Short/Long code : SMS marketing enabler…

shortcode-longcodeWith the advancement in all levels of marketing and coming up of various other ways to reach your customer, SMS still hasn’t lost it’s way and Short/Long code helps business implement that. Companies are connecting nowadays in not just a one-way marketing communication over just 1-2 mediums but they are suggesting and getting feedback on every other platform available like Emails, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube ads, etc.  But SMS still provides the most direct and easy way to connect with customer where there is no need for a fancy looking dynamically  personalized email or a highly customized Facebook lead generation form, it’s just a 160 characters sent out via some way two easy to operate medium like and your work is done and this can be achieved by Short/Long codes.

Short code (5 or 6 digit number) or Long code (10 digit number) are basically a phone number purchased by marketing companies or brands to send and receive SMS. Short codes are used for intra-country purpose and is specific to a single country while long codes are generally used for inter country SMS communications and can be used for more than one country. 

Many a times you would have seen add campaigns like one on the right Coke-4-digit-short-codewhich asks you to enter some KEYWORD like ‘COKE’ here and send it to a number which is ‘2653’ here. What will happen is that the you will be opted-in for that campaign which was started by Coca Cola in the 1st place. ‘2653’ is the short code used by coke to communicate and ‘COKE’ is the keyword used to identify that the customer wants to opt in a particular campaign (which will be tagged to keyword ‘COKE’) and the SMS received was for company Coca Cola. Latter becomes important if the short code used by a company is a non-vanity or in simple language a shared short code.

The way this work is –8ngIr.png

  • Company buys a short/long code which is a phone number basically
  • setups a campaign on a marketing tool which maybe Salesforce Marketing Cloud for big companies or a for new ones.
  • get the customer list directly or through a opt-in form or through a lead generation form from your cloud pages or websites and tag those customers to the keywords through which they were obtained
  • associate the customers to individual campaigns based on the segmentation criteria
  • send out the SMS with details about the keyword like ‘FRIDAYDEALS’, ‘WEEKENDOFF’, ‘BLACKFRIDAY’, ‘HELP’ or ‘STOP’
  • your software will receive the inbound SMS from the customers and associate those to the individual KEYWORDS
  • action on the customer details based on their replies
  • Start again.

Short code as mentioned above can be shared or non-shared. The only benefit of a shared code is that it is cheap and might be good for small companies and the only drawback of a non-shared code is that it is expensive therefore I would just list down the drawbacks of shared code and the benefits of non-shared short code.

In a shared code –

  • many companies are using the same short code therefore no exclusivity
  • concerned brand needs to request for new keywords every time
  • keyword selection is restricted as a keyword which you want to associate with your brand campaign might be already bought by some other company also using the same short code. For e.g. if a customer wants to stop receiving SMS from some campaign all he ideally needs to do is reply with ‘STOP’ but as the same number is used by might be both Dominos and Pizza Hut, they would need to send reply like ‘DOMINOSSTOP’ or ‘PIZZAHUT’ so that the company would know that exactly for which company the SMS was meant.
  • if two competitor or closely associated companies are using the same short code then chances are high that you might end up having almost same keyword 
  • customers might get tagged to a different campaign if the keywords of two companies are almost same
  • frustrating for customer because he might start receiving future SMS from a wrong campaign
  • due to excessive traffic sometimes the service get down causing a loss in business
  • your inbound SMS dependent on some other provider which may fault on keyword filtering while receiving of SMS replies from customer

In a non-shared code – 

  • company can request for an easy to remember number which can be closely associated to the brand too
  • company can choose the keywords of their choice and need not use ambiguous keywords.
  • company need not be dependent on some 3rd party vendor to receive the SMS on your behalf and do the filtering of KEYWORDS
  • your SMS received from customer are secure and seen only by the company concerned
  • no leak in customer information

While the above may be some pointers that companies need to consider, it mostly depends on the scale of the campaign that needs to be launched and the revenue it might be generating. A shared code generally cost around $1000 per month while a non-shared costs $500 per month in United States. In India there are a lot of marketing companies offering shared codes at quite cheaper rates and newly started or smaller brands can surely make use of that. 



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