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Short Code

SMS Marketing & Ringless Voicemail Software

As a business, you are going to want to reach your customers in as many ways as possible. What this means is that you are going to have to employ every method that you can think of to contact and get your message across to those who buy your products or services. For this reason, you should be thinking about contacting them via their phone through SMS messaging. The pillars of any SMS marketing campaign require that you as a business know about Short Code. Now, you might have never heard of this before, and that’s okay because in this article we are going to be looking at everything you need to know about SMS Short Code so that by the time you have finished reading this article, you are going to have all of the information that you need. Keep reading to find out more and help your business expand into SMS marketing.

What Is Short Code?

Have you ever received a text message from a business and it came through to your phone from a five or six-digit number? The number that you saw was the SMS Short Code that business has been using for their marketing campaign. These are usually used to contact those customers who have signed up to receive updates, promotional offers and other news about your company so that you can promote yourselves to them in this different way. For example, you might have been on a sign somewhere that it said ‘text this number to get a free coupon to a certain store’ and then give you a five or six-digit number. As a consumer, you will see this number and text it to redeem your free item, which is how businesses use this to engage with their client base.

SMS Short Code Keywords

Like we mentioned above, usually, when these are advertised, they come with some kind of word that the customer needs to text to the number to redeem the item. This is known as the SMS Short Code keyword as it is what is used by the customer to engage with your company. The reason that these are used is that not only does the customer need to know the Short Code, but also the keyword so that providers know exactly what kind of service the customer is trying to access. Each business will have its own SMS Short Code, and a keyword that can be used with it. Now, once the text has been received by the provider, the software is then used to send a message back to the customer for confirmation that their text had been received.

If we use the example of a spa advertising a free coupon if you text the number, it would look something like this: ‘text VOUCHER to 98352 in order to claim your free spa voucher.’ You can see the keyword here is voucher, and the SMS Short Code is the number provided.

Figuring Out Who Owns A Short Code

Because there are a lot of companies out there, there are also a lot of Short Codes to go through if you are looking for a particular one. But, the good news is that there is a directory that you can use to find out which business owns which code. The U.S Short Codes directory is full of this information; ensuring that everyone has access to all of these codes, and knows who owns them. The directory will also give you contact options for support if this is necessary.

Or, as a business, you might be more concerned about if this directory can help you figure out which Short codes are currently for sale. The good news is that it does, and this can be very helpful when it comes to acquiring a Short Code for your business. Make sure that you are doing your research before you try to purchase one of these SMS codes to ensure that it is available.

Buying Or Leasing?

Something that you might be surprised to learn is that businesses do not actually own their SMS Short Codes even if they are using a certain type called ‘dedicated’ which we will discuss a little further on. Instead, these codes are actually leased to other providers such as Drop Cowboy, or the business that is looking to use them. The amount of time that you can lease a Short Code for depends on how long you pay for it, usually this is going to be somewhere between three and six months.

Vanity VS Non-Vanity

Vanity short codes are generally chosen over non-vanity because it is easier for customers to remember these numbers. These are a 5-6 digit, specially selected numbers by the company. Vanity codes are the ones that are going to be easiest to remember, and this means having numbers like 54321 and 66661.

The difference is that non-vanity short codes are selected at random by the provider of the short codes. You might have noticed based on your personal experience with these codes that many of them being used today are non-vanity. You can expect to see random numbers that aren’t going to be easy to remember, such as 49261 or 028941 if you are leasing a non-vanity number.

Shared SMS Short Codes

A crucial piece of information that you need to know is that there are two types of short codes, and these are shared and dedicated. As the name suggests, if you decide on a shared code, then a number of other businesses are also going to be using this number to target their clients. We talked a little bit above about SMS keywords and the fact that they are important when a provider such as Drop Cowboy is trying to figure out which services a customer is trying to opt- in to and when it comes to shared SMS Short codes these are particularly important. Without them, the providers are not going to be able to determine which of the services a customer is trying to opt into because many businesses are sharing the same code.

Can you imagine how chaotic it would be if there was no keyword and there were just people texting the short codes? So for example, if you wanted to get promotions and things from a clothing store, you would text the keyword to the code number. However, if a restaurant also shared this SMS Short Code, without the keyword, it would be almost impossible for the provider to figure out which promotions the customer wanted to hear about.

Dedicated SMS Short Codes

The second type of Short Code that we are going to look at is dedicated short codes. As you might have already figured out, dedicated short codes are used for one business only, so when someone texts this Short Code, it is easy to determine which company this was meant for. It is common for larger businesses to have dedicated short code because they want to make sure that there are no other companies working under this number.

In this case, it ensures that all texts sent to this number are for one business alone. Although, like we said above, it is important to remember that these companies do not own the Short Code, and instead, they lease it from iconectiv who are responsible for the allocation of these codes.

TCPA Short Code Rules

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is important, and as a business owner, you need to make sure that you are up to date with all of these rules and regulations or you are not going to be compliant with the law. When running an SMS marketing campaign, you must remain compliant with these rules and regulations to make sure that the Short Code you are using is legal. For example, one of the things that you need to do under this act is making sure that you are monitoring and verifying the consumer information that you are receiving. You also need to make sure that you are verifying the phone numbers that are texting, to ensure they are legitimate. Now, this is not an extensive list of the regulations that you need to comply with, but it does give you a good idea about some of the things that you need to be doing.

CTIA Short Code Rules

Unfortunately, there are some companies that were set up to take advantage of their customers, and the CITA Short Code Rules where established to ensure that the customers are protected from these people. Only SMS marketing practices that are in the best interest of the consumer are allowed under CTIA, so this organization carries out audits on SMS marketing campaigns that are being conducted. The rules that these audits are based on can be found in the CTIA Short Code Compliance Handbook, so if you want to know more information about this, then you should take a look at this.

To show how serious these regulations are, if you are found to be in violation of any of the rules that are set out here, then you could have your SMS marketing campaign shut down. There are a lot of pages in this document, so if you don’t have the time to go through it all, there are shortened versions available online for you to view. Or, if you are finding it difficult to figure out what all this information means, there are also easy to understand versions.

Can You Move SMS Short Code?

There might be some cases where you are told differently, but it is not against the rules or impossible to move an SMS Short Code from one business to another. While some providers will tell you that this is the case, we can assure you that it is not and it is a fairly simple process if you know what you are doing.

The good thing about moving this SMS code is that the people who are using it to subscribe to your business won’t even notice a difference. They will still use the same number that they have previously used to opt-in and as well as this, your business will still send them messages from the same number. However, if you are going to move your subscribers to a new short code, you need to make sure that you have read all the information available on the topic. You need your business to be well informed so that if there ever are questions, you know exactly how to answer them.

Common Short Code Administration

Common short code which is usually known as CSC, and there is a division within iconectiv which oversees all of the technical aspects of short code. This division is known as the Common Short Code Administration and keeps a register of all of the available, registered, and reserved short codes. If you want to know more about them, you can check out their website where you will find all the if information that you need.

Short Code Messaging

Not only can an SMS Short Code send text messages, but it can also receive multimedia messages, also known as MMS. Even though this is the case, there needs to be special provisions in place for an SMS Short Code to be able to receive these multimedia messages. If this has not been set up, SMS messages are the only ones that will be able to be received.

How Much Does It Cost?

We know that you have probably been wondering throughout this article, well how much does this cost then? If you are looking for a dedicated SMS Short Code, then once the approval process has been completed, you are going to be looking at around $1000 per month if you want a vanity code, and if you want a non vanity code, then the cost will be closer to $500. But this is not the only payment that you are going to need to make as you are going to be charged for the set up of the short code for your business and then to host it.

There are a number of ways that you can pay for your SMS Short Code. Your business can use a credit card, a check, or an electronic transfer. Whichever of these three options is more suitable for your business.

SMPP Messaging

SMPP stands for Short Messaging Peer to Peer Protocol. If a message is sent via SMPP, then a private network is used to ensure that the messages go directly to and from the wireless provider. It is important to recognize here that SMPP and SMS Short Code Messaging are the only approved ways for a company to contact and engage with clients over text message. You cannot interact with customers through their mobile via text message in any other way.

How Long Does It Take For Approval?

To go through the entire approval process, which means getting all of the wireless providers to approve the code on their network, you are going to be looking at around 12-15 weeks. It is for this reason that many businesses opt to use a non vanity, shared short code. You are not going to be able to speed the process up no matter what you do, so if you are in a hurry to get your SMS marketing campaign up and running, you might want to consider not getting a dedicated short code. Shared short codes can be up and running almost immediately for your business to use, which is what makes them so appealing to many businesses.

Premium SMS Short Codes

One of the problems that customers faced was that sometimes they would see extra charges on their latest phone bill because they engaged in an email marketing campaign. However, some of the leading wireless providers came to an agreement with 45 states, that this would no longer be the case. As such, the estimated $2 billion that premium short codes were making will no longer be an issue for the consumer.


If you want to use your short code to collect donations from your customers, then you are going to need a specially approved code that can accept donations. You can look up more information on how to do this online. This is a great way to receive donations for your non-profit organization, so just make sure that you are going through all the necessary channels to get the code that you need to make this happen.

We hope that you have found this article helpful, and now know all you need to about SMS Short Code. It can be a tricky topic to get your head around, but hopefully, now you have a better idea of what it is, how it can be useful for your company, and how to make sure that everything is set up in the right way! If you do have any more questions that you need answering, you can contact us, and we will be more than happy to get you the answers that you are looking for regarding Short Code for your business.

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