4 Tips on How to Write Good SMS Copy for Marketing

🕒 7 min.

SMS marketing is the best way to send information to your customers.

90% of texts are read within 3 minutes of receiving them, and 98% are read at some point in time.

But if you expect your text message marketing campaigns to deliver ROI, you still need to craft your messages carefully.

Cut corners, and you won’t see the benefits.

In the search for efficiency, marketers can end up diluting their text message copy by trying to make it cater to everyone.

That’s going to lead to lower open rates, lower engagement rates, and lower ROI from your campaigns.

In this article, I’ll walk you through some key points to keep in mind when writing your copy for your marketing text messages.

Let’s dive in.

How to Write SMS Messages That Deliver Results in Your Marketing

Use Personalization for Higher Engagement Rates

74% of marketers say that targeted messages and personalization increase customer engagement rates.

Despite that, 70% of brands still fail to regularly personalize their communication with customers.

If you have the ability to personalize your text messages, you’ll be doing more than most of your competition.

Start simple:

  • Use your customers’ name
  • Make location-relevant offers
  • Incorporate information they provided to sent custom messages

This is easy, and most good text message marketing software will enable you to do so.

Example SMS:

Personalized sms

Keep Your Audience’s Attention with Brief Copy

Good copy is brief. Use fewer words where possible to get your message across clearly and effectively.

Your customers shouldn’t have to re-read your message, or glance at it and decide they’ll read it later instead.

Your goal should be for your customers to glance at their phone, and fully understand why you’re getting in touch with them.

Besides being good practice, keeping your copy brief has another benefit when it comes to SMS marketing. 

There’s a 160 character limit on texts, and if you go over that character limit, the message will be split into multiple segments. This can end up costing you more, as it’ll be classed as two texts instead of one. 

Emojis and other special characters can also affect the length of your text message on the backend.

Encourage Action with a Clear CTA

There’s no point texting your audience if they don’t take action.

Include a clear call-to-action in every message you send and encourage people to take the next step that you want them to take

You can include a link in your text messages, so just like an email, it’s easy for someone to take action.

This could be:

  • Complete their abandoned cart
  • Use a limited-time coupon
  • Confirm their scheduled appointment

Accenture found that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that provide relevant offers and product recommendations to them, so, you don’t have to worry about being too self-promotional in your texts either.


SMS with relevant info

Use FOMO To Boost Conversions

One of the reasons texts are so effective is because they can be sent in response to immediate actions taken by someone.

You can use this fact to inject some extra FOMO (fear of missing out) into your copy.

For example, if someone abandons their cart, you can send a follow-up text message with a 10% off discount code, or a free shipping offer.

You can then add a time limit on that offer, and include that expiry date in your text.

You’ll encourage people to take fast action, and see higher ROI from your text message campaigns.


Example of FOMO in SMS

Other Factors that Affect Your SMS Effectiveness

First, Get Permission To Text

Like with email marketing, there are regulations that apply to your text message marketing.

Before sending any texts, make sure your audience is opted-in.

In most cases, you’ll have a form to capture visitor details on your website, and your visitor will need to submit it. Make it clear that you may use their details to get in touch with them.

Don’t scrape websites, or buy lists of phone numbers and send mass texts to them.

You’ll quickly get reported as a spammer, and will probably be breaking several laws depending on where you and your recipients are based.

If you don’t have permission to send SMS messages to your audience, you’ll see extremely low engagement rates because no one expects to hear from you.

Get Your Timing Right

Timing is another key factor that will affect the success of your SMS campaigns. 

Don’t send them at times when your audience is unlikely to be able to do much with the information you send them.

For example, if someone is waking up at 6.30 am, they’re probably not going to want to visit your ecommerce site (no matter the contents of your message).

If you’re sending a text to remind someone of an appointment, don’t send it 15 minutes before they’re due to see you. If they’ve forgotten about it, it’s already too late. If you had sent it 24 hours in advance, they would have ample time to check their messages and remember that they had it scheduled.

To get around the problem of timing, use smart triggers in your campaigns.

In practice, these triggers could be things like:

  • A customer not completing their purchase, so you send them a 10% off coupon
  • A post-purchase text sent two weeks later asking for a review
  • A text confirming that a new device was registered to their account

There is a wide range of use cases for triggered SMS campaigns, and they can be used in business in any industry.

Make sure the triggers you set up make sense, and aren’t going to lead to customers getting annoyed at regular texts. 

You don’t want people to get tired of your texts because you send too many. They’ll quickly start ignoring them, or worse, unsubscribe.


Abandoned cart coupon

Don’t Use Text-Speak

Although you may use colloquial language in texts with friends and family, when it comes to texting your audience, write your texts in plain language

Even though you may be tempted to abbreviate to save characters, this may hurt legibility, and some of your audience may need to use accessibility features like text-to-speech, and using text-speak won’t work well with this.

Example of what not to do:

don't use abbreviatons

Wrapping Up

Writing text messages for marketing purposes doesn’t have to be complicated.

Stick to these general rules, and you’ll see success with your campaigns.

Always put your audience’s interests first. In most cases, that will be enough to ensure your texts resonate and encourage people to take the action you want them to.

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