Short Codes Explained

Text WIN to 12345

We see short codes every day offering us things we don’t really need, that we have almost no chance of winning. But it’s not just ‘talent’ shows and TV competitions that are making the most of short codes; a growing number of smaller companies and community organisations are using short codes to reach out to a wider network of customers. Statistically, while only 20% of emails are looked at, around 98% of all SMS messages are opened, with the average text being read within 90 seconds. That’s a big market to tap in to.

Short codes can be divided into two categories: dedicated and shared.

Dedicated short codes are for the serious business marketers; they are expensive and setting one up is a lengthy process. Those that opt for a dedicated short code can choose to use either a random number, or to purchase a ‘vanity’ number for up to double the cost. Like vanity plates on cars, these numbers are typically only used by the elite, even the president of the United States used one on a campaign, 62262 which spells Obama on an alpha-numeric keypad. Despite the expense, vanity numbers follow an obvious logic; the
more memorable the number, the greater the chance of a customer connection.

As the name suggests, shared codes are shared. The same 5 digit number is given to a group of companies who then each give their customers differing keywords to filter the incoming texts into their particular account. Shared codes are the more popular choice for a variety of reasons. Perhaps most attractively, it’s low cost, not only for the company but also for the respondent, who is only charged at a standard network rate. A shared code can be put in place for a company within 24 hours; a fraction of the time it takes to set up a dedicated code.

Short codes; shared or dedicated, are being used by businesses in an increasingly varied number of ways:

Generating Leads – This is probably the one of the most useful resources for a company. By writing on marketing products or content, insets like, ‘text INFO to 12345 to find out more’, a company can create a connection that is simple for both them and the potential customer.

Generating Income – Owners of dedicated short codes can charge premium message rates and reap instant rewards for each message sent back to their campaign. For those that opt for shared codes, by not charging any extra to reply to a campaign, the chance that more customers will respond could be even higher than premium rate codes.

Competitions – Whether its prizes or voting, polls or surveys, offering customers the chance to win not only increases the likelihood of a response but also, when used cleverly, presents a unique opportunity for a bit of market insight.

Content – Businesses can send videos, pictures and other paid for content directly to a customer’s phone with premium rate codes. Not only is this an effective way to generate income, it’s also a great way to connect with customers interactively and provides an important platform for creative marketing and advertising campaigns.

Reminders – Used extensively by both small and large organisations, customers can sign up for reminders for anything from doctor’s appointments and parents’ evening times, to release dates for movies and the latest gadgets. Reminders are an effective, unobtrusive way of interacting with a consumer.

Find my Business – One of the more practical ways in which companies can utilise their short codes is to help their customers find them. Store or branch finders are a simple way to generate foot traffic and potential revenue; customers input and send their postcodes and an automated reply will respond with the nearest branch location and corresponding telephone number.

The way businesses are evolving their SMS marketing techniques means that short codes are being adapted for different uses all the time and the list will keep on growing. In 2014 80% of consumers reported that they hadn’t received any SMS marketing messages from their favourite brands, this means many businesses still haven’t woken up to the opportunities SMS marketing can offer. For a growing percentage of consumers it is fast becoming one of the most popular and effective choices for business marketing. They’re just waiting for companies to catch up!

For more information please contact us on +44 (0) 1962 835053, email

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