The different types of SMS marketing capable numbers
There are 3 types of numbers you can use for SMS marketing in the United States.
A short code is a special 5- to 6-digit number used to send SMS or MMS messages. For example, a spa health club can ask customers to text RELAX to 35353 to join its loyalty program.
Toll-free long code numbers
A toll-free number, in the United States, is a special 10-digit number that usually starts with an 8 (800, 888, 877, 866, etc.). Toll-free numbers were originally created to allow consumers to make phone calls from land lines without out-of-area code fees.
10 Digit Long Codes (10DLC)
A long code is a standard, 10-digit number that also can be used to send SMS or MMS messages. Unlike a toll-free number, the long code is associated with a specific regional area code.
|Type of Number||Description|
|Short Code||A short code is a 5- to 6-digit number used to send SMS or MMS messages.|
|Toll-free||A toll-free number, in the United States, is a special 10-digit number that usually starts with an 8 (800, 888, 877, 866, etc.).|
|10 Digit Long Code (unregistered)||A long code is a standard, 10-digit number that also can be used to send SMS or MMS messages. Unlike a toll-free number, the long code is associated with a specific regional area code.|
|10 Digit Long Code (registered)||A long code that has been 10DLC registered.|
Long code vs short code which to use?
Long codes and short codes refer to the type of number you’re sending your text messages from.
- Long codes are a standard US/Canadian 10-digit phone number.
- Short codes are an easier-to-remember 5- to 6-digit number.
Long codes and short codes are both commonly used for:
- Informing a customer that his or her package is out for delivery.
- Updating customers with their account balance.
- Sending ads, coupons and other promotional information.
The following are three differences between long codes and short codes so that you can decide which is best for your company and goals behind text message marketing.
Long codes can be used for more than just text messaging. They can also be used for faxes and making calls. Short codes can only send and receive text messages.
Long codes support voice calling
The biggest difference is that a long code can also be used for voice over IP (VOIP) calls. This is in addition to sending and receiving SMS messages.
Long codes support registered and unregistered traffic
Unlike short codes, it is possible to use an unregistered long code for sending messages. But we recommend 10 Digit Long Code (10DLC) registration when possible.
It is especially important to warm-up sending numbers that are long codes.
Short codes offer higher throughput
Short codes can be used for nearly all the same capabilities as long codes with the exception of handling voice calls. Additionally, while some carriers provide delivery receipts for long codes, delivery receipts are guaranteed for short codes.
Short codes are most often used for mass marketing, security and emergency communications in text message marketing, such as:
- Two-factor authentication for security purposes.
- Alert notifications, such as hurricane warnings or flight delays.
While we recommend avoiding text message blasts, short codes can handle this type of volume.
Toll-free and short codes require registration
While long codes have a semi-optional but recommended registration process, short codes must be registered. And to register a short code be prepared with terms of service, updates to your website, and details about your business. All of which are required aspects of the registration process.
Toll-free and short codes are more reliable
But most important, short codes are considered to be the most reliable from both a technical and legal standpoint. They do not have the same deliverability issues plagued by long codes.
Sending volume and throughput
Of course, a big difference between long codes and short codes is the speed and volume of sending text messages in your text message marketing.
Short codes have very high throughput rates
The biggest benefit of a short code is the high throughput rate (messages per-minute) and the high delivery rates.
Long codes have throughput limitations
Long codes limit sending to one message per second, so companies typically use them for person-to-person communication.
Toll-free and short codes allow high-volume messaging
Short codes, on the other hand, can send 40 messages per second, so companies often use them for high-volume messaging, such as voting on TV shows.
In addition, according to carrier regulations, the ratio of inbound-to-outbound text traffic should be better than one-to-three for long codes. Short codes do not have this restriction.
Learn more about carrier violations and how to avoid them during SMS text message marketing.
The biggest difference: regulation, cost and deliverability
Cost is a big difference when comparing long codes vs short codes.
A long code typically cost $1-2 per-month
Long codes are considerably more affordable. Renting a long code typically costs $1-2 per-month. Even with 10DLC registration fees, the cost is still substantially less than the cost of a short code.
Short codes are upwards of $500+ per-month
Short codes can be much more expensive than long codes. The cost of a short code, for example, can begin at $500 per month in addition to any set-up fees.
Short codes additionally have extensive registration requirements
It can take several weeks to provision a new short code.
Long codes can be registered or unregistered
An unregistered long code has an additional $0.01 toll per-message. Where as a 10DLC registered long code waives this additional fee. However, there is both a registration fee as well as a monthly fee for 10DLC registration.
Toll-free numbers and short code must be registered
All toll-free numbers and short codes must be registered to a business entity in the United States.
Deliverability varies by type of number
|Short Code||Very High|
|Registered Long Code||Good-to-High|
|Unregistered Long Code||Poor-to-Good|
For an unregistered long code expect to see deliverability in the 70-80% range. However, results may vary.
The decision whether to secure a long code or short code depends on your budget and your intended uses for SMS text message marketing. Keep in mind that technology continues to evolve, and 10DLC registration is something to explore as well.