Anatomy of an SMS for the marketer


by Vandana Prabhakar

November 18, 2015

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Macy’s Promo Alerts: Enjoy extra 20% off + last call for Free Guaranteed Father’s Day Delivery: Details: Txt STOP=End

This is an example of a well-written marketing SMS. Marketers meticulously budget their available resources among various campaigns and channels to garner maximum returns, but often fail to efficiently budget the 160 characters available for an SMS communication. With the right planning, it’s just as possible to get the right responses with your SMS campaigns.

Introduction : 8 – 15 characters

The first two to three words of your message determine whether or not a customer continues to read it. There are multiple ways you can get the customer hooked:

1. Use an attention grabber like “News!”, “Weekend Sale!”, “Beat the queue”, “Member deal”, “50% off!” and such.

2. Begin your message with a personalized greeting like “Hello John” or a “Hi Sandra”. The average length of a first name is 8-10 characters. 46% of respondents of a study said that they would be more likely to buy from retailers who personalize their messages. 66% of respondents expected personalization if they were part of a loyalty program.

3. If you have to use a shared SMS short code, it is a good idea to let your customers know who’s talking to them. That is what Macy’s has done in the example we’ve seen at the beginning of this article.

Body : 100 – 120 characters

Keep the body of the message short and simple by sticking to promoting just one main message within. . Using excessive text speak to save space and cramming too much of content into it makes the message very confusing and also creates an unprofessional brand image. Let’s have a look at some of the tried and tested text message examples, proven to generate good results.:

  1. The no-fuss SMS : “SALE: Get __ off your next purchase of __. Show this SMS to redeem. Expires DD/MM/YY.”
  2. The exclusive SMS : “Member Special: Get ___ when you buy more than ___ worth of ___. Show SMS to redeem. Expires DD/MM/YY”
  3. The direct SMS : “Monsoon offer: Get ___ when you download and sign up on our app. Download here:”

All these examples require around 70 – 75 characters and you still have 25 – 50 characters left to fill those blanks with your products.

Call to action : 20 – 26 characters

So you’ve greeted your customer and told him what you have to say. But don’t leave him there. Give him something to do. This could be in the form of a phone number or an address to contact or an online link. The length of a shortened URL is usually 16 -19 characters. The maximum length of a phone number is 14 characters including spaces. With 26 characters you can add a little text before the call to action like “Visit us” or “Call now”, for example.

Opting out : 12 – 15 characters

While this is not mandatory in many countries, some countries require marketers to provide an opt-out option for the customers with every message. For this, you can use the remaining 12 – 15 characters to give options like, “Txt STOP=End”, “Reply NO to end”or “Txt OUT to stop”.

There you go! Now that you’re armed with an SMS blueprint, you’re ready to find out what works best for you and your brand. Yes, of course there are also other ways to do it, but if at any time you’re at loss, you can always rely on this structure to pull you through.