How to get text marketing messages across in just 160 characters

Why are text messages an effective means of marketing?

Don’t underestimate the power of text marketing messages as it’s a very accessible communication tool for just about all of your potential customers. Character limits aside, we love to receive text messages. A whopping 84% of us now own mobile phones so text messaging has become one of our favourite pastimes. So much so that we look at our phones every 4 minutes. Text messages have an open rate of 98% because it’s instant and accessible. This is 4 times more successful than email. This means a lot of power can be held in 160 characters or less…..

Are text messages too restrictive for marketing?

If you have been relying on traditional marketing methods up to now and enjoying the benefits of creativity, you might be wondering how this can translate to a character limit of only 160. Don’t be quick to dismiss the possibilities with text marketing messages. Did you know that according to The Open University, Dr. Zeus wrote his award-winning book The Cat in the Hat using only 50 different words? Your message need not be defined by your character limits alone.

A simple marketing text is not the end of the story, it’s only the beginning. No matter how many characters it takes to get your message across there are other options to support your text message marketing. Successful text marketing campaigns are much more than one concept working alone and will work better with other elements to support them. Follow our 8 step process to uncover how you can enhance your text marketing messages:

1. Create a dedicated text marketing landing page

Text messaging between you and your subscribers should be kept simple, you don’t want to become a nuisance. If you have a lot to say, rather than using up character limits or sending multiple texts, create a dedicated landing page. Encourage your subscribers to click on the link to be transported to your webpage to see what you are offering. A good landing page will be a seamless continuation of your marketing message with the added advantage of images and Call-to-action (CTA) buttons. Using a multimedia messaging service (MMS) means that you have the ability to send images, videos and GIFs via text message but this can exceed your character limit. Depending on the type of MMS you use  it could mean further charges. A good landing page will limit the need for images so you can concentrate on your written content.

2. Personalise your campaign

Try not to think of your text message as purely a business transaction. Remember that the end user is a real human being and most of the texts they receive will be from family and friends. With this in mind, they may be dismissive of impersonal texts. Text marketing is capable of using the information from your database to add personal details such as the recipient’s name, special events, or favourite products. Personal touches capture the attention.

As most marketers using texts also send in bulk, it is wise to use text messaging tools to segment the audience to target more effectively. You may send a variety of different messages and offers out to your subscribers that may not appeal to everyone on your database. It is best to only send followers the content they want to see and avoid sending them everything. By personalising you’re likely to avoid losing customers who opt out.

3. Get straight to the point

When deciding on how many characters you might need for your latest text marketing message you might want to make sure that it’s not too long and boring. The reason why people prefer text messages to any other form of communication is that it is quick and convenient. So make sure that you get straight to the point with your marketing copy.

It’s best to get your message across within 3-4 lines, so you need to make them count. Your recipients want the gist of the message at first glance and are not interested in garbled texts. Long marketing texts are a turn-off for the reader and will defeat the object of quick marketing alerts.  Some subscribers will be reading your messages on their smart watches, so even more reason to make your message strikingly obvious.

4. Don’t miss your call to action (CTA)

Conducting a text campaign without a call-to-action (CTA) is a bit like loading a dishwasher and not switching it on. You will not achieve your end result. To maximise your return on investment (ROI), the CTA mustn’t be overlooked.

Whether you include your CTA within your 160-character limit on your text or direct your subscribers to a content-rich mobile landing page, just make sure that what you want your customers to do is obvious. Don’t make them click around to find the end goal or they will be unimpressed and go elsewhere or become distracted.

When your CTA is embodied within your text message, you need to ensure that the business is ready to respond. Use automated SMS and trigger words to fire back immediate responses to keep the subscriber’s attention. For example:

“Looking for pet insurance? Text back “CAT” or “DOG” to discover an affordable plan”.

From here the reader texts back “Dog” and instantly receives a link to the policy highlights and a further CTA with potentially further trigger words and auto-responses set up and ready to go.

5. Exclusivity

To grow your database, subscribers need to opt-in to receive your texts. 77% of consumers opt-in to receive coupons or to hear about deals and sales. They probably wouldn’t bother to do this if they could pick up the same deals elsewhere. So your deals need to be exclusive to text subscribers initially to enlist them and also to keep them opting-in. You can use your other media outlets to showcase the exclusivity text subscribers can benefit from once they have signed up.

It’s good to create a welcome series when a customer first joins your database and your first interactions should always include details about what a subscriber can expect to gain from joining the text message list. Here are a few things you can tempt them with:

  • Exclusive deals
  • VIP sales slots
  • News exclusives
  • First look product launches
  • Priority access to events

7. Two-way text messages

At Text Marketer, our platform allows you to interact with your subscribers using two-way SMS. The interaction can either be automated or real life. The beauty of automated texts is that communication can be replied to instantly by using the trigger words as mentioned above. So whatever questions your customers ask, providing that they fit your FAQs, they can get an instant answer and further conversation can follow from there still using automated two-way SMS. We predict that in the future customers are going to push toward a more personal response so many of our clients have already put in two-way SMS that is manned by staff. It’s a great way to pick up the conversation when the automated texts has taken things as far as they can go. We also find that it works well for customer service issues.

When using staff to man two-way SMS, businesses can still save costs as texts are managed from the same database, meaning that conversations are prioritised and shared within a team and easily fits with working from home. Often issues can be resolved much quicker via two-way SMS and customers much prefer it to verbal communication.

8. Timing is everything

There are good and bad times to send out text marketing messages. With the luxury of using automated SMS and bulk texts, you can schedule your messages to arrive at convenient times to suit your audience. It may also be wise to separate recipients into demographic groups for scheduling too. For example, if you are a toy retailer planning to send out a bulk text to your target market – parents, it would be best to avoid school run times when parents are at their busiest. The optimum time to send out sms marketing texts is from 12 noon to 3 pm, but evenings might work better for those who are working long hours. In-store flash sales might work best on a Friday night or a Saturday morning to catch the weekend shoppers.  

Try not to overload your audience with text marketing. Whilst they do want to hear from you and to benefit from your deals and alerts, there is a fine balance. To get the most out of your text message campaigns, send out your strongest content first, and make your recipients glad to hear from you so that they will stick around for more. Don’t over-schedule your messages, read your audience and try to gauge how often they would like to hear from you. Encourage customer feedback. Make sure you are hitting all the right notes with your scheduling. 

Text marketing campaigns are trackable, so you will be able to catch any mistakes in your timing by using the analytical data available to you through our SMS platform to keep a watchful eye. Should you notice that some scheduled texts are not scoring much traction, you have the flexibility to play around with them until you hit the sweet spot.

Things to look out for

If extensive character use is your thing, avoid using Unicode messages as this can reduce your character limit to 70. Unicode SMS can end up costing you more as one whole text message will be sent as separate messages and charged accordingly. With Text Marketer you can choose your default character set.

How can Text Marketer help?

At Text Marketer we have so much experience in text message marketing, it’s really what we do best. If you are new to SMS, we can help guide you through the process and get you started in no time at all. We have helpful blogs on our website and templates to aid you in your text marketing journey.