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What is a short code and what are the benefits?

A shortcode is a memorable 5 or 6 digit number ideal for SMS marketing campaigns, lead generation, and promotions where you want people to easily remember your number. In this blog post, we provide you with a detailed definition of shortcodes, the different and most common ways they are used, and benefits for your business.

Intro: Short Code Messaging for Businesses

When creating or even revising your business SMS & MMS messaging strategy, it's important you understand the basics: the options and methods available for business messaging, and how to identify and utilize the right option to exceed your messaging and communication goals.

Definition: What Is a Short Code?

Short Codes also known as Short Numbers are specialised 5 to 6 digit telephone numbers. Short Codes are often compared to their alternative, Long Numbers (not currently available in South Africa).

Short Codes are recognisably shorter than standard full-length phone numbers (even without country code) that are used to address Text Message/SMS (Short Message Service) and MMS (Multimedia Messaging System) systems of mobile network operators.

In some countries, some classes of short code numbers are *inter-operator also known as Shared or Common Short Codes vs. Dedicated Short Codes, which are more commonly used today. 

  • What Are Inter-Operator Numbers (Shared/Common Short Codes)?

  • Unlike Dedicated Short Codes, Shared Short Codes (AKA Common Short Codes) are used and “shared” between multiple providers or carriers and distributed across multiple businesses. While the purpose of this type of short code is no different than the standard 5-6 digit “dedicated” short code, these numbers are priced significantly lower because they are used by multiple businesses at once. Because of the “shared” nature of these numbers, businesses must use their own unique keyword/s in order to identify themselves from other businesses also using that code.

Who uses Short Codes?

Short codes are most often utilised by various businesses and organisations that have a need for customer communications. Short Codes, specifically, support these operations in sending and receiving Text/SMS Messages and MMS messages to and from their customers/users' mobile phones (AKA "cell phones").

Short codes, or short numbers, are uniquely assigned to or even shared among businesses and appear to businesses and customers as a dedicated 5-6 digit sequence of numbers.

What are the risks of using a Short Code?

Businesses that don’t or haven’t started using short codes typically use a single long phone number to send over a hundred messages per day. When using a single, long phone number for mass communications, you put your business' messages at high risk of being marked as spam.

When should I use a Short Code?

Short codes have a variety of use cases that are used across many businesses in a variety of ways including:

  • Mobile Marketing

  • Voting & Polling 

  • Subscriber Opt-Ins

  • Newsletter or Content Subscriptions

  • Promotions & Limited Offers

  • Contests & Giveaways

  • Alerts & Notifications

  • Surveys & Submissions

  • And much more!

What are the benefits of using Short Codes?

Short Codes, on the other hand, are pre-approved by carriers to have a high *throughput. This makes Short Codes a great solution for sending high-volume or time-sensitive messages and campaigns.

Short codes are designed to make identifying and remembering the number easier and faster than standard telephone numbers. Because each short code is unique to each operator at the technological level, there is minimal risk of overlap. Even so, providers most often also have agreements that prevent and avoid overlaps as well.

Short Codes and automation technology

Short codes are commonly associated with various services that operate and handle Short Code Messages using automation. These programs are often designed to automate a specific action or command after an inbound message with a specific command, keyword, or prefix response is received. The automation service then connects the unique response with the designated short code, to deliver the appropriate response back to the user.

How much does a Short Code cost?

There are two costs to consider when your business is planning to use a short code:

  1. The cost to lease a short code

  2. The volume-based cost of messages you sent from a short code

Messages sent to a short code can be billed at a higher rate than a standard SMS and may even subscribe a customer to a recurring monthly service that will be added to the customer's mobile phone bill until the user texts, for example, the word "STOP" to terminate the service. 

Where do I get my short code? has direct connections to hundreds of networks, worldwide. As one of the only providers with our vast network, we benefit you in helping you get the most competitive pricing.'s direct connections makes the approval process for you from facilitating, managing it, and securing it which can take up to a maximum of 2 days.

Speak to our Sales Team to get our custom quote >>

Interested in learning more or ready to get your short code?

Talk to our sales team

Interested in learning more or ready to get your short code?

Talk to our sales team
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