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Business SMS Basics: How to Get Short Codes for Text Messaging

SMS is an invaluable approach to any marketing strategy because it is proven to be so effective in reliably reaching an audience with targeted messages on a channel most people use regularly. In this era, mobile phones have all but become an extension of our own bodies. 

With mobile devices and smartwatches, it’s hard for any of us to miss a message. In fact, studies show 66% of Americans check their phones an average of 160 times a day. That means if you aren’t already texting your customers and prospects, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to connect with them. 

If you’re looking to modernize your marketing strategy, you’ll want to start with getting a dedicated short code for your business. Wondering how to get short codes for text messaging? We’ll take you through the ins and outs.

What are SMS Short Codes?

Short codes are five- or six-digit phone numbers that are used by brands to distribute mass text messages. These dedicated numbers are selected at random, or can be personalized to be more memorable or aligned with your brand. Vanity short codes, as they’re called, may spell out your brand name or something associated with it on a telephone keypad.

Short codes enable businesses to send SMS messages to a distribution list with ease and are preferred over long codes for sending bulk text messages. They also stand out amongst a text inbox with a distinctive phone number. Short codes for text messaging are an essential part of your digital marketing strategy. 

How to Get Short Codes for Text Messaging

When you’re ready to start sending SMS messages from your business, short codes for text messaging are your first step. Short codes can’t be purchased outright and are instead leased. There are quite a few steps and some detailed paperwork involved, and it’s important to get it all right.

Thankfully, you won’t go through the process alone. Your platform provider will take care of it all for you, allowing you to relax until it’s time to begin with your SMS marketing outreach.

What is a Platform Provider?

Practically speaking, an SMS marketing platform is the tool you use to send mass text messages. This platform provides a way to craft and distribute messages to subscribers easily. 

The best platform for you will also integrate with your existing tools and workflows, enabling your teams to collaborate and work together with ease. For example, by integrating your CRM, team members can clearly see all communications and collaborate seamlessly.

Your SMS platform provider is more than this tool, however. The company behind that tool is an indispensable ally when it comes to getting short codes for text messaging. They’ll take care of all of the details and provide you with your short code.

Related: Game Changer: Bulk SMS Marketing

Lease a Short Code

Short codes are not purchased and are instead leased to companies who will use them for sending messages. Think of these 5- to 6-digit numbers in the way you look at your website domain: it’s yours in that it is the address where customers will access your website. In actuality, though, the domain doesn’t belong to you as you obtain it through a subscription with the domain registrar.

A short code is similar. While leasing one, only your company will be able to send and receive messages with this dedicated number. There are a couple of approaches you can take to selecting your short code:

  1. You can work with your provider to receive a randomly selected short code. Your provider will pull a short code from the national short code registry and assign it to your business. When it comes to the options on how to get short codes for text messaging, this is the most cost-effective option.
  2. Your other option is a vanity short code. Much like personalized license plates on your car, vanity short codes are chosen specifically by you. Oftentimes, vanity short codes are chosen to spell out a word on a telephone keypad. They can also be used to create a memorable pattern, such as 12345 or 112211. Due to the increase in inherent value in this option, the price for leasing is higher for a vanity code.

Leasing a randomly selected short code is about $500 per month, but pricing depends on several variables. A vanity short code costs about $1,000 per month. Whichever option you choose, once you have registered and your payment has been received, that short code is yours to use. Remember, though, that this is only part of the cost of having and using a short code.

Related: How to Use SMS Marketing for Your Franchise

How to Use SMS Short Codes

Now that you know how to get short codes for text messaging, you can begin using an SMS marketing strategy for your business. There are a number of ways to leverage this technology to reach your customers and subscribers.

Offering Discounts or Promotions

SMS is a great way to reach your customers to make offers or promotions. Whether you’re offering your products or services in-store or online, you can send a bulk message to your subscribers to announce limited-time offers and entice them to purchase. Your messages can include discount codes or a link to a special page on your site where they can claim the offer.

Making Announcements

If you have a new product or service launching you can send a text to build suspense. Let your subscribers know that something new is coming and that they can be amongst the first to know. Encourage sign ups or registration to an exclusive launch message, and include an offer to entice early purchases.

Invitations to Events

If you have an in-person or online event coming, SMS is a great way to get people to attend. Send a message to encourage registration and attendance, and provide a link where they can officially add themselves to the list.

Hosting Giveaways or Contests

Another great means of marketing to your audience and increasing engagement is through giveaways or contests. Encourage participation in a contest in hopes of winning a grand prize. These contests can be based on purchases to enter, posts on social media, or signing up through a link or a text response.

Soliciting Feedback

Word of mouth is a fantastic supplement to your marketing strategy. Word of mouth in the digital era often shows up as written testimonials and online feedback. After your customers make a purchase, send a text to ask how their experience was and invite them to participate in a satisfaction survey.

You can also encourage them to post on Google Maps or Yelp to share their experience with the world. If they write a kind testimonial, be sure to ask permission to share it on your own website or social channels.

SMS Should be a Part of Your Digital Marketing Strategy

The always-on nature of the modern era is due, in large part, to our connection to our phones. While social media and email campaigns cover a lot of ground, skipping SMS is a mistake you can’t afford to make. A comprehensive digital marketing strategy incorporates SMS into brand messaging and outreach.

If you’re new to SMS marketing it can be confusing to know where to begin. Understanding how to get short codes for text messaging is more than half the battle. Once you’ve set up your brand’s short code, you can start sending enticing and actionable messages to your subscribers. 

TrueDialog is there for you from start to finish. We can take care of the processes involved in obtaining and setting up your short code, and provide the platform you need to create and deliver messages to your subscribers.


Disclaimer: Please note that this advice is for informational purposes only and is neither intended as nor should be substituted for consultation with appropriate legal counsel and/or your organization’s regulatory compliance team.