Let’s not sugar coat it, you hate text message spam. And so do we. The average American hates it too — 76% of American adults have been irritated or frustrated by unsolicited text messages

As a business, it’s important to understand and follow the rules. If you don’t, hefty fines and penalties could come your way – not to mention costly damage to your reputation. Because, you want to have loyal customers and brand trust, right?


So, how do you cook up a successful text messaging campaign? 

In this article, we’ll give you all the ingredients to help you to make sure your messages aren’t spam. 

Think of it like your SMS compliance recipe — without any ham in a can. 

In this article you’ll find:

  • What’s a spam text message?
  • an overview of general Spam rules 
  • 200+ spam trigger words to avoid 

Just so you know, we can’t give legal advice: This blog contains general information. The contents of this blog do not constitute legal advice, are not intended to be legal advice, and should not be relied on as such. It’s important to seek your own legal advice about text messaging rules and regulations.

Read more: Other common SMS mistakes (and how to avoid them).

What’s a spam text message?

Spam is unsolicited electronic marketing communication. 

Spam can be sent via email, chat apps or text messaging. In this article, we’ll focus on SMS spam. 

Defining text messaging spam

SMS spam is an unsolicited marketing text message. Basically, it’s a message you didn’t ask for or consent to receiving that advertises goods or services.

An SMS won’t be considered spam if it is an appointment or payment reminder, is about a service used by the customer or doesn’t contain an advertisement. These are considered transactional messages, see the difference between transactional and marketing SMS. 

Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between spam and a scam – learn more about scams here.

Why businesses need to understand spam laws

If your business is sending marketing text messages to customers, understanding the spam laws is very important. And, could save you big-time. 

It’s not all doom and gloom – SMS compliance isn’t hard, and we can help. Read on to find out how to send compliant messages.

Spam rules and tips

If you’re ready to create an SMS campaign, here is some information to help you stay compliant.

The rules 

  • Check the regulations for different countries
    Each country has different legislation and policies for spam so you should always check what applies in the countries you are sending from and to. 
  • Get consent 
    Before you send text messages to your audience, you must get their consent, and although this can be express or implied in some places, we recommend you aim to get express consent and keep records of customer consent. Learn about SMS opt-ins: what you need to know about messaging and consent.

    You can also ask your SMS provider for help. Our support team is online 24/7 and are always happy to answer questions. 
  • Make yourself known
    It’s best practice (and in most places it’s a legal requirement) to make yourself known when sending marketing SMS to customers.  

    This could be as simple as including your business name in the actual text message or by using an eligible alpha tag that literally spells out your business name so that you’re instantly recognisable. 
  • Allow for people to opt-out 
    If you’re planning on sending marketing or promotional messages, you must give customers an opportunity to opt-out without any fee. 

    Your message should include instructions on how to unsubscribe. A common way to do this is to add ‘reply STOP to opt-out’ to your marketing messages. Once someone asks to opt-out, you must take them off your contact list or you can risk penalties. 

At ClickSend, we give our customers a helping hand by managing opt-outs for marketing messages for free. It’s just one way we help you to stay compliant. 


  • Avoid pre-checked boxes
    If you’re offering an opt-in form on your website, make sure the customer has to physically check the consent box to opt in. We call this an active opt in. 
  • Limit special characters 
    Special characters are symbols like $$$, *** or !!!!. 

    Try to limit your use of these characters, just like all caps these characters can create urgency or FOMO. If you do want to use special characters, that’s ok — just limit it to one at a time.
  • Send varied, personalised messages 
    Many spam messages are repetitive, you’ll often get the same message over and over again. So, it makes sense that sending the same message to the same group of people can trigger spam filters. 

    You can combat this by personalising messages with customer names and other customer information. 

250+ common SMS spam words

Keep these words in mind when writing your texts. They may only trigger spam filters when used in certain situations. 

Discounts and offers

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  4. Free hosting
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  10. Free quote
  11. Free trial
  12. Free $$$
  13. Best price
  14. Save up to
  15. Billions
  16. Cash
  17. Big buck
  18. Cheap
  19. Cash bonus
  20. $$$
  21. Pure profit
  22. Save big money

Urgency and call to action

  1. Click here
  2. Buy now
  3. Guaranteed
  4. Must-have
  5. Limited quantity
  6. Act fast
  7. Quick
  8. Now or never
  9. Act immediately
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  11. One-time offer
  12. Time-limited
  13. Take action
  14. This won’t last
  15. Urgent
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  17. While supplies last
  18. Once in a lifetime
  19. One time
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  21. Apply now
  22. Call now
  23. Get it now
  24. Do it today
  25. Limited time
  26. Don’t delete
  27. 4U
  28. You have been selected
  29. Get in touch now

Financial opportunities

  1. Instant cash
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Lotteries and prizes

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  5. Win

Scarcity and Urgency

  1. Hurry
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  4. Limited availability
  5. Don’t miss out
  6. Almost gone
  7. While supplies last
  8. Time-sensitive
  9. Running out
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  14. Act immediately
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  16. Almost sold out
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Savings and Value

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Exclusivity and VIP

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  6. Invitation-only
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  8. Limited VIP slots
  9. Exclusive privileges

Building trust

  1. Trusted
  2. Reliable
  3. Authentic
  4. Proven
  5. Verified
  6. Certified
  7. Guaranteed quality
  8. Reputable
  9. Industry-leading
  10. Endorsed
  11. Accredited

Tricky wording 

  1. No catch
  2. No cost
  3. No credit check
  4. No fees
  5. No gimmick
  6. No hidden fees
  7. No interest
  8. No investment
  9. No obligation
  10. No purchase necessary
  11. No questions asked
  12. No strings attached
  13. Not junk
  14. This isn’t junk
  15. Not spam
  16. This isn’t spam
  17. See for yourself
  18. We hate spam
  19. Cancel any time
  20. No BS

General spam words

  1. Top
  2. Increase sales
  3. Increase traffic
  4. Sample
  5. Avoid bankruptcy
  6. Become a member
  7. Click below
  8. Click here
  9. Information you requested
  10. Important information regarding
  11. Auto email remover
  12. Please read
  13. Bulk email
  14. Direct email
  15. Check or money order
  16. Congratulations
  17. Confidentiality
  18. Dear friend
  19. Buy direct
  20. Direct marketing
  21. Internet marketing
  22. Multi-level marketing
  23. Meet singles
  24. Mass email / SMS
  25. Obligation
  26. Passwords
  27. Requires initial investment
  28. Social security number
  29. Undisclosed
  30. Unsecured credit
  31. Unsolicited
  32. Unsecured debt
  33. Accept credit cards
  34. All new
  35. Ad
  36. As seen on
  37. Beneficiary
  38. Billing
  39. Cards accepted
  40. Credit card offers
  41. Claims
  42. Debt
  43. Compare rates
  44. In accordance with laws
  45. Loans
  46. Luxury
  47. Marketing Solution
  48. Online marketing
  49. Mortgage rates
  50. Name brand
  51. Message contains
  52. Opt-in
  53. Pre-approved
  54. Quote
  55. Removal
  56. Reserves the right
  57. Score
  58. Search engine
  59. Sent in compliance
  60. Subject to…
  61. Terms and conditions
  62. Trial
  63. Warranty
  64. Web traffic
  65. Work from home
  66. XXX


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Deep dive into spam regulations

You can find out more about rules, regulations and compliance at the legal section of our website. Happy and safe sending.