In the old days (and the old days weren’t that long ago), most business was done face-to-face or over the phone. In fact, that’s probably how many of you did business until the pandemic hit. While traveling to an appointment or having a phone conversation can be time consuming, they can also help you build relationships with your clients.

Email, of course, is also a very popular way of communicating with clients, and for many tasks it’s much more efficient. There are a couple drawbacks, though:

  • It’s not very personal, so it’s certainly not the best way to build a relationship.
  • People get a lot of emails, so they tend to get lost in the shuffle. This is especially true if you’re sending marketing emails or newsletters to a lot of clients as once.

In the midst of this pandemic, though, you might have an opportunity to use a more informal means of communication to keep in touch with clients: text messages.

Right now, many people are working from home, and even those who aren’t understand that you might be. So if you let your clients know that the best way to reach you is on your cell phone and that they can call or text you if they need anything, you can also use the opportunity to ask them if they’re ok receiving texts.

There are several advantages to text messaging:

  • Efficient: Texting is efficient like email, but the texts don’t need to be as long. While two sentences would be a very short email, texts longer than a couple sentences seem a bit wordy.
  • Relationship Building: It sounds weird, but text messaging is also good for building relationships. While emails can be cold and impersonal, if you’re able to text with your clients, you’ve sort of been invited into their inner circle.
  • Preferred Communication: Many clients actually prefer texts over phone calls. While they might let a call go to voicemail, they’re likely to read their texts pretty quickly.
  • High Open Rate: Texts can be a great way to send COVID-19 updates to your clients. If you include a link to a flyer or a page on your website where they can get more information, they might actually read it. People are on their phones all the time anyway, so a text message is a great way to get your content onto your clients’ preferred communication device.
  • Embedded Video Updates: You might even consider recording a short video update and uploading it to YouTube. You can then send the link by text, and your clients can watch it on their mobile phones. That way, they can still see you and hear your voice, even if you’re not meeting face to face.

Here are just a few more tips when sending text messages to clients:

  • Get Permission: We’ve already said it, but make sure you have your client’s permission. Text is different than email, and some people will be annoyed if you start texting without asking first.
  • Make It Personal: Start with their name, and don’t do a group message with multiple clients copied. Yes, this will take a little more time, but you’ll get better results.
  • Identify Yourself: Your clients might not have your cell number plugged into their phone, so be sure to tell them who it is sending them a text. In fact, you might share your contact info from your address book in your first text so they can set you up as a contact. Just say that you wanted to make sure they had your info in case they need anything since you’re not at the office.
  • Keep It Brief: Again, make your point, and then stop typing.
  • Have a Purpose: Make sure you have something important to communicate, and don’t overdo it. In other words, don’t make your messages feel like spam to your clients.
  • Watch the Time: Don’t text too early in the morning or too late in the evening.

Whether texting will continue to be an acceptable form of client communication when things finally return to “normal” remains to be seen, but for the time being it is a more acceptable business tool than in the past, so you might as well take advantage of it while you have the opportunity.