Mastering Hooks & CTAs in SMS Marketing

Every great story has a powerful beginning and an equally compelling ending, and the technique isn’t just for novels anymore. Great beginnings and endings can help you increase readership and response rates in your marketing materials. In fact, cleverly crafted hooks that start a story and the calls to action at the end are essential elements in every successful campaign. Messaging campaigns are no exception.

Here are our suggestions for writing great hooks and CTAs.

Crafting the Hook

Keep it short

With SMS messages, you have an established message length of 160 characters, fewer if you include opt-out and help instructions. This means your hook needs to start the message off with a bang — ideally in ten words or less. This guideline isn’t for the sake of the character count alone. It’s also necessary to capture the attention of your consumers. Everyone is busy, so using a short and straightforward hook to get their attention is ideal.

Use power words

Use power words

Powerful and emotive words are a hook’s secret weapon. These words snag your audience’s attention by being more memorable and intentional than others, yet they’re also simple and easily digestible for all audience types. Power words lead consumers to establish a differentiation between competing brands and can be stimulating enough to create a desire to purchase a product. Here are some powerful words you can test in your next hook: free, now, new, save, effortless, you, easy, expires, today only, reliable, guaranteed, money-back, and risk-free.

Make it personal

Friends and family members send text messages to each other all the time, and the messages are highly personal. Similarly, customers want their communication with you to be personalized. The hook can help make your messages authentic and human. For example, try adding your customer’s name to the text using custom fields. And if you do, make sure the character count in your message leaves room for long names.

You can also try an intro that feels conversational, not computer generated. Your opener is an opportunity to build a bridge between your audience and your brand’s personality. Whether bubbly and energetic or more formal and technical, the hook should leave your audience with an experience that reminds them of your company. Check out the difference in these two examples:

Impersonal Language:

Summer deals start today at XYZ 
Company! Click here for more info.

Conversational Language:

Buy a gift for a friend and 
get yourself one for free! 
Click here to treat yourself
and a friend to BOGO spa 
services this weekend.

Conquering the Call to Action

Create a sense of urgency

SMS messages reach your audience instantly, so it seems logical for your customers to reply quickly, too. But what is their incentive? Why should they act now and not later? Your CTA must convey a sense of urgency.

The good news is that there are several ways to create urgency around your company’s offer or opportunity.

  • Put deadlines on sales or offers.
  • Offer “today only” deals.
  • Promote contests and sweepstakes with entry deadlines.
  • Show how much stock is still available. 
  • Announce new products and services with discounts available for limited times.
  • Follow up on purchases with discounts for additional purchases.


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our new relaxing spa products 
by Labor Day. Click here 
to start your best day ever.

Convey value

Convey value

Your message should conclude with value for your audience. Sales and limited-time offers or deals are clever ways to create monetary value within your CTA.


Text REWARDS to 93247
for your 20% off coupon.

Conveying value is especially important when your messaging campaign is designed to build brand awareness. For example, if your CTA’s goal is to increase traffic to your website or a new blog, your customer needs to know what’s in it for them if they do. This is an opportunity to introduce your brand and the value it offers.

Keep it short and specific

Character count matters and your CTA should be brief. You don’t want to increase the cost of sending messages because you’re over the character limit. Also, if messages are long, they can be divided and sent out of order which is confusing for your customers.

Keep it short and specific

So how do you make it short but also clear? By getting to the point. Tell your audience precisely what action you want them to perform: call us now, subscribe today, see the offer before it expires!

Now that you’re ready to craft powerful hooks and CTAs for your SMS messaging campaigns, our team is ready to show you how SMS-Magic can make connecting with your customers easier and more effective with a demo or free trial!

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