SMS Marketing: iOS Previews and Google Analytics Tracking

There is no denying mobile’s dominance. comScore found that the average American adult spends 2 hours, 51 minutes on their smartphones every day. And eMarketer expanded that report to include tablets and found the total time spent by mobile users is 4 hours, 5 minutes per day. Mobile now accounts for 65% of total digital media consumption. While the majority of our mobile time is spent in social networks, Informate reported that the average American smartphone user goes through 32 texts and 6 phone calls per day, accounting for a total of 26 minutes and 21 minutes, respectively.

An even closer look by eMarketer shows we spend 10% of our time interacting with email on mobile devices compared with 22% of our time texting.

The Importance of SMS Marketing

85% of consumers want to receive text messages from their favorite brands. Yet only 38% of businesses have adopted SMS as a way to reach their customers. When done correctly, SMS will increase engagement and revenue. And the fact that it is delivered directly to your customer’s most personal device provides new opportunities for marketers. For example, you can use SMS to re-engage subscribers who have become disengaged with email or you can reward your most loyal customers with exclusive offers. With Listrak’s SMS platform, you will be able to segment specific target audiences to create highly-personalized messages while coordinating SMS with your email, paid social and other channels. Best of all, because you are sending to a targeted list, your carrier CPM rates will be much lower. You’ll spend less but will drive even more revenue.

Whether you are considering adding an SMS marketing program or if you’re already sending messages, below are some tips that you need to know.

iOS Tap to Load Preview
Nearly one-third of mobile devices run on Apple’s iOS mobile operating system. Of those, 92% are running iOS 10 or iOS 11, which means you a large percentage of your mobile subscribers will benefit from this tip.

If your SMS messages include a hyperlink, an update to the iOS 10 operating system and carried over to the latest update automatically updates links that appear at the beginning or end of a message to a preview.

To get this to work, there are a few requirements you need to follow:

  • The link must be the first or last text in the message. If the hyperlink is placed in the middle of the text it will show up as a clickable link without the preview. Even one word placed before the link if it’s at the beginning or one word placed after the link if it’s at the end will eliminate the preview from being shown. However, you can place a period after the link, but nothing else. 
  • A preview will not be included if multiple links are included in the message, even if one of the links is the first or last text in the message. 
  • To show the preview, the link must begin with http:// or https:// but the domain (.com, .ly, .io, etc) does not matter. If the link begins with www or anything other than http.// or https.// the preview will not appear.· The preview feature removes the hyperlink and replaces it with a “Tap to Load Preview” image either before or after the text message, depending on if the link was at the beginning or end of the message. Subscribers must click the image in order to load the preview. Even though it looks like two messages, you are only charged once. Clicking on the “Tap to Load Preview” image does not count as a click. Subscribers must click on the actual preview to visit the website in order to count as a click. 
  • It’s important to note that even though the link looks like it was removed that it still counts towards your 160 character limit for SMS messages in the U.S. and 140 character limit in Canada. 
  • It’s also important to note that the preview only includes the host name of the domain and not the domain path. When the subscriber clicks the preview, the title of the website appears along with the host name of the domain but not the domain path. The minimum character count in the title is 54 characters with the maximum being 72 for vertical images, and 109 characters for horizontal images. 
  • You can control what image to show in the preview using an Open Graph og:image tag. If an image is not set using that standard, then no image will be displayed. If you don’t have an Open Graph image on the page you’re linking to, iOS 10 and 11 will display the favicon for the page. You can test og.image tags here: and you can test to make sure your page has a favicon here: A favicon is displayed in the image below:
  • Image sizes – if you want the image to be vertical, use a 400×542 pixel image, which allows for 53 character website page title. However, we recommend using horizontal images at 1,200 x 628 pixels, or 560 x 292 for smaller graphics. This allows for 109 characters in the page title. Because Facebook also prefers horizontal Open Graph images with the same dimensions, it should help streamline design time while keeping images consistent across channels. Keep in mind that Gifs aren’t supported in iOS 10. 

Note that iOS 11 on the iPhone X defaults to hiding text previews for all of your apps, automatically. Users can unlock that feature with Face ID. If you have any questions on this tactic, reach out to your Listrak Account Manager or Listrak support.

SMS Tracking in Google Analytics
Campaign tracking is one of the biggest challenges with SMS marketing. Listrak’s SMS platform fills in a lot of the gaps, giving you the ability to track short code level subscriptions, message volume, broadcast campaign metrics, keyword opt-in metrics, revenue attribution, contact management and integrated Google Analytics campaign reporting.

Including SMS as a traffic source in your Google Analytics reports is one of the most accurate ways to track the efficacy of your SMS campaigns. Using Google Analytics UTM tracking parameters, this is easy to do. For example:

Tracked URL:[insert source]& utm_ medium=[insert medium name]

…And filled out with information:

The bold text contains the parameters and their values. This would tell Google Analytics that whoever entered the website via this link has come from the source ‘Listrak’ and the medium ‘sms’.

The good news for Listrak users is that the Listrak application will take care of adding Google Analytics tracking code automatically for you by creating the utm parameters and append them to your links. By default, Source is Listrak and Medium is sms, but this can be updated in the Short Code settings:

Listrak will also automatically add the Campaign Name and Campaign Content based on the Google Analytics fields when creating a new SMS campaign:

Additionally, Listrak will add the utm_term parameter using the link URL so that activity in Google Analytics can be tracked to a specific link.

Adding the UTM to the URL will provide the ability to track SMS as a source in Google Analytics. However, it adds a lot of characters to the URL. And when you’re already limited to 160 characters, every character counts. Listrak’s SMS platform includes a URL shortener to minimize the character count of your links and will hide the UTM parameters as part of the redirected URL so that they are hidden from the message and do not count against the character limit. 
Whether you have been sending SMS messages or if you are just getting started, these two tactics will take your campaigns to the next level. Questions? Reach out in the comments section.

Megan Ouellet

Director, Product Marketing

Listrak Insights | Marketing Strategies, Insights and Trends

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