Text messaging transformed from a simple communication channel between mobile phone users to a digital marketing channel for businesses. That’s hardly surprising. The read rates on SMS messages are just as strong as ever. Around 90% of all SMS messages are opened within three minutes.
If you have an online presence, you’ll probably want to utilize text messages to funnel people to your digital properties. This guide will discuss how to add links to your text messages. Let me walk you through the process.
The Difference Between Links and Hyperlinks
To kick this guide off, I’d like to get our definitions in order. You must be clear on the difference between links and hyperlinks. Although they have the same function, there are subtle differences between links and hyperlinks.
A link is a URL. By entering the URL in your browser, you can access a website, landing page, social media page, etc. Hyperlinks are simply URLs that are wrapped in anchor text.
For example, this is a hyperlink to Hosting Foundry.
When you click on a hyperlink, you are taken directly to the target website. You can hyperlink a piece of text using hypertext or hyperlink media, like an image. Hyperlinks are normally embedded in articles.
If there is no anchor text around the hyperlink, it’s called a naked URL — which is common in text message communications. For example, “https://clicksend.com”
1. Use a URL Shortener
Character count is important with SMS messaging. A text message has a 160-character limit; any extra characters will mean that you will be paying for extra message parts. Thus it makes sense to try to convey your message in the fewest characters, without compromising on spelling.
Unfortunately, most links are long; a blog post might have a URL with 30 characters or more. The obvious solution to this problem is to use a link shortener.
Here are other reasons to use a URL shortener:
- Vanity links can allow for branding
You can create a branded link. Branded links help your customers make an association between your links and your brand. They’re also easier to remember.
- Link shorteners help you track performance
Some link shortening tools allow you to track clicks. For example, you can see how many people clicked on a link, and using analytics tools like Google Analytics you can learn more about your audience demographics.
There are many URL shorteners you can use. Bit.ly, for instance, is commonly used. It’s easy to use, too — just input the URL and Bit.ly will automatically generate a shortened link. SMS tools like ClickSend can also automatically shorten links in text messages.
2. Avoid Spammy-Looking Language
Make sure you avoid spammy-looking language when you include links in text messages. Remember, people are often cautious about clicking on links unless they trust the sender. Since this may be your first time to send links in text messages, don’t risk losing potential customers by using language that will make them suspicious of your texts.
That’s why it’s also important for you to send messages only to people who have actually opted in. If you send a text message with a link to someone who never interacted with your brand, that person is more likely to ignore and delete your message. You might even get blacklisted. No one likes receiving messages from people they don’t know or haven’t interacted with at all.
In the same manner, you need to include an opt-out in your text messages. You wouldn’t want your recipients to feel like you’re forcing your messages on them and marketing messages must have an option to opt-out. Give them the option to not receive your messages for a change.
3. Track Your Link Click-Through Rates
One of the most important pieces of data you can track is the click-through rates. Click-through rate (CTR) refers to the percentage of SMS recipients who click on your link from the total number of people who viewed the message. You can use insights like CTR to determine how strong the copy is in your message. When using the ClickSend URL shortener, you can see how many people opened links in your message.
Otherwise, it’s also possible to track this manually by adding Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) tags to the link. UTM parameters are essentially a unique string you include at the end of the URL that allows analytics tools like Google Analytics to track user behavior.
Adding UTM Tracking
To implement UTM tracking, you can use Campaign URL Builder. It’s a great tool because you can easily generate a tracking link; Simply enter the URL that you want people to go to, add your campaign source, medium, and name. The tracking link is then automatically generated for you to copy and paste into your campaigns.
For example, when sending text message campaigns, you might choose to enter:
- Campaign Source: ClickSend
- Campaign Medium: Text-Message (or SMS)
- Campaign Name: June-Marketing-Blast
Then in Google Analytics, you will see the performance in the Campaign report under June-Marketing-Blast. You will also see changes in the Source/Medium report for Source/Medium = ClickSend/Text-Message.
When you combine CTR with other pieces of data, it can paint a full picture of how successful a marketing campaign is. For example, if you decided to use online course software to build a course for your following, you could combine the click-through data on the link with how many people actually signed up for the course to determine the conversion rate.
4. Turn Images and Documents Into Links
Text messaging supports textual information. Before smartphones, you wouldn’t add images to a message. That has changed over the last two decades with the popularity of rich messaging services and MMS. There are ways to add a PDF document or image file link to an SMS marketing campaign if you choose not to set up an MMS campaign.
All you need to do is upload the image or file to your preferred cloud storage/sharing platforms (such as Google Drive or Dropbox). You then retrieve the link attached to the file for sharing.
You should set the accessibility preferences on each file so that no permissions are required when recipients click on the link. Next, take the link you’ve received and run it through a shortener (like we discussed in the earlier paragraphs). That way, the link doesn’t eat into your limited SMS character count.
5. Test Your Links
Once you’ve prepared your links and written the text message, you need to make sure all those links work. Just send that text you were supposed to send to your text subscribers to your mobile phone. Copy and paste or press the link to test if it works. If there is an error, you’ll need to update the link.
After you have tested your link, go ahead and send those text messages in bulk to your subscribers. That last step in your campaign is just a fail-safe to ensure everything runs smoothly. After all, you don’t want to send a text message to one thousand people only to discover you sent a broken link. That would be embarrassing and all your marketing efforts will have been for nothing.
People are more likely to open a text message than an email and as a business, you can take advantage of this. Use SMS to complement other marketing channels and reach your audience more effectively. Remember the five points above to ensure that your text message campaign is as efficient as possible and to help you achieve your marketing goals.
About the Author
Jayson David is the lead writer, editor, and researcher at Hosting Foundry, which helps businesses find the best web hosts for their needs. A web hosting savant, he checks and publishes all the content on the site.