SMS surveys—also known as text message surveys—are perfect for reaching those customers always on the go. They’re also great if you need to follow up on a phone call or an in-person interaction.

Although I doubt you need more convincing, here are some stats on why you should use SMS as a customer feedback channel:

  • SMS has a response rate that’s 7.5x greater than email.
  • More than 50% of customers prefer contacting support through text messaging compared to other channels.
  • 80% of people use texting for business purposes.
  • And according to a study conducted by the University of Michigan, people are more likely to give accurate feedback over text.

There are many scenarios in which SMS serves as the best survey channel, but we’ll save that for another blog post. We’ll start with SMS survey best practices. Follow these tips to receive reliable, actionable customer feedback.

SMS survey best practices

1. Keep your SMS survey brief

A text message has a limit of 160 characters. Anything above this and your text will be broken into separate chunks which may affect the readability of your message.

Keeping your SMS survey message brief doesn’t mean that you should use text speak, however, as it could make words even harder to read and make you look unprofessional.

Simply get your point across in as few words as possible. Same goes for the survey URL—make sure you’re using a URL shortener to save on space.

2. Make an introduction

Your customers receive SMS from a lot of people and brands, so even if you’ve sent a customer a survey or promotion via text before you should still introduce yourself.

Letting the customer know who the SMS survey is from at the start adds credibility to your messages and improves the likelihood that the customer will respond.

3. Follow up on your SMS survey

When sending SMS surveys it’s useful to keep in mind that your customers are busy, and most are probably juggling several things at once.

It’s easy for your text to get lost amidst all of that and even if it’s opened, the customer can simply get distracted by something else and forget to send a response.

Which is why you should send a follow-up SMS to give them another chance to respond.

You should also follow up when the customer gives a response. SMS are a very personal communication channel so you should treat it as such—there’s no better way to show that you care about the feedback.

4. Test different send times

The time you choose to send your SMS survey is going to influence your engagement rate a lot.

The best time to send your SMS survey is going to depend a lot on the demographics of your customers (such as working hours) as well as if you have customers in different time zones.

Most text marketing software give you the option of sending SMS at the local time of the recipient. This ensures that wherever your customers are they’re only going to receive your messages at the most convenient time for them.

But the only way to truly know the best time to send your SMS survey is to test different send times and study your analytics to see when you have the best response rate.

5. Get permission

SMS is like email, in that there are regulations that stop companies from sending consumers unwanted messages.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) regulates how marketers should contact people. Failure to comply with the TCPA will lead to heavy fines, lawsuits, not to mention damage to consumer trust.

Whether you’re sending out surveys or marketing messages through SMS you should always make sure that the consumer has given you permission to reach them through text and that they also have the ability to opt out from your texts.

Note that having a customer’s phone number after they make a purchase isn’t the same as receiving permission to contact them.

6. Have a clear call to action (CTA)

When you send your SMS survey it has to be clear to the customer what exactly you want them to perform. This is true no matter the channel you’re reaching people on.

Adding a straightforward CTA to your survey removes all the ambiguousness and results in even the most distracted customer knowing that you want them to gauge their experience.

The result of a clear CTA is improved response rates from your SMS campaigns.

7. Limit SMS survey frequency

One of the worst things you can do is to send too many SMS surveys to your customers. The more frequently you message them the less important each message will become in their eyes.

The only exception to this is a transactional message where an action a customer took, such as buying a product, led to the message e.g a satisfaction survey.

Not having a handle on your SMS frequency can lead to consumers opting out from your messages thereby reducing the effectiveness of future campaigns.

8. Personalize your SMS survey

Just like in email, people are more likely to respond to your SMS survey when they feel like it was meant just for them.

Which means personalizing your messages, rather than doing traditional text blasts, will boost your response rate.

You can personalize your SMS by segmenting your customers, using their names in the message, and by including details of why you’re reaching out to them.

9. Use a shortcode

If you want to use SMS as a channel for reaching your customers then you need to have a shortcode.

Shortcodes are phone numbers generally 5 to 6 digits long made specifically for commercial use and mass mobile communications.

They’re short so customers have an easier time remembering that it’s from your brand. They’re also approved by wireless carriers for marketing which means that your messages will have a much higher deliverability rate as they won’t be blocked.

Using a shortcode also allows you to send messages at a much faster rate than from regular mobile phone numbers.

10. Make sure your survey is mobile friendly

It should go without saying that you need to make sure your survey page is mobile friendly.

Since you’re using text messages as a feedback channel it’s safe to assume that your customers are going to open your survey link on a mobile phone.

Because of this, having a mobile-friendly survey page is essential to good user experience and getting the most accurate data from your customers.

Wrap-up on SMS survey best practices

SMS surveys are a surefire way to expand your customer reach and receive valuable, timely feedback.

When used in conjunction with other channels, SMS surveys can help companies master a truly omnichannel feedback program.