As a business providing personalized services, most of my customers have my cell phone number and contact me directly. With such prevalent use of text messaging nowadays, it’s common for me to receive communications via text instead of email. I’ve quickly learned that sometimes one method of communication is more appropriate than the other. Here’s a look at when to email versus text message for business.

When Sending Text Messages for Business is Okay

Text messages are an easy way to quickly touch base with someone. In the business world, it’s okay to text message under certain circumstances. Here are a few:

  • Checking if someone is available for a call or meeting.
  • Quick notes to say thank you.
  • Coordinating dates/times among multiple people.
  • General discussions among multiple individuals.

Text messages are especially helpful when communicating short messages and responses among multiple individuals. It avoids the multiple reply-all email chains that can be difficult to follow. Texting displays responses from all parties in the order they were submitted and can therefore make it easy for anyone to follow a conversation. However, the downside of texting is that you can’t save certain segments of text for easy reference later on. With long text strings over different topics, it can also be difficult to find old messages. It’s a good idea to followup with an email after texting back and forth, just to make sure everyone has the final details of any conversations via text.

When Emailing is More Appropriate

In most cases, emailing is more appropriate for business communications for several reasons:

  • Emails can include lengthy details, separated by headers.
  • Attachments and links can be tied to specific messages.
  • A history of information can be retained.
  • Emails can be marked as unread and saved as a reminder.
  • Old emails can be easily searched and found for reference later on.
  • Email signatures make it clear who a message is from and how to contact them.

Using Text Messages and Email Together

Some folks just love to text because it’s quick and easy. However, texting when you should be emailing can cause tasks and requests to be missed or forgotten. For instance, I had a customer that always liked to text website questions and issues. He would text at times that I might be at dinner and not available to answer right away. By briefly reading his text, it would mark it as unread. I would then get multiple texts thereafter, pushing his text down the list and making it easy to mistakenly forget about it. Had he emailed the same questions, those messages would have remained in my inbox as a reminder to address them.

If an issue is urgent and you feel the need to text, consider doing that in addition to an email instead of in lieu of one. For instance, you can send full details of an issue via email and a text message asking that someone check their email regarding a time sensitive matter. This takes advantage of the benefits of both methods of communication.

Summary of When to Email versus Text Message for Business

In summary, before deciding whether to email versus text message for business, think about the pros and cons of each. Will you need a formal history of the communications? How much information are you looking to share? Is the discussion regarding a task that should be completed? Do you need an immediate response? Selecting the appropriate method of communication ensures that the parties involved will have the information they need and that information does not get lost ore missed. Sometimes it can even be effective to use both.