Sometimes it’s harder to write something short than it is to write something long. SMS copy is a perfect example. With a 160-character limit, you need to craft your SMS copy carefully to deliver your message. The text messages you send to your subscribers need to be short and sweet to effectively engage your audience.

Customers respond positively to text marketing. A recent study showed that 46% of consumers liked being contacted by brands via SMS. With your audience open to the conversation, it’s the copy you put into your text message marketing that will make them engage with your content.

There are best practices you can follow to make sure you write effective SMS marketing copy.

1. Choose language that is clear and simple

Text message copy should be concise and to the point. Use simple language that is easy to understand, so your message doesn’t get lost. You only have 160 characters to work with, so use each one intentionally.

Use simple words, and get to the point quickly. Your phrasing should be easily understood even if your audience just glances at their phone notification. Write short, impactful sentences to grab attention. You may not even need to use the full 160 characters - sometimes shorter is better.

If you're advertising a sale, you might want to get readers excited with a text like this:

"It's spring and we are so excited to launch our new collection of skincare products for warmer weather. With creams, oils, and cleansers for humid and hot conditions, we have everything you need. You can get 10% off all of these new products by visiting our website today and entering the code SPRING10 at checkout!"

However, a more succinct approach will make your intent - the sale - more obvious and catch more conversions:

"10% off all our new spring skincare formulations to transition your skin into hotter weather. Enter SPRING10 at checkout!"

2. Check that your spelling and grammar are correct

Give your brand a polished and professional impression by double-checking your messages for spelling and grammar mistakes. You don’t want to make a bad impression on your customers by sending out text messages that are full of errors - it will quickly turn them off and may even lead to unsubscribes.

Make sure you proofread your copy thoroughly before you hit “send”, and use spellcheckers or online editing tools if necessary.

3. Be careful when using abbreviations and text speak

Text speak can save character count, but certain words can easily confuse readers. Even the few seconds a reader just takes to understand a text abbreviation can seriously hurt your conversion rate. Stick to using complete words and stay away from acronyms, unless they are reliably widely known ones.

A few examples of text slang that can work for casual SMS copy include LOL, WTF, and OMG since they are more common. They also are intended to be attention-grabbing words rather than communicate meaning.

Not every abbreviation will be interpreted the same way by all audiences. "Apt" for example, could be interpreted as meaning "appointment" or "apartment" - two very different messages. Text speak and abbreviations can also make it harder for those using screen readers, people of different generations, and non-native language speakers.

4. Use special characters and media carefully

Similarly, avoid using too many special characters - even though they look cute, they may not translate well on all devices, resulting in a garbled message. Stick to letters and punctuation marks that everyone can read without any hassle. Similarly, emojis and symbols are fun to use but can be misinterpreted or take extra time for readers to understand.

Sending media attachments along with SMS messages can greatly increase the cost of a text message since they are sent through MMS (multimedia messaging service), which requires special coding that often increases the cost per message.

4. Target your messages by audience segment

Audience segmentation is an essential part of any successful SMS marketing campaign. It allows you to target your messages precisely, ensuring that they reach the right people at the right time.  Segment your audience based on their demographics, interests, and behavior so you can create tailored messages that are relevant and more likely to convert. 

Through audience segmentation, you can also track which segments respond best to certain campaigns or keywords. With data about what makes customers act, you can optimize future messages for maximum engagement and ROI through your text marketing channels.

5. Personalize messages for your customers

Personalized messages can help make your customers feel special and valued. This could be as simple as using their name or a message like "we heard you were looking for something special" - anything that shows that you know who they are, what they need, and how you can help them.

Use texting templates that allow you to add customers' names to messages, or customize them with specific information about their interests or purchase history. A personalized message like the one below creates more of a connection for customers and makes them feel appreciated.

"Happy birthday Jane! Thank you for shopping with us this year. Celebrate by taking 15% off anything in our shop with the code BDAY15!"

6. Plan the timing and frequency of your messages thoughtfully

You want to keep your customers engaged via text, but it’s important not to overdo it. Too many texts, or texting at the wrong time, can lead to unsubscribes or just annoyance on behalf of your customers. Delivery time is also key when it comes to SMS marketing. You want to send messages at the best time of day for your customers to maximize engagement and conversions from your subscribers. 

Ideally, texts should be sent when most people are likely to be checking their phones, such as during lunchtime or after work hours. Different businesses may have different customer demographics that require different times for optimal reach - so it's important to do some research and find out what works best for your customers.

7. Create a sense of urgency

Creating a sense of urgency can catch customers' attention and help drive conversions. By including a limited-time offer or deadline in messages, you can encourage readers to act quickly and not miss out on an opportunity. This could be something like "get this valuable deal today until midnight," "first 100 customers only," or something similar.

Without time-sensitive offers, customers may decide they'll come back to your messages later - and then never will. Include a clear timeline to inspire FOMO and prompt readers to take immediate action.

8. Use a call to action (CTA)

Motivate subscribers to take action by including a clear call to action in all your promotional messages. This could be a link to your website, the landing page for a promotional campaign, or an offer code they can use. Make sure the call-to-action is easy to follow - provide simple instructions and include a short link to where they can shop online.

If you send an SMS message that says, "Visit our website today for 10% off all of our new spring skincare formulations! Click the link below to get started and don't forget to enter SPRING10 at checkout for your discount." You'll want to make sure there's a link that goes directly to your spring skincare collection.

You may want to include contact information in some text messages. Up to 30% of consumers use text to contact the brands they shop with. Include a phone number or an email so you can answer questions and customers can leave comments for you. This way, customers can easily reach out. Additionally, providing contact information allows customers to engage more with your business.

9. Make it a two-way conversation

Texting goes both ways. Invite responses to start conversations with customers and allow them to ask questions. This can help you build relationships and learn more about your customers while keeping them engaged.

You could include questions in your messages. Two examples are, "Are you happy with our service?" or "Would you like a discount on your next purchase?". You could also send opt-in surveys or polls to collect valuable feedback from customers.

10. Make sure recipients can opt-in (and out)

Opt-in is the process of collecting customers' permission to send them text messages. Before you start sending texts, make sure your customers have given their consent. This could be done through opt-in forms or using a keyword that signals an agreement to receive SMS messages from you.

Make sure any opt-in language complies with your country's regulations. Additionally, make the opt-out option easy to use. Give customers the option to unsubscribe from messages quickly with one word if they reply STOP. This will help you maintain a clean list and make sure your subscribers are always engaged with your content.

An effective opt-out message could read simply, "Text STOP if you no longer want to receive messages from us".

11. Test your messages for effectiveness

Monitoring the success of each text marketing campaign is essential. Track open rates, responses, and conversions with your customer base to see what’s working and what isn’t for all your SMS campaigns. Utilize A/B testing to keep refining your messages until you get the results you want.

Make sure you are testing the impact different criteria have on conversion rates, such as the timing of sending messages, message content, and frequency. Analyze data to see what works best for your target audience and make adjustments accordingly. Successful campaigns are campaigns that target their text messaging accurately.

Create SMS copy that builds a relationship with your audience

Remember you’re having a conversation and focus on connecting with your target audience. Good SMS copy should be helpful and personable. Text messages that provide value for your customers - sales, new products, and helpful information about their purchases, for example - will be welcome. Short and sweet is the way to go when it comes to text message marketing, so use these tips and get creative with your next SMS campaign!