Professional Texting Etiquette | Texting Rules & Guidelines
Professional Texting Etiquette | Texting Rules & Guidelines

Guidelines for Respectful Texting Etiquette + Professional Text Message Examples

There’s anxiety around texting etiquette. When I talk to individuals and teams who text I always hear questions like:

  • What’s considered good text response time etiquette?
  • Is it ok to use emojis in my professional messages?
  • Are texting acronyms like “LOL” acceptable?

So I’ve written an article on texting etiquette for 2022 to answer texting do’s and don’ts.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  1. What texting etiquette is
  2. How to text someone for the first time professionally
  3. 12 texting rules for professional texting etiquette
  4. Group text message etiquette
  5. Frequently asked texting do’s and don’ts questions (FAQ)
  6. Professional text message examples and templates

By the end, you’ll know all the professional texting rules and guidelines for respectful texting, especially as a business or organization.

Read on for more.

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How to Text Someone for the First Time Professionally

Consider the tools you’re using to send text messages before you actually text someone for the first time professionally.

Are you using your personal phone for work? Are you just sending a personal 1-on-1 text message to your boss, a manager, or another employee?

Your personal phone number and iPhone or Android device are fine for this kind of texting. You’ll just want to be mindful of the professional texting rules and etiquette I’ve listed below.

But are you a manager or someone at a business trying to mass text employees? Or maybe you’re an employee or staff member texting for sales or customer service?

This kind of professional text messaging requires a business text messaging service, like MessageDesk. Group texts won’t work.

Business text messaging services come with advanced software and professional texting features. These texting platforms help you text at scale and manage tricky things like privacy, opt-in lists, TCPA compliance, and more.

Business text messaging services like MessageDesk include features like:

  • Separate text-enabled 10-digit local or toll-free 800 SMS phone numbers
  • A shared team SMS inbox for assigning and routing conversations
  • Text message broadcasts for sending mass text messages
  • Text message templates and tags to personalize text messages
  • Support for MMS multimedia picture messaging
  • Scheduled texts and automation for scaling messaging
  • Text message signatures so people know who you are
  • Automatic out-of-office messages to let people know you’re away
  • Support for high-volume carrier-verified A2P 10DLC text messaging
  • Built-in opt-out and opt-in tools for TCPA compliance


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12 Texting Rules for Professional Texting Etiquette

  1. Know if you have consent to text someone professionally
  2. Don’t send or receive confidential information over text
  3. Assign, organize, and respond to inbound text messages quickly
  4. Move complex or sensitive conversations to different messaging platforms
  5. Send texts during normal business hours
  6. Introduce yourself and let people know who you are
  7. Keep your text messages clear and concise
  8. Personalize your text messages to feel human and conversational
  9. Write compelling calls to action and set clear expectations
  10. Add signatures to your text messages
  11. Check your spelling, grammar, word choice, and emoji use
  12. Mind your text message frequency - don’t double text

1. Know if you have consent to text someone professionally

The first thing to know about how to text professionally is consent. Make sure your boss or colleague is ok with you texting them first.

You’ll also need to have consent to send mass texts to employees or broadcast promotional messages to customers or clients.

For marketing and promotional messages, you’ll need express written consent. This is the highest level of consent in the messaging world.

Consent is part of TCPA compliance guidelines and best practices. Sending unsolicited text messages without consent is a major offense and can result in serious fines.

But business text messaging services like MessageDesk help to protect you from sending texts to contacts who haven’t opted in.

When a message recipient texts back “STOP”, MessageDesk automatically flags that contact. The software prevents you from sending a message to them again.

MessageDesk also offers tools like opt-in forms to help you get and manage consent from contacts for professional messaging.


2. Don’t send or receive confidential information over text

Sending and receiving confidential information can open you and your organization up to liability. So it’s smarter not to send confidential or personal information via text.

Also, know that SMS text messaging is fundamentally an unsecured technology. This is because messages travel across carrier networks and get stored on carrier servers.

Some text messaging platforms offer SOC 2 security compliance. But so far no one offers fully encrypted text messaging technology.

Are you texting on behalf of a doctor, dentist, or medical office? Then you’ll also need to stay conscious of patient health information (PHI). Texting this information, especially without consent can be a serious HIPAA violation.

Suggested Article: Guide to HIPAA Compliant Texting

3. Assign, organize and respond to inbound text messages quickly

Another big part of professional texting etiquette is response time.

If you’re texting your boss or manager, then you don’t want to keep them waiting for a reply. The same applies to inbound texts from customers or clients.

This is why businesses and organizations that text often use business texting software with a shared team SMS inbox.

An SMS inbox helps teams route, assign and manage all of their inbound text messages on one or many phone numbers. This keeps everyone on the same page and ensures that the right conversations get responses at the right time.

SMS inboxes also make it possible to leave private comments. You can mention other team members directly inside of a text message thread with a customer.

Advanced features like these are what help businesses and organizations enhance their professional texting etiquette.


4. Move complex or sensitive conversations to different messaging platforms

Text messages have advantages and benefits over email and voice. But not all professional conversations are fit for text messaging.

Text messages can certainly be formal and professional. But the most formal messages should get sent as emails. Similarly, the most urgent messages probably deserve a phone call.

This is also true if someone sends a message that requires a complex answer or lots of explaining.

Text messaging is a great tool for quick answers to questions and sharing links to information. But it gets harder to communicate effectively as texts get longer.

Consider using alternative team and employee communication apps when you need other types of messaging.

email text and voice

5. Send texts during normal business hours

Sending and receiving two-way texts at the right time is what makes text messaging incredibly effective.

As a texting rule, only send business-related text messages during normal business hours.

Note that your texting hours and etiquette may vary though. This will depend on your organization, the type of business you conduct, and your audience’s messaging preferences.

And what do you do about sending and receiving texts at odd hours?

Business text messaging software can help you manage expectations with automatic out-of-office text messages.

When someone texts your business number after hours, MessageDesk can send an automatic text message.

This message can set response time expectations. It also gives people an alternative way to get in touch with you or your organization if it's an emergency.


6. Introduce yourself and let people know who you are

Professional messages immediately let recipients know who are.

Is this the first time you’re sending a professional text to a colleague on your team or in your organization? Then introduce yourself directly in the first line of your text message.

The same rule applies to texting customers and clients. Let’s say you’re advertising new products or services with text message marketing. You want to send a text message broadcast to a list of leads.

Your broadcast should clearly introduce yourself or your brand and state the nature of your text.

Business texting also gives you more ways to start text conversations with customers and clients. These include features like click-to-text buttons on websites and contact forms that collect phone numbers.


7. Keep your text messages clear and concise

No one likes having their time wasted—especially your superiors and colleagues.

This is where text messaging can be a great time-saving tool. SMS isn’t a platform for lengthy messages. It’s designed for quick actions, information, and immediate answers to questions.
Traditional SMS even limits texts to 160 English characters. This is because SMS literally stands for “short messaging service.”

So be sure to keep your messages short, sweet, and to the point. Clarity takes priority over cleverness.

8. Personalize your text messages to feel human and conversational

There’s no sweeter sound to a person than hearing their first name. This is the first and easiest way to personalize greetings in your text messages.

Another way to personalize text messages is with business texting software.

Platforms like MessageDesk offer personalization tags. Tags are a text message automation feature. They make it easy to insert {{ FirstName }} or any other saved contact information into a text message.

MessageDesk also gives you the ability to save tags in text messages as templates. You can also pre-save and text images, photos, and media in templates as MMS messages.


9. Write compelling calls to action and set clear expectations

Text messages are great for prompting people to tack action.

If you’re texting with colleagues and you need them to do something, then be clear about it. This is another one of the rules of texting.

Calls to action (CTAs) are even more critical if you’re a business or organization texting customers or clients. CTAs are simple and direct—they typically start with a verb.

Effective CTAs almost always include an SMS link in a text message. They look like this:


10. Add signatures to your text messages

It’s important to sign off properly at the end of your text message.

You don’t want to leave your message recipient feeling unsatisfied or unclear about what’s next in the conversation. So make sure to clearly end the conversation and sign off.

Another way to do this is to create and add a text messages signature to your messages with business texting software.

Your text message signature might include:

  • Office hours
  • Physical location
  • Contact information
  • Links to your website for an estimate or quote
  • Links to a meeting scheduler

Hey Tom,

I am so glad to hear that! Would you mind leaving us a review on our website?

Colby Baum
Dunder Mifflin Sales Team

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

11. Check your spelling, grammar, word choice, and emoji use

One of the most important texting rules is to check your spelling, grammar, word choice, and emoji use.

If you’re texting from your personal phone, be mindful of autocorrect. This can severely alter the meaning of your text messages in embarrassing ways.

For businesses and organizations that use texting software, Grammarly is a great tool that can help solve this problem. It checks spelling and grammar as you compose your text messages.

If you’re texting with MessageDesk, all you have to do is install Grammarly in your web browser. Then you can auto-check all of your text messages for errors.

spelling and grammar check

12. Mind your text message frequency - don’t double text

If you’re texting 1-on-1 with a colleague, be patient. Yes, it's important to respond to texts, but if you find yourself waiting, don’t double-text.

You also don’t want to spam your customers or clients with non-relevant text blasts. Only send communications when it’s important and relevant.

As a texting rule, let communication happen in customer time. Give people the power to choose when they want to interact with you.

Group Text Message Etiquette

Group text etiquette is a tricky thing. In professional contexts, I advise that you keep group texts to a minimum.

This is because the mechanics of a group text aren’t inherently professional. People (myself included) generally don’t like being stuck in a group chat.

The problem is that every contact in a group text sees every message and recipient. Everyone gets a notification when a new text gets added to the conversation.

These constant notifications get annoying. This is especially annoying if you can’t mute the conversation or put your phone on silent.

If you find yourself in a group text, here’s some general group text etiquette:

  1. Don’t start conversations late at night.
  2. Don’t use a group text to only text with one person in a group.
  3. Include people in the group text who know each other.
  4. Keep the conversation in the group text on the subject.
  5. Announce when and if you’re leaving the conversation.
  6. Don’t drag a group text out for longer than it needs to be.
  7. Put your phone on silent to keep annoying notifications from buzzing.
  8. Participate in the conversation, don’t just add to the noise.

If you need to send a text to more than 20 people, don’t send it as a group text. Send a mass text using a business text messaging software like MessageDesk instead.

Mass texts are like BCC emails—they’re one-to-many text messages. Sometimes people refer to mass texts as “group text without reply all”.

When someone responds to your mass text, that message starts a private, two-way message thread. This is an essential part of professional texting at scale.


Frequently Asked Texting Do’s and Don’ts Questions (FAQ)

Below are answers to frequently asked professional text message etiquette questions.

What’s considered good text response time etiquette?

What does good text response time etiquette look like? The maddening answer is, “It depends.”

If you’re texting your boss or a colleague, a good text response time is as soon as possible.

If you’re a business or organization texting customers or clients, then know that people increasingly expect instant response times.

For inbound text messages from customers with sales questions, a good text response time should be around 90 seconds or less.

For other, less urgent text messages, you might be able to hold yourself to a different standard.

Between 20 minutes and the end of the business day may be acceptable. That should keep you from breaking texting etiquette rules and offending the sender.

Is it ok to use emojis in professional text messages?

Smiley faces and big red hearts may feel natural when texting friends and relatives. But when it comes to business, you need to be mindful of your emoji etiquette.

In most cases, businesses and organizations should avoid casual or unnecessary emoji use. If you don’t nail the context, then emojis can cause confusion or even offend message recipients.

However, emojis can also increase text message engagement and response rates. They’re a valuable tool as part of a conversational messaging strategy. But this all comes down to context and the types of messages you’re sending.

When used correctly, emojis can help your business text messaging by:

  • Boosting the personal and positive aspects of a message
  • Softening the tone of a message
  • Humanizing your brand
  • Encouraging engagement
  • Creating humor and brevity

As best practices, only use relevant emojis. Don’t overdo it. Pay attention, “read the room” and understand the context before you send a text message with an emoji.

If your message recipient responds in a light-hearted tone, then emojis may work. But if they’re approaching your conversation more seriously, you may want to leave the emojis out.

Are texting acronyms like “LOL” acceptable in professional text messages?

You should always aim for clarity when it comes to business communication. This often means excluding text abbreviations from professional text messages.

It's true that many text abbreviations like LOL have become mainstream. But when it comes to professional text messages you’re better off leaving them out.

The exception to this rule may depend on your audience and context. If you’re texting amongst younger demographics, then acronyms might be acceptable.

But there’s really no place for texting acronyms in your messages if you’re a business or organization.

Is it ok to not respond to a text?

Not responding to a text message could be considered rude, depending on the context of the situation. For people at businesses and organizations, it's slightly more acceptable to not respond to a text.

This is because people are busy and they have things to do. Above all else, business communication always strives to respect everyone’s time.

For personal communications, getting left on read is a strong signal. It’s often quite rude. Again, not responding to a text really comes down to your context and situation.

Professional Text Message Examples and Templates

Below are professional text message samples, examples, and templates. Feel free to copy and paste any of these formal text messages. You can also check out my list of 60+ free text message templates for more.

How to text your boss example

Hi, {{ FirstName }}. This is [ Name ]. Are you available for a short meeting this week to discuss x,y,z? I have availability on [ Date ] at [ Time ]. Please let me know what’s most convenient for you. Thanks.

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Texting in sick

Hi {{ FirstName }}, I’m really not feeling well today. I just took a COVID test but please plan on me being out today and tomorrow. Depending on the test, I could be out for the rest of the week. Please text or call me if you need an immediate response.

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am
Note: It’s generally not good texting etiquette to text in sick to your boss. Consider calling in sick instead and talking on the phone.

Text-to-apply and text-to-hire campaigns

Thanks for your interest in our open position. To take the next steps in the application process, visit our website. {{ WebLink }}

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Schedule an appointment text

Hi, {{ FirstName }}. This is [ Name ] from {{ OrganizaitonName }}. It’s time to schedule another appointment with us. You can schedule your appointment here [ Link ]. We look forward to assisting you.

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Appointment reminder text

Hi, {{ FirstName }}. This is [ Name ] from {{ OrganizaitonName }}. This is a reminder that you have a scheduled appointment on [ Date ] at [ Time ]. Please call or text us if you need to reschedule. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Appointment confirmation text

Thank you for scheduling an appointment with our office. You are confirmed for an appointment with PERSON on {{ Date }} at {{ Time }}. If you have any questions, please respond to this text or call HIM/HER at {{ PhoneNumber}}.

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Payroll and timesheet reminders

Please approve your time card before 4 pm today. Payroll will be submitted promptly at 5 pm. Thank you!

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Job openings and organization announcements

Hey there {{ FirstName }}, just letting you know that we’ve had some new positions open up. Check out all the details here: {{ WebLink }}

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Open shift and scheduling announcements

Hello everyone, just wanted to let you all know that we have several open shifts that are still available for next week.

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Payment reminder text

Dear {{ FirstName }}, our records indicate that your account has a balance that is past due. Please visit this link to our online payment page: WEB LINK by DATE in order to avoid a late fee. Text us if you have questions.

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Feedback request

Thank you for your business. We pride ourselves on great service and it’s your feedback that makes that possible. Please take a minute and let us know what you thought. [LINK]

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Review request

Hi {{ FirstName }}, this is INDIVIDUAL from {{ Organization }}. Thank you for being a valued customer. We would appreciate it if you could leave a review about your experience with us. We have provided a link to a third-party online review page for your convenience: ADD URL.

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am
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Next steps

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