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Never Say LOL: Avoiding Textese in SMS Marketing

While such timeless phrases as LMAO and BFF may have made it into the Oxford English Dictionary in 2011, that doesn’t mean it’s time to incorporate them into your next SMS marketing campaign. This isn’t to say there’s no industry or business where textese could be completely valid – campaigns and sweepstakes based around the act of SMS messaging itself could do quite well sticking with the lingo, in fact – but the vast majority of businesses have a specific tone and voice they need to stick to. So-called textese acronyms are popular in casual conversation, but can definitely send the wrong message when it comes to marketing.

Company Character Consistency

One of the biggest issues with using text speak in a marketing campaign is the dramatic change in company’s voice. Though 160 characters may not seem like much, it should be more than enough to keep your company’s voice intact while getting your message across, or at least serving as a hook to bring customers and subscribers to a more detailed landing page. Textese is seen as the most informal of information communication styles, and can cause character whiplash for customers familiar with a specific tone of voice from your campaigns.

This sudden change in tone can be confusing even for loyal customers. While list segmentation helps ensure that your textese messages only go to a specific niche audience, it’s probably better not to chance confusing anyone, and put the LOL back on the shelf for use outside business hours.

Muddying the Message

The single largest problem with using textese in an SMS campaign is the all-too-real risk of your subscribers not even being able to understand what you’re marketing for. A full six out of ten adults admit to being “textlexic”, that is to say, they can’t decipher more than a handful of textese phrases, according to a 2012 report by the Daily Mail, While LOL and OMG have become more or less household phrases with the advent of texting and Twitter, other acronyms and abbreviations leave many readers baffled.

98.7 million people are text message enabled as of 2013, with close to half of them over the age of 25, the age where textese stops being quite as easily understood, according to Statistic Brain. If as many as 60 percent of these users don’t understand textese, do you really want to run the risk of having an SMS campaign that almost 30 million consumers can’t understand?

It’s all about clarity. SMS marketing is so effective because it’s short, sweet, and to the point. The succinctness of messages and ease of access gives this marketing method a higher open rate than any other and greater conversions than most mainstream marketing strategies. When you choose to utilize abbreviations and acronyms with no way of knowing how much of your target audience will be fully able to comprehend the message hiding in that handful of letters, the impact of the campaign can be severely damaged, if not lost altogether. At the end of the day, it’s better to stick with language everyone knows. If your campaign is going to leave them saying “OMG,” try not to be the one saying it.

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