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What to know about 6-digit phone numbers

We all routinely receive text messages from five- or six-digit phone numbers. Find out how these numbers work and whether they're right for your business.

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You’ve likely received text messages from 6-digit phone numbers before. By now, you may have figured out that these phone numbers are used by organizations to communicate with their audiences all at once. Case closed, right? 

There’s a little more to it than that.

While these numbers may look odd next to your 10-digit phone number, they’re actually quite powerful–and popular. Every day, these shortened phone numbers enable Amazon to send verification codes to confirm new accounts, FedEx to share delivery notifications, and SouthWest to promote its flash sales.

So, what’s special about a 6-digit phone number, and how can you put this type of number to use in your business?

What is a 6-digit phone number?

A six-digit phone number is referred to as a short code (there are also some instances of 5-digit short codes). These short code numbers were created by the major wireless carriers in 2003 to allow marketers to easily communicate things like promotional offers or important alerts to consumers.

If you want to know more about these numbers, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll cover the following FAQs in this article:

How do 6-digit phone numbers work?

6-digit phone numbers are used by companies of all sizes to send marketing blasts, conduct two-factor authentication, and send out notifications and alerts. 

Six-digit phone numbers are leased from the Common Short Code Administration, and once this happens, organizations can send and receive SMS and MMS messages. It’s not a free-for-all, though, and there are several rules businesses must follow to be TCPA compliant.

The most important thing to remember here is that customers must give you explicit permission to send them text messages. We put strong emphasis on making sure you can avoid looking spammy to your customers.

Getting subscribers with a 6-digit phone number

One of the most common ways for customers to provide this permission is by texting in a keyword. For example, a burger chain might use the keyword “BURGER.” A customer would send a text to the 6-digit number with the keyword “BURGER” to subscribe. The chain can then send this customer text messages. 

Keywords are arguably the most popular opt-in method to ensure customers are providing their explicit permission. If you want to learn more about keywords and compliance, we recommend checking out the following resources:

What is the difference between a 10-digit phone number and a 6-digit number?

The biggest difference between a 10-digit phone number and a 6-digit number is that 10-digit numbers can also make calls and send faxes (if anyone still sends faxes). So, with a 10-digit phone number, your customers can both text and call you. 

A chart showcasing the differences between 6-digit and 10-digit numbers
This chart shows off some of the key differences between 6-digit phone numbers and 10-digit numbers.

10-digit phone numbers also allow you to send out mass text messages if they are text-enabled. If you’d like to learn more, we’ve written about how to pick the right number for SMS marketing and a guide to short codes vs. long codes.

“If you’re considering SimpleTexting, I highly recommend it. As a marketer, and someone who consults with multiple different types of businesses, the support that you get is wonderful. And I find the design of the platform allows you to move and experiment very quickly.”

How do you get a 6-digit phone number?

You’ll lease your 6-digit phone number. This can run your business anywhere from $1000-$1500 a month. 

If you have the budget and want to learn more about setting up a dedicated short code, then we recommend you check out our dedicated short code texting services. 

The first step involves deciding between a dedicated vanity short code (a code that spells a word, as in Kmart’s SMS short code 56278 that spells out “Kmart”) or a random short code. 

Vanity short codes can make your 6-digit number even more memorable and, therefore, more trusted by your customers. However, this comes with extra costs, and random 6-digit numbers are more affordable.

Setting up your short code

The process of getting either a vanity short code or a random short code goes like this:

  1. Choose whether you’ll lease a random or vanity code based on your desired budget and goals.
  2. Work with us to complete a service approval form and provide details on what type of messages you’ll send, how you’ll use your 6-digit phone number, and your organization in general.
  3. We’ll get connected with an aggregator and get your help in submitting a joint form. This form will include information on how you’ll stay in compliance. You’ll then get either approval or feedback so we can re-submit.
  4. Once you’re approved, you can get started using your number for campaigns.

We get that leasing a 6-digit number can be an intimidating process. Never fear. With over a decade of experience with short code texting, we can guide you through the entire process to make it as smooth as possible. 

Get started by visiting our contact page or clicking on the blue chat button at the bottom of your screen to get started.

Drew Wilkinson
Drew Wilkinson

Drew Wilkinson is the Head of Marketing at SimpleTexting. Drew has more than a decade of experience managing successful integrated marketing programs to build brands, raise awareness, and generate demand.

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