The best way to stay in contact with your client — just forget the emojis

by Rincey Abraham

It can be difficult to find time for face-to-face meetings or even phone calls, leaving many agents and clients rely on text messages to communicate.

Smartphone users in the United States are initiating and receiving five times as many texts as phone calls per day, according to the International Smartphone Mobility Report. Text messages have typically been thought of as informal or just a tool for personal communication, but more consumers are becoming comfortable with using text messages for more business-related correspondence.

According to an Ellie Mae survey that polled both consumers and sales professionals, 76 percent of buyers say they are confident in a text’s potential to improve the buying experience by speeding up key processes. Respondents also reported being just as comfortable texting with businesses they have a relationship with as they are with colleagues.

In fact, 63 percent of all homebuyers surveyed in the 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report said it is important that agents send property information and communicate through text message. The younger the client, the more importance they place on text messages, with 69 percent of those age 37 or younger considering it important compared with 61 percent of those age 38 to 51.

“Consumers have been telling us that text messaging is well suited for their on-the-go, digital lives,” said Nick Hedges, senior vice president and consumer engagement strategy at Ellie Mae. “And while consumers expressed a nearly universal expectation for text communications from sellers, there were a number of surprises regarding the appropriateness of texting them for different reasons.”

Although younger consumers are more likely to be comfortable receiving casual messages, there are still some boundaries that should not be crossed. Less than one-third of consumers surveyed thought it was appropriate to be contacted by a business about promotions or special programs, to wish a happy birthday or just to say hello.

Instead, agents should limit text contact with their clients to more specific reasons, like missing documents, deadline and meeting reminders, or status updates.

“Though it has a long way to go, the widespread upward trend of preference for text raises the possibility that text might someday become the preferred method of communication,” Hedges said. “But for the foreseeable future, consumers prefer text on a situational basis and there is no contact strategy that is one-size-fits-all.”

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