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Mobile Monday: Week 6 – Keywords

Welcome to Mobile Monday, our weekly blog posting dedicated to providing readers with useful mobile marketing tips from Bob Bentz’s newest book “Relevance Raises Response.”shutterstock_283022702 (2) Every Monday ATSmobile continues to grant readers a brief passage from one of the most essential marketing books available for purchase today.

For our sixth week, we’re focusing on “Keywords”where Bentz discusses SMS Strategies and the downside of auto-correct.


An SMS keyword is the word that a consumer sends to a phone number, usually to receive immediate information back, and often to opt-in to a database to be marketed to in the future.

In the previous example (Text RESULTS to 84444), the keyword is “results.” The customer would put the short code number (84444) in the space where she would normally insert the phone number. Then, the customer would insert “results” in the area where she would normally insert the message.

Choosing a keyword is an important step in your text message marketing strategy, because the keyword offers branding for your product offering. When it comes to choosing a keyword, a business should follow these tips, by choosing a keyword that:

  • brands the business or promotion.
  • is easy to remember to gain the viral pass-along effect from customers and employees.
  • is just one word to avoid problems with auto correct.
  • is easy to spell.
  • is not an acronym.
  • does not include numbers.
  • is as short as possible.
  • is not some “clever” spelling of a keyword.

The primary keyword that a business will want to reserve is its own name. This keyword will be the master keyword that is used continually for generating opt-ins. This permanent keyword should be printed everywhere–on business cards, literature, t-shirts, outdoor signage, menus, and anywhere else that makes sense. If the business name is difficult to spell, clever, or contains multiple words, it may be best just to go with a single word keyword that best identifies what the business does. If a business wants to understandably reserve its difficult to spell brand name as a keyword, it should also consider reserving the potential misspellings of that keyword.

Choosing the primary keyword is one of the most important things that a business will do in establishing its text message marketing plans. Often, businesses have common names and the keyword that the business wants may not be available. A second choice may be to pick the primary product that the business sells, but a keyword like “pizza” is likely not going to be available at an online shared short code provider. If the primary keyword a business wants is not available, it is possible for the business to choose an adjective that describes the business such as “tasty” or “hungry.”

In addition to the primary keyword, businesses are going to want to use different keywords for various promotions. Some of these promotions may be short-lived and the business will be able to retire those keywords after using them for the short term promotion. Others may be annual events and the business will retain those keywords in their online accounts, because if they are released, another business may pick them up. The advantage to using new keywords is that it will get your regular customers participating in your texting program again and a business can place those users into a different database which may be helpful in segmenting for future promotions.

One of the great things about an SMS strategy is that there is a tremendous viral advantage to it. If a person knows that their friend likes to get their coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts, they will pass along the keyword and short code to that friend. It is not unusual for a business to get 15-20% of its mobile coupon redemptions from viral sharing. But, the consumer may not remember to do so if the keyword, and the short code, is not easy to remember. So, it is always best to keep things simple when it comes to choosing a keyword and it is also best to use a memorable (vanity) short code.

Words that are compound words or two word keywords are also not good choices as keywords. A business might have the best cheesecake in the world, but “cheesecake” is not a very good keyword. That is because some people will spell cheesecake as two words (cheese cake) and some will intend to spell it as one word, but autocorrect “fixes” it for them. Automated SMS response systems cannot detect the user’s intent, only the exact spelling, so picking the wrong keyword could result in lost opt-in opportunities.

One memorable SMS promotion was a sweepstakes that gave away a trip to Hawaii. The advertiser chose the keyword “Hawaii.” Although a wonderful place, Hawaii is not a particularly easy word to spell. Moreover, some people include an apostrophe when spelling it. Hawaii was not a good choice as a keyword, because of the difficulty in spelling it. Acronyms such as “ATS” don’t make for good keywords either. That is because of that damn autocorrect which will inevitably try to change the acronym of your business keyword into a real word. Avoid numbers in keywords as well. It is confusing to think of texting a number to a number. But, more importantly there are that zero and “oh” thing. When it comes to texting, consumers don’t recognize what is a letter (O) and what is a number (0)!

Typing on a mobile phone is not easy. There are a lot of misspellings on the smaller screen of the mobile phone than on a desktop computer. Fat-finger misspellings are common problems on mobile. That is why using a short keyword is far better than a long keyword; there are simply less chance of a misspelling on a keyword with less letters.

Another poor idea is to use a clever use of a word as your keyword. A restaurant called “Finger Lickin’ Chickin’” may be a snappy name, but using “chickin” as a keyword is not a good idea. That is because a customer’s auto-correct is likely going to correct that word to the proper spelling of chicken.

One of the questions that is often asked is in regards to capitalization of keywords. Using caps or lower-case letters has no impact on the keyword so don’t worry about it. To make the keyword stand out, the best way to write a keyword in your advertisement is to use all capital letters, but if somebody uses lower case, the interactive text message will still work properly.

Some keywords are not available to a business. That is because the carriers have reserved those keywords already and they are not available on short codes. Keywords such as STOP, HELP, INFO, END, CANCEL, UNSUBSCRIBE, QUIT, and others are taken before the short code is activated in the marketplace.


How Food Trucks Use SMS Marketing

Build Food Truck Profits through SMS marketing

When you own a food vendor truck, you worry about the design of your truck: where your logo will be displayed, your most occupied locations, and your phone number. Soon, you start to think there won’t be enough room for your actual menu. But you’re forgetting one key marketing information: your keyword.  It’s time to start thinking about where your text message marketing keyword and short codes will go.

SMS marketing can help advertise all the things needed to in order to get new customers for truck vendors, and keep them have coming back. Just like an immobile restaurant, it is important to keep customers up to date on everything that is changing. For a restaurant that could mean things in the kitchen as well as in the dining room, but for a food truck it could mean in the kitchen, most recent locations as well as future ones, special coupons, as well as event and seasonal appearances. As a kitchen that is constantly on the move, text message marketing can help reach customers while they’re on the move  too.

Social Media is an simple, not to mention free, way to update customers on food trucks’ whereabouts and specials. All it takes is a simple post or a tweet and following customers are in the know. This option allows real-time communicati’on between consumer and company, while also diminishing confusion and increasing demand. 57% of food truck owners had more Twitter followers than they did likes on Facebook, but with Twitter comes uncertainty of exposure.

SMS Marketing for Food Trucks

SMS marketing is an opportunity to personally engage with customers

SMS marketing has the ability to increase this exposure. 95 – 98% of text messages are read within minutes of receipt, which means that upon delivery the marketing material is received and processed by hungry consumers. Not only does text message marketing allow food vendors to control what is marketed and who receives it, but this marketing tool also builds a customer database. With each customer who opts-in to receive marketed text messages a mobile phone number is saved and stored for future subscriber data. SMS marketing creates an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with customers.

If customers opted-in to learn more about your vegetarian menu, their phone number can be categorized for future changes or specials on the vegetarian menu. If someone uses a keyword to learn about when a food truck will be in a specific neighborhood that number is categorized along with all the other customers from that neighborhood. This allows the option for a broadcast text alert to be sent to all subscribers in that neighborhood when it is appropriate.

If a truck relocates for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day, the owners can let their customers know by social media post or direct to their mobile phone. How? All customers have to do is text a keyword to the shortcode and receive a list of dates and locations that they’ll be occupying. This way they have a calendar to refer to when they want their favorite hot dog or pretzel.

The possibilities are endless for marketing products. Promote a coupon code through SMS marketing and the code is saved in hundreds of inboxes for easy access. Market specials and new menu items through a broadcast message and know that customer received your information. In the city and on the street, vendors are already up-close and personal with their customers, so get more personal by texting straight to their mobile phones. Customers will never forget their favorite food truck.

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How to Use SMS Marketing to Reach Radio Listeners

SMS Marketing for Radio Broadcasting

Radio stations are learning about the many advantages that SMS marketing has to offer. Text message marketing is a useful tool for radio stations to incorporate into their routines due to its effectiveness in terms of sweepstake deals, database building, consumer communication, and marketing.  With a marketing tool such as this at their disposal, radio broadcasters are learning how simple it is to use and how it can boost their own marketing tactics.

When a radio network hosts a sweepstakes, they are not only celebrating their listeners, but also building their database of listeners. Normally, a random caller is chosen as the winner, and while they win their prize the network saves their number to create their database. This database is important for stations to know who is listening, and how many people are listening, as well as allowing an opportunity to communicate and build a relationship with listeners.

Another way to build this database is with SMS marketing. Text messaging is still the largest mobile marketing channel by revenue. SMS Marketing allows a radio station to save every subscriber, or sweepstakes participant, in large quantities. Advertising the keyword on the air allows listeners opt-in to the sweepstakes, and database, by texting that keyword to the shortcode.  Each opt-in listener is now stored and saved for future deals, promotions, news, and has become a customer for life.

If a radio station promotes a sweepstakes for a rock concert then the numbers that opted-in to win those tickets can be stored in a rock music genre. A new list can be created and saved according to the time of day they opted-in (when were they listening to your station), and why they opted-in (concert tickets, advertisement details, breaking news reports). SMS marketing tools are simple and easy to use by creating a keyword to coincide with whatever information is being presented, whether it is a sweepstakes, a store advertisement, or the own radio station’s event.

SMS Marketing for Radio

SMS marketing allows radio stations to reach their listeners even when they’re not listening to the radio.

Text message marketing can increase and further the communication that takes place between station and listener.Some listeners love calling in and having the opportunity to speak with their favorite DJs, but others simply like to listen and participate in the conversation on a quieter level. About 30% of consumers choose to interact with a brand via text message rather than a phone call. SMS marketing can help broaden the prospects to all listeners without excluding any options.

As a marketing tool, SMS marketing is helpful to promote the station and any special news or shows that will be airing. Broadcast texting allows stations to utilize their subscriber data in order to reach every single listener that has opted-in to the station’s database before. This is an option for the station to market any station news, as well as increase forced listenership.

Every day, radio stations market their sponsors or advertise a company or product on the air. Radio commercials and DJ scripts advertise for paying customers, and listeners can be just as compelled by a radio commercial as they can a television one.  SMS marketing can also be a helpful advertising tool for the stations to utilize for other companies. A text-based advertisement will keep listeners engaged and interested even when they’re not listening to the radio. Sponsors who are unable to find a satisfying amount of time on the air, can find it in the a text message that can be customized to be delivered to subscribers who show the most potential for interest.

SMS marketing is the opportunity to market, inform, and engage with radio network listeners.


Text Marketing: The Workhorse of Mobile Marketing

Ace Hardware SMS promotions

Text Message Marketing

SMS text message marketing is the workhorse of mobile marketing. It’s the pillar that holds up the mobile marketing building. If you can only do one thing in mobile marketing, it should be text message marketing.

That’s because text message marketing is inexpensive and offers the single best ROI of any mobile marketing tactic that you will employ. Whether you are a national retailer or simply a local Mom and Pop pizza shop, there is place for text message marketing in your marketing plan.

Opt-In Marketing

Text Message Marketing is opt-in marketing, meaning that you must have permission from your consumer before sending them a promotional text message. While getting permission may seem like a daunting task at first, it’s precisely why SMS text message marketing is so darn effective.

Until recently, you could send somebody a promotional text message if you had a previous relationship with that consumer. In other words, if you were a tire retailer and you had a list of consumers that had purchased tires from you in the past, you could send them a promotional text message.

That all changed on October 16, 2013 when new TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) laws came into effect. It caused companies to change the way they do business with text message marketing and in many cases, it required a new opt-in from consumers. Because not all previous opt-in consumers chose to re-opt-in, the new laws dramatically reduced the size of many companies’ opt-in databases. (If you’d like an attorney’s point of view on TCPA compliance, click here.

Now, in addition to numerous other requirements, you have to have “express written consent” to qualify a consumer as a legitimate opt-in to your database. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to have a signed paper for all of your opt-ins (although that is a legitimate qualifier for an opt-in), as an electronic signature is also permitted.

In most cases, a company obtains a legitimate opt-in via an interactive text message promotion. In other words, the consumer will:

Text RESULTS to 84444

Here’s another sample from the San Jose Sharks:

Text SJ to 742757

Once the consumer has opted-in to your database via an interactive text message promotion, you can now send them broadcast text messages in the future. It is the broadcast portion of the equation that is usually the big money maker for your business in terms of increased business.


Broadcast Text Message Marketing

Capturing the mobile phone number of your customer or prospect is very valuable indeed. In fact, one of our national retail customers has pegged the value of an opt-in to be $11 per month in increased sales. With a database well in excess of 100,000, you can see how this is significant.

But, we’re not the only one that sees a tremendous value in obtaining a mobile opt-in for text message marketing. Ace Hardware has pegged its value of an opt-in as being $183.60 lifetime!

The key to broadcast text message marketing is to send the consumers messages that are of value. That may seem obvious, but here’s why it’s so important. There is a fine line between your best customer (somebody who has liked your company to the point where they’ve ASKED to receive your advertising) and your worst customer (somebody who you have sent so much stuff to that they’ve opted-out of your text message marketing advertising).

Keep in mind that the laws regarding text message marketing require you to provide a convenient method of permitting the consumer to opt-out of your database. In most cases, the consumer simply needs to reply with STOP to opt-out.

Send too many messages that are not pertinent to the consumer and you’ll likely get an opt-out. If you’re Ace Hardware, you can see just how much that opt-out will cost you!

There’s no magical number of broadcast messages that should be sent each month. That really varies based on the product. If you opted in to the San Jose Sharks message above, you’ll see that the hockey team indicates that you may receive “5msgs./wk.”. That may seem like a lot when compared to a department store, but keep in mind that fans of a sports team are passionate about that team and they won’t mind receiving five messages per week. On the other hand, if you are a local pizza restaurant, five messages seems like it’s too much.


Short Code Marketing

Now, let’s make sure you understand some definitions. In the sample interactive text message promotion above, “RESULTS” is a keyword and “84444” is a short code.

A short code is an abbreviated phone number such as 84444.

In some cases, “long codes” are used for text message marketing. A long code is simply a traditional 10-digit phone number that does many of the same things that a short code number can do, albeit it’s not really intended for interactive text messaging. Some carriers frown on long codes, in part since they don’t make any money from them. That’s why I’ve only ever seen small, local businesses using long codes.

A keyword is used in most instances to provide the identifier for the opt-in. If your business owns its own short code, it then owns all of the keywords associated with that short code. In that case, the keyword will identify which promotion the consumer opted-in to.

But, most businesses will utilize a shared short code such as 84444. The reason why is that it is quite expensive to obtain and continue with a short code. A company that is in the business of text message marketing can amortize the cost of activation (about $3500) and the monthly cost ($1000 for a vanity short code such as 84444) over numerous businesses that use that same short code. The only major negative of a shared short code is that it is possible that the keyword that you wish to use is being used by another customer.


Why Text Message Marketing

If I can only leave you with one piece of information, it is this one:

“97% of mobile subscribers will read a text message, even a promotional one, within 15 minutes of receipt.” (Nielsen)

That’s why text message marketing is so valuable. You can reach your customers when they are most likely to buy! Moreover, your customers have opted-in, meaning that they WANT to receive your messages.

My company has done work for Subway in sending text messages for the Subway restaurants from Maine to Maryland. When does Subway send its text messages? At 11:30 AM when customers are in the office or out on the job site and starting to get hungry for lunch.

With text message marketing, you have the perfect storm for any type of advertising:

  • It’s your best prospects, because they’ve asked to receive your advertising.
  • You are almost 100% sure that they are going to see your message. Can any other medium make that same claim?
  • You can reach your customer when they are most likely to buy! If you buy radio advertising, you don’t know exactly when your advertisement will run and if you buy newspaper advertising, you have no idea when your advertisement will be seen.

Our Short Code Messaging Works on Both Sides of the Border

For almost 26 years, ATS has been involved in the IVR business.  And, one of the great things about IVR is that if you set up a toll free 800 number service in either the United States or Canada, it will travel cross border.

Not so when it comes to short code messaging.  Text message marketing by short code is unique to both the USA and Canada.  Meaning, that you need to set up your services with vendors on both sides of the border.

But, ATS has taken a bit of the pain out of that by securing the same short code in both the US and Canada.  Thus, there’s no need to change your advertising and if you get spill over customers in the other country, it will work just the same, because your services are activated with both the American and Canadian carriers.


Text Messaging for Retail, Radio Plus International, MMS, Text to Landline

Want to know more about text message marketing?

The following three videos will give you an idea of how text message marketing is still the go-to mobile marketing tool for businesses.

Interviews by Brad Bierman.

Our Newest Product Offerings: International, MMS, Text to Landline

In the first video, Bob Bentz talks about how ATS Mobile wisely chose the same short code in both the United States and Canada.  What that means for you is that your text message marketing will work the same in both countries and you won’t have to change your advertising creative to accommodate both countries.  In addition, Bentz discusses some recent enhancements to its messaging services which now include:

  • International Texting
  • MMS Picture Messaging
  • Text to Landline — we can now soon offer you the ability to send a text message to your landline phone.


Text Messaging for Radio Stations

In the second video, ATS’s Steve Gonzalez discusses the importance of a mobile marketing messaging strategy to engage radio station listeners.


Holiday Texting Tips for Retailers

Finally, Scott Bronenberg discusses the upcoming holiday season and the importance of text message marketing for retailers.


Want to watch more videos from our Mobile Marketing Knowledge College?  Click here to watch last month’s videos.


4 Expert Videos on Text Message Marketing

In October, the focus of the Mobile Marketing Knowledge College interviews were on text message marketing.  ATS Mobile’s Brad Bierman, a qualified expert in this field himself, interviewed key staffers to get their insights and advice on how to best utilize text message marketing in an overall mobile, digital and traditional marketing plan.  Discussion topics include: retail; apartments; restaurants; strategy.

Listen to our mobile marketing consultants give advice on SMS marketing.


Text Message Marketing for Retail Stores

by Scott Bronenberg



Text Message Marketing for Apartments

by Barb Breeser

Text Message Marketing for Restaurants

by Kevin Campbell

Text Message Marketing Strategies

by Bob Bentz



Text Message Marketing for Gyms in Canada

Did you know that we also provide text message marketing in Canada?  And, that it works really great for health clubs, gyms, and mixed martial arts training centers?

One of our customers liked it so much that she didn’t just make an ordinary testimonial for us, she made a video testimonial that really kicks ass.


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