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Nail Your Next SMS Text Message Copywriting Assignment

SMS Text MessageWith more and more businesses capitalizing on text messages as a primary communication tool, the need for copywriters who “get it” will increase.  Are you ready for that client who says “I need you to handle a copywriting project for my SMS marketing campaign?”  Do you know the faux pas and conventions when creating text messages for a mobile marketing or ad campaign?  If you don’t, no worries, because I’ve jotted down the dos and don’ts for you below:

•Identify the brand or company.  I’ve received text messages from G-d only knows who and, invariably, my reflexive response is “delete.”   Let them know the brand or the company that is sending the text. You want to avoid your text being treated like spam.

•With SMS text message marketing it’s important to remember that your message has to focus on Only your client’s broadcast subscribers.  You are not directing the message to the general public.

•Other than “FWD 2 a friend,” stay away from text talk, slang, abbreviations and hype. Yes, it may be cool when two “real” friends are texting each other. Yes, it may seem like the suitable thing to do, since, after all, you are texting, but don’t. Your SMS message should be professional.   You can, however, do so, if:  (a) your client’s target audience for the campaign are all teenagers; and (b) you can pull it off authentically, where you don’t sound like an adult who’s trying to sound youthful; and (c) your client tells you to “go for it.”

•Your message must stop the reader in her or his tracks, with a strong headline. You should have a clear understanding of what the customers or potential customers want and immediately satisfy it in your mobile message.  In addition, the offer has to be of immediate value, and has to clearly communicate the benefits of acting now.

•Create two versions of your text message headline so that your client can test them.  Urge her or him to do so. Provide two even if they don’t plan on testing.

•Lead with the benefits of your product or service.  Use your features to validate the benefits – in that order. She wants to know immediately the advantage of buying your product. Will she save time, lose weight or find the right Kindle cover?

•Tell them “the when,” “the where” and “the how.”  Also, if there is some convenience of your product or service, mention that too. Does your bedbug extermination include moving furniture for them? Your message will not be doing its job if your customer has to go online to figure this out.  Most likely, they won’t.

•Your call to action should be no more than 21 characters and leave nothing to the imagination.  Short and easy.  Be crystal clear so it cannot be interpreted in any other way, other than how you mean it.  Give the customer an incentive, perhaps some perk or discount, etc.  Time limits also work well, “Happy Hour” or “Lunch Hour Special.”

•Help your client’s customers spread the brand’s message.  Include the words “Fwd 2 a friend,” at the end of each text blast message.

•Use compelling wording that evoke emotion and action.  Study the language of your brand’s industry and use those words that they’ve used which have been successful in getting their customers’ attention.  The customer should be able to imagine the benefits; it’s your job to paint that picture.

•If you are promoting your client’s SMS vanity short code, don’t forget to provide the short code’s digits for those customers with QWERTY keypads (first 6 keys in  top left row of keypad).  “Text YES to 92259 (WACKY).”

•Never ask the customer to “guess what . . .”  Time is not on your side when you are creating text marketing messages. Get to the point or you will be deleted.

SMS text messaging is the world’s most widely used data application. There are 2.4 billion active users.  You can expect that you will be asked in the near future to write copy for a text message marketing campaign.  Now that you’ve got the basics, you can do so with a bit more confidence.


P.S.  Click here for more resources on mobile marketing or visit: Mobile Marketer.