What Makes a Great Call to Action in an SMS Message?
Are your marketing SMS messages successful? Are people using the coupons, clicking the links, or calling you? If not, maybe your call to action isn’t clear. But let’s back up just a little.
Marketing messages, whether in print or electronic have many parts to them. In the beginning there’s the hook that entices someone to continue reading, and near the end is the call to action. That’s where you make it clear what you want someone to do after reading the message. There are many parts in between these two, but these are, arguably, the two most important.
Fortunately, you don’t have to worry too much about the hook when sending SMS marketing messages to your existing list. They’ve already opted in after all, so you know they are interested in what you have to offer. Don’t get me wrong, you still need to make the message sound enticing. You just don’t have to try so hard to get their attention. You have it already when the notification sound goes off and they check their message.
What happens next though, relies heavily on your call to action. It needs to be clear, and actionable – that is, the reader shouldn’t have to do anything else other than what you’ve given them in the message. But it’s sometimes hard to know exactly what a good call to action looks like. So I’ll go over a few examples here and offer my thoughts on why they are good or need improvement.
The first two are from a major office supply store. I don’t show the links, but instead inserted “[Link]” to note where the link went in the message. Both are similar, but one is better, at least in my opinion. Can you guess which one?
Get £30 off £100+ on any ink/toner purchase. Restock without a needing pot of gold. [Link] Ends 20/3
Time’s running out on your exclusive deal. Get £20 off £75+. [Link] Ends 26/2
Which do you think is better? Example 1 or 2?
If you chose 2, we’re in agreement. First off, that typo in example 1 is theirs, not mine. But that isn’t why I chose number 2. The second one is better because it starts off with a statement of urgency. “Time’s running out” encourages me to read the rest of the message to see what it is I might be missing. If I was in the market for some office supplies I might rush down to the store or go online to take advantage of the deal before it ran out.
Compare that with the first example and you have no urgency. It’s a great deal and if I needed ink I might click the link for the coupon, but I could also decide to do it later. It isn’t until after the link (which in the actual message was a rather long mess of random characters, probably half the character count of a standard text message), that they insert the “Ends 20/3”. Maybe I read that in the message, maybe not. But if I don’t see it then wait two days before I decide to buy ink, the coupon is no longer valid. So what do I do? I might wait for another coupon, or I might go shop somewhere else I know has cheaper prices.
But the more observant among you are probably thinking the call to action was the same in each message. Both wanted you to click on the link for a coupon to use in store or online. True. But neither of the messages said to click on the link. Instead they used up their character count with other words. In example 2 those words were useful. In example 1 they were not useful, but a failed attempt at humour (I’m guessing).
So in both these examples the retailer assumed the reader knew to click the link for a coupon. That’s probably a valid assumption for most people these days, but I’d still love to do a test with them to see if clarifying that call to action improved their results. I’d also have them test placing the expiration date of the coupons before the link. More people might notice it then and redeem the coupons more often.
In my next blog I’ll look at a few more examples and try and narrow in on what it takes to create a good SMS call to action. Come back and read it, I’d love to hear whether you agree with me or not.
Just for fun, I asked people in a marketing focused Facebook group to share the worst SMS marketing messages they’ve ever received. I was expecting a deluge of responses, but actually only a few trickled in. But those horrible SMS marketing messages are out there…the comments on my post proved it even if no one wanted to share (I guess they’re all shy).
In a recent post I covered how to create urgency in your SMS marketing messages. It didn't feel right to leave out a few other key components - the U companions. In copywriting circles they are often called the 4-Us. They are: Urgent, Useful, Unique, and Ultra-specific. So to make sure I don't leave anything out, here I'll show you how to use the others in your SMS messaging.
Is there such a thing as a "perfect" SMS message? Yes, there is, but there isn't just one example of a perfect message. There are so many uses for SMS messages that each of them would have their own perfect example. How many different types are there? This infographic includes a short list of some types.
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In marketing, everyone wants to be more influential and persuasive in order to build loyalty and return custom. To gain the highest ROI, businesses want their marketing campaigns to speak to every individual in such a way that makes them feel connected and yet, with every will in the world, an SMS marketing campaign is only going to achieve this high conversion and success if it manages to tap into consumer psychology.
You worked hard to get those customers on your SMS marketing list. But now they are unsubscribing like crazy, or maybe just no longer responding to your messages. What happened? Maybe you’ve committed one of the following common, but easy to fix, errors that can completely drive your customers away.
Because they are so short, word choice is important in SMS messages. You need to convey instructions and the benefits of following those instructions in few words. If you’ve ever struggled to find just the right one, check out our list of action inspiring words for SMS messaging.