What is SMS? Text Messaging and Mobile Marketing Definitions

what is sms

What is SMS? What is MMS? What is a Short Codes? What is a SMS Keyword? With Mobile Marketing becoming more mainstream I thought it might be a good idea to define some of the basic terms used in the mobile marketing industry.

  • SMS (Short Message Service)– A standard for telephony messaging systems that allow sending messages between mobile devices that consist of short messages, normally with text only content. (Text Message)
  • MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) is a standard way to send messages that include multimedia content to and from mobile phones.
  • Common Shortcode (Shortcode)– Short numeric numbers (typically 4-6 digits) to which text messages can be sent from a mobile phone. Wireless subscribers send text messages to common short codes with relevant keywords to access a wide variety of mobile content.
  • Keyword– A word or name used to distinguish a targeted message within a Short Code Service.

These are some of the basic terms used in SMS marketing.  Even with the definition of shortcode most people still want further explanation in how it all works together.

I try to explain it in terms of the Internet and domain names.  Think of a Shortcode as similar to a domain name and a Keyword similar to a page.  When you want the news you might go to the crime (Keyword) page of CNN.com (Shortcode).

Or… even better, when you want to subscribe via email to Martech Zone, text Marketing (Keyword) to 71813. Try it out… that’s a text to subscribe integration between our SMS service and CircuPress!

Text messaging can also be utilized to donate/pay money or to pass a link for the mobile user to view a website, open an application, or watch a video on their mobile device.

What is SMS Marketing

Platforms like Connective Mobile allow marketers to distribute a keyword and shortcode for users to subscribe to text messages. Because text messaging is so intrusive, most providers require a double opt-in methodology. That is, you text the keyword to the short code, then you get a request back asking you to opt in with a notice that the messages could incur charges depending on your provider. The subscription platforms typically allow you to schedule text messages and view reporting on campaign effectiveness.

Here’s a video on why SMS Marketing is so effective:

Here’s a great history of the Text Message from NeonSMS:

The History of SMS and Text Messaging

*These definitions are according to the Mobile Marketing Association. More defintions available at Connective Mobile.


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    Great photo, Adam! I was at an Online Marketing Summit down in Houston and one of the presenters used this method. He asked everyone to text email address plus the keyword to the shortcode and they would email the presentation to them.

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