What’s Up with Texting Keywords to Short Phone Numbers?
Short phone numbers are easy to remember for customers.

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What's Up with Texting Keywords to Short Phone Numbers?

Chances are you’ve seen a keyword campaign. Basically, any advertisement asking you to text a word to a short phone number to receive offers and notifications. They’re all pretty similar. A quick example is ‘Text ROCCOS1 to 50505’. Companies and businesses advertise keyword campaign via short phone numbers for a couple different reasons.

First, a company may want to send you promotions and information. Second, they want to build a list of customers who are interested in their product and services. Keyword campaigns are easy to engage with all you need to do is whip out your phone and text the word to the number.

Short Phone Numbers

You may be interested to know the reason behind the short phone numbers. Obviously, five digits isn’t a normal phone number. It’s what people in the industry of text message marketing refer to as a short code. Short code is a five- or six-digit number that is easier to remember than a traditional long code phone number.

Artsy image of a SMS short code

I mean, just think about it. It would take you a longer time to type in a full long code phone number than it does a short code phone number. And that’s exactly the idea. The companies that advertise keyword campaigns want customers to have the best experience possible. Part of that is making sure that the number they’re asking customers to text is simple and easy to remember.

Texting in Correctly to Short Phone Numbers

Text marketing is very simple. But it’s important to understand the mechanics of it. When a business sets up text marketing, they choose a specific word, called a keyword, for consumers to text to a specific short phone number, that they also choose.

In order for a text marketing keyword campaign to respond to a consumer. The consumer must enter the keyword exactly. Now this doesn’t mean exactly as in upper- or lowercase letters. It simply means that they word you text must be the same.

You can’t see an ad that says text the word ROCCOS1, and text the word ROCCOS instead. Keyword campaigns don’t work like that. They have to be exact. If you type in ROCCOS instead of ROCCOS1, you won’t get any response. The text marketing software simply doesn’t recognize that you are trying to opt-in, albeit in the wrong way.

So, just make sure that you are typing in the correct word when you engage with a keyword campaign. Also, it’s important to know that companies often run many keyword campaigns at once and that short phone numbers are often shared by many companies. Therefore, if you are too far off, you may end up engaging with a different keyword campaign and maybe even a different company.

Text Message Keyword Campaign Safety

As a customer, you are protected by many laws and regulations. (At least in the US.) Now, there are a few laws surrounding text message keyword campaigns that are there to keep you safe. And keep companies honest. The most important one is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Originally geared toward unsolicited phone calls, the TCPA now encompasses text message communication from a business to a consumer. This law ensures that a couple important guidelines are followed by businesses. The first is that if a company is going to send you more than one marketing message from a keyword campaign, they must have your consent.

Consent or the Text Message Opt-in

In real life, this means that if you choose to text a word to a short phone number, a company has two options. First, if they want to keep sending you marketing messages, they must ask you to opt-in. This is typically done by asking you, the consumer, to respond with either YES, your name, or your email, depending on the type of marketing campaigns they are going to run.

Screenshot of Rocco's Pizza text message

Second, if they just want to send you the one message, they don’t need to ask you to opt-in, since they aren’t planning on sending you further communication.

Screenshot of text message keyword campaign example

Companies that don’t comply with TCPA opt-in consent guidelines face fines and can even be banned from using their short phone number. All of these regulations are in place to keep you safe. The Federal Communications Commission, the federal entity that oversees TCPA laws, is a part of government that has decided that it’s not okay for companies to harass consumers – like yourself.

The second big guideline that companies must follow per TCPA guidelines is that they cannot send you messages that are unsolicited. This basically boils down to receiving a text message from a company that you didn’t engage with first. In real life, this means that you randomly got a text message from a company who you didn’t engage with first. This is called spam text marketing.

Text Message Marketing Opt Out Clause

The third main guideline that companies have to follow when abiding by TCPA laws is the opt-out option. The opt-out part of TCPA basically says that when you opt-in to receive marketing text messages, you must be able to revoke your consent at any time. Hence, the opt-out message.

Most companies are pretty straightforward with the opt-out and tell you about your right to opt-out when you initially opt-in to receive marketing text messages. This is how it should be. Opting-out of text marketing is your right as a consumer.

Screenshot of opt-out message

When you opt out, the company agrees to no longer solicit to you via text marketing. However, if they do keep soliciting to you, you can report the business to the FTC who can then take further action. The Federal Trade Commission is another federal entity that oversees text marketing.

The Convenience of Texting Keywords to Short Phone Numbers

It’s important to remember that most businesses aren’t trying to spam their customers or keep text marketing them after an opt-out. Most companies want to do the right thing. They want their customers to continue to think highly of them and they don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the relationship of trust they’ve built with customers.

In the end, that’s what you are doing as a consumer. You are giving a business your information – even if it’s just your phone number – in order to receive a service. You trust that the business won’t misuse your information. Most of the time text marketing is an incredibly convenient and safe way to receive offers and specials from the companies you frequent the most.

Carrie Duford

Carrie is the head blogger at TextSanity. When she isn’t writing, Carrie enjoys all things outdoors – especially hiking. She is currently working on a podcast series; fulfilling a bucket list goal. You can reach her on LinkedIn. You can also follow TextSanity on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.