Many businesses are trying to figure out how to improve their social engagement through various channels, but none of them are as convenient as a text message. Just think about it, reaching out to your consumers where they communicate the most will command a much higher response rate than any other approach such as in-app notifications, pop-ups, or email. Also, SMS text messages have an amazingly high 98% open rate, according to Salesforce’s research. When it comes down to planning an SMS marketing campaign one of the primary decisions an organization needs to make revolves around the selection of an inbound number. The Inbound number should be, either in the form of an SMS Short Code or SMS Long Code. This makes it easy for your customers to share feedback, ask questions and use these numbers for a variety of other use cases. These virtual inbound numbers- long codes and short codes, act as the organization’s Sender ID (the from address) and form the backbone of any texting or SMS marketing strategy.

In this article, we will cover what is SMS Short Code and SMS Long Code, and when you should use each one of them.

SMS Short Code vs SMS Long Code

What is SMS Short Code?

Short codes (also called short numbers, Common Short Code, or CSC) s a 5 or 6-digit numbers used to send SMS or MMS text marketing campaigns to mobile phones. Short code messaging is ideal for one-way, non-personal communication and mass texting. 

SMS Short Code number is also a highly brand-driven and non-personalized communication. They are generally used by bulk messaging companies primarily for pushing out promotions and the latest offers or high-volume messaging replies.

There are two ways to use short code marketing:

1. Sending messages originated by the business and sent to the consumer.

If a customer has opted in to receive texts from your business, you can use short code numbers to send bulk messages, promotions, and more.

2. Sending messages originated by the consumer and sent to the business.

Some marketing campaigns on the internet, radio, or other media ask consumers to text a keyword to a code number (example: “text WINNER to 12345”) to request information, vote, or opt-in to SMS marketing communications.

SMS Short Codes types

There are two types of short codes: shared and dedicated. 

A shared SMS short code is a number that can be used by multiple businesses simultaneously, primarily to save on marketing costs. While short codes can be shared, keywords cannot.

Shared short codes were eliminated in 2021 by mobile carriers in the United States due to concerns about spam and phishing. While there are exceptions to the shared short code ban, they are rare. Therefore, if you wish to continue using a shared short code, your business will have to prove why your use case should be exempted.

dedicated short code is a number that only one business can use. There are two types of dedicated short codes: random codes and vanity codes. 

  • Random short codes are randomly generated, like a license plate.
  • Vanity short codes are customized numbers you can choose. You can select a “phone word,” which involves spelling a name in numbers this means that you can have your brand name displayed as a from address, or opt for an easy-to-remember combination, like 800800 or 54321. Large companies commonly use vanity short codes for their unique branding abilities.

The most significant advantage of using dedicated short codes is that there are no limitations on keywords. So even if another company uses the keyword you want, you can still use it if you have a dedicated short code.

You can segment marketing campaigns with dedicated short codes to customize what messages your customers receive. In addition, dedicated short codes provide faster message processing and greater detail reporting than shared short codes.

Dedicated Short Code application

You can use a dedicated short code for:

Advantages of Dedicated Short Codes

  • They’re memorable. Since they are shorter than phone numbers, dedicated short codes (especially vanity codes) are easier for customers to remember.
  • They’re spam-resistant. Texts from 5 or 6-digit numbers are less likely to be flagged as spam since wireless carriers pre-approve their content during the code’s set-up phase.  

Disadvantages of Dedicated Short Codes

  • They are highly regulated and state-specific. Each state has regulations managing 5 and 6-digit numbers.
  • They take time to set up, usually two to three weeks.
  • They’re expensive. Dedicated short code costs vary from $750 to $1500 per month, depending on which type you want. Note: Qualified non-profit organizations can receive a discount on short code prices.
SMS Short Code vs SMS Long Code

What is SMS Long Code?

Long Code numbers, also known as Virtual Mobile Numbers (VMN), are a 10-digit standard-length, typically used by conversational text marketing companies, like ValueText, to create a 2-way communications channel between the business and the customers.

A major difference between long code and short code numbers is their inbound-to-outbound text ratio. According to mobile network regulations, it should be better than 1:3 for long codes. If a large number of promotions go out to the same recipient from a long code number, chances are, the number will get blocked by the carrier. This offers some peace of mind for your customers, especially in the case of brand communications, that you are not misusing this channel for spam or unrequested promotions.

SMS Long Codes types

There are four types of SMS Long Code: 

  • Toll-free texting
  • P2P (Person to Person)
  • A2P 10DLC (10-digit long code)
  • A2P (Application to person)

Toll-Free Texting: While P2P long codes can incur text charges for your customers, toll-free texting does not. For customer convenience and flexibility in your marketing campaigns, you can use toll-free texting for SMS and MMS messaging.

P2P Long Code: P2P long codes are 10-digit phone numbers you can use for one-on-one conversations and texts with your customers. Like personal texting, businesses send person-to-person communications between individual cell phones or other mobile devices. However, P2P is the least efficient method of business texting, as it cannot be automated.

A2P 10DLC: 10DLC is the new kid on the SMS block, replacing shared short codes and offering two-way SMS and MMS messaging from a local number. Unlike traditional 10-digit phone numbers, you can use 10DLC numbers to send high volumes of text messages for marketing campaigns and other communications. 

Adopting 10DLC SMS technology solves several problems caused by shared short code marketing. 10DLC offers improved deliverability and protection from phishing and spam, which boosts consumer experience and trust.

A2P Long Code: A2P long codes are also 10-digit phone numbers used to send one-way mass marketing messages. Customers are not expected to reply to A2P messages. They work similarly to dedicated short codes but at a fraction of the cost.  

When to Use Long Code SMS

Long codes are well suited for two-way interpersonal communication, like phone calls and standard texts. Service businesses have traditionally used ten-digit numbers for communicating rather than marketing campaigns, but 10DLC has changed all of that. Some common uses for traditional long code SMS include:

Let’s talk about the specific advantages of 10DLC numbers.

Advantages of 10DLC

  • Higher message volume – 10DLC sends bulk messages faster than traditional 10-digit long codes.
  • Easy to set up – an existing landline can be converted to 10DLC quickly and easily.
  • Cost-effective – 10DLC numbers are less expensive than dedicated short codes. Since dedicated short codes are considered a premium service, they cost more than either A2P or P2P long codes.
  • Offer multi-use capabilities – you can use one number to send SMS and MMS messages, make and receive calls and send faxes, creating consistency across all your communication channels.
  • Better campaign tracking – 10DLC offers the campaign exclusivity of dedicated short codes.
  • Provide a human touch – ten-digit numbers look like they come from real people, not autodialers or bots, forging a better personal experience.  
  • Offer two-way text communication –  improve customer service and build your brand.
  • Voice-enabled – text and talk capabilities give customers a choice in how they communicate with you.
  • Consistency – whether you talk or text, customers come to recognize your number for all of their needs.

Which one should you go for SMS Short Code or SMS Long Code?

If a business is looking for a cheap, easy way to send and receive messages, mainly for support or conversational use and not for bulk messaging, with a low level of security- then it should choose long codes. However, if you are looking to send SMSs mainly for marketing campaigns and are willing to invest in a slightly expensive but robust, long-term SMS strategy, then short codes are for you.

With ValueText you can do a 14-day Free Trail, so you can test all of your use cases, and makes sure that this is what you are looking for.

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