What is an SMS Short Code and Who Should Use It?

SMS short code example

What is an SMS Short Code?

SMS short code is a 5-6 digit phone number, specifically designed for companies to send mass text messages to their customers.

Businesses, governments, charities, brands, etc. use short codes for marketing communications, large one-to-many mobile messaging campaigns and/or to allow mobile users to text a keyword to opt-in for text alerts. 

Short Codes are designed to be easily read and remembered instead of long numbers. This helps to increase response rates.

If you’re looking for more info on long numbers (codes), we did a post comparing SMS short codes to long codes.

If you’re a retailer, you would have customers text “SAVE” to 70707 to receive text alerts. Easy.

There are 3 different types of Short Codes

Shared short codes

This is a 5-6 digit phone number that multiple companies can lease to leverage short code functionality in their business.

A dedicated short code (see below) can cost around $1,000 to procure, plus a set up fee and a monthly carrying fee as well. The cost can be too expensive for smaller brands, so they would opt for a shared short code.

However, in Canada particularly, carriers recently have been restricting or stopping the use of shared short code programs.

Dedicated short code

Random 5-6 digit phone number that is owned and operated by one company.

If you’re looking for maximum scalability, the dedicated short code is the way to go.

Don’t be confused, one brand can use 1 single dedicated short code across multiple store locations.

Vanity short code

A vanity short code is a 5-6 digit number you can choose or customize, providing the number you want is not already secured by another company.

You can choose the numbers in the code so they’re easier to remember or have a relevance to your company.

For example, a Pizza chain could use the short code PIZZA (74992) for all of their store locations’ SMS communications.

Larger companies see this as an important brand asset as it’s very easy for customers or users to remember and share, plus give you a competitive edge if there’s only one relevant industry vanity short code available.

How can Short Codes be used?

SMS Short Codes can be used as a direct response channel for television, radio, print advertising, outdoor advertising like billboards and in-store signage.

Short codes can be used as a customer relations marketing tool. They are an excellent mechanism to register for promotions, links to downloads, request a call-back, or donate to charities.

Short codes are also great tools for mass SMS (text) message marketing campaigns, giving you the ability to send high volumes of messages (millions) in a short period of time.

Who should use SMS short codes?

There are a lot of reasons why so many companies choose to use short codes. It can handle impressive amounts of SMS messages – hundreds per second, which is vital for large businesses needing to send time-sensitive offers or messages.

Short codes should be used by organizations that can afford the monthly fee and send high volumes of messages monthly. Short codes are more expensive than long codes and have to be approved by carriers.

If you’re a small business, Toll Free numbers or Long Codes are right for you!

SMS Short Code directories

Want to know which businesses or organizations are using which short code? Check out these handy directories:

Canadian Directory (txt.ca)

USA Directory

In Canada, you can also find preferred messaging partners as outlined by the CWTA. Raange can be found under the Application Service Provider, which is a fancy way of saying a marketing platform.

In Conclusion

Short codes are considered the premier form of mass text messaging and are preferred messaging channel for medium and large businesses.

SMS marketing has proven to be among the most efficient channels for higher customer engagement, and both long codes and short codes are its essential components. Short codes are an excellent way for large businesses to stay in touch with their customers and establish a meaningful relationship.

Fortunately, Raange offers shared short codes to remove the time required for approval by carriers, and substantially reduce the cost of using one.

If you have any questions whatsoever, our team is here to help so please feel free to reach out anytime.

Comments are closed.