CallFire, a Cloud Telephony Pioneer and SMS Gateway, Releases Text Marketing Short Code Guide

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Learn how Brands can Utilize Text Marketing to Bring about Brand Awareness through SMS Short Codes

SMS short codes are becoming more and more popular as a communications channel to reach out to consumers. If you have ever texted in votes to American Idol, or if you have ever voted for your favorite athlete at a sporting event, then you’ve already used a short code. A short code is a multi-digit phone number to send and receive text messages. The application of short codes are manifold. Mobile phone users can send SMS text messages to short codes to retrieve information, redeem mobile offers, join alert notifications, vote in a poll and much more.

Often times short codes are referred to as common short codes (CSC). The ‘common’ in CSC means that the short codes are recognized by all the wireless carriers in a particular country. The uniformity allows any user within a country to message a short code, regardless of their mobile carrier. With short code text marketing campaign, a business can launch a relatively inexpensive national outreach effort.

Short code SMS marketing campaigns are highly effective for a number of reasons:

1. High Open Rates.

Consumers are inundated with marketing materials vying for their attention. SMS has the advantage over these other mediums of having open rates of around 95%. Email open rates remain around 14 to 18 percent. SMS marketing represents the most cost-effective way to break through the clutter competing for your customer’s attention and increase brand awareness.

2. Consumers are in control.

Text marketing rules require that consumers have to opt-in to receive a brands texts. Opting in requires that consumers initiate contact by texting a brand’s short code.

3. Generate dynamic conversations.

Short codes allow for organic two-way communications consumers and businesses. A business can set up automatic responses to consumer inquiries or respond manually to specific inquiries. Two-way text messaging allows brands of all sizes to lessen the amount of support calls by providing a text support alternative.

The advantages of short code based text marketing are clear. The question becomes which form of SMS marketing is optimal for a particular use case. There are many types of text messaging. The most popular terms are shared short codes, dedicated short codes, and long codes. Before we go any further we should explain the difference between these terms.

What is the difference between a short code and a long code?

Short codes are designed for bulk messaging. Short codes enable applications to send and receive SMS text messages at 30 messages for second. Long codes are limited to 1 message per second. The high delivery rate of a short code makes it perfect for applications that need send SMS messages to many recipients or time sensitive messages The best cases of short code applications include: SMS marketing communications, large volume emergency notification, one-way notifications to users, and large volume polling.

Conversely, long codes are intended for person to person communication similar to the way cell phone users utilize text messaging. The term long code refers to a standard 10 digit local phone number that enables an organization to receive text messages, voice, and fax from anywhere in the world. Unlike short codes, which are generally shared across many brands, long codes allow a business to have their own dedicated DID phone number to receive and transmit SMS messages.

What is the difference between a shared short code and dedicated short code?

1. Shared Short Code.

SMS gateways like CallFire maintain shared common short codes, which they allow many brands to utilize. In the case of CallFire, our shared short code 67076, and is shared across 100’s of brands. A shared short code is ideal for a small business or an individual looking to set up an inexpensive, locally oriented text marketing campaign. A customer will select a unique keyword, which is the term that consumers can text to the shared short code. This unique keyword matches the person who sent the text message to the owner of the keyword. For example, an ice cream parlor can put a call to action for the consumer to redeem an SMS offer by texting their keyword to the shared short code: Text ICECREAM TO 67076 to retrieve a free scoop of our newest flavor. Purchasing a keyword for a shared short code is inexpensive ($25 a month at CallFire) and easy top set up.

2. Dedicated Short Codes.

A dedicated short code is your own common short coded, which is leased from the Common Short Code Administration (CSCA) and set up through an SMS gateway provider like CallFire. Dedicated short codes exist for businesses or organizations looking for a more robust, custom tailored solution.

There are a number of factors to consider when purchasing a short code or using a shared short code:

1. Cost — Leasing a dedicated short code will cost either $500 per month for a random code, or $1000 per month for a vanity code. A vanity code is a series of numbers that the customers choose. Fees must be paid in three month increments at a minimum.

2. Complexity — Setting up a dedicated short code is a multi-step process that will typically take 2 to 3 months to fully provision, text and certify across all the major carirers. When a short code is registered with the CSCA three months of the lease must be paid for. At the same time the organization must submit a short code application detailing the intent of owning short code. The application is only for their records. Once the CSCA application is finished, the organization must submit individual applications to the individual wireless carriers for approval. If one or more wireless carriers turn down the application, the applicant will still be charged for the short code. This can be a long cumbersome process, so most businesses and organizations turn to an experienced partner like CallFire to assist them with their application processing. CallFire will works with you every step of the way, making the application process simple and seamless.

As you can see there are many intricacies to SMS marketing with short codes. To learn more on how SMS short codes can help your business, feel free to contact the CallFire support team at 213-221-2289.

About CallFire: CallFire is a Text and Voice platform that helps businesses reach customers, drive revenue and increase sales. We make telephone messaging simple. CallFire products include Business Text Messaging, Voice Broadcast, Toll Free Numbers, Local Phone Numbers, Call Tracking, IVR, Predictive Dialing for agents and more. Call analytics enable our 50,000 users to reach customers more often using text marketing, virtual numbers, autodialers and mobile messaging. To learn more about how to Grow your Business, visit

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Jacob Weiss
Skyy Consulting Inc.
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