What Makes a Great Call to Action in an SMS Message?

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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?

Example 1:

Get £30 off £100+ on any ink/toner purchase. Restock without a needing pot of gold. [Link] Ends 20/3

Example 2:

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.

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