Learn how to write text messages that elicit a response and other best practices when asking questions via SMS.
By deciding to send a text over an email or phone call, you’ve already decided to increase your average message response rate by 39%!
Just because texts have higher conversion rates, it doesn’t mean a reply is always guaranteed.
There’s nothing more frustrating than radio silence when chasing down folks for an RSVP, to schedule an appointment, or to get you to the next step in a sales process.
One message calling for a response is all it would take in an ideal world. Unfortunately, we haven’t figured out a way to control human behavior….yet.
But thanks to some behavioral science research and our observations around SMS trends, we’ve put together a few strategies to help you receive more responses to your messages the first time around.
The way you write your text message has a significant impact on your response rate. The secret is in the mnemonic EAST:
To give your message the best shot at getting a response, you’ll want to keep it Easy, Attractive, Social, and Timely.
Incoming SMS messages are also free, meaning it’s no extra financial burden on you to have a conversation!
Still, to make a message easy for a customer to reply to, what you’re asking has to be as straightforward as possible. It’s not enough to simply ask a question. If you want a response, be sure to end each of your messages with a specific directive:
If you decide to send a link you want people to take action on, be sure to use our URL shortener. That way, you can set up an automated reminder message to send based on click behavior. While technically a follow-up message, it’s a set it and forget it process that saves you significant time.
In addition to making your ask clear, you also want to share why replying to your message benefits your recipient.
Scientifically speaking, our brains find a task easier to accomplish if we have something to shoot for.
For example, the staff at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport had an issue with sanitation in the men’s room. To encourage men who use the urinals to aim better, they painted a housefly on each urinal next to the drain. As a result, spillage went down by 80%!
What’s the fly on the urinal for your text message?
It could be a clear deadline to respond (RSVP by [date] or forgo your seat at the event), entry into a contest (reply to this message with three marketing ideas to be entered to win a Starbucks gift card), or good old positive affirmation (be a hero and help our team serve you better. Click this link for a quick, 2-minute survey).
Humans are social creatures. And according to the law of reciprocity, people feel compelled to return any favor bestowed upon them.
It’s easy to trigger this instinct in your messages by ensuring you demonstrate value before asking for a reply. For example, if you want a sales lead to reply to your message, beef up your text message with personal information that shows you’ve invested some time and effort before reaching out to them.
That effort encourages the knee-jerk reaction to reciprocate, which, in this case, is to respond to your message.
Last up, we have to consider what time of day you send your text message. There’s no silver bullet time to send a message, but there are times that prove better than others.
In addition to the EAST technique, there are a few other things you can do to make your text messages more response-friendly.
1. Text-to-vote: If the reply you’re looking for is a response to a question, be sure to use our text-to-vote feature to make it as simple as possible. Instead of having folks type out their full answer, all they have to do is respond with a letter (A,B,C, etc.).
As a bonus, this feature benefits you by automatically tallying the votes in real-time!
2. Choose a polite sign-off: How you close out your message matters, and politeness goes a long way. A study on the most effective sign-off found that the more effective closing lines included some iteration of thank you.
Phrases to avoid included “Cheers,” “Kind regards,” “Regards,” and “Best regards.”
3. Personalize your message: Including something as simple as a recipient’s first name has been linked to increasing a messages’ click-through rate from 55% to 71%. These added touches make your messages feel more personal and relevant to each subscriber.
While we would have loved to share a big secret with you all, these tips have a proven track record of boosting response rates.
Give them a try in your campaigns, and let us know how they work for you!
💡 Need some text message inspiration? Try our free SMS template generator to get ideas for your next campaign.
Meghan Tocci is a content strategist at SimpleTexting. When she’s not writing about SaaS, she’s trying to teach her puppy Lou how to code. So far, not so good.More Posts from Meghan Tocci
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