Copywriting can make or break the success of your SMS marketing campaign. To succeed, you need to be able to get your message across as quickly and easily as possible. Follow these SMS copywriting tips, and you’ll do just that.
In the age of instant and personalized communication, short message service — more commonly known as SMS — reigns supreme. According to SimpleTexting, about 60% of people check text messages within 1–5 minutes of receiving them. It’s one of the few marketing channels where you’re likely to not just reach but also engage your customers. What’s more, 96% of marketers who use SMS marketing say that it helps them drive more revenue.
While the channel packs serious potential for improving engagement and conversion rates, there are certain things you need to get right to win at SMS marketing. One of them is SMS copywriting. There’s a lot more that goes into copywriting for SMS marketing than simply keeping your texts short and sweet. And it’s not like marketers have a choice in this matter; the character limit for a single text is only 160!
Crafting compelling copy for your text message marketing campaigns is tough. Approach it with the following SMS marketing best practices in mind to successfully engage and convert your customers.
1. Use one idea per message
Every day, mobile phones buzz with notifications of messages sent from businesses competing to get their customers’ attention. This excess of ads, emails, and of course, text messages, is resulting in information overload. According to research by Frontiers, customers have a hard time making decisions when there’s too much information to process.
Research by the Technical University of Denmark suggests that the constant exposure to content is narrowing our collective attention span. In the context of SMS copywriting, that means you should limit every text to just one idea. Make sure that your message revolves around a single promotion or product and has one call to action (CTA). Always proofread your copy to ensure you’re not cramming in multiple ideas, promotions, or CTAs in your text before sending it out.
This text from Jack in the Box is a perfect example of this best practice in action:
The text keeps the copy limited to its special offer for National Fast Food Day (promotion) and has a single link leading to the app store (CTA).
2. Give a positive reason to take action
Focus your SMS text message on a positive reason for using your product or service. Emphasize a key benefit or incentive that the customer will enjoy by taking the desired action. That’s important because people understand positive statements 30% to 40% faster than negative ones.
Over time, your customers will begin to form a positive sentiment toward your brand, which, in turn, will likely result in positive responses.
Tell the customer what they’ll gain by reacting quickly instead of what they’ll lose if you’re running an SMS marketing campaign to promote a limited-time offer. Suppose you’re promoting a summer sale that will end soon. Here’s a good example of how you should tell your customers about it:
<Brand Name>: Save big this summer!
Use promo code BEACH321 and enjoy a 50% discount on your next purchase.
Offer valid till 7/31
The entire text consists of three sentences, two of which say something positive. The final sentence creates a sense of urgency without causing panic or fear. Follow suit and avoid sentences like “Hurry up before the time runs out” or “The offer won’t last forever.”
Here’s a great sample text message that ticks all of those boxes:
3. Use simple and clear language
U have only 160 chrctrs 2 get ur point across in txt, so use dem wisely!
You’re not alone if the above sentence made your eyes itch. While using such short SMS lingo with unusual abbreviations — known as “textese” — gives you more room, it doesn’t guarantee that everyone will understand what you’re trying to say.
Your target audience is more likely to understand textese if it consists of just millennials and/or zoomers since they’re more digitally connected than other generations. And even those customer groups may misinterpret your messages, as not all textese is universal and is constantly evolving.
Always strive to use simple and clear language in your copy with words fully spelled out to ensure all of your customers interpret your message correctly. You can tackle the tight character limit by writing fragments instead of complete sentences without resorting to textese. For example, you can simply say “Offer valid till 12/31” instead of writing “This offer will remain valid till 12/31.”
In the example above, the copy simply says, “ends Sunday midnight” instead of fleshing out the complete sentence, “The offer ends on Sunday at midnight.” The SMS gets its point across without using any textese while still remaining under the 160-character limit.
4. Personalize your message
Businesses need to go above and beyond to get the attention of their customers. One highly effective way to do that is through personalization. Don’t take our word for it — about 72% of customers say that they engage with messages that are personalized.
However, there’s a lot more that goes into personalizing your SMS copy than simply using the names of your recipients. It entails segmenting customers based on certain qualities and parameters, such as buying behaviors, locations, and past purchases, and then crafting messages that they can relate to.
Your SMS copy has to resonate with the segment you’re targeting. For example, you could send promotional messages that will draw the recipients to your e-commerce store if you’re targeting a segment of customers who only shop online.
This sample text is a good lesson in personalization:
It not only uses the recipient’s name but offers a special discount that’s only available for the residents of Shropshire, which is where the customer lives.
5. Incorporate emojis in your copy
Where words fail, emojis speak.
Emojis are highly effective at expressing emotions. And it turns out they’re just as effective when used in mobile marketing. The 2021 Global Emoji Trend Report by Adobe found that 42% of people are likely to purchase products that are promoted using emojis.
Don’t shy away from sprinkling an emoji or two in your SMS copy. In doing so, your brand will appear more human, trustworthy, and authentic.
The emojis should make sense with the rest of your copy, like in the example above. Don’t include one just for the sake of it. Also, make sure that the emoji(s) you use are not misinterpreted or potentially offensive to the market you’re targeting.
6. Strengthen your copy with power words
Marketers use certain words to invoke emotions and elicit desirable responses from their customers that help drive business results. Depending on your goals, these desirable responses can be anything from buying a product to sharing a link. These terms are known as power words.
When used right, power words can significantly improve your copy. Power words such as discount, enjoy, or off are primarily used to inspire customers to take certain actions, such as purchasing a new product or clicking on a link. Words like hurry, limited-time, and now help create a sense of urgency, whereas special, coupon, and exclusive help create a sense of exclusivity.
What do you think are the power words in the example above? If your answer is special, off, and exclusive, then you’re right!
Track your SMS marketing efforts
Consistently look at key metrics to decide if your SMS marketing efforts are bearing fruit or not. A/B test your copy to see what types of words and angles resonate best with different segments. And then use that data to improve your messages and get the best results possible.
Finally, keep in mind that an SMS marketing strategy alone won’t yield the results your business is looking for. Combine it with email marketing, social media, and other channels to get the best results out of your overall digital marketing strategy.