How To Write Effective SMS Messages for Marketing Campaigns

Alexa Lemzy January 7, 2021
SMS messages certainly get read!

SMS marketing has become one of the most powerful mobile marketing tools for businesses. Did you know that customers redeem coupons distributed by SMS 10 times more often than coupons received by email? That’s not all. Text-message open rates are five times those of email.

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

Here are some tips on how to write SMS for marketing purposes:

1. Get Consent

In addition to following SMS regulations, your business must also convince people to sign up to your SMS marketing campaign. This is simple enough and can be done via website sign-up forms, competitions, contests, in-store promotions, etc. The harder part is maintaining that consent.
how to write sms for marketing - click to text

The best way to keep customers engaged is to be transparent about the type of updates they will receive. You should also offer an easy way for people to unsubscribe, with the help of STOP commands.

2. Keep it Simple

So, how exactly do you write a promotional SMS? The rule of thumb is to ALWAYS keep it simple, especially where SMS is concerned.

Drop all linguistic garnish and focus on clarity. Just because you can squeeze in a few more characters doesn’t mean you should. Below are two examples:

New winter balm that doesn’t stick or chafe. 5-pack discounted to only $12.99 for the next 12 hours. Grab yours today:

New winter balm that doesn’t stick or chafe. Grab your 5-pack for $12.99 instead of $23.99 and benefit from free shipping. Deal ends in 12 hours. 300 5-star reviews from happy clients. Visit to purchase.

The second message contains more details, but does the added info really help? Probably not.

How can you get your message across in the briefest way? The second template is great, but it’s too long for SMS. The key to great SMS text messages is trimming the excess. What can you get rid of without losing the essence of the message?

Expert tip: Use an URL shortener to save precious characters and an SMS length calculator to plan your text.

3. Personalise and target

Text marketers need to understand that this is the age of personalization. If you’re not using the demographics and analytics at your fingertips, you’re wasting precious advertising dollars. You know your customers. You should also know what they like, what their shopping habits are, and many other tidbits that will help you craft a perfectly targeted message.

If you’re a gym owner and one of your clients has failed to meet their stated weight loss goal after a year of membership, you can send them a message:

Hi {NAME}, How about signing up for our promotional fitness training program? 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 training program that’s of value to them. By sending your customers relevant, targeted messages, you maximize your marketing potential and increase customer satisfaction.

Keeping in touch through text messages

4. Be professional

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

  • DON’T use text abbreviations. You can’t assume that everyone will understand what you mean.
  • DON’T be stiff and impersonal as though the words were generated by a computer.
  • DO use language that’s consistent with the style and personality of your brand.
  • DON’T litter your marketing 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 and send a message that’s friendlier to the eyes.
  • DON’T overuse exclamation marks and question marks (!!! ???). It makes you seem desperate.
  • DO use the occasional exclamation mark if something is very exciting. And when you ask a question, one question mark is enough.

    5. Be specific

    When you send SMS copy about promotions, events, or sales, be as specific as possible:

    • If you’re advertising a sale, let customers know when the sale starts and when it ends. If the customers don’t have this information, they won’t be able to plan their shopping. Also, let them know the details of the sale.

    Half Off Sale”—what does that mean? Is everything in the store half off? Or just certain items? If you don’t have enough space, add all the necessary info in a link. A word of warning: nobody likes to have their time wasted, so don’t mislead or falsely advertise.

    • If you’re promoting an event, effective SMS sales writing should let clients know when and where it will take place. Send a link to a map to make it easier for clients to get there. Add links to mobile-friendly landing pages, photos, or videos that will help your customers decide if this event is interesting to them.

      6. Optimize

      You don’t have a whole lot of space to get your messages across. If you look at our 50 text message templates, you will notice that they are short and to the point. Unlike social media or email marketing where you can write longer messages, a mere 160 characters is all you get with SMS campaigns, so use them wisely. Consider the following questions:

      • What is the core message you want to deliver? Are you offering a sale, a free meal, an invitation to an event, or an appointment reminder?
      • What are the most relevant points you need to include? Take the example from above about the gym. You wanted the client to know about a promotion and also the fact that it’s specifically catered to his or her needs.
      • Are you taking full advantage of all SMS marketing features? When writing a marketing SMS, you don’t have space to tell a client all the details of the program, how long it lasts, whether he needs to sign up for a year of personal training in order to qualify for the free month, etc. But you can include a link to your website where the details are all laid out.
      • Are you targeting the right people? You don’t have to send texts to all mobile devices in your list. Use segmentation to target users based on their interest, and contact them at the right time. It’s more cost effective to connect with customers this way.

      7. Use call-to-actions

      Call-to-action buttons lead to conversions. You may have just sent a great message to your client about a promotion you know they’re interested in. But if you don’t make it easy for them 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 training program? 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,” or “Show this coupon,” the more engaged they’ll be in your promotions. You can also request reviews or recommendations with a simple SMS:

      “Thank you for choosing {COMPANY}. Would you recommend us to a friend? Reply with 👍 or 👎.”

      Depending on the answer, you can reply with a follow-up requesting a detailed review.

      Now you know how to write SMS for marketing campaigns. The more personalized, professional, to the point, and specific you are, the more effective your SMS messages will be. If you have any additional tips, feel free to leave a comment below.

      Alexa Lemzy


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

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