Virtual Mobile Numbers vs SMS Short Codes

Topic: SMS

SMS Short Codes

What is a short code in SMS?

An SMS short code is a 4 or 6-digit number that businesses use instead of a regular 10-digit SMS number. These short codes are ideal for high-volume, two-way messaging as they have a faster per-second send speed. You need either a Virtual Mobile Number (VMN) or a short code for any two-way SMS conversational messaging within the Esendex portal.

When to use a short code

If you’re sending more than a few hundred messages a day from a regular Virtual Mobile Number (VMN), you might consider using a short code instead. Short codes are pre-approved by carriers to have a high throughput making them perfect for sending high-volume or time-sensitive messages. There are lots of ways to use them successfully, but the main use cases for short codes are:

  • Marketing and promotions
  • Alerts and notifications
  • Enquiries
  • Surveys
  • Two-factor authentication.

If you’ve ever signed up to receive a company’s SMS marketing updates or texts you’ve probably noticed that their messages don’t look the same as those from family or friends. One key difference will be that the phone number the message comes from is shorter. These abbreviated numbers are called SMS short codes and are a great way for businesses to send targeted and personalised text messages to lots of subscribers at the same time.

Shared Short Code

A shared Short Code as its name suggests, means that a number of people can use the same number, with each user employing a different and unique ‘keyword.‘ This keyword is placed at the beginning of a text to direct texts back to the correct account’s inbox. 

Dedicated Short Code

Using a dedicated Short Code means that you own that number and every message sent to it will go directly into your account. Owning your own Short Code is ideal for those who need to send a high volume of messages.

 How much does an SMS short code cost? 

There are two costs to consider when planning to use a short code:

  1. The cost to lease a short code.
  2. The volume cost of sending messages from a short code.

Key benefits of an SMS Shortcode

SMS short codes have a number of benefits over a traditional 10-digit number, or 10-digit long code:

  • Short codes are brief and memorable. You can use them across multiple areas of your business and easily code or create different keywords, so you know exactly which marketing channels or campaigns are working well and which aren’t.
  • They’re unmistakably a business number. When someone sees a message coming from a short code on their mobile phone, they know it’s coming from an organisation rather than from someone they know.
  • An SMS short code directory or lookup service allows users to look up short codes, which will give your text campaigns more legitimacy.
  • Short code text messages deliver at a faster rate than traditional 10-digit numbers. These can typically deliver approximately one message per second. If you’re sending a text to a list of 20,000 people, it could take over five hours for all of your messages to be delivered! Short codes on the other hand, can send as quickly as 100 messages per second. This would mean that in just over eight minutes you can send a text campaign to the same 20,000 people. If you’re running a flash sale or a limited-time promotion, this added speed could be critical to your business results.

Not sure whether to use a Virtual Mobile Number (VMN) or a short code?

Businesses should consider using long codes when they need to text fewer numbers at one time or want to run more personal campaigns that are not sales oriented. For example, if you’re a local farm shop that occasionally runs promotions, long codes might work well for you. You can promote your long code, encouraging customers to text you for in-season advice or for weekly recipes.  

Another use case for long codes is for order confirmations or shipping notices. When a customer is expecting to hear from you, they’ll welcome the news that their order has been dispatched and are far less likely to view these kinds of messages as spam.

In summary, short codes are ideal for sending high-volume text messages and marketing campaigns. Long codes are better for more personalised services, and they’re less expensive. However, they can prove slower to transmit if you’re sending high volumes of messages and are more difficult to remember.

If you’re trying to decide which one to pick, try both for a specific use case and measure your results. In this way, you can improve your SMS strategy, grow your audience, and share your news, products and services in a way that works best for your customers.

Ready to boost your SMS campaign results?

You can easily obtain a short code from Esendex. Get in touch today.

NOTE: Information subject to regulatory requirements of the destination

Author Avatar
Prachi Bametha

Marketing Coordinator, Esendex Australia