13 Words That Inspire Action in Your SMS Messages
“Brevity is the soul of wit”, says Lord Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. That quote has become one of the most well-known and repeated sayings from the play. And while it is true in life (arguably), I propose that there’s a corollary for SMS messaging: “Brevity is the soul of action”.
My reasoning is that you need to inspire action while using as few words as possible. In that sense, word choice becomes incredibly important. Thankfully, you don’t need to brainstorm the best words on your own. In copywriting, there are certain words known to be effective. You can find lists of them all over the internet.
But you need to be careful. Not all the words work well in SMS messaging. Words like “amazing”, “extraordinary”, or “ultimate” can work well in some forms of copy, but they are just wasted characters in a text message. That’s because they are descriptive, but don’t directly imply a benefit or action.
I’ve sorted through many lists online and picked out the top 13 I feel are the most powerful for inspiring action in SMS messaging. Combine them with your specific offer and your response rates may go up.
The first set of words I’ll focus on all have implied benefits. That is, the words themselves make people feel or understand what they will get just by reading the word. Some words in the list have a dual purpose of also creating urgency too.
- Win – This is an obvious one, right? They will win something, or at least have a chance of winning if they take action.
- Limited – One of the biggest motivators for taking action is the fear of missing out. This word tells customers they need to act, or they might not get what they want. This fear makes people act quickly.
- Hurry – This word is similar to “limited”. If they don’t hurry, they will lose out on whatever is being offered. But the benefit is that if they do hurry, they will get it!
- Now – “Now” is a great, short, substitute for “Immediately”. It takes up fewer characters but has the same impact because you can’t get any more immediate than right now. Depending on how it is used, it could mean the benefit is they will get what they want now, and if they wait, they won’t.
- Exclusive – Who doesn’t want to be part of something exclusive? If they take action, they will get something, or be part of something, that other people don’t get. Exclusivity makes people feel special.
- Learn – The implied benefit of this word is also obvious. The person will be more knowledgeable and understand something they didn’t before. This is important because while purchasing decisions are almost always made emotionally, people need to justify it with facts they learn.
- Discover – This word is similar to “learn”, but it carries with it an air of more excitement. You “discover” treasures, while you “learn” in school.
- Need – This is a good word to use to highlight what your list needs – or remind them of it. If you point out they “need a break” or “need a holiday”, they will likely immediately feel the need. Then they might just take you up on your offer that fills that need.
These words above are potentially loaded. They carry with them an implied meaning or emotion that you can use to your benefit. The next list is not loaded at all but still inspires action.
These words are just straightforward action words. They are simple and tell the reader exactly what you want them to do. When you provide clear instructions, it’s much more likely the customer or client will do what you ask.
- Join – This is one of the most popular words used in opt-in campaigns. It immediately lets your customers know they are becoming part of something – your VIP list or whatever you call it – when they follow your instructions.
- Reply – There isn’t any doubt about what you want someone to do when you tell them to reply. Just be sure to tell them what to say when they do – like “Reply YES to confirm”.
- Show – When using mobile coupons in-store, the word “show” tells customers exactly what to do to get the mobile deal. “Show this message to the cashier” or “Show the mobile coupon at checkout” are good examples. Everyone knows how to “show”.
- Click – People instinctively know what “click” means, even on a mobile device. Sometimes marketers will use “tap” instead, but click means click, even if you’re doing it with a finger instead of a mouse.
- Text – If someone is on your SMS list, then they know how to text. If you need them to text a reply, then you can use “text” instead of “reply”. It’s also used in opt-in campaigns with messaging like “Text DEAL to 87007” to get a deal and sign up to a list at the same time.
Action words are the arsenal of any SMS marketer, even more so than for traditional marketing. That’s because you need your messages to say more, in less space, and fewer words than emails, websites, or videos.
The words listed here certainly aren’t all the possibilities, but they are ones that work well. There are also many short phrases or other words that can complement these too. Just remember to stick to words that inspire action, or provide clear instructions in every message.
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 terms of storytelling, SMS text messaging is probably as far removed from long-form, direct-action copywriting as you could be. However, the SMS marketing writer can still learn a lot of lessons here with regard to overall approach, content and composition.
While there are many ways you can probably think of to promote your SMS opt in campaign, there may be some “free” channels you’re neglecting. Thanks to Google, I can point out seven of them. At the mCommerce Summit Google gave a presentation about app promotion and optimising. I can’t even convey how exasperated the presenter was when he talked about how many opportunities companies just let slip by.
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.
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.
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.
With its 456 character limit, SMS Marketing challenges us to be succinct, ensuring we pack the most into our punch and deliver powerful and effective calls to action in a minimum of words. With some research and planning, it is still possible to craft great messages that get results and still stay well within the limits. In this article, we share 9 power words and phrases to help to you do just that.