Long code is used in the U.S. for non-commercial means while short code is popular for marketing purposes

Mobile marketing services are expected to have a huge impact on retail results during this back-to-school and holiday season. As more companies embrace a marketing strategy including SMS text messaging, mobile's ever-changing landscape is receiving more in-depth analysis by business experts. In a recent BizReport article, Steve French reports that an impressive 86 percent of surveyed merchants currently plan on using SMS software at some point during 2014. 

The benefits of an SMS approach are numerous, chief among them being the speed and reach it can provide, as well as its interactive nature. There are two types of codes available, and both have positive and negative attributes. Short code SMS is probably the most common, and is used to distribute coupons and special offers to customers who have opted-in to receive exclusive information. Most SMS strategies used by businesses are short code, since they are easy to remember, widely distributable and carrier-approved. 

Long codes, however, are more cost-effective and can be more quickly implemented than short codes. Currently, though, they are not allowed for use as a marketing tool in the U.S., presumably because long codes need not be opt-in or limited in length, assets that regulatory institutions fear will encourage the sort of spamming now prevalent over email. However, long codes have several interesting non-market uses that are certainly worth further exploration. For example, they are uniquely suited to customer service inquiries and are also well-made for appointment reminder functionalities. They have also been intelligently leveraged by governmental websites for use as identity-confirming mechanisms. 

The advantages and pitfalls of both long and short code SMS messaging will doubtless be investigated and discussed in greater detail as the year progresses and the holiday retail season approaches, although it seems clear at the moment that short code will dominate in driving retail revenue if not in delivering extensive information.