Promotion Text Messages: Keyword Selection Tips

Text Message Marketing: Selecting the Best Keyword

Written by: Stefanie Gray

Much has been published on various blogs and YouTube regarding how to select keywords for text message marketing and promotion text messages. Something that hasn’t been specifically called out, but is the basis for all recommendations, is that the keyword should enhance the customer experience. The last thing a retailer wants to do is frustrate customers trying to access additional information or receive mobile coupons.

Based on years of experience retailers have had using our text message marketing software to deliver promotion text messages, CodeBroker has compiled its top 10 recommendations for selecting keywords that do not detract from a positive customer experience.

KEEP IT SHORT. Between 5 to 7 characters is ideal. A short keyword is easy to remember (recommendation #6) and easy to enter on a mobile device.

NO SPECIAL CHARACTERS. Minimize the number of times your customers have to switch keyboards to enter a keyword. Less is definitely better, especially if the special characters are not used often (e.g., ^) and customers have to hunt for them.

ASSIGN COMMONLY MISSPELLED TERMS TO THE KEYWORD. Include the various misspelled versions of the primary keyword to the text message promotion. For example, you want your customers to text-in the keyword MOBILE COUPONS to your shortcode to sign-up to receive mobile offers. In addition to assigning the term MOBILE COUPONS to the promotion, use variations that add the terms COUPON, CUPONS and CUPON ensuring everyone is able to sign-up to receive mobile coupons.

PLAN FOR AUTOCORRECT. Clever is difficult to accomplish with keywords. If you’re advertising an upcoming comedy show and want to use the term STANDUP, keep in mind your potential customers might inadvertently text-in STANDING or STANDARD to your shortcode. Instead of receiving the corresponding message with a link to the show’s mobile website, your potential customer will read something similar to the following response: “We received msg STANDING but can’t identify it. Please check spelling.”

DO NOT COMBINE WORDS. For example, JOIN versus JOINPAYSONS. First, the keyword JOINPAYSONS violates recommendation #1 – keep it short. Second, I would hope your customers know which program they intend to join. Finally, JOINPAYSONS looks like a shared shortcode which, if possible, we do not recommend using. Refer to The Pitfalls of Shared Shortcodes for more information.

EASY TO REMEMBER. This especially is true if you’re advertising via radio, the side of a bus, or any other medium your customer does not have ready access to their mobile device. Having an easy to remember shortcode increases the chances they will remember it when they are in a better position to text-in the keyword to your shortcode. A quick note about shortcodes, the same principal holds true when selecting a shortcode. For example, 454545 is much easier to remember and text than 729766 (PAYSON).

AVOID HOMONYMS. Specifically, we’re referring to homophones (not homographs) – words that are pronounced the same but are spelled differently, such as PEAR and PARE). If you’re a grocer and running a special on fresh pears, you don’t want to take a chance that your customer will enter the keyword PARE and receive a “keyword is not valid” message. A better keyword might be the term FRUIT.

USE KEYWORDS TO TRACK THE OPT-IN CHANNEL. Assign different keywords to each channel you will advertise the promotion providing the ability to measure precisely how individual channels perform. For example, the keyword CURTAIN can be used in the weekly circular, SHADES will be used in monthly magazine advertising, and BLINDS will appear on in-store signage. Note that the campaign manager (the software you use to set up the text message promotion) will require the ability to assign multiple keywords to a single promotion. Otherwise, you’re setting up three promotions and may not be able to link them for reporting purposes.

STICK WITH ALPHA CHARACTERS. Or, make the keyword either all alpha or all numeric characters. Switching keyboards between alpha and numeric characters is a lot of work. Minimize the amount of effort a customer needs to expend to engage with your brand.

KEEP IT RELEVANT. Use keywords such as JOIN or COUPONS when customers are signing-up to your text messaging marketing list to receive offers on an ongoing basis. Better yet, use the program name (e.g., REWARDS) if your customers are joining your loyalty program. The keyword is short, easy to remember, and relevant.