How to Write SMS for Marketing: 5 Mistakes to Avoid
How much can you say in 160 characters? Well, a helluva lot.
Technically, SMS can have more than 160 characters. It caps at 612 characters (four concatenated SMS), but the name of the game remains: brevity.
When it comes to SMS marketing, it boils down to your words. As you construct your sentences, choose each word carefully, and ask yourself – are they impactful? This can make the difference between marvellous and mediocre SMS copywriting.
How to write great copy for SMS marketing
If you want your conversions to be this high or even higher, remember that your copy easily affects this.
Here are five common SMS copywriting mistakes to avoid.
1. Skipping the essentials
Picture this. You receive a text from an unknown number, and the text reads as some vague sales alert about a spa package. You’re probably going to report it as spam or immediately opt out, right?
As often as possible – and especially the first time you reach your customer – you should always remember to identify three things in your text: them, yourself, and the reason they’re getting the message.
Because remember, the SMS channel is highly personal and people often forget they’ve granted you their number.
Hi [First Name],
As a member, Chakra Health Spa would like to offer you 50% off your next visit if you bring a friend. Reply directly to book now.
Reply STOP to opt-out
This is what’s happening inside your customer’s head: it’s my name, I must know this person. Oh, it’s Chakra Health Spa. I’ve visited them before. Ooh, they’re offering me a deal for my next visit. I think I’ll book this for my bestie’s birthday.
Instead of: report! Delete!
2. Being wordy
Your customers are frequently on their phones, but attention spans are shorter than ever. This means you need to grab their focus by saying a lot in as little as possible.
Considering the number of characters in an SMS, put on your ‘editor cap’ and be ruthless with the red pen. Cross out unnecessary words and tighten descriptions.
- Very good = great
- Very big = huge
- For the purpose of = for
- In order to = to
- It is = it’s
- That is = that’s
- You are = you’re
3. Using internet slang and abbreviations
In some cases, using internet slang is fine. It could be your brand language or you’re targeting a younger demographic. But from our experience, simple everyday language works best. Let’s take a look at these two examples:
U r invited to our launch event 2mr!
You’re invited to our launch event tomorrow!
Which one’s more digestible? The second. Your customer will thank you.
Using abbreviations is an art, so make sure you know the dos and don’ts. The same goes with jargon and ‘big words’ that can alienate people. With SMS, you need to make the first glance count.
4. Including too many ideas
Decision fatigue is real. So don’t tell them you’ve got exciting new products, a VIP flash sale, and a competition draw all at the same time. Instead – focus on one thing at a time.
What is this ‘one thing?’ Think of it like this: every SMS touchpoint must provide enough value so your customer feels glad they gave you their digits in the first place.
Whether it’s freebies, coupons or event invitations, make them feel like they’re getting something that others aren’t. The more specific you are and the more relevant it is to them, the better the click rates.
And of course, don’t forget your one call-to-action, whether it’s a keyword or a website URL, Google map, mobile video or app download.
5. Sounding off-brand
Don’t send a dull, automated message. Even with the SMS character limit, you can make it pop with personality.
Revisit your brand voice guidelines. Is your tone more formal or down-to-earth? Enthusiastic or matter-of-fact? Witty? Humorous? Confident? Bold? Used alone and combined, words convey feeling. It only takes a few to get an emotional response.
This way, your brand is more memorable and builds stronger customer relationships.
Nail your SMS marketing
By focusing on brevity and branding, you can improve your SMS copywriting for higher engagement. Bookmark this blog to use as an editing checklist for your next SMS campaign.