When some people start text messaging, it’s like the world around them disappears.

Eyes cast down at their smartphones, thumbs tapping rapidly, they may be as engaged as though they were talking out loud, to a real person standing in front of them. No wonder more marketers are beginning to explore the power of mobile messaging through text or SMS as a way to engage with their customers and prospects.

While text messaging can represent a highly intimate, one-on-one way to connect with your target audience, it also poses some risk. Texting with your friends and family is likely more of a priority than messaging back and forth with a brand -- even if it’s one of your favourite brands. A text message sent at the wrong time, meanwhile, can seem annoying or disruptive, creating the exact opposite impression you wish to make. Unlike, say, email, text messages also tend to convey a greater sense of urgency and call to respond. If your audience isn’t ready to respond -- or doesn’t feel like they’re part of a conversation to begin with -- the whole thing can backfire.

The best way for marketers to get their feet wet with mobile messaging is to think about what should happen after the first text or SMS is sent. Are they expecting the recipients to answer back, and if so, what will be done with the information? Do they want customers to move from text to a different channel -- like the company web site for an e-commerce opportunity? That affects everything from the content of the message to the timing, the links and many other factors.

Tools like Marketing Cloud help with mobile messaging by giving marketers valuable data to personalize texts and SMS, while also aligning such messages to the cadence or format consistent with other touchpoints a brand is using. Given that over-use could be one of the biggest pitfalls, here are some sample scenarios where marketing via text message may be most appropriate. Start here, or use these to begin brainstorming even more specific ideas based on the unique needs of your business, sector or customer base:

The (con)text: Feedback after service calls

The rationale: This is a no-brainer for many firms. Whether your objective is reducing call time in a contact centre or just offering the most efficient process for your customers, a simple text message may be a great way to assess whether the team is answering questions or troubleshooting in a way that builds brand affinity, loyalty and preference among your target audience. This could be a simple yes/no question, something open-ended or a link to a more in-depth survey back to your site.

The best practice: Use only after problems have been successfully resolved, obviously -- and make sure this is the way they prefer to be approached about feedback.

The (con)text: Before, during and after an industry event

The rationale: If your firm is exhibiting at a trade show or has an executive speaking at a conference, a text message could be a way to let longtime customers know how to find your team or when your expert is about to take the stage. Over the course of the event, text messages could be a way to let them know of limited-time offers or promotions. Once the event is wrapped up, a text or SMS can build off the theme of the event with a special offer or more information on what they might have missed from your firm.

The best practice: Your messages shouldn’t get in the way of the event experience itself. Consider timing during registration and breakfast, during networking breaks or immediately after the event wraps up for the day in order to ensure an appropriate sense of respect. No one wants to feel hounded.

The con(text): Following a sales demo or meeting

The rationale: Sales meetings and demos can cover a lot of ground -- so much ground that sometimes you won’t get to offer as comprehensive a pitch as you first intended. Text messages can get quick answers to questions that couldn’t be addressed during the allotted meeting time, or could provide additional links to related content like white papers, blog posts or buyer’s guides that take customers and prospects to the next stage of the journey.

The best practice: Anything that feels auto-generated here -- like a generic, “Thanks for coming in to see us!” will seem off to customers and prospects. This is where you leverage Marketing Cloud and its connections to CRM and other sources to be as personalized as possible. Also keep it short, even for a text message. Avoid any “leave me alone!” reactions.

The con(text): Signups and subscriptions

The rationale: Let’s imagine someone downloads a gated asset from your site like a white paper. Usually those leads are passed on to sales, who pounce immediately with a phone call. What if you’re hearing a lot hang-ups at that point, though? It could be the sales cycle in a particular segment is longer than others, or requires more nurturing. If they liked what they downloaded, a text message that offers a simple sign-up for similar content shows you’ve noticed them, but are giving them time to digest what they received.

The best practice: Any opt-in or signup should be no more than one click. Ensure the relevant information is pre-populated and that your privacy policy and subscription settings are a piece of cake to manage.

The (con)text: Real-time industry news reaction

The rationale: Imagine you read online that your competitor has discontinued a rival product, or increased the price. It can take organizations surprisingly long to figure out a way to capitalize on this kind of good fortune, especially if it falls outside the usual cycle of their email newsletter. A text message can remind those affected on how you can help, or even communicate special “switchover” pricing before you even have time to set up a landing page.

The best practice: This requires a strong partnership between marketing and sales. If reps are already on the phone trying to convert people, your text message campaign will only seem like overkill.

Text messaging done right can make your marketing team more responsive and effective than ever, if you can find the right approach. Then it becomes just another vital touchpoint you can optimize with Marketing Cloud.