You might think that an SMS is just 160 characters and that there isn't much you can do with that. You would be wrong. In fact because of its short nature it is highly impactful. It is also highly personal so you need to be careful when crafting your message.

1. Display your business name first

This might sound obvious, but so many people using our system neglect this. We use virtual numbers to process replies and opt-outs so the recipient may not recognise the number. Put your business name at the top of the message so there is no doubt. 

It is possible to display a name as the caller ID, but the issue with this is the recipient cannot reply. Usually the first line of the message is displayed anyway so putting your name at the top will allow people to identify quickly and allowing them the reply will generate a better perception of your brand.

2. Give the recipient context for receiving the message

Smart companies and marketers are now collecting opted-in numbers from customers at point of interest and point of purchase, however people rarely remember why or how they got onto a mailing list. 

By reminding the user how they got on your list, whether they are a loyalty program member, previous purchaser or previous competition entrant and so forth, you prevent yourself from being a potential spammer. 

3. Add an interactive call to action

You can easily engage a customer by mobile by adding quality calls to action. There are two primary methods of engaging a user with SMS.

  1. Use a reply with a keyword to trigger an auto reply or forward to an application. Eg. RSVP YES which adds to a list.

  2. Add a URL linking to a mobile web page, Google map, mobile video, application download or other type of rich media. Use a URL shortener like to save on characters, it has analytics so you can see how many recipients visited the link and with what device.

4. Deliver high quality information and offers

I know this may seem a little simple but as mobile is such a personal medium you need to make strong, time sensitive offers to give people a sense of value. 

They need to feel that they are getting something that others aren't and that it was a good decision to give up their mobile number. 

Good SMS content can come in the form of freebies, discounts, mobile coupons, reminders, links to free applications, competition entries, mobile video, alerts and more. By sending out a vague sale alert can come across as spam and may probably result in an opt out from your customer.

5. Speak in plain language

Funky acronyms and net slang has been used for years to shorten text messages. Some marketers try to use this language to save characters or 'connect with a youth market'. Our clients have found it is far better to speak in simple plain language. People should be able to digest the message with a glance and not need to be deciphering code. Also, you don't want your brand to be coming off as unauthentic and 'try hard'.

The underlying concept is to treat peoples' mobile numbers with respect especially since most people only have one number, unlike email addresses where they could have multiple. Your customers make a conscious decision to trust you with this data and should you abuse it you will be opted out and may never be given another opportunity again.