Choosing your SMS code (phone number) correctly is an essential part of your SMS messaging campaign. To do so, consider these three main factors:
- projected send volume
- desired throughput
- the budget
In simplest terms, decide the maximum audience size you want to impact with an SMS Campaign to match the best code type.
This article explains the differences between the types of SMS codes available in the U.S.
A short code is a special 5-to-6 digit telephone number designed for two-way SMS customer communication. There are two main types of short codes: shared and dedicated.
Short codes are registered with wireless carriers. They provide high technical capabilities, including a fast message throughput (the number of messages sent per second), and are not subject to carrier filtering. These features make them perfect for sending high-volume or time-sensitive messages.
Shared short code
In this scenario, multiple brands share the same short code. The way to determine which message goes to which brand is through keywords – a specific word or phrase. Each business using a shared short code is assigned a different keyword to make sure the right messages reach the right customers. To opt in to an SMS campaign and interact with messages sent using a shared short code, the recipients need to include a keyword in their message. The businesses using the same short code share the lease together.
Dedicated short code
A dedicated short code is unique to only one business while a shared short code can be used by many businesses. They offer many advantages:
- You can get creative with your SMS mobile keyword – the choice is not limited by other brands using the same code.
- They help you stay consistent in your communications. In case you want to migrate your SMS service, you can do it without changing the mobile number and avoid confusion among customers.
- They can become a vital part of brand recognition and security, just like a company URL.
- When you use a dedicated short code for your SMS campaigns, a customer is unlikely to opt out of your programs unintentionally.
- You are in full disposal of the code throughput.
Vanity short codes
If you want to customize your SMS communications further, you can order a vanity short code, which is a number of your choice. Vanity codes make sense when there’s a 5 or 6-digit number that resonates with your brand in some way. You can make it easier to remember for your customers. A non-vanity short code is randomized.
Dedicated or shared short code?
According to the 2021 regulations, shared short codes are being discontinued. None of the major carriers are approving new shared short codes.
Timelines are not definitive when it comes to banning existing shared short codes. In case any significant compliance issues occur on a shared short code, it will be immediately suspended or terminated, depending on the carrier policy.
In preparation for this change, we have made our text messaging options more robust. You have the following options to choose from:
- Continue using your current SSC until the end of contract, as long as the code isn’t suspended or terminated by the carrier.
- Switch to a dedicated short code.
- Set up a 10DLC number, which provide a middle ground between DSC and TFN in terms of throughput and cost.
Though short codes both send and receive messages, the reality is that short code SMS is routed through a different infrastructure than toll-free SMS. As a result, the deliverability of these two forms of communication can differ widely.
When deciding between a short code and toll-free SMS, the important thing to keep in mind is that they rely on separate sets of infrastructure and spam filters. A responsible communications provider should have a series of checks and balances built into its contract process to ensure that the toll-free SMS channel remains spam-free.
Toll free numbers (TFN)
A toll-free number is a 10-digit number that begins with one of the following area codes: 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, or 833. This type of number supports one-way and two-way messages. Because of their low throughput, toll-free numbers work best in person to-person communication and transactional messaging, such as customer support or sales, with both the sender and the recipient having a conversation via text. Common use cases to use with toll-free numbers include internal alerts, following up on a customer service call.
10-digit long code (10DLC)
10DLC numbers are local 10-digit phone numbers (example: 402-230-3000) that can support a high volume of text messages. They must be registered exclusively to your business. They offer a variety of mass SMS features with the most affordable cost. Long codes have existed for a long time, but they were typically reserved for what is known as person-to-person messaging, not intended for an application to send. Now you can incorporate them in your marketing tactics with Acoustic Campaign.
What you need to know about 10DLCs:
- They are dedicated numbers registered to only one business at a time. This will make SMS marketing even more of an effective anti-spam channel.
- They offer better deliverability than toll-free numbers because they are sanctioned by mobile carriers and therefore are not subject to the same strict filtering.
- The number of codes you will need depends on the throughput (messages per second) you are trying to achieve and "localization" strategy. You might want to have different codes for customers located across different area codes.
- After registering a brand, you need to register a campaign. Campaigns can be for a declared use case (meaning you have chosen a specific non-marketing use case), for a marketing use case, or mixed (a combination of multiple use cases).
- 10DLCs are relatively new, so carriers are in the process of developing their throughput guidelines. Currently, it varies from carrier to carrier. T-Mobile determines throughput by setting a daily messaging limit for each brand while AT&T and Verizon sets a messages per second limit. Minor carriers determine the throughput based on the throughput you receive from major carriers, limited to 30 MPS.
- They require carrier vetting and registration by The Campaign Registry. Upon registration, this entity uses an algorithm to assign a trust score to each business. Your trust score, combined with your campaign type, will determine your messaging throughput allocated to the campaign.
- You should consider the same compliance regulations that apply to short codes (consent, opt-out, content).
Common use cases to use with 10DLC numbers include account notifications, customer care, delivery notifications, marketing, public service announcements.