Brad Down

5 top tips for sending SMS marketing messages

When creating an SMS marketing message there are some very basic things in that you need to remember to do so you don't annoy your subscribers. One of my other businesses is an SMS marketing website and I am constantly surprised at the amount of marketers that attempt to send campaigns without these basic things in place. As an SMS is limited in size people try to save characters in a variety of ways and sometimes forget to put in the most basic of information.

You might think that an SMS is just 160 characters and that there isn't much to worry about, but you would be wrong. SMS is a very personal and direct medium, without considering carefully the content, delivery and calls to action in your message you could potentially see a lot of opt-outs from your list. However if you do it well SMS can become a powerful and well regarded part of your marketing strategy.

1. Display your business name.

So many people forget this most basic of information. There are a couple of ways to do this.

a) You can set the caller ID (number sent from) to be a name up to 11 characters (no spaces). The issue here is that it is not a number so recipients cannot reply to it and you still have to have an opt-out method in your message. Your message might look like this.

Members get 50% off all styles
tomorrow only at flagship store.
Open 9am, 100 Chapel Street, Prahran.

Opt-out SMS STOP 123 to 0429705882

You can use manual methods to opt people out as well, but these are less likely to be used and continual messages to people that can't opt out easily will create a bad brand perception. eg.

For info or opt-out call the store on 03 1234 5678

The benefit of a name in the caller ID is that you get a little extra branding on the incoming message. The drawback is that you need to use more chars to include to the opt-out number.

b) The alternative is to use the opt-out number as the caller ID. You then must remember to put the company name in the message. eg.

From: +61429705882
TOP FASHION members get 50% off all styles
tomorrow only at flagship store.
Open 9am, 100 Chapel Street, Prahran.

Opt-out reply STOP

With this method the message is slightly shorter and it is easier for the recipient to opt-out. Over time this will generate less complaints and be more positive for your brand.

2. Qualify the recipient

People NEVER remember why or how they got onto a mailing list, it could be as fleeting or inconspicuous as a competition entry, a survey or making an in store purchase and giving details. Smart companies and marketers are now collecting opted-in numbers from customers at point of interest and point of purchase. What they aren't doing is qualifying the recipient when they send out the messages. This is much easier to do on email as you have as many characters as you need to explain how they came to be on your list. With SMS it is a little more difficult.

Generally by identifying your company that will be a start, then just mention the relationship before the offer. e.g. Members, Customers, April Competition Entrants etc etc. By quickly mentioning how the recipient came to be on the list it will make them feel easier about the communication. This is especially important with your first communication.

3. Add an interactive call to action

You can easily engage a customer by mobile by adding quality calls to action. You can use SMS keywords to have people reply to the message with. This is great for event interest. eg.

From: +61429705882
Real Estate Legend Course Graduates. Free
advanced course  intro seminar starting in
Sydney in November.
Take your property skills to the next level.
Interested? REPLY YES

Opt-out reply STOP

With keywords you can also add auto-responders that can send further details and add them to separate lists.

You can also add URL's to mobile web pages, google maps, mobile video and even application downloads. There are a multitude of URL shorteners available that are excellent for use with SMS. is probably the most popular and it has analytics so you can see how many recipients visited the link.

From: +61429705882
Real Estate Legend Course Graduates. Free
advanced course  intro seminar starting in
Sydney in November. Take your property skills
to the next level.

Watch intro video on your mobile

Opt-out reply STOP

4. Deliver good quality information and offers

I know this may seem a little simple but as mobile is such a personal medium you need to make strong, time sensitive offers to give people a sense of value from your SMS messages. They need to feel that they are getting something that others aren't and that it was a good decision to give up their mobile number.

Good SMS content can come in the form of freebies, discounts, mobile coupons, reminders, links to free applications, competition entries, mobile video, alerts. Just sending out a vague sale alert tends to come across as spammy and will probably result in an opt out. Most importantly make the recipient feel that they were special in receiving the SMS, with good SMS platforms like Burst SMS you can use database variables to insert the persons name and other details into the message. eg.

From: +61429705882
Hi [firstname], As a Club Fabulous Subscriber,
show this SMS to jump the queue this Saturday
night 25th July. +50% off cover charge for you
and a friend.

Member: [number]

Full DJ lineup

Opt-out reply STOP

5. Don't try to be funky with text language

Shortening words and funky acronyms are used by people with no keyboard, some marketers try to use this language to save characters or 'connect with Gen Y', we find it is much better to speak in simple plain proper language. When marketing you need people to read and understand a short succinct message quickly, they don't need to be deciphering some kind of code.

Also people know you have access to a keyboard and plenty of time to think about what you are writing so you will come across as being a 'try hard' in the eyes of youth anyway. Keep it short simple and to the point.

By following these 5 simple tips you will have the basics down for creating powerful and useful text messages for your marketing campaigns.

The underlying concept is to treat peoples mobile numbers with respect, they aren't like email addresses people only have one. They can't just give you a purposely setup one just for collecting spam. They make a conscious decision to trust you with this data and should you abuse it you will be opted out and never be given the opportunity again.


Posted by Morel hudson, 30 May 2011

thanks for the tips.
You're right about basics being missed
In many Marcomms across most media.


Brad Down Burst SMS Brad Down
Company: Burst SMS
Position: Head of Innovation
17 years experience in web design and usability, advertising, marketing and graphic design. Morphing into mobile marketing and SMS expert. Multi skilled, creative and passionate. My goal is to make the web easier to use and more useful for everybody. Specialties: Mobile Marketing, SMS Marketing, Enterprise SMS Solutions Read Brad's full bio

Latest Articles by Brad

February 5 | Is this the beginning of the end for Apple?
July 25 | IAB Australia launches Digital Workflow guidelines
October 30 | Communications Council Digital Committee launches Pitch Guidelines

Article stats

30 Days: 0 articles, 0 views
All time: 0 articles, 0 views

    Follow me on Twitter


    Burst SMS

    SMS is quickly becoming the channel of choice when you want people to hear what you have to say. Unlike email, SMS is very personal and always gets eyeballs. It is short so does not have a time commitment barrier to read.  More info & Contact Details



    NSW Public Sector Grades 9-10 High Performance and Leadership Workshop NSW Public Sector Grades 9-10 High Performance and Leadership Workshop

    Develop and refine core skills and key leadership capability to achieve success and excel in NSW Grade 9-10 level roles and beyond.

    WA Public Sector Level 7-8 High Performance & Leadership Workshop WA Public Sector Level 7-8 High Performance & Leadership Workshop

    Develop and refine core skills and key leadership capability to achieve success and excel in Western Australian 7 - 8 level roles and beyond.

    Executive Assistant Development Intensive Executive Assistant Development Intensive

    Adding value and enhancing your personal and professional effectiveness as an Executive Assistant.

    The Women in Project Management Leadership Summit 2018 The Women in Project Management Leadership Summit 2018

    Practical advice and strategies to guide female leaders for career advancement in the project management space.

    Public Sector Workforce Analytics Workshop Public Sector Workforce Analytics Workshop

    Emerging tools and frameworks to enable best practice workforce analytics and planning for HR Professionals.


    With Imagination With Imagination

    Providing Strategic Web Solutions. We specialise in website design and website development, web applications and a range of e-marketing services.


    A leading full service digital marketing agency with hubs in Auckland and Sydney. Marrying digital design, technology and marketing, as a multi-disciplinary digital agency we deliver campaigns and creative that targets, captures, engages, convinces

    Reactive Reactive

    Reactive is an award-winning digital agency that provides digital strategy, user experience, web design and development services, offering creative excellence and technical innovation in the online space.


    Full service digital agency with the creative firepower and technical know-how to handle any digital project.

    Amnesia Razorfish Amnesia Razorfish

    Amnesia is a full service digital agency and part of largest digital agency in the world, Razorfish.


    LATEST DIRECTORY LISTINGS Boost SEO - add your company for free

    Mad Dog PromotionsProtonbits Software Pvt LtdCat Rubbish RemovalEnertec Windows & Door SystemsVacuumSpotSally Dasouki - Melbourne Victoria, AustraliaVazooky DigitalDr TurnerAspect Shade