Short Codes Versus Long Codes

Short codes and long codes for SMS communication both offer certain advantages to businesses. Both types of codes may be utilized as part of an SMS marketing strategy.

Many businesses, when putting together an SMS marketing strategy, debate about whether to utilize a long code or a short code for inbound customer interactions. Both types of codes have strengths and drawbacks that companies should consider before making their choice.

Short Codes and Long Codes: What They Are

Short codes are five or six-digit codes that customers type into their mobile phones in order to initiate contact with a business. For instance, if a company is offering a consumer poll with three possible responses, each response may have its own attached short code number. Consumers will choose their response and then send a text message to the code that matches their response. The company then has their information and can, depending on customer preferences, send marketing materials to the customer via SMS. Long codes, on the other hand, are the same length as a traditional telephone number. While long codes are not as memorable for marketing purposes, they do have some advantages in terms of functionality and cost.

Short Codes: Pros and Cons

Pros: People will easily remember the short code number, particularly if the number is flashed for a few instants on television or on a screen at a large event. Because of the high response rates, these numbers may generate significant amounts of revenue.

Cons: Short codes are expensive and take a while to set up and have no voice capabilities. Also, consumers may pay premium charges for sending text messages to short codes. Short codes are also short-term; companies lease them for a short amount of time and then return them, in a sense, to the Common Short Code Administration. In addition, short codes have not always been able to process high volumes of incoming customer messages, and they cannot be used internationally. Short codes are monitored by carriers, and, if carriers do not like their content, then they can drop the short code at any time.

Long Codes: Pros and Cons

Pros: Long codes are inexpensive and easy to obtain; for example, a long code campaign can be up and running within 24 hours. Also, long codes are scalable in terms of throughput, meaning that they can handle a high messaging volume. Long codes can be used internationally and can access Google Voice and other VoIP-powered mobiles. Long codes can be exclusively assigned, which makes them ideal for long-term marketing campaigns. Customers will not have to pay premium charges when they send a text message to a long code.

Cons: Long codes are not as easy for customers to memorize. Because these numbers are not as memorable, they are generally not effective for short-term campaigns designed to generate a great deal of revenue.

Short codes are ideal for media and for voting. Short codes are also effective if a company wants to generate revenue from an advertising campaign. Long codes are better for call centers that traffic customer feedback or customer complaints. Also, long codes tend to be better for business applications, like package tracking. Companies can take advantage of both types of codes as a part of their mobile marketing strategy.