Best Practices for Using URLs in SMS Text Messaging

Best Practices for Using URLs in SMS

Including URLs to web pages in your text messages is an easy and effective way to drive traffic to forms, surveys, app downloads, virtual meetings, and other helpful information. Since phones automatically hyperlink valid URLs, your supplementary information or follow-up action is just a quick tap of a link away. Here are some best practices for ensuring a positive user experience for your audience and a successful outcome for your organization.

Get Your Own Short Domain on a URL Shortening Service for Text Messaging

SMS text messaging is limited to 160 characters, so there’s not much room for long URLs. Using a URL shortening service is a great solution for overcoming this challenge. These services not only generate short URLs that automatically forward to your long URLs, they often offer tracking and other useful features as well.

However, relying on their default domains (e.g. is not a good choice for your audience or your organization. We’ve all received unsolicited email and texts that include common URL shortener links. Sometimes these are phishing attempts where the sender is intentionally obscuring the destination link to drive people to enter their password, credit card, or other personal information. As a result, many of us have learned not to click or tap when we see these common short domains.

Most URL shortening services such as and Rebrandly offer custom domain services at reasonable rates. This means they will register and host a custom short domain name exclusive to your organization. This way, your audience will recognize YOUR DOMAIN and feel confident taking action, knowing the message is truly from your organization.

Place URLs at the End of Text Messages & Preface Them with Clear Descriptions and Instructions

When including a url in a text message, it’s important to clearly state what you are sending and what you want your audience to do. Placing the URL at the end of the end of your message helps make your instructions easy to understand (i.e. do this and do it here). It also minimizes confusion if a long URL wraps to another line.

Always preface urls with meaningful identifiers (including organization and department names) and instructions – even for recurring texts. This is important because organizations often send many types of messages from the same phone number. For example, if you include a descriptor, your audience will know whether a virtual meeting link is for a 3pm Marketing Meeting or a 4pm All Hands Meeting. Including platforms for virtual meetings will give people a heads up in case they need to download something in advance.

Here’s an example of an effective message:

Join us for today’s 3pm ACME Marketing Team Meeting via Zoom: 

Sometimes, you need to send a URL because you want the recipient to take an action like complete a survey or complete their timecard. Be sure to include a clear call-to-action with a time frame when appropriate. This will help ensure your recipients understand and follow through.

Here’s an example of an effective message:

ACME values your feedback! Complete our customer satisfaction survey by 6pm PST today and receive a free gift:

Double Check URLs Before Sending Text Messages

No one likes a Page Not Found Error, to be taken to the wrong web page, or to be confused about what to do. Be kind to your audience and test every URL before including it in a text message. Here are some things you should test for:

  • Does the URL resolve to the correct page?
  • Do the description in the text message and the title of the web page match up so people can be quickly reassured they are in the right place?
  • Is the webpage easy to read on a mobile device?
  • Is the URL at the end of the message?

We hope you found this article helpful. For more information on making your text message program user friendly, reach out to the TextMarks Success Team.

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