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8 rules for writing SMS messages that connect

The power of the humble text message should not be underestimated. It is a powerful channel to connect with customers. It’s ubiquitous, familiar, instant, personal and unobtrusive all at the same time.

Despite our familiarity with mass messaging, many businesses still get it wrong. And now that customers have the power to block messages, even the slightest mistake can be costly. So when someone has entrusted you with their phone number, it’s best to make it worth their while.

Here are eight golden rules to help you write a message that connects with customers time and time again.

1. Clarify the target

Business texting is a great way to establish a personal level of communication with a customer. It’s best to be clear about why you are getting in touch and that what you are promoting is of interest to them. A text message is considered more intimate and urgent than an email, and people will be more sensitive to anything they perceive as spam.

2. Consider the timing

Most people have their phones with them all the time, so it’s wise to be mindful of when a message gets sent. Make sure customers aren’t alerted by your message at inconvenient times, such as dinner or too early in the morning. Think about local time zones to avoid waking people up in the middle of the night.

Top tip: the optimal time to send business messages is generally mid to late afternoon on weekdays.

3. Don’t use txt speak

Send professional text messages by using real words and proper grammar. Unless it aligns with your brand’s tone of voice, avoid using text slang to be “funny” or save space. Writing “ur” rather than “your” or “2” rather than “too” in your marketing copy may alienate some of your audience. Similarly, you may also wish to avoid abbreviations, such as ICYMI (in case you missed it).

4. Keep it simple

Avoiding jargon applies to most marketing messages, but especially to SMS marketing campaigns. You’ll have 160 characters per message to get your point across, so it’s best to follow this SMS writing format: introduce yourself, be clear of the purpose, and include a clear call to action. Of course, some business messaging may require more details depending on the use case, so finding a balance is key.

5. Provide important details

Give complete and clear instructions on what your recipient needs to do with the SMS message. If they need to hold on to it, tell them! If they need to reply Y or N to confirm an appointment, make that known. Using and uploading custom fields in a spreadsheet will allow you to include important, relevant details for each contact, such as #FirstName#, #DayMonth# and #Amount#. For example:

Hi #FirstName#, you have an appointment at [COMPANY] on #DayMonth# at #Time#. Please reply Y to confirm or call us within 24hrs to reschedule.

6. Be familiar and personal

Considering customers probably don’t have your number stored, you should include your company name in your message. If your customer instantly recognises you, they won’t confuse your message with spam.

7. Use attention-grabbing language

For effective text message marketing, use language that reads like a headline of an advertisement. You want your customer to act on your message as soon as they open and read it. Use clear, eye-catching terms such as OFFER or DISCOUNT and a clear next step. For example:

VIP OFFER! Get 10% OFF our fitness range at MM Fitness! Use code: GYM10. Expires in 48 hours. Shop: nxt.to/123. Text ‘STOP’ to opt out.

8. Check, test, modify, repeat

Check, check and check again to avoid an embarrassing typo or misguided autocorrect. Be sure to track response rates and, if it’s low or slow, find ways to re-work your copy. Keeping an eye on performance will help you to continually refine SMS campaigns.

SMS has become a key communications channel for businesses across many industries, whether it be for appointment reminders, payment reminders, or special offers. Make sure you get your messaging right for the best possible return and lower unsubscribe rates.

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