Not all text messages are created equal. If you hope to achieve the impressive response and conversion rates SMS marketing is known for, it pays to remember a few golden rules when writing your SMS marketing messages.
An SMS marketing campaign is all about the words. No images, no videos nor clever graphics. Simply words. So you need to take the time to find the right words to engage the recipient and drive them to action – all in 160 characters. As with any marketing campaign, there is no one-size-fits all; every brand and target audience requires a unique approach.
That said, there are SMS templates proven to get results for popular types of marketing campaigns:
No-Fuss Discount SMS
“YY SALE: Get __ off your next purchase of __. Show this SMS to redeem. Expires 1/4/13.”
“Get 10% off any bottle of red when you shop at YY. Show SMS to redeem. Expires 1/4/13”
Exclusive Gift SMS
“Member special: Get ____ when you buy more than ____ when you shop at our city store. Expires 1/4/13.”
“YY Member Special: Get a $10 voucher when you buy more than $50 worth of wine. Show SMS to redeem. Expires 1/4/13”
Exclusive Discount SMS
“Special offer from YY – Get _____ when you buy ____. Show SMS to redeem. Expires 1/4/13”
“YY Member Special: Get 10% off when you buy more than $50 worth of wine. Show SMS to redeem. Expires 1/4/13”
Get a Freebie SMS
“Special offer for YY members: Get _____ when you buy ____. Show SMS to YY staff to redeem. Expires 1/4/13”
“Special offer for YY members: Get one free bottle of red when you buy 3. Show SMS to YY staff to redeem. Expires 1/4/13”
Direct to Website SMS
“Get _____when you buy ____ from YY. Sign up here: http://bit.ly/6CZjb7. Expires 1/4/13”
“YY Discount offer: Get one free bottle of red when you buy 3. Sign up here: http://bit.ly/6CZjb7. Expires 1/4/13”
What makes these templates work?
Notice in each template that there’s an attention grabber, the offer is clear and concise, and there’s a strong call-to-action. These are three essential elements that drive a response from the recipient. Each text also provides a sense of exclusivity and urgency, which adds to the conversion rates.
If you want to write your own, here are some simple yet important rules that every SMS message should follow:
1. Tell them who you are
Conversations are built on context. You need to introduce context into your SMS by telling them who you are. Do this early on, either by changing the sender name so they can see who it’s from before they open the text, or by adding into the text copy itself. Never assume your recipient will know who the text is from.
2. Don’t Use Txt Spk
With only 160 characters to play with, it’s tempting to talk in text speak to save valuable real estate. While some of your target audience won’t mind, many more will be infuriated by it. Text speak may also confuse your recipients and result in the message not being understood correctly. Lastly, it can project an unprofessional image for your brand.
3. Keep it focused
Simplicity is the golden rule of marketing. In fact, even if you had more than 160 characters, we would advise you to keep your message simple. Only include one offer per message and make sure it is clear and succinct. Know your target audience and speak directly to them. Only include the details that matter; if they need to keep and show the text to receive the offer, tell them. If they have to call, give them the phone number.
4. Start with an attention grabber
Find something that will engage your customer from the outset and compel them to read on. This could be a single word or simple phrase such as “NEWS”, “MEMBER DEAL!” or “OFFER”. Use capital letters for your attention grabber to give it maximum impact.
5. End with a strong Call to Action
The call to action is a critical part of your SMS message. It tells the recipient what you want them to do – be it “visit the website” or “call us now”. The key to a strong call to action is simple, direct and commanding wording.
6. Promote exclusivity
Your subscribers have given you permission to contact them, so reward them by making them feel part of an exclusive club. The language you use can promote exclusivity – for example “when you show this text” and “Member special!” makes customers think that this SMS promotion is only available to those that subscribed to receive your text messages.
7. Make it urgent
Leverage the instantaneous nature of text messaging and add urgency to your campaign. By adding a fixed date on which the promotion ends, you will compel people to act now, while also ensuring the business sees results quickly.
Your target audience, previous campaigns, the type of promotion and even the economic climate may change the way you write your SMS messages. As with any marketing, the best way to find out what works for your brand and customers is to experiment with the wording of your messages and track the results. Only change a small aspect of the SMS message each time, so you can identify exactly what gets a better response.
Finding the right messages to engage your target audience will take time and lots of experimentation. But by following the best practices above, you can start seeing results faster.
For more best practice tips for creating an SMS marketing campaign, check out our article on 5 Ways to Kickstart Your SMS Marketing.