SMS Marketing Best Practices

SMS Marketing Warning: Beware of Autocorrect

SMS Marketing Autocorrect Example
An SMS marketing campaign can take a long time to put together. There are a lot of little details and nothing can be overlooked when advertising and finally launching your SMS marketing campaign. Eventually, the day finally comes to spread the word to consumers to text your SMS keyword to your brand’s short code. You’ve scheduled all the ads promoting your campaign, you’ve signed off on the printed materials, and you’ve even bought billboard spaces around the country. It’s officially launch day!

Several hours have gone by since the launch of your SMS marketing campaign and something seems to be wrong. The amount of visibility of your SMS marketing advertisements, the compelling call-to-action, and the low opt-in numbers do not add up. This is where you realize, that in all of the months of planning you forgot to take into account one thing… Autocorrect! 

Upon investigating, the messaging records indicate that when texting the SMS keyword “SUPERZAP”, autocorrect is changing it to “SUPERSUP”. Since your campaign keyword is not “SUPERSUP” all of the consumers that fell victim to autocorrect unfortunately will not be able to interact with your brand. Damn you autocorrect! 

It’s not all bad news, though, because there are ways to get ahead of autocorrect changing your SMS keyword. The following post will outline five rules to help you maximize your SMS marketing subscribers and avoid autocorrect fails.


SMS Marketing Autocorrect Rules


1. Avoid Shared Short Codes

The reality is, autocorrecting is not completely unavoidable. Autocorrect is pretty sophisticated, and it learns the owner’s text messaging habits. Even though your SMS keyword is in fact a word in the English language, if the word is not used often by the consumer, the word may be changed to something else. This will vary from one consumer to another as every person has a slightly different way of texting, and phones pick-up on this and adapt.

Taking the above into account, it’s vital that your SMS marketing campaign uses a dedicated short code, and not a shared short code. A dedicated short code belongs to one brand and is utilized exclusively by that brand, compared to a shared one that can be used by thousands of brands at one time. When a consumer texts the wrong SMS keyword, a brand using a dedicated short code can simply respond with the proper keyword for the SMS marketing campaign. See the example below.

SMS Marketing Autocorrect Example - Dedicated Short Code

When a branded uses a shared short code and receives an incorrect keyword, the consumer will receive a generic automated response from the SMS marketing platform. The response will simply say in one way or another that the SMS keyword is not recognized, which is not helpful to the consumer. See the example below.

SMS Marketing Autocorrect Example - Shared Short Code


2. Avoid Two-Words as Keywords

Although this is not an issue for the Tatango platform, as our developers developed a workaround for this challenge back in 2011, the majority of SMS marketing software platforms still see “PIZZA TIME” and “PIZZATIME” as two different words. This is a problem if your SMS keyword is something like “PIZZATIME”, because most cellphones will autocorrect it with a space as it is actually two separate words. If your current SMS marketing platform does not recognize “PIZZATIME” (without a space) and “PIZZA TIME” (with a space) as the same keyword, the consumers who send the incorrect one will not be able to opt-in to your campaign. See the example below.

SMS Marketing Autocorrect Example - Two Words

Tatango conducted a study back in 2011 and found that for one specific campaign, 9% of people included the space even though the SMS campaign is advertising the keyword without a space. While our findings do not indicate if the consumer intentionally added the space in the keyword or if autocorrect is at fault, regardless it is still a significant number of customers that may be left out of SMS communications. And this data serves as a good reminder when selecting a keyword.

Again, this is not an issue on the Tatango platform, as our system is smart enough to remove misplaced spaces anywhere in the SMS keyword.


3. Avoid Misspelling of Words as Keywords

If your company name is a misspelled version of a popular word like, “BASEBALLZ”, it may not be a good idea to select the SMS keyword “BASEBALLZ”. As “baseballs” is a common word in the English language and the keyword is misspelled on purpose, the chances of it being autocorrected are very high. See the example below.

SMS Marketing Autocorrect Example - Miss Spellings


4. Avoid Made-Up Words as Keywords

It is an SMS marketing best practice to avoid made-up words as your SMS keyword. Made up words will be corrected to the closest real word that the mobile device can come up with.

For example, if a mobile app is named “SUPERZAP”, autocorrect may change it to “SUPERSUP”. In this case, we’d recommend this brand use a keyword like “APP” or “DOWNLOAD” instead of the made-up word, even if that made-up word is the name of the mobile app. See the example below.

Another example of this happening is at the Houston Airport, where consumers were told to text “FLYIAH”, and their mobile phones autocorrected the keyword to “FLYING”. You can read the post about the Houston Airport campaign here.

SMS Marketing Autocorrect Example - Non-Standard Words


5. Avoid Words with Apostrophes as Keywords

Another way to avoid an autocorrect catastrophe is to not use words with apostrophes as keywords. If a brand absolutely must use this type of word, we recommend claiming the word with an apostrophe and the word without an apostrophe as your keywords for that specific action. You can see why this is important in the example below, or check out the issue this caused by having the keyword “DENNYS”, and it autocorrecting on our phone to “DENNY’S” in this blog post.

SMS Marketing Autocorrect Example - Apostrophes


Even when following the five recommendations above, it’s important to test your keywords on different operating systems before the launch of the SMS campaign. If a brand chooses to go with an SMS keyword that has a high chance of being autocorrected, it’s critical that they claim the autocorrected keywords as well as the non-autocorrected keyword for that particular action. Utilizing variations of the autocorrected word will ensure that consumers will receive the intended SMS response.

While planning for autocorrect mishaps is a critical part of an SMS marketing campaign, so is incentivizing consumers to opt-in to receive your SMS marketing messages. It’s been reported that incentivizing consumers to opt-in to receive SMS marketing messages will increase subscriber growth by as much as 520%. This is a vital component of any SMS marketing campaign.

Does your brand need help planning for the autocorrect in your SMS marketing campaign? Contact the experts at Tatango to discuss your SMS marketing strategy, and how you can avoid common SMS marketing pitfalls such as autocorrect.

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