SMS Marketing

SMS Short Codes vs. SMS Long Codes: What You Need to Know (Updated: 2022)

SMS Short Codes

Almost every industry today is turning to text messages for marketing or customer engagement, and it’s no surprise given the numerous benefits of implementing SMS into mobile marketing strategies. The two most common ways of sending SMS messages is either through a long code or a short code. While 57% of people are okay with receiving promotional texts from businesses, they often have  no idea what that number is behind the SMS message they receive, which can lead to more opt outs. There are a variety of new number options that are causing some

Are you looking to implement SMS into your company? Now is a perfect opportunity to explore the ins and outs of short code and long code texting. Let’s dive in!

Long Codes

What Is A Long Code?

A long code is a 10 digit phone number used for communication between two or more individuals.

Advantages of Long Codes

One of the best things about using long codes is that there is very minimal setup time. In fact, you can get a long code number up and running within a few hours

With long codes, you can send SMS messages and make calls from the same number, so your customers don’t have to worry about reaching you via different points of contact. The same phone number can be used for voice calls, faxes, and texts, which establishes a consistent, familiar channel for communicating.

Arguably, the biggest advantage of long codes is that businesses and customers are able to have personalized and seamless two-way conversations. Customizing your customer’s experience is essential in today’s tailored-marketing world. Long codes guarantee that the sender is an actual person, not a random bot, so sending long code messages for personal information, such as billing purposes, ensures that your message is reaching a real individual.

Best Uses of Long Codes

Disadvantages of Long Codes

While long codes have plenty of advantages, there are some disadvantages to this messaging method. One disadvantage of using a long code is the inability to send high volumes of text messages at once. The throughput rate of long code messaging is a mere 1 message per second, which can make blasting thousands of subscribers take hours instead of seconds. As a result, marketing through long codes is less efficient than many other methods.

Furthermore, sending SMS marketing messages through long codes is prohibited and will result in immediate shutdown of your long code. And there is no option to make these messages free to the end user, which can make customers dissatisfied by using up their data for unwanted messages. The content of your long code is also limited to SMS, so you are unable to send videos or picture messages.

Another disadvantage of long codes is they take longer than short codes to enter into your phone. Long codes are harder to remember, less convenient, and more susceptible to user error. While the setup and monthly cost may be cheaper for long codes, individual message fees are higher than short code text messages.

Unlike long code messaging, with short code messaging you can send large blasts of texts simultaneously to create an effective marketing campaign.

Short Codes

What Is A Short Code?

A short code is a convenient 5 to 6 digit number that enables users to text in a keyword to automatically opt-in to a business’s database. Short code text messaging is ideal for mass, impersonal, one-way communication.

The main advantage of short codes was that you are able to send high volumes of text messages at a low cost. Short codes are effectively used for marketing purposes, as it creates a memorable experience across a broad audience. With a high throughput rate, messages sent through short codes can be used for alert notifications, mobile coupons, and marketing promotions.

There are two types of short codes, shared and dedicated, but unfortunately shared short codes are on their way out as carriers are ending support for them soon.

Shared Short Code

A shared short codes is a short code that is used by multiple users. Shared short codes limit what keywords users can use, because other users might already be using that keyword. An example of this would be if someone created the keyword “SERVICE”, then no other users on that short code would be able to use that keyword. Shared short codes are being phased out, with carriers stopping support sometime in 2019.

Dedicated Short Code

A dedicated short code is a short code that can only be used by a single user. The short code can be specifically chosen by the user, much like a custom license plate. They also have the option to use any keyword they want, removing the limit of only using one keyword per code.

Advantages of Dedicated Short Codes

  • Better Brand Recognition: A short code can be as recognizable to your customer as your twitter account or website address.
  • Freedom to choose your keywords : When you have a dedicated short code, you aren’t limited by other people already using your text keyword, which gives you creative freedom to run your campaigns how you want.
  • Control what goes out: When you have your own dedicated short code, you can be in total control of how your messaging campaigns are seen by your customers, which helps you maintain a consistent brand image.
  • Security: If you work in an industry like the financial services, healthcare, or the government, then having a dedicated short code allows you to have complete control over what is sent and will give you a higher degree of privacy and security.
  • More Functionality: If you have a dedicated short code you can do things that shared short codes can’t do, like run a text-to-win campaign for your subscribers.

Uses of Short Codes

  1. Bulk Messaging
  2. Marketing Promotions
  3. Two-Factor Authentication
  4. Billing Information
  5. Mobile Coupons
  6. Alert Notifications: Weather updates, Traffic updates, and Security Notifications
  7. Sweepstakes and Contests
  8. SMS Voting

Drawbacks of Short Codes

Short codes are limited to communication between a business and their customer solely through 5 or 6-digit numbers, making the conversation feel less personal. Unless a dedicated short code is used, customers are unable to communicate back to the business in an interactive way. On the other hand, if you choose a provider who can capture responses, like Trumpia, then you can have an intelligent “interactive” text conversation with your customers, and you can also record their responses!

Other Options


These are 10-digit numbers that begin with the prefix 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, or 833. Toll-free numbers give the presence of a large, national company. They are also a great option because they give you the power and flexibility of dedicated short codes, but at a fraction of the cost. Because shared short codes are being phased out, Toll-Free numbers are far and away the best option for users who were using a shared short code. But why?

Toll-Free SMS provides that better user experience by allowing your customers to have the conversation on their terms. Whether it’s texting with a member of your team, giving a quick reply to a message on the go, or calling your business to have a more direct interaction, Toll-Free SMS enables your customers to interact with you how they’d prefer, unlike shared short codes, and all from one easy to remember phone number.

Toll-Free numbers will work essentially the same as a dedicated short codes, including being able to send mass messages and work with Trumpia’s advanced features, like our automation. The differences between the two include:

  • It will be a 10-digit number rather than 5-digits short code number.
  • MMS will be supported on Toll-Free numbers later this year.
  • You may be able to provision to receive phone calls as well as text messages on your Toll-Free number.

A2P Long Code

While wireless carriers and aggregators are not planning to support these numbers until later in 2019, this channel will use local 10-digit phone numbers that are provisioned to send mass messages for commercial purposes. They will essentially work like dedicated short codes, including compatibility with all of Trumpia’s features, but will cost essentially the same as inexpensive but retired shared short codes.

Whether you decide to use short code or long code texting for your business communication, sending an SMS message is an effective way of developing strong relationships with your customers. Looking for a short code service that has outstanding account management to guide you to success? Click here to learn more!