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Long Code vs. Short Code Texting: Which is Right for Your Business?

If you’re a business looking to meet the demands of today’s mobile-centric consumer, then text messaging must be included in your overall strategy.

Why texting? Because it’s fast and convenient, and everyone is doing it. According to a study by PEW Research, “on average, 97% of smartphone owners send text messages. During a one-week study, 100% of participants in the 18–29 age range texted at least once during that period (compared to 98% of participants in the 30–49 age range and 92% of participants in the 50 and older age range).”

This presents a huge opportunity for businesses to engage with their customers and differentiate their experience from competitors in a more personal and effective way, as 75% of consumers are ОК with receiving SMS messages from brands (after opting in).

Before businesses start texting with customers, there is one important thing to consider to ensure legal compliance and a great experience for customers, and that is whether to use a short code number or a long code number.

As with anything you do in business, you must have a goal in mind when thinking about texting for both external (customer) and internal (employee) communications. By understanding your needs, you can make a better decision when determining when to use a short code or a long code.


What is Long Code Texting and When Should You Use it?


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

There are a variety of ways businesses are using long code phone numbers to text with customers. Smaller businesses sometimes use their personal mobile phones, but that approach is not ideal because it’s not efficient and it is difficult to manage.

Businesses that are serious about texting often use a software to send and receive text messages from customers and employees.

When businesses use a texting solution, they are often provided with a long code phone number that they can use for texting. Additionally, some texting providers can enable texting on existing business landline phone numbers, making it easy for customers to communicate either by text or phone call.


When should you use long code numbers for texting?

Long code texting is best when used for personal communication both internally and externally. Long codes are not meant for messaging a large group of people as long code text messages are capped at one message per second. This means if you try to send a text message to hundreds of people a day using a long code, most will not receive the message, as it will most likely be marked as spam by cell phone carriers.


Common use cases for long code texting include:

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


The purpose of long code numbers is for businesses to communicate with customers and employees on a personal level. They should never be used for mass marketing as there are stricter regulations when it comes to consent for receiving messages. This is where short codes come in.


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


SMS Short Codes are traditional 5-6-digit phone numbers (Ex. 370370) that are used by businesses to send and receive mass text messages.

The keyword here is “mass”. As stated earlier, long code text messages are meant for one-to-one communication and are restricted to one message sent per second. With short codes, businesses can send and receive hundreds of messages without issues as they are pre-approved by cell phone carriers to have a higher throughput at around 100 messages per second.


When should you use short code numbers for texting?

Short code texting is best when you want to communicate a broad message or emergency alert to a large group of people at once. No, this does not mean that you should spam people with a “special offer”.

Although short codes enable you to reach more people, they also come with tighter regulations for opting-in. With short codes, businesses MUST HAVE proof of consent from recipients stating they are willing to receive text messages from them.


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

  • A keyword opt-in (Ex. Text JOIN to 123456)
  • Checking a box on a website form that gives consent (Ex. I agree to receive text messages from Business X)
  • Filling out a consent form (Ex. Enter your number to subscribe to alerts)


A couple of important things to note for opt-in consent is that first, it needs to be documented in your business records. This is to ensure that 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 message you send, giving people a chance to opt out at anytime (Ex. Text STOP to Unsubscribe).


Common use cases for short code texting include:

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



There is no doubt that text messaging will become the main channel for customer communication in the near future. However, businesses need to first understand how they want to use texting, and then decide whether to choose a long code, short code, or both depending on the goals of the business and each department within it.

It’s important to select a texting provider that has experience with both long code and short code texting and can provide you with proper guidance on the best solution for your business and scale as your business continues to grow.


Want to learn more about short code vs. long code texting? Schedule a quick 10-minute call with one of our solutions experts today. 


Long Code vs. Short Code Texting Comparison Infographic TrueDialog (DOWNLOAD)



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