New Study Reveals the Top 5 Words Sent by SMS Marketers


By Jake Meador | 25 Aug 2020






Everyone loves marketing tips, right?


The allure of marketing tips and tricks is the promise of bigger rewards for the same amount of work. “Use this magic phrase in your email,” or “send a text at this time,” and get far superior results.


You do the same amount of work. You just get far more bang for your buck.


Sometimes marketing tricks are real.


Writing a better subject line on an email can dramatically improve open rates. An engaging blog headline will get more clicks and probably perform better on Google Search.


But sometimes marketing tricks aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.


That’s the biggest lesson to take from the case study we’re publishing today.


We studied over 2.6 million text messages sent across thousands of client accounts. We wanted to know if there were certain words that tended to produce higher click-through rates. But we ended up finding something different.


First, let’s look at the data. In the table below, ‘keyword’ refers to the word we studied, clicks refers to how many times messages using that word somewhere in the copy were clicked, sent refers to how many messages were sent that used that keyword somewhere in the copy. CTR is the click-through rate. 


Also note that this study only concerns the click-through rate on messages; it does not study the open rate at all. 

top words sms marketers use chart

The data tells us three things.


Lesson 1: When it comes to engagement, intent trumps marketing gimmicks. 😉

What we were hoping to see when we did this study was simple: Messages with very similar purposes that performed differently based on word usage and phrasing. So perhaps we’d see a significant difference between something more formal—’greetings’—and something more chatty--’hi!’.


That is not what we found.


Look at the top five outcomes for CTR.


One of them, “update,” is almost always asking people to do a specific action. Most likely, a credit card payment failed and payment information needs to be “updated.” In other cases, the sender might be asking someone to update their contact information.


In both situations, the recipient has an excellent reason to click because they need to do something important and they can accomplish that thing by clicking.


Of the next four, “time,” “details,” “posted,” and “hour,” all of them are going to generally be found in messages advertising an upcoming event of some kind. Perhaps the sender said they have “posted” new information about the upcoming meeting or they are sending “details” about an upcoming event.


In many cases, the link in the text message in question is going to take people to a mapping page or a page where they can RSVP to let the sender know if they will be attending.


What these top five performing keywords share is simple: They are making a highly specific request of the recipient that concerns something the recipient values and which requires a particular action from the recipient which they can accomplish by clicking the link in the text.


In contrast, the two worst performing keywords are “hey” and “join.” Both of these keywords will generally correlate with more open-ended messages. “Hey,” is a generic greeting you use when trying to get someone’s attention, which of course means that you do not already have their attention, as you would if asking them to update their credit card information, for example.


Likewise, “join,” suggests a fairly broad invitation of some kind.


In other words, open-ended messages without a particular purpose or that are sent to people who have not expressed prior interest in the particular offer are going to perform badly.


What this means is that when it comes to SMS marketing, the intentions of the recipient of the message are the most important thing. Slight word changes or other marketing tricks are going to have relatively limited impact. The most important factor in determining engagement is, by far, the intentions of the person receiving the message.


Lesson 2: People will interact with SMS marketing messages. 🤾‍♂️

Note that texts including the words “click,” “reply,” and “update” all average 30% CTR or higher. These are very promising engagement metrics, especially when you factor in that we are only looking at clicks in this study, not opens.


Sometimes people worry that users will ignore SMS marketing messages if they know they’re getting sent automatically or from SMS messaging software. But the data we’re seeing here suggests that people still interact with texts, even when they’re being sent from bulk SMS software.


Lesson 3: Specificity is essential to SMS marketing success. 🧐

We know that intent matters. We know that people will respond to messages that are relevant to them.


Taken together, this tells us that successful SMS marketing is all about specificity.


You should not be sending out a lot of mass SMS messages to an undifferentiated list of prospects, one-time customers, long-time customers, etc. 


The broader your audience, the harder it is to offer specific benefits that your readers value. To provide value, you need to talk to specific audiences.


So when you’re planning an SMS marketing campaign, constantly be thinking about the small group of people that are going to be receiving your messages. If you try to reach everyone, you’ll end up reaching no one. But if you can break down your audience into smaller segments, identify what each segment values or cares about, and then write messages tailored to that group, then you’re on your way to marketing success.


Ready to start texting your customers today? Take advantage of the 99% read rate that SMS marketing offers and sign up for a free Mobile Text Alerts account below.


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