How To Write Effective SMS Messages for Marketing Campaigns

by Alexa Lemzy | Last updated 4th July 2016

Womans meeting

SMS marketing has become one of the most powerful mobile marketing tools for businesses. Did you know that customers redeem coupons distributed by SMS 8 times more than coupons received by email? That’s not all. SMS messages have a whopping 98% open rate as compared to email’s 22% open rate.

While SMS is clearly an incredible boon to any business’s marketing strategy, there’s just one catch: you still have to write the messages.

Here are some tips on how to craft great messages to reach out to your SMS customers:

Personalise and target

This is the age of personalisation and if you’re not using the demographics and analytics at your fingertips, you’re wasting precious advertising dollars. You know your customers. You know what they like, what they buy, what their shopping habits are and a million other titbits of demographical information that will help you craft the perfectly targeted message.

If you’re a gym owner and one of your clients has failed to meet his stated weight loss goal after a year of membership, you can send him a message, ‘Hi Chris, How about signing up for our promotional fitness trainer programme? One month of free personal training to help motivate you to meet your fitness and health goals. Sign up here (include link).’ This message lets the client know about a programme that’s of value to them. By sending your customers relevant, targeted messages, you maximise your marketing potential and increase customer satisfaction.

Sport and mobile

Be professional

SMS messages are rife with abbreviations, emoticons and slang. That’s fine if you’re writing to your friends, but not to your clients. Here are some SMS style Dos and Don’ts:

  • DON’T use abbreviations. You can’t assume that everyone will understand what you mean.
  • DON’T be stiff and impersonal as though you were generated by a computer.
  • DO use language that’s consistent with the style and personality of your brand.
  • DON’T litter your messages with emoticons.
  • DO use the occasional relevant emoticon that adds value to the message.
  • DON’T use ALL CAPS. ALL CAPS IS THE VISUAL EQUIVALENT OF YELLING. Tone it down to send a message that’s friendlier on the eyes.
  • DON’T overuse exclamation points and question marks (!!! ???). It makes you seem desperate.
  • DO use the occasional exclamation point if something is very exciting. When you ask a question, one question mark is enough.

Be specific

When you send a message about promotions, events or sales, be as specific as possible:

  • If it’s a sale you’re advertising, let them know when the sale starts and when it ends. If the customer doesn’t have this information, they won’t be able to plan their shopping in order to attend it. Also, let them know the details of the sale. ‘Half Off Sale’ – what does that mean? Is everything in the store half off? Or certain items? The more information you can give the customers about the sale, the easier it will be for them to decide if it’s worth their time. A warning: nobody likes to have their time wasted, so misleading or false advertising is a huge marketing no-no.
  • If you’re promoting an event, let them know when and where it will take place and what the promotion is for. Send a link to a map to make it easier for them to get there. Add links to websites, photos or videos that will help your customers decide if this event is interesting to them.

Be brief

You don’t have a whole lot of space to get your messages across. If you look at our 42 text message templates, you will notice they are short and to the point. A mere 160 characters is all you get, so use them wisely. In order to do this, consider the following:

  • What is the core message you want to deliver? Are you offering a sale, a free meal, an invitation to an event, an appointment reminder?
  • What are the most relevant points that you need to include? Take the example from above with the gym: ‘Hi Chris, How about signing up for our promotional fitness trainer programme? One month of free personal training to help motivate you to meet your fitness and health goals. Sign up here (include link).’ You want him to know that there’s a promotion for a fitness trainer programme AND that it can help him meet his fitness and health goals.

    You don’t have space to tell him all the details of the programme, how long it lasts, if he needs to sign up for a year of personal training in order to qualify for the free month, etc. But if you include a link to your website where the details are all laid out, he’ll have all the specifics he needs to make a decision.

  • How briefly can you get that message across? This message could just as easily read: ‘Hi Chris, We here at XYZ Fitness thought you might be interested in signing up for our promotional fitness trainer programme. You’ll get one month of free personal training to help motivate you to meet your fitness and health goals. Sign up here (include link).’
  • That’s a great message, except that it’s too long for SMS. The key to great SMS messages is in trimming the excess. What can you get rid of without losing the essence of the message? Expert tip: Use a URL shortener to save precious characters.

SMS Length Calculator

Use call-to-action buttons

Call-to-action buttons lead to conversions. You may have just sent a great message to your client about a promotion you know he’s interested in. But if you don’t make it easy for him to take advantage of it, chances are the message will sit there and the opportunity will pass. In our fitness club example, there’s a call-to-action button that will allow the client to sign up quickly and easily.

‘Hi Chris, How about signing up for our promotional fitness trainer programme? One month of free personal training to help motivate you to meet your fitness and health goals. Sign up here (include link).’ The more you allow customers to ‘Sign up’, ‘RSVP’, ‘Send a text to opt-in’, ‘Show this coupon’, the more engaged they’ll be in your promotions.

The more personalised, professional, to the point and specific you can be, the more effective your SMS messages will be. Use these tips to help make SMS work for your business!

Alexa
Alexa Lemzytwitter
Author

Customer support person. Interested in customer success, growth, marketing and technology. Passionate about content, reading and travel.