previous icon Back to blog
Jun 17, 2020
4 minutes read

Our guide to Short Code messaging for businesses

A short code is a unique 5 or 6 digit number ideal for SMS marketing campaigns, lead generation, and promotions where you want people to remember your number easily. This blog post provides you with a detailed definition of short codes, the different and most common ways they are used, and benefits for your business.

Short Code messaging for businesses

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

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 from the standard 5-6 digit "dedicated" short code, these numbers are priced significantly lower because multiple businesses use them at once. Because of these numbers' "shared" nature, companies must use their unique keyword/s to identify themselves from other companies also using that code.

Who uses Short Codes?

Short codes are most often utilised by various businesses and organisations that need 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 companies 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 an excellent 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 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.

What are some best practices for using Short Codes?

  • Offer the recipient a free method to opt out of your list.

  • Identify your company name in the body of your message.

  • For insurance-driven marketing programs, a reverse billed the Insurance Ombudsman recommends short code since the mobile subscriber needs a free, opt-out message.

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. They may even subscribe a customer to a recurring monthly service 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 which makes the approval process for you from facilitating, managing it, and securing it, super quick and simple - maximum of 2 days.

*Throughput is defined as the amount of material or items passing through a system or process.

Get in touch with us to get started

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

Latest articles

May 10, 2024 •

Happy clients, happy agents: The "platform effect" in customer service

As a member of the customer service team, you stand on the front lines of customer interaction every day. In a world where customers demand quick and personalised service - long wait times, impersonal responses, or worse, incorrect answers, can quickly drive a customer away. Your goal, however, is to connect customers with your organisation and deliver the best answers and service possible. It’s incredibly satisfying to see a customer leave a conversation happier and eager to purchase your product. Your efforts can significantly enhance the customer experience, but you need the right tools to truly excel. Integrating these tools into a platform amplifies your capabilities and lets you experience the power of the platform effect.

SMS Security
May 10, 2024 • SMS

Optimise the customer experience with valuable insights and direct live support via SMS

Add SMS to your contact centre and help your agents to connect with your customers on the most reliable channel. Tackle more conversations at a time without losing the important personal touch, and gain valuable insights with streamlined SMS feedback surveys to enhance customer satisfaction rates.

Mar 01, 2024 • SMS

How popular is SMS in 2024 and how does it add value to businesses?

SMS is one of the oldest messaging services, and the rise of instant messaging apps definitely made a dent in SMS traffic. Contrary to the newer apps with their rich features, SMS is quite basic with; plain text messages, no fluff and a character limit of 160. Regardless, SMS is still one of the most impactful communication channels today. Read all about SMS statistics and its continued value for modern business communication.

The Benefits of A2P Messaging
Feb 28, 2024 • SMS

The benefits of A2P Messaging for business

Amid the thicket of technology TLAs with 2 in them (B2B, P2P, 2FA,...) is one of the simplest A2P messaging, or “Application-to-Person”. You may not be familiar with the acronym, but it’s probably touched your life several times in the last week alone. Let’s see why A2P remains relevant as a messaging technology today.

WhatsApp vs Facebook Messenger
Feb 12, 2024 • Instant Messaging

WhatsApp vs Facebook Messenger: Which messaging channel is best for what?

WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are both established messaging channels for customer engagement, but what are the differences? Lets look at what the advantages are of each channel and which situations call for which channel. Let's dive in.

Feb 09, 2024 • SMS

SMS for e-commerce: Create a successful e-commerce strategy with SMS

Want to grow your business? Then customer contact is key. Now that everybody and everything is connected to each other via these powerful little computers in our hands, the way you communicate with customers is becoming increasingly important for your success. Read all about how you can use SMS to elevate your customer contact, drive sales and create a loyal customer base.

Feb 05, 2024 • WhatsApp

Drive engagement and convert your conversations with WhatsApp Carousel

Are you talking to your customers on WhatsApp? You really should! WhatsApp Business Platform, the business communication platform of one of the most popular messaging channels in the world today, has a wide selection of powerful engagement tools to enhance customer communication and boost sales. And they've added another innovative feature under their belt: WhatsApp Carousel.

Ads That Click to WhatsApp
Feb 05, 2024 • Marketing

Ads that click to WhatsApp: What are they and what are the benefits?

Successful marketing means creating personal and conversational experiences for your customers. And what better place to meaningfully connect to your customers than on their favourite social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp? With ads that click to WhatsApp, aka click-to-chat WhatsApp ads, you can offer your customers the direct and personal engagement that they crave.

WhatsApp vs SMS: A Comparison For Businesses
Jan 19, 2024 • SMS

WhatsApp vs SMS: A comparison for businesses

WhatsApp and SMS are both immensely popular messaging channels. Both have their own unique traits, use cases, and added business value. We can all acknowledge this, but what exactly are the differences between them? What are the similarities? And more importantly, which one will add the most value to your business? In this blog we'll dive into the world of WhatsApp vs SMS and the benefits of both.

Is this region a better fit for you?
close icon