Long Codes vs. Short Codes

15 replies
You might be asking yourself "What the heck is a short code and a long code?"

In SMS marketing, you have the choice to send and receive text messages
from your customers using a short code or a long code.

A short code is a 4-6 digit number that you usually see on TV or hear
on the radio. For example, American Idol uses a 4 digit short code
(VOTE to 5702) for their viewers to vote on who they like best.
Usually used on a nation-wide basis.

A long code is a normal 10 digit phone number, just like your
business phone number. For example, I use 267-800-2494 as my
SMS number for my business. You can text the word COUPONS
to 267-800-2494 to see how it works.

But, which one should you be using for your local business?

I ran a few tests and the numbers show that local businesses
should always be using a long code when it comes to their SMS marketing.
Why? There are a few reasons:

1. When a customer sees a text from a local number, they are 42%
more likely to open it rather than a text from a short code. (physiological reasons)

2. A customer is 71% more likely to opt-in to a list when the SMS number
is a local number rather than a 4-6 digit number. Why? Because most think
when texting a short code they are being added to a mass SMS database, not
just the local business.

3. When using a long code you can have your SMS number redirected to your main
business line. So, if someone wants to contact you after they receive a text,
maybe they have a question about the special offer, they can call the SMS number.
With a short code, this is not possible and now the customer needs to research
your number if they have a question. Something they likely won't do.

4. When using a short code, you are sharing this short code with other business.
That means if just one other business is abusing the short code
and texting people who did not opt-in,this short code can
become blacklisted without you even knowing.

5. You don't own the short code and are limited to the amount of
keywords you can use. This means you can't track specific marketing
efforts when using your SMS marketing.

Now, the list above are my opinions and test on why long codes are better.
But, I'm guessing you probably agree and see why long code numbers are
the way to go for local businesses using SMS marketing.

If you have any questions about long codes and short codes, please let me know.
#codes #long #short
  • Profile picture of the author xlfutur1
    nice post on the advantages of long codes. I agree with your points, especially the fact that you can use a long code to ring the business directly. This point alone makes them much more attractive for a local business than a short code.

    Here's a tip that has worked well for my clients: when you set up the voice portion, allow the option of pressing "1" to join the SMS list, and press "2" to connect with the business directly.
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  • Very nice post, and I totally agree that a long code is much better for small businesses that short codes (they usually cost a lot more, too...)

    It would be great to hear how you are using long codes - and, in general, SMSs - as mobile marketing tools: how do you create lists of numbers? What tools do you use to manage the SMSs? And what content do you send: links to mobile landing pages? Coupon codes that they can show when purchasing at the store? Other?

    Thanks!
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    • Profile picture of the author imsolutionsgroup
      Originally Posted by Silvio Porcellana View Post

      Very nice post, and I totally agree that a long code is much better for small businesses that short codes (they usually cost a lot more, too...)

      It would be great to hear how you are using long codes - and, in general, SMSs - as mobile marketing tools: how do you create lists of numbers? What tools do you use to manage the SMSs? And what content do you send: links to mobile landing pages? Coupon codes that they can show when purchasing at the store? Other?

      Thanks!
      Hi Silvio,

      To help our clients start building their SMS database we provide them with some "table-top" flyers to place around in their store.

      This flyer needs to provide the customer with some sort of incentive to text the keyword and be added to the "VIP" list. So, we come up with a discount to offer the customer. See the image below as examples:



      We also provide the customer with a subscription box that they can place on their website, with the same incentive, this way the "potential customer" can get a coupon before they come in the store. But, more importantly, this visitor is a "HOT LEAD". So, even if they forget to come in...they are now on the SMS list so you can follow-up with them to get them in your store (Top of Mind Awareness).

      We also tell them to post their number and keyword(s) on social media sites, banners, etc. so anyone has the ability to opt-in.

      Hope that helps! If you have more questions, please let me know.
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  • Profile picture of the author DougPage
    Great post that includes some of the reasons that I went with long codes for local clients. Another key issue for local clients is that the vast majority do not understand the different technologies behind the long and short codes. They just want to know that it works. Long codes work on every phone provider that I have tested so far. Short codes only work on the big companies because of the huge costs involved with registering. I prefer to have my smaller local clients not run into the problem when a client says "I keep texting you but I never get any replies". And then you have to tell them that is doesn't work with all phone providers.

    Also, if you are a business that is close to the US-Canada border, a long code works on both sides of the border where a short code (which is regulated by each country) only works in the country where the service is hosted.
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  • Profile picture of the author BarbStep
    Great thread guys! I have been tossing the 'short code vs long code' around for a while. I have seen some new platforms coming out with some wonderful user friendly sms long code tools. I and definitely taking a much closer look at the long codes and think the benefits to small & med. businesses are huge. Thanks to all of you for the great info. It's much appreciated!
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  • Profile picture of the author TrumpiaTim
    Note a big issue that long codes will continually face is through put. Once you get a high volume customer, long codes do not have a fast enough through put to support their volume.
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    • Profile picture of the author imsolutionsgroup
      Originally Posted by TrumpiaTim View Post

      Note a big issue that long codes will continually face is through put. Once you get a high volume customer, long codes do not have a fast enough through put to support their volume.
      You can send 3,600 text messages per hour with a long code. If you have more than 3,600 numbers for your local business...that's a pretty good problem to have.

      If you do have over 3,600 contacts and it's a MUST to get them all out in 1 hour, you can always have multiple numbers. So, once your list reaches 3600 just start marketing with a new local number to build your next group of 3600.

      I don't really ever seeing this as an issue...unless you're selling a service that ONLY uses short codes
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  • Profile picture of the author RaymondB
    Thanks for elaborating this! very informative thread!!
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    Friendly advice, useful tips...
    Raymond B.

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  • Profile picture of the author TrumpiaTim
    With short codes you can deliver the message within a minute to 3600 numbers so there's a substantial difference between 1 minute and 1 hour.

    Imagine if you sold to an organization using your service for disaster recovery or emergency updates, long codes would definitely not work for them.
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    • Profile picture of the author imsolutionsgroup
      Originally Posted by TrumpiaTim View Post

      With short codes you can deliver the message within a minute to 3600 numbers so there's a substantial difference between 1 minute and 1 hour.

      Imagine if you sold to an organization using your service for disaster recovery or emergency updates, long codes would definitely not work for them.
      Says the affiliate, WARRIORTIM
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    • Profile picture of the author xlfutur1
      Originally Posted by TrumpiaTim View Post

      With short codes you can deliver the message within a minute to 3600 numbers so there's a substantial difference between 1 minute and 1 hour.

      Imagine if you sold to an organization using your service for disaster recovery or emergency updates, long codes would definitely not work for them.
      Of course you would need to ask the client how many optins they foresee getting. In an emergency situation, and with large numbers to send to, a short code is a better choice. But a huge percentage of your clients will simply be local businesses that don't need a short code. As in any business situation, common sense is paramount.
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  • Profile picture of the author ddomingu
    Great list, I am also on the long codes side. They just have more benefits for local businesses
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  • Profile picture of the author TrumpiaTim
    Note that on most sites that offer longcodes, it will say specifically that long codes should not be used for marketing or mass messaging. This is against best practices.
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