Keyword Selection & Enhancements

The Advanced SMS Marketing Guide

Choosing the Right Keyword

Choosing a keyword for your business or organization shouldn't be difficult. Make sure it's easy to remember, free of non-alphanumeric characters, and the shorter, the better. Once you decide on a keyword, it will be placed on all other marketing materials touting your SMS marketing program so it won't be easy to change.

If you can, keep it to one word. Multiple words confuse potential subscribers, and leave room for signup error. For example, if you use two words, a new subscriber might question the space in between. If they subscribe incorrectly the first time, the chances of them making another attempt is slim.

It should also be a word that is easy to spell. Misspelled keywords decrease the chance of a second opt in attempt. Ideally, your keyword should be something that you can glance at once and remember. A subscriber shouldn't have to double or triple check the spelling. If they do, this means you're making the signup process too complicated.

When creating a keyword, consider how it responds to autocorrect on smart phones. For example, if you owned a bar named Burgars and want to make your keyword BURGARS, you'll notice most smartphones trying to autocorrect your keyword to BURGERS.

Potential subscribers may hit the send button without noticing the corrected keyword, and will miss out on subscribing to your list. In some instances, the autocorrected version will cause them to opt into an unfamiliar SMS marketing list. With that said, take time to check your keyword against autocorrect.

Secondary Keywords

For secondary keywords, the same rules above apply. However, these keywords are created for a more specific group or purpose. For example, if you owned Henan's Bar & Grill, you may have HENANS set up as your main keyword. That keyword will likely target all of your customers. Now let's say you want to separately engage your bar crowd. You would set up a secondary keyword, something like "HBAR" for example, to capture your bar patrons.

By splitting up your subscribers into multiple groups of interest, you can tailor your outbound SMS marketing campaigns to these specific groups with a more targeted message. This will likely result in higher response rates.

Failover Keywords

Failover keywords are specifically set up to capture subscribers who incorrectly typed your keyword when opting in. Let's say your main keyword happens to be two words. The user may or may not put a space between the two words when opting in. By creating two keywords, one with and one without the space, you can ensure you're capturing those subscribers who aren't paying close attention, or are unsure about the space.

If your main keyword is easily misspelled, rely on failover keywords to catch any subscribers that fall between the cracks. Even though all keywords should be easy to spell, type, and remember, there will always be special circumstances. This is a great way to catch subscribers who incorrectly spell your word.

Age Verification

Age verification requires subscribers to reply with their date of birth before opting in. You can specify a minimum age, and if a subscriber doesn't make the cut, he or she will be denied subscription. If your campaigns promote products or services that aren't suitable for subscribers under the age of 18 or 21, this is a must have. As a matter of fact, in some industries it's required. It's extremely important that your SMS marketing provider offers this functionality if you're business competes in an applicable industry.

Double Opt In

In certain circumstances, you may want your subscribers to double opt in to your SMS marketing list. This requires the subscriber to perform an extra step before opting in. When texting your keyword to the designated short code, they first have to respond to a message asking them to confirm that they want to join. That second response from the subscriber will need to be a simple YES or Y to confirm the subscription. Once confirmed, your auto reply will come through. This is the best way to avoid accidental subscriptions and build a solid list of qualified and interested subscribers.


Branding allows you to modify compliance responses to keywords like HELP and STOP with your business or contact information. Let's say you own Henan's Bar. If a current subscriber texts HELP, they'd receive an automated response reading something like "SlickText SMS Alerts: Help: or 4msg/mth. Reply STOP to cancel. Msg&data rates may apply".

With branding enabled, you can turn that message into something like "Henan's SMS Alerts: Help: or 4msg/mth. Reply STOP to cancel. Msg&data rates may apply".

This completely masks the fact that you're using a shared short code, and provides the subscriber with a consistent brand experience. A definite must you should look for from any SMS marketing company.

One Per Person

One per person is a feature that allows you to restrict your auto replies to - yep you guessed it; one per person. In many cases, you're offering a valuable incentive that encourages opt ins. These incentives are meant to be a one time deal in exchange for permission to be marketed to. It prevents subscribers from texting your keyword again and receiving the same auto reply intended for new subscribers only. It's even smart enough to deny that auto reply to those who opt out and then back in looking for the same deal. This is yet another feature that any good SMS marketing provider will offer.

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