Top Secret Tip To Picking SMS Keywords

Top Secret Tip To Pick SMS KeywordThe following is the weekly guest series by Derek Johnson, Founder & CEO of text message marketing software Tatango.

I spend  a lot of time with clients at Tatango helping them come up with the perfect SMS keyword for their campaign. When discussing options with a client, we go through the basics that everyone in the industry knows when picking an SMS keyword.

  • Keep it short – Too long of an SMS keyword and potential subscribers will avoid your campaign like the plague.
  • Avoid special characters – It’s a pain in the ass to tab from letters to numbers/symbols on any mobile phone.
  • Make it memorable – Sometimes potential subscribers only are able to give an SMS keyword a few glances, make sure it sticks in their head when they look down at their mobile phone.
  • Avoid using multiple words –  A lot of SMS providers aren’t as baller as we are at Tatango and won’t be able to tell that the SMS keyword “PIZZA DEALS with a space is the same as “PIZZADEALS” without a space.

Are you ready for the top secret tip to picking SMS keywords? Are you really ready? This is some shit that has never been talked about before and will change the way you look at every SMS keyword from now on. Ok you’re ready, so here is the top secret tip to picking SMS keywords:


That’s right, I’m talking about the same auto correct that has given us the gem of a website in Damn You Auto Correct. If you want a laugh, check out the top 15 auto correct mistakes, but as you pee your pants, think about how easily people let auto correct land them in some of life’s most awkward situations. Now think about your SMS campaign, could an auto correct failure happen just as easily? The answer is yes, most certainly. When an auto correct failure happens between two people it’s usually something that can be fixed with a simple explanation. Unfortunately though, when an auto correct failure happens while a customer is trying to opt-in to an SMS campaign, it can easily result in a lost subscriber.

For example, take the following SMS campaign that is using the SMS keyword “FROYO”.

SMS Marketing Campaign

Looks like a good SMS keyword right? Not really if you factor in auto correct. Check out what my iPhone below auto corrects the SMS keyword “FROYO” to. If a subscriber isn’t careful they will be texting “GROUP” to the SMS short code 86677 and this yogurt shop will be losing a potential SMS subscriber. So what the heck can you do to take into account the auto correct factor when selecting an SMS keyword?

SMS Campaign Fail

There are four things I do when planning for the auto correct when selecting an SMS keyword.

  1. Test different operating systems – Any SMS provider worth their weight should have multiple mobile phones, with multiple operating systems to test the chance of auto correct with SMS keywords.
  2. Append a number – I know above I said to avoid SMS keywords with a number appended to the end, but usually a number added to the end of an SMS keyword will stop the auto correct.
  3. Claim the auto correct SMS keyword – If you can’t live without a certain SMS keyword, make sure to claim the different versions of auto corrects.
  4. Change your SMS keyword – Sometimes instead of appending a number to the SMS keyword or claiming all the different variations of that SMS keyword, it’s just easier to pick one that doesn’t auto correct. As a rule of thumb, most words in the dictionary don’t auto correct, but I’m still surprised when I find words that defy that logic. Remember to always test, especially when it comes to auto correct.