As you plan your SMS marketing strategy, you’ve got a lot of things to consider. First, you’ll have to craft a fantastic offer. Then you’ll have to decide the exact messages you’ll want to send to get a response, and beyond that, you’ll need to choose the right times to send you messages… and that’s just the beginning. 


But there’s another major decision you need to make when it comes to your SMS marketing campaigns: what is your inbound number going to be, and are you going to use a long code or short code number? This is, without a doubt, one of the great debates of SMS marketing. 


The number that you’re sending from matters, and in this article, we’re going to go through the ins and outs of long code and short code numbers, and the benefits of each. Let’s get started.

Long Code Numbers

Long code numbers are the most common method of sending an SMS campaign. Anyone can obtain a long code number and use it to send their campaigns, and there aren’t too many regulations or restrictions when getting one. 


But because the barrier of entry is fairly low, long code numbers are monitored by mobile carriers more stringently. An example of this is if you attempt to try to send a link as your first message in a long code text thread. Most carriers will automatically flag that as SPAM, and the message won’t go through. 


There are more hoops to jump through when you’re using a long code number, but due to being relatively cheap and having a low barrier to entry, you can use them to great effect if you know how. Here are some of the important things to keep in mind when considering the use of a long code number:


  • Long code is just another word for a standard 10-digit phone number. 
  • If you try sending a link in the first message, your message will very likely be automatically blocked.
  • When you’re sending your first message, you should use keywords to ensure better deliverability


Here’s an example of what a message flow looks like when using keywords.


  1. Initial Message: “Hey Tom, would you like to receive additional funds to help out with bills? Reply FUNDS for more information.” 

(That is more likely to get through than if you sent a link in that same message).

  1. Customer Replies: Customer texts back the word FUNDS
  2. Automated Follow-Up Message:Excellent! Please follow the link below to receive your funds [insert link].”


Since the client responded to your initial message, your automated follow-up message with the link has a much better chance of getting through. 


Pricing: Note that each long code number is priced at only $0.15 cents per long code DID (Direct Inward Dialing) per month. 


Short Code

Short codes require much more effort and time to acquire than a long code number. The application process is a rigorous one, and it can be drawn out. Short codes are also not inexpensive, so to get one you’ll have to invest a larger start-up cost than if you were acquiring a long code number.


To be approved for a short code, you have to prove that your business is trustworthy. The carriers that regulate short codes will ask you for detailed information on what sorts of messages you’ll be sending and who you’ll be sending them to. You’ll additionally need to prove you’re reputable by having a secure website and offer proof of your opt-in funnel that ensures consumer consent. 


So even though short codes are much more work and cost upfront than long codes, they do have some pretty hefty benefits. For example, when you have a short code, you can send a link in the first message with no delivery problems at all. Additionally, your messages aren’t automatically marked as SPAM. Think of a short code as like having a hall pass to text message customers as you please without the carriers watching your every move as they do for long codes. Keep in mind that if you do get complaints of abusing your short code, it can be audited– and if you’re breaking rules or abusing it, it can be revoked. 


Here are some of the important things to keep in mind when considering the use of a short code number:


  • A short code is made up of 5-6 digits. This is where it gets its name, and they’re typically easier to remember. 
  • Short codes allow you to send a link in the first message.
    • So it’s different from our long code example because in one fell swoop you can send “Hey Tom, get additional funds for your bills here. [link].” 
    • This typically improves conversions since it only requires one click from the customer.
  • To get a short code number, you’ll have to follow the carrier’s approval process, which usually takes 12+ weeks. 
    • During this time the carrier will review your landing pages, website, and any content you plan on sending before they approve the short code.
  • Short codes only allow one type of offer to be sent through them
    • For example: If your short code is approved to send an offer that centers around the rent-to-own industry, then rent-to-own offers are the only types of offers you can send through that short code once it’s approved.


Pricing: Note that short codes are far more expensive than long codes at $500 dollars per month. 


10DLC – The New Frontier, But Not Safe Yet

Get ready for some abbreviations. 10DLC is the shorthand for the phrase 10-digit long code. This is a brand new number type that will be acting as a channel specifically designed for business-to-consumer (B2C) application-to-person (A2P) messaging. 10DLC is an emerging technology so the regulations are still being written and implemented. 


This could be a tempting option, but we recommend waiting on 10DLC before any large-scale sending just a while longer as the rules are still being written and rolled out. Don’t risk using this method for your marketing campaigns until 10DLC matures just a little further.


In the meantime, we recommend sticking with a safe, road-tested option and choosing a short code or long code for all of your text message marketing needs.


SMS Marketing Stats Tell the Full Story: It Doesn’t Have to be One or the Other

Here at Text-Calibur, we can give you easy access to a reliable, secure long code. Additionally, those who qualify for your partner program gain access to a short code (learn more about our partner program here.)


When you use Text-Calibur, you’re not just getting a long code or short code, you’re also getting a full suite of software tools that can bring your SMS campaigns into the future. With Text-Calibur you get:


  • One-on-One Messaging
  • Free Inbound Long Code Messaging
  • Keyword Responders
  • Call Forwarding
  • Toll-Free Phone Numbers
  • Click Tracking
  • Direct Inward Dialing (DID)
  • Automated Messaging
  • Scheduled Texts
  • Flexible Reply Automation
  • Data Collection
  • Spin Text
  • Subscriber Lookup
  • Multiple Aggregators
  • Full API Capabilities


Don’t see a feature you need? We also take requests. We have an in-house team who work with our clients on a regular basis to implement the features they need. Let’s work together and make Text-Calibur yours. 

Register to get your free Text-Calibur account here today.