How to Write a Good SMS Text Message
According to The State of SMS: Executive Summary, on average, 98% of mobile users read a branded or commercial text message, which makes SMS an effective tool in your marketing strategy.
And the next question is how to convert these reads into purchases. To make sure your SMS marketing hits the target, keep in mind the following core principles of an effective SMS copy when getting down to your next campaign.
1. Use simple and clear language.
This advice is #1 in all best writing guides. We all want to show off our creativity, but sometimes the less, the better. Compare these two:
Registration in our app will entitle you to a perfect chance to stay at our place with a 10% discount. All you need to do is to make a booking within the next two weeks.
Register in our app and get 10% off your next visit at Beauty SPA! The offer expires on May 16.
What the second text may lack in linguistic garnish it makes up for in clarity and detalization. SMS is a space-limited type of messages, so provide only the most important information, using as less text.
2. Don’t exceed the limit.
Clear and well-structured language isn’t just easy to digest; it also contributes to campaign integrity and saves your marketing budget as there is a character limit for one SMS. Most providers have the maximum SMS limit of 70/160 characters (Latin/Cyrillic), so try not to exceed it.
To help you keep within the limit, in the eSputnik system the total limit and the number of current characters are indicated in each SMS so that you can plan your sending strategy right.
3. Avoid confusing words.
Since an SMS copy doesn’t allow too much text, marketers often use shortenings and acronyms to pack maximum in one message. And sometimes such technique makes the SMS hard to scan and digest.
Any 2hr massage is 20% off for Clb mmb. Lim avail. Call 123456 to book a sess.
Such a message looks like a word scramble. 2hr is more or less clear from the context. But not everyone would get that Clb mmb stands for club members, and Lim avail for limited availability.
4. Avoid ambiguity.
Ambiguous words and symbols or emojis can do more harm than good when being used in the wrong way. Since SMS doesn’t have much space to set the context, you won’t be able to explain what exactly you mean.
Slang also isn’t the best answer to how to write a text for SMS, especially if you target multi-age audience: we’ll tel’ya wuz this deal abt may seem just a mishmash of words to your 30+ recipients.
5. Include contacts.
If it’s not in the SMS, people won’t look for your phone number or email address elsewhere. Include full contact information in the SMS if it presupposes possible future communication.
For example, this SMS Shop Elegant Flowers & Gifts for International Women’s Day rather requires a link to the necessary website section. However, such message Easter Sunday Brunch on April 12, 10 AM. Reservation-only event. To book a table, call (877) 724-3188 needs the full number so that the customer can get to booking straight from the SMS.
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6. Include a call to action.
An SMS should catch the attention but also prompt to action. Unlike emails, it’s not a place for a lengthy copy so you’d better reduce unnecessary details and get straight to the point.
This isn’t the best example of an encouraging SMS. With no direct call to action, the subscriber may not know what to do: look for free food elsewhere, go to the shop and buy, compare prices, wait for price alerts, etc.?
For a better response, include a CTA and all the necessary instructions to take advantage of the offer:
- inviting to make a call - add a phone number;
- inviting to browse a catalog - include a website link;
- inviting to participate in the event - provide full contact info.
Note: in SMS, don’t use more than one CTA as it may confuse the readers.
7. Use caps wisely.
With no different fonts or colors in the SMS text, capital letters are the only way to lay focus on a particular piece of the message. Don’t abuse it and emphasize only the most important part, like Sales, #& Off, Holiday hours, Monday only, etc. Caps used to write the whole message lose its primary purpose of catching attention.
8. Segment your contact base.
As with any other communication channels, segmentation and personalization are key to successful SMS as well. Instead of annoying messages with zero relevant information, write SMS with offers your subscribers are really interested in.
To do this, segment your contact list taking into account your type of business. A zoo shop may divide customers based on the pet they own; a beauty studio - based on customer’s previous cosmetic procedures; a car maintenance service - on the vehicle type, etc.
A hamster owner doesn’t need alerts on price drops for dog mats. A client treating post-acne has left their contacts to hear about everything related to this particular issue rather than to, let’s say, lip fillers and injections. SMS that deliver value have a bigger response rate and generate more conversions.
Make your bulk SMS more human-like by personalizing the copy. Apart from delivering relevant offers, you can also use some personal data like name, related purchase, geo location, etc. to make your message more human-like.
Definitely, there’s no need to put a name in every promo SMS (that are impersonal by default) but name put in a birthday greeting or reminder would look up to place.
For example, in the eSputnik system, you can personalize any piece of the copy by adding dynamic content. Make your SMS closer to the audience by showing you know the purchase history of a particular customer and know who you’re writing to: timely care is always appreciated.
10. Focus on benefits for the reader.
It’s a well-known marketing tip - when promoting a product, emphasize not its technical characteristics but the benefits it may give the customer. Compare these two:
New arrivals of water-proof shoes. Get your stylish pair right now.
These water-proof shoes will keep your feet dry & stylish this spring.
The second option not only describes the shoes but also explains how it solves a particular problem - water and bad weather.
11. Include a simple promo code.
Short promo codes like GIFT, XMAS20, 50FF are easier to use than TFGYURF3452. For some people it’s more convenient to type manually then copypaste, so make the promo code text as user-friendly as possible. This is a good SMS marketing example:
12. Watch the spelling and grammar.
Many brands sacrifice grammar and punctuation for the sake of a bigger text volume. But we at eSputnik don’t see it as a successful practice for marketing writing. Any of your messages - email, SMS, web push, mobile push - represent your company and should look as professional and high-quality.
hey there Dn’t forget it’s game time OklahomavsVirginia tomor at 13.30 come watch with us. call 0123 4567890 to book a table or go www.cafebar.com invite frnds eat wings all you want beer on us - Such text looks like an essay by a third-grader rather than an offer by a reputable business. Don’t neglect orthography and proofread the copy if you want your SMS to look great and trustworthy.
13. Incorporate SMS in a workflow.
Automated workflows improve your marketing routine, save time and allow reaching the customers via several channels. Moreover, each channel works better when supported as the trust in brand increases as the consumers see messages repeated across channels.
You can build different workflows based on your company type and service, but there are several basic automated SMS that would be effective for any business (and they don’t require much personal data but for browsing and/or purchase history):
- abandoned cart;
- abandoned browse;
- special event (birthday, loyalty club membership anniversary, etc.);
- order confirmation;
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14. Write SMS in the language of the recipient.
If you have the info on the customer’s preferred language, put this knowledge into practice as 75% of online customers say they would rather consider buying the products in their native language.
In the eSputnik system, for example, you can create as many language versions within one template and switch between them in one click. Moreover, the statistics on the multilingual campaigns (regardless of the number of the languages) is provided in one report which makes analytics more convenient.
15. Optimize the sending schedule.
Even if you don’t have enough customer data to set up scheduling tailored to a particular customer, remember that not many people like to be bothered at night, early in the morning and at weekends.
Also remember that SMS is considered to be a more private channel than any other, and people are more likely to share their email address than a phone number. And when they do share it, appreciate their trust and don’t use SMS to send regular promos. Save the channel for more specific occasions like holiday congratulations, personal reminders, important service updates, change in working hours, etc.
SMS is a great channel for marketers to complement current strategies and reach the customers in a friendly way. Its employment isn’t complicated, and doesn’t require much effort on your part. Use the trusted format of a text message to engage your audience and get real conversion results.