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The humble SMS campaign

The humble SMS campaign 560 315 Velocity Media

SMS campaigns are often avoided because they’re usually seen as being “spammy”. However, if it’s approached and carried out correctly, it can be one of the most effective marketing tools for mass communication and broadcasts.

The humble SMS campaign can offer open rates of over 90% and a click-through response time of 90 seconds. With such statistics, it’s therefore essential that you send an SMS that represents your brand in the correct light and at the same time, is useful to the targeted recipient.

Here are 11 tips to consider when writing the perfect SMS copy for your campaign.

1. Keep your SMS brief and to the point

The very nature of this medium not only requires you to carry your message over in a short 160 characters, but to keep the viewer interested enough to follow through with your desired action. It is vital to get straight to the point from the moment the recipient opens your SMS. Using key words similar to “NEW”, “FREE” or “JUST IN” are intriguing and will persuade them to continue reading and follow through to the action desired.

2. Use uppercase letters to highlight keywords

With SMS, you’re unable to style and format your text. Since you can’t bold or italicise words in SMS, you can highlight important phrases or words in uppercase letters to draw more attention to select keywords. However, use it sparingly, as too much capitalising may look like you’re shouting which might annoy the recipient.

3. Personalisation is key

Select SMS providers allow you to personalise your SMS by auto-including the recipient’s name. This draws attention to your message and breaks the impersonal barrier. This personalisation creates a trust between yourself and the recipient, which will set you apart from your competitors. However, it is important that you keep an eye on the character count in your SMS, as inserting a long name can cause you to exceed the 160 characters and will have a monetary impact.

4. Call to action

The recipient needs to be guided as to what he/she needs to do next. By including a simple and clear call to action, it makes the process simpler and almost guarantees that your SMS is not ignored.

The most common placement for the call to action is at the very end of your SMS. Popular call to actions include:

  • Call us on…
  • Sign up
  • Buy now
  • Find us at …
  • Get a quote
  • Last chance

5. Demand immediate attention

Most people leave things to the very last minute. By creating a sense of urgency, it makes the reader believe that if they do not act now, they will miss out.
By having a reader act fast on your offer, the chances of them forgetting about the SMS is eliminated. Use words like “for a limited time only” or “special ends soon” to achieve this.

6. Power words keeps engagement.

Power words (in moderation) keeps your readers engaged and interesting in your message. Here are the top 40 power words from copywriting expert, David Aston:

7. Keep your sentences short

Keeping your sentences brief makes them more engaging. Complexity loses your readers interest. It is also important not to use complicated words, as a hard to read message has a lot of fall off when readers don’t understand what they are reading.

8. Text-speak is a big No-No

If a reader receives an SMS that requires a lot of attention, the reader will become annoyed and stop reading. It is important to remember that you are a professional offering a product or service, and need to present yourself in a professional manner. Using SMS language such as ‘l8r’ instead of ‘later’ or ‘gtg’ instead of ‘got to go’ can be seen as disrespectful, lazy or spammy by some readers.

9. Beware special characters

SMS messages are usually sent in unicode. Therefore, many special characters, such as apostrophes, will not work. In many cases, the special characters will be presented as a space or a random icon, which will make your SMS look unprofessional.

10. Links

Yes, links do take up valuable character space, but there are free sites which shorten long links for you. Often, these sites offer an added benefit in making the new, shorter link a traceable link. This is just another handy way to track the conversion of your SMS campaign.

11. Always include an opt-out option

In South Africa, any type of marketing message needs to include an Opt-Out option. You can encounter huge fines should you not comply. It is just as important to update your database with all the opt-outs to ensure that you do not contact these readers again. The Opt-Out is usually placed at the end of your SMS.

Remember: ALWAYS send a test SMS before launching your campaign. That way, you can ensure all links included work and that you are happy with the display. 90% of the recipients you send the SMS to will open it, so make sure you are putting the best campaign out there.
With these tips, you’ll be able to pull off a successful SMS campaign. It is important to make sure that you send relevant SMSes to the correct audience. Measure your results after each campaign and adapt your approach and audience accordingly. This will help you not spend money on sending an SMS to an audience that has no interest in what you have to offer. Sending the humble SMS to the correct reader can be proven to be invaluable.