We’re all familiar with shortcodes without actually knowing what they are. Shortcodes are the 5 to 6 digit numbers that businesses use for sending and replying to their text messages. And while a dedicated shortcode can overcome the brand confusion and loss of subscribers that can result from using common keywords on a shared shortcode, and give your brand a memorable identity if you opt for a vanity code, dedicated shortcodes are also expensive and often beyond the reach of the average small business. To keep costs low and to get into the mobile space as quickly as possible, your small business needs a shared shortcode.
How Shared Shortcodes Work
Dedicated shortcodes are expensive, which is why many of them are shared across thousands of businesses which all bear a small portion of the cost. Though a number of organisations will be using the same 5 to 6 digit shortcode, there is a way to differentiate your messages from another user, and that’s by using keywords. It works like this:
Your PC repair company shares a shortcode with Sue’s Salon, 87007
You each have a keyword appropriate to your business – PCREPAIR and SALON
You both send messages to your clients which they receive from the same shortcode, 87007
When your clients reply they need to type the keyword, then a space, and then their message
The message is sent to the appropriate business, so Sue’s messages go to SALON and yours go to your keyword PCREPAIR
Share & Go
The most obvious benefit of shared shortcodes, beside their affordability, is their immediacy. You can hit the mobile space running without the lengthy wait for dedicated shortcode approval. And the mobile space is somewhere every small business wants to be when you consider that:
2/3 of the world’s population now have a mobile phone, and every mobile phone has SMS technology on board – it’s mobile native, not an app
90% of all SMS texts are read within 3 minutes
63% of mobile users have their phone with them for all but 1 hour a day.
There’s no wonder that Coca-Cola have invested a reported 70% of its mobile budget on text message marketing.
Shared Codes are Flexible
Just want to test the water using shortcodes for a seasonal SMS campaign? Then you can rent a keyword from fastsms for £25 a month. There’s none of the hassle, long term investment or commitment involved in having a dedicated shortcode. If it works for you then you might consider using it long term. If it doesn’t, your shortcode experiment didn’t break the bank.
They're not Techie
Creating and choosing keywords is relatively simple and straightforward, and we’ve already blogged about some useful guidelines for choosing keywords that are memorable and easy to use. Once you’ve created the keywords that are relevant to your campaign it’s a breeze to start messaging them to your opted-in customers and clients.
Instant Response Times
Automate your shortcode replies and you’ll be responsive 24/7 to reach customers when they’re mobile. Why is that important? Because consumers are happy to keep responding to your messages if they receive a personalised response within 10 seconds.
Why Your Customers Love Keywords
Not only are shortcode keywords more memorable than phone numbers or website addresses, promoting brand recognition for your customers, but they make life easy for them too. Using a shortcode means that they can perform a number of tasks hassle free:
Receive your discount and promo codes
Request and receive more information
Register their interest in your promotional campaigns
Take part in a survey
Donate money to charity
Ask for a callback
Better Data Capture
It’s not just the customer-facing benefits of SMS shortcodes that are important for your business, but the data you can scrape from your shortcode responses. You can measure the effectiveness of your SMS campaigns accurately and immediately, and you can use captured mobile data from your customers to target your next permission-based campaign. Imagine being able to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns in real time, and how critical that can be for your future marketing strategy.
Shortcodes and keywords are also the failsafe way to build your database, which can be invaluable for a small business. It’s as simple as tweeting your shortcode and keyword asking potential customers to sign up for discounts and promotions on your goods and services. Shortcodes and keywords are one of the easiest and most effective ways to get an active opt-in from customers who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer.
Create Conversation & Engagement
Shortcodes are invaluable in starting a conversation and keeping it going while respecting the customer experience, so remember to keep it TRV – timely, relevant and valuable – throughout the customer journey.
Here’s an example: let’s assume you run a small business doing computer repairs and you have an appointment with a client at 10.00am tomorrow. You can send a pre-appointment and appointment day text message either asking the customer to confirm that they still require your services by texting YES or giving them the option to cancel by texting NO to your shortcode.
After the appointment, trigger feedback by inviting your client to take a short survey rewarding them with a discount code on completion.
Promote Your Ethical Side
For many small businesses, partnering with a local charity is becoming an ethical way to market themselves through positive exposure. However altruistic your motives, you’ll both benefit from the association. So how can SMS shortcodes and keywords be of benefit? Let’s say you’ve decided to run a marathon for your chosen charity. Using relevant keywords and your shortcode, you can recruit donors for your charitable efforts and leverage your existing database to make donations.
If you’re interested in harnessing the power of shortcodes and keywords for your small business, feel free to get in touch to discuss ways that we can help you become active in the mobile space. And please feel free to leave us a comment about the ways you’re using shortcodes and keywords in your business.