How to write content for SMS marketing

SMS marketing is a long-term play requiring well-crafted content tailored specifically to the medium. Here are our five top tips for creating compelling messaging, as well as some inspiring examples from brands who have already perfected the art.

Robi O'Cleirigh
Content Manager

From higher open rates to more sustained retention, SMS marketing holds a whole host of potential benefits for DTC brands. Whether you actually realise those benefits, however, rests to a large extent on the quality of the content you deliver to your audience. 

When planning an SMS marketing campaign, there are a number of key steps you should run through before sending out messages. We’ve highlighted several of them here in this handy guide. Of the various stages, great content creation is perhaps the most difficult to get right.

Copywriting for SMS is tricky for 2 reasons. First, the medium requires a style which is quite particular to text messaging (sorry email marketers, rehashing email copy just won’t cut it). And second, 65% of all brands currently have no formal SMS strategy in place - meaning most businesses are yet to establish the in-house knowledge necessary to succeed in the SMS space.

But not to worry, that’s what we’re here for. Here are our top five tips on how to write content for SMS: 

Pack it with punch 👊

We’ve all sent and read SMS messages - rarely do they exceed 250 characters. So why should texting your customers be any different? Whatever the overall aim of your messaging campaign (promo offers, community building, retention etc), you should be conveying the most amount of value in the shortest possible time. 

Social media marketers have an easy reference point here. Imagine you’re sending a tweet out, but only to your best friend - what is going to hold their attention? 

Send a big chunk of text and you’ll lose the power of SMS for delivering bite-sized, immediately actionable content that engages audiences. Plus you’ll bore the pants off everyone and who wants that. CBD flavoured gummy brand Not Pot do a great job of keeping their SMS messaging short, sharp and on point:

Source: SMS marketing examples 

Get intimate  💑

Whilst your SMS messages might appear similar to social media posts, it’s important to realise that to your audience, they’re not interchangeable. Receiving a text message directly to your mobile phone is a more personal experience than coming across a brand’s post while scrolling through a social feed. 

One of the key differentiators of SMS is it can facilitate the kind of intimate, one-to-one conversations between brands and customers that many other marketing channels just cannot sustain. This form of ‘conversational commerce’ can be extremely effective for building lasting relationships with your buyers. 

To make it work though, your messages need to feel like they are coming from a real person (even if they are bulk sent), and should be tailored to individual needs. Heavily segmenting your audience based on their known buying history, and having a human customer rep ready to jump in to deal with complex queries are a must here. 

Fill it with value 🎁

Whilst the ultimate aim of the game is to convert, no one wants to read a string of texts from a brand banging on about the product they sell. In fact, they probably won’t even go as far as reading them - they’ll just unsubscribe from your marketing list. 

Product heavy comms must be interspersed with messages that offer your audience real value that’s relevant to their interests and delivered for free, with no strings attached. If you can align this to your brand values, then even better. 

Beverage brand Moment, which sells canned drinks filled with ingredients proven to boost mental wellbeing, do this particularly effectively. Customers who sign up to their ‘secret’ meditation club get sent a clickable link to a mindfulness resource every afternoon.

This offers their audience something for nothing, whilst engaging a community in a way that directly relates to their brand. In doing so, Moment facilitate long-term conversion and retention without turning off their buyers with spammy sales content: 

Source: SMS marketing examples

Know the rules 👮‍♂

In most countries the use of SMS by businesses is heavily regulated. The US, Canada, the UK and EU nations are all governed by different sets of legislation. 

From a content perspective, this often means offering customers the ability to opt-out of all messages (they have to opt-in to subscribe as well, but as a copywriter that’s not your problem). 

In some countries, the option to opt-out must be specifically communicated in every message you send. In others, it just has to be included in the first one. Get clued up on the specific requirements in your region and bear this in mind when crafting content. 

Make it look shiny 💎

Punchily written, value packed, personalised SMS content is a razor sharp marketing tool. But cut-throat messaging decked out with great visuals is even better. It’s known as Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), which is a fancy way of saying SMS with images - and it’s a great way to drive engagement with your brand via mobile. 

Receiving images, gifs, videos and emojis are all things the world’s 3.5 billion smartphone users are already well acquainted with. Meet them on their terms and use these tactics to spruce up your comms. 

It should be noted that MMS messages do cost more to send, and come with more potential delivery issues, so it makes sense to first consider where they can offer your brand the most ROI. High-caffeine energy brand Verb have a knack for interpersing personal conversation with high engagement imagery:

Source: SMS Marketing Examples

You can check out some great (and not so great) examples of how eCommerce brands have incorporated SMS into their marketing strategy here.

To find out more about what SMS can do for your brand, check out what we've been building:

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