Did you know that text messages (otherwise known as SMS) can technically only be 160 characters long?
We tend to forget that because most of us have unlimited texting plans nowadays (since the dawn of unlimited texting 15 years ago). So for most of us, it’s no concern when our text messages go over that 160 character limit and go out as more than 1 message.
In fact, even if our messages go out as multiple texts, modern phones often concatenate the messages into a single block when they deliver it to the destination device.
But there are reasons to still keep your messages brief—particularly you’re paying money to send mass text messages through an SMS platform.
So how can you shorten words for texting? Or to put it another way, is there an easy way to shorten text message content?
In addition to obvious shortening strategies (like abbreviating words), you can use an integrated “shorten text generator” powered by AI like the SmartSMS Shortener by Mobile Text Alerts.
Here we’ll go over how that all works.
There are a few different reasons why you’d want to use a “shorten text generator” to help you shorten text message content…
SMS by its very nature tends to be a briefer form of communication.
It was set up this way in the beginning because of “bandwidth restraints,” and the tradition has by and large continued through the past couple of decades.
Usually when people receive text messages, they don’t expect (or want) long-winded content. Instead, texting by design tends to be more straightforward and to-the-point.
Conversations that involve more in-depth explanation usually warrant a phone call or an email.
It’s commonly known that being concise usually makes for better writing in general than going on and on about something (or as the British say, “waffling on”).
Some of us are more prone to wordiness than others, and sometimes all of these words can end up clouding the important points of what we’re actually trying to say.
And when it comes to SMS, brevity is good. Being concise in an SMS can help drive the main point of your text message home so that your message accomplishes what you want it to accomplish.
We’ve touched on it a little, but there’s 1 primary reason you want to shorten your text messages: it saves money.
When you’re using an SMS platform tool to send text messages, you’re typically charged based on how many messaging credits you use.
And a “messaging credit” typically comes out to a message sent (all of these messages being counted individually for how many recipients you’re messaging).
For example, if you have an audience of 2,000 people and you send a text message to all of them, it will count as 2,000 messaging credits.
But if your message ends up being longer than 160 characters, your message will end up using up double the message credits, because technically it’s sending out 2 messages that are split up. (Even though our smartphones are usually smart enough to deliver the message as a single block, they’re technically being sent out as 2 separate messages.)
So your message to an audience of 2,000 ends up costing you 4,000 messaging credits.
You can see how this could add up quickly.
That’s why we recommend that you keep your SMS under 160 characters whenever possible.
Having established that shortening text messages can be beneficial (and can even help your bottom line), let’s walk through an example of how to shorten text message content using the “shorten text generator” SmartSMS Shortener.
(This is an integrated AI tool that comes for free with all Mobile Text Alerts accounts.)
A tool like this will allow you to type out an initial message with all the intended content you’d like to say—you can make this as long as you’d like, so you don’t have to worry about staying within the confines of the 160 character SMS limit.
Once you’ve gotten down everything you want to say, you can plug that content into the shortener tool, and it will automatically shorten it down to under 160 characters.
How does it do that?
It analyzes your text and suggests a shorter version while still maintaining the key elements.
In other words, the tool uses the power of AI to analyze the content of your input and determine ways to make the message more concise so that it fits better within a text message.
Granted, it’s not perfect so you won’t always like the outputs it gives. (And you don’t have to accept those outputs.)
But the output the tool gives you serves as a useful suggestion to help you sort through whether there’s a shorter way to say what you want to say.
By using intelligent algorithms, the “shorten text generator” tool maintains the coherence and context of your messages, allowing you to convey your intended meaning accurately, but with fewer words.
So it eliminates the need for you to have to go through all the brainpower of trying to condense your messages yourself—saving you both effort and (potentially) money.
Here’s a specific example to illustrate how this all works.
Let’s say you want to drive up some short-term revenue by running a special sale for your “text club” subscribers: you want to give them 25% off any purchase for one day.
You sit down to compose your message and on your first brainstorm, this is what you come up with:
We have a great deal just for our text club subscribers! 25% off any purchase TODAY ONLY! Shoes, tops, skirts - you name it! Just enter the code BIGSALETODAY when you’re checking out. Shop here: http://mbltxt.com/Kxj
That’s not bad marketing copy. But if you notice, the content is 216 characters.
Let’s say you want to trim it down to less than 160 characters so that you don’t use up as many messaging credits when you send it out.
All you need to do is plug that initial message into the SmartSMS Shortener tool and out pops a suggestion that’s less than that 160 character mark:
25% OFF TODAY ONLY! Shoes, tops, skirts, and more. Enter code BIGSALETODAY at checkout. Shop now: http://mbltxt.com/Kxj
That new suggestion contains most of the important content of the original and is only 119 characters long - so you even have a bit of wiggle room to add a little more copy if you’d like.
If you have an account at Mobile Text Alerts, accessing the SmartSMS Shortener tool is super easy.
You just go to the “Send a Message” page of your online dashboard and type out (or paste) your message into the content box.
Once your message hits 160 characters, a “Shorten” button will appear. Click that button and the shortener tool will show you a suggested shorter message based on the AI algorithms.
If you don’t like the suggestion, you can simply reject it, or you can accept it and make edits before sending.
There are, obviously, other ways to shorten text message content besides using a “shorten text generator.”
Here are just a few…
One simple way to shorten a text is by using abbreviations.
Here’s a list of some common text abbreviations. (We’ve included ones that may be more likely to appear in a business setting.)
bf or gf: “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” - conveys a reference to someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend
btw: “by the way” - conveys that there’s additional information that’s possibly related but not totally relevant to what was already communicated
dm: “direct message” - conveys a message that was directly sent (usually on social media)
FB: “Facebook” - conveys a reference to the social media platform Facebook
ftw: “for the win” - conveys approval of something that was said or done
fwiw: “for what it’s worth” - conveys an opinion has been provided or statement has been made that may or may not have bearing on the topic at hand
idk: “I don’t know” - conveys a lack of knowledge about something
IG or Insta: “Instagram” - conveys a reference to the social media platform Instagram
ikr: “I know, right?” - conveys agreement with what someone just said
imo or imho:- “in my opinion” or “in my humble opinion” - conveys that an opinion is being expressed
jk: “just kidding” - conveys that something stated was a joke
k or kk: “OK” - conveys an acknowledgement that something was understood
lmk: “let me know” - conveys that the user wants someone to provide them with information
lol: “laugh out loud” - conveys a casual or joking tone
np and nbd: “no problem” and “no big deal,” respectively - conveys that something isn’t or wasn’t an issue; can be used as a response to someone saying “thank you”
nvm: “never mind” - conveys that someone should disregard what was just said
omg: “oh my goodness” - conveys surprise or excitement
OOO: “out of office” - conveys that someone isn’t going to be working for a period of time
sry: “sorry” - conveys an apology
tbh: “to be honest” - conveys that an honest statement or opinion is about to be provided
tl;dr or tldr: “too long, didn’t read” - conveys that a summarized version (of a longer piece of content that people are unlikely to read) is needed
tmi: “too much information” - conveys that more information was provided than is necessary
If you’re using SMS in a business setting, you may not use many (or any) of these abbreviations. But for some business environments, it matches brand voice to use abbreviations like this, so you could consider shortening your message in this way.
One element that uses up a lot of characters in a text message is when you include a link. (And if you’re a marketer, you know that including links is often almost essential.)
Here’s the dilemma:
So what can you do?
If you’re going to shorten your link, it’s best to use a branded link shortening tool—particularly one that includes your own company’s name.
Using a branded link shortener will allow you the benefits of a shorter link (as well as the link tracking capabilities that come along with that), while having higher deliverability than those public shorteners.
(With Mobile Text Alerts, you can set up your own branded shortened links for free.)
As mentioned previously, many times we use a lot more words than we need.
This can be especially tempting for writers who love to use language to convey ideas and emotions.
And this is OK in certain formats. But when it comes to SMS, it may be necessary to pull back.
So some general advice to help you shorten text message content is just to cut out the fluff.
Be brutal about what is really needed and what isn’t, and get in the habit of this kind of self-evaluation as you go about your messaging efforts.
Another way to shorten text message content is to simply use SMS as a means to link out to fuller content.
Your text message can then be simpler—something like a teaser with a CTA to find out more.
You don’t wanna miss this… Big news coming! Check out the full announcement here: http://mbltxt.com/Dg
The link could lead to a blog article, a social media post, or some other external content that details what you’re trying to say.
This can be especially helpful if the message you want to convey is more complicated than what would be appropriate for an SMS.
Interested in giving the SmartSMS Shortener a try?
The good news is that you can test it out for free!
Just get a free trial account with Mobile Text Alerts and you can try it out right away.
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