How to pick the right business text numbers for your SMS marketing strategy

Should your business use a local number, toll-free number, or dedicated short code? In this article, we'll walk you through the differences to help you decide.

Text messages are an easy, cost-effective way to get in touch with your customers, employees, fans, or any other group of people. 

Before you send your first message, it’s worthwhile to take the time to figure out what type of number is right for your business‘s SMS marketing program.

You have three options for business texting numbers: 

  • Local numbers (also called 10-digit long codes or 10DLC)
  • Toll-free numbers
  • Dedicated short codes

SimpleTexting is SMS marketing software

Businesses that text customers are 217% more likely to report success. Take advantage of SMS marketing. Meaningful connections are just a text away with SimpleTexting.

Local numbers

Local number texting (10DLC) is a messaging solution that allows businesses to send a high volume of SMS campaigns from a local area code. 

If you already have a local number that you’d like to use, SimpleTexting can text-enable it. Calls will go through as usual, and texts will be routed directly to our SMS marketing platform.

Although you’ll need to register your local number, the process is easy, and our support team is here seven days a week to help. In most cases, we can get you up and running with a 10DLC number in a day or less.

📲 Why do most businesses prefer to text from local numbers?

  1. They have recognizable local area codes, which increase trust with customers in that location.
  2. They’re approved for high-volume bulk SMS.
  3. You can generally get up and running with a local number within a day.

📌 Key info about 10-digit long codes:

  • 10DLC can help build familiarity and trust with customers
  • Great for mass texting and two-way messaging
  • Often used for promotions, customer service, sales, and appointment reminders
  • Quick, low-cost setup

Toll-free numbers

Toll-free numbers — those with prefixes of 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844 or 833 — are also approved for mass messaging and two-way communication.

If you already own a toll-free number, we can text-enable it (in under 48 hours, in most cases).

With a toll-free number, you can start texting from it as soon as you upgrade to a paid account. Just note that you won’t be able to send texts until your toll-free number is verified with wireless carriers. 

When you buy SimpleTexting, we’ll walk you through the entire verification process so you can start sending messages as soon as possible. It typically takes 1-3 days for numbers to be verified.

📌 Key info about toll-free numbers:

  • Useful for mass messaging and two-way communication
  • Good for promotions, alerts, customer service and sales
  • You can import your existing contact list
  • Quick, easy setup
  • Can be used for sending/receiving SMS and MMS
  • You’ll need to have your toll-free number verified, and we’re happy to help!

Dedicated short codes

A dedicated short code (DSC) is a 5- or 6-digit long number that only your business can use. Because of their cost and setup time, few companies choose to use a dedicated short code.

How much do dedicated short codes cost?

Leasing your own DSC can cost anywhere from $1,000-$1,500 per month. Most services will also charge a one-time setup fee (for example, SimpleTexting’s setup fee is $2,500). If you plan on sending a significant amount of messages, this cost may be worth the investment. 

The biggest draws for dedicated short codes are:

  • They’re short and easy to remember, which is helpful for large promotional campaigns
  • You can send high message volumes in seconds

We have years of experience provisioning and registering 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:

  • Most expensive option
  • Approved for mass texting
  • Short, easy-to-remember number
  • Ideal for keyword opt-in
  • Can be used for sending/receiving SMS and MMS

Comparing your business text number options at a glance

In the end, your choice of virtual business numbers will come down to your budget, intended use, and whether you plan on using mass texts for promotions, one-on-one messaging for sales and support, or both. 

Here’s an overview of your business text number options:

 Local numbersToll-freeDedicated short code
Format10 digits10 digits    5 to 6 digits
Primary use1-on-1 comms, mass texting1-on-1 comms, mass textingMass texting
ThroughputHighMedium High
Setup costLowLowHigh
Setup timeSame-day activation1-3 days, on averageWeeks
This table displays all business text number options to help you choose the best phone number for your SMS marketing strategy.

FAQ about business text numbers

What is a business texting number?

A business texting number is any number that’s text-enabled and can send and receive messages from an SMS marketing platform. Businesses use these numbers to send text messages to customers, prospects, and employees.
To get a text number for marketing your business, choose an SMS marketing program that lets you send and receive text messages. Your service provider will present you with options like 10DLC, toll-free numbers, and dedicated short codes. At SimpleTexting, we provide you with all three options, and we can even text-enable your existing business number.
Switching numbers does not disrupt your current lists at all. However, some of our customers decide to send a campaign to their contacts to let them know that they recently changed their number.
After text enabling your number, you’ll still receive voice calls from customers just as you always have. Texts from customers will go straight to SimpleTexting.
Yes, it is possible to text from multiple local numbers with a single account. You can learn more about our multi-number feature here.

Ready to choose your SMS marketing number?

Whether you’re just getting started with texting or want to provision a dedicated short code — we’re here to help. 

Get in touch with our support team by clicking the chat bubble in the bottom 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.

Alfredo Salkeld, Lily Norton, and Nathan Ellering contributed to this piece.