SMS Short vs. Long Codes: What’s the Difference?

SMS Short vs. Long Codes: What's the Difference?

Although text messaging is the most effective marketing channel with open rates of about 98%, it can also be quite confusing. There are many different ways to send messages, and it’s hard to keep up with the newest developments in the space. 

It seems like just when you think you have a handle on what works, they change things around again! That being said, one thing has remained pretty consistent over time: SMS Short Codes vs. Long Codes. This blog post will explain the difference between these two types of codes and help you decide which one is best for your business or campaign.

What Is A Long Code?

Long codes are a type of phone number that typically has more than six digits. Long codes can also be called trunk, long-distance access numbers, or WATS lines. These phone numbers usually start with an area code and then contain seven to ten numerals in total, including the first three for the area code, although this is not always the case. This means that if someone were looking up your company’s number on any website, they would only see “XXX XXX” without knowing which carrier you use – whether it is Verizon Wireless or Boost Mobile. 

With traditional SMS shortcodes (five digits), anyone who wanted to send you a text message would have no problem finding out what network your number was on because all five digits would be revealed in the sender’s phone.

Types of Long Codes

There are four types of long code SMS:

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, this is the least efficient method of business texting because you cannot automate it.

Toll-Free Texting: Toll-free texting is a great way to bring your customers the convenience and flexibility they deserve. It’s easy for you, too: there are no text charges when using toll-free numbers, and you can use toll-free texting for both SMS and MMS messaging.

A2P Long Code: A2P is a new development in marketing and messaging that replaces one-way messages to customers with 10-digit phone numbers. A2Ps work similarly to dedicated shortcodes but at a fraction of the cost, allowing companies more flexibility for mass message distribution while keeping costs low enough, so customer replies aren’t expected.

A2P 10DLC: 10DLC is the new kid on the block. By replacing shared shortcodes, 10DLc offers two-way SMS/MMS from a local number and is perfect for sending high volumes of text messages to market your business or campaign with ease.

10DLC is the best solution to replace shared short code marketing. Using 10DLC SMS technology has several benefits, including improved deliverability and protection from phishing, spamming, and other threats that cause consumers to be displeased with the businesses they interact with. The increased security of this service will make customers more comfortable, leading to a better experience all around.

How Can You Use Long Code SMS?

Long code SMS is a versatile solution that businesses of all sizes can utilize. Some ways it could help you are;

  • meaningful two-way communication,
  • gathering customer information,
  • providing relevant content to your customers and clients
  • providing reminders for appointments or alert notifications about banking alerts on their account.

Benefits of Long Code SMS

Cost-effective: With long code SMS, users are charged standard rates for the service. It also has a better chance of going through due to its higher power signal than other messages, resulting in increased ROI.

Provide a human touch: Long code SMS has a human touch that you cannot find in other methods of communication. They are ten-digit numbers that make them appear as if they come from real people and not bots or autodialers, forging the best possible experience for your customers.

Minimal setup time: Long code texts benefit from minimal setup time, which can take as little as a few hours to get up and run.

Dedicated number: With a private phone number for your brand, you can ensure that all messages are coming from the right place.

Two-way SMS: Long code SMS is the best option for a personalized experience. With two-way messaging, you get to build relationships with your audience through seamless conversations that are just like talking face-to-face.

It’s also important to note that long code SMS is beneficial for businesses, but it can also help their customers. For instance, when there are signs of a natural disaster or emergency in the city and power goes out, people could receive alerts from local authorities through text messages on their mobile phones.

What Is A Short Code?

An SMS Short Code (also known as Common Short Code) is a five-digit number used to send text/MMS advertising campaigns straight from cell phones. It’s ideal when looking for non-personal communication options and mass texting efforts geared explicitly towards mobile users.

The Short Code system was first introduced in the 1980s and is used by businesses, politicians, non-profits, radio stations, and celebrities alike to get their messages across as quickly as possible without taking up space on a recipient’s voicemail inbox.

There are two ways to use shortcode marketing:

The first is when the consumer sends a message originated by them and sent back to the business. Some campaigns on websites or other media ask consumers to text in keywords like “text WINNER” so they can get information, vote for something, or opt-in to SMS messages from that company’s future marketing efforts.

The second way to use shortcode marketing is by sending messages originating from the business itself and sent directly to its customers. If a customer has opted in for texts from your business, you can communicate sales promotions or ask survey questions through bulk messaging.

Types of Short Codes

There are two types of shortcodes: Shared and Dedicated. Many people choose to go with one or the other depending on what they need it for, whether personal messages between friends versus professional texts from work colleagues.

Shared Short Codes: A shared shortcode is a number that multiple people can use. This limits what words or phrases other users of the same shortcode can use because someone else might have already used them. For instance, if someone created keywords like “DEALS” or “OFFER,” then no one else would have been able to create those keywords for themselves too.

Dedicated Short Codes: A dedicated shortcode is a custom-made number that one person can only use. Dedicated codes have the option to choose any keyword you want, which removes limits like how many keywords you can use per text message or email. Due to these features and their higher price point, it usually takes longer to become active than standard numbers.

How Can You Use Short Code SMS?

  • Alerts (emergencies, security notifications, traffic and weather updates, etc.)
  • Promotions (coupons, sales, text to win, etc.)
  • Text blasts and bulk SMS messaging
  • Political messaging
  • Mobile voting and polls
  • Customer loyalty programs
  • Advertising
  • Two-factor authentication (2FA)
  • Payment reminders
  • Charity donations

Benefits of Short Code SMS

Memorable: Short Code SMS text messages are memorable because they’re shorter than phone numbers. Dedicated short codes are easier to memorize, and they garner higher response rates from customers.

Better brand recognition: Your personalized contact display name or number will ensure the recipients identify who’s messaging and where the message is coming from.

Two-way SMS: Shortcode supports keywords, triggers, and replies recipients.

More functionality: You can do things with dedicated text messages that shared ones cannot, like running competitions for subscribers.

High volume: Businesses can use shortcode SMS to send a high volume of messages without the risk that they’ll be flagged as spam because each message is sent with an individual account registered on the Short Code registry.

Freedom to choose your keywords: When you have a dedicated short code, the sky is your limit when it comes to creativity. You can use any keyword that suits what you’re looking for to drive marketing campaigns without being limited by other people using similar keywords.

Decisions, Decisions

We hope this guide has helped you understand the difference between a long code and a short code. Long codes can be used for all sorts of purposes, from marketing to customer service. Shortcodes are great for branding purposes or as an alternative number for your business while keeping your number private. 

Remember that both types of numbers have their advantages – so if you find yourself using one type more than the other, don’t feel like it’s wrong. Contact us with any questions about which option is best suited to meet your needs.


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