Everyone (or, just about everyone) has a smartphone today. In a recent report from bankmycell, they found that, as of July 2022, 6.65 billion people around the world have a smartphone. That’s 83% of the world’s population. This is why marketers are adapting their strategies to include mobile marketing—it’s a widespread channel that can connect brands directly to the consumer.
A piece of the mobile marketing puzzle, however, that’s becoming more present in brand strategies is SMS marketing. That is, using text messages to send marketing communications directly to users’ phones.
In the first part of our series we covered the basics of opting in and out of a brand’s text messages. Now, we want to explore the first layer of individualization: SMS keywords.
What is an SMS Keyword?
Think about how people use keywords to search the web. They go to Google, type in a word or phrase they are searching for, and are then given results based on that keyword. It’s a similar process for SMS keywords.
Basically, SMS keywords are a way for consumers to tell brands which content they find the most interesting and relevant. So, instead of brands sending every text message to every customer about every topic, they can use keywords to segment which customers get which messages.
Take a look at this SMS message from The Nudge, a virtual planner. They could send every customer updates about all types of cuisines, but what if a customer doesn’t like certain types of food? What if they’re vegan?
By creating keywords like “BURGERS” or “VEGAN” and asking customers to respond back with the keyword they’re interested in, The Nudge can narrow down which messages to send going forward. This not only creates a better overall experience for each customer, but it promotes engagement because the messages are relevant to each user.
Why Should I Use SMS Keywords?
Keywords are a gateway to individualized user experiences not only through mobile channels, but all marketing channels.
Through texting, SMS keywords give you access to customer preferences. Instead of hoping a customer finds your messages relevant, you know for a fact that they’re interested in the information you’re sending. Collecting zero-party data, directly from the customer, is a surefire way to deliver on expectations.
But, take it a step further and you’ll be able to apply these preferences to multiple marketing channels. With a marketing platform that centralizes customer data, SMS keywords can be tied to a user profile. Then, any marketing communications, sent through any marketing channel, can align with the topic the user has expressed interest in.
Can’t you get this preference information via email? You absolutely can. But, SMS marketing may be more efficient. According to ManyChat, “The average open rate for an SMS campaign is as high as 98% while email rings in at just 20%.”
So, if a customer tells The Nudge, through text, that they are only interested in DUMPLINGS, they should be able to attach that preference to the user’s profile and send dumpling recommendations through email, in-app messaging, push notifications, direct mail, and, of course SMS. The added bonus? These can all be automated.
SMS Keywords for Automation
One huge benefit of SMS keywords we haven’t yet touched on is the fact that, even while creating individualized conversations for each customer, they allow for automation. A member of your marketing team doesn’t have to manually respond to each text from every customer—phewf.
By creating a set number of keywords your customers can choose from, you can automate the next steps in the customer journey. The Nudge has seven total keywords to choose from: “BURGERS,” “DUMPLINGS,” “SANDWICHES,” “VEGAN,” “TACOS,” “WINGS,” and “THAI.” If a customer sends back “WINGS,” they can get automatically added to the wings journey and receive triggered text messages only related to this cuisine.
This automated journey can also be cross-channel. Once users are added to a specific journey, you can trigger messages to send through various marketing channels. You can have emails, direct mail, and push notifications all related to one SMS keyword. That keyword gives customers access to an individualized journey.
The key here is offering keywords that are specific enough to align with each customers’ preferences while also being broad enough to capture everyone who may be interested. If you do have automated journeys set up, it’s imperative that they resonate with your audiences.
Also, be sure your keywords are intuitive and easy to remember, so customers can respond at any time. With SMS marketing, the lines of communication are always open.
Starting a Conversation with Customers
SMS keywords give you the opportunity to start a two-way conversation with your customers. Keywords give you the chance to get more granular in your messaging and hear what your customers prefer through an open dialogue with them.
SMS marketing, plus the use of SMS keywords, provides an avenue to collect valuable zero-party customer data that can be activated with the right martech platform, ultimately individualizing each customer experience. As part of an orchestrated cross-channel approach, this elevates the consumer experience with brand communications to match their specific interests, motives, and behaviors. When customers respond with a keyword it’s an opportunity to learn about them and tweak their experience in real-time as they proceed through their journey.
A seamless cross-channel customer experience plays to each channel’s strengths. Because of its individualization capabilities, SMS marketing is gaining traction and becoming a highly valuable marketing channel. Don’t miss out on the benefits.
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