STOP and GO: Comprehensive Guide to Texting Keywords

Texting keywords are a fundamental part of any SMS marketing campaign. Selecting SMS keywords that are catchy, appropriate, and efficient is a must for opt-ins, opt-outs, replies, and more. Implementing keyword strategies is easy, but understanding how they work and how to use them is always helpful.

This article provides a general synopsis of SMS keywords and how they are commonly incorporated into SMS marketing campaigns. Then we’ll talk about a few universally used keywords and why you might want to use them.

Laptop displaying a stylization of the word "keywords" on an illustrated website.

What Are SMS Keywords?

Imagine sending ten thousand text messages. Some subscribers will likely reply with an opt-out or a request. There’s no way a computer or human could respond to all these without wasting a week’s time. Humans write in a variety of verbiage. Some might respond with anything from “Please, I strongly prefer not receiving any more SMS and other company inquiries” to a simple “NO.”

Keywords simplify things. By sending an SMS keyword, the sender gives a subscriber a fast and convenient way to get a response. For example, most companies use “STOP” to let companies opt out of getting further text messages. Subscribers no longer have to write anything, while autoresponders have a predictable success rate.


SMS keywords are essential for autoresponders and other AI-like features in SMS marketing campaigns. Autoresponders automatically look for SMS keywords and reply with pre-written text messages. This takes a heavy load off a brand’s shoulders while giving subscribers the necessary information (even after office hours).

Sakari users can deploy a variety of autoresponders that can reply to many texting keywords, be it from a 10DLC number, a toll-free number, or a short code. Interested in using an SMS autoresponder? Contact us, and we’ll set one up for you.

Person replying to texting keywords.

When Should I Use an SMS Keyword?

While anyone can use any keyword, some are better suited for integrating into SMS marketing campaigns. These SMS keyword examples help any organization better use multiple keywords and bolster their mobile marketing efforts. No matter how your keywords are used, consider your campaign goals.

Graphic of a finger tapping an opt-in checkbox.

Art of Opt-Ins

One of the more common ways to get opt-ins is to ask potential subscribers to text a keyword to a given phone number (read our SMS Opt-Ins and 6 Great Ways to Get Them article to learn more). Doing so is easy to track, benefits in-person marketing, and can build a solid SMS marketing list.

When using SMS keywords for opt-ins, pick something short, catchy, and memorable. It should relate to the organization’s mission, industry, and what SMS messages the subscriber agrees to get.

For example, gyms leveraging SMS marketing can try “GetFit” as a keyword. It’s simple to remember and gets the point across. By subscribing, users may feel like they’re working towards their fitness goals by agreeing to receive text messages. This unique SMS keyword is better for sticking in the subscriber’s mind than a simple “opt-in” as well, making it a little more fun.

Organizations getting subscribers to opt-in using SMS keywords should consider using multiple keywords for opt-ins, especially spelling variants (like “YES” and “yes”) or replies with unusual spellings. Doing so ensures that everyone, even bad typers, can join your SMS campaign.

Person flicking a plethora of envelopes out of their smartphone.

Opt-Outs for SMS Keyword Campaigns

Full stop, the standard for opt-outs is the “STOP” keyword. It’s recommended by the Cellular Telephone Industries Association (CTIA) and almost everyone who uses text message marketing campaigns. It’s so common that subscribers expect it and may text “STOP” without even thinking about it. As such, you should always have a STOP keyword in place.

As per compliance requirements, you must also honor any other opt-out attempt. Make sure to create multiple keywords that include spelling variants like “stop,” at the very least.

A stack of coupon cards atop a cell phone, illustrating the power of texting keywords used as marketing material.

As Mobile Coupons

Many companies use keywords to track the efficacy of marketing campaigns like television and digital ads. For example, the ad might say, “Text ‘Word’ to [phone number] for discounts on sandwiches!” This not only works as a lead magnet, but it also lets a business know where to put its funding. It can be hard to tell if a marketing campaign is effective or if word-of-mouth is spreading, so a way to measure ad efficacy is always essential.

Like always, ensure the keyword reflects the intent of the SMS keyword campaign. It could say “DEAL” or something along those lines. Create something that works and makes it simple to attract new customers. When tracking ad campaigns and texting keywords, you should also consider integrations with HubSpot and other analytics platforms.

Someone have a conversation via SMS. A laptop displaying a graph is shown in the background.

Create an Effective SMS Keyword Campaign with Sakari

Over half of marketers don’t plan to take advantage of mobile marketing, so there’s no better time to start an SMS keyword campaign with Sakari. We offer a top-notch A2P SMS platform to help you get started using SMS keywords and conducting effective SMS marketing campaigns. With features like two-way texting, MMS, and autoresponders.

Want to know more about Sakari? Book a demo with our staff for a hands-on guided tour through our cost-effective and accessible bulk texting platform.

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