Lesson 3: Everything you need for an advanced program

How to write for SMS

8 tips to help you write and send effective messages

Writing effective SMS marketing copy can make a huge impact on engagement and conversion. But it can be tricky to get your message across—and capture the attention of your audience—when you have to work with 160 characters or less.

Here are our top tips to help you write and send the most effective text messages possible.

Keep your copy concise

Subscribers’ attention spans are short. Lead with your most important point to make sure your message piques their interest. The shorter the better. We recommend keeping copy between 75-115 characters, or 3-4 lines long.

Increase readability with line breaks. Receiving a wall of text can feel overwhelming and may encourage subscribers to tune your message out entirely. Consider adding a line break (or two) to help make it more approachable and easier to read.

Add a visual component

Incorporating multimedia like images, GIFs, video, and audio is a fun way to add personality to your texts. You can communicate important information within the image to catch subscribers’ eyes if they’re quickly scanning a text message. Images must be under 500kb. We recommend sending square or portrait-oriented graphics to optimize for readability.

When using images in your campaigns or triggered journeys, you should run A/B tests to find the type or style that resonates with your subscribers.

Keep in mind: images will appear differently for different subscribers depending on their device. Different carriers and devices will shrink or enlarge images to different sizes to accommodate different screen sizes.

Use timely language

Powerful, emotional words and short sentences can effectively communicate when there’s a time-sensitive event like a sale or low inventory. Phrases like “This weekend," Starting now," "Almost over," "Today only," "Ending soon," or "Shop before the end of the week” work well to engage your subscribers and grab their attention, even if they’re on the go when your text hits their inbox.

Speak in first person

Subscribers text their favorite brands alongside their close friends and family. Speaking from the first-person point of view matches their texting habits and makes your messages feel more personal.

Use emojis and abbreviations sparingly

Emojis are a fun way to add visual excitement to your text messages and highlight important takeaways. But using too many of them can come across as disingenuous. As a general rule, limit yourself to one or two well-placed emojis per text (unless you’re using them in place of bullet points to break out a list).

The same rule applies to using abbreviations. If you need to save characters, start with the most obvious words first, but try to keep them to a minimum. You want your subscribers to understand what you’re saying with ease. Too much “text speak” (like “l8r” or “LOL”) can lead to opt-outs.

Lean on your brand voice

Make sure your text message copy embodies your brand’s voice by using words and phrases that your subscribers are familiar with and can relate to. Think about how you can use SMS to communicate your brand story and how it aligns with rising cultural trends that your customers care about. You can also experiment with unique lingo or slang to speak in your audience’s voice. It’s important to stay consistent with who you are as a brand, especially if you’re trying to build a loyal subscriber base.

Include a call to action

Ending with a strong and creative call to action can be the difference between a text message that converts a browser into a buyer and one that gets left on read. Your customers are busy. Tell them exactly what you want them to do next, whether it's taking advantage of your flash sale or joining your loyalty program to start earning rewards.