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What texts should your business send? [PASTA framework]

Not sure what texts to send? Introducing the PASTA framework — a method for choosing the types of texts that’ll keep your subscribers engaged.

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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. 

Pasta dish and appetizer to illustrate the PASTA Menu framework for texting
I even made fancy appetizers 😩

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.

Serving the right texts to your contacts

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.

Introducing the PASTA framework for SMS marketing

The PASTA framework is a menu that can help you determine which texts will hold your contacts’ interest, like:

  • P — Prize texts: Promo codes, special offers, and early access
  • A — Accessibility texts: Reminders, instructions, and essential information
  • S — Suggestion texts: Lifestyle content, motivational quotes, and creative ideas
  • T — Teaching texts: How-to guides, quick tips, and expert Q&As
  • A — Amusement texts: Entertaining content and conversation starters
PASTA Menu framework for choosing which types of SMS marketing texts to send
The PASTA menu framework for deciding which texts to send

The behavioral science behind the PASTA framework

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

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 👇

  1. Prize texts
  2. Accessibility texts
  3. Suggestion texts
  4. Teaching texts
  5. Amusement texts

1. Prize texts

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: 

  • What kind of deals and exclusive information are my contacts interested in? 
  • What would make my texting program feel more valuable?

Example 1: TBD Coffee Co’s promo code text

TBD Coffee Co, a small-batch coffee roastery, entices site visitors to join their SMS list with an exclusive discount code. 

Popup on TBD Coffee Co website asking visitors to subscribe to their text list to get 10% off their first order
If you plan to send Prize texts, mention them in your opt-in invitation.

In the discount code text, TBD Coffee personalized my experience by asking what kind of coffee I like and sharing product recommendations.

Hi, it’s Marlee from TBD Coffee Co. Here’s the discount code we promised you: [code]

I would love to know what types of TBD Coffee Co items you were checking out so I can help recommend something!

Dark Roast
Medium Roast
Flavored Coffee

Reply STOP to opt out

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.

Example 2: Mala the Brand’s early access text

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.

Mala the Brand: our first collab of the szn is dropping this wed with an iconic skincare brand u might just know…. drop ur guesses with our teaser here: [link]

and bc ur on our vip sms list, we’ll secretly pick one comment to win our new collab on friday at noon. stay tuned – you’ll be getting early access on wed at 8am pst 😉

Example 3: Eden Smoothies rewards program invitation text

After one of my visits to Eden, a smoothie and juice bar, I got a text inviting me to join their loyalty program

Now, Eden will be at the top of my mind next time I’m in the area (they had me at free smoothies).

Eden: Are you ready for FREE smoothies, juices & bowls? We are making a change to the rewards program.

Nothing about Eden is boring & our rewards shouldn’t be either. Follow the link to get the details: [link]

📚 Keep reading: 7 text promotion ideas your customers will love

2. Accessibility texts

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: 

  • What information do your contacts need for a frustration-free experience? 
  • Are people missing appointments or forgetting to reorder a product? 
  • What information are people reaching out to you for on a regular basis?

Example 1: Bin Blasters’ service preview text

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.

Bin Blasters: Hi Dottie, thank you for booking a cleaning with Bin Blasters! We’ll get you booked right away and text you a confirmation.

In the meantime, here’s what you can expect during our visit! [link]

📚 Keep reading: 3 text campaigns that fuel Bin Blasters’ repeat business strategy

Example 2: Makers Collective’s event map text

Our first Shoestring podcast guest, Makers Collective, sent a map of their cornerstone event, the Indie Craft Parade, via text. 

Attendees could simply text the SMS keyword MAP to Makers Collective’s phone number, and they’d receive a link to the map PDF.

Makers Collective: Here’s your Indie Craft Parade festival map: [link]

Thank you for attending!

Example 3: Fargo Moorhead Chiropractic and Wellness’ appointment confirmation text

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.

Hi Nathan, you have an appointment at Fargo Moorhead Chiropractic and Wellness on 09/08 at 8:00AM.

Please reply or call 701-850-8089 with questions.

📚 Read now: How my local chiropractor uses text messaging to develop a profitable small business

3. Suggestion texts

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: 

  • Are your contacts looking for ideas related to your products or services?
  • What product or service pairings can you recommend to your contacts? 
  • What are some creative ways to solve your contacts’ biggest challenges?

Example 1: Mala the Brand’s product recommendations text

This text identifies a common problem Mala’s contacts have and offers a creative solution — a candle sampler kit.

Mala the Brand: Not sure where to start still? Try my personal fave, our bestselling Discovery Kit!

I know it’s hard to shop scents over the internet. So I made this tealight kit so you could experience our most loved scents IRL, before committing to a full size!

snag one here: [link] 🙂

Example 2: Yoga studio’s feedback request text

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.

Hey Tammy! This is Jen. You’re about halfway through the New Student Intro pass and I wanted to check in with you. What has been your favorite class so far?
They’ve ALL been great. Last night I tried hot yoga for the first time and I’m adding it to my favorites.

📚 Keep reading: Inspiring sample text messages from real brands

4. Teaching texts

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: 

  • What is my team most knowledgeable about, and is it something that my contacts would find interesting?
  • What questions would I find in my contacts’ search history?
  • What questions do people typically have before buying my product or service?

Example 1: Pallas Seeds’ expert advice text

The team at Pallas Seeds demonstrates their expertise by texting important growing information to its contacts in the farming community.

Pallas: Finally back with a new video and this one is all about what we are seeing from early harvest observations. [link]

Example 2: PrettyLitter’s customer resource text

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.

PrettyLitter: We’ve got a feline there’s something at your door…Check for your PrettyLitter package! Text COLORS for our handy color chart or SUPPORT for customer service.
Here it is – our handy color chart! Feel free to add it to your camera roll for later. [link]

5. Amusement texts

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: 

  • What information would inspire or entertain my subscribers?
  • Are there unexpected ways that I can bring joy to my contacts’ day?
  • What questions can I ask to show that I value my audience’s feedback?

Example 1: Postino WineCafé’s competition texts

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.

*ding ding ding* Welcome to Round 2 of Postino’s Battle of The Bruschetta!

It’s time to vote! Text back A or B for your favorite bruschetta!

A. The Devilest Egg
B. The Mediterranean

🥊 See a breakdown of how Postino turned a texting competition into bruschetta sales

Example 2: Amazing Lash Studio’s inspirational texts

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.

Hey Dani! I found a 6-min video that transforms confidence levels.

From feeling unsure to breaking through anything, it’s a must-watch.

Do yourself a favor and check out this clip [link]

Putting the PASTA Menu into practice

Now that you have the framework, you can:

  1. Write down which of the PASTA categories are relevant for your SMS contacts. 
  2. Use the questions in each section to brainstorm text campaign ideas.
  3. Choose one to three ideas that will address your contacts’ needs and keep them subscribed. 
  4. Draft the messages in a Word or Google document, and review them for grammar and spelling.
  5. Schedule the messages in your SMS marketing platform.
Infographic showing how to put the PASTA framework into practice for your SMS strategy

And here’s a free SMS marketing kit to help you plan and schedule your text messages:

Download Your Free SMS Marketing Strategy Template Kit

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. 

Then, if you like what you see, upgrade to build your contact list and set up your first text campaign

Dani Henion
Dani Henion

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

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