Text messages are an easy, cost-effective way to get in touch with your customers, employees, fans, or any other group of people. But hang on! Before you send your first message, it’s worthwhile to take the time to figure out what type of number is right for you.
You have four options: a toll-free number, a long code, a shared short code, or a dedicated short code. All of these can send and receive messages, but they differ in a few key ways. Here are some questions you should ask yourself before you select a number:
Your answers to these questions will help guide your decision. Let’s start by talking about the most common choice—toll-free numbers.
By default, every SimpleTexting account comes with a dedicated toll-free number. This is because it’s the most versatile type of number. They’re approved for mass messaging and 2-way communication. Toll-free numbers have a high throughput, meaning they can be used to send many messages at once.
If you’d prefer to use a toll-free number you already own, we can text-enable it! This can usually be done in under 48 hours.
Let’s talk about keywords. These are short words or phrases people can text to your number to join your list. With a dedicated toll-free number, you don’t have to share keywords with anyone!
Because toll-free numbers are long, many businesses prefer to have their customers subscribe to messages with online web form—as opposed to keywords. However, there are two easy workarounds if you plan to use keywords often.
📌 Key info about toll-free numbers:
Another inexpensive option is to use a long code. These are standard 10-digit numbers. Yes, just like your landline or VoIP number. If you already have one that you’d like to use, we can text enable it! Calls will go through as usual, and texts will be routed directly to our platform.
Many businesses choose this option because they’re able to send texts from a recognizable area code. Long codes are perfect for 1-on-1 customer service, support, and sales conversations. They can also be used to send small text blasts. You can reliably text groups of 200 contacts once per day. For larger groups, consider a toll-free number or short code.
📌Key info about 10-digit long codes:
A dedicated short code is a 5- to 6-digit long number that only your business can use. Because of their cost and set up time, few companies choose to use a dedicated short code. Dedicated short codes require a one-time set-up fee plus a $1,000 per month leasing fee. This cost is set by the Common Short Code Administration, which oversees all short codes in the U.S. If you plan on sending a significant amount of messages, it may be worth the investment.
We have years of experience provisioning short codes and can help make the process as smooth as possible. From completing your service approval form to testing your short code, we’ll be there for you every step of the way.
📌 Key info about dedicated short codes:
Shared short codes are also 5- to 6-digit long numbers, but they are significantly cheaper than dedicated short codes because many companies share them. They don’t involve any of the setup or recurring costs–you only pay for credits to be able to send texts.
In October of 2018, AT&T announced its decision to discontinue most shared short codes. However, they will continue to allow some shared short codes, as long as all the businesses and organizations that use them are in one industry, sending similar types of messages.
One bad apple can shut down a shared short code for everyone who uses it. That’s why we go to great lengths to ensure everyone on our short codes follow TCPA guidelines. We also restrict imports on short codes so that not a single text is sent to a contact without their express written consent.
You can request access to one of these short codes under your account settings.
📌Key info about shared short codes:
In the end, your choice will come down to your budget, intended use, and whether you plan on using mass texts, 1-on-1 messaging for sales and support, or both. The chart below will give you a quick overview of your options.
|Toll-free||Dedicated short code||Shared short code||Long code|
|Format||10 digits||5-6 digits||5-6 digits||10 digits|
|Primary Use||Hybrid||Mass texting||Mass texting||1-on-1 comms, limited group texting|
We get asked a lot of questions about switching numbers. While it’s easy to change the number associated with your SimpleTexting account, the implications differ depending on what number you were using, and what number you plan on switching to. It’s essential to be aware of what they are before you make any decision.
If you switch from a shared short code number to a toll-free or local number your keywords carry over. There’s also a 2-month transition period where people can still subscribe by texting your existing keywords to your short code. However, they will get the auto-confirmation message from your new number. This transition period is only for the keyword opt-in, so you have a set timeline to update your marketing materials.
If you switch from a toll-free or local number to a shared short code, the system removes all of your keywords to avoid multiple people using the same keyword. You can reach out to our support team to find out if your keyword is available on a short shared code before making a decision. If it is, when you switch, you’ll need to reclaim your keywords by creating them again.
If you’re still not sure what number type is right for you, then maybe this handy flowchart will help.
Whether you’re just getting started with texting, or are already using our shared short code and want your own number—we’re here to help. Get in touch with our support team by clicking the chat bubble at the corner of your screen. We’re happy to answer any questions you have, and get you up-and-running with the right number in no time.