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The simplicity and pervasiveness of text messaging has made SMS marketing an emerging top sales channel for businesses. The resources below will help you implement best practices as you develop your own SMS marketing strategy.
Get consent before sending
For SMS marketing, you must always get permission before texting your contacts. You always want to make sure your contacts have agreed to get marketing text messages from your brand. Agreeing to receive email marketing or simply submitting a phone number isn’t enough. Privy does not currently accept imported phone numbers as textable contacts. Instead, a contact's phone number must be collected through a Privy form with the phone field and the Text Opt-in Disclaimer, and the contact must have answered "YES" to the double opt-in message sent to their number to receive texts from Privy. This series of actions provides explicit consent and ensures SMS compliance.
Keep texts short
Lengthy text messages can feel overwhelming, even when they’re from a family member or friend.
If you’re using SMS as a marketing channel, it’s even more important to keep text messages short and concise. The goal of a marketing text message is to capture attention and inspire action as quickly as possible. If your text message takes more than a few seconds to read, it’s too long.
Understanding SMS character counts
We recommend trying to stay under 200 characters for a marketing text message. This includes spaces and line breaks, your business name, personalization variables, links, and opt-out language.
Including personalization variables, like your contact’s First Name, in your text messages is a great way to help your message stand out. Keep in mind that the character count for dynamic content like this can vary from contact to contact, so it’s best to keep your accompanying message brief to stay within the recommended character count.
As you draft your text message in Privy, the character count will automatically update to help you gauge how long your message is. If you happen to add more than 200 characters to your message, please note that your text message must be under 400 characters to send with Privy.
If you exceed 200 characters in your text, the message itself will look like one message from the recipient’s standpoint, but your engagement rates may be negatively impacted. Concise messages tend to perform better in terms of click rates and revenue generation.
Copywriting best practices
Texting is simple (you can’t highlight, bold, or underline words), so you have limited space to make your message stand out. Here are our top tips to optimize your copywriting:
- Give special attention to the first few words of your message that your recipients will see as the preview in their text inbox. Treat these words like you would an email subject line, make a strong first impression to increase the likelihood of your message being opened.
- Use powerful words and short phrases to inspire action quickly and show a sense of urgency. Some phrases to consider:
- Limited-time offer
- While supplies last
- Get it before it’s gone
- Limited quantity
- Sales ends September 12
- Don’t miss out
- Avoid using text-speak wherever you can (unless it’s part of your brand voice). Abbreviations may help save characters, but over-using these can come across as spammy to your recipients. Acronyms and shorthand (e.g. “lmk” or “TY”) may not be recognizable to all of your recipients.
- Dnt 4get to 2 use code BFCM20 before 12pm tmrw 4 free shipping!
- Don’t forget to use code BFCM20 before 12pm tomorrow for free shipping!
- Choose emojis wisely. Special characters like emojis can add a bit of flare to a text message, but we recommend using them sparingly to avoid coming across as spammy. Don’t use multiple emojis or emojis that feel off-brand just for the sake of including one. If an emoji doesn’t fit into your campaign, don’t force it.
- Check out our sale!
- End with a strong call-to-action (CTA). Use your CTA to tell recipients exactly what next step to take. For example, “Click to shop now.”
Include a short URL
A benefit to SMS as a marketing channel is that it is immediate and direct, which means that click rates are often higher than email.
It’s always a good idea to include a link in your text messages. Links make it easier for your subscribers to head to your site and give you a critical piece of information to evaluate your campaign performance. Without a link, you won’t know which messages resonate best with your subscribers or identify opportunities to improve future campaigns.
Do not paste a long link into the body of your message draft. Unfortunately, long links can come across as spammy and may look less legitimate in the eyes of recipients. A shortened URL that’s on brand signals that a text message is coming from a credible source and can be trusted. Additionally, do not use a third-party link shortener as this will not be able to track any revenue generated by your text.
There are laws regulating what businesses can and cannot do with SMS, which may feel overwhelming at first. The good news is that Privy Text is built to automatically account for many of these rules to help ensure that your business stays compliant.
As mentioned above, getting consent is a foundational rule of SMS compliance. Once you have your contacts’ explicit consent to send them text messages, there are a few other rules to keep in mind.
Include your business name
Brands are required to include their business name in their text messages so that recipients know who the message is coming from. Because of this, Privy will automatically add your business name at the start of every text message. By default in Privy, your business name is counted in the total amount of characters within your text message.
Make it easy to opt-out
Another SMS best practice and compliance rule is allowing recipients to unsubscribe at any time. You risk damaging your brand’s reputation and potential fines by continuing to send text messages to someone who no longer wants to hear from you.
To avoid this, Privy includes brief opt-out instructions that read “STOP to opt out” in every text message. This opt-out language also counts towards the total amount of characters in your text message.
Don’t include prohibited content
Certain materials and content are prohibited from being sent via SMS. If you are using Privy Text, please ensure you follow our Acceptable Use Policy, as this is agreed upon in our Terms and Conditions when you first sign up for an account with Privy.
Respect quiet hours
When you’re planning to send a text message, it’s important to consider the experience of the recipient. For example, receiving a text message about a sale at 11 p.m. when someone is in bed likely isn’t going to inspire them to shop and may give them a negative impression of your brand.
By default, Privy enforces quiet hours between 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. in a recipient’s time zone. This means that no broadcast text messages or abandoned cart texts will be sent during that time, and will be queued to send after 9 a.m.