SMS Campaigns

Modern Business Text Messaging | Part 3: The Top 5 Differences Between Short Codes & Long Numbers

Deciding what type of SMS phone number to provision for your business can be challenging. Before making your investment, evaluate the top 5 differences between short codes and long numbers to ensure your choice is aligned with the objectives you have for your business text messaging and communications...

Short code or long number differences

Intro: Short Code vs. Long Numbers How to Pick The Right Type for Your Business

Now that you have fully-detailed understanding of short codes and long numbers, it's important you consider the following when learning about the top 5 differences between the two.

  1. Measure your detailed understanding of each option up against the differences. This 360-degree evaluation helps add an extra layer of confidence before you decide what number to provision.
  2. Make sure have a concrete understanding of your campaign purpose and goals, the target audience you want to reach, and the overall objective of your business' outreach efforts.

Now that you know what to consider, read what the top 5 differences between long numbers and short codes are to help you identify and provision the SMS phone number that best fits your business needs and communication goals...

I. Visibility & Reputation

Short codes, typically 5-6 digits long, can support your company's visibility in two different ways:

  1. Using a vanity code: made up of alphanumeric characters relevant to the brand or product offering, help people recognize and associate the short code with a brand. 
  2. Both shared and dedicated short codes are easier to remember. The length of short codes also help people memorize them faster when they only have a limited amount of visibility to the code, or the code is available audibly.

For example, the short code 5380 for radio station 538, or 3333 for radio 3FM, provides listeners with a much easier method to memorizing the number when entering a contest or giveaway. Vanity numbers also help increase visibility, as people will recognize this number as yours in no time.

Long Numbers are typically 10+ digits long and are much more challenging to memorize/recognize than short codes. However, long numbers still provide brands with increased visibility and reputation in other ways:

  1. Long numbers are more realistic and engaging to recipients who evaluate the validity of a business message vs. short code numbers that often get associated with automation.
  2. Users are more likely to reach and engage with a Long Number as they are standard length phone numbers and appear more credible and humanized/personal.

II. Keyword Usage

Though short codes can be useful to enhance visibility with simple and more memorable numbers, many companies often use shared short codes (described in Part 1 of this series, "What is a Short Code").

When companies use the same short code, customers are required to enter a specific keyword at the beginning of the SMS message for the message to get appropriately addressed to the right company.

  • For example: if you bought the keyword "PIZZA" to use with the shared short code 3669. Your customers must send a message beginning with the word "PIZZA" to 3669 – this keyword then automatically forwards and directs the message to you. Using a shared short code may seem complicated, but is very user-friendly and much lower in cost than purchasing your very own "dedicated" short code.

When it comes to Long Numbers, it is possible to assign dedicated keywords to them. A long number is the best option for companies that want to create multiple international campaigns for various offers or target audiences in different countries using specific keywords per offer or country.

Contact Us To See What Keywords Are Available >>

III. Keywords & Risks

Text messaging keywords are significantly different when it comes to their role and use in long numbers vs. short codes.

In most cases, short codes (both dedicated and shared short codes), necessitate the use of a single to multiple keywords.

When using a shared short code, you're required to assign a unique keyword to that shared short code. While shared codes still hold several benefits, there are a few risks associated:

  • While using the keyword, "PIZZA" is valuable as it provides a relevant and concise way to help consumers understand and clarify the value of your brand's campaign. There is a risk all too common due to misspelled or autocorrected keywords.
  • It's essential that you use easy words when picking your keywords. When a message contains a misspelled keyword, it does not get delivered and, therefore, results in losing potential new customers that have actively expressed interest in your business. Simple mistakes that alter your primary keyword could have a significant impact on your investment and success.

One way to minimize the risk of keyword typos in a shared short code, is to claim similar and multiple variants of your primary keyword. For example, you could select and use the keyword "PIZA," "PZA," and "PIZZA."

With dedicated short codes SMS keywords are not necessarily required. However, SMS keywords are essential to gaining optimal value from a single, dedicated short code. By pairing a dedicated short code with SMS keywords you're able to:

  • Segment each SMS campaign from one another;
  • Easily manage all your SMS campaign activity at once;
  • Quickly launch new SMS campaigns by introducing a new keyword;
  • and prevent any loss of messages due to mistyped keywords (note: if you're unable to interpret a mistyped keyword, you can either manually respond and ask them what keyword they intended to send, or automate the process by setting rules to identify keywords that aren't associated with your number trigger an automated follow up message).

Alternatively, long numbers don't require SMS keywords and also prevent lost messages that come as a potential risk when using a shared short code. However, with the benefits that long numbers offer that short codes cannot, it's common for businesses to request their long code is associated to their SMS keywords. It's important to note that combining a long number with SMS keywords can be challenging:

  • Depending on the number, the process of provisioning a long code can be quite lengthy.
  • By introducing a SMS keyword to a dedicated long number, there are many moving parts that are often resource intensive.

CM.com however, simplifies the process for you. We manage the entire process of provisioning of a long number and assigning it to a dedicated SMS keyword to streamline and help you with your solution needs.

IV. (Inter)national Messaging

One of the most common factors that dictate how businesses choose to buy a short code or long number is their target audience and their desired geographic reach. Are you sending texts internationally or nationally?

  • With Short Codes, you're only able to send and receive messages nationally (not internationally). Short codes are only suitable for local/domestic business messaging and communications.
  • Alternatively, Long Numbers help your business to scale and expand reach to people no matter where they are. A Long Number is the only type of text messaging code that allows your business to send and receive messages around the world, whether it's to a few different countries or internationally.

Because short codes are unique to each operator at a technical level, short codes only allow businesses to communicate within their country (not internationally). Providers generally have agreements in place to help enterprises using a shared short code to prevent any message overlap.

Know What Type You Need? Contact Us to Secure Your Number >>

V. Multi-Channel Capabilities

A benefit of provisioning a long number it's multi-channel usage. Using a dedicated long code, your business and customers can use the same number to make and receive calls in addition to sending and receiving text messages. Long numbers provide companies and customers with a more flexible and uniform path to communicating. 

A long number's voice and messaging channel capabilities open up a much broader spectrum and variety of business use cases.  

There are certain mutual multi-channel capabilities for long numbers and short codes that allow you to receive all incoming messaging:

  • Through snail mail;
  • A designated URL;
  • or CM's Messaging Analytics application.

Talk to Sales to Learn More About The Mutual Benefits >>

VI. Conclusion: What's Right for My Business? A Short Code or Long Number?

When choosing to lease or provision either a short code or long number, it's best if you take one last step and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do or will you need to communicate internationally?
  • What's more important when it comes to building visibility & reputation?
  • Is cost a priority?
  • Will I be sending a high volume of daily text messages?
  • What is the objective of my text messaging outreach?

Here's a Recap of This Blog Series to Help Make a Decision:

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Ready or Still Uncertain?

If you're still uncertain, slightly uncertain, or ready select the type that best suits you (dedicated short code, shared short code, or long number), contact our solution specialist to get your custom pricing and solution.

Our specialists are also available to provide you with what numbers and keywords are instantly available for you to use or prepare to use.

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