Probably the greatest challenge you will face is a relatively simple one: how do you pack an effective sales message into just 160 characters – the length of a standard SMS text message? In this post we’ll look at some techniques you can use to be as concise as possible without losing any marketing punch.
The first thing to say, of course, is that you don’t have to be concise at all. TextMagic allows you to send concatenated text messages, and you can use up to 459 characters to get your message across.
That’s great if you’re sending a small number of messages, or you need to send detailed instructions or greetings to customers, colleagues or friends. But the long approach isn’t usually the best when it comes to bulk SMS marketing. The whole point of using text messages to pitch to your customer base is to present your target audience with a short, pithy text that gets your message across quickly and efficiently, and as far as possible recreates the experience of receiving an SMS from a family member or friend. If you make your customers scroll through a concatenated message of 300 or 400 characters, you’re going to lose many of them even before the halfway point.
All the same, you have a lot to say. How do you get the best possible results from just 160 characters?
The key is to focus on your core message, and nothing more. If you’re thinking of running an SMS marketing campaign it might be worth designing your offer with the medium of SMS in mind, rather than trying to make SMS fit an existing campaign. Try to focus on creating a simple offer, such as a limited-time discount on your most popular product.
Anything too complicated risks getting lost in 160 characters. On the other hand, a good, clear, simple offer with an obvious benefit and call to action is perfect for SMS. Here are a couple of SMS marketing messages that would probably work really well:
“Jones’ Jewellers SALE: 10% off all items until 5pm Tuesday!”
“Car need a service? Come to Davies’ Motors, Moston and get a FREE wash ‘n’ wax!”
Each one is a combination of brevity and classic copywriting techniques. Let’s have a look at what’s going on.
First, each message would be targeted at a specific, tightly defined audience. The first one would probably go out to existing customers of Jones the Jeweller, while the second might go either to former customers of Davies’ Motors, or at least to residents of the town where the business is based. This customer pre-knowledge is key to a successful SMS campaign: if the list you’re sending to has never heard of your business, you need to use part of your message to explain what and where it is. (Top tip: the easiest way to do that can be to include a web address).
Second, each message is delivering a clear, simple, easy-to-understand offer. Key offer words like FREE and SALE are capitalised (a very effective technique, but restrict it to one word per message, or you’ll lose the effect) and – in the first message – there is a clear time limit on the offer.
The second message starts with a question which is designed to provoke a clear response in the reader’s mind (either “yes, my car does need a service!” or “no, but it will do soon…” – after all, every car needs a service sooner or later).
So there we go: a short, clear message aimed at a defined audience who either know about your business already or which is able to discover and understand it quickly and easily. That approach combined with robust, proven copywriting methodology should help to ensure that you get the best possible results from your SMS marketing campaign.
Photo: Maggie Smith