Long code vs short code in text message marketing

3 minute read
Long code vs short code in text message marketing

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.

Different capabilities

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.

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.

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.

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.

Long codes have throughput limitations

Long codes limit sending to one message per second, so companies typically use them for person-to-person communication.

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: cost

Cost is the biggest difference when comparing long codes vs short codes.

A long code typically cost $1-2 per-month

Long codes are considerably more affordable. Rending 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 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.

In conclusion

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.

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