How to Drive Traffic to Your Website Using SMS Keywords

Driving customers to your website with SMS Keywords is a simple, yet highly effective strategy. All it takes is setting up a keyword and including a link to your website in the corresponding auto-reply message. In this blog post, we’ll go over why it works, offer a few examples to get you started and explain how Zipwhip’s Keyword reporting tool can be used to measure the success of your SMS keyword campaign.

What is an SMS keyword?

An SMS keyword is a word that someone can text to a short code or your existing business phone number. The keyword will trigger an auto-reply text message that is tied to your campaign. For example, “Text WAVE to 555-123-4567.”

Short codes are expensive and offer less flexibility when communicating with your customers or clients. Zipwhip recommends using an existing 10-digit landline, VoIP or toll-free phone number for your SMS keyword campaigns so that your business can take full advantage of the benefits of texting with your customers.

Suggested reading: The Ultimate Guide to Texting Your Customers

Why is an SMS Keyword campaign effective in directing traffic to your website?

Your business is likely using multiple strategies to drive website traffic, but some methods can fall short. Email, for example, can easily go unread in a crowded inbox. Thirty-nine percent of consumers have more than 100 unread emails in their personal inbox and 20% have over 1,000. And other methods, like advertising, can be expensive to maintain.

According to our 2021 State of Texting report, nearly 60% of consumers say that texting is the fastest way for a business to reach them. And in the COVID-19 era, our phones are either glued to our hands or within arm’s reach: 64% of consumers have been spending more time on their phones, and 35% say it’s up to three to four more hours per day.

An SMS keyword is an effective way for your customers to engage with your business because they’re already on their phones. Once your customer texts in your keyword, they’ll get an auto-reply message with a link that takes them to your website. It’s uncomplicated and direct.

Tips for creating an SMS keyword

If you’re a Zipwhip customer with an Unlimited membership or higher, you have access to our Keywords feature. We suggest using the following tips to make your SMS keyword easy for customers to text to your phone number and to ensure they get it right on the first try.

  • Keep keywords simple and relevant to your campaign. For example, an SMS keyword campaign for a free trial of your service could use the keyword TRIAL.
  • Try to avoid using more than one word. You can use two words, but they can’t have a space in between them. Customers may accidentally separate the word when texting, which would prevent the auto-reply from being triggered. The keyword has to be texted exactly as you’ve set it up. Plus, entering a single word is a lot simpler and straightforward than texting two words crunched together (e.g., FREETRIAL vs. TRIAL).
  • Avoid special characters. Characters like !,@,# and $ could cause your customers to enter your keyword incorrectly. Stick to letters to keep it simple.

Sending links in your SMS keyword campaign messages

When including a link in your text message, we recommend using the entire link instead of using a link shortener. Phone carriers see shortened links as suspicious and may flag your message as spam.

Learn more about best practices when including a text message link in this blog post.

SMS keyword examples to drive traffic to your website

SMS keyword campaigns can be general (such as building a subscriber list for ongoing marketing messages) or specific (such as directing your customers to download a newly released e-book). The key to pique their interest is to provide something of value that will spur them into action. Below are just a few text keyword ideas that can lead your customers to your website.

Build an opt-in subscriber list for SMS marketing messages

To send out consistent text messages to a group of customers, they’ll have to sign up for them. You can use a keyword to encourage sign-ups by advertising it anywhere you engage with your customers:

  • Social media. Publish posts throughout the year reminding followers they can receive texts from you.
  • Website. Create a modal pop-up or a banner.
  • Physical store. Create signs and place them at checkout.
  • Email. Send out a dedicated email to let customers know that they can sign up for your texts or include a reminder in your email signature.
  • Delivery packages. Create slips and insert them at the top of your packages so that it’s the first thing your customers see when they open it. Or insert slips into shopping bags after a customer makes a purchase in store.

It’s important to be clear about what your customer is getting in return for giving you access to their phone number. Sending irrelevant text messages could be a turn off and may lead your customer to unsubscribe from your texting list.

You could set up your messaging like the following:

  • “Be the first to hear about new releases, sales and product discounts. Text JOIN to 555-123-4567 to get texts from us.”
  • “Want to be the first to snag tickets to the next show? Text SHOW to 555-123-4567, and we’ll text you monthly upcoming concert alerts.”
  • “Sign up and save! Join our texting list and get exclusive offers sent straight to your phone. Text OFFERS to 555-123-4567.”

Suggested reading: Opt-in Text Messaging: What it Means and Why it’s Important

Building a subscriber list will give you ongoing access to your customers. After they’ve subscribed, you’re able to send them marketing messages that will direct traffic to your site. In your message, always include a link to your website as your call to action.

SMS keyword campaign

Run a contest or audience vote

Radio and television stations love using keywords for contests and audience voting. Set up a keyword then include the link to your website’s contest or voting page in the auto-reply message.

  • “Text VOTE to 555-123-4567 to vote for our next artist of the week.”
  • “Text MONEY to 555-123-4567 for your chance to win $1,000 worth of apparel.”

sms keyword campaign

Promote content

Keywords are a great way to get more eyeballs on your content. Whether you’ve published a new e-book or how-to guide, create a keyword that will deliver the content link directly to your customer or client. Your messaging could be placed in your email signature, on your website or on your social media accounts.

    • “Read our latest report: 2021 State of Texting. Text SOT to 555-123-4567 for a direct link.”
    • “Text TRAFFIC to 555-123-4567 for a link to our latest guide How to Increase Website Traffic.”
    • “Our full report on last year’s fundraising efforts is now available! Text REPORT to 555-123-4567 to read it.”

We also like this example from our customer KING5, Seattle’s NBC affiliate that was tweeted on Election Day 2020.

Track your SMS campaign success with Keyword Reporting

To round out your SMS keyword campaign, use Zipwhip’s Keyword Reporting tool. It lets you make strategic decisions about your Keyword campaigns by providing a convenient platform to evaluate keywords across all lines. You can optimize your campaigns with insights like:

  • which keywords have a high response rate
  • what day and time receives the best engagement
    which keywords aren’t effective
  • and spotting inactive keywords due to misspelling or other forms of human error

This video offers a quick tutorial on how to use Keyword reporting.

Learn more about how to use texting to engage with your customers:

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