Short Code v. Long Code: Why the Difference Matters
Modern society is riddled with rules and guidelines. As one would expect, the automated broadcasting industry is no different, especially in the realm of texting. To the uninitiated, a long code text message is one that is communicated using a standard 10-digit phone number. A short code text message is one that is communicated using a 5- to 6-digit phone number. You’ve probably seen these when you sign up for your favorite restaurant’s text notifications. There’s a reason why both exist, and it turns out that it actually matters which one you’re using!
Long codes have been designated by mobile carriers strictly for one-to-one communication. Carriers have decided that long codes should not be used for any large volume, marketing, or business applications. Carriers actively monitor activity on long codes, so sending too many texts at once via long code may result in shutdown of the long code. This is why you’ll find long code providers limiting the size of the group you can contact via an individual text broadcast. Essentially, long codes are for those who want to communicate directly one-to-one/few.
Short codes were designed by phone carriers to be the proper, professional method for sending texts to a mass amount of contacts. They’re what we at Call-Em-All utilize for sending text campaigns. Short codes are the most expensive option for sending texts. Additionally, any provider of short code texting has to go through a rigorous vetting process and have a strict set of rules and regulations to abide by. Sometimes the opt-in requirements for using a short code seem overly burdensome, but users really have no choice. Short codes were designed with marketers in mind.
So, while designing only for marketers may have been short-sighted, the restrictions are understandable and do work to keep unwanted texts off of the powerful short code platform. What this means for those reaching a mass audience via short code is that there isn’t a limit to the amount of people you can reach out to, the speed and efficiency is much higher than sending over long code, and short code users have the support of carriers. Essentially, short code is the only method for delivering texts to a large audience.
While neither Short Codes or Long Codes are perfect, the carriers have managed to keep US cell phones relatively SPAM-free by closely monitoring long code usage and forcing large volumes to the formally administered short code system.
The most interesting part for us at Call-Em-All is that texting laws and regulations are still being worked out by the FCC, our courts, and the cellular industry itself. Our founders have made a point to meet with the FCC in the past to help shape the conversation around the automated calling industry, and we look forward to joining the discussion on texting as we move forward. This is especially important when taking into consideration the penalties for incorrect text usage, where shut downs and fines of up to $1,500 per message are common.
We hope this post helps you understand your options for sending texts. If you find yourself having any lingering questions or want to join the conversation, reach out to us and help create the automated broadcasting environment that you envision. For more information, check out what The Wireless Association has to say.
Jonathan Melton is a member of the Customer Experience team at Call-Em-All, an automated calling and group texting company that provides solutions for small and medium sized businesses, large corporations, membership organizations, community groups, and individuals. Jonathan’s responsibility since joining the team in 2015 has been the education and on-boarding of new users. Jonathan is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio.