21 Tips for Writing Effective SMS Marketing Copy

The difference between effective and noneffective SMS copy is the difference between making tons of sales and making none at all.

What you write in those 160 characters is going to determine if you get engagement and sales. Because of the limited characters you have to work with, this can be some of the toughest copywriting there is.

And yet, it can also be the most financially rewarding, too.

Here are some of the best practices from brands that are killing it with SMS.

1: Test your message before you send it. There’s a reason why this is #1 on the list – Proofread and TEST your message to avoid making what could be a colossal mistake.

2: Keep it simple and concise. Think of email as the place for details and SMS as the place for highlights.

3: Get to the point quickly using 75-125 characters, or about 3 to 4 lines.

4: Treat your first few words as though it’s a subject line because this is the text message box preview.

5: If appropriate, use a line break between your subject line and message to make it easier to read.

6: Offer a sale or discount.

7: Provide value, even if it’s not a discount, such as offering first access, free shipping, a rewards program or a subscriber only freebie.

8: Show gratitude with phrases such as, “We appreciate you” and “Thanks for being a customer.”

9: Write like you’re talking to a friend.

10: Use visuals such as images, GIFs, audio and video. They can be great if they enhance the message and are kept under 500kb.

11: Don’t go crazy with emojis. One can add visual excitement and 5 is just too many.

12: Use emotional words and keep sentences short.

13: Stay on message, using the same words and phrases your customers expect from your brand.

14: Watch the abbreviations. Not everyone knows what the heck your abbreviations mean.

15: Shorten your links using a bit.ly to track your links and leave more space for your message.

16: Time your texts to arrive at the start of a sale and again a few hours before the sale ends.

17: Remember to say who you are, including the name of your business to ensure your recipient recognizes you.

18: Using all caps to emphasize ONE word is okay, but don’t go crazy and USE ALL CAPS FOR THE ENTIRE MESSAGE.

19: Use a strong and clear call to action telling your subscribers what to do. Every time.

20: This tip is somewhat controversial: I highly recommend you test this one out because I’ve seen it work and I’ve seen it fail big time, and it’s this…

Promote multiple items in a single text message. We don’t promote multiple items in a sales letter, so why would we try to do it in an SMS text? Because sometimes multiple choices get more engagement. Test this for yourself and see if one choice or two work better for you.

21: Before sending, take a good look at your message and ask yourself if this is a message you would want to receive. If not, fix it.


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