You chat with your friends, family, and colleagues – why shouldn’t you text your clients? Chat and messaging apps are a convenient way to stay in contact with people. Some of your clients may even prefer this channel over more traditional options like email and phone. Before you decide whether you should chat with clients, make sure you understand the compliance and etiquette issues.
What Counts as Chatting?
Law Insider defines a chat channel as one that is publicly available and that lets people communicate by messaging. According to Hootsuite, the nine most popular messaging apps in 2023 are WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, QQ, Snapchat, Google Business Messaging, Instagram DMs, Line, and Viber.
Personal Preferences Vary Wildly
Customers preferences for communication channels vary, with no single channel standing out as the clear top choice. In a survey from Leadferno, 37.6% of respondents said they preferred text messaging, 30.2% preferred phone calls, 19.6% preferred email, and 12.6% preferred direct messaging. However, the answers differ with age. Among 18- to 24-years-olds, 30.0% prefer texting, 28.3% prefer phone calls, 23.0% prefer email, and 23.0% prefer messaging apps.
Although messaging apps are not the most popular way to communicate, they certainly have their share of fans. As more than one in 10 people prefer direct messaging, there’s a good chance that some of your clients would be happy to communicate this way. If you serve a young clientele, this option is likely to be even more popular.
Compliance Rules and Considerations
Many sales communications are subject to strict federal restrictions. According to the National Law Review, text messages count as calls under the federal TCPA, meaning you need consent before you may send a text message or call a number on the national Do Not Call list. Plus, the FCC says you must not use an autodialer to send robotexts without consent in writing.
The FCC says it does not regulate instant messaging, online chat, or social media offerings. However, this does not mean you are free to do whatever you want. The CAN-SPAM Act regulates commercial electronic mail messages. It has rules about subject lines, opt-out methods, and more. Although CAN-SPAM is normally associated with email, the FTC reports that some federal courts have ruled that CAN-SPAM also applies to commercial messages sent to social media inboxes. To be safe, it’s smart to keep CAN-SPAM compliance in mind.
You’ll also need to comply with the rules established by the messaging app you’re using. Plus, you should research any additional protections in your state. On top of all these requirements, make sure you don’t annoy the clients you’re trying to reach.
1. Ask Your Clients About Their Communication Preferences
The best way to know whether your clients want you to chat with them is to ask. For example, you could ask clients if they prefer you to contact them by phone, text, email, WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger. Make sure you document their communication preferences in your CRM. If clients change their minds about their preferred communication method, update your CRM.
2. Don’t Spam Your Clients or Leads
Facebook says if someone is repeatedly posting something you consider to be spam, you can unfriend, block, or even report the user. Abusing the platform could even lead to a ban. Facebook considers repeatedly sending friend requests or messages to people you don’t know personally to be harassment. In addition, the number of times you can send the same message is limited. Facebook prohibits the creation of accounts for the purpose of spamming or harassing and may disable your account if you send spam.
WhatsApp may also ban you if you break its rules. For example, you’re not allowed to send bulk messages or use automated messages or dialing. If contacts ask you to stop messaging them, you’re supposed to remove them from your address book.
3. Strike the Right Tone
How formal should you be when chatting with clients? It’s a nuanced situation. When people use messaging apps to chat, they tend to strike an informal tone. Misspellings, a lack of punctuation, and messages in all lowercase letters are normal. Sales messages tend to adhere to stricter writing conventions, but you may worry that your messages will feel too stiff and out of place if you use formal language while chatting.
The solution is to strike a tone that matches your brand voice. That may be a casual tone. You might even insert the occasional emoji – according to Business, emojis can add a personal touch, draw attention, and foster connections. Just be careful about being too informal: there’s a fine line between casual and unprofessional.
Regardless of whether you decide to chat with clients, you’ll need sales tools to support your communications. DIS has all the scripts, handouts, infographics, and other materials you need. Check them out.