<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://q.quora.com/_/ad/3ba228b818d84df89534851d45d08489/pixel?tag=ViewContent&amp;noscript=1">

SMS Long Code vs Short Code Marketing: The Big Decision

Dec 12, 2019

Did you know that over 50% of website traffic comes from mobile devices?  Here’s another amazing fact: statistics have shown that text messages have an incredible open rate of 98%! With these facts in mind, you might want to consider utilizing SMS marketing to leverage more sales and increase conversion for your business. However, if you are only getting started with text marketing, you will have to make an important decision eventually. Before designing the campaign, the messages, special offers, you need to decide whether you’ll be using short code or long code text. 

If you’re still unsure, that’s understandable. Before you decide, here’s all you need to know about Long code vs short code text messaging. We’re here to help you make an informed decision about your next SMS marketing campaign!


 What is an SMS Short Code?

 A short code is a conveniently easy-to-remember 5 or 6-digit number for sending SMS or MMS marketing campaign. Users text a keyword to these numbers to automatically opt-in to a business’s database.


short code


 When to Use a Short Code

Short code SMS marketing is ideal for one-way, non-personal communication and mass texting. They are most often used by companies for the following:

  • Bulk Messaging
  • Promotions (ads, coupons, information about sales, etc)
  • Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
  • Billing Information Confirmations
  • Alert notifications (security notifications, traffic and weather updates, etc.)
  • Mobile Voting & Polls

Types of Short Codes

Short codes can be of two types: dedicated and shared. Both operate very similarly, but there are some differences you should be aware of.

Shared Short Codes

A shared short code is a number that can be used by multiple businesses simultaneously. There is a limitation to keywords when using a shared short code. This can be the case if the keyword you wish to use is already claimed by another company you’re sharing the short code with.

Despite the limitation, many companies share short codes due to the following reasons:

It’s more affordable than dedicated short codes, because the company only pays for the messages it sends, without a one-time setup fee.

It’s faster and way easier to set up (normally, only minutes), unlike dedicated short codes, which may take a couple of weeks.

Dedicated Short Code

A dedicated short code, on the other hand, is a number that only one business can use. You have the option to either select a custom code for your organization or get one randomly generated, like a license plate.

The main reasons why companies may choose a dedicated short code are:

  • No limitation on keywords. Since the code is only used by one company, the choice for keywords is open. Even if another company is using a specific keyword, it can still be used if you have a dedicated short code.
  • More control over the brand image. You customize the messages for your customers, unlike shared short codes, and know exactly what texts they are receiving form your number.
  • Higher functionality. Dedicated short code gives more functionality allowing to do things which shared short codes can't do, for example, a text-to-win campaign for customers.

Advantages of Short Codes

 Both dedicated and shared short codes have certain advantages, which you might want to take into consideration, when making a decision about the code of your SMS marketing campaign. Here are some of them:

  • Short codes have a higher delivery speed. This ensures fast and direct delivery to your intended recipients.
  • Short codes are memorable. Naturally, since these numbers are shorter, they are easier to memorize for your customers.
  • Short codes are ideal for high volume or bulk SMS marketing, since it is less likely that a text will be flagged as spam, because the SMS comes from an account registered with a 5 or 6-digit number.

Disadvantages of Short Codes

Despite the advantages, short codes come with some drawbacks you should be aware of.

  • Short codes are more highly-regulated and state-specific. Each state has its own regulations around 5-6-digit numbers.
  • Short codes can only be sent to those people who have directly opted-in to receive text messages.
  • Since short codes are considered a premium service, they cost more than long codes and virtual numbers.

What is an SMS Long Code?

A long code, unlike short code, is a standard, 10-digit number, and can be used to send SMS. Unlike short codes, these numbers can also be used to make and receive calls. 


long codei


When to Use a Long Code SMS

 Long codes are better suited for inter-personal or more personalized multiple-way communication. 10-digit numbers are mostly used by companies in the service sector for purposes related more to service related communication than mass marketing. Some good uses for long codes are:

  •  Gathering information about customers
  •  Sending delivery, tracking updates
  •  Sending alert notifications (banking, airlines, etc.)
  • Sending appointment reminders
  • Providing more targeted content
  • Troubleshooting (Service/Product issues)

Types of Long Codes

 There are currently two main types of long codes: P2P (Person-to-Person) and A2P (Automated message to Person). The two types mainly differ in that P2P is intended to be as a conventional conversational two-way messaging between individuals, while as A2P is a one-way SMS to which the recipients are not expected to reply.

P2P Long Code

P2P long codes, otherwise referred to as peer-to-peer long codes, are the 10 digit numbers you can use for one-on-one conversations with your customers. These are, however, only currently available via API. As defined in CTIA best practices Person-to-Person (P2P) “generally describes the low-volume exchange of wireless messages between end users... the concept of consistent with typical human operation defines P2P traffic to distinguish P2P from A2P traffic.” Although, chat bots can also be used for communication through P2P.

A2P Long Code

A2P, also known as application-to-person long codes, are those local 10-digit phone numbers that can send mass marketing messages. These have become available in April 2019. They work very similar to dedicated short codes. Essentially you could use the features of dedicated short codes for a fraction of the cost. Therefore, A2P’s are typically used for high volume messaging between companies and individuals. For example, this type of long code texting can be used by companies to send delivery notifications, or one-way alerts and appointment reminders. As defined by CTIA best practices, “A2P traffic is all messaging that falls outside the definition of P2P (i.e., traffic that is not consistent with typical human operation).”

Advantages of Long Codes

Just like short code, long code offers a unique set of advantages of its own.

  • One of the biggest advantages of long code is that it requires very minimal setup, unlike short codes. A 10-digit number number can be up and running within a matter of hours.
  • Another advantage of long code is that the same number can be used to send SMS messages, make and receive calls, unlike 5 or 6-digit number, which is used strictly for texts.
  • Another big advantage of long codes is that they support personalized two-way communication between your business and your customers. This also gives lots of room for customization of your messages to make them relevant for targeted audiences.
  • Long code texts are also more cost-effective, since you don’t pay a setup fee like in the case of short codes.

Disadvantages of Long Codes

With all the advantages long codes also have some disadvantages to take into consideration.

  • It’s impossible to send higher volume of texts at the same time, unlike when using short codes. This is due to a relatively lower speed of text delivery (1 message per second). So, if you are sending bulk SMS using 10-digit numbers, it can take hours. Hence, long codes are less efficient than short codes for these purposes. Moreover, long codes can’t exactly be used for such purposes since, since you don’t have the option to make these messages free for the receiver, and as a result your customers can grow unhappy if they have to use their data for unwanted messages.
  • Another disadvantage of long codes it that they are harder to remember, and the probability of user error is, therefore, higher.
  • Moreover, although the maintenance fees are lower, the cost of individual SMS is higher, than in case of short codes.

Long Code vs Short Code: Still Deciding?

Now that you’re aware of the differences of short code and long code texts, and familiar with their drawbacks and what they have to offer. Depending on your business purposes, you can now make an informed decision when choosing between the two options. Choosing the right option for your business and your target audiences can make or break your SMS marketing campaign, so choose wisely!

Need a hand in setting up your SMS marketing campaign? Still unsure whether you should use short code or long code? Textedly is here to assist you with all of that. We aim to provide to provide easy-to-integrate solutions for your business. We’ll help you find the best option for your purposes and assist with the setup, all you need to do is contact us. Leave the rest to our experts!

Start Texting Your Customers for Free With Textedly