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SMS Keywords: Definition, Best Practices, and Examples

Updated: 6 days ago

What are SMS keywords

Are you considering using SMS marketing to reach out to your audience? If so, it's essential to comprehend the crucial elements that can turn your campaign into a success. The use of SMS keywords is one important factor to consider.

In this blog, we'll explore the world of SMS keywords and examine how they can greatly impact your marketing campaign's effectiveness.

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What is an SMS keyword?

An SMS keyword is a unique word or phrase that a customer can text to a specific number called a short code to opt into an SMS marketing campaign or receive information about a product or service. It's a powerful tool for businesses to build their SMS marketing lists and engage with their customers in a more targeted way.

Here are some SMS keyword examples with their use cases:

To opt-in for a discount

Text 'SAVINGS' to 12345 and get 10% off your next purchase at our store! Hurry, the offer ends soon!

To receive updates about a new product launch

Be the first to know about our latest product! Text 'NEWPRODUCT' to 12345 to get updates and exclusive offers.

To join a loyalty program

Sign up for our loyalty program and get rewards for every purchase! Text 'LOYALTY' to 12345 to join now.

To get customer support

Need help with your order? Text 'SUPPORT' to 12345 and our customer service team will assist you.

To participate in a survey

We want to hear from you! Text 'SURVEY' to 12345 and share your feedback. You could win a prize!

To receive daily inspiration

Start your day off right with our daily quotes! Text 'INSPIRE' to 12345 to get daily motivational messages.

To get updates on upcoming events

Don't miss out on our next event! Text 'EVENTS' to 12345 to stay in the loop.

What is a Short Code?


In order to begin an SMS marketing campaign, you need two things. The contact details of the potential customer and second is a five-digit code that businesses often use to send and receive text messages. This five-digit code is usually known as a Short Code.

For example, if you have recently purchased a Plus smartphone, you might have received a message from a unique short code number like (56435). The message might be asking you to send “JOIN” (keyword) to that number to join their red club group. This 5-digit number is a short code.

What is an SMS key?

An SMS key is a special identification code sent to a user that aids marketers in tracking opt-out statuses, audience segmentation, and channel performance analysis. It is used to link a user's mobile number with their profile in the SMS marketing database.

The recipient's name, location, or other specifics can be added to SMS messages using the SMS key. By using an SMS key, businesses can target their SMS marketing campaigns more effectively, send personalized messages, and track the performance of their campaigns at the user level.

For instance, if a person with the SMS key "12345" has chosen not to receive messages, the company might exclude them from further campaigns and stop sending them spam.

 However, if a user with the SMS key "67890" has engaged with the campaign to a high degree, the     company can target them with more specialized messages and promotions.

Now you might be thinking, can we do the same thing by using a mobile number? Well, you can do the same. However, using an SMS keyword and SMS key allows for more specific and targeted segmentation as it provides additional information other than what we can acquire from the phone numbers.

For instance, a consumer who texts the term "SALES" and obtains a discount code can be marked with an SMS key suggesting they are interested in sales promotions.

Additionally, using an SMS key allows marketers to track opt-out statuses and performance at a user level, providing valuable insights and allowing for continual optimization of the SMS marketing strategy.

Tips To Select SMS Keywords

Here is a quick advice from my experience. Stop thinking like a marketer and start thinking from the target group’s perspective. Correct SMS keywords can increase the number of SMS subscribers and ultimately your brand value.

So, stop pelting your customers with promotional messages containing random keywords. Here are some suggestions which you can follow to enhance your revenue from SMS marketing.

Make them easy to remember

You might have heard one abbreviation KISS (Keep it simple, stupid!). So, follow that here as well. Keeping your keywords simple and related to your brand will be easier to remember as compared to a keyword full of numbers and abbreviations.

Even if you don’t have any keyword related to your brand keep it as simple as possible so that people can recall it while opting in for your promotional message.

Consider a scenario in which you are promoting something on Spotify. The goal is to get potential customers to sign up for your promotional messages.

Think of asking people to text S@LES to 12344 to opt into the promotional messages. If you yourself have trouble remembering it, how can you expect your consumers to remember the same?

So instead of keeping such complex keywords try to keep it something simple like “SALES” for promotional purposes.

Don’t be too clever

Suppose you are running a pizza shop and you were thinking of using the keyword “PIZZA” for your upcoming campaign. You found that the keyword has already been taken. So, you thought of being creative and came up with a new keyword “PISSA”.

But a lot of times, customers end up misspelling this creative spelling, so I would suggest just finding a new SMS keyword altogether, like “YUMMY” or “TASTY”.

So, don’t be creative if you don’t have options. Follow the KISS principle.

Don’t use special characters

Want to be a champ in SMS marketing? Then keep it simple! Stupid. It is not advisable to use special characters such as $, %, &, and ! in your SMS keyword. These words often confuse people and make it difficult for them to recall.

For instance, using "Text PI$$A to 12345" as an SMS keyword is not a good idea because it contains a special character that can make it harder for people to understand and remember the keyword.

Stick with one word

Predicting a subscriber’s mind is quite difficult. You never know what was going on in their mind when they were typing those keywords. So, if you are thinking of reserving two words reserve two versions of the same keywords. For example, if your keyword is “HAPPY HOUR” then reserve two versions of the same keyword to avoid missing out on any subscribers who may text in different formats.

Service providers consider the words “HAPPY HOUR” & “HAPPYHOUR” as different. So having both frameworks ready with you ensures that you don’t miss out on any subscribers in the future.

Keep it short

How many times you have screwed up with spelling the word Floccinaucinihilipilification meaning the action of or habit of estimating something as worthless. It happens to everyone. So, the longer the word higher the chances of being screwed up.

For example, think of sending the word WINGARDIAN to 12345. I can vouch that many of you will keep on changing the screen looking for the spelling of the word while typing the keyword. So, keep it simple! Stupid (KISS).

Plan for auto the auto-correct

Well, have you ever screwed up typing something in WhatsApp and realized after some time that something else is sent to the receiver? Thanks to the grace of autocorrect.

So, every keyword must go through the below steps to avoid such blunders.

Append a number

Earlier we discussed avoiding using numbers in keywords. But sometimes this helps in averting any confusion. Adding numbers at the end of keywords often stops the auto-correct from correcting the keywords.

Claim auto-correct SMS keyword

Another option you can try out is, to search for all the possible auto-correct words for respective keywords and claim all those words to your repository. This will nullify the chances of missing out on any subscribers because of the wrong keywords.

Change your SMS keyword

Change the whole keywords such that auto-correction can be avoided. Most frequently used terms do not typically undergo auto-correction, but it is still advisable to examine them to make sure that they do not undergo incorrect auto-correction.

Note- It's necessary to be cautious and double-check when using auto-correct, and you should always test your SMS keywords to make sure they're being sent correctly.

SMS Keywords Best Practices


Even after planning a lot still, we fail but failure is the pillar of success only if apply the learnings as best practice. Some of them are as follows:

Try A/B testing to see which keywords perform better

A/B testing is an excellent approach for enhancing SMS marketing strategies. Track the performance of various keywords you use in your messaging to determine which ones resonate best with your audience. After that, you can apply this knowledge to your approach to enhance your performance. 

Promote SMS keyword wherever you can

Make sure to promote your SMS keywords via all your marketing platforms, including your website, social media, and in-store promotions. This will enable you to expand your SMS list and interact with more potential clients. 

Test your keywords

Make sure to test your keywords. This will ensure other companies are not using it or have any problems after launching your SMS campaign. You can avoid subsequent confusion and legal problems by doing this. 

Give Clear Instructions

Make sure to provide concise and clear instructions on how to opt in and what subscribers can anticipate receiving when promoting your SMS keywords. Confusion will be reduced as a result, and customer sign-up rates will rise.

Respect customer privacy

Only send messages that are relevant and provide an easy opt-out option in case they want to opt-out.

How to promote SMS keywords

There are multiple ways to promote your SMS keywords such as:

  • Online channels: Include your keywords in all your online marketing materials, like website banners, social media posts, email signatures, and online ads. Encourage sharing and create dedicated landing pages for keyword campaigns.

  • Offline channels: Print your keywords on physical materials like receipts, brochures, posters, and store signage. Include them in radio and TV commercials and mention them during customer interactions.

  • Direct communication: Add personalized calls to action within emails, invoices, and physical mail, urging recipients to text your keyword for exclusive offers or information.

Pros & Cons of Using SMS Keywords

Some pros & cons of SMS keywords are as follows:



  • Segmentation: Keywords allow you to segment your audience depending on their interests, activity, or location, allowing for more focused marketing campaigns.

  • Automation: Text keywords can be used to trigger automated responses, saving time and resources for your business.

  • Data collection: By having people text in keywords, you can collect data on their preferences, contact information, and other valuable information that can be used to personalize future marketing messages.

  • Easy to remember: Text keywords are short and easy to remember, making them more effective in getting people to respond to your marketing messages.


  • Limited space: Text messages have a limited amount of space, which means you need to be concise with your messaging and use the right keywords to convey your message effectively.

  • Misuse: If not used properly, text keywords can be seen as intrusive or annoying, causing people to opt out of your marketing messages altogether.

  • Cost: Depending on the SMS service provider, using text keywords in your marketing campaigns can be costly, especially if you have a large audience.

  • Misspelling: Misspellings can lead to deserving subscribers not getting the required promotional messages.


In conclusion, businesses can effectively communicate with their clients by using SMS keywords as an effective tool. Businesses may design effective SMS campaigns that produce results by putting best practices into practice, such as employing various keywords to segment your SMS list, A/B testing, delivering clear instructions, and respecting consumer privacy. Businesses can increase growth and client engagement while enhancing the reputation of their company by employing SMS marketing safely and ethically. 


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