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SMS Long Code Vs. Short Code Marketing: What's Better?

Jun 28, 2021

Has your business decided to start using SMS or MMS marketing? Studies show that the average text message open rate is 98%, ensuring a solid return on your marketing investment. 

If you’re just getting started with text marketing, you may be wondering about the merits of SMS long code vs. short code. Since this article was first published, there have been significant changes in the long code vs. short code debate. Whereas the decision used to be between shared short code, dedicated short code and long code SMS, the option to choose shared short code SMS has been eliminated in favor of 10DLC (10-digit long code).

Today we’ll talk about what this means and what method is right for your business. Let’s learn more about the differences between short code and long code messaging.

What Is a Short Code?

An SMS short code (also known as Common Short Code or CSC) is a 5 or 6-digit number 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. 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, communicate sales promotions, ask survey questions 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 Code Example

Types of Short Codes

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

A shared 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. Keywords separate shared short code traffic, so keywords cannot be replicated between businesses.

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 from the ruling.

A 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. You have no control over the number you receive.
  • Vanity short codes are customized numbers you can choose. You can select a “phone word,” which involves spelling a name in numbers (like 73774 for PEPSI), 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. For example, if Company A’s code is 65432, and Company B’s code is 23456, they can both use PASTA as their campaign keyword.

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. Let’s talk about the pros and cons of dedicated SMS short code marketing.

When to Use a Dedicated Short Code

Dedicated short code messaging has a wide variety of applications and is commonly used by businesses 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 memorize, garnering higher response rates.
  • 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.

What Is an SMS Long Code?

An SMS long code is a 10-digit phone number used to send SMS messages. Unlike short codes, long codes can also be used to make and receive calls. 

SMS Long Code Example

Types of Long Codes

There are four types of long code SMS: 

  • P2P (Person-to-Person)

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

Long Code Vs. Short Code: Still Deciding?

Does your business thrive on bulk text campaigns, or is two-way customer communication more important? Choosing the right SMS option for your business can make or break your text marketing campaigns. 

If you need a hand deciding on the right SMS code method, Textedly is here to help. We provide robust text message marketing services for every size organization that are easy to set up. 

Textedly offers dedicated short code, 10DLC and toll-free texting to suit your business needs. See why Textedly is the easiest way to instantly send 10 or 100,000 bulk SMS and MMS mobile text messages.

Start your free trial today!

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