// Skip to main content
Shot code SMS

Short Code SMS

Turbo charge response from your marketing
with a keyword and short code


Using SMS shortcodes in your advertising can produce amazing results

It’s a great way of allowing your prospects to respond to your marketing campaigns. 

Keywords on our 88440 short code cost just £14.00 + VAT per month.

No contract SMS API

It's simple and easy to set up

 No set up fee

 Only a 3 month minimum term

 No contract – cancel whenever you wish


Set up a keyword on our 5-digit shortcode, 88440

  1. Set up an SMS Works account, where you'll configure and manage your keywords.
  2. Request your chosen keyword by emailing [email protected], stating your chosen keyword.
  3. We will get back to you within 24 hours with keyword availability.
  4. We'll add a test keyword to your account which, will allow you to test the keyword and short code platform.
  5. Your chosen keyword is then added to your account and an automated response set up, if required.
  6. We'll send you an invoice for the first 3 months at £14.00 + VAT per month - £42.00 + VAT.

How much does a keyword on an SMS short code cost?

SMS keywords on our short code cost £14.00 + VAT a month.

There's no setup fee and only a 3-month minimum term. (£42.00 + VAT)

You pay for your keyword in advance, either by credit / debit card or bank transfer.

There's no additional charge per SMS for receiving texts to your keyword.

Outbound autoresponse texts are charged in line with our standard SMS rates (3.14 pence per automated response). There's a minimum order of £10 + VAT, which buys you 344 text credits.

You can cancel your keyword at any time by sending an email to [email protected]
(You need to cancel before the next invoice is generated of you'll need to pay for the next 3 months (£42 + VAT)

Users are charged one text at their normal rate to send to your keyword (normally between 8 and 12 pence).

See our short code FAQs for more information.


What is an SMS short code service?

SMS short codes are a 5-digit numbers that allow people to respond to advertising and marketing by text. Normally someone responding to an ad will be asked to text in a keyword to the 5-digit number.

The keyword, which is sent at the start of their text, identifies them as responding to a particular ad. Many different campaigns can be run using the same short code.

You'll no doubt be familiar with short codes for texting. They appear in all types of advertising channels: TV, posters, airports and radio.

They allow companies the chance to squeeze more response from their ad spend.

It's so effective that there's a strong argument for including a text response option on all direct-response ad campaigns.

International SMS

How does a 5 digit short code work?

A consumer texts in a unique keyword to a 5 digit short code, e.g. "For more information, text INFO to 88440."

All incoming texts that start with your unique keyword (INFO in the example above) are forwarded directly to you, via our incoming SMS shortcode API.

The following data will be captured and sent to you instantly, to an email address or URL that you set (see below).

  1. Mobile number of responder
  2. Date and time of their text
  3. Content of their message

You can also login to your account to view and download all the responses that you've received.


How much does it cost to send a text to a short code?

Users are charged one text at their standard rate to send texts to short codes.

Texts sent to all UK short codes are not included in customers' monthly free text bundles. So there will always be a charge of between roughly 8 and 12 pence to the user, depending on their network.

The SMS Works does not operate any premium rate services; in other words we don’t have the ability to charge consumers for texts received or sent.

Cost of automated text response
Secure SMS API

What is the best keyword to use with a 5 digit short code number?

There are no hard and fast rules here, although we suggest following these simple guidelines:

  1. Choose a keyword between 3 and 7 characters. The longer the keyword is, the more likely people are to make typos.
  2. Choose an actual word rather than an abbreviation or slang word. If you use anything but a real word, the person's mobile will attempt to correct it with predictive text.
  3. Avoid using numbers in the keyword for the same reasons as the point above.
  4. Make the keyword relevant to the campaign. Choose a keyword that matches the context of the campaign. For example, If your advertising is about a gym membership, choose GYM or FITNESS.

What is the best way to display instructions for a text response campaign?

There are some pitfalls to avoid in how you instruct responders to text a keyword into a 5 digit short code.

  1. Avoid using quote marks around the keyword, e.g. Text “INFO” to 88802. Some people will include the punctuation and your message will not be picked up.
  2. Make your instructions clear and simple and importantly, bold enough to be picked up easily by your audience. If you're running a poster campaign with a text response, think about how far away people will be and choose a font size that's appropriate.
  3. Do not bury your instructions in lengthy terms and conditions like the example below.
  4. The best strategy is to keep the instructions simple and bold, allowing no scope for misinterpretation as in the example below.

Text INFO to 88440

Simple and bold keyword instruction example

Bad text response example Terrible text to win competition instruction

terms and condition for SMS shortcode

What terms & conditions am I required to include in my text response instructions?

You need to let people know how much it is going to cost them to text the keyword to the short code.

The cost is one text at their normal network rate, which is normally between 8 and 12 pence. Texts to short codes are not included in free monthly text bundles.

The simplest format for stating text costs is as follows.

"All texts are charged at your standard network rate."


Should you have an automated response on a text response campaign?

Whenever you text a short code you expect some kind of response. If nothing happens, then you’d probably think that you’ve made a mistake and text in again.

It’s important to always include an automated text response.

The purpose is to give the responder a clear understanding of what will happen next. Will they expect a call or a further text? Where else can they go for more information. Bear in mind that the automated response has a maximum of 160 characters including spaces.

Here's a typical automated text response:

Example automated SMS response

Copy and paste SMS API code snippets

How can I view the incoming SMS messages?

There are 3 ways that you can view messages sent to the short code using your keyword

View and download directly from your account

All incoming and outgoing texts are stored for 3 months in your account. To access them login to your account and go to Delivery Reports.

Here you'll see SMS activity for all your incoming and outgoing texts. By clicking on the 'Recipient' column header, all the incoming messages sent to 88440 will be grouped together.

The 'Sender ID' column header is the mobile number of the person who texted the keyword to the short code.

View incoming texts sent to shortcode

You can also download all the incoming texts to an Excel file, using 'Custom Export'.

In the 'Recipient mobile #' window, enter the short code 88440. Enter the email address to which you want the report link to be emailed. Then click the 'Export' button.

You'll then be sent an email with a link to the file download.

Please note that the link remains active for 30 minutes.

email containing link to download incoming text data

Clicking on the link downloads an Excel sheet containing all the text response data.

Download SMS responses to Excel

Forward incoming SMS messages to email

You can opt to forward all incoming texts to an email address as soon as the responder texts the keyword to the short code.

To set the forwarding email address, login to your account and go to Account tab.

Scroll down to the keywords section where you will see your keyword. Click Edit.

Change setting on your keyword

You'll then be able to enter the email address to which you wish all incoming text to be instantly sent.

Please check your spam filters and whitelist our domains if emails are not arriving. Our domains are:

  • @thesmsworks.net
  • @thesmsworks.co.uk
Forward incoming texts to a set URL

You can also choose to send all incoming texts to a set URL.

Login to your account and click on the Account tab. Scroll down to the keyword section and click Edit next to your keyword. Here you can enter the URL to which you want all incoming texts to be sent.


Dedicated Shortcodes - Can I have my own shortcode?

Having your own dedicated short code means that you don't need to use keywords. Whatever the person texts in will be captured.

The serious downside is the cost. Dedicated shorts cost about £800 to set up and about £850 per month to retain. There is also a minimum 12 month term.

Faced with these costs, everyone sensibly opts for the shared short code route which is just £14.00 a month, no setup fee and a minimum period of 3 months.

People are also used to the idea of texting in a keyword so keywords don't present any sort of barrier to usability.

No contract SMS API
Send Long Text Messages

Is the keyword case sensitive?

Keywords on a 5 digit short code are not case sensitive. You can use either upper or lower case or a combination of both.

What happens if someone texts in the wrong keyword to the short code?

If someone texts in the wrong keyword or makes a typo, we’re unable to retrieve the text response and the text will be lost.

Make sure that your instructions are clear and that the keyword itself is an actual word.


Get more response from your marketing. Start your Short code and keyword today

If you give people the option to respond to ads by text, around half of all responders will choose the SMS route.

It's a low cost, efficient way of getting more from your marketing spend.

There's no set up fee, contract or shifty small print to worry about. (Minimum term is 3 months.)

Get started by setting up an a free SMS Works account.

If you have any questions, they might be answered in the shortcode and keyword FAQs article. Failing that, please drop us an email, [email protected]