Not sure what texts to send? Introducing the PASTA framework — a method for choosing the types of texts that’ll keep your subscribers engaged.
One of my go-to dinner party dishes is pasta. Who doesn’t like spaghetti?
…My neighbors don’t.
I discovered this while watching them take small bites and push noodles around their plates.
To be fair, I asked my neighbors if they preferred chicken or spaghetti, and they chose spaghetti. What I didn’t know was that they didn’t care for either option but are agreeable people.
Here’s what I should have asked before the dinner:
“What are your favorite meals?”
Then I could’ve picked a dish that aligns with my (limited) culinary skills and leave my guests wanting more.
For some people, SMS marketing feels like hosting a dinner without a list of everyone’s food allergies and preferences.
Even the most thoughtful texts can get pushed around the plate if they’re not what your audience really wants or needs.
It’s a lot harder to reach your SMS marketing goals if you don’t text with your contacts’ needs and wants in mind.
Some groups of contacts only want to receive essential information. Others would welcome texts with helpful resources and exclusive rewards.
I can’t tell you exactly what your contacts want you to text them. I can, however, give you the PASTA menu of SMS marketing — a set of five text categories and questions to uncover which to serve to your audience.
The PASTA framework is a menu that can help you determine which texts will hold your contacts’ interest, like:
Not sure where to start when deciding what to send to your contacts?
To answer this question, I spoke with Dr. Michael Barbera, consumer psychologist and chief behavioral officer at Clicksuasion Labs, who suggested that you prioritize your contacts’ needs.
“If we want people to stay subscribed via SMS, then a good practice would be to try to identify the behavior flow of the consumer,” Dr. Barbera explained.
“If your consumer is engaging with a particular challenge today or are at a certain point in their consumer journey, what challenge comes next for them? Whether it’s three weeks, months, or years later, which potential challenges can you address and still be helpful to that person?”
Dr. Michael Barbera
Chief behavioral offer, Clicksuasion Labs
Dr. Barbera also advises business owners to set expectations before people subscribe to your SMS list:
“Let’s say someone voluntarily signs up for a brand’s SMS content, and they receive the content that is relevant to what they expected to see. The message recipient is likely to stay loyal to the brand and have a positive outlook on the brand.”
You’ll know you’ve found the right combination when your contacts are positively engaging with your texts (tapping links, replying to your messages, and staying subscribed).
If you start to notice a low number of link clicks, negative replies, or an unsubscribe rate above 3%, you might not be sending the right types of messages. Or, your contacts no longer need the information that first made them subscribe, which isn’t always a bad thing.
Note: You don’t have to send all of the text types. In fact, I recommend only choosing one to three PASTA text categories to start so you don’t overwhelm your contacts.
Below, I’ll break down each type of PASTA text and some questions to help you decide which might be right for your contacts.
Let’s get dig in 👇
Prize texts give your contacts exclusive access to new products, special offers, and anything else that makes them feel like a V.I.P. guest.
In exchange for their phone number, your subscribers will save money and get priority access to products, events, and more.
🍝 Food for thought:
TBD Coffee Co, a small-batch coffee roastery, entices site visitors to join their SMS list with an exclusive discount code.
In the discount code text, TBD Coffee personalized my experience by asking what kind of coffee I like and sharing product recommendations.
When I texted my response “Medium roast”, TBD Coffee replied:
“Oh, for Medium, I love the I Woke Up Like This from Mexico! Check it out here: [link] Oh yeah, and don’t forget to use your discount code: [code]. Let me know if you have any questions!”
This helps me as the SMS contact to feel less overwhelmed when browsing their site.
Mala the Brand, a hand-poured soy candle brand, knows how to get their contacts (like me) fired up.
In this example, Mala’s text let me know that I’m one of the first to receive this news, adding an element of exclusivity to their “vip sms list.”
As an added bonus, they spark curiosity with an invitation to guess the upcoming collaboration and reward responses with a giveaway entry.
Now, Eden will be at the top of my mind next time I’m in the area (they had me at free smoothies).
📚 Keep reading: 7 text promotion ideas your customers will love
Accessibility texts help give your contacts a smooth experience with your brand. They’ll receive convenient reminders and have essential information in their SMS inbox.
It starts with your welcome message, which lets them know what they’ll receive and how often. Then you might send texts about how to prepare for an appointment, details about an upcoming event, or curbside pickup information.
Do you sell a product or service that customers purchase on a recurring basis? Send reminders for product refills and appointment scheduling.
Even if you send important information through email, your contacts may appreciate having quick access to it in their text inbox, too.
🍝 Food for thought:
When a new customer requests a trash bin cleaning, Bin Blasters sends a text with a preview of their services.
Setting expectations via text can reduce the number of questions your team has to answer and make the service or transaction run smoothly.
Attendees could simply text the SMS keyword MAP to Makers Collective’s phone number, and they’d receive a link to the map PDF.
Fargo Moorhead, a chiropractic and wellness center in North Dakota, sends appointment confirmation texts right after a client schedules a visit.
The message has all of the essential details — like time, place, and the best contact method for questions — so the client can access it from their text inbox.
Like Accessibility texts, Suggestion texts are all about making your contacts’ lives easier. Instead of putting essential information in an easy-to-access place, though, Suggestion texts show your contacts what’s possible.
These texts can take the form of brand-specific ideas, like new ways to use your products or recommendations for complimentary services.
You can also send lifestyle inspiration, gift guides, and creative ways to solve common challenges.
Just be mindful of whether texts with ideas fit the type of product or service you sell. For instance, not everyone wants inspirational or motivational texts from their pest control company (though educational content may be appropriate — more on that in the next section).
🍝 Food for thought:
This text identifies a common problem Mala’s contacts have and offers a creative solution — a candle sampler kit.
One of SimpleTexting’s customers, a yoga studio in Florida, has a brilliantly simple text to identify and solve their clients’ problems.
After every class, they send a personalized text asking for feedback. It shows that the studio’s staff is interested in their clients’ fitness goals and allows them to identify problems before they arise.
📚 Keep reading: Inspiring sample text messages from real brands
Do you have knowledge or insights that your contacts are looking for? Share it in your text campaigns.
In some cases, educational content can help increase consumers’ loyalty and give them positive associations with the brand that shared it.
Like Suggestion texts, Teaching texts can be specific to your products and services or to topics related to your contacts’ everyday lives. That might mean sharing video tutorials or hosting an expert Q&A session via text.
When you send Teaching texts, be prepared to respond to follow-up questions. Not replying can make your texts feel one-sided and insincere.
If you don’t want to monitor your text inbox, though, you can set up an autoresponder message that gives contacts an alternate way to reach you.
🍝 Food for thought:
The team at Pallas Seeds demonstrates their expertise by texting important growing information to its contacts in the farming community.
When customers receive a package of PrettyLitter — a health monitoring cat litter— they can request a color chart via text.
The chart shows customers what the litter’s color means for their pet’s health.
Amusement texts are those that entertain and inspire your contacts — in other words, they promote customer delight.
As the authors of a service management study pointed out, researchers can’t quite agree on a universal definition of customer delight. For most, though, it involves a customer’s positive emotional connection with a brand.
Why does this matter? Some studies have found a positive relationship between customer delight and customer loyalty.
To delight your contacts, think about what kinds of texts you can send that’ll help establish a positive emotional connection with your brand. You might highlight a cause your company supports, host a contest or giveaway, or ask questions that spark a conversation.
🍝 Food for thought:
Postino WineCafé invited its fans to choose the next bruschetta menu item in an exciting March Madness-style competition.
Every two weeks, contacts received a text poll with two flavors and a link to order the dishes for themselves.
🥊 See a breakdown of how Postino turned a texting competition into bruschetta sales
Amazing Lash Studio in Laguna Niguel invites customers to sign up for daily affirmations and uplifting content.
Salon owner Nadia Romero said on Instagram that these inspirational texts have helped her keep current clients engaged and re-engage inactive clients.
Now that you have the framework, you can:
And here’s a free SMS marketing kit to help you plan and schedule your text messages:
Get your SMS marketing strategy checklist PDF and calendar template—no email required.
Don’t have a texting program yet? Sign up for a free 14-day trial of SimpleTexting and send a message to yourself to see how it works.
Dani Henion is the content team lead at SimpleTexting and is continuously looking for ways to make text messaging strategies and tips more accessible to SMBs. When she's not writing or planning new SMS content, you'll find her decorating elaborate sugar cookies or thrifting in Atlanta.More Posts from Dani Henion
There are a ton of creative ways you can place important business or contact info in your text message signaturesRead
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