SMS marketing is widely accepted by businesses of all scales belonging to all sectors of the industry. It is a highly favoured channel for marketing as businesses are able to contact their prospects and customers directly on their cell phones, according to their specific needs and preferences.

SMS marketing involves sending text messages to the customers (individually or in bulk) for specific purposes. It is common for businesses to send text messages regarding exclusive discounts, offers or points earned by their customers.

They also send messages regarding an important update their customers should be aware of. Every e-commerce venture sends text messages to their customers regarding the confirmation of payment and the status of their order.

Looking at the prominence and advantages of SMS marketing, a number of software platforms have been designed to help businesses interact with their customers via SMS. One such example is is the best SMS app for Salesforce. It helps users in sending and receiving SMS with regards to their Salesforce account, keeping a track of all messaging activities and automating the same. With the help of, users can interact with their clients in an organised and efficient manner.

Nevertheless, it is important for businesses to ensure that their SMS marketing is systematic. There are two major ways in which businesses can send text messages to their customers – through SMS short codes and SMS long codes.

Though the ultimate purpose and intention of both the messages is fairly similar, there are certain specific differences between the two, which are important for a marketer to understand.

What Is SMS Short Code?

SMS shortcode is essentially a 5 to 6 digit contact number used by businesses to send text messages to their customers. This number is unique and shorter as compared to a standard mobile number.

SMS short codes allow businesses to send more number of messages to the customers as compared to the longer codes. Generally, MMS short codes are also included in the discussions regarding SMS short codes and need not be mentioned separately.

SMS short codes are commonly used by businesses to send offers, discounts, redeemable points, sweepstakes, OTPs and other relevant information to the customers. These numbers are notably short and unique, making it easy for the customers to remember while reverting to them.

Now, why use a short code and what are the basic purposes it solves?

Why Use A Short Code?

SMS short codes are used by businesses in situations where they need to send more number of messages in a shorter span of time. The reason behind this is the fact that short codes are already approved by wireless carriers for sending more messages than by using longer codes over the same period of time. These codes are therefore ideal for mass messaging.

Here are some of the common purposes for which SMS short codes are used:

  • Sending one-time passwords (OTP) to customers for authenticating specific activities
  • Sending exclusive discounts to specific customers
  • Asking customers to vote for feedback purposes
  • Asking customers to vote for television programs from their mobile phones
  • Collecting responses for lucky draws or giveaways

The popularity of SMS short codes has significantly increased over time and they are widely used by businesses for promotional purposes on a frequent basis. When you see an ad or a text message that says, “Message ‘DISC’ to 55443 to avail our discount” the number mentioned in the message is the short code.

Types Of SMS Short Codes

Broadly, there are two types of short codes for SMS – dedicated short codes and shared short codes.

Dedicated Short Codes

A dedicated short code is a short code that can only be used by a specific business organisation. This code is unique to a business and cannot be used by anyone else.

As a business, you can obtain a dedicated code by selecting a custom vanity code or generating a code randomly. The biggest advantage of using a dedicated short code is the fact that it provides you with sufficient creative freedom. Here, you can choose a code of your choice, preferably the kind that can be easily memorable for your customers.

Moreover, as your code is not shared by any other business, you can ascertain exactly the messages you receive on the unique number. This gives you considerable control over your brand and its image in the market.

Shared Short Codes

As opposed to dedicate short codes, shared short codes are numbers that can be used by multiple businesses. Here, you are limited in the number of keywords you can use for your text messages. If another business sharing your code has already selected a particular keyword, you cannot use the same in your messages.

However, a big advantage of using shared short codes is the fact that they are highly cost-effective. After paying a one-time setup fee, your codes are leased on a monthly basis. Moreover, with shared short codes, you only pay for the messages you send, while the incoming messages are free. Here, you pay no overheads.

What is SMS Long Code?

SMS long codes are the standard ten-digit numbers through which businesses can send text messages to their customers. Several businesses send long code SMS to their contacts for promotional purposes.

Along with the combination of right keywords, such codes can be used for increasing response rates, building your customer database and promoting your business. If you want to send texts by long code, it is advisable to mention these codes in your advertisements, brochures and other relevant areas where your customers can clearly read them.

When Should You Use SMS Long Codes?

As a business willing to incorporate SMS marketing and use it efficiently, the use of long code SMS is highly beneficial. Here are some of the common situations where you can use long code SMS for sending text messages to your customers:

  • Providing customer services to your contacts through SMS
  • Communicating on a one-on-one basis with your customers
  • If you are willing to keep your contact number uniform across multiple channels
  • If you are willing to set up a texting network exclusive to your internal staff

Benefits Of SMS Short Codes

Here are some of the major benefits you can avail by using short code SMS (shared and dedicated) for sending text messages to your customers

  • You have a complete control over your brand and your marketing campaign as you get to monitor the messages sent by your customers.
  • There is a better recall value for short codes with your customers.
  • Using dedicated short codes allows you the freedom to choose the keywords of your choice.
  • Short codes facilitate sending bulk messages over a short period of time.
  • As you have complete control over your dedicated short code SMS, your messages and campaigns are more secure.

Benefits Of SMS Long Codes

Here are some of the major benefits you can avail by using long code SMS for sending text messages to your customers:

Quick Setup – One of the biggest benefits of adopting SMS long codes is the fact that they require very less setup time. You can get your long code number set and running in a few hours’ time.

Uniform point of contact – On using a long code, your customers can use this number for texting, calling, faxing and all other relevant communication activities. There is no need to maintain a different number for voice calls, keeping your communication uniform.

Personal Touch – Communication with short codes is largely impersonal. On using long codes, there is a sense of personal touch as your customers can indulge in a two-way communication whenever required. Also, such communication allows your customers to raise direct questions or doubts and get them solved on an individual and personal basis.

Personalised Services – As a direct contact with customers is possible with the use of long codes, you can provide personalised services to your customers with your marketing campaigns. By gauging their needs, you can tailor your services according to the specific needs of your customers.

Drawbacks Of Short Code SMS

Though short codes are widely used by businesses across the globe, they do suffer from a major drawback. On using such codes for sending text messages to your customers, you cannot have personal communication with them.

Short code messages are largely impersonal in nature. There is one-way communication, where there is no interaction between the sender and the receiver of messages.

Drawbacks of Long Code SMS

Here are some of the major drawbacks of long code SMS:

  • SMS long codes allow businesses to deliver messages to their customers roughly at the rate of 1 message per second. This makes mass messaging tedious and time-consuming.
  • The content created using long codes is subject to SMS limitations, preventing you from sending pictures or videos.
  • Long codes are more difficult for your customers to remember.
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