Crafting Compelling Copy: Techniques for writing engaging and action-driving text messages

Crafting Compelling Copy

Have you ever received a text message that made you immediately stop what you were doing and take action? Maybe it was a flash sale notification from your favorite store or a reminder about an upcoming appointment. Effective SMS copy taps into the immediacy and personal connection that texting offers. 

This blog post will unpack the techniques that make SMS a powerful tool for driving customer engagement.

4 Key Elements of Effective SMS Copy

Think of your SMS message like a miniature billboard – you have seconds to capture attention and get your point across. Here’s how to make every word count:

1. Keep Your Messages Concise

Most mobile carriers limit SMS messages to around 160 characters. Embrace this constraint!  Force yourself to distill your offer into its most essential and enticing form. Start with the most important information and trim any unnecessary phrases.

2. Focus on the Value Proposition

Your text message shouldn’t just announce a sale or event; it needs to answer the urgent question in the recipient’s mind: “What’s in it for me?”.  Highlight the immediate benefit they’ll receive – is it a discount, exclusive access, or solving a problem?

3. Use Powerful Calls to Action (CTAs)

Don’t leave your reader guessing what to do next. Use active verbs to create a clear call to action like “Visit Today,” “Reply YES,” or “Claim Your Offer.”  A touch of urgency (“Expires Soon,” “Limited Quantities”) can increase response rates but don’t overdo it to the point of sounding spammy.

4. Timing is Everything

Consider when your message will have the most impact. Is it a message best sent right before the weekend? During typical business hours? Experiment to find the optimal times for your specific customer segments.

Align your offer with the timing: Range visit promotions are more effective sent on weekends or weekday evenings, when people have more free time.

Choose Your Words Wisely

The right words can turn a simple SMS into a persuasive powerhouse. Here’s how to make your language work for you:

Embrace a Conversational Tone

Your SMS messages shouldn’t feel like faceless corporate announcements.  Aim for a friendly and approachable tone, like you’re texting a valued customer (because you are!). Avoid stiff, overly formal language that doesn’t fit the format.

Tap into Power Words

Certain words trigger emotions and a desire to act.  Sprinkle these throughout your messages: “Free,” “Exclusive,” “New,” “Instant,”  “You/Your,” “Limited Time,” “Today.”  Be strategic – don’t overuse them, or they lose their impact.

Emojis: Proceed with Caution

Emojis can add personality and a touch of fun to your SMS campaigns.  But use them judiciously!  Consider your brand – does a playful emoji fit your image?  Make sure the emoji’s meaning is crystal clear to avoid misinterpretation.  When in doubt, err on the side of professionalism.

Best Practices and Things to Avoid

Follow these guidelines to keep your SMS marketing on point and out of the spam folder:

Lose the Text Speak

While abbreviations might be fine for personal texts, they undermine professionalism in business messaging. Always prioritize clarity – don’t make your recipients decipher your messages.

No Yelling!

SMS messages in all caps come across as shouting and are harder to read. Stick to standard capitalization rules, except perhaps to emphasize a SINGLE word within your message. 

Respect the Rules

SMS marketing has legal requirements. Ensure you have explicit opt-ins, clearly identify your company, and always provide an easy way to opt-out. Specific industries (e.g., alcohol, tobacco, firearms) have additional regulations like age-gating and may face restrictions or outright bans on SMS marketing. 

Examples in Action

Let’s see how our principles translate to real-world SMS success. Below are a few examples inspired by messages our clients at OtterText send:

Example 1: Range Membership Renewal

“Hi [Name], your range membership expires on [date]. Renew today and get 10% off your next purchase! Reply YES for details or visit [link]”

Range membership sample SMS message

Why it works: Personalization, clear value offer, strong CTA, easy opt-in for more info.

Example 2: Firearms Class Promotion

“Expand your skills! Beginner’s Handgun Safety Class this Saturday. Limited spots – register now: [link] “

Why it works: Compelling language (“expand your skills”), urgency, directs to easy signup.

Example 3:  New Product Alert

“[Customer Name], the [hot new firearm] just hit our shelves! Want to be the first to try it? Stop by today.”

Why it works: Exclusivity appeal, creates excitement, tailored to likely interested customers.

Example 4:  Retail Flash Sale

“FLASH SALE! $25 off all bulk cases of 500+ ammo rounds TODAY ONLY. Use code AMMO25 online or show this text in-store.”

Why it works: Urgency, valuable discount, versatile code for multiple channels.

Example 5:  Customer Appreciation

“Thank you for being a loyal [business name] customer! Enjoy a free lane on us. [Code]”

Why it works: Builds goodwill, direct incentive to return, and trackable redemption code.

OtterText SHAFT compliant for firearms


SMS marketing, when done right, offers businesses an incredible opportunity to connect directly with their customers. By mastering the art of concise, engaging, and action-oriented text messages, you can drive sales, boost loyalty, and enhance your overall marketing results.

Ready to take your SMS campaigns to the next level? OtterText is here to help!  Our powerful platform offers robust automation, customization, and personalization features, ensuring your messages always hit the mark.  Plus, our team is dedicated to compliance, providing guidance and tools to keep your campaigns on the right side of regulations.

Start your 14-day trial today!