How to Design a Text Message Sign

Over the years we've seen some really good text message signs with clear calls to action, and we've also seen some that are, well, not so good. Since we don't require our clients to purchase our signs, some of them use their local sign company.

We literally tell them, "Go for it, but be sure to copy the wording and design of our signs as closely as you can." Why? Providing a poor call to action is the number one reason clients don't get the results they expect.

Getting signage right is important, and after conducting A/B testing on signs with different calls to action, size, placement, etc., we arrived at what works best. If you don’t buy signs from us, we want you to copy us. Keep the following in mind when designing your signs.

These are not earth shattering scientific discoveries, but they are key to mobile marketing success:

    1. Is it readable?

      Sounds simple enough, right? At DriveBuy, we call it the curb test. My vision is not the best from a distance any longer. We place the sign on a wall and step back about 20 feet. If I can read the sign, most people will be able to do so from inside their cars.Thinner bold fonts seem to work best for readability.

    2. Does the call to action make sense?

      This is a hot topic at DriveBuy. Our first signs had the call to action as such:

      Text HOME2 to 88000

      In early 2008, a property management company in Houston asked that we reverse the order of the keyword and short code because it made more sense to their agents. The call to action they wanted:

      TXT TO: 88000 MSG: HOME2

      At the time, we questioned the move, but made the changes to their new signs and shipped them off. The results were apparent immediately. As soon as they put the new signs out, their inbound leads increased dramatically. We have to remember that most people are used to sending text messages to other phone numbers, not short codes and they usually enter the phone number first during that process.

    3. Why would I do that? Value propositions that work.

People take action for a reason. Couple this fact with our learned aversion to sales & marketing tactics, and what we need to do is clear: Give them something of value. Communicate this, the value proposition, next to clear instructions, and you’ve got yourself a winning call to action. Contrast the following:

1) Want a brochure?

2) See Price, Pics and Availability on Your Phone Right Now!

Which is more likely to draw responses? The one that tells them they will be rewarded with something of value, instantly, option 2. This is the key to mobile marketing, just as it is the key to requesting action from consumers in general.

Text Message Sign Evolution Example

Original Sign

Poorly Designed Text Message Sign in All Regards

The Problems

Call to Action, Size, Readability

  • Call to action is obviously to Call the phone number. Wonder what the prospect will get at 10:30 PM on Friday night?
  • Or you can type out the website url on your phone(of course the site has lots of flash which doesn't work well on any mobile device yet)
  • If that doesn't do it for you there's a text message thing at the bottom. WOW a "brochure" that sure does sound "cool"
  • The yellow really does jump out at you, but it's very hard to read because of the cityscape background
 

Improved Call to Action

Text Message Sign With Improved Call to Action

The Problems

  • Readability is still terrible

The Improvements

  • Call to action is reordered in the priority of Text, then Phone or Web
  • Call to action provides value. Immediate relevant information I'm interested in right now.
 

Improved, but not quite there

Improved Text Message Sign

The Problems

  • Branding/colors not consistent with web presence

The improvements

  • Much better readability
 

Optimized Sign

Effective Text Message Sign

The final version has a color scheme consistent with the website the prospect will hopefully visit one day from a device that can handle the flash and various other coolness the site has to offer.