Love it or hate it, it’s just a part of life now for the majority of people.
But how did texting come about? When is the appropriate time to use it? What about in business environments? What if I want to text my customers?
The answers to some of these questions can be tricky to navigate – but in this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about texting in 2023 and into 2024.
So grab your smartphone, and let's embark on a voyage through the fascinating realm of texting, where words become messages, and messages bridge the gaps between us. Welcome to the evolution and impact of texting - a communication revolution that continues to shape our world, one message at a time.
(Feel free to use the navigation bar on the side to jump to the section in the article that most interests you!)
First, let’s get down to the very basics.
Texting refers to sending messages originating from a mobile device’s keyboard that are meant to be consumed on a recipient mobile device via messaging apps. It often refers to messages that contain text content, but in modern usage texting also refers to sending images, videos, pre-recorded voice messages, and other media.
Initially, the term “texting” applied only to SMS (“short messaging service”) and MMS (“multimedia messaging service”). SMS and MMS refer to text messages sent and delivered via mobile carrier networks.
The term has since come to also include text messages sent via web-based messaging apps such as iMessage, Messenger, and WhatsApp.
The year was 1992.
It was December, and a 22-year-old engineer, Neil Papworth, had Christmas on his mind.
Papworth was part of the development team at Vodaphone who was working on a new method of communication. He apparently just wanted to test that what they were working on was functioning as expected.
So he sent the profound words that became the very first text message and laid the groundwork for the communication of the future…
The mass adoption of SMS took a few years, however. At first, texting was only allowed within the same mobile network. But in 1999, carriers began allowing texting across mobile networks, and the texting phenomenon exploded.
With the dawn of web-based messaging apps (such as iMessage in 2012), the concept of texting expanded further. Today, there is an average of 5.5 billion SMS/MMS sent per day. If web-based messaging are considered as well, that number would of course be even higher.
Texting, once a simple means of sending short messages, has evolved into a multifaceted tool with countless applications across various aspects of our lives. Its versatility and convenience have made it an integral part of modern communication. Here are some examples of the many ways texting is used today…
Texting remains the go-to method for personal conversations for many people. People use it constantly for catching up with a friend, making plans for the weekend, or sending a quick "I love you" to a family member.
In the business world, texting has become an acceptable (and in some cases essential) tool for quick and efficient communication. Professionals use texting for coordinating meetings, sharing important updates, and staying connected while on the go. It's particularly valuable for remote workers and those who need to respond promptly to time-sensitive matters.
Marketers use texting for promotional campaigns and marketing efforts. Businesses send out text messages to inform customers about sales, discounts, and special offers. It's a direct and effective way to reach a target audience. You can use existing samples of texts as a springboard for ideas on what kinds of messages to send.
Many companies and organizations use text messaging for emergency notifications—whether it's severe weather alerts, safety announcements, or simply something urgent that people need to know. Texting can quickly reach a large audience with this kind of vital information.
Texting is increasingly used by businesses for customer support. Customers can inquire about products or services, schedule appointments, or receive order updates via text. What more convenient way is there to provide assistance and enhance customer satisfaction?
Texting is being integrated into education, both at the K-12 and higher education levels. Teachers can send reminders, assignments, and updates to students and parents. Educational institutions also use texting for emergency notifications and campus alerts.
Texting is playing a role in healthcare, with health offices and hospitals sending appointment reminders and prescription refill notifications to patients. Telehealth services also rely on text messaging for appointment scheduling and follow-up.
Texting has become a powerful tool for nonprofit organizations to send notices to their members, volunteers, and donors. It also provides a convenient way for people to submit donations.
Texting is a valuable resource for accessing information. From checking the weather to getting sports scores or news updates, various services provide information via text messages.
Airlines, public transportation systems, and ride-sharing companies often use texting to send travel confirmations, updates on flight status, or ride-sharing details to passengers.
This is just a sampling of the endless number of uses for texting.
As texting continues to evolve, its applications will likely expand even further, shaping the way we communicate, interact, and access information.
Since texting is such a prominent mode of communication, there needs to be some etiquette guidelines in place so that people know the appropriate ways to engage in it.
Here are some good rules of thumb.
Personal texting occurs on a daily basis. These guidelines will help you navigate the waters of texting your friends, family, and acquaintances, so that you avoid as much miscommunication as possible.
If you’re someone who’s prone to be a “slow responder,” be mindful that someone may be waiting for a response from you, so you shouldn’t delay responding unnecessarily. We would recommend responding to a text message within 1 business day when possible.
It’s certainly not polite to never respond to a text message at all. If you prefer to respond in person or via a phone call, it may be best to simply send a message asking if you can call or meet up.
On the flip side to the previous point, while immediate responses to your text messages may have been the norm in your teenage years, for adults, this should not be expected. It should not be considered rude for someone to take several hours to reply to your text message.
What you’ll probably find in your relationships is that there are some people who are “fast responders” and some who are “slow responders” (or who never respond at all). You should acknowledge that the slow responders are not necessarily being rude by taking a long time to respond. In the balance of their life, they may not feel the pressure to monitor and respond to text messages as frequently as others.
How often have you looked back at a text and thought, “That didn’t come out the way I meant” or “Whoops, there was a typo there”?
It’s very easy for a text message to come across with an unintended tone or to have misspellings or typos. Doing a careful once-over of your message before sending it can help correct some of those issues so that you don’t have unnecessary misunderstandings.
It’s almost never appropriate to send “angry texts.” (You know what I’m talking about!)
If you’re feeling angry or upset about something, it’s best to put your phone down and come back to it later before sending anything. In some cases, a conversation may need to be had over a phone call or in person so that the chance for miscommunication is reduced.
Different people will interpret things in different ways. Make sure that you communicate your message in a way that will be interpreted correctly by the recipient you’re texting.
If you know the person well, it will be easier to predict how they’ll understand it. But if you don’t know the person as well, you may want to err on the side of over-communicating in order to be as clear as possible.
Business texting can occur among colleagues, with clients, with prospective clients, with vendors, or in many other business situations. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind.
Unless you know the person you’re texting very well, you’ll want to keep your conversations friendly, yet professional. Using a bunch of texting lingo isn’t likely a good idea.
Keep your messages to-the-point so that you can take care of whatever business you’re trying to take care of without any misunderstandings.
While texting is convenient, don't overuse it for every aspect of business communication. Reserve it for situations where it's appropriate and effective.
For example, if you send promotional texts every day, your recipients will probably get tired of it, so be mindful of how often you’re sending texts. Also, for complex matters or formal documents, traditional channels like email may be more suitable.
Generally, you’ll want to refrain from business texting outside of normal business hours. People don’t want to think about business when they’re at home relaxing with their friends and family.
Most of the time, there’s not a situation so urgent that it demands an immediate notice—whatever issue it is, it can wait until the morning.
Nobody likes to be a part of a group text. It can get frustrating to be constantly notified whenever someone replies.
So when sending texts to multiple people (or to an audience of customers, leads, or prospects), it’s best to use an SMS platform. SMS platforms allow you to send out mass texts, but the texts are received by everyone individually, as if they are the only recipient. Furthermore, if the recipient replies back, their response does not get sent to all the other recipients.
If texting customers or prospects via SMS marketing, it’s best if you obtain clear opt-in consent from your recipients before sending any messages. You’ll also want to make sure they have clear opt-out instructions, so that they know how to unsubscribe if they decide they don’t want to receive your messages.
Texting is a mode of communication people actually pay attention to. Some report that the read rate for SMS can be as high as 98%.
That means you can be confident that a majority of your recipients are actually reading your message.
Texting is convenient for both businesses and recipients. It provides a hassle-free way for customers to contact businesses and receive information without the need for a phone call or email.
Many people enjoy that kind of convenience provided by texting.
Businesses can use texting to engage customers in a more personal and direct way. That might include sending promotional offers, updates, order confirmations, or customer service interactions.
Texting is thus a very direct way to get in touch with people and provides an easy way for them to interact with you and respond back.
Businesses in various industries, such as healthcare, salons, and service providers, can use texting to send appointment reminders in order to reduce no-shows and improve efficiency.
Or if your business hosts some kind of webinar or event, you can drive up attendance through texting reminders.
Text messaging can boost sales by giving you a way to send targeted promotions and special offers directly to customers' phones. Customers who receive exclusive deals via text are more likely to make purchases.
You can see really good click rates on your SMS campaigns, which translates to—more sales!
Texting is not just for external communication; it can also enhance internal communication within your team. Teams can use texting for quick updates, coordination, task assignments, meeting updates, announcements, HR notices, or anything else.
SMS can be one of the best ways to make sure your team is in the know.
A texting platform is an online software (often also including a corresponding SMS API and mobile app) that allows you to manage a database of contacts and send out mass text messages.
Here’s how it works.
A texting platform will have opt-in mechanisms that allow you to add contacts into your texting database and/or allow people to opt in themselves.
This would include options to manually add in lists or to connect with your current websites or databases. It would also include ways for people to add themselves to your texting list, such as by texting in a particular “keyword” or visiting a web sign-up form.
A texting platform will offer several ways for you to send a message, including…
In addition to all of that, many platforms will offer a corresponding SMS API so that you can program your messages to send according to however you’d like to customize it. Or you can download a mobile app to engage in all of this messaging from your phone.
Sending messages through an SMS platform will allow you to view analytics so that you can make informed decisions about your SMS efforts.
You’ll be able to view data such as click rates (if you use SMS for texting links), response rates, and opt-out rates.
You want a texting platform that’s easy to set up and use. It should have all the features you need. If you have programming resources and bandwidth, your service should have an API available so that you can set up messages the way that you’d like it to be set up. It’s also nice to have customer support readily on hand in case they’re needed.
With Mobile Text Alerts, all of the above concerns are resolved. Try a free account today and see for yourself!
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