Want more mobile engagement? You need the right short code or long number.

3 minutes read

short codes and long numbers

Getting a short code or long number makes it much easier for you to communicate with your audience. But how do you choose between a short code or long number? It really depends on the purpose of your communication as well as your target audience. Let’s explore some of the major differences.

1. Short code increases visibility

Short codes which are 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 station 3FM. As you can imagine, this similarity makes it easier for consumers to remember your number. Furthermore, it will increase visibility since people will recognise this number as yours in no time. Compared to a long number, which is usually 10+ digits long, a short code creates an easier customer experience.

2. Short codes need keywords

Though short codes can be useful in an effort to increase visibility, when selecting a short code for your SMS marketing campaign, brands have the option of choosing between a dedicated short code or a shared short code. While both types of short codes send and receive text messages, brands who opt for a shared short code, requires customers to write a keyword at the beginning of an SMS message, ensuring the right company is addressed. For example, you bought the keyword “PIZZA” on shared short code 3669. When your customer engage with you via short code 3669 using keyword "PIZZA", the message will automatically be forwarded to your business. That being said, using shared short codes are still very user friendly, and will cost slightly less than having your very own short code.

3. Keywords can be misspelled

Even though using shared short codes with bought keywords holds several benefits, there is of course a risk to keep in mind. Let’s look at the example of the keyword “PIZZA” again. Though keywords clarify 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, “PIZA” will result in a non-deliverable message. One way of reducing these misspellings and undeliverable messages is by claiming similar keywords, for example PIZA as well as PIZZA. Alternatively you could always choose to buy a dedicated short code or long number to avoid the risk.

4. (Inter)national messaging

A fourth important factor to consider when choosing between a short code and long number 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 your audience in other countries, you’ll need to opt for a long number. That’s because short codes are only suitable for local messaging, unique to each operator at the technological level. But even so, providers generally have agreements to avoid overlaps.

5. More channels

Another benefit of 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 via direct calling too. 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 via our Received Messages app.

Conclusion: Short code or long number?

Before you embark on your decision to choose between a short code or long number, ask yourself the following.

  • Whether you’ll be communicating with your audience across borders
  • Whether you’ll be needing your short code or long number to build visibility or if your priority is to keep costs down.

To find out which type best suits your business needs (dedicated, shared short code or long number) you can contact us directly, we’re happy to think along with you.

Questions? Talk to us


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About the author

CM connects tens of thousands of companies with millions of consumers via their mobile phone each day. Behind the scenes, from our innovative platform, CM makes sure companies can use these millions of messages, phone calls and payments to become part of people’s lives.

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