Building an SMS Marketing Program: Mastering SMS Short Codes

Mary Kearl By Mary Kearl Sep 13, 2021

If you've ever opted in to get special offers via SMS marketing or had order confirmation and tracking alerts sent to your mobile phone number via text, then most likely you've been on the receiving end of messages deployed using SMS short codes, the five- or six-digit phone numbers many brands use to deliver and receive text messages to and from customers.

SMS Marketing with Short Codes

One of the most popular types of SMS phone number options available for companies looking to send text messages at scale, SMS short codes are great for deploying time-sensitive, high-volume SMS marketing campaigns. Let’s explore some of the key use cases for this impactful tool:

3 Key Benefits of SMS Short Codes

When it comes to SMS marketing, brands need to be thoughtful about how they set up their program and what sorts of phone number types they use to support their customer engagement efforts. Given that, let’s take a look at three notable benefits that can come with leveraging short codes:

1. A high SMS throughput (aka SMS send volume).This type of SMS phone number can deliver up to 100 messages per second. Other sending options, like long codes and SMS-enabled toll-free numbers, on the other hand, can only send one message per second in the U.S.

2. Having the exclusive use of a dedicated phone number (i.e. fewer security risks). Unlike shared codes, which—as the name suggests—are shared among more than one company, your short code will only be used to send your company's campaigns. While shared codes can help businesses split the cost of using SMS codes, they come with risks, and could potentially impact your brand's deliverability and reputation. For instance, if customers opt out of receiving campaigns from another brand that also uses your shared code, they'll also be opted out of receiving your texts. Or, if another company that uses your shared code violates the rules of using the service, your sending capabilities will be suspended.

3. The ability to send both SMS and MMS (aka multimedia messaging service, i.e. texts that contain images, videos, or GIFs). That's a plus, as some SMS phone number types, including alphanumeric sender IDs and SMS-enabled toll-free phone numbers, do not support sending MMS campaigns.

    Next Steps

    If you're exploring the idea of adding SMS marketing to your customer engagement mix alongside other key channels like email marketing, push notifications, and more, here's what you need to know about adding SMS to a cross-channel strategy, gathering opt-ins, leveraging segmentation, and driving engagement.

    Looking to learn more about SMS marketing phone number types? Check out our look at Application-to-person (A2P) ten-digit long codes (10DLC) to learn how they can offer better deliverability and lower filtering risk than traditional SMS long codes.

    Mary Kearl

    Mary Kearl

    Mary Kearl is a writer and digital strategist, who has led email, social media, and content marketing for several brands. She has helped launch six mobile apps and one niche social network and is always up for a good Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime binge recommendation or travel tip

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