Curious about how to use text or SMS short codes for text marketing campaigns? Here’s what you need to know about short codes.
Local and toll-free and short codes, oh my…
You have a lot of options when it comes to texting your customers.
Which is great news ー and also pretty confusing. To start with, which type of number should you pick?
For some businesses, SMS short codes are the answer. They’re a common texting tool, so much so that we bet you’ve gotten a text from a short code in the last six months.
They’re convenient, versatile, and best of all, short.
We’ll give you all the most important details on the world of short codes, including how they’re used, whether they’re right for you, and how you can get set up with one of your own.
A short code, or an SMS short code, is an abbreviated phone number that is 5 or 6 digits in length. Short codes are usually used to send SMS and MMS messages with product discounts, passwords, text-to-win sweepstakes, and more. These numbers are “short” by definition, so they’re easy to remember when sending a text message.
SMS short codes allow easy communication with customers ー most of whom prefer getting texts from businesses rather than emails or calls. They are also one of the optimal ways of reaching larger audiences, thanks to their capability of sending extremely high volumes of text messages within a short time period.
Short codes are a great SMS marketing tool for sending text blasts or mass text messaging campaigns, but they can also do so much more. Other common uses include:
Scrolling through your texts, have you received promotional SMS messages from 5- or 6-digit numbers? There’s a good chance that those texts are from short codes!
The biggest draw for short codes is that they’re easier to remember and enter into a text message than a 10-digit number, so you can gather more contacts from your campaigns.
Dedicated short codes are leased, not sold. You’re paying for the exclusive right to use the number.
As far as the timeline to get started goes, dedicated short codes take 6-8 weeks to be approved by the governing body and various telecom carriers.
If you decide to lease a short code, you can choose between two types of short codes: vanity short codes that you can customize and random short codes that you can’t. Which one you choose depends on your business’ needs.
This is a number that you choose for its specific look (as long as it’s available). For example, a dance studio may choose the code 32623, which spells out DANCE.
These short codes start at $1,500/month.
Random short codes are the same as vanity codes, except that the number is randomly generated and costs less to lease. These start at $1,000/month.
Random or vanity, 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’re here for you every step of the way.
Signing up for messages from a short code is easy ー all your customers need to do is text you the keyword you give them or complete a web form.
Let’s take a look at an example with a keyword:
In this case, the keyword is “Burger” and the short code is “711711.”
When you set up a keyword for your business, contacts who text in the word will automatically receive your confirmation message.
If your contacts no longer want to get texts from an SMS short code, they can stop receiving messages by replying with the word STOP.
The sender will then have to stop texting them, just like when you unsubscribe from emails.
We talk a lot about keeping your texts TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) compliant. Since short codes are governed by a different set of rules, there are a few specific things you need to know about short code compliance in addition to the usual TCPA regulations.
Short codes are governed by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), and they manage the Short Code Registry, which is the database of all registered and available short codes. They’re also the agency that sets the rules for short code use.
That all might sound pretty intimidating, but there’s good news: The CTIA has a handy dandy guide to help you navigate the do’s and dont’s of short codes. That’s the CTIA Short Code Monitoring Handbook.
In this handbook, you’ll find everything you need to know about how to responsibly and legally text on a short code. Highlights include:
As mentioned, leasing a dedicated SMS short code starts at $1,000 per month (billed annually). Beyond that initial cost, you’ll have a one-time setup fee of $2,500 with both vanity and random short codes.
Basically, you’re paying for the exclusive right to use your specific short code to send and receive texts.
Short answer: yes.
Local numbers and toll-free numbers provide many of the same benefits as short codes. You can use them to send mass messages and have two-way conversations (just remember to have your local number registered or your toll-free number verified).
With one of those number types, you can start sending mass texts even if you don’t choose a short code. Whatever you decide, we’ll help you get set up with a number that has all the capabilities you need.
Businesses of all sizes and industries use short codes to reach their customers. Here are a few real-world examples you may have come across:
Short codes are not universal to every country. For example, text short codes acquired in the U.S. have a separate acquisition process from short codes in Canada.
The CSCA (Common Short Code Administration) governs short codes in the United States. In Canada, it’s the CWTA (Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association).
If you’re located outside either of these countries, you’ll work with another organization.
Dedicated short codes work best for businesses that want to keep in close contact with their customers as they scale.
Check out some of the industries that use them:
|Accountants & Tax Firms||Doctors & Dental Offices||E-commerce Companies||Entertainment Venues|
|Nonprofits||Political Campaigns||Real Estate||Religious Organizations|
|Restaurants||Retail||Schools||Spas & Salons|
Short codes have a lot of attractive potential for businesses.
They’re easy to remember and can be customized for your brand. You can use them for large campaigns or individual conversations, and they are ideal for keyword setup.
Getting started with a short code might initially seem more complicated than the other number types you could choose from.
Don’t worry, though. The SimpleTexting platform, along with our support team, makes the whole process smooth and easy.
Step oneーgive SimpleTexting a free 14-day test drive.
Alfredo leads the marketing team at SimpleTexting. In addition to writing about SMS, he also talks about it—literally. Our how-to videos are narrated by him.More Posts from Alfredo Salked
Abbreviations, acronyms and slang are common place in SMS messages, even those sent out by businesses. Use this quick guide to decide when and how to use SMS abbreviations.Read
You might be familiar with the idea of read receipts when texting friends or family. Gain the same insight into your SMS campaigns using an SMS delivery report. Here’s how SMS delivery reports work and what you can do to improve SMS delivery rates.Read
Start a text marketing campaign or have a 1-on-1 conversation today. It's risk free. Sign up for a free 14-day trial today to see SimpleTexting in action.
No credit card required