What Makes an Effective SMS Marketing CTA: Examples and How-Tos

July 18, 2023 Julio Romero

Reading time about 10min


What Makes an Effective SMS Marketing CTA: Examples and How-Tos

Jairene Cruz-Eusebio on Sep 9, 2021 11:21:05 AM

So you’ve finished your marketing pitch to a prospective client. Your message is clear and compelling. Your customer understands the message; however, he doesn’t know what to do next. Should he close the promotion? Should he send you a message? What should he do next?

How do you ensure that your customers perform a specific action that leads you to achieve the goal of your promotion?

Simple: with a Call to Action.

A call to action (a.k.a. CTA) is a term used in marketing that refers to a message asking for an immediate response from the recipient. CTA’s are often used as part of sales, fundraising, and lead generation campaigns. CTA’s can be found throughout all levels of an organization – from emails and web pages to text messages and social media posts.

There are many different types of CTA’s but they all have one thing in common: they must be compelling enough so that the person who receives it takes some sort of immediate action! In this article, we will discuss what makes an effective CTA, how you can use CTAs to reach your marketing goals, and examples of CTAs that work best depending on your marketing goals.

The Importance of a Call to Action

Many advertisements – especially those created by new businesses – leave out the CTA in their advertisement copy. This is because they believe that potential customers don’t need to be told what to do and that they’ll take the action automatically if they’re interested in a product or service.

Additionally, many professionals who are just getting started also believe that a CTA can seem annoying and will end up turning off more customers than it will attract.

However, neither of these could be further from the truth.

The fact is, a business can never assume that a prospect knows what steps to take after viewing an advertisement. We all know that when you assume, you make an A$$ out of U and Me.

A CTA serves as a clear, easy way to guide people through the sales funnel without being overly intrusive.

For example, consider email advertisements. Some marketers might believe that there is no reason to include a CTA button in an email. After all, the button will take up space that can be used to provide more information to the reader. Additionally, most marketing emails include hyperlinks, which readers can use to access products they are interested in. However, a study found that adding a CTA button to emails increased click-through by 371% and sales by 1617%!

Another study found that CTAs are similarly effective in other formats, including in SMS marketing messages. 33% of all recipients of marketing SMS messages were discovered to have responded to CTAs, and nearly 50% of those respondents ended up making a purchase.

Without a CTA in your advertisements, you risk losing numerous prospects – and the profits that will come with them.

How to Make an Effective SMS Marketing CTA

Each medium has different guidelines that you should be cognizant of when creating your CTA.

Email, for example, has far more space than other marketing mediums. With billboards, on the other hand, marketers need to be aware of the physical space that their CTA will take and consider whether the design will leave them enough space for the rest of the ad as well.

SMS is no different. If you’re looking to craft an effective CTA for your marketing text messages, there are some considerations to keep in mind. These include:


The most essential part of an SMS is the space limit. Text messages are usually limited to 160 characters per message. Not only does this space need to include an effective CTA, but it should also be able to fit all the other information you need to convey to your client. Even the link to your store should be shortened enough.

Of course, if your message doesn’t fit within 160 characters, you are free to go over the limit. Just remember that for every additional 160 characters comes additional fees. As such, your CTA must be concise—meaning it should be short and straight to the point.

As far as possible, it’s important to make sure the CTA is part of the actual body of the text message.


Unlike other marketing mediums, there is no clear “button” that text receivers can push at the end of the marketing copy. Buttons help mask the URL and make it more attractive for a person to click on them.

On the other hand, text messages rely on URLs, which means that your link needs to be appealing as well. You can edit your URL with the help of custom URL shorteners to give the link some context.



Image previews are useful in conveying to the customer the action you want them to take especially since humans are highly visual creatures. Images can easily capture the attention of your target audience.

There are two ways to show previews of your offer or promotion, and these are:

  • By adding an image in the message

Many businesses are now making use of the image attachment as their CTA. However, while this does provide you with more characters to work, it’s essential to keep in mind that many people may not accept image files from unknown individuals or may have too poor service to be able to open the image you send them.

Furthermore, adding an image means converting your SMS into MMS, which charges higher than a regular text message.

  • By adding a hyperlink

You’ll be delighted to hear that you can now include images in an SMS with the use of hyperlinks. The feature works on iOS 10 and higher, as well as Android devices with Oreo and above.

The most crucial thing to know is that hyperlinks are required for this function, not the SMS itself. So it may or may not work based on the device. Some images might not actually appear immediately; users would have to tap to preview.


Given the above-mentioned considerations when it comes to crafting an SMS CTA, businesses should realize that when it comes to a short-text format such as text message, the CTA should be the end of the build-up. The message as a whole should lead to the CTA in order to be as effective as possible.

Some ways to make your marketing messages (and resultant CTAs) more effective include:

  • Short Messages

Remember, user attention is limited. People expect text messages to be short and easily consumed, so keep your texts concise as far as possible so that you’ll have more space for an effective CTA.

  • Value

Your CTA involves asking the receiver to complete an action. However, in order for them to do so, they need to be getting something out of the action as well.

Use the message to let the receiver know why they should do what you’re asking of them. For example, if you’re running a limited-time sale, let the receiver know this fact before using the CTA “Buy Now!”

Alternatively, if making a purchase will provide them with early bird access to a new loyalty program or will offer them double the loyalty points, make sure to point that out in the message.

All in all, your CTA should be beneficial to the consumer in order to be effective, and the customer must know exactly what those benefits are.

  • Urgency

The more urgent your message and CTA are, the more likely a customer is to act upon it. For example, if you’re running a month-long sale, there’s a lower chance that the customer will click “Buy Now!” on the first of the month than they will if you send them a next on the second to last day of sale, using language such as “Last Chance to Buy!”

Not all marketing messages require the use of urgent language, of course – but where possible, make sure to leverage a customer’s FOMO (fear of missing out) in order to craft an “urgent” message and CTA they are more likely to respond to.

  • Creativity

While it is possible to use a stock copy for your text message, keep in mind that there’s every chance that your customer has received a similar-sounding message in the past from another business.

Instead, try and make sure your message copy and CTA stand out. As far as possible (and as far as it aligns with your business values), keep your language fun and creative.

Call to Action Examples You Can Use for Your SMS Marketing

Your CTA should be personalized to your business and the action that you’re asking your customers to take. However, this doesn’t mean you should create a Call to Action that is too unique that only you will understand!

CTA’s should be simple and direct so that any user can understand what you’re asking them to do.

It doesn’t have to be too complicated or something exclusive only professionals would understand; rather, a CTA just needs to tell customers how they can take action on an offer or promotion by responding with their actions.

With that being said, there are many different types of well-known CTAs that work well on SMS Marketing and that customers can easily understand. These are:

Buy Now

Variations: Shop Now | Visit Our Store

This is probably the most popular call-to-action used in SMS marketing and social media marketing. This CTA suggests urgency by letting people know they only have a few days or hours left before they miss out on an amazing promotion; it’s perfect for time-sensitive offers such as limited-time sales. This works best when targeting customers at the end of a promotional period.

Shop our products here

Variations: Get it here | Shop the Look

This CTA lets users know where specifically they can find the product/offer you’re promoting over SMS Marketing channels (i.e., online). It works well when promoting a specific product line instead of promoting your entire catalog.

To make this CTA even more convincing, images or short video clips of the product you are marketing.

Get Yours Today

While this may sound like the one above, this CTA can be used not just to prompt a purchase but may also be used for free promotions.

For instance, if you want to increase email or SMS subscriptions, you would likely offer your customers something for free. Let’s say you are sending your customer a transactional message or an update on their order and they have not subscribed to your SMS Marketing yet, you can include a free offer in exchange for signing up as a subscriber.

A sample message could be something like this:

Your order is now on its way to you. Thank you for your purchase! We are giving away a free mug to all our loyal customers, get yours today before stocks run out. https://GiftsOnline.com/free-mug

Click the Link

Variations: Click here | Check it out here | Click to discover more | Click for more information | Visit our website

This call-to-action is best used when you want customers to click on a link that brings them directly to your website. This CTA tells the customer exactly what they need to do in order for you both to achieve your goal of driving them to your website.

Of course, this requires that you include a link in your SMS message.

Reply with {Keyword}

Variations: Text back with {keyword} | Text {keyword} to | Just send {keyword}

By prompting your customer to respond with a keyword, you create a space to start a one-on-one conversation with your customer. This kind of CTA can start an automated conversation that further engages your customer.

Make sure to end the CTA with an explanation of why the customer should text you back – for example, one relevant CTA might be “Text back with CALL to get a customer service executive to call you back.”

Alternatively, use the text copy to make the benefit of texting clear – for example, if your text copy is about a new loyalty program you’re starting, you can end with the CTA “Reply with JOIN to more information.”

Enter {keyword} at checkout

Variation: Use the promo code

A discount code makes it more likely that a customer will click on your CTA and visit your website. At the same time, by only allowing them to implement the code during checkout, you ensure that customers must go through a good portion of the online shopping process – which increases the likelihood that they’ll take the final step and actually make a purchase once the discount code is entered.

Contact Us

Variations: Reach out to us | Call Us

This CTA suggests urgency while letting people know how they can speak with someone about your offer right away. It’s also a good option if the services you offer require a more detailed explanation than a single text message can provide (for example, an investment advisor who is looking to reach out to newcomers in the investment world).

It works best when used during sales promotions, charity donations, and lead generation campaigns; but feel free to use it however you like!

By prompting people to call, email, or chat with you for more information, you once again open up a channel through which you can engage in a one-on-one conversation with your customers. This is a great option for businesses looking for more detailed feedback, as they can use the conversation as a start point through which to ask for a review of their services.

These kinds of CTA are best used when trying to provide better customer service, thereby ensuring customer retention.

Of course, it is necessary that you include contact information such as your phone number, email address, chat handle, or live chat link.

Subscribe Now

Variations: Subscribe Today | Sign Up Now | Sign Up Today

You can use this CTA for a subscription-based offer or for free events that you are promoting. If you are marketing an offer that requires a subscription, make sure you let your audience know about the details or main features of the offer. It is up to you if you want to include the price or not.

If you’re looking for customers to subscribe to an online newsletter, a new blog that you’re debuting, or anything in between, a “subscribe now” then the CTA should include the word “free” if the service is not a paid one.

Even if you believe the “free” part of it should be obvious, advertising the same encourages your customers to think of your service as a value-add proposition that they are receiving for no charge. Remember, people are attracted to free products, and by making use of the psychology of free, you can convince people to sign up for your subscription-based services.

Join now

Variation: Enter here for your chance to win

This CTA is great if you are running a raffle or contest. Use this if you have an event where one lucky winner will be chosen from all those who opted-in or entered. It implies that it’s easy and simple to enter so this CTA should only be used with contest offers instead of sales promotions where people must spend money in order to take advantage.

Learn More

Variations: Find out how | Find out more

Use this CTA when you have an informational campaign, a lengthy offer with multiple parts, or any kind of promotion that requires further information. Since SMS messages are pretty short, you can use this call-to-action to prompt the user to visit your website or any other landing page that contains additional information.

This works best in piquing the interest of the user, especially when you expect to reveal something exciting.

Start Improving Your Call to Action Today!

Calls to action are a crucial component of SMS marketing campaigns. In the end, CTAs that work best will depend on your marketing goals so keep the abovementioned tips in mind when creating CTAs for your text message campaign!

If you need help developing effective CTAs then contact us today. We have experts ready and waiting to partner with you in order to develop an awesome customer engagement strategy that gets results.

Better yet, sign up for one of our plans and get a 14-day trial run for free!


Topics: SMS Marketing, Best Practices