Text Messaging Best Practices for Health & Benefits Insurance Agencies

It’s not a secret that text messaging has ballooned in popularity over the last decade. From when smartphones and texting started gracing the scene in the early 2000s to today, where smartphones and texting are universal, we’ve seen a lot of change. 

Although text messaging is a deeply ingrained part of our everyday lives, it’s still a growing marketing and communication tactic for health, benefits, and senior insurance agencies and uplines. This blog will focus on the rise of text messaging in the health insurance industry, best practices agencies should consider when texting prospects and clients, and the communications your team can send via text message.

The Rise of Text Messaging in Health Insurance

Before we dive in, let’s define SMS text messages: “SMS (Short Message Service), commonly referred to as "text messaging," is a service for sending short messages of up to 160 characters (224 character limit if using a 5-bit mode) to mobile devices, including cellular phones and smartphones.”

In 2021, mobile phone users in the USA sent 2 trillion text messages. Today, people send 18.7 billion texts each day. Text messaging is quickly becoming the primary way we communicate with others. It’s also becoming the preferred way

There is a ton of research and statistics out there about text message usage, but here are some of the highlights:

  • The average text message open rate is 99%, and the average click-through-rate is 36% (email marketing hovers around 6-7% on average)
  • 95% of text messages are read and responded to in less than 5 minutes
  • 81% of Americans use text messaging
  • 78% of consumers wish they could text with a business — and over 50% want businesses to text them back
  • 48% of consumers prefer to communicate directly with businesses via text message

Text messaging provides many benefits for insurance agencies. It’s fast, has great open and click-through averages, and is accessible to nearly every person. Additional advantages of business-to-consumer texting include:

  • There’s no hold time. Sitting on hold waiting to speak to someone is frustrating. Even if the business offers a call-back option, you’re still waiting around for that call. Texting eliminates that frustration as you can read and respond to a text message at any point with little to no disruption to your life.
  • It creates instant records. We’ve discussed how recent compliance regulations for the health insurance industry have focused on transparency. Record keeping is a big part of that. Text messages provide instant records, especially if your team uses a CRM with built-in text messaging, like AgencyBloc’s AMS+ solution.
  • It makes sending links simple. Trying to explain where articles are or spell the URL out over the phone is maddening. Text messages make sending links simple and accessible.
  • It saves the business money. Since texting is faster, it’s also often cheaper than calling when considering the cost of employee time. 

Now, let’s discuss compliance and best practices for texting your prospects and clients.

Understanding Text Message Compliance Requirements for Health Insurance Agencies

For the United States, SMS compliance is governed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) also establishes guidelines and standards.

In 1991, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was passed to protect consumers from unwanted telemarketing and text messages. Under the TCPA, companies are required to:
Obtain prior express consent from consumers before making telemarketing calls or sending text messages to their cell phones

  • Provide consumers with an easy opt-out mechanism for future calls or text messages
  • Keep records of consumer consent for a certain period of time
  • Honor the National Do Not Call Registry, which allows consumers to opt out of telemarketing calls

Additionally, the CAN-SPAM Act was passed in 2003. While this act is commonly referenced when discussing email marketing, it also covers text messages. To comply with CAN-SPAM for text messaging, you must provide:

  1. Identification
  2. Instructions for opting out
  3. A phone number to reply to or call back

We’ve mentioned offering opt-out options a couple of times, but what does that look like? You can always include a line like: “Reply END to opt out of future communication.” Some of the most common and honored opt-out terms include:

  • STOP
  • QUIT

Lastly, as a health, benefits, and senior insurance organization, your team has access to sensitive personal information. Always consider HIPAA regulations and personal identifiable information (PII) best practices when sending text messages.

Best Practices for Text Message Marketing & Communications

Just like all communication, personalization is one of the best practices your insurance agency or upline can employ. Having tools at your disposal that allow for mass personalized text messages is essential. 

The next steps are to know when and how often to communicate via text message. 

For health insurance, group benefits, and senior insurance agencies, some of the top things to communicate about include:

  • Celebratory messages, like happy birthday or happy anniversary
  • Confirmation messages, like lead form submissions, scheduled appointments, consent to receive text messages, etc.
  • Reminders for upcoming appointments or deadlines
  • Nurture-focused communications, especially for leads or policy renewals
  • Related industry news or changes
  • Applicable content pieces, like blogs or downloadable checklists
  • Announcements about new plans and products, office hour changes and closures, and upcoming enrollment season dates
  • Status updates, like policy submissions

Be sure you have the consent of the recipient to send text messages, whether they’re a client or prospect. This is the same best practice with email marketing. We all receive many spam phone calls, text messages, and emails, so you don’t want to add to that or diminish your business' reputation. 

Are you looking for more ideas about using text messaging in your agency’s lead nurturing efforts? Check out our free templates, Lead Nurturing Email, Text Message, & Workflow Recipes.

Pro Tip: Integrating text messaging into your lead nurturing, client retention, and agent communication processes is great. However, not everyone wants to receive text messages from you, and some clients still prefer phone calls or face-to-face conversations. Ensure each communication process for your agency has multiple touch points, including texting, phone calls, emails, and in-person options.

Now that you know what to communicate, let’s talk about how often you should reach out. Research shows that “56% of consumers say they'd like to receive messages from businesses once every other week. 29% say that once a week is ideal. The industry standard recommends 2-6 text blasts a month, with the ideal frequency being about one text promotion per week.”

Finding a balance between promotional, nurturing, celebratory, and transactional text messages is essential. Work with your team and gather feedback from prospects and clients to find the right cadence for your organization. 

Health Insurance Text Messaging Tools in AMS+

Insurance is a relationship business. Your agency or upline must have the tools to maintain a connection, including sending text messages.

Texting tools in AgencyBloc's AMS+ solution

Source | AMS+

AgencyBloc’s AMS+ solution is our industry-leading agency management system for health, benefits, and senior insurance agencies and uplines. AMS+ has integrated text messaging tools that simplify lead acquisition and nurturing, policy submission, and client retention processes. Send direct text messages to contacts, automate text message sends for prospects and leads, and centralize all your communications into one location with AMS+.

Start Texting Today with AMS+

Request a 1-on-1, personalized demo and learn more about the text messaging tools in AMS+ to help your team stay connected, sell more, and increase client retention.

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Posted by Allison Babberl on Tuesday, March 26, 2024 in AMS+

  1. client retention
  2. insurance automation
  3. selling

About The Author

Allison Babberl

Allison is the Content Lead at AgencyBloc. She manages the creation and schedule of all educational content for our BlocTalk and Member communities. Favorite quote: “Conversation is the bedrock of relationships. Without it, our relationships are devoid of substance.” -Maribeth Ku ... read more