Top Tips for Writing SMS Marketing Copy

Ensure your SMS marketing activities are effective with our 17 Do's and Don'ts to ensure you get the most from our SMS platform.

27 April 2022

Your database is all up-to-date and ready to go. Check! 

You have found the most effective way to reach your target audience instantly with the click of a button. Check! 

SMS message open rate 97%. Check! 

You have some amazing promotions lined up. Check! 

Hang on a minute, what about your SMS Marketing copy? How do you know if you are doing it right?   

Studies show that on average in the UK around 97% of SMS messages are opened and read within 15 minutes. As a nation, we are totally obsessed with our phones and look at them on average every 4 minutes. Even when we are not with our phones, a growing number of us have taken to wearing smartwatches and can pick up texts with the flick of a wrist. By contrast, emails and post can take days and weeks to be opened and actioned.   

You have their undivided attention; they are all opt-in subscribers. The content you are sending out to them is vitally important to maintain their loyalty and score a satisfying level of engagement. We want to show you how you can reduce your amount of opt-outs and maximise your engagement by carefully crafting your SMS marketing copy.   Check out our top-tips for writing effective SMS marketing messages. 

SMS Marketing Best Practice 

1. Get straight to the point 

Keep your copy clear and concise. For SMS marketing messages you only have around 160 characters to work with and it’s best to get your message across within 3-4 lines, so you need to make them count. Your recipients want the gist of the message at first glance and are not interested in garbled texts. Long marketing texts are a turn-off for the reader and will defeat the object of quick marketing alerts.  

Always remember to add an opt-out option on all of your tests.  

2. Go for bitesize 

Rather than hitting your audience with large chunks of text that they can’t be bothered to read, separate the main points you want them to focus on with spaces to make them easier to read on the go. The last thing you want is for the recipient to take a quick glance and decide it’s too big and that perhaps they will read it later – there is never enough time later.   

3. Get Personal 

Spend time getting to know your audience, find out who they are. What group demographic are you targeting and how do they like to be communicated with? Edit your tone to fit with theirs. 

Personalise your content where you can. Using their first names can build trust and brand loyalty and let them know that you are taking the time to grow a relationship with them, you actually care. Send offers with birthday wishes on their special day or, send out alerts about their favourite products.  

If you have a wide variety of customers or engagers, separate your audience into groups. Make sure that no-one is receiving unwanted messages, or, you may quickly lose subscribers. For example, in the case of a travel agent, sending out a text to your whole database about an over 55’s cruise is going to alienate all of your customers that are under the age of 55. They may then feel that some of your communications with them are pointless and unnecessary. They may also feel that you are ignorant to their needs.  

4. Timed perfection 

There are good and bad times to send out SMS marketing messages. With the luxury of using automated SMS and bulk SMS, you can schedule your texts to arrive at convenient times to suit your audience. It may also be wise to separate recipients into demographic groups for scheduling too. For example, if you are a toy retailer planning to send out a bulk SMS to your target market – parents, it would be best to avoid school run times when parents are at their busiest. The optimum time to send out SMS marketing texts is from 12 noon to 3pm, but evenings might work better for those who are working long hours. In-store flash sales might work best on a Friday night or a Saturday morning to catch the weekend shoppers.  

Try not to overload your audience with SMS marketing texts. Whilst they do want to hear from you and to benefit from your deals and alerts, there is a fine balance.  To get the most out of your SMS campaigns, send out your strongest content first, make your recipients really glad to hear from you so that they will stick around for more. Don’t over-schedule your messages, read your audience and try to gauge how often they would like to hear from you. Ask for feedback, send out a survey. Make sure you are hitting all the right notes with your scheduling.  

5. Make a statement 

When we receive text messages to a smartphone, we can usually get a sneak preview on screen or on a smartwatch face without even opening the message. This is a very important part of the process, what appears in the preview could determine the ultimate fate of the message, so make it count! Use the first line as an attention-grabbing headline, much the same as you would in an email, but without the fancy graphics.  

Choose your first words carefully, make an impact. For example, if you are promoting a flash sale, the first thing the recipient should read is “Flash Sale” or “One Day Only!” If you require urgent donations for a charitable cause perhaps start with “Want to do your bit?” Tell your audience what they need to do to support your call-to-action.    

6. Add a splash of colour 

Using images, videos, GIFs, and memes can really grab attention. If your use of graphics is clever enough, it will help to capture those who didn’t even have time to read the text. Images can also help with your branding or set the tone of your message. Why not inject some humour into your campaign with a tongue-in-cheek GIF.  

7. The why, when, and how 

Make sure that your copy gets straight to the point with time-critical words to push people to act.   

You can improve the success rate of your call-to-action by including words that give a sense of urgency such as; “ACT NOW’ or, “ENDING TOMORROW”. 

8. Show the love 

Show your recipients that you really appreciate them.  We all love feeling special and important. Let your engagers know that they are the first to hear about the things that interest them. You can make sure they know that the SMS messages you send to them are exclusive to your subscribers and that they will be the first to hear about your news, updates, discounts, and much more. Use phrases such as; “EXCLUSIVE subscriber discount”, “SPECIAL DEAL just for your birthday Adam”, or “Holly, you’re invited to our VIP SALE”. 

9. Avoid being passive

By speaking in the first person, you can nurture a better relationship with your engagers and put them at their ease. They are more likely to trust a business that speaks to them like they are people rather than prospects. Try to remember that when people text others from their phones, messages are usually personal and friendly. When alerts and promotions match the tone of personal emails, it will increase the chance of the recipient engaging or responding.   

10. Offer more 

Once you have got your recipient’s attention, why not take the opportunity to showcase numerous offers?  You may as well.  By offering a choice, you are more likely to hit on the very thing that your audience is looking for or manage to capture different types of customers with the same message.  

Give your SMS marketing message some purpose, show your end-users how they can benefit from your business to stop them from opting-out. Make your interaction count.  Flash Sales, promotions, and discounts are the best ways to score engagement, repeat business, and brand loyalty.   

To keep your subscribers, they need to feel as though they are benefitting from their loyalty. It’s best to ensure that all messages are worthwhile to keep your database healthy.  Your audience will easily become bored of just receiving your business information, there must be something in it for them. 

11.  Proofread it!

You must check through your texts carefully and make sure that they are proofread properly. Imagine the embarrassment of a spelling mistake or worse still, you make an offer that you can’t deliver on. Mistakes like this threaten the integrity of the company and give your engagers the impression that they may not be in safe hands.   

12. Encourage 2-way conversation 

Let your recipients know that they can contact you right back.  By using automated SMS, you can send out standard replies back to them. 2-way SMS is a great way to nurture leads. Once you have a hook, the engager will be satisfied with an instant response.  It saves a lot of time for a business when customers or prospects can be automatically filtered into categories. For example, a pet insurance company might be using SMS marketing to offer a free quote plus cashback. They could engage in 2-way SMS by inviting the recipient to text “CAT” or, “DOG” to a designated SMS number. From this information, the automated SMS system can send out a link to the appropriate quote form.  The customer appreciates the quick interaction and is less likely to shop around.  

What to Avoid 

1. Taking a one-size-fits-all approach 

Make sure that your messages are uniquely tailored for SMS marketing. It is important that you differentiate your text alerts and adverts from any other media channels you are using, such as; emails and printed literature. To be clear and concise, your texts need to get straight to the point, or you may end up turning off your reader within the first line of text.   

Also, remember that you are trying to foster a very different relationship with your target audience via SMS marketing messages. So, you need to capture that friendly and engaging tone to enable your recipient to feel relaxed and drawn to your organisation.   

2. Overloading with GIFs and Emojis 

It’s tempting to jazz up your SMS marketing messages with lots of cool GIFs and emojis. Adding some colour to your texts is definitely recommended because it’s light-hearted and fun, but try to keep it professional. Not all of your audience will appreciate a text full of emojis and also, it can detract from the message you are trying to get across. Save some character space for the important info.  

3. Too Much Text Speak 

In the same way, emojis and GIFs can be annoying and play down your message, so too can abbreviations and text speak. Don’t assume that all of your recipients understand what FOMO (fear of missing out) or IRL (in real life) actually means. Even when they do, they may prefer not to use them themselves in their own texts, which can make receiving them irritating. The same can be said for long word abbreviations such as “apt” for apartment or “dept” for department. Not everyone will get it at a glance or they also could be confused for other meanings.  

And on that note…… Let’s talk about CAPS LOCK! When you send out SMS marketing messages in a capital font, it can look like you are shouting at your recipient. You may feel like capitals can make an impact and catch the attention but, again, you need to remember the relationship you are building with your target audience and the tone you need to adopt in order to do that. Set the right tone or risk being unfriended. We’re not saying don’t use capitals, but you need to use them wisely. Save them for your call-to-action or power words, such as; “TODAY ONLY”, “LIMITED TIME”, “ACT NOW”, “ENDS TOMORROW”. 

4. Forgetting your brand 

You may want to get in on the last trend that’s sweeping the nation to grab people’s attention and pique their interest. Just remember though, that all of your SMS marketing messages are about promoting your own products or services. Ensure that your brand and your message are not lost in the latest Kardashian drama. The recipient must be able to clearly spot the intention of your texts and also know straight away that it’s you.  

5. Missing the call-to-action 

For every SMS marketing message you send out, there should be a clear call-to-action, without it, your recipients are just left floundering. They will wonder what the point of your text was and quickly dismiss it. Also, the main benefit of SMS marketing messages are convenience and easy reach, if your recipients then need to spend time looking for the information to follow up on your promotion, your text defeats the object. 

Add an idiot-proof call-to-action such as; “Reply YES for further info” or add a link to take them straight to the right page of your website.  

In conclusion, try to think about your experience with your own phone. It is always important in marketing to be able to put yourself into the shoes of your intended target. Get to know how they think and feel. Explore the relationship that people have with their phones, what do they use them for?  For most smartphone owners, the text messages they typically send and receive are exchanged with friends and family. Read through your SMS marketing copy and make sure that it hits that same vibe. Let them know that you are there for your subscribers and that they are special – be more like a mate than a business.   

Text Anywhere understands how important SMS copywriting can be, which is why we wrote this blog to help you with your own SMS marketing.

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