8 tips on writing a text message that won’t get ignored

Hands holding a cell phone

SMS, or text messages, still are the most used messaging platform.

According to Business.com, 97% of people text at least once a day, and since SMS messages are not screened by a spam filter, a business incorporating SMS into its marketing strategy can feel more confident about a message reaching its target audience. In fact, about 98% of people will open and read a text message, compared with about 20% who will open an email, Business.com reports.

This makes SMS text messaging an underrated option to include in any marketing strategy but definitely not one to ignore.

Below are eight tips on how to write a text message that won’t get ignored by your audience.

The shorter the text message the better

First of all, the limit on any single SMS text message is 160 characters. Combine that with users’ naturally short attention spans, and it’s clear that the shorter your message, the better.

This is especially true if you’re including any sort of link in the text message.

Get to the point quickly, but don’t forget to identify who you are in your text message since the sending phone number won’t necessarily mean anything to your target audience.

It is possible to send more than 160 characters across multiple text messages depending on the service your using, but it’s not recommended as a best practice.

DailyStory offers the ability to send mass text messages to a business’s database.

Relevancy is key

Whether it’s a discount code or something else your customer base may be interested in, make sure the text message is worth their while, or else you risk losing them to opt-outs.

Frequency is a factor here as well.

Consider that an ordinary American adult sends 32 texts on average each day. As soon as someone sees your messaging as noise, there is the immediate risk of losing them.

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. If you start receiving frequent text messages that don’t matter to you, you’ll be compelled to opt-out. 

Before sending any text message, ask yourself if the message is something your audience will care about.

CAPS aren’t all bad in a text message

SMS text messages are simple by nature. No bolding. No italics. Nothing fancy.

To catch a skimmer’s attention, you can draw attention to keywords by making them all caps—words like “FREE,” “SALE,” etc.

However, resist the temptation to go overboard. One or two words maximum is fine. Anything more, and it will appear that you’re yelling at your audience.

Consider personalization in your text message

Personalization can make a world of difference across multiple mediums, such as emails and text messages. 

Think about when you receive a marketing text message. Does it catch your attention when your name is in the message? 

It does for everyone else, too.

Different services, like DailyStory, can offer this capability, but be aware of the possibility of a long name kicking your text message over 160 characters. Leave as much extra space as possible.

Include a strong call-to-action

What do you want the recipient of your text message to do? A simple, strong call-to-action is imperative for any effective messaging. SMS text messages are no different.

Examples include: “last chance,” “act now,” “sign up now,” “limited time offer” and “don’t miss out,” among others.

Urgency combined with action words can better compel your audience to convert and take the next step. 

Avoid ‘text speak’ and special characters

Just because you might use “l8r” instead of “later” in a text message to a friend doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for a brand’s text message.

Your brand should have a voice, but we doubt it’s that of a child. Maintain your professionalism and keep the wording simple.

In addition, watch out for special characters. Many carriers only support unicode, so the fancier you get, the more you risk a character not only not working but appearing as something random or as a space.

Factor in the timing of your text message

While there is an industry-wide recommendation to send text messages at the beginning or end of a day to optimize the potential for engagement, there are more factors at play.

First, you never want to wake up your target audience. That means text messaging too early or too late can cause anger and frustration.

Also, depending on how many many people you are text messaging at one time (and the capacity of your system), there could be a “pacing” effect. This means that, for example, if you’re text messaging 10,000 people, but your service can only process 1,000 sent text messages per hour, it could be 10 hours later when your last text reaches the last 1,000 people of that group.

Be aware of this possibility when you’re determining what service to use. It’s entirely possible to boost processing speed in advance for larger sends, especially when using DailyStory.

Include the option to opt-out

With various anti-spam laws in place, the best practice for SMS text messaging is to include opt-out language, such as “Reply STOP to opt-out.”

Of course, this requires the ability for recipients to reply to your text message. It also can eat up valuable character space, but even that is better than risking hefty fines.

And while it is a best practice to identify your company in your text message, it’s also required by law. 

On the flip side of opt-outs, it’s critical to know that your audience has first opted into receiving text messages from your business as well.

SMS text messaging is a valuable piece of any marketing strategy, so remember that less is more and always put yourself in the shoes of your target audience.