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How to Write the Perfect Marketing SMS Message
SMS Marketing 101

How to Write the Perfect Marketing SMS Message

Welcome to anatomy class! Today we are covering the anatomy of a successful marketing text message. After this, you'll have all the SMS elements needed to pack the most click-through and conversion power into each message you send. 

May 24, 2022

The Anatomy of a Successful Marketing Text Message 

SMS marketing is an intimate marketing channel. It allows brands to cut through the noise to create thoughtful, authentic interactions with their customers and build community. 

To truly utilize this marketing tool, you need to have all the SMS elements covered so that you can pack the most click-through and conversion power into each message you send. 


SMS stands for Short Message Service, more commonly known as “texting”, and includes no multimedia component. There’s a strict character limit of 160 (for comparison, Tweets can be 280 characters).

MMS, short for Multimedia Messaging Service, enables messages that include images, audio, or video content, in addition to plain text. By attaching a picture, gif, or video to an SMS message, you’ve created an MMS text. Using MMS is a way to enhance your CVRs and CTRs with engaging content. 

Subscribers are often more likely to make purchases if your promotion includes images, GIFs, and other types of graphics. Voyage data shows that MMS best practices include sending MMS messages for welcome series, brand building and awareness campaigns, product launches and waitlists, and conversion drips like abandoned browse, cart, checkout, and back-in-stock notifications. 

MMS Image and GIF Guidelines

Here are a few quick guidelines when drafting MMS for your campaigns: 

File Type

Static images should be in JPG format, while animated images should be in GIF format.


JPG is supported by most devices and renders the fastest. Keep the most important content in the middle of the image. Use a tall image with a 9:16 aspect ratio and no transparency:

  • 640 x 1138px 
  • 1080 x 1920px

Animated GIFs for MMS should be a square or tall images with the following dimensions, with no transparency:

  • 480 x 480 px (recommended)
  • 640 x 640 px
  • 480 x 640 px
  • 480 x 720 px

Image Size

All images must be 500KB or less. 

SMS Copy Length

Your word choice should be snappy, efficient, and reflect the vibe of your brand in as few characters as possible. Certain products and services benefit from longer messaging, but the majority of marketers will find success with visually stimulating content like shorter messages, graphics, and emojis. Experiment with spacing to achieve a visually-captivating effect.

Call to Action (CTA) in Texts

Maybe the most important of an SMS message is the CTA: what you want the subscriber to do after reading. 

Clarity is key: “Use this code” or “Follow this link.”

How you describe discounts matters, as well. Data shows that telling customers they’ll “save 10%” is more effective than saying “10% off.”

SMS Links

Your message won’t do any good if it doesn’t include a link that gets the customer to the exact right place they need to be. Always include links at the end of messages, after you’ve made a compelling case to click with your copy.

SMS platforms, like Voyage, will automatically convert any URLs in messages to short links for tracking and attribution purposes. We also append default UTMs to your links so that you can track inbound traffic from these short links in Google Analytics, Mixpanel, and other analytics tools.

Pro Tip: Always double-check your links before sending your campaigns. Don’t accidentally confuse your customers and erode trust by sending them to the wrong page.

Emojis ⛵

Emojis represent an easy, reliable way to liven up your copy. Use them to emphasize an idea, or in place of punctuation like bullet points.

Don’t go overboard! Too many emojis can make your texts hard to read or look spammy to your customers. 


Most importantly, be sure that all elements of your message (copy, images, GIFs, emojis, etc.) are consistent with your brand’s tone and positioning. Customers like consistency, so give it to them. Let your company’s style and voice shine through.

Sending Your SMS 

When you go to send your perfectly crafted message, you need to keep it within “regular business hours.” Restricting SMS to reasonable hours is not only important for fostering quality customer interaction, it’s also part of the law. The TCPA mandates that SMS texts are limited to regular business hours, which are defined as 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

🔎 Check out our full Compliance Checkup here

Across Voyage clients, we’ve noticed the following trends:

  • Wednesday: Highest click-through rates (CTR)
  • Tuesday & Thursday: Highest conversion rates (CVR)
  • Weekdays: Early AM & Lunchtime are the most effective
  • Weekends: Late Morning through Early Afternoon is the most effective

These trends could always change, but they're a good starting point for planning.

More SMS Best Practices 

Crafting the perfect text message is just one of the topics we cover in our new guide—The Definitive SMS Marketing Guide. In the guide, we cover everything about SMS, from the optimal candidate for managing your program to setting up a successful acquisition channel, all the way through benchmarks, best practices, and stellar campaign examples.

To learn more about SMS best practices and more, download the Definitive SMS Marketing Guide today!

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