Writing messages

In this section, we'll cover the constraints and possibilities of text message content. We'll walk you through some best practices for writing messages. You can also read TextIt's suggestions for message content.

HIPAA

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Character limit

Each text message is limited to 160 characters. That includes letters, punctuation, and spaces. You can use a website like Character Count Tool to help you stick to this limit.

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Identify yourself

Your text message will be coming from a number without a name attached, so you'll need to identify yourself in the body of the message. This takes up valuable characters, but it's important to do with each message so that recipients know who's texting them. Starting your message with "KCMO Health Dept:" is an example.

Multiple messages

If you can't fit your message in a single text, you can also send a series of messages. Unfortunately, they don't always arrive in the correct order. It's a good idea to number your messages if they're part of a series, eg: (1/2), (2/2).

From a recipient's perspective, multiple messages can sometimes feel excessive or overwhelming. Also, remember each message has its own financial cost. Only send multiple messages when you need to.

Abbreviations

It's common to save space in text messages by using abbreviations. However, the meaning of abbreviations isn't always universally understood. We recommend you use abbreviations sparingly.

You can include links in your messages. This is a great way to direct people to more information, but remember that not everyone has a data plan or access to wifi.

Remember, they'll be opening the links on their phone. Are you linking to a mobile-friendly website that can easily be read on a phone?

Phone numbers

Make sure you format any phone numbers correctly so that recipients can click to call (for example, 555-555-5555).

If you include a phone number, make sure the people in charge of answering that phone know you're directing people to them!

Unsubscribe

You're legally required to give recipients a way to unsubscribe from your text messages. Luckily, TextIt has this feature built in. Anyone who replies with the word "stop" will be automatically removed from your flow. Not every recipient will know about this feature, so it's best to include instructions in your message. A good example is "Text STOP to unsubscribe".

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Keywords

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Languages

You can run the same campaign in multiple languages. If you have prefered language data about your recipients, you can sort people into different language groups.

Testing

Even simple messages can have different meanings to different people. One easy way to make sure your meaning is clear is to test it with different people. Show your message to a few people who aren't working on the project. Ask them to tell you what it's saying in their own words. If any of them misinterpret it, consider rewording.

TextIt has some additional testing suggestions here.