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7 Content Tips for Better SMS Engagement

SMS offers fast engagement, an intimate connection, and a strong sense of urgency. For many brands, it’s a marketer’s dream! But building a successful campaign can be tricky at first, especially for email marketers accustomed to generous character limits. These seven tips can help you create campaigns that resonate.

1. Keep it consistent 

You’ve created a consistent brand identity across your website and email messages; keep it going in SMS. You want customers to feel the same sense of your brand personality in texts as they do in any other channel. Since you can’t rely on visual brand identity, a consistent copy voice is crucial. 

You should also text from the same number every time. Using multiple numbers will confuse your customers and make opting out more difficult, which means more spam reports and the risk that carriers will block you. It’s also against the law to text from a number that’s not listed in your SMS terms and conditions.  

2. Remain relevant 

Delivering personalized messages shows customers you understand their goals and desires. Let’s say you have a language-learning app. If someone purchased your French class and you ask how their German class is going, you’ve damaged your chances of engagement, so make sure your messages are relevant to each individual. 

If you’d like to invite customers to engage with more topics, offer them options. For example, if they consented to marketing messages about French classes, you could send a message like:

LanguageLove: A new lesson on French verbs just dropped! If you’d like info on German classes too, text GERMAN to opt in. Reply HELP for help and STOP to cancel.

3. Be concise

Successful SMS messages get right to the point. Think KISS: Keep It Short and Simple. Generally, SMS messages should be no more than 160 characters. You should also include opt out information in every text (such as “reply STOP to opt out”), so in practice you only have about 140 characters. Make them count!

Technically, you could send a longer message. But it’s not likely the recipient will read it; people tend to glance at texts rather than reading deeply. If your campaign absolutely requires a longer message, email is probably a better channel.

4. Get creative

The characters are limited, but your creativity shouldn’t be. You can personalize messages with names or by referring to recent purchases. Emojis can add a sense of fun (and cut down on character count) if they’re appropriate for your brand voice. 

If you have a lot of information to share, try dropping enticing hints and linking to your website for a full explanation. You can also experiment with MMS, which allows you to send images, PDFs, and sound recordings.

Even the keywords you use for opt-ins are a chance to add pizzazz. For instance, say you’re a gourmet candy company offering 20% off when customers sign up for texts. Instead of asking them to text a mundane word like “SUBSCRIBE” to opt in, go with something more brand-centric, like “SWEETSAVINGS”. 

5. Don’t forget the CTA

You’re hoping the recipient will take action; this is marketing, after all! Every message should clearly communicate what you want the reader to do, but be subtle about it. If you’re too pushy, you can lose engagement. Something simple like “use NEW10 for 10% off” can get the point across without pressure.

Do you track CTA performance? It’s easy with SMS messages, and you can learn a lot about your customers. Include a tracking link and you’ll see who clicked and who used the code.

6. Start a conversation

When people reply to your texts, respond right away if at all possible. Customers know they won’t get an instant response to an email. But texting has a sense of immediacy, and people hate being left unread.

That’s actually great for your brand! Text campaigns can have higher open rates than email, and people who text back are showing interest. Consider setting up automated replies to go out after business hours so customers aren’t left hanging. 

7. Don’t give customers the SHAFT

Certain topics are forbidden in SMS marketing. The top five taboos are sex, hate, alcohol, firearms, and tobacco, aka SHAFT. Texting about off-limits topics can cause phone carriers to block your number and even take legal action against your company. Get complete details about prohibited content, as well as six vital steps to SMS marketing compliance, in this handy guide

SMS success is within reach!

Text marketing offers unique opportunities for brands to connect with their audience. More and more people prefer texts to emails for most communication, so meet your customers where they are. And remember, effective marketing is ultimately about relationships. Send people content they actually want to receive, in the channel they prefer, and you’re well-positioned for SMS marketing success.