In 1985, a gentleman named Friedhelm Hillebrand was responsible for deciding how long an SMS would be. After researching the character length of the most popular short communication tools, Friedhelm came to the conclusion that 140 bytes (later known as 160 characters) was the perfect number. If you're interested in learning more about how messaging bytes are calculated, click here.
Why is 160 so important?
In these modern times, you have about 2-3 seconds to get the attention of a potential client. In fact, a study conducted in 2018 discovered that the average human’s attention span is less than a goldfish at a mere 8 seconds. These users want instant gratification, which means that you have 2-3 seconds to make an impact great enough to prompt an action. In other words, the first 160 characters no matter what medium you use will ultimately determine the overall success of your campaign.
Always remember what your goal is, and that although you need to maintain your client's attention in the first 160 characters - this doesn't necessarily mean that your goal needs to be completed upon the first send. You can design your campaigns to leave clients wanting more, thus creating a build-up of anticipation before accomplishing your goal. That being said, you can of course strategically build messages to prompt immediate action. Keep in mind that, SMS has an open rate of 98% and a conversion rate of 45%. While at first glance 160 characters may not seem like much, the possibilities are limitless.
Master the art of 160
It's not just text that you can use to your advantage, there are many components that you can combine in 160 characters that can help you stand out. For more context, here are how 12 businesses are using SMS to better communicate with their customers. For quick-start SMS templates and tips on how to build the perfect message, have a look at the links below:
Keen for more?
Interested in learning more about SMS? We’ve put together the Complete Beginner’s Guide to SMS Marketing to help you get started: here. The 6-part guide is designed for beginners who have little or no experience with SMS marketing and campaigns.