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Long Code vs. Short Code Texting?

Before Deciding Long Code vs. Short Code, Why is Texting Important?

If you’re a business looking to meet today’s mobile-centric consumer demands, you may wonder if you should use long code vs. short code in your SMS text messaging strategy. You’re not alone. Business texting is fast, effective, and convenient. Besides, everyone is doing it. Consider the following stats:

  • Most smartphone users (98%) text regularly, yet less than a quarter of businesses send text messages to their clients. 
  • When a company sends a text message, its customers are more likely to open and respond than when it communicates over email. 
  • The open rate of SMS messages could be as high as 98%. 
  • Business communications via text messages can help companies reach customers more frequently and efficiently. 

For any marketing strategy, it’s necessary to ensure your messages go where the majority of the audience is. As texting has become the primary use for mobile devices, businesses are already making headway into text marketing – and according to AT&T, 85% of mobile users prefer texting over receiving calls or emails.

According to Tech Jury,

“SMS will continue to expand in marketing in the next few years. By 2023, subscribers will be 8.998+ billion. Stats on text message marketing show that 5.9 billion people worldwide will have access to SMS technology. This means SMS marketing will continue to be as relevant in the future as it is today (if not more).”

This presents a massive opportunity for your business to differentiate your brand from your competitors by engaging with your customers in the most personal and universal way.

Reaching Customers How They Want To Be Reached

According to a ZenDesk report, more than 50% of customers across all age groups use the phone to connect with service teams, meaning phone communications are still the most reliable approach to customer service. Additionally, 78% of customers use texting to correspond with companies, setting text-based customer service up to become the focal point of B2C communications.

Texting is perfect for meeting the modern customer where they are at because immediacy is driving much of their behavior. More than 70% of customers now expect to communicate with companies in real-time, and almost four-fifths of customers stated they expect a response from companies they complain to over Twitter within an hour. Those are the lucky cases for businesses, as 25 out of 26 customers simply leave rather than allow the company to resolve the issue.

By using text messaging, companies stand a much stronger chance of staying in contact with customers at those critical junctures when they may be tempted to “quietly abandon” the brand. As 55% of customers report abandoning brands when that company ignores their feedback, fast response times through the quickest channels are critical to giving customers a reason to stay. It will also help your company know what to do differently.

Different Text Formats for Different Purposes

75% of consumers are ОК with receiving SMS messages from brands after opting in – but before your business starts texting with customers, you have to consider the differences between long code vs. short code numbers. They enable you to text customers, but there can be legal compliance issues, cost considerations, and, of course, an excellent experience.

As with anything you do in your company, you must have a goal in mind when thinking about texting for external (customers, suppliers) and internal (employee) communication purposes. By clearly understanding your needs, you can better decide when to use long code vs. short code.

Related: How Text Messaging Improves the Customer Service Experience

What is Long Code Texting, and When Should You Use It?

SMS Long Codes are traditional 10-digit phone numbers (Ex. 512-501-5940), primarily used to send and receive text messages between personal mobile phones.

There are various ways businesses use long code phone numbers to text their customers. Smaller organizations sometimes use their personal mobile phones, but this approach is not ideal because it is inefficient and difficult to manage, not to mention unprofessional.

Instead, companies that use texting as a communication strategy often rely on SMS texting software to send and receive text messages to and from customers and employees. Recipients see a business phone number instead of an unknown personal number, and business owners can keep track of every text in one place, no matter which employee sent it.

With a texting solution, you can purchase a long code phone number for SMS long code purposes. Some long-code texting providers can also enable texting on your existing business landline phone numbers, making it easier for your customers to recognize the number texting them.

When Should you Use Long Code Numbers for Texting?

When considering long code vs. short code, remember that long code texting is best for personal, 1×1, or 1xfew communications with internal and external audiences. Long code text messages are not the best medium for contacting a large group of people, mainly because they have a one-message-per-second limit, slowing delivery.

There’s also the problem with spam. If you try to send a long code text message to hundreds of people a day, most of them will not receive the text because cell phone carriers will likely flag your message as spam.

Everyday use cases for long code texting include:

  • Appointment reminders 
  • Payment reminders 
  • Customer service 
  • Employee-specific notifications 
  • Birthday and anniversary messages 
  • Order and shipping confirmations 

In summary, the purpose of long code numbers is for you to communicate with customers and employees on a more personal level on a channel they are most likely to use regularly. Organizations should never use them for mass marketing as regulations are more strict regarding consent for receiving messages.

Short codes are a better option if you’re interested in using SMS texting in your marketing strategy.

Related: How to Use Enterprise Text Messaging Software (with Tips)

What is Short Code Texting, and When Should You Use it?

A Common Short Code (or simply SMS Short Code) is a traditional five- or six-digit phone number (Ex. 370370) businesses use to send and receive bulk text messages. Short code texting programs offer a fast, efficient, and reliable way to communicate with a mass audience.

The keyword here is “mass.” As stated earlier, long code text messages are best for one-to-one communications and have a limit of one message transmitted per second. Your choice of long code vs. short code may come down to how many people you want to send messages to simultaneously.

With short codes, you can send and receive hundreds of messages without issues, as they are pre-approved by cell phone carriers to have a higher transmission capacity at around 100 messages per second. Almost all major USA wireless providers support short code programs, enabling you to send bulk text messages using automated tools with little restriction.

When should you use short code numbers for texting?

Short code texting solutions are best when you want to communicate a broad message or an emergency alert to many people at once. And no, this does not mean you should spam people with a “special offer” daily. You should place each text message into your general communications strategy as another tool to help you achieve your business goals.

Although short codes enable you to reach more people, they also come with tighter opt-in regulations. To comply, you must have proof of opt-in consent from recipients stating they are willing to receive text messages from your organization.

Some types of opt-in consent for short code texting can be:

  • Sending a keyword to opt-in (for instance: “Text JOIN to 123456”) 
  • Checking a box on a website form that includes such consent (as an example: “I agree to receive text messages from XYZ Brand.”) 
  • Filling out a consent form (for example, “Enter your number to subscribe to alerts.”) 

You also need to correctly document customer preferences in your business records. This ensures you can prove consent should someone decide to take legal action claiming a text message is spam.

Secondly, you should always include an opt-out message in every short code text you send, giving people a chance to exit the list at any time (for example: “Text STOP to Unsubscribe.”)

Everyday use cases for short code texting include:

  • Marketing and promotional messages 
  • Company news and product updates 
  • Job postings 
  • Emergency alerts 
  • Contests 
  • Polls and surveys 

A Matter of Relevancy

The short code vs. long code debate isn’t about selecting one for all purposes because one is not better than the other. What matters most is deciding when to use either to pursue your goals. They both create far higher and faster click-through rates than email, but each is conducive to specialized purposes.

As described above, long codes are much better suited for direct content that conveys more personal messages. Just as you would expect from a friend, SMS long codes usually provide custom content or information that is wholly unique to the specifics of an already established relationship. When customers see a long code, they associate them with personalization.

Besides the interrelational considerations, the technical factors practically impose these limitations due to rate restrictions and the tendency of carriers to mark long codes as spam (although this is less so with new 10-digit long codes). This also means there are more significant legal considerations, as the type of message requires different levels of consent.

Short code texting is much more fluid and technically permissive – carriers assume the owner of the short code number has gone through the stringent telecom regulations and would not have the number otherwise. Further, customers have associated short codes with more technical and impersonal business functions, such as receiving login codes and mass notifications.

This makes short code texting the prime choice for any major marketing campaign designed simply to spread a message far and wide or to automate business functions that take place frequently every day. On the other hand, SMS long codes are now making similar functions possible with software-based text automation, creating the temptation to do some of the same things but with a 10-digit number.

Instead, apply your long codes for more conversational effects. Since they allow for accessible two-way communication, they’re opening the doors to text-based customer service. If you want to capture customer attention where it already is, you will do well to capitalize on the new possibilities being opened with SMS long codes.

In short, nothing will replace the skillful use of long and short codes, backed by a strong understanding of which functions each is best suited for.

How To Make Good Use of SMS

No doubt, text messaging is becoming one of the main channels for communicating with your customers, prospects, and employees. Instead of worrying about whether long code vs. short code is best, consider using both. You may want to use a long code for personalized communications with certain people and a short code for mass texts with large groups of people.

Rather than thinking of it as long code vs. short code, it’s better to apply both where it is most appropriate. By leveraging the benefits of both codes, you can expand your SMS texting strategy to reach the right people at the right time with the right type of communication.

Partnering with a top texting provider with enough experience in both long and short code texting is vital. They can provide you with proper guidance and guaranteed compliance with the best solution for your organization and scale as your goals continue to evolve.

Engage in one-to-one conversations at scale by sending text messages with TrueDialog. Its unique unified thread of short and long code messages gives each team member a clearer picture of every message sent and provides them with a better understanding of future goals. Rather than clunky or frustrating interactions, TrueDialog keeps the context of each conversation while routing specific issues to the right agents for fast customer service. Get the best enterprise-grade texting solution. Contact us today.

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 or your organization’s regulatory compliance team.