SMS Short Code: Advanced Guide

Jun 04, 2019
SMS Short Code

Have you ever got an SMS with a code of four to six digits to your phone? If you have been using mobile devices at least for the last decade, chances are that you are quite familiar with these codes. As soon as businesses realised the potential of smartphones, in particular text messaging, as an easy and far-reaching marketing tool, SMS short code became an indispensable part of text message marketing strategy.

Currently, SMS short codes are broadly used by various types of businesses to send high-volume messages, raise brand awareness and reach customers faster than ever. Since this code contains only 4-6 digits, it is easier for customers to remember them, engage and take actions immediately.

SMS Short Code Definition

SMS short codes are a combination of digits, shorter than telephone numbers, that marketers use in their multimedia and short messaging service campaigns. The number of digits in an SMS vary from country to country.

Short SMS codes are mainly embedded in promotional materials, such as TV ads, printed media, billboards, etc. The short-digit messages are also used for value-added services like charity donations, television contest voting, ordering services, confirmation of services, two-factor authentication and so on. Short code ideally fit bulk marketing SMS campaigns.

The key benefits of SMS short codes for companies include:

  • Due to the shortness of the embedded digits, it is more likely to be read and remembered by customers.
  • It enables customers to opt in or opt out of receiving further text messages on the service or product.
  • It has global coverage. SMS short codes can be sent to a large number of people from anywhere in the world within seconds.

Customers interact with your codes by responding with a keyword. It’s up to the businesses to determine which keywords to use for each specific case. For instance, if a customer sends “Stop” or “End” keywords back to your SMS, it means they want to opt out of the marketing campaign. It is wise to send back a message that confirms the unsubscription has been completed.

Basically, there are two types of SMS short codes: dedicated short code and shared short code. The former is owned and used by one single company or organisation only. The latter is owned by the SMS software provider, who shares the codes between different companies and organisations.

SMS short codes are also classified between vanity short codes and non-vanity short codes. Vanity codes are specifically chosen by a company or an organisation, instead of being selected by the Common Short Code Administration (CSCA) at random. On the contrary, non-vanity codes are randomly generated by CSCA, rather than being chosen by a specific company or organisation.

SMS Short Code Lookup

As you may have already guessed, almost all of the leading companies worldwide have their dedicated SMS codes that are a unique sequence of digits used to communicate with their customers. Accordingly, there are directories that offer a list of short codes to over thousands of companies online. The database is public and people can search through a specific company’s short code, view the code owner’s information or get their own code.

Here, we went through the SMS short code databases and picked out the dedicated codes used by the most renowned companies and brands over the globe. This is how it looks:

  • Facebook is a social media behemoth that uses the 32665 code to engage with its users. This is a dedicated one registered with the Common Short Code Administration.
  • The number one search engine Google is identified with the 23333 by Common Short Code Administration. If you want to know more on Google’s short code, send the keyword “Help” to 23333.
  • The 262966 non-vanity short code belongs to the e-commerce giant Amazon. The multi-billion-dollar online retailer uses its dedicated short code for sending retail coupons and promotions to customers who have opted in.
  • If you want to get text message coupons from the global restaurant franchise Pizza Hut, know that their short code is 69488.

How to Get SMS Short Codes

Once you make up your mind on starting an SMS marketing campaign, you should consider getting short code. There are two ways to do that: going through the whole process on your own or leaving it to an SMS provider.

If you choose to carry out the process yourself, here are the three basic steps you will have to take:

  1. Lease Short Code. Includes leasing a vanity or non-vanity SMS codes from Common Short Code Administration and making relevant payments.
  2. Submit a Short Code Application. Once the code is yours, you will have to submit an application, which is a lengthy document that requires a lot of attention to detail. This is the most crucial part because if anything goes wrong, the short code application will be denied and you will have to re-submit a new application.
  3. Short Code Provisioning. If you succeeded the code application process, unfortunately you are not allowed to send and receive SMS messages yet. You have to go through another the last, but rather complicated process, that is code provisioning.

To skip all the roadblocks on the way of getting SMS short codes, and save time and effort, a lot of brands nowadays opt for the second option: trusting the process to a reliable SMS provider. The experienced provider is well aware of the process, knows how to create and set up SMS short code professionally, and what’s more, does not charge much for their service.

SMS Short Code Cost

Short code is an affordable component of a bulk SMS strategy that is proved to provide sky-high effectiveness. The cost of SMS short code depends on whether it is dedicated or shared, as well as if it is vanity or non-vanity.

While, a dedicated, non-vanity code may cost you $500 monthly. The shared codes come at cheaper prices. It can cost anywhere from $50-$100 a month, depending on the number of keywords and messages sent.

SMS Short Code API

Plug into the API of a reliable SMS short code API platform and send or receive SMS messages seamlessly with your code in the sender ID.

The basic features to look for in an API platform are:

  • Seamless integrations,
  • Intuitive dashboard,
  • SMS template availability,
  • Scheduled texts possibility,
  • Real-time analytics.

SMS Short Code Marketing

As mentioned above, SMS codes are indispensable components of a mobile bulk SMS strategy. Many world-leading brands and companies have successfully integrated short code into their marketing strategies. If you want to make the most of SMS codes and let it work for the growth of your business, here are some sure-fire ways of using SMS marketing to your advantage:

Boosting lead generation

SMS short codes are the favoured method of marketers to encourage customers to send an SMS to the code and get a quote or coupon.

Increasing ROI

Statistics reveal that the potential return on investment associated with marketing through short codes is significantly higher than most other marketing types.

Branding your business

If you choose dedicated codes, you will be the only company to use it and the code will be associated with your brand only. The dedicated one will add recognition and consistency to your brand.

SMS short codes are a reliable and time-tested way to engage with your customers easily, establish your brand’s voice, grow your business.

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