SMS Marketing Best Practices

An SMS Marketer’s Guide to Text Message Abbreviations

text message abbreviations guide

From Twitter and Facebook to internet chat rooms, every mobile device user has used word abbreviations in their posts or direct messages. For one, text abbreviations save time and space. For another, abbreviations are the perfect response to a text message for which you have no response, so instead you send an emoticon, a smiley face, or just a text abbreviation like LOL. And let’s be honest, it’s what the kids are doing. Before we jump into all the fun internet slang terms and text abbreviations, let’s talk about why an SMS marketer might want to use these shorthand English words.


SMS Marketing and Text Abbreviations

Brands of all types are taking advantage of SMS marketing to communicate with consumers.


Why SMS Marketing

The great statistics around text message marketing are one reason why organizations use this channel to interact with their customers. On average, the open rate for an SMS message is 99%, making this the communication channel of choice for many retailers and chain restaurants.

Additionally, the read rates for SMS messages exceed 90%, which shouldn’t be too surprising to anyone as consumers spend a lot of time on their mobile phones texting and scrolling through social media. The average email open rate is barely 20%; this is why many organizations choose text messages over emails.

Lastly, texting (whether it’s English or French), GIFs, or emoticons, are exclusively mobile. Many people stick to checking emails on their computers, so even if you use the latest slang or text abbreviations to communicate with your clients, they may not see it right away.

Texting your customers is the clear way to go, but sending a text message to a subscriber has its limits. An SMS message allows you to send up to 160 characters of text in a single message. This text message character limit includes any hyperlinks, phone numbers, and emoticons you use in your message. So, it makes sense that SMS marketers would want to use texting abbreviations in their messages.

If you need more space to communicate with your brand’s clients and perhaps want to include GIFs, videos, or images, an MMS message can handle that. At some point, we’ve all received a text message from a company. Whether the text was abbreviated or not, most people are familiar with the concept. MMS messages are typically the longer text messages usually accompanied by a graphic, such as a GIF or an image.


SMS Keywords

One significant way SMS marketers are using text message abbreviations is within keywords. If you’re rusty on your text message marketing terminology, we’ve got you covered. A text message keyword is a word that a consumer can text from their smartphone to an SMS short code, for example, texting STOP to 33733 to stop receiving messages from that short code. SMS keywords allow subscribers to communicate with a mobile messaging campaign by sending specific words to that campaign’s short code.

In SMS marketing, the process is pretty simple, as SMS marketing software makes this a breeze. First, the consumer will text the keyword to opt into a specific mobile messaging campaign. Next, the subscriber receives a text message response from the short code. If the consumer wants the text messages to stop at any time during the correspondence, they text the keyword STOP, and the SMS marketing software will remove that individual from the list.

While a brand is in charge of what it texts subscribers and which specific keywords it uses, the Cellular Telephone Industries Association (CTIA) requires that brands reserve the following SMS keywords:

  • HELP: When any SMS marketing campaign subscriber sends the keyword HELP to a short code, a brand must respond with a text message that includes information onabout how to opt out and how to receive further assistance.
  • STOP, UNSUBSCRIBE, END: When a consumer texts the SMS keyword STOP, UNSUBSCRIBE, or END to a short code, the brand must opt them out of any text message marketing campaigns in which the consumer is currently enrolled, and send back a text message confirming this action has been completed.

When a consumer gives consent to receive a brand’s SMS marketing messages, it’s not a lifetime commitment. If it was, brands would have some serious trouble getting customers to sign up. Sometimes, consumers need breaks from receiving text messages. Many consumers actually opt back in, which is why we recommend including opt-in instructions as part of your opt-out confirmation SMS message.

So, why use text abbreviations for SMS campaign keywords? Besides the obvious cool factor of using slang, shortening your keywords simplifies the consumer’s experience. If you want to integrate text abbreviations within your SMS marketing campaign keywords, here are some ideas.


General Keyword Text Message Abbreviations

  • Subscribe = SUB
  • Sign-up = SUP
  • Register = REG
  • Join = JN
  • Sign me up = SMP
  • Hello = HO
  • More information = MI
  • Enroll = EN
  • Help = HP
  • Stop = ST
  • Unsubscribe = UNSUB
  • Question = Q
  • Continue = CON
  • Additional information = AI
  • Alert = AT
  • More = ME
  • Win = WIN
  • Winner = WNR
  • Start = ST


Retail Keyword Text Message Abbreviations

  • Shop = SP
  • Shopping = SPG
  • Treat yourself = TY
  • Retail = RT
  • Retail therapy = RLT
  • Clearance = CL
  • Sale = SL
  • Savings = SVGS
  • Saving for you = S4U
  • Let’s save = LTS
  • Sweaters = STRS
  • Pants = PTS
  • Shoes = SHS
  • Tops = TPS
  • Bottoms = BTMS
  • Blouse = BLE
  • Graphic t-shirts = GTS
  • More clothes = MCLS
  • Clothes for you = C4U


Restaurant Keyword Text Message Abbreviations

  • Lunch = LNH
  • Dinner = DIN
  • Breakfast = BRF
  • Free food = FRFD
  • Drinks = DRKS
  • Happy hour = HAHO
  • Burger = BRG
  • Tacos = TCS
  • Taco Tuesday = TACTUE
  • Lunch on us = LOU
  • Drinks on us = DOU
  • Drinks for you = D4U
  • Dessert = DSRT
  • Kids eat Free = KEF
  • Free meal = FRML
  • Pizza time = PZT
  • Pizza = PZA
  • Pizza dinner = PZD
  • Slice for you = S4U


Nonprofit Keyword Text Message Abbreviations

  • Support = SPT
  • Donate = DNT
  • Donation = DNTN
  • I want to help = IW2H
  • Support the cause = STC
  • Puppies = PUPS
  • Kittens = KITS
  • Dog = DG
  • Cat = CT
  • Adoption = ADTN
  • Adoption center = ADTC
  • Center location = CLOC
  • Donation center = DNTC
  • Donation drop-off = DNTO
  • Schedule donation = SDNT
  • Mission = MIS
  • Mission trip = MIST
  • Vote = VT
  • Register to vote = R2V

If your SMS messages are reaching the character limit and you’re attempting to give customers or supporters some extra steps, you may consider using text abbreviations within your SMS keywords. But if you have space, it’s totally fine to use complete words.


Text Abbreviations and Messaging

Now, let’s talk about text abbreviations and your organization’s messaging strategy. Mobile phone users spend a lot of their day texting friends, chatting, or using social media. It’s safe to assume that the consumer is used to shorthand words, abbreviations, and slang when communicating on these channels. As a marketer, to truly resonate with your customers, it’s important to understand that electronic communication often includes internet abbreviations, text abbreviations, and various texting acronyms.

Now, the type of language used between friends and in chats is vastly different, so keep in mind when crafting your text messages that you’re not in a chat room or on Twitter or Facebook. Oh, and while we’re on the topic of language and crafting messages, let’s talk about your audience and who’s a native speaker of what language. Remember, some of your customers may not speak English or don’t prefer to use English. For example, if most of your audience speaks Spanish, it’s a good idea to brush up on some popular Spanish slang that pertains to texting. Additionally, many luxury brands use French texting abbreviations and slang terms.

Although English is rich with adjectives to help get your point across various chat rooms, many channels like Twitter limit your character count. This is where most writers have to get crafty with their messages, sometimes even changing it up altogether. Have you ever misspelled a word so badly that even autocorrect is confused, and you end up having to rewrite the entire text using a simpler word in the English language? Well, that’s what happens when you try to write a tweet. The Twitter character count limit has become such a nuisance that it has led to the creation of many text abbreviations.

We recommend marketers include text abbreviations within their messaging because it represents the theme of internet messaging very well. Most of this internet messaging is done from mobile devices. That’s also how one would text a friend. Make sure you’re aligning your texts with the medium you’re using and, of course, with your business brand guidelines. Now, let’s look at some samples of common text abbreviations.


Twitter Text Abbreviations

  • Modified tweet = MT
  • Retweet = RT
  • Direct message = DM
  • Partial retweet = PR
  • Hat tip = HT
  • Carbon copy = CC
  • In my humble opinion = IMHO
  • Are you f—ing kidding me with this s—? = AYFKMWTS
  • Get the f— out of here = GTFOOH
  • Overheard = OH
  • Real-life retweet (a close cousin to OH) = RLRT
  • Give me a f—ing break = GMAFB
  • No big deal = NBD
  • Shaking my head = SMH
  • I don’t know = IDK
  • Shut the f— up = STFU
  • No f—ing way = NFW
  • In real life = IRL
  • Not safe for work = NSFW
  • Safe for work = SFW
  • F— my life = FML
  • For what it’s worth = FWIW
  • Quote of the day = QOTD
  • Laughing my ass off = LMAO
  • Headline of the day = HOTD
  • For the win = FTW
  • By the way = BTW
  • Bye for now = BFN
  • As far as I know = AFAIK
  • Laugh out loud = LOL
  • Thank you = TY
  • You’re welcome = YW
  • The user is sending this post to Facebook = #FB
  • The user is sending this post to LinkedIn = #LI
  • Follow Friday (these are people you should follow) = #FF


Chat Room Text Abbreviations

  • Anytime, anywhere, anyplace = A3
  • Alcoholics Anonymous = AA
  • As above = AA
  • Ask about = AA
  • As a matter of fact = AAF
  • As a matter of fact = AAMOF
  • As a matter of interest = AAMOI
  • As a friend = AAF
  • Asleep at keyboard = AAK
  • Alive and kicking = AAK
  • Always a pleasure = AAP
  • At any rate = AAR
  • Alive and smiling = AAS
  • Always at the keyboard = AATK
  • As always, your friend = AAYF
  • Meaning abbreviation = ABBR
  • Already been chewed = ABC
  • Already been done = ABD
  • About =ABT
  • About to = ABT2
  • Goodbye (signoff) = ABTA
  • All bugged up = ABU
  • Acceptable content = AC
  • Anyone can come = ACC
  • Accident = ACDNT
  • Marijuana cigarette = ACE
  • Acknowledge = ACK
  • Accept = ACPT
  • Acquisition = ACQSTN
  • Another day, another dollar = ADAD
  • All done, bye-bye = ADBB
  • Address = ADD
  • Address = ADDY
  • Another day in hell = ADIH
  • Another day in paradise = ADIP
  • Administrator = ADMIN
  • Administrator = ADMINR
  • Any day now = ADN
  • Address = ADR


Text Message Abbreviations

  • Rolling on floor laughing = ROFL
  • Shut the f— up = STFU
  • Let me know = LMK
  • I love you = ILY
  • You only live once = YOLO
  • Shaking my head = SMH
  • Shaking my d–n head = SMDH
  • Laughing my f—ing a– off. = LMFAO
  • Never mind = NVM
  • I know, right? = IKR
  • Of course = OFC


SMS Marketing Text Abbreviation Examples

Now that we’ve all memorized the giant lists of abbreviations and we’re all caught up on our online chat room slang terms, let’s see how businesses are using text abbreviations when communicating with their subscribers.


Papa Murphy’s

Papa Murphy’s is a popular pizza chain that offers premade and custom pizzas for consumers to take home and bake on their own. This pizza chain uses several text abbreviations to save space and get their delicious savings across to their subscribers. They use the term Lg which stands for the size large. Also, the text abbreviation CYO, meaning create your own, referring to a custom pizza order.

Papa Gino’s

Papa Gino’s is a restaurant chain based in Dedham, Massachusetts, specializing in American-style pizza along with pasta, subs, salads, and a variety of appetizers. Papa Gino’s uses one of the most common text abbreviations within SMS marketing text messages. This pizza chain abbreviates the word expiration (referring to a coupon) to the text abbreviation Exp. This is essential to include in your text messages to avoid creating a negative experience for a customer who attempts to use an expired coupon.


PacSun is a United States-based retail clothing brand rooted in the youth-oriented culture and lifestyle of California. As part of its sales promotions and in its subscriber communication, PacSun uses the text abbreviation BOGO, which means “buy one, get one.” The term BOGO is well known and widely used in the retail world and in SMS marketing. It’s an enticing promo known by the general English-speaking population.


PETA is an American animal rights organization based in Norfolk, Virginia. PETA claims 6.5 million supporters. As mentioned earlier, some SMS marketers might opt to use text abbreviations within their keywords. PETA uses the text abbreviation Y to gather support to help stop animal cruelty by a footwear manufacturer. Additionally, PETA signs off by using an emoticon that signifies a heart.


About Tatango Text Message Marketing Software

SMS marketing messages can be a bit tricky to craft, especially if you’re trying to stick with the slang terms, be up to date on Facebook trends, and keep up with the latest on Twitter (which sometimes doesn’t seem like English). You’re not alone on this text abbreviations journey. We’ve got you covered. Our organization has helped many businesses create eye-catching text messages for their customers; check out some SMS examples. If you’re interested in talking about your company’s SMS marketing needs, our experts are standing by. Feel free to contact us when you’re ready to chat with an SMS marketing expert.

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