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How to Choose Between Short Code or Long Number? The 5 Main Differences

Getting your own short code or long number means making it much easier for you to communicate with your target audience. But should you choose a short code or a long number? This depends on the purpose of your communication as well as your target audience. Find out which to choose in this comparison between short and long codes.

Similarities Between Short Code and Long Number

Before discussing the differences between short code or long number, we should mention the shared purpose of both number types. For any company wanting to optimize customer interaction and customer experience, these codes are valuable solutions. The main benefit of these numbers is that customers can contact you directly. This means you won’t have to send a message first, for customers to reply to.


In other words, you won’t have to send out and pay for 10.000 messages in order for those 10.000 recipients to be able to interact with you. You can just share your number, for example in marketing campaigns, for customers to reply to. This can be used for customers to, for example, claim a discount or participate in a competition. By not having to send a message out first, you can reduce costs and thus improve the ROI of your campaign.

Especially when using a number people can recognize, your company’s visibility can improve. This brings us to the first difference between short code or long number, in favor of the short code.

1. Short Code Increases Visibility

Short codes, typically 4-5 digits long, can contribute to your company’s visibility by choosing a number that is somehow related to your business. Consider for example short codes such as 5380 for radio station 538, or 3333 for radio 3FM. As you can imagine, this similarity makes it easier for consumers to remember your number. Also, it will increase visibility, as people will recognize this number as yours in no time. Compared to long numbers, which is usually 10+ digits long, a short code will be the more user-friendly choice.

What is a short code? >

What is a long number? >

2. Short Codes Need Keywords

Though short codes can be useful to increase visibility, most companies choose shared short codes. This means more companies will be using the same short code, and customers need to write a keyword at the beginning of an SMS message to address it to the right company. So for example you bought the keyword “PIZZA” on shared short code 3669. Your customers sends a message to to 3669 with the first word ‘’PIZZA’’, then this message will automatically be forwarded to you. This way of using short codes is still very user friendly and will cost less than having your very own short code.

More About Two-Way Messaging >

3. Keywords Can Be Misspelled

Even though using shared short codes with bought keywords holds several benefits, there is a risk to keep in mind. Let’s look at the example of the keyword “PIZZA” again. Though keywords can make it clear for the consumer what a campaign is about, it is important to choose easy words. That’s because messages with misspelled keywords will not be delivered. So, “IZZA” will result in a non-deliverable message. Therefore, make sure to use easy words. Also, you could choose to claim similar keywords, for example PIZA as well as PIZZA. This will increase the chances of your message being delivered successfully. Or you could always choose to buy a dedicated short code or long number to avoid this risk. 

4. (Inter)national Messaging

A fourth important factor in choosing between short and long codes is the desired reach. Sending and receiving messages over short codes is limited to national borders. If you want to reach and be reachable by consumers in other countries, you’ll need a long code. Short codes are only suitable for local messaging. That is because short codes are unique to each operator at the technological level. Even so, providers generally have agreements to avoid overlaps.

5. More Channels

Another benefit of 8+ digits long numbers, is that you can also use it to receive calls. Customers will be able to reach you not only by sending text messages, but by directly calling you on that number as well. This means you can use the same number for multiple purposes, creating a rich tool for your marketing campaigns. A joint benefit of both long numbers and short codes is that you can receive all incoming text messages via mail, on a set URL or our Campaigns app.


Conclusion: Short Code or Long Number?

When choosing between short code or long number, you’d best firstly ask yourself whether you’ll be needing it to communicate across borders. Also, it is important to question whether you will be needing it to build visibility or if your priority is to keep the price low. To find out which type best suits you (dedicated or shared short code or long number), please contact us for more information. We will also be able to tell you exactly which numbers and keywords are instantly available for you to use.

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