What is Short Code?

Think of short code as an abbreviated phone number. They are three to eight-digit-long codes that facilitate two-way SMS and MMS messaging. With high-level throughput, short codes are designed to handle swift delivery for heightened volumes of text messages.

Short codes are a great way for businesses to connect and engage with their customers while also giving them the option to respond. Customers can easily recall and text to short codes to opt in, request support, vote or enter contests.

What's The Difference Between Long Code and Short Code?

Long codes, also known as 10-digit long code or 10DLC, are similar to short codes but they are more suited for smaller businesses. With cheaper prices and narrower throughput capabilities, long codes are a cost-effective way to start up an SMS marketing campaign. On the other hand, short codes are ideal for large businesses with a wide audience.

Short codes, also referred to as "short numbers", "campaign short codes" or "common short codes", are great for sending messages unrelated to sales, for example, security notifications, updates and time-sensitive alerts. With the capacity to send more than 3,000 texts a day, short code methods allow you to reach a large customer base within a short time frame.

Both types of code are used for A2P (application-to-person) purposes and need to register for campaign approval. The type of code you decide to use largely comes down to what's best suited to your business needs.

Different Types of Short Code

Using short code is a quick and efficient way to get the attention of customers. With automated SMS options and high deliverability rates, staying in touch with a large number of customers has never been easier. But, it's important to know the various kinds of short code and understand their benefits and limitations.

The types of SMS short code you should know about include:

Vanity Short Code
Vanity short codes are primarily used for marketing purposes. They are a great option for companies focused on branding as they can be customized to align with your company image. For example, if your business name includes a number, this can be utilized when creating a vanity short code. Alternatively, short codes can focus on aesthetic aspects, such as "30303". The U.S. Short Code Registry does charge a premium fee for this kind of short code but, with access to customization, a memorable phone number can make all the difference for your customers.

Random Short Code
Random short codes are the most common type of short code. These numbers are randomly assigned to a business by SMS providers and only consist of vacant short codes that other businesses aren't using. These numbers function as the opposite of vanity short codes and are much more affordable for this reason. This method is a great option for businesses on a tight budget.

Shared Short Code
You may have heard of shared short code. This type of short code was phased out by the end of 2021 and is no longer available on the market. This is because companies had to share a single phone number which inevitably caused complications with policing and company branding. In replacement, carriers now offer dedicated short code.

Dedicated Short Code
This kind of short code is dedicated to your brand and yours only. Unlike previous shared short code methods, businesses can now have access to their own number, meaning you won't face the consequences of other companies' actions. Dedicated short codes allow businesses to make targeted campaigns for customers, such as surveys, polls, contests, etc. With full ownership of the short code, businesses have direct communication with their customers without hindrance from others.

Why Use a Short Code For Texting?

Mass text messaging has proven to be an excellent tool for customer engagement. According to Attentive's Mobile Consumer Report, 91% of consumers are interested in signing up for text messages from businesses and 51% are more likely to purchase an item if they receive a text message with images and media. It's all about how you strategize your SMS marketing campaign.

But, short code text messages can be utilized in a variety of different ways. For example, your business could use short code texting for:

  1. Voting and polling.
  2. Surveys and feedback.
  3. Two-factor authentication.
  4. Contests for giveaways.
  5. Notifications, alerts and reminders.
  6. Promotions and premium offers.

There are many advantages to utilizing a short code texting service. Here are some reasons why short code may benefit your business:

  • Improved Visibility

With SMS marketing, there's no need to worry about standing out in a crowded and congested inbox. Phone users are more likely to stay on top of the texts they receive, unlike emails. In fact, 90% of messages are opened within the first 3 minutes of receiving them. With strong open rates, text message marketing proves to be a reliable strategy for effectively reaching your audience.

  • No Restrictions for Keywords

If you're looking to include keywords in your SMS marketing strategy, in a dedicated short code program, there are no limitations to the number of keywords you can use. In your mass text messaging campaigns, you get the freedom to use whatever keywords you like, high-volume or niche, without it affecting deliverability to customers.

  • Easy For Customers To Remember

A key advantage of a vanity short code is having the option to choose what number you want your customers to see. This customization option for your short code can function as an extension of your brand. Having a catchy short code, like "808 808", will make your company more memorable to consumers and, in turn, facilitate customer service by making it easy for customers to reach out for support.

Best Practices For Short Code

Advertise Your Short Code
Make the most of your short code by engaging with consumers. A strategic way to do this is by utilizing contests and giveaways. Hosting a giveaway can get a great number of people to opt into your SMS marketing program to apply for the chance to win a gift card. This is especially beneficial if the giveaway is with current email lists or shared on social media platforms.

Play By the Rules
It's crucial that you comply with local or federal laws and regulations associated with SMS messaging. You should avoid bad practices such as repetitive messaging, overly long texts, spam and texting at inappropriate hours. If you send messages that are deemed inappropriate or unacceptable by carriers, you could face a fine of up to $1,500. If you're aiming to have a successful marketing campaign, it's best to develop a positive relationship and trust with customers through strong and engaging messaging.

Utilize Throughput Capabilities
One of the key benefits of short code is having the ability to send a lot of messages very quickly. You can use this opportunity to send time-sensitive alerts such as limited-time offers. This could be a buy-one-get-one-free deal that only lasts 48 hours or a one-time pop-up sale that ends today. By creating a sense of urgency, you can encourage customers to take advantage of their special offer. Not only does this drive sales, but it can also give customers an incentive to opt in for your text message marketing campaigns.

How Do You Get a Short Code

To get a short code for your business, you first must get the go-ahead from The Campaign Registry and find an SMS provider that supports your needs.

If you're thinking of getting started, at Swift SMS Gateway, we offer a free demo where you can trial your campaign with 50 free messages and get access to ongoing support — giving you the chance to get a feel for your SMS strategy in a comfortable, risk-free way.

SMS is the foundation of mobile marketing, contact us to discover our SMS API options today!