Why SMS short codes are a ‘winner’ for customer competitions

Text to win competitions have been a regular feature for both TV and radio stations.  Regular audiences can enter competitions, participate in live voting and complete surveys by sending a text message containing a keyword, such as “WINNER” to an easily remembered short code number – 60777.  From Big Brother to breakfast TV, they’ve become an integral part of live audience competitions. But they are by no means exclusive to broadcast media as thanks to our SMS marketing platform, they need not be a difficult or expensive affair to run in a store, restaurant or event. Let’s take a look at why you should use short codes for customer competitions.

Keyword + short code = success

With so many people owning mobile phones, the invention of the short code relied on one simple thing – a competition entrant’s ability to type a short word into a text message and send it to a five-digit number.

The important message for any small business is that you can use short codes to run any kind of competition or promotion. Instead of having to ask people to fill in a form with their name, address and email, a short code allows you to capture their mobile phone number, which means you can communicate directly with them.

See our previous article: How to use an SMS short code.

Use a short code competition to collect additional personal information

You can gather more information from people by asking them to add more to their text. For example, Text ‘WIN’ plus your [name+email address] to 60777.

Additional information such as an email address, post code, important date or voucher code can be added to a online CRM, such as the free contact database you get with our SMS marketing platform.  The information you collect can be used to segment your contact lists into interests or can be merged into autoresponders or campaign messages.

The additional fields can also help drive other marketing communications such as emails. Thanks to web apps like Zapier, you can connect Textlocal to hundreds of marketing apps including MailChimp and automatically send an email to someone who’s attached an email address to their competition entry.

How to choose the right keyword for your short code competition

Keywords on a short code number help us filter your entries into a manageable database. This is what allows your business to have its own short code for multiple uses – competitions, surveys, donations, or just data collection.

With TV competitions, you have the benefit of being able to say and show your keyword and short code combination. If you run a franchise chain of coffee shops and you want to run a SMS competition, you need to think about where you will promote it.

Will you have the benefit of people being able to read your instructions, so they can copy them without error? Or will your competition be the kind of thing that people will also read out – for example, in a radio advert script?

Here are some key considerations when picking your keyword:

  • Plan for auto-correct: Don’t pick a word that almost always gets auto-corrected.
  • Make it easy to spell: No complicated accents or vowel combinations.
  • Make sure it is phonetic: If someone announces it on the radio, will people be able to spell it?

The simpler your short code competition is the better, especially if you’re working with limited space. If you want to promote your competition on beer mats, you should keep instructions to a minimum, but if you have more space to give instructions, such as in a newspaper advertisement, you could get more creative about the additional information you ask for.

Short codes really do make it easy for businesses of all shapes and sizes to run competitions and promotions, so why not give it a try? It’s one of the best ways to grow your customer database.