8 Golden Rules for Crafting a Winning Text Message

Written by: Rey Yesilnacar on

Don’t underestimate the power of the humble text message.

Oct 1st, 2014; You should never underestimate the power of the humble text message for reaching your customers. It is an incredibly powerful channel – being ubiquitous, familiar, instant, personal and unobtrusive all at the same time.

SMS marketing is hugely effective: studies show that over half of people have opted-in for one or more SMS campaigns from a company. About 97% of all text messages are read: far higher than email open rates that languish around 25%.

Despite our familiarity with text messaging, many businesses still get it wrong. And now people have the power to block messages, even the slightest mistake can be costly. So given that someone has entrusted you with their mobile number, how can you market to them effectively and respectfully?

Here are 8 golden rules to help you create a winning text message time and again.

1. Clarify the target

SMS is a great way to establish a very personal level of communication with a customer, so you must be clear about exactly who you want to contact, and that what you are promoting is of interest to them. A mobile message is considered more intimate and urgent than an email, and people will thus be more angered by anything they perceive as spam.

2. Considerate timing

Most people have their phones with them all the time, so timing is important to consider – most notably thinking about when not to send your message – such as 2:00am! Research shows the optimal time to send business messages is mid to late afternoon on weekdays.

3. Dont use txt spk, lol

In a business marketing message always use real words and proper grammar. Don’t ever use text speak to be “funny” or save space. You will never offend anyone writing “your” rather than “ur” or “to” rather than “2”, but you will definitely alienate a proportion of customers with abbreviations.

4. Keep it simple

This applies to all marketing, but especially SMS marketing. You only have 160 characters to get the message across so keep it clean and simple, with a clear call to action! Not everyone can access URLs directly from a message, so make them easy to remember and retype rather than nonsensical strings such as http://tinyurl.com/ndqt2to. If that means setting up a new domain for your campaign, so be it.

5. Provide details

Give complete and clear instructions as to what your message receiver needs to do with the message. If they need to keep it, tell them! But ensure that if a customer does delete a special code and calls you in distress, you can easily retrieve it for them.

6. Be familiar

Use a senders name your customers will recognize, so they don’t confuse the message with spam. And considering they probably don’t have your number stored, you should start your message with your company name.

7. Use attention grabbing language

Use language that reads like a headline of an advertizement. You want your customer to open and read your message as soon as they receive it and then act on it. Use clear, eye-catching terms such as OFFER or DISCOUNT.

8. Check, test, modify, repeat

Check, check and check again. The last thing you want is an embarrassing typo, misguided autocorrect (eg. “Game of Throbs”) or awkward truncation (eg. “To find out more about our cruise holidays, come and enjoy a free cock[tail evening]”). Be sure to seek other team members’ opinions as well. Once you start sending a message out, be sure to track response rates and if it’s low or slow, rework it.

For many small businesses, SMS has become a key communications channel: whether it be for appointment reminders, payment reminders or special offers. Make sure you get your messaging right for the best possible return – and the minimal number of unsubscribes.