Making the most out of 160 characters

While the humble SMS is a very efficient means of communication, it has one huge drawback: it’s limited to only 160 characters. Friedhelm Hillebrand, one of the platform’s innovators, determined that it was sufficient enough as it was the average length for a two line typewriter blurb. It was also the average length for postcards back then.

The standard stuck ever since. But though SMS has become a prime marketing tool, businesses still have to cram what they can into just 160 characters. Dropping vowels and using text speak is fine for casual conversations. However, they look very unprofessional when used for SMS campaigns.

160 characters isn’t much. But by following the tips below, you can make sure that your SMS campaign is getting the message across.

Start with your call to action

Prioritize what you want your customers to do. Whether you want them to use a coupon code, take advantage of a special promo, or interact with your brand through SMS, always lead with a clear-cut call to action. Reserve the fluff for other communication channels. When it comes to converting a recipient to a customer, short and sweet is key.

No backstories or elaborate explanations

Don’t waste your 160 characters by eloquently explaining the reason behind your latest promo. Being direct to the point is never rude, and it’s so much better to have an easy-to-understand message than a touching, elaborate one that’s read but not acted upon.

Shorten links

Links are long, and most of them will eat up 160 characters for breakfast. If you don’t want your SMS to just be a link, use a URL shortener like, Bitly, or TinyURL. Not only do they shrink links, they also include analytics so you can track how many clicks your campaign receives.

Do what headline writers do

Take a look at the front page of any newspaper and you’ll notice that the day’s top story is often times five words or less. But with just five words, editors are able to draw in curious eyes and effectively communicate the gist of their stories. Typically, they only use keywords, rarely use extra articles and pronouns, and effectively incorporate verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Though the style can only be mastered with years of practice, it can be easily picked up and incorporated into your 160-character campaign.

Reread and proofread

There are so many ways to make your text shorter while still retaining its essence. All it takes is to read it again, and again, and again, until you’re sick of your own writing, then rereading it again. You’d be surprised at how much you can trim when you’re thoroughly familiar with your message. Over the limit by 10 characters? Read it more. Over the limit by 1 character? Read it again. Trust us when we say that the epiphany will hit you like a truck.

But don’t fear if you really can’t find a way to meet the 160 character SMS limit. Busybee PowerBlast allows you to write messages up to 1,000 characters long, as well as to easily manage, schedule, and track the progress of your SMS campaign. Know more by visiting (or follow our Official Facebook Page at and contacting (02) 929-2222 or (63) 917-837-2000.