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15 Hacks for Writing Effective SMS Copy

 BONUS MATERIAL: The Psychology of SMS Marketing

The vast majority of marketers who use SMS in their marketing campaigns can agree that SMS marketing is truly an effective tool to deliver your message to your audience. According to recent research, texting is one of the most engaging mediums, with open rates exceeding 82%. As much as 90% of people read their text messages within three minutes after receiving them.

Learn more about SMS marketing in our expert's guide!

Another interesting fact about text messages is that consumers want to get them. For instance, 52% of consumers would prefer texting over other methods of communication. They want to get messages about their order status, as well as appointment reminders or reservation confirmations.

SMS is a great channel in terms of speed of consumption and penetration. However, one of the main advantages of SMS is flexibility. SMS campaigns are the key touchpoints in the customer lifecycle.


SMS can help you engage with consumers, encouraging them to activate the product or to download an app. Text messages also enable you to make sure that your customers will read important information about your services or products. 

This medium is a great choice for campaigns of any kind: promotional, welcome, loyalty, transactional, triggered, etc.

However, if you want SMS to work for you, you must make sure that your text messages are effective. Given that the SMS format doesn’t allow you to write a lot of text, you should be able to express your ideas concisely, while also making sure that your SMS copy is compelling and engaging. 

This goal may be difficult to achieve so we prepared some useful tips that will help you improve your SMS copy and develop an SMS campaign that will increase your sales.   

1. Keep language clear and simple

This advice peaks at the top of most writing guides and it's no surprise. When it comes to writing a professional text message in most cases, less is better. Compare these two examples:

"Registering with our App will give you 5% off next time you stay at one of our hotels. To take advantage of this unparalleled offer, make a booking within the next two weeks."

"Register on our App for 5% off your next stay at StayHotels, this offer expires on Nov 13th"

The first example is fancier to read but bottom line; the latter is more clear and gets to the point in fewer words.

A text message is limited to 160 characters so make them count, swap big words for detailed bite-size chunks of information.

Correct language SMS copy example

2. Use correct spelling & grammar

Prioritise professionalism and don't sacrifice quality for quantity on any text message. Many businesses make the mistake of pumping as much info into the 160 character limit as possible, resulting in low-quality words. Avoid this:

"Hey, atm you can sign up fr the best deal we hv evr had, invite ur frnds for an xtra discount"

This is a no-go for any reputable business.

3. Avoid confusing words

When it comes to bulk business texting, many businesses use acronyms and shortenings when texting their customers. This is because there is a 160 character limit. These techniques can make a text message hard to scan through. Check out these examples:

"Booking a apt with us by Sat will rwd you with 10% off"

"Book your apartment suite by Sat 23rd and get 10% off"

The latter version contains fewer shortened words. Not everyone would get that "apt" means “apartment” and "rwd" means “reward”.

 Make sure the form of communication is universally understood by everyone. 

Confusing words in text message copy example
Clear copy in SMS example

4. Avoid confusing symbols

This applies to emojis also as they can do more harm than good and jumble the message you are trying to get across to your customers. With only 160 characters, you may struggle to add context to a text. Make sure your business keeps it clear.

Slang can be a good tool to connect to a younger audience but it should be generally avoided, especially when your audience is from different age groups. A few examples:

"let uz tel u bout dis deal"

"let us tell you about this deal"

We know - not a good look. Use phrases like "would you like" instead of "would u like", the extra characters used are worth making your company look more professional. 

5. Research your audience

The first thing you should do is to think about your recipients and to adjust your message to their needs and preferences. The audience must determine the style and tone of your messages. 

For example, when texting your boss, you probably use much more formal language than when texting your friends. Therefore, we recommend that you research your audience before writing your SMS copy.

Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to get to know each one of your customers. Therefore, you need to analyze the available data and create a marketing persona.

6. Include contacts

If you want your customers to reply to a message or point them in the direction of how they can contact you, don't forget to include this information prior to sending it to them. We recommend you include full contact information so your customer can contact you when they need it. Distinguish between when contact information is needed and when it isn't, for example:

When you don't need contact info: "Shop online for Father's day gifts", here you would use a simple link to your business.

When you do need contact info: "Father's day lunch on 20th June is a reservation-only event. To get your table, call 0123 456 789". Here you would include your business's phone number so the customer can book straight from the SMS.

7. Determine the right delivery time

You should message your customers regularly to stay close to them. However, you should also make sure that your messages are not annoying. Therefore, people must receive messages at the right time so that they won’t ignore you.

 We recommend that you start small. For example, you can text your customers about five times a month. Focus on the strongest content and deliver it first. After one or two months, you can increase the number of messages.

A great approach is to schedule your messages depending on your target audience’s activity and send them automatically. You can also use various applications that will enable you to launch a campaign when your customer takes a specific action. Generally, the best time to send SMS is between noon and 3 pm.

8. Use caps wisely

Text messaging can have its drawbacks. You can't change the colour or style of the font in the text, which makes it hard to emphasise certain parts. Capital letters are the only way to focus attention on a particular part of the text but don't overdo it.

Professional text messages are always the subtle ones so use caps to emphasise the really important parts like:

"For this weekend only, we are offering 50% OFF everything."

Instead of capitalising "ONLY" and "EVERYTHING" opt for the low-key approach and select one word to capitalise.

9. Segment your customer base

Segmentation and personalisation are key to business success. Replace annoying irrelevant text messages for offers your customer base will be interested in.

To do this, segment your customers into categories depending on your business. Explore our examples:

Car maintenance garage - section the customers via the type of vehicle they own.

Hair salon - section the clients in categories of cut or colour or both.

Vet - section each client into groups of what pet they own.

A dog owner doesn't need alerts related to cat food reductions. Text messages that deliver value to the customer are leaps and bounds more effective than those which are not relevant. 

10. Include a call to action

Include a clear call to action to prompt your customers. We aren't sending an email so make sure you keep it short and sweet. Write a few introductory words and add the necessary link. Your link may lead the recipient to a more detailed call to action on your landing page.

Although you can’t use anchor texts for links, you can still add a clickable URL to your site. Also, if your landing page URL is too long, you can use tools like Bitly or Rebrandly to make it shorter and more convenient. Bitly allows you to customize the path of the link, so all you have to do is to sign up and convert your long URL into a shorter version. For example, your SMS might look like this:

Example of a CTA in a text message

11. Make your messages feel urgent and exclusive

You can get the best response from your recipients if you use their fear of missing out (FOMO). Create a sense of exclusivity so that the recipients can feel lucky to learn about your offer. For example, you can brand your SMS campaign as “VIP” or address your recipients by their names. You may also say that your offer is for a few lucky members who were selected randomly.

Your recipients will also be motivated to take advantage of your offers if your SMS feels urgent. Tell your audience that your offer is about to expire. For example, you can use such phrases as “today only,” “limited time offer,” “one-time-only,” etc. For instance, your SMS might look like this:

Urgency and exclusivity in a text message example

12. Personalise your message

If you are wondering the stand-out best way to write a text message, personalisation is it. Add a friendly touch to your bulk SMS copies to connect to your audience.

Use personalised data like names, birthdays, locations and interests to give a human feel. Here is a great example:

Example of a personalised SMS copy


13. Create two-way conversations

The best way to engage your audience is to not only talk to them but also to encourage them to talk to you. You can send your customers various kinds of messages, including promotions, reminders, and surveys. Don’t make them feel that your message is the end of the conversation. Interact with your customers by encouraging them to leave comments and to ask questions.

For example, your message might look like this:

Example of creating two-way conversations with SMS

You can also provide support via text messages, ensuring the best customer experience. Your customers will be able to ask questions when it’s convenient for them.

We also suggest that you text your customers consistently. Unless your metrics show that your campaign needs some improvement, stick with a consistent tone, schedule, and message type.

14. Write in the language of your customer

"If they can’t read it, they won’t buy it"

Before you send a text to a foreign country ask yourself:

What language do the natives speak?

What slang do they recognise?

3/4 customers would prefer to buy a product in their native language.

Communication is key, so tailor your messaging around native speakers.

15. Offer opt-out

Always include the ability to opt-out in your texts. Make it clear to your customers that they can opt out from receiving contact from you at any time.

No one wants to be bombarded with texts and some customers might not want to use your services anymore.

Using an easy to follow opt-out system will safeguard your business and reputation, saving you time and money in the process - Alas, it gives the impression that the customer comes first and that will make it easy for your company to climb to the top. Here is an example of a subtle opt-out message:

Opt-out SMS example

This is an open-ended example and doesn’t pressure the customer. They have the choice to reply “No” if they please.

Wrapping up

When it comes to marketing and customer support, SMS is a very effective medium. The short format of text messages allows you to get straight to the point, offering the most important information at the right time.

We suggest that you research your audience before launching an SMS campaign so that you can choose the right tone and focus on offers that are most likely to drive profits, here is are a few examples:

  • Is your customer base of different age groups? - if so, categorise them into relevant groups

  • Is your audience young? - consider using emojis but keep slang to a minimum

  • What language do your customers speak? - always opt for using native language

  • What offers and texts are relevant to your audience? - target and focus on keeping it personal and relevant.

Consumers much prefer text messages to other forms of communication and you should use them to your advantage. Stick with simple messages and build them around a clear call to action.

Make your offers feel exclusive and urgent, and your business will reap the benefits SMS campaigns can bring.

Bottom line - it is a tried and tested method when it comes to marketing your company in a cost-effective manner. The best part, small businesses can take advantage of SMS marketing and give those bigger businesses a run for their money.

Taavi Rebane
2021-08-17 00:00:00 UTC
2222614