Nowadays, text message services are a must-have for businesses. Not only do customers want it, they expect it. According to Attentive's 2023 Global Consumer Survey, 91% of consumers worldwide have already signed up for an SMS program, or intend to do so in the near future.
Setting your company up with short message service (SMS) integration is equally if not more important than using the email channel to interact with stakeholders. So how do you get started?
The first step is deciding if an SMS short code, or 10DLC long code is appropriate
What Is an SMS Short Code?
A short code functions as a phone number that businesses use to communicate with their customers. These codes are usually five or six digits long and have impressive throughput capabilities. This means your brand can send large volumes of text messages within a matter of seconds.
However, in the US only dedicated Short Code is available, which is very costly and only appropriate for national brand campaigns.
The Types of Short Code
There are two types of dedicated short code available on the market: random short codes and vanity short codes. Let's break these down.
1. Random Short Codes
The most common type of short code, random short codes, are business phone numbers with non-specific characters. This means the number is randomly generated and holds no association with your brand, for example "47620."
2. Vanity Short Codes
A vanity short code, on the other hand, isn't randomly generated. Instead, you get to choose the digits of your short code to align with your brand, for example "606808." This makes your business phone number more memorable to customers and creates a uniform image that reflects positively on your business.
Note: If you're already familiar with short codes, you may have heard of Shared Short Code, in which companies would share business phone numbers, and split it with unique keywords. Shared Short Codes have been discontinued following their U.S. phase-out period at the end of 2021. The majority of short code use was in Shared Short Codes. In Canada, Shared Short Code is still available, but 10DLC is the more commonplace in both countries.
Regardless of the text channel you are using, all campaigns are subject to regulations and must be sanctioned and approved. Contact your CSP to assist you.
The majority of text campaigns in the US have now transitioned to Long Code 10DLC approved through the Campaign Registry and managed through your SMS Gateway Campaign Service Provider (CSP).
When To Use Short Codes and Long Codes
If you are a national brand with a large mobile marketing budget, you can utilize SMS dedicated short code for various purposes. In the US, the Campaign Registry in coordination with CSPs, are vetting sanctioned 10DLC for high-volume usage. The approval process and opt-in regulatory guidelines are virtually identical in both of these text channels.
1. SMS Marketing
One of the most popular use cases, text message marketing lets you interact with and advertise discounts to SMS subscribers for lead generation and improved customer retention. This marketing method is incredibly effective in engaging customers. In fact, according to data aggregated by G2, SMS open rates are as high as 98%, with 60% of customers reading texts within five minutes of receiving them.
2. Transactional SMS
This type of text messaging is typically used to send time-sensitive information to customers. Transactional SMS often requires a user's action to trigger a message to send, for example purchasing a product or signing up for an SMS subscription. Transactional messages from short codes usually involve:
- Order updates.
- Appointment reminders.
- Delivery notifications.
- Purchase receipts.
- Event updates.
- Two-factor authentication codes.
- Subscription alerts.
For this form of business text messaging, SMS subscriptions aren't required as they provide valuable communication to consumers. These messages often override certain regulatory restrictions and do-not-disturb rules as a result, but are still subject to regulatory approvals for each and every campaign.
3. SMS Text Message Alerts
In an emergency, you can use an assigned text channel, be it Dedicated Short Code, or 10DLC to send text alerts and reach larger numbers of people instantly. Immediate communication allows you to communicate with those affected, provide information on the situation and offer guidance to reduce panic. For more information about SMS alert capabilities, check out our article here.
SMS Text Capabilities
One of the best aspects of text message communication is that it's a two-way system. Not only can you reach out with customers, but customers can reach out to you. Brands should take advantage of this to form memorable experiences with their SMS subscribers.
Votes and Polls
Gamifying your SMS marketing encourages audience participation and, in turn, improves customer engagement. Thought-provoking questions can quickly grab the attention of your audience, and it's possible to make use of this data to personalize their journey further.
Contests and Giveaways
SMS contests usually involve an announcement to spread awareness, which can be carried out across other marketing channels, such as email or social media. Customers then must sign up to the SMS subscription to enroll in the giveaway. Once a winner is decided, the fortunate individual receives a congratulatory text to redeem their prize. This method helps you build your SMS subscription list in a cost-effective way.
As part of your promotional campaign, you can encourage SMS subscribers to enter sweepstakes hosted by your company for boosted customer engagement. All they need to do is send a specific keyword to your short code number to get the chance to win prizes or rewards. This provides value to your audience and motivates them to remain subscribed to your SMS campaign.
Gathering feedback is crucial to the refinement of your marketing strategy, and providing an interactive platform for SMS subscribers to share their experiences can be a fantastic way to enhance the customer journey. With short code, you can create surveys and gather honest feedback from your audience. By building upon their feedback, you can retain customers and keep up to date with their expectations from your brand.
Offers and Discounts
Another way to offer value to your audience is by handing out exclusive discounts that they can't refuse. With such impressive open rates, your promotional material is bound to touch base with a great deal of customers, which facilitates lead generation and sales conversion.
The Importance of SMS Communication
SMS is essential for businesses as it's affordable, scalable and easy to implement — making it the perfect tool for customer engagement. Where marketers have struggled to achieve strong open rates with email marketing, text messages have been revolutionary in their ability to successfully reach and engage with customers.
Here are some key reasons why SMS marketing messages hold significance:
- Wide reach: With over 6 billion smartphone users worldwide and international mobile carrier coverage, you'll be able to reach your target audience — no matter who they are.
- Personalization: Texts can be customized according to unique customer data, which means you can send tailored offers that appeal to their individual needs.
- Automation: SMS makes automation easy and enables you to send pre-written messages triggered by customer actions, which saves time and effort.
According to Attentive's 2023 Global Consumer Survey, 63% of consumers interact with brands' SMS programs at least twice a week. With SMS communication, businesses can directly connect with thousands of customers and achieve exceptional results.
When it comes to SMS messaging, it's crucial to comply with all of the laws and regulations associated with short code texting. Ensure you steer clear of bad practices such as:
- Repetitive messaging.
- Unnecessarily long texts.
- A "spammy" tone of voice.
- Sending messages at unsociable hours.
If you send messages that are deemed inappropriate or unacceptable by carriers, you could face fines as high as $1,500. If you're aiming to have a successful SMS marketing campaign, it's best to establish a positive relationship and trust with both customers and mobile carriers through strong and compliant messaging.
To find out more about SMS compliance, read our guide here.
Find The Right SMS Provider
To get a dedicated short code for your business or 10DLC number in the U.S., you first must register your text message campaign with The Campaign Registry and find an SMS provider that's flexible in supporting your needs.
When searching for an SMS provider, it's important to make sure they fit the following:
- Established experts in their field.
- Secure in their network routing processes.
- Provide reliable services with great deliverability.
- Have a wide-reaching network.
Finding a reputable and experienced SMS gateway provider is essential to a strong text message campaign. Make sure they have a good customer satisfaction track record to get the most out of your SMS initiatives.
At Swift SMS Gateway, we tailor SMS API solutions to the unique needs of your business. We've helped over 10,000 developers and provided extensive SMS coverage through more than 800 global cellular network carriers.
Want to test the waters? We offer a free demo so you can trial your campaign with 50 free messages. With this, you gain access to ongoing help and guidance from our human support teams. This gives you the opportunity to test your SMS strategy in a comfortable and risk-free way.
Get started with Swift SMS Gateway today!