SMS Short Codes vs SMS Long Codes: Which One Is Right for You?

Learn about the difference between SMS long codes and SMS short codes with this simple guide. Find out what to do if you need the best of both worlds.

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Marketers today have more ways to reach customers than they ever have before. So choosing the right communication channels for your business is no easy task.

However, one of the easiest decisions you can make is to start texting.

The text message inbox is one of the least-saturated, most-effective marketing channels available. 

With open rates as high as 98%, more and more businesses are using SMS marketing to reach their customers. 

Texts can be sent through either a short code or a long code. The difference between the two can seem confusing at first but is actually pretty easy to understand. 

Let’s walk through the advantages and disadvantages of both to help you decide which option makes the most sense for your business.

What Is an SMS Short Code?

A short code is an easy-to-remember, 5 to 6-digit number used to send SMS or MMS messages. Customers text a keyword to this number to opt-in for messages.

If you own a pizza restaurant, for example, you may have customers text “CHEESE” to 35344 to receive discounts.

Sometimes known as dedicated short codes, you can get a randomly generated short code or select a custom vanity short code. For example, a spa may choose the custom code “73529” which spells out “RELAX.”

The cost of one of these short codes begins at $500 per month.

That cost is in addition to a one-time setup fee as well as a minimum spend of $500/month in messaging costs (~40,000 messages).

One last thing, a dedicated short code can take up to a few weeks to provision.

When Should I Use a Short Code?

Short codes are a great SMS marketing tool for sending text blasts or mass text messaging campaigns. Other common uses include:

What Is an SMS Long Code?

An SMS long code is a standard, 10-digit number. Just like a short code, it can be used to send SMS messages.

Advantages of Long Codes

With a long code, your company can use the same number to send SMS messages and place calls. 

It can be helpful to establish a consistent channel for all forms of customer communication. Our business texting service even lets you text-enable an existing landline or VoIP line.

Plus, a message that comes from a standard, 10-digit number feels like it’s coming from a person, not a bot. That makes long codes perfect for providing a personalized customer service experience.

Disadvantages of Long Codes

With a long code, you can only send one message per second. Therefore long code text marketing does not work if you want to message groups of more than 200 people.

The other disadvantage of long codes is that they’re longer. This makes it more likely that a user may enter the number wrong on their phone. 

When Should I Use a Long Code?

Even though there are a few disadvantages, a long code is still the right choice for many businesses looking to bring SMS into their communication strategy. Here are a few instances in which long code comes in handy:

  • If you want to communicate 1-on-1 with customers
  • If you want to provide SMS customer service
  • If you want to set up texting network for your internal staff
  • If you want to keep your number consistent across all channels

Toll-Free and 10DLC: The Best Of Both Worlds

We know what you’re thinking. What if you want to get started in minutes and send mass campaigns and have a 10-digit number? Don’t panic. There are two options we haven’t touched on yet.

Toll-Free Texting

With our toll-free texting service, you can text-enable your existing toll-free number or get a new one. There are many benefits, including:

  • It only takes a few minutes to get up and running. 
  • The throughput rate of toll-free numbers is significantly higher than long code numbers, meaning it’s a good option if you need to send out mass campaigns. 
  • The setup cost is low and you can send 1-on-1 texts just like you can with a long code.

Think of a toll-free number as a hybrid between a long code and short code. All SimpleTexting accounts come with a complimentary toll-free number.

10-Digit Long Codes

One option that is beginning to roll out is 10DLC or 10-digit long codes. 10DLC is a messaging solution that allows businesses to send a high-volume of SMS from a local number. You can learn more about 10DLC here.

Decisions, Decisions

By now you should have a solid understanding of the difference between short codes, long codes, 10DLC, and toll-free numbers. The good news is we offer all four number types.

You can try our text messaging service for free for 14-days. We don’t even ask for your credit card.

If you still have questions, our team of SMS marketing experts would love to help. We’re available 7 days a week. Give us a call at (888) 992-8418 or use the chat at the bottom of your screen.

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