Crafting Compelling Copy for SMS: 9 Best Practices

February 13, 2024 | By Sam Pelton
Pencil writing out a speech bubble

SMS is not email.

Neither is it social media or a banner ad or a pop-up.

No, SMS is its own animal. Yet many copy principles that apply in other mediums apply in SMS as well.

So how can you craft compelling SMS copy that really resonates with the people you’re trying to reach?

Here are 9 best practices, many of them gleaned from principles taught by the copy experts at Copyhackers

  1. Use “Voice of Customer” Language

Even if you’re not using SMS for marketing, the best way to craft compelling copy is to listen to your “customer” or ideal audience.

Listen to what they say about how they feel, what they want, what they need. And then speak their language.

  1. Understand Audience Pain Points and Desires

To craft compelling copy, you need to know what your audience actually needs and wants.

What problems do they have that they’re trying to solve? Or what desires are they hoping to achieve?

  1. Use a Strong Hook

A strong hook is an introductory line in your copy that grabs your audience’s attention and gets them “hooked” to read the rest of your copy.

If your hook falls flat (or if you don’t have a hook!), your message may well get lost.

  1. Minimize Work

People want solutions that will make their lives easier or more productive, or that will bring them some measure of delight.

What they don’t want are supposed “solutions” that sound or feel like extra work. So don’t include any language that communicates or implies work.

  1. Minimize Friction

Any level of friction in your copy can hinder the performance of your message.

Is there anything that adds confusion, uncertainty, or unnecessary extra steps? Remove it.

  1. Present an Appealing Offer

Your message needs to present an offer that’s actually appealing.

Something that people actually want or need.

Forget generic language that doesn’t truly speak to anything—what is really and truly highly desirable to your audience?

  1. Be Audience-Centric

It’s a common marketing mistake to talk too much about yourself and your business, speaking to what you’re doing or what you’re offering rather than what the audience is getting.

Keep your focus all about your audience.

  1. Stick to a Single Thought

Especially when it comes to SMS, your offer and copy should try to communicate a single thought at a time.

It’s a common error for marketers to speak to 2 different outcomes or 2 different benefits or 2 different pain points at once. It’s typically better to narrow down your message to a single idea.

  1. Synthesize to 160 Characters

One challenge (and benefit) of SMS is its brevity in nature.

When possible, it’s best to synthesize all of these best practices into a short, punchy, 160-character message. (There are times to go beyond this, but as a general rule of thumb, keep your SMS to-the-point.)

How’s Your SMS Copy?

So how’s your SMS copy?

Does it follow those 9 best practices? If not, how can you improve?

If you haven’t already, get a free SMS platform trial and start crafting compelling SMS copy today.

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