How to get your own SMS short code
TextSanity can help you set up and use an SMS short code.

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What is an SMS short code and when you need one?

There’s been a lot of buzz around short codes in text message marketing lately. But what exactly is it? And should you be using one? That’s what we’re going to talk about in this article. So read on!

What is short code?

A short code is a phone number, but it’s used exclusively for mass text messaging. As the name would suggest, it’s shorter than a regular 10 digit phone number. They are usually 5 or 6 digits long. You may have noticed these popping up on TV for political campaigns, in store windows for discounts, at restaurants for weekly specials, or even on the radio for contests.

Obama political Text Messaging Sign
Image of Trump political campaign Text Messaging Sign

How short codes work

Each short code must be approved by the major wireless carriers before they allow traffic to go through their network for that phone number. The wireless carriers meticulously monitor approved short codes for spam abuse. And the carriers have the power to shut them down so customers aren’t receiving spam, which is a regular and on-going practice. 

Artsy image of a person receiving a spam text message

Types of short codes

There are two types of short codes. The first is dedicated. Dedicated short codes are when one company or brand uses a short code exclusively. The second is shared. Shared short codes are when various brands all share the same code through a service provider who sends messages on their behalf.

The major wireless carriers typically frown on shared short codes. Shared short codes are notoriously hard for carriers to control spam from. If one user is abusing the short code, the short code gets shut down by carriers. The problem is then all the others that were using that shared short codes are penalized even though they weren’t at fault. Not a very fair deal.

The difference between short- and long- code

Long code is simply industry lingo for 10-digit phone numbers. Short codes, when approved by the major carriers, get more bandwidth on the wireless networks. This means that, through a short code, massive amounts of messages can be sent much quicker on the carriers’ networks. Long codes however, still get plenty of bandwidth from the major carriers until you start trying to send hundreds of thousands of messages at once.

Screenshot of Rocco's Pizza text message

Legality of short codes

In recent years, the major carriers have pulled back a lot on shared short codes. Some companies, like AT&T, have said that they are going to phase out shared short codes completely. They simply don’t want spam getting to their customers. However, dedicated short codes are still alive and well.

You, or a company you hire to help you, have to fill out a lot of paperwork and get approved by all the major carriers. Plus, dedicated short codes are much more expensive than using a shared short code. This presents a barrier to a lot of companies who would like to use a short code, but are left out by the cost and regulations.

When do you need a short code?

There are two main reasons that a company would need a short code. The first is if you are going to send massive amounts of messages at one time. And remember we are talking hundreds of thousands of messages at one time. The second is for the novelty of having a short code that is easy to remember and engage with. It makes sense. A short code is a lot easier to remember than a full 10-digit phone number, or long code. Again, it is up to you to decide if a short code is right for you and your company.

How to get your own SMS short code

With TextSanity, you can choose to use a dedicated short code or long code with your account. We will help you pick out a short code and set it up for you. Then, you’ll be able to use your own short code with the world class, marvelous platform offered by TextSanity.

TextSanity manages all the customer data or leads that are generated on a shared short code. This information is automatically ported to you in a variety of ways either with an integration CRM database or your own TextSanity account. If you choose to go through TextSanity, all contacts are legally opted-in. Basically this means that you can text message contacts from your dedicated TextSanity long code phone number. If you choose not to go through TextSanity and use an integration CRM, TextSanity sends the contacts to you and then you decide what to do with them.

Want to start a text message conversation with our customer service team? Just enter your number here.

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Use TextSanity’s tools when you send your mass text messages

TextSanity offers a mass text messaging tool called broadcasts. Broadcasts can be sent to as many customers as you’d like – into the hundreds of thousands. You can really go crazy! Import a list of numbers, send an opt-in request to them all, and you’re off. You can also gain customers through keyword campaigns and webforms.

Screenshot of TextSanity's opt-in message for mass text messaging
Webform Example Screenshot

TextSanity offers the tools you need when you are looking to send mass text messages to any group with short code or long code. Our broadcasts are an obvious no-brainer for mass text messaging. And keyword campaigns are super effective at building a customer following the likes of which you’ve never seen!

Screenshot of the campaigns page on TextSanity

Carrie Duford is the editor in chief for TextSanity. As a meat-eating outdoor enthusiast who loves to volunteer in her community, she loves finding time to go on daily runs and hikes. Find her on LinkedIn.