SMS keyword campaigns are one of the most effective ways to market your business to a mobile audience. They present your customers with a quick and easy way to interact with your brand and are a great way to expand your marketing opportunities.
Today we’ll look at how to choose keywords for your SMS marketing campaigns, along with some SMS keyword examples and best practices to get your campaigns off to an impressive start.
Table of Contents
- What is an SMS keyword?
- Tips for choosing a keyword
- Keyword campaign best practices
- How to use Textedly’s keyword function
What Is an SMS Keyword?
An SMS keyword is a word or phrase (or sometimes a combination of letters and numbers) that consumers can text to sign up to receive text messages from a brand.
An SMS keyword campaign can be a powerful multichannel marketing tool for businesses. Because SMS keywords are typically short and easy to remember, brands can advertise their SMS keyword campaigns on the internet, billboards, television or even radio without confusing their audience.
Here's an example of how Nixon uses STOP and HELP as SMS keywords:
8 Tips for Choosing an SMS Keyword
Although an SMS keyword can technically be any combination of letters and numbers, some keywords perform better than others. Here are eight tips for choosing the best keyword for your SMS campaign.
1. Keep It Simple
An effective SMS marketing strategy should capture as many subscribers as possible, which is why keywords should be short, simple and easy to remember.
Ideally, you should strive for 4-7 characters or fewer, as this will make it easier for customers to text in quickly without having to remember a long phrase or a complicated combination of letters and numbers.
2. Align It With Your Campaign’s Theme
When choosing an SMS keyword, consider its usage. Will your campaign promote special offers, share mobile coupons or update your customers about upcoming events?
Your keyword should be relevant to the type of content you’ll be sending out and should immediately communicate the value that customers can expect to receive by opting in.
For instance, if you’re running a food delivery promotion, consider using a keyword like “TASTYFOOD” or “YUMMYDELIVERY.” These keywords clearly convey what customers can expect from signing up, while also making it easy to remember.
3. Choose an Appropriate Promotion Channel
Think about how you plan to promote your SMS keyword campaign. Some common examples of how businesses share SMS keywords are:
Choose a platform that makes sense for your target audience and where they are most likely to see the message. For example, if you're targeting customers who frequent coffee shops, consider putting up posters near the cash register or running ads on in-store displays. If you’re targeting professionals on their lunch break, think about running digital ads while they take a break from work or airing podcast spots during rush hour commutes.
4. Make It Memorable
While you can add numbers to your SMS keyword, numbers can be harder for your audience to remember what they need to text. A simple word related to your brand or a sale is much more memorable.
Make it easy for customers to remember both the keyword and shortcode. “Text FROYO to 12345” is much easier to remember than “Text FROYO818 to 12345.”
5. Make it Unique (But Not Too Unique)
SMS keywords should be easy to spell and remember. That means you should avoid made-up words and unusual spellings. Even if your brand’s name has a unique spelling, consider using another relevant word.
For example, Kelli’s Café could use “KELLI” as its SMS keyword to promote future sales. But if a customer accidentally texts “KELLY,” then Kelli’s Café would lose that subscriber. Instead, Kelli’s Café could use “COFFEE” to improve their chance at success.
6. Don’t Use Special Characters
Just as you should avoid using SMS keywords that are too unique, also avoid using special characters, such as substituting “and” with “&.” Special characters like $, %, &, ? and ! can make it harder for people to remember or mistype your keyword.
For example, you might use “CA$H” as a clever SMS keyword. However, your audience might not remember that the dollar sign is part of the keyword, costing you a potential subscriber.
7. Only Use One Word
To keep your keyword as simple as possible, try to stick with one word.
However, if you really want to use an SMS keyword with more than one word, like “NEW YORK,” consider reserving two versions: one without a space (“NEWYORK”) and one with a space (“NEW YORK”). This way, you can make sure you don’t miss out on any subscribers who use your keyword’s various formats.
8. Plan for Autocorrect
Autocorrect can be helpful for people who type faster than they catch mistakes. But remember: You generally only have one shot for a customer to subscribe to your text message program. While you can reserve multiple SMS keywords for one campaign, claiming many variations of one keyword can be frustrating.
To account for any issues with autocorrect, here are some tips:
- Test your keyword on multiple phones: Before committing to your SMS keyword, test it across different mobile operating systems to check for auto-correction.
- Add a number to your keyword: Although adding numbers to an SMS keyword can make it harder to remember, it’s a reliable way to stop a phone from autocorrecting your keyword.
- Claim the autocorrected version of your SMS keyword: If you must use a specific keyword, you can reserve different autocorrected variations to make sure you don’t miss a subscriber if they mistype.
SMS Keyword Campaign Best Practices
Choosing the best keyword is just one part of creating a successful SMS keyword campaign. For the best chances of success, you must also consider how your customers will discover your keywords. Here are some best practices to help your SMS keyword campaign thrive.
1. Promote Your SMS Keyword Wherever You Can
Consider adding your SMS keyword and short code to your marketing collateral, along with a short blurb about why customers should sign up.
2. Use Multiple Keywords to Segment Your SMS List
By adding secondary keywords to your SMS keyword campaign, you can easily segment your SMS list. This way, you can directly target your audience with specific offers that align with their interests, which can boost your subscriber list retention.
For example, if you own a local bar, you might use “DRINKS” to add people to your general list. But if you want to promote upcoming events, like open mic nights or trivia nights, you could use a secondary keyword, like “EVENT,” to send your customers specific updates.
3. Try A/B Testing to See Which Keywords Perform Better
Once you’ve started running your SMS keyword campaign, consider using A/B testing to evaluate your keywords’ performance. A/B testing is a simple yet powerful way to use user engagement metrics to improve your SMS keywords and campaigns.
When testing your keywords, divide your keywords between two lists, then review which performed better. You can also use randomized A/B testing to promote different keywords in online ads and social media and see which keyword gets the most subscribers.
How to Set Up SMS Keywords With Textedly
Using Textedly’s keyword feature is easy! Simply log in to your account, select “Keywords” from the navigation bar and then click “Create a New Keyword.” From there, you can enter your keyword of choice and create an auto-reply message for customers who text that keyword.
Partner With Textedly for Your SMS Marketing Campaigns
Ready to get started with an SMS keyword campaign for your business?
With Textedly’s easy-to-use platform, you can create highly effective SMS keyword campaigns. By working with our expert SMS marketing team, you can choose the best keyword for your campaign goals and watch your marketing outreach grow.
Sign up for a free trial of Textedly to discover how easy it is to connect with your customers!