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How to Choose a Keyword for Your SMS Marketing Campaign

Mar 9, 2021

SMS keyword campaigns are one of the most effective ways to market your business to a mobile audience. If you’re new to SMS keywords, you might be unfamiliar with choosing the best keywords to meet your mobile marketing goals.

The right SMS keyword gives your customers a quick and easy way to interact with your brand. 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.

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.

6 Tips for Choosing a Keyword For Your SMS Marketing Campaign 

Although an SMS keyword can technically be any combination of letters and numbers, some keywords perform better than others. An effective SMS marketing strategy gains as many subscribers to your SMS marketing list as possible, which is why keywords should be short, simple and easy to remember.

When choosing an SMS keyword, consider its usage. Will your campaign promote special offers, share mobile coupons or update your customers about upcoming events? Below is a list of our go-to tips for choosing an SMS keyword.

1. Keep it Simple

Think about how you plan to promote your SMS keyword campaign. Some common examples of how business share SMS keywords are:

  • In email newsletters
  • In digital ads
  • On an online store’s checkout page
  • On a billboard
  • In a podcast ad
  • On a poster next to a cash register

Although you might consider using a unique phrase to set yourself apart, be careful. You could lose potential subscribers if someone mishears your SMS keyword or can’t remember the word and your short code. To avoid this, use a word associated with your brand or a common SMS keyword like “JOIN” or “COUPON.”

2. 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 short code. “Text FROYO to 12345” is much easier to remember than “Text FROYO818 to 12345.”

3. 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 as your SMS keyword.

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” for their SMS keyword campaign for greater chances of success.

4. 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 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.

5. Only Use One Word

To keep your SMS keyword as simple as possible, try to stick with one word. While SMS keywords can technically be longer than just one word, it’s best to stick to 4-7 characters to make it easy to remember.

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.

6. Plan for Autocorrect

Autocorrect can be helpful for people who type faster than they catch mistakes. But remember: You really 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 tons of variations of one keyword can be frustrating.

To account for any issues with autocorrect, here are some tips:

  1. Test your keyword on multiple phones: Before committing to your SMS keyword, test it across different mobile operating systems to check for auto-correction.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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. Here are some suggestions for other places to market your SMS keyword campaign:

  • Social media platforms
  • Business cards
  • Receipts
  • Napkins
  • Store banners

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.

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.

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 SMS keyword campaigns and easily connect with your customers on their mobile devices. By working with our expert SMS marketing team, you can choose the best keyword for your campaign goals and watch your marketing outreach grow.

Start Texting Your Customers for Free With Textedly