Today we want to share our #1 SMS marketing software hack that is guaranteed to make your texts more readable and actionable — and that we don’t see many brands taking advantage of. As an added bonus, this can be implemented on any SMS marketing software, making it an easy way for you to quickly uplevel your SMS messages today.
Think fast: when’s the last time you received an SMS message from your favorite brand? Refer back to that message and you’ll see that it was probably an assaulting mix of capital letters, call-to-actions, hyperlinks, promo codes, terms and conditions, with no paragraph breaks… not the easiest thing to read, right? If you received a marketing email with no paragraph breaks, just one long string of uninterrupted text, you’d send that email straight to the trash. Same goes for LinkedIn, Facebook, or anywhere else you receive messages. So why when using your favorite SMS marketing software do you not include paragraph breaks in your message?
What is a Paragraph Break?
There’s been some confusion in SMS marketing about what differentiates a paragraph break and a line break, and which one is better for SMS messages. Both should be available in whatever SMS marketing software you’re using, but we always recommend using the paragraph break over the line break. Simply put, a line break is when you separate out text copy in your message by tapping the return key once, a paragraph break is when you tap the return key twice. A line break will move text in your SMS message down to the next line, a paragraph break will move it down two lines, creating a space between the paragraphs. We always recommend in SMS marketing to use a paragraph break instead of a line break, as it does a much better job of making the text more readable and actionable.
You might be asking: what’s the big deal with paragraph breaks?
Benefits of the Paragraph Break
There are a few reasons why this simple SMS marketing software hack is so powerful.
1. Paragraph breaks make messages more readable.
For one, eyes naturally try to anticipate where to look next, whether you’re reading a novel, a chart, or a text message. (Imagine trying to read an entire novel with centered copy… it would become super fatiguing and frustrating.) So help those eyes by breaking up your texts with a paragraph break, and making your copy far more readable as a result. By adding a paragraph break, you can draw eyes to the key points of your message, with separate lines for your company name, your offer, and your call-to-action. Suddenly, your message is far more scannable, making it easier for your audience to digest and take action.
2. Paragraph breaks capture reader attention right away.
Speaking of taking action, studies show that consumers now have the attention span of a gold fish — just a few seconds. That means that it’s never been more important to capture your audience’s attention, and capture it fast. By putting your offer, deal, or discount at the top of the message, and dropping everything else by a line or two, you immediately hook your audience’s attention around what matters most. Because they can’t see the entire message right away, they’re more inclined to open the text message and keep reading for the remaining details.
3. Paragraph breaks make your call-to-action more visible.
The most important part of your text message now becomes super clear. Instead of consumers having to scan a jumble of letters, links, and capital letters, you can make the URL that you want to direct consumers to stand on its own. That makes the link super clear, which is super effective for directing consumers where to click, so they can make their way out of the text message and onto your website where they can make a purchase.
Best Practices for Paragraph Breaks
Pretty simple but pretty genius, right? Below are a few best practices for using paragraph breaks when creating your message in your SMS marketing software.
1. Avoid breaking links.
This should go without saying, but we’ve seen it done. Make sure that you avoid getting too break-happy and accidentally add a line or paragraph break in the middle of your URL. Not only does this render your URL (and therefore the point of your text message) pretty useless, but it doesn’t make you look like the SMS marketing pro that you are. Make sure you only break before and after the URL in your text message — not in the middle of any links.
2. Test on mobile screens.
Testing sounds like common sense, but you would be surprised how often it’s missed, and how many headaches that this simple act can save you from. When you’re building your text messages within your SMS marketing software, the message looks much more readable than it is on mobile phones. Plus, your paragraph breaks may fall in completely different areas. So make sure you preview your text message — paragraph breaks included — on iPhones and Androids to make sure the lines fall where you want them, without leaving any awkward words hanging. Better to spend 60 seconds testing before you send out your message so you can make a quick change if needed, versus realizing an error after your message has gone out to millions of people.
3. Add double or triple paragraph breaks.
There are no rules as to how many paragraph breaks that you can add. Just like in marketing emails, when the footer terms are at the very bottom of the email, you can apply the same treatment with text messages. Consider adding two, three, or even four lines between your text message content and the terms and conditions. It’s kind of crazy when you think about it, that regulatory terms would get equal weight to the rest of your message. But that’s exactly what most SMS marketers do when they skip adding a few lines of space between their message and the terms.
4. Keep a captivating opening before your first paragraph break.
You can see in our video and the SMS marketing examples below that most companies include their company name first, and offer second. We would recommend a paragraph break only after that initial offer. Otherwise, you’re not providing anything to entice your audience to open your message. You want to pique your customers curiosity with a sale, promotion, or deal. If that’s what you’re offering, put it at the top of your message, and paragraph break after. Otherwise, all consumers will see when they preview your text message is your company name, and while we love the sound of it as much as you do, that’s not exactly an open-worthy teaser.
5. Keep links on their own or paired with CTA at most.
One final best practice for this text message marketing strategy is to keep hyperlinks separate from other copy, or paired with a quick call-to-action at most. That means that you either add paragraph breaks around the URL that you are pointing your audience to, or you add a brief directive right before it, like “Shop Now” or “Donate”. If you add a long list of directions, you accidentally bury your link when you want it to be easy for readers to scan and click on.
SMS Marketing Examples
Below are a few of our favorite SMS marketing examples from SMS Archives, where we’ve taken their original message (on the left), and added some strategically placed paragraph breaks (on the right), to show you how much readable and actionable the text messages become.
Humane Society of America
We love the Humane Society, but as you can see with the example on the left, it’s hard to know where to look. Your eyes quickly scan everything, but probably get lost in all the text. However, with the text message marketing strategy applied on the right, it now becomes very easy to quickly see what the message is about. Someone who receives this message would see that this is an urgent message from the Humane Society and open the message. They would then see one clear paragraph about what the situation is, followed by another clear paragraph about how to help, and a final call-to-action with a link to donate.
To see more SMS marketing examples from the Humane Society of America, check out SMS Archives.
What we love about applying this text message marketing strategy in the example below is that the terms and conditions are no longer getting as much (or more) attention than the offer itself. With the image on the left, your eyes are drawn to the blue phone number, but that’s not at all where you want the attention to be. You want readers to see the delicious half-price cheeseburgers! When you apply this SMS marketing strategy to the message on the right, now it’s super clear what the message is about and how to take action. The terms and conditions are a couple of paragraph breaks below, so they’re not even what your eyes pay attention to. See the difference?
To see more SMS marketing examples from Sonic, check out SMS Archives.
If you received the message on the left as a marketing email, you would be super confused — it’s just a mix of words with no real beginning, middle, and end. But the message on the right aligns with what consumers are used to seeing in marketing messages. At the top is a clear headline; immediately, a subscriber knows that Bloomingdale’s is hosting a private sale. Awesome! Then, the offer is super clear: subscribers get to take $25 off every $100 spent on select regular-price items with code PRIVATE. Quick, easy, to the point. Then, the eye is immediately drawn to the blue hyperlink, and because there isn’t a ton of text around it, the subscriber knows exactly what to do with that link — shop! We also like how the deadline is a few lines below the message so no one misses out, and the terms are a few lines below that, so they are the last thing that viewers see without stealing the focus.
To see more SMS marketing examples from Bloomingdale’s, check out SMS Archives.
One final example is Papa Murphy’s. We like that Papa Murphy’s already applied a few line breaks in their message on the left, but we would add even more. With just a line break, the copy is still close together. It’s only marginally better than a text message where the copy runs together completely. The message on the left gets those awkward line breaks, as it looks like the $12 was meant to be on the line above, but ran too long. But on the right, it’s super clear what the message is about because of the use of the paragraph break. The link stands visible on its own, the offer is clear, and the terms are at the bottom, so they don’t compete with the message being featured.
To see more SMS marketing examples from Papa Murphy’s, check out SMS Archives.
Try it Yourself Today
What do you think about using paragraph break in your messages? Let us know in the comments if you’re up for giving it a try or have ever used it yourself on your own SMS marketing software.
And if you have any questions about setting up your own text message marketing program, or making it even more effective, SMS marketing strategy is kinda our thing and we would love to help. Contact us here.