What is Keyword Text Messaging: All You Need to Know

Dikran Seferian
Dikran SeferianContent Writer

Published: Sep 20, 2023

Keyword Text

It’s hard to deny that text message marketing is a highly effective channel as it is. Throw keyword text messaging into the equation, and you get a powerhouse of a strategy.

Keywords are the secret ingredient that unlocks the full potential of your marketing efforts. In an ever-evolving digital sphere, staying ahead of the game is crucial for continuity. And for that, you need powerful tools like keywords. 

What Is a Text Keyword?

A text keyword is a word that essentially serves as a means of communication between a business and its customers. 

An SMS keyword, or mobile keyword, lets people opt in to receive special offers, important updates, and more. It often accompanies an SMS short code to which the customer sends the text. Short codes consist of 5 or 6 digits and are easier to remember than long codes, which are practically phone numbers. 

A text keyword service is quite useful when it comes to connecting with customers easily and quickly.

How Do Text Marketing SMS Keywords Work?

Text messaging keywords make it easier for companies to set up a subscriber list. Once a contact sends the keyword, they automatically opt into getting messages from the company or organization. The contact’s number then enters a special list under the corresponding keyword. 

This helps the company identify which SMS keyword campaign the contact opted into, so it can send similar promotions later on.

Top Benefits of SMS Keywords

Creating a Call-to-Action

Keyword text messaging serves as a call to action, encouraging recipients to opt in for benefits such as offers or discounts. A CTA for texting a specific word can be a helpful ad tool for TV, social media, and other marketing channels.

Gaining Valuable Insight

Another advantage of using text keywords in your SMS marketing campaign is the valuable insight you gain. This helps you determine which of your products or services are most popular among your target audience. 

Expanding Your Contact List

When you use keywords in business messaging, your subscriber list grows significantly. This is because different keywords tend to catch the attention of different people. When you send a specific word to a number and the person replies, their number goes into the subscriber list. You can then keep sending them SMS alerts, promotions, and other kinds of messages.

Monitoring Ads More Easily

One of the greatest benefits of SMS keyword marketing is the ability to monitor how recipients discover your business. By using various keywords for various campaigns, you can determine which of your ads catch more attention. This can come in handy when launching campaigns down the road.

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4 Common SMS Keyword Examples


Also referred to as SMS polling, a text-to-vote message helps you obtain the recipients’ choice or opinion. This type of text keyword typically involves asking a simple question to determine what your customers prefer.

Example: “Text SODA to 12345 to vote for your favorite flavor of soda.”

Mobile Couponing

You can send text message coupons to your target audience to offer a deal or a discount on your products. Customers love a good deal, especially those they receive from their favorite companies. 

Example: “Text SHOES to 12345 for a limited 50% discount on our new collection.”

Generating Leads

Leads generally require several touchpoints to ensure conversion. By employing SMS lead generation as a means of outreach, you’ll be able to connect with potential customers right away. 

Example: “Text BURGER to 12345 to claim your special deal.”


Another SMS keyword example is the text-to-win message. This is a faster and more effective way to engage your customers, taking advantage of people’s love of winning prizes.

Example: “Text YOGA to 12345 to win a free session with us.”

Opt-Ins and Compliance

With compliance at the forefront of SMS marketing, you must get consent from customers before texting them. This allows you to follow regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). You’ll also be able to safeguard your brand's reputation and gain the trust of your audience. 

When a person texts a keyword to your textable number, it automatically counts as an opt-in. You can even set up a double opt-in process by having initial opt-ins text “YES,” for example. This confirms that they’re willing to receive your SMS messages. 

The Role of Autoresponders in Keyword Texting

Autoresponders are incredibly useful in keyword-based text marketing, where they automate real-time communications with customers. Whenever someone texts a certain keyword to your number, an autoresponder replies with a pre-programmed message. Or, it carries out specific actions like confirming subscriptions or providing information.

These auto-replies improve the customer experience while facilitating engagement and allowing for timely communication. With autoresponders, businesses can be available 24/7 while enhancing their marketing and customer support efforts.

SMS Keyword Marketing Tips

Pick a Simple Keyword

The keyword you choose should be simple and easy to remember. Complex keywords can result in typing errors and reduce the likelihood of people opting in. Create a text keyword that relates to your brand or the purpose of a specific campaign.

Avoid Using Special Characters 

There are special characters and symbols that certain mobile devices or carriers may not support. You want to avoid using those when choosing your SMS keywords. Instead, stick to alphanumeric characters to ensure that the keyword is compatible with all phones and carriers.

Use Specific Keywords for Each Campaign

If you’re planning to have more than one SMS campaign, consider using specific keywords for each one. This way, your customers will know which campaign they are signing up for. An example is to text “NEWS” for updates and “SALE” for discounts.

Promote the Keyword

Once you decide on a keyword, you’ll want to advertise it to the masses. Leverage various channels like email, social media, and offline methods to promote your SMS keyword. Make sure it’s visible and enticing enough for people to opt in.

Monitor the Engagement

Have tracking mechanisms in place to monitor engagement and see how your keyword campaigns are performing. Measure open rates, opt-in rates, and conversion rates so you can optimize your marketing strategy as you go. 

Include an Opt-Out Text

Besides consent, compliance also means letting customers know how to opt out when they no longer want to receive text messages. This means adding something like “Text STOP to unsubscribe” in the confirmation message or promotional campaigns. 

How to Set Up a Keyword With Dexatel

You can set up your own keyword on Dexatel’s SMS platform. Here’s a step-by-step process to guide you through the process:

  1. Sign up for a free account with Dexatel

  2. Set up the Dexatel message API and the message webhook

  3. Create a keyword and criteria in your system

  4. An incoming SMS will trigger the Dexatel message webhook

  5. If the incoming SMS text contains a keyword, the system will automatically send a response