How to choose an SMS Keyword for you campaign

An SMS keyword is a unique word or phrase that customers can use to communicate with businesses via an SMS number. Check out our top tips on choosing the most effective keywords.

24 November 2021

What is an SMS keyword?

An SMS keyword is a unique word or phrase that customers can use to communicate with businesses via an SMS number. The Keyword is used alongside an SMS shortcode, a five-digit code that businesses use to help customers easily identify and remember their brand, event or campaign.  Through the use of keywords, businesses can build up a segmented subscriber database to target customers with relevant deals or alerts. 

Choosing the ‘right’ SMS keyword

While, technically, your keyword or phrase can be anything you want, before you begin your campaign, you’ll need to select the correct one for both your audience and your business.

1. Stick to single-word keywords

Want to create a winning SMS keyword? Keep it as simple as possible. Best practice is to stick to around 4-7 characters to ensure your SMS keyword is easy to recall and as uncomplicated as possible. 

Example:“Text FRAME to 12345” is much simpler and cleaner than “Text FRAME20402021 to 12345”.

Similarly, choose easy-to-spell words and avoid compound keywords such as ‘NOTEBOOK’ or ‘SNOWBALL”. This is because customers may spell it as two words, or autocorrect might even ‘fix’ it meaning the message won’t get picked up. 

Although, if you do want to use a two-word keyword such as ‘HONG KONG’, make sure that, when you set up your campaign, you claim the keyword both with and without a space to avoid customers from missing out. 

2. Always take into account autocorrect

While autocorrect is helpful for several reasons, it also poses some issues when it comes to SMS campaigns. Try not to be too clever or witty with your keywords by changing the spelling to something uncommon or using acronyms, as this can confuse both the predictive text functionality and your customers. Here are an additional couple of methods as to how you can overcome the challenges of autocorrect and predictive text. 

  1. Test your keywords using multiple operating systems: from Apple to Android, always remember to test your keywords on various mobile phones to see how each responds to autocorrect.
  2. Set up or claim the corrected versions, too: you will need to specify the keywords that will trigger a response. If autocorrect is an issue, remember to add the corrected versions to your marketing campaign, too. Similarly, if using a shared shortcode, you’ll also need to claim additional variations to stop customers from missing out.

3. Avoid using quotation marks or special characters

The use of any unnecessary punctuation around your keyword or special characters, such as question marks, exclamation marks, or dollar signs, can confuse customers and make your word harder to remember. Similarly, using special characters might not trigger the campaign, and people are much more likely to get it wrong, which can cost you a potential customer.One such example would be “Text ‘FR@ME’ to 12345” – which is much harder for your customers to understand than simply using the word ‘FRAME’.

SMS keyword examples

Struggling to think of ways you can use keywords in your SMS marketing? Here are some simple examples:


For law firms, text messaging is an affordable and time-saving resource to update clients with crucial information, appointment reminders, and calls to action such as signing documents. 

Example: “We’re confirming your appointment on November 6th 2021 at 9am. Reply with YES to confirm or call us now to reschedule.”

Real estate

From organising viewings to alerting your customers to new properties, you can keep your audiences updated regularly and avoid any missed appointments.

Example: “Text HOUSE to 123456  now for updates on our new properties and open house events.”


SMS marketing is perfect for retail and e-commerce businesses to maximise sales and let customers know about any upcoming deals or discounts along with in-store and online events.

Example: “Our newest collection has landed! Text “NEW” to 123456 for an exclusive discount code, and to receive updates on upcoming offers and deals”


Healthcare providers such as hospitals, GP practices, dentists and pharmacies, are increasingly using SMS to connect with patients and customers. SMS is the ideal channel to immediately alert patients to important information from appointment reminders to prescription updates.

Example: “Flu season is here, and it’s time for your next flu jab. Text FLU to 123456 for a callback to make an appointment”


If you’re running an event, you can use an SMS keyword to offer attendees the opportunity to receive updates or key information both in the lead up to and during the event. Similarly, you can also use keywords during the event itself for maximum interaction.

Example: “Hi [NAME], don’t want to miss out on early-bird access to our latest event? Text ACCESS to 123456 for an exclusive 10% off your ticket

If this seems like a task you recognise would benefit you, or perhaps you’re looking for an SMS marketing partner? Call us now on +44 161 359 3100 to chat with one of our experts, or email [email protected] for more information

Get in touch

Send and receive a variety of SMS communications including ad hoc updates and much larger campaigns, in just a few clicks.

Start your free trial today

Try our platform; you’re only a few clicks away

  • 20 free credits
  • Full platform access
  • No commitment or credit card required