SMS Marketing Glossary

58 SMS Definitions Everyone Must Know

Every industry has its own secret language, right? You know, those fancy terms and alphabet-soup acronyms that make insiders nod knowingly. Well, guess what? SMS marketing has its own little dictionary too!

Don't worry we've got your back! Let's break down some of those common SMS terms. By the end of this, you'll be a master when developing your SMS marketing campaigns.

Alphanumeric Sender ID

These IDs are for one-way messages and can include numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and spaces. An alphanumeric sender ID, which can be up to 11 characters long, usually stands for the business or brand name.

Numeric Sender ID

A numeric sender ID, in the standard MSISDN form, is the default type for SMS messages. Recipients can reply using a numeric sender ID, which is the name or number displayed at the top of an SMS in the "from" section. Numeric sender IDs are limited to numbers and can be up to 11 characters long.

Fixed Sender ID

This sender ID type is typically the sender's mobile phone number, and it cannot be altered based on user preferences. It follows the standard MSISDN format, with a maximum length of 15 digits, where 1-3 digits are reserved for the country code.

Binary Messages

These messages are for sending things like small files, ringtones, and images, and for sending WAP Push messages. To get around character limits, the messages are encoded. In technical terms, a binary SMS is in XML format and has up to 140 bytes of data, split into two parts: User Data Header and Message Data.

Person to Application (P2A)

Mobile Originated Messaging, also called Mobile Originated SMS, refers to SMS messages sent from a mobile user to an application. For instance, if a user wants to subscribe to a service provided by a business, they initiate the interaction by sending an SMS to the business.

Person to Person (P2P) Messaging

Peer-to-Peer messaging, also known as P2P messaging, is the basic form of messaging where one mobile phone user sends a text message directly to another. It's akin to friends texting each other. In this process, a mobile operator serves as an intermediary, facilitating the forwarding of messages from one user to another.

A2P Messaging

This is Application-to-Person Messaging, where messages go from a business app to a person's mobile. It's also called enterprise, business, or professional messaging. Usually, it's a one-way communication, so the person getting the message doesn't have to reply. It's commonly used for things like important updates, business info, or promotional messages. This way, businesses can easily share info with people without relying on them to respond.

Concatenated Messages

Concatenation involves breaking longer messages into smaller parts and sending them separately to the recipient. The recipient's device then collects and reassembles these parts in the same order they were sent, recreating the complete message. This process is necessary due to the 160-character limit in traditional SMS, allowing longer messages to be transmitted effectively.

Cost Per Subscriber

To wisely invest marketing funds, it's crucial to comprehend the related costs. Determine the cost per subscriber by dividing the total expenses for acquiring subscribers by the number of subscribers a campaign attracted.

A/B Testing

A/B testing is an experiment where two different versions of a message are randomly sent to subscribers to see which one performs better. It helps optimize SMS marketing by testing variations in copy, calls to action, and even send times.

Conversion Rate

SMS conversion rate is the percentage of recipients who respond to the intended call to action in an SMS.

DLR (Delivery Report)

The delivery report shows the current status of a sent SMS. After sending, the message goes to the SMSC, which stores and tries to deliver it. Once successfully delivered, the Short Message Service Center (SMSC) sends a notification confirming that the SMS has reached the recipient.

Flash SMS

It is a pop-up notification that skips the usual SMS inbox and appears directly on the user's home screen. The user can choose to save it, or it will be deleted automatically. These messages are commonly used for urgent alerts, promotions, and special offers.

International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI)

The International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) is a 15-digit unique number identifying a GSM and UMTS network subscriber. Found in the mobile phone's SIM card, it comprises three parts: mobile country code, mobile network code, and mobile subscriber identification number.

Mobile Originated SMS Message (MO SMS)

Mobile Originated messaging involves messages sent from a user's mobile phone to the service provider. Typically, users send these messages as replies when participating in contests initiated by the service provider.

MT SMS (Mobile Terminated SMS Message)

Mobile Terminated SMS, also known as Mobile Terminated Messages, are messages that are delivered to a mobile phone. They originate from the mobile SMS provider's system and are sent to a subscriber's mobile device. Typically, these messages are generated in response to a Mobile Originated (MO) message from the user. For instance, if a customer sends a message like "ORDER," the system may respond with a message offering a discount, such as "20% off on your next order."

Mobile Network Operator (MNO)

A Mobile Network Operator, also called a Wireless Carrier or Cellular Company, provides wireless voice and data services to its subscribed mobile users.

Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO)

An MVNO is a company that offers mobile phone services without owning its own radio spectrum or the infrastructure for a complete mobile network. Instead, it forms a business agreement with a mobile network operator (MNO) to access MNO services at wholesale rates. The MVNO then sets its own retail prices for providing mobile services to customers.

Mobile Number Portability (MNP)

Number portability enables mobile users to change wireless carriers regardless of their location, without changing their mobile numbers. This usually occurs when a user is dissatisfied with their current network operator and decides to switch to another while retaining the same mobile number.

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Mobile Station International Subscriber Directory Number (MSISDN)

This 15-digit number identifies an international mobile phone number, encompassing the country code and area or national destination code. It serves to identify a GSM or UMTS subscription.

HLR Query

Home Location Register Query (HLR Query), also known as Network Query or Number Look Up, is a real-time check that retrieves current connectivity and portability information for a mobile phone. The HLR database holds details for each mobile phone in the network, serving as a primary source of subscriber data.

Termination Rates

The termination rate is the fee charged by one telecom operator to another when a call from the latter's network terminates on the former's network. For instance, if you make a call from your network (A) to a friend on network (B), the operator of network (A) charges you a fee per minute for the call. Simultaneously, the operator of network (A) is charged by the operator of network (B) for terminating the call on its network. In essence, the termination rate is an integral part of the cost incurred by the operator of network (A) in providing the call service to its customers.

Short Message Service Center (SMSC)

When a mobile phone sends a message, it first goes to an SMSC (Short Message Service Center). The SMSC is in charge of directing the SMS to the recipient. If the recipient is unavailable at the time, the SMSC stores the message and delivers it once the recipient becomes accessible.

SMS Aggregator

SMS Aggregators serve as a middleman between wireless carriers and SMS software providers. When a business wants to send messages to customers, SMS aggregators streamline the process by managing the technical aspects involved with the wireless carriers.

SMS Gateway

An SMS Gateway serves as the starting or ending point for SMS messages. It allows a computer system to send and receive SMS messages to and from devices like mobile phones. Acting like a translator, the SMS Gateway ensures that the sent message is compatible for delivery over the network, reaching the intended recipient.

Call to Action (CTA)

CTA stands for the desired action you want a user to take, whether it's visiting your ecommerce site, signing up, making a purchase, or responding to your text.

Click Through Rate (CTR)

CTA outlines the action you want subscribers to take, while CTR gauges how effective your message is in prompting that action. CTR measures the percentage of recipients who clicked on a link in the message, and high click-through rates indicate a more compelling message.

SMS Hubbing

The SMS Hub is a recent framework that outlines how SMS traffic moves internationally between operators. It was created to address a challenge hindering the growth of international SMS—the complexity of international mobile interoperability. Think of an SMS Hub as a transfer point that directs SMS traffic to its ultimate destination. This helps manage and expand SMS coverage effectively by acting as an intermediary for SMS traffic.

SMS Reseller

An SMS reseller buys SMS credits in large quantities from the SMS Service Provider at wholesale prices and sells them in smaller amounts to customers at a higher price to make a profit.

SMS Power Switch

It's a user-friendly remote power control device operated through SMS. To control it, you only need to send a text message with the right numerical command.

Signaling System Number 7 (SS7)

It is a set of protocols used by mobile networks for exchanging data to process voice calls and text messages. Additionally, SS7 plays a role in prepaid billing, ensuring accurate billing based on the customer's specific tariff.

Mobile Country Code (MCC)

Mobile Country Code, identifies the country of a mobile phone subscriber using three decimal digits. The first digit signifies the geographic region. MCC is combined with MNC (Mobile Network Code) for the unique identification of a mobile

The Short Message Peer-to-Peer (SMPP)

This protocol is employed in the telecom industry to exchange text messages among external short message entities, routing entities, and message centers.

2-Way SMS

This platform combines outbound and inbound messages into one service. In simpler terms, users can send and receive messages on the same number through a web interface. For instance, if a business sends a message to a client, the client can reply using preset commands or codes.

Message Log

This feature provides real-time insights into SMS traffic, allowing users to assess the performance of SMS campaigns using filters like period, routing, and content. It proves valuable for identifying issues, such as SMS failures.


Known as the Unicode Standard, it is an IT standard enabling consistent encoding, representation, and manipulation of text in various writing systems worldwide. This feature, also called SMS MT, permits the sending of any content within an SMS message.

WAP Push

Wireless Application Protocol Push, or WAP Push, is a method of delivering WAP content to a mobile device with minimal user effort. Essentially, it guides an SMS recipient to a web page or website without requiring them to manually enter the web URL in their phone's browser. This is achieved through an encoded message containing a link to a WAP address in the SMS header. When the recipient clicks on the link, the phone prompts them to open the content, leading them to the specified address where the content is displayed.

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

2FA is a security measure where users must respond to a cue before logging in. For example, sending users a code via text that they need to enter to confirm their identity and access their account.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

MFA is a security method where users need to provide various forms of identification before accessing. Unlike the traditional single-factor authentication relying on a password, MFA enhances security by requiring multiple forms of verification.

One-Time Password SMS (OTP)

OTP, or One-Time Password, is an authentication method where a unique password is sent to a user's registered mobile number via SMS. Also known as phone verification, it adds an extra layer of security. Typically, the OTP has a specific time frame within which it must be used for verification.

Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS)

Cloud Communications Platform falls under cloud computing services. It enables developers or organizations to integrate real-time communication features like voice, video, and SMS messaging into their applications without the need to build complex backend infrastructure and interfaces. This is typically facilitated through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs).

5G Mobile Technology

5G is the fifth-generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks, succeeding 4G. It started its global deployment in 2019, aiming to deliver higher data speeds, massive network capacity, ultra-low latency, and improved reliability. This ensures a consistent and enhanced user experience. With 5G, users can enjoy extremely high-speed internet, real-time data streaming, and the benefits of location-based technology.

4G Mobile Technology

Following 3G and preceding 5G, 4G is the fourth generation of mobile phone technology. Each generation brings improvements in upload/download speeds, call clarity, and reduced latency. Specifically, 4G offers speeds of up to 100 Mbit/s.

3G Mobile Technology

3G, or the third generation of mobile technology, was introduced in 2003. It represented an improvement over 2G networks by providing faster data transfer and internet access. This advancement allowed users to browse websites, make video calls, and download media files while on the move.

Long Code

This 10-digit code is for sending marketing messages. The main types include P2P long codes, A2P long codes, and toll-free texting.

A2P Long Code

This 10-digit business phone number is used for one-way mass marketing messages. Recipients see this number, and it's not meant for customer replies.

Person-to-Person (P2P) Long Code

P2P long codes are a kind of business SMS phone number with 11 digits, matching the format of regional phone numbers. Messages flow between individual mobile devices, and recipients may face text charges for receiving and responding to messages from P2P long codes.


A 5 or 6-digit shortcode is employed for sending SMS or MMS text marketing campaigns to mobile devices. Shortcodes are best suited for one-way, non-personal communication and mass texting.

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Texting

VoIP is a phone service enabling calls or messages through an app on any internet-enabled device, eliminating the need for a physical phone or number.

SMS Keyword

In SMS marketing, keywords are words or phrases users text to your business shortcode, opting to receive messages. Multiple keywords can be created for different campaigns, helping track their effectiveness.

Dynamic Fields

Most consumers (80%) are inclined to make a purchase when they experience personalization. Dynamic fields are placeholders that allow you to include specific information in messages, enhancing personalization. Adding dynamic fields is a powerful way to make your message stand out and capture your subscribers' attention.


Geofencing involves sending targeted messages to SMS subscribers in a specific geographic area. This is beneficial for local retailers looking to attract nearby subscribers with personalized offers or discounts, encouraging them to visit and shop.

Delivery Rate

Sending 1,000 texts doesn't guarantee they're all received. Spam filters and inactive numbers can hinder delivery. The delivery rate indicates the percentage of people who received your message compared to those you sent it to, reflecting the health of your subscriber list.

Subscriber Growth Rate

Growth rate denotes the rise in SMS subscribers. A growing subscriber list indicates a successful SMS marketing campaign and an enhanced return on investment (ROI).

Opt Out Rate (OOR)

OOR, or Opt-Out Rate, shows the percentage of subscribers choosing not to receive texts. It directly reflects the value subscribers find in the program. Opt-out rates below 5% are considered healthy.

Quick Response (QR) Code

Building your SMS marketing list? Users can scan QR code images with their mobile device cameras, directing them to social media sites, designated webpages or your SMS offers.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

The TCPA outlines rules for businesses, mandating compliance when adding customers to a subscriber list. This includes obtaining written consent, providing disclosures, and offering an opt-out option. Explore further on SMS compliance.


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