iPhone iOS 10+ offers new functionality for how consumers can see hyperlinks in SMS marketing messages: as vibrant images instead of just plain text. Imagine the difference this makes for converting subscribers into customers. If you’re a restaurant, showing a mouth-watering link preview image of pizza is going to get your customers to click and place an order. If you’re a retailer, showing a link preview image of an on-trend outfit is going to make your subscribers want to click to buy.
iOS Link Preview Optimization
Since 99% of all U.S. iPhone users are running iOS 10+ now, it’s important that as an SMS marketer you’re taking advantage and optimizing link preview images in your messages. For information on how iOS renders these link preview images, check out iOS Link Previews: What SMS Marketers Need to Know.
Examples of SMS Marketing Messages with Link Preview Images
Now for the fun stuff: let’s look at a few examples of how top brands are using link preview images in their SMS marketing messages.
#1 Sand Cloud
Sand Cloud is a mission-driven beach lifestyle apparel and accessories company. It sells towels, apparel and accessories, and donates a portion of each sale to non-profit marine conservation organizations. In Sand Cloud’s text message, it’s interesting to note how their domain name appears. iOS messages with hyperlinks show the host of the domain name, but no actual domain path. This is the case whether the SMS message is still in the “Tap to Load Preview” state, or the subscriber has clicked to see the image like above.
#2 Dollar General
Dollar General is a chain of discount variety stores. Note the domain appearance in this example, in contrast to Sound Cloud’s SMS message. Dollar General appears to have used a link-shortening service, because the host name of the link shortening domain appears. Note that for both of these examples, the full domain path is hidden, which helps the messages look cleaner and clearer.
#3 New York & Co.
New York & Company is an American wear-to-work retailer for women. In their text message, they include a photo of a woman wearing a sweater. This is way more engaging than just sending the plain-text SMS message without the image, as it draws the subscriber in, and makes them want to click to browse similar sweaters, even if they weren’t thinking about making a purchase before.
Dressbarn is a retailer of plus-size women’s clothing. We love how Dressbarn uses their SMS hyperlink image to add additional text in the image itself. Instead of just showing a photo, Dressbarn uses the space to add context like “New Arrivals, New Deals, New Website.” That’s a great use of the photo, and a perfect way to get around only having 160 characters in the actual text itself.
Macy’s is an American department store chain. Macy’s uses the image in their SMS marketing message to showcase their highly recognizable logo. This is a great approach if you’re having a major sale on more than one category of item, and want to entice all kinds of demographics to click on the image. For example, instead of showing a men’s or women’s clothing item—therefore only speaking to a segment of subscribers—Macy’s relies on their logo to draw their audiences in equally.
#6 Festival Foods
Festival Foods is a family- and employee-owned grocery company operating stores throughout Wisconsin. Festival Foods sent an SMS marketing message with an image linking to their blog. We love how they include a ton of detail in their hyperlink title. A subscriber can see that they’re clicking through to a blog post for more information. This is a great use of the hyperlink title if you want to convey that there is more to read than subscriber’s can glean from the text message alone, encouraging them to click through.
Cratejoy offer hundreds of monthly subscription boxes for all hobbies, interests, and passions. In their text message, they showcase one of their boxes in an on-brand image, which makes people want to click to see what’s inside. We love how they took the Macy’s approach, providing an image that speaks to their entire audience, instead of limiting their text message’s reach by getting too specific with one kind of box.
#8 Auto Zone
Auto Zone is a leading auto parts retailer selling replacement parts and aftermarket accessories for cars, trucks, and SUVs. Auto Zone features their classic tagline in their SMS hyperlink message, with the hyperlink title reiterating the text message. This is a great approach because even if subscribers won’t read a full text message, at a glance they can get the gist of it from the hyperlink title. It’s a great way to bypass any blindness that subscribers may have to marketing messages, and give them a fresh way to see what your message is about.
Jamba, formerly known as Jamba Juice, produces blended fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies, and other healthy products. Jamba takes a minimalist approach with their SMS hyperlink message, which actually drives reader attention back up to the text message itself to see what it’s about. Because all you can see is “refresh and refuel,” it’s natural to want to get more context, which the SMS message provides.
Chili’s Grill & Bar is an American casual dining restaurant chain. They also use a minimalist approach with their hyperlink text message, but they drive home the headline. In less than 10 characters, they show readers what the offer is: 3 delicious pasta dishes for $10. We love how they also show the pasta dishes themselves, because if you weren’t hungry before you received the text message, you are now!
#11 Jack in the Box
Jack in the Box is an American fast-food restaurant chain. Jack in the Box uses the word “unlocked” in their SMS marketing message, which piques subscriber curiosity. What is unlocked? It makes readers want to click on it to take advantage of the action word. Showing their bright, recognizable logo makes the whole text message look so much more polished than just a static plain-text SMS message.
#12 Pet Supplies Plus
Pet Supplies Plus is a chain of pet stores carrying a wide variety of pet foods for any pet. Pet Supplies Plus uses their SMS message to send out their monthly flyer full of deals. In order to see the deals more easily, a subscriber would want to click on this text message. The one thing that Pet Supplies Plus could take advantage of in the future is editing the SMS hyperlink title so that it looks less like a file name, and more like another headline drawing readers in.
We hope that helps inspire some fresh ideas for how to use link preview images to send even more engaging SMS marketing messages. To learn more about how Apple renders these link preview images, be sure to check out iOS Link Previews: What SMS Marketers Need to Know.