Businesses can utilize SMS marketing in a number of ways, such as through a long code or short code. Short codes are better for mass text services, and so are often more popular.

Chances are you have interacted with some form of short code on your mobile phone without even realizing it. When you receive a shipping confirmation, an e-receipt from a restaurant, or a notice about a sale at your favorite store, chances are you received that text via an SMS Short Code.

Don't know much about short codes? No worries! After you finish reading this, we're sure you're going to be well on your way to becoming an expert.

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What is an SMS Short Code?

An SMS short code is a four, five, or six-digit number, depending on the region you operate in. Businesses use such digit codes to send SMS and MMS messages while consumers can use it to interact with businesses. These codes are intentionally kept short, so they are memorable for the consumer, increasing the response rate. This high response rate makes it a useful marketing tool.

The messages sent through SMS short codes can contain coupons, promotional material, awareness surveys, general information, or— well, almost anything. The sky is the limit with SMS short codes, and there are many benefits of using short code as long as you're in compliance with CTIA and FCC guidelines. One of the most important guidelines is that you have to receive explicit permission from the user before sending messages, which can be accomplished through an opt-in program.

Short codes are often used in conjunction with keywords, which are specific words that allow subscribers to interact with your messages. Does this sound familiar? "Text SALE to 12334 to claim your 20% discount, but hurry fast! Supplies are limited." In this SMS message, 12334 is the short code and SALE is the keyword.

Types Of SMS Short Codes

SMS short codes come in two varieties: a dedicated short code and a shared short code. You might be able to guess what they are by the names, but we're going to explain it below, just in case.

1. Dedicated SMS Short Code

When you purchase a dedicated SMS short code, you get a specific number that no other business can use. You will be the sole user of that short code, for as long as you lease that short code.

Because of this, businesses and companies have full control over the type of text messages sent over that short code. They can use that exclusive number to run multiple services or campaigns at the same time. You can use that as your only short code, or lease multiple dedicated short codes, depending on your business needs. Our phone validator can also help your business to clean up older contacts and verify that all numbers are up-to-date for your short code SMS service.

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2. Shared SMS Short Code

The other type of short code is a shared short code. Shared short codes are more affordable, but they also come with more risk. As the name suggests, multiple brands and businesses can share a short code. Each different business will have different keywords to easily identify which brand's messages consumers are responding to.

However, because you're sharing a short code, you only have control over what content your business is sending via the short code. If other businesses using the short code send inappropriate content or messages that otherwise violate FCC and CTIA SMS messaging regulations, you are still impacted when the short code is suspended.

Short Code Advertising and Keywords

As mentioned above, to send an interactive SMS message, you need both a short code and a keyword. This keyword is crucial for all the parties involved, i.e., the customer (the original sender), the business or brand (the receiver), and the party looking after your SMS marketing service (the regulator). Every time a consumer opts-in for an SMS marketing campaign, the keyword they use to give their permission will be important for marketing and regulatory purposes.

Typically, a brand advertises its short code to the consumers along with a specific keyword through both traditional marketing strategies (such as print media, TV, radio, etc.) and modern advertising (such as online marketing, social media, in-store placements, etc.). Businesses are using their SMS short codes in various creative ways and for different purposes. Like we said, the possibilities are endless, but we've listed a few examples for you below:

  • Expanding the customer base: you can easily expand your customer base with an SMS program. Include opt-in information on your print and e-receipts, offer exclusive discounts for SMS subscribers, and more to entice new customers to join your SMS service and reward current subscribers.
  • Enhancing and introducing services: using SMS, you can introduce new services or integrate your SMS program with current services to enhance the customer experience. Send text notifications when an item is back in stock, an order is ready for pickup, or a package is on its way.
  • Offering better customer service: offer superior customer service with an SMS program. Keywords like HELP and STOP result in auto-replies that provide immediate assistance, while other keywords can link subscribers to a brand's contact page or direct them to a chat line.
  • Increasing customer engagement: businesses that take advantage of SMS programs have better customer engagement. Promotional offers give users the opportunity to take advantage of sales with the click of button, all from the convenience of their home.
  • Introducing loyalty programs: SMS messages are an easy way to either create a loyalty program or take your current loyalty program to the next level. You can broadcast exclusive offers, extra incentives, and special events to subscribers as an extra reward for their patronage.


SMS short codes are the backbone of many SMS marketing campaigns. They offer any brand, business, company, or organization several benefits, such as extended reach and instant communication. Businsses can choose between dedicated or shared short codes, and each type has its own benefits and drawbacks. Dedicated short codes are more expensive but offer more control and marketing ability, whereas shared short codes are more budget-friendly but only offer you limited control over content.

SMS short codes are excellent marketing tools because of their easy and memorable impression on customers. Brands and businesses utilize this service to become more customer-oriented, drive sales, and expand their marketing campaigns.

To successfully get an SMS short code, it is better to partner with an excellent short code service provider that understands local and federal compliance regulations. Such companies are experienced with meeting the needs and requirements of your marketing campaigns.

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