How to choose an SMS keyword for your campaign

28 March 2023

An SMS keyword is a unique word or phrase that customers can use to communicate with your business via an SMS number. Used alongside an SMS shortcode, it will help your customers easily identify and remember your brand. With keywords, businesses can build up a segmented subscriber database, allowing customers to be targeted with deals, offers and alerts that are relevant to them. 

How to choose an SMS keyword

Technically, your keyword or key phrase can be anything you want. But before you begin your campaign, you’ll need to select one that’s right for both your audience and your business. Here are some key points to remember when choosing your SMS keyword: 

  1. Stick to single-word keywords

The key to creating a winning SMS keyword is to keep it as simple as possible. General best practice is to stay within 4-7 characters to ensure your SMS keyword sticks in the mind and is easy to recall. For 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, which means the message won’t get picked up. 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. 

  1. Think about autocorrect

While autocorrect is often helpful for several reasons, it can also be a pain and poses several issues when it comes to planning SMS campaigns. Avoid changing the spelling to something uncommon or using acronyms – this can confuse both the predictive text functionality and your customers.

Remember to: 

  • Test your keywords using multiple operating systems. From Apple to Android, always test your keywords on various mobile phones to see how each responds to autocorrect.
  • Set up or claim the corrected versions as well. Businesses will need to specify the keywords that will be recognised to 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.
  1. Don’t use quotation marks or special characters

The use of unnecessary punctuation around your keyword can confuse customers, so avoid it. Similarly, using special characters such as question marks, exclamation marks, or pound signs can also cause confusion and make your keyword harder to remember. Then there are special characters that might not trigger the campaign and people are much more likely to get it wrong, which could cost you a potential customer.

An 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

If you’re 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 or paying invoices. 

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 on the market, you can keep your audiences updated and avoid missed appointments.

Example: “Text HOUSE to 123456 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 and dentists are increasingly using SMS to connect with patients. SMS is the ideal channel to immediately alert patients to important information such as appointment reminders and 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. You can also use keywords during the event itself for maximum interaction.

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

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