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How to Fit More Content into an SMS

These tips and trips are the practical know-how we share with our clients daily to ensure they get the maximum out of every SMS and utilize the tool to its full effect. Here are some of the neat things you can try to both increase the cost efficiency as well as make the SMS a more useful tool for your business. 

1. Characters You Can Freely Use 

The length of one SMS is up to 160 characters – only if you use characters in GSM 03.38 charset:

@£$¥èéùìòÇ`Øø`ÅåΔ_ΦΓΛΩΠΨΣΘΞ`ÆæßÉ!\"#¤%&'()*=,-./0123456789:;<=>?¡ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZÄÖÑÜ`¿abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzäöñüà

So first and foremost - if you are looking to have your message within that 160-character limit, these are the only characters you can use.  

Note: Try out our SMS Length Calculator to see if your message fits!

2. Save space for more characters by not using extended characters 

There are 9 characters in GSM 03.38 Extended charset, which take up 2 characters, not just one:

^{}\[~]|€


So instead of using (curly) brackets, use regular parentheses. This way you can save space for one more character. You can also replace the pipe “|” character with a capital i – nobody will really notice the difference and yet you save one additional character, making it two saved already. 

Want to show some currency such as EUR? Use the “€” sign instead of “EUR” to use up only two characters instead of three. The same goes for USD, GBP and JPY. 

Also, swap all backslashes “\” with regular slash character “/” to save one more extra character. 

Lastly, just avoid using “^” for the sake of simplicity. 

So, with these steps, you can save 5 additional characters. 

Messente has also developed a tool that can replace those characters for you automatically.

3. Avoid Unicode characters

If you use characters, which are not in the GSM 03.38 charset, the SMS is forced to use the Unicode character set and one SMS becomes only about half the length – 70 characters. 

So, unless it is essential to use a character from Unicode, try to avoid it as it can turn a one-part message into several part messages increasing the cost two, three or even fourfold. 

If your alphabet uses some diacritics, then replace those characters with regular letters or GSM-friendly alternatives. 

For example, in the French alphabet, there’s the “ô” character, which is not in the GSM charset. You could easily swap it with plain “o” or maybe “ò” to keep the message within the 160-character limit. 

4. The invisible characters 

Every now and then we have a client turn to us who are confused about their 160-character text being charged as two messages. 

After some investigation, it becomes clear that they have accidentally used some Unicode space characters, which look just like regular space. So, it is almost impossible to discover those unless you use special tools to check the message before sending. 

If Unicode spaces are used, the SMS is forced to use Unicode charset, which makes the SMS length decrease to 70 characters once more! 

5. Shorten those links 

Using some link shortening services like bit.ly will cut down a link of 20-30 characters into 5-10 characters, saving you a bunch of space once more. We have written a quick tutorial about using links in SMS messages. Check it out! 

Conclusion

Fitting everything in that 160-character limit is a real challenge. By following these tips, you can be sure that the limit is used to its full extent.

Jaanus Rõõmus
2019-03-26 00:00:00 UTC
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