What’s the difference between “that’s funny!” and “that’s funny.” in a text message? The words might be the same, but the meaning is entirely different. The reason? Punctuation sets the tone of the message. While the exclamation point is a universally acknowledged symbol for expressing excitement, things like sarcasm cannot be expressed easily over text. As a result, millennials have evolved entirely new rules to communicate a spectrum of emotions on text, built entirely on the use of punctuation or lack thereof. In this world, periods are used to communicate sarcasm, even aggression.
Millennials have their own unique rules for texting, and Gen Z has its own — whichever side you’re on, chances are that you’ve been filled with incredulity when texting with someone from the other generation. When it comes to SMS marketing and text messaging, it’s critical to know your audience and the way they interpret texts. Speak in a language — and in a way — that they understand. Here’s what to keep in mind when texting a younger crowd.
Punctuations set the tone
We’ve already seen how punctuation can change the sentiment of a text message. So how do you maintain sentence structure and clearly convey your ideas if your audience detests periods? You’ll need to get creative. Consider this example:
Hi Maria! I hope you’re loving your new 👠! If you are, be sure and rate them ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Here’s a free gift of 10% off your next pair: SHOES10
There are four sentences in that example, and no periods. Two exclamation points exude a tone of excitement, reeling the recipient of the text in. The star emojis break up the text and offer a clear prompt. Finally, there’s no need for punctuation on the last sentence, since it ends in a coupon code (or link). Voilà! A text message that any Millennial will easily read and get the right sentiment from.
Exclamation points aren’t the only way to set the tone in a text to younger audiences. Here’s a quick cheat sheet for how your punctuation gets perceived:
- Period (.): A statement that’s formal and final.
- Exclamation point (!): Genuine excitement and positivity.
- Question mark (?): Genuine inquisition and curiosity.
- Interrobang (?!): Puzzled surprise or startled amazement.
- Ellipses (…): Rhetorical or suggestive sentiment.
It’s also common to use emojis to break up sentences, as a sort of punctuative statement at the end of a thought.
Emojis need to serve a purpose
Speaking of emojis, SMS marketers need to get very familiar with what they mean and how to use them. Your choice of emoji has a big impact on the words you use alongside them. A single emoji can change the entire feel of a sentence. For example:
- Have you tried our new Butterscotch Latte? 🤤
- Have you tried our new Butterscotch Latte? 🚨
- Have you tried our new Butterscotch Latte? ❄️
Though they say the same thing, each message offers a different meaning. The first emoji evokes a delicious connotation to kickstart someone’s cravings. The second emphasizes that it’s a new product, appealing to a person’s sense of curiosity. The last emoji implies a seasonal slant, which might trigger urgency — “get it before it’s gone.”
Emojis can also help you cut down the length of your message and save you valuable characters — especially when you’re trying to keep the cost of your messaging low.
Through emojis, you can say a lot by saying almost nothing at all. Just make sure your emojis serve a purpose. Packing them into an SMS marketing message will come off as insincere — or worse, confuse the message you’re trying to send. Keep your emoji game on-point and make sure they add value to your text messages.
The less you say, the better
Texting is a short-form medium: short message service (SMS). Keep your sentiments short, sweet and to-the-point! The length of your text makes a statement about what you’re trying to say. It happens on a bell curve:
- Extremely short texts of 1-5 words are too curt and come off brash.
- Texts spanning 1-2 sentences are great, but need to have succinct meaning.
- Texts as long as 2-5 sentences are ideal, so long as the sentences are simple.
- Messages that are 1 paragraph are complex and might just be skimmed.
- Extremely long texts of multiple paragraphs will likely be ignored outright.
Depending on what you need to say, you’ll want to keep SMS marketing texts between 2-5 sentences. One or two sentences are okay if you make a clear, meaningful point. You might also be able to get away with a paragraph, provided it’s a short one that has immediate and apparent value for the reader.
So, what should you say? Be direct and specific, while keeping your tone positive. In a 2-5-sentence text, your cadence might look something like this:
- Positive, personal introduction
- Thankful or appreciative statement
- Question relevant to the recipient
- Prompt or call to action
- Link or actionable item
Depending on the nature of the email — to solicit a review or encourage an order, for example — you might omit sentence one, two or three. What matters is that your message is quickly read, easily processed and valuable to the reader.
Make the message relevant
The most egregious mistake you can make in texting Millennials or a Gen Z audience is to spam them. If the message isn’t personal or relevant, it’s spam. The quickest way to land your business on a blocked caller list is to market indiscriminately.
There are a few core elements that distinguish SMS marketing from a spam text. Make sure you include as many of the following as possible:
- The recipient’s name
- Pertinent detail that ties them to the message
- A core takeaway that’s relevant to them
- A real value proposition or incentive
- An authentic tone and sentiment
If your message sounds generic, feels impersonal or lacks authenticity, your audience will likely read it as spam. SMS marketing needs to feel like it’s coming from another person — that is, after all, the point of a text message conversation.
Send the right message
Follow the above tips when crafting an SMS marketing message and your message is more likely to hit home with a Millennial or Gen Z audience. Remember, it’s not just what you say — it’s how you say it. Be succinct, use purposeful punctuation, emote carefully and keep it relevant. Check these boxes and you’ll find that your audience is more receptive to your marketing, and willing to have a conversation with you.
Want to explore the powerful potential of conversational SMS, to grow your business and strengthen your brand? Chat with an SMS expert at Voxie today to schedule a demo.