How Credit Unions Can Use SMS Keyword Campaigns to Acquire More Members

Mature man texting on cell phone

SMS keywords are powerful marketing tools. They’re a cost-effective way for credit unions to attract new customers and keep existing members engaged by promoting their services. They’re also a golden opportunity to start a conversation with someone before they even set foot inside your location.

But first, before a company can benefit from this type of marketing, they need to adopt business texting. See how business texting works and then check out some features and productivity tools that also help teams increase the pace of their daily workflow and improve internal communication.

What is keyword marketing?

Keyword marketing is a way to appeal to consumers who are interested in what your credit union has to offer. Perhaps you have lower interest rates than other financial institutions in your area or you offer a more personal approach to banking. Many consumers prefer to conduct business with local companies, and credit unions of all sizes can benefit from this preference. Keywords can help you spread the word and attract more business.

Basically, a keyword is a single word that a business promotes through advertising and marketing channels that encourages individuals to text that word to a number to get more information. The number can be a text-enabled business phone number or a short code. While both types of numbers have benefits, many credit unions use their existing business phone number for texting because it allows for two-way conversations, which is the better customer experience.

Short codes are commonly used for one-way communication such as alerts and notifications.

Keywords use auto-reply messages that a credit union sets up at the start of their SMS keyword campaign. The auto-reply text includes the information the consumer is seeking, or it provides a link to that information within the text message. The consumer reads the reply on their cell phone and can easily take additional action from there if the reply message prompts them to do so.

Show me the money: sample keyword text campaign

The image below is an example of a keyword campaign to promote awareness of a credit union by offering something in return. In this marketing campaign, anyone who texts the keyword “MONEY” to the number the credit union indicates is eligible for a chance to win a $200 savings certificate.

After sending the text, the consumer receives an auto reply thanking them and informing them that they’ve been entered into a drawing for a chance to win something of value. But there’s more. Auto-reply texts give credit unions an opportunity to include a message and link to other information, such as promoting their competitive rates for home and auto loans.

Consumers who text this keyword may indeed be in the market for a loan, but they may not have considered your credit union prior to seeing and responding to your keyword campaign.

sms keyword texting cell phone message

Keywords drive consumer behavior

When consumers see a keyword and a short message to text that keyword to the number provided, they may feel inspired and take action to get the information, redeem a free item or be entered into a contest or promotion. A company can promote multiple keywords and use them to advertise different parts of their business, but it’s best to use one keyword at a time for each advertising campaign.

Keywords are opportunities to attract consumers in ways that are often spontaneous or unpredictable. Someone may drive by your credit union every day and one day notice a sign in the window promoting a keyword for something that gets their attention. They may be interested in refinancing their home or starting a new business but haven’t done the research. When you make it easy for them to reach you, they’re likely to text you so they can have the information they’re seeking right at their fingertips.

Keep your keywords short and relevant

It’s best to use short words when choosing a keyword, making sure it’s easy to remember and easy to spell. The last thing you want is for consumers to feel frustrated because they mistyped the word because they’re unfamiliar with it or use it infrequently. Further, your keyword should make sense for what you’re promoting. A coffee shop wouldn’t promote the word “LOANS” and a credit union wouldn’t promote the word “BEANS”. Choose words that speak to your core audience for clarity.

poster for sms keyword texting promo

How to promote SMS keywords

There are many ways to promote keywords. Using a variety of methods will yield the best results. Teaming up with your marketing department is a smart strategy so they can create printed materials as well as coordinate with media outlets and advertising partners. Signage on interior and exterior windows of your credit union is an easy and low-cost way to promote your keyword campaigns.

In addition to window signs, flyers that advertise keywords can be made available for members who come inside. You can also create print ads for newspapers, magazines, billboards and even bus and transit centers. And don’t forget the airwaves. You’d be surprised by the number of radio listeners who respond to a keyword when their favorite drive-time personality mentions it.

To keep track of keyword results and to measure your ROI, business texting software includes analytical tools that enable you to quickly run keyword reports to determine how well a campaign is performing. Texting software also integrates with many computer programs credit unions use, such as SugarCRM, for productivity and internal communications. Visit the Zipwhip Marketplace for details.

Acquiring younger members with keyword texting

Pew Research recently reported that 95% of American teens have access to a smartphone, making them a prime market for credit unions who connect by text. Because teens interact with their cell phones constantly throughout the day, using keywords to market to them could pay high dividends.

young woman texting on cell phone

Many teens and young adults are just starting to think about their finances. A proactive credit union could be the first banking institution this growing demographic interacts with, whether it’s to open checking and savings accounts or putting away money for college.

Connecting with younger consumers early can increase the likelihood they’ll remain members for years, if not their entire lifetime. And at every stage of their financial development, from loans for automobiles and higher education to mortgages and retirement planning, acquiring a young member and keeping them engaged could mean long-term benefits for them and your credit union.

Consider advertising to these consumers in the traditional places noted above as well as programs for high school extracurricular activities, sporting event programs, college publications, social media platforms and anywhere else young people turn to for news, information and entertainment.

Opting in to receive SMS texts

When consumers text a business, as in the case of keywords, they’re opting in to receive SMS text messages. However, it’s important to only send texts pertaining to the reason they signed up initially. If a consumer texts in a keyword about personal loans, you wouldn’t want to send texts about career opportunities at your credit union.

Remember, when a customer opts in to receive texts, they can later change their mind. It’s important to include an easy and immediate way for them to opt out if they no longer wish to receive texts from you.

Adding a “STOP” command to your message requires that that their phone number be removed from future text messages your company sends. Business texting software has built-in safeguards that automatically prevent a company from sending texts to a number that has opted out, which takes the worry out of inadvertently violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

For tips on ensuring a business stays compliant with TCPA regulations, download our mini e-book.

More resources to get credit unions started with texting

To learn more about conversational texting and how it can increase consumer engagement for credit unions, download The Ultimate Guide to Texting Your Customers. It has everything you need to know to get started including best practices, texting etiquette tips, advice on training your team on texting, templates you can start using today and much more.

For an overview of texting across all industries, our 2020 State of Texting report shows how businesses are keeping pace with changes in the messaging landscape. Our annual report provides an in-depth look at the texting trends, habits and preferences of more than 2,000 businesses and consumers across the country. Plus, Zipwhip’s CEO John Lauer shares his predictions for the year ahead.

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