SMS marketing is one of the most effective ways to get in touch with your audience. Marketing text messages have a stunning open rate of 98%, and they have 8 times higher response rates than email.
Nevertheless, SMS marketing is sometimes seen as spammy. However, it is quite easy to avoid intrusive messages by using the right language. Only send out a text message if it is useful for the receiver, and don’t overload them with too much information. Your messages represent your company, so make sure you keep the standard high.
Don’t forget that people use texting to stay in touch with family and friends. So, sounding friendly and like a real person is one of the first takeaways on how to write SMS for marketing. Let’s put the 29% conversion rate of SMS marketing to the test with 11 more dos and don’ts.
How to write SMS for marketing - 11 Dos and Don’ts
SMS marketing is a powerful strategy. It is personal and quick, as 90% of all text messages are read within 3 minutes.
To make the most out of SMS marketing, you should consider the information you provide carefully. Here are 11 tips on how to write SMS for marketing purposes. Implement them in your next campaign and see the results for yourself.
1. Do keep it simple
SMS messages are supposed to be short and to the point. A best practice on how to write SMS for marketing is to get to the point straight away. Start your message for example with ‘Free’ or ‘Special offer’ to grab the readers’ attention. They will be more likely to read the rest of the message and eventually to take action on it.
Don’t flood your messages with details. Only give the most important information, to keep your messages clear. Make sure the reader understands the “what’s in it for me”, but don’t get them confused by giving too much information.
2. Do use power words
A good way to grab the readers’ attention is by using power words. They are called power words, because they influence people by triggering a psychological or emotional response.
As you might know, emotions move people and business is not different. Make sure you use power words in a conscientious and suitable way, to be able to connect with your recipients on an emotional level. After all, selling them a feeling works better than selling them a product.
Some great power words are:
For more, check out this list with 700+ power words that can boost your conversion. Be clever, and use them smartly!
3. Do stir up your messages with urgency
Coming back to emotions, people are more likely to take action when there is urgency. Urgency plays on the fear of missing out, and that moves people to taking action. Adding urgency can boost open rates, click-through rates and transaction rates! You can add urgency in your message with time limits, scarcity or loss aversion.
Another great way to get people clicking on your link is by adding curiosity. Curiosity is a strong emotion that you can use in your SMS messages. It makes people want to click on your link to find out what they don’t know yet.
4. Don’t use text abbreviations
Be careful using abbreviations that might not be known by everyone. Some abbreviations are generally used, like DIY (Do It Yourself) and ASAP (As Soon As Possible). They are almost included in the dictionary. Though, people might have more trouble understanding what ICYMI (In Case You Missed It) means. If you are not sure if people will understand, just spell it out.
Also, watch out for text speak. Once, it was really cool to use ‘W8’ instead of wait, and ‘2’ instead of too. Nowadays, it looks like the message is coming from a 12-year-old.
Text-speak is not the way to go when it comes to promoting your business. Be clear and professional in your messages, otherwise you might find them deleted. There’s also a bigger chance people see you as spammy, ending up unsubscribing from your list.
5. Do use a sender ID
A sender ID is the name or number that displays as the sender of an SMS message. You can choose to change the sender ID into your company name. Customers will then recognize straight away who the message is coming from.
Implementing a customized sender ID saves you having to introduce yourself in every message you send. Receivers will see your company name in their screen already. So, there is more space left in the message to offer them incentives and lead them to your website with a great call to action.
Identifying yourself is one of the most important best practices on how to write SMS for marketing. Most SMS marketing software providers offer customization of the sender ID. Even though you sometimes have to pay an extra fee for changing the sender ID, it might be worth it.
6. Do shorten your links
The fact that SMS messages are limited to 160 characters makes it almost impossible to use full URL’s. Luckily, there is software available to shorten your links. Make sure you use a provider that allows you to create custom links that are unique to your business. Spam filters, otherwise, might block your messages if you use generic shortened URL’s.
Check the URL before you send out your messages. A click that ends on a 404-page is a waste of time and money for everyone. Another best practice for using URL’s in SMS marketing messages is to add them at the end of the message with a clear call-to-action.
Don’t worry about looking spammy with short URL’s. Especially if you use branded links, a user-ID and friendly language, it will even result in a positive user experience.
7. Do use call to actions
A bang-up call to action makes it crystal clear what to do next. Using strong language can make the difference between making a sale and your message being ignored.
Don’t hit your customers up directly with a call to action though. First, warm them up a little with an informative introduction. Then you can explain what you expect them to do.
Most of the time, your call to action will be followed with a link. You can also ask for a response, if you conduct a survey or poll.
Good phrases to use for a call to action:
* Don’t miss out
* Last chance
* Click here
* Act fast
* Valid for 24 hours only
* Sign up now
* Reduced Price
* Get it now
8. Don’t use all capital letters
An SMS message looks very plain. It is not possible to underline text or make it bold. You might be tempted to use a lot of capital letters to make things stand out a little more. Keep in mind that using capital letters is the digital equivalent of screaming.
Still, using capital letters is not always bad. It’s ok to use capital letters to emphasize something, just don’t overuse it. Text messages that are written in all capital letters are more often seen as spammy. Such messages might not be read at all and have a bigger chance of being deleted.
9. Do personalize messages
76% of consumers gets frustrated when they don’t find personalization. Just that fact shows how important personalization is.
There are two ways to approach personalization. The first one is to use the receiver’s name in your messages. SMS marketing software often provides short codes like Frist-Name, which makes it super easy to use someone’s name.
Another, even more important, way of personalization is segmentation. Segmentation divides your SMS subscribers into different groups. You can use the different groups to only send them messages for products or offers they are interested in. For example, if someone ordered cat food on your website, don’t send them SMS messages for dog related products. They are not interested in it, and might even end up unsubscribing from your list.
10. Don’t overuse exclamation marks
Exclamation marks are a great way to emphasize a word or sentence. That being said, it is absolutely fine to use an exclamation mark every now and then. Just don’t overuse them. A sentence with 10 exclamation marks seems rather suspicious instead of attractive. Overusing exclamation marks could even be interpreted as spam. So, be careful using this powerful character.
The same counts for question marks. Using multiple question marks at the end of a question, doesn’t make it more convincing. If you want an answer to your question, make it clear what and how people can answer.
11. Do watch out for emojis and special characters
The SMS coding-language is developed long before emojis were even a thing. Even though the technology of our phones have drastically shifted over time, the way we sent text messages is still the same. This old-school language doesn’t support emojis and other special characters. You can still apply them in your messages, but they will use up a lot of characters.
For example, 1 emoji will bring the maximum character limit down from 160 to 70 only. For special characters it depends on the character itself how much space they take up. You can find a list of the supported characters here.
Adding a lot of emojis and special characters also make your message look spammy. Only use it when it actually adds value to the message.
Before I send you off to implement these tips in your next SMS campaign, there’s one more thing I want you to know. To get the most out of SMS marketing, you should know your audience. Only when you truly understand what your audience wants and what they expect from you, you can and bond with them.
Bonding is one of the most important factors of marketing. If your customers feel a connection with you, they will come back for more.