachable can lead to feelings of anxiety. So if your messages are going unanswered, some may be simply unplugging for a while.
Whatever the reason (and let's be honest, there may be reasons we haven't even thought about), there are ways you can help ensure that your audience wants to respond.
How To Get More Responses
Ensure Your Audience Has Opted-In
This may sound like "duh" advice. Still, there are a ton of business owners and others who ignore it and text people without their explicit permission.
In order for businesses to send text messages to customers, they must first receive explicit permission (known as "opting-in"). This means that the customer must proactively give their okay for you to text them. If they don't opt-in, then you're not allowed to send them any texts - period.
There are a few exceptions to this rule, but it applies across the board for the most part. So if you've been sending texts to customers without their permission, now is the time to adjust your strategy.
Text During the Right Times
You can increase SMS response rates by sending content when your community members, your leads, and customers can respond to your content. Sending SMS texts during convenient times will improve customer responses; they'll be more enthusiastic.Text during traditional business hours, which are 9 am-5 pm.You will also want to think about time zones if your brand is in multiple regions.Avoid Mondays when professionals are often most busy.Avoid Fridays, when professionals may already be heading home or be done with work for the week.
You've sent a great message to clients, letting them know about a big sale or promotion. Still, if you didn't tell them what to do next (click on a link, send a message, etc.), you won't see them visiting your event or participating in your contest. This is essential to increase responses.
Consider including something along the following lines in your messages:
- Click to win. Contests and sweepstakes are great promotional ideas. Get your customers to click a link to enter their names to win cash or prizes.
- Show this text. Sometimes simply asking your audience to show the retailer the promotional SMS text you sent them is enough to engage them.
- RSVP here. If you send them an invitation to an event, get them to commit to attending by RSVP-ing.
- Share this text. Texting can provide great results through word of mouth. Rewarding your clients for sharing your messages is a great way of generating free advertising and reaching clients who haven't opted in without violating their privacy.
Use Interactive Content
It's important to remember that your SMS marketing campaign should be a two-way conversation. If you're only sending static, one-sided content, you're not going to create a meaningful connection with your customers. Not to mention, they're much more likely to unsubscribe from your list.
A low SMS response rate is typical when static content is the only thing being sent out. Instead, try creating content that encourages customers to respond. This could be anything from a question or poll to a contest or trivia game.
By getting customers to participate and encouraging them to text back, you'll create a stronger bond that will keep them coming back for more.
Send Targeted, Personalized Messages
Most businesses know that they need to collect data on their customers to better understand them and cater to their needs.
But once you have all this data, what do you do with it? One of the most effective ways to put it to use is through text marketing campaigns. By using purchase history and demographics, you can send relevant messages to your customers about products and events you know they like.
And, by addressing them by name, you add a personal touch to your messages. When you do that, you're thinking about what benefits you can bring them, not just sending out blanket messages.
Always Provide Real Value
You can increase SMS response rates by ensuring that the content is interesting and provides real value. Contests, customer service, collecting feedback on products, and information on issues or hobbies that customers may be interested in are all good ways of doing that.
Provide Immediate Customer Benefits
It's important to let customers know that there is a benefit to responding to your SMS messages. After all, why would they take the time to respond if they didn't think they were getting anything out of it?
Rewards don't have to be physical products or gift cards, either. Sometimes, the best rewards are immediate access to professional advice or the chance to be featured on social media.
By offering these types of rewards, you're more likely to see an increase in SMS responses and overall engagement.
Don't Text As Many People
Just as your audience will be more likely to read messages with their personal information included, they'll also be more likely to read content that is obviously geared toward them.
For instance, consider creating campaigns based on loyalty statuses, dates of last orders, or regions.
This way, you can make sure that each recipient feels like the message is tailored just for them - and, as a result, they're more likely to read it.
Be Human In Your Communications
As anyone who has ever sent a mass text knows, one of the challenges is making sure that each message seems likes it’s coming from a person rather than a faceless entity. Luckily, you can do a few simple things to add a human touch to your texts.
First, include your name or your business’s name in each message. This helps personalize each text and makes it seem like it's coming from a real person.
Secondly, use casual, friendly language in your texts. This will help create a more personable tone that will make recipients feel like they're communicating with a friend or acquaintance.
Finally, consider adding emojis or GIFs to your messages. These can help to add some personality and make your texts more engaging. (Still, remember to keep it as professional as possible. Think about the types of emojis you use.)
By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your texts seem more person-to-person, which will increase the likelihood that recipients will respond positively.
Always Analyze the Data
It's hard to improve something if you don't analyze the data. To understand how well your campaign is performing, you should keep a spreadsheet and keep track of the opt-ins vs. opt-outs and the quit rate (how many people drop out and how soon they opt out after opting in).
This information will help you identify any areas that need improvement.
For example, if you're not getting the responses you should, then obviously, you need to tweak your approach. By taking the time to analyze your data, you'll be able to make more informed decisions about how to improve your messaging campaigns.
Using an SMS messaging platform is a great way to connect with your subscribers, but sometimes they can be unreliable. There are many reasons why an SMS text might not get delivered, and there are many reasons people choose not to respond.
However, some of the most common are:
- The recipient opted out of messages.
- The recipient blocked your phone number.
- The message contained illegal content.
- The carrier tagged your message as SPAM.
- The recipient was too busy.
- The recipient doesn't know what to say.
- The recipient didn't see your message.
Regardless of the reason, there are ways to boost the likelihood of a response.
If you want to increase your SMS open and response rates, try making sure:
- Your audience has opted-in
- You're texting during the correct times
- You're using interactive content
- You're personalizing your messages
- You're providing real value
- You're being human in your communications.
Apply most of these tips to your SMS marketing tactics, and you'll go far in ensuring you're not ghosted and your message gets seen and replied to.