Short Code vs Long Code

There are two ways businesses looking to utilize a text message marketing plan can send an SMS message via mobile device to a single or group of recipients.

This can be done via short code or long code. Depending on the type of message sent, and the reason for sending the message, it can change which type of code is used. Keep reading to learn more about the differences between short codes and long codes. Depending on your need for sending text messages to your customers, can determine which code you may need for your text marketing plan – or you might find both to be useful business tools.

What is a Short Code?

When businesses use SMS messages to contact their customers for any reasons, there are very strict federal regulations set forty in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) – these regulations monitor how those messages are sent and how they are used. Just about anyone with a mobile phone has likely been the recipient of some kind of SMS message from a business before. Some businesses use SMS messages as a marketing tool. Other businesses might also use SMS messages to contact customers about bills owed, upcoming appointment reminders, to send verification codes, or to get feedback on a product or service. Because SMS messages can be different in both subject and intent, the businesses have to use certain types of codes for certain messages. If a violation occurs in how a business contacts a customer, a hefty fine of upwards of $1,500 may be imposed per message, per federal regulations.

With a short code, these are the popular types of codes used with SMS marketing campaigns, you may have found a business offering their customers discounts or some other type of deal, for opting in to receive text messages from them. In order to follow federal regulations, the SMS subscriber must use a short code to opt-in for future messages, basically granting the business permission to send them messages.

For example, a short code (CSC – Common Short Code) could be the numbers 21000. This is a way numbers can coordinate with a word like PIZZA to help with marketing purposes. A pizza restaurant could encourage customers to text a specially-chosen keyword to send in via web form or by text message to that short code in order to receive a discount on their meal or free food/drinks to go with their order. From that point, the customer has granted the business permission to send them SMS messages with the intent of being used for marketing.

The reason regulations are so important to follow when it comes to SMS marketing is because it must be a mutually beneficial communication arrangement between the business and customer. The business gets the exposure and the marketing, but the customer also benefits from offers of free products or prime discounts. It’s a effective way to ensure both parties get something out of the text relationship.

What is a Long Code?

Unlike short codes, long codes cannot be used for the same purposes by businesses per those strict federal regulations. Long codes (LVN – Long Virtual Number) are typically a 10-digit phone number businesses can use to contact customers with the intent of providing person-to-person communication. This means there is a single recipient. It’s different than a short code in the way that it cannot be used to communicate mass messages to a list of mobile subscribers. Short codes are the only federally approved method of send bulk SMS messages.

A long code is often used by customer support personnel to chat with customers needing assistance on products or services offered by the company. Another example would be delivery companies notifying customers that their product is on its way. While it cannot be used for marketing purposes, long codes do have an effective use as a tool for businesses needing to communicate with their customers.

Short Code vs. Long Code

Short Codes takes upwards of 30 seconds to send, if sending to a large number of contacts, while Long Codes only take a second since they are singular in nature.
Both Shared Short Codes and Long Codes can be set up within moments if using an established SMS provider. See the differences in a shared short code vs dedicated short code here.
Short Codes are used for sending high-volume messages while Long Codes are single person-to-person messages. Short Codes can also be used to send individual messages to opt-in subscribers.

A reported 98 percent of all sent text messages are opened each day, which is why text message marketing can be so successful at providing customers with immediate information, discounts, deals and more for businesses. This is why so many businesses opt to use a portion of their marketing budget to ensure they are utilizing this effective method of communication to customers. It just needs to be set to the needs of the business and how they would like to communicate with customers and for what purpose.