Short Code Texting

SMS short codes only require 5 or 6 digits, saving you time and making it easier for your audience to remember your short code. You may not realize it, but you're probably already familiar with short code texting.


As of June 1 2021, all major wireless carriers have discontinued the use of shared short codes. Shared short codes have been replaced with 10DLC (10-digit long code) for text marketing campaigns. Learn more on what you need to know about 10-digit long codes.

An estimated 260 million+ smartphone users in the U.S. creates a large audience pool. Short code texts allow businesses and organizations to streamline their marketing campaigns reaching large audiences faster.

Short Code Texts: Explained

The SMS marketing industry regularly utilizes short code texts in their text marketing campaigns. Short code texts help businesses easily promote their brands with SMS text messages on mobile phones. SMS marketing consists of commercial text messaging practices. These include daily alerts, contests, text coupons, polls, and more.

Coupled with a keyword, short codes reach potential clients, customers, and donors with text marketing. Opt-in subscribers use a corresponding keyword with the short code to permit them to receive SMS messages. For example, a large pizza chain owning the short code 33333 asks consumers to opt-in using the keyword "PIZZA" with that number. 

 Back in 2008, candidate Barack Obama used a short code text to communicate with his supporters. His short code "62262" spelled out" Obama" on a phone's dial pad. Marketers call this a "vanity short code." His success using this innovative low-cost text messaging helped his campaign. 

 But, over the years the rising use of smartphones makes phone dial pads obsolete. Thus, 2008 innovations do not apply in the 2020s anymore. 

 Anyone can subscribe to a marketing campaign using short code texting such as: 

What is Short Code Texting?

Short code text messaging lets you instantly connect with a large audience by allowing them to interact with your business or organization via a quick text to shortened phone number.
It’s important to note that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) requires all recipients of mass text messaging to agree in advance to receive messages - known as the “opt-in” or “subscribers” law. Consumers who receive unwanted SMS messages may file a complaint with the TCPA which levies heavy fines against violators. Thus, most short code text messages try to convince an audience to opt-into a specific marketing campaign.

Texting Short Code Benefits

The benefits of texting short code make running a marketing campaign much easier. Using a short code helps in many ways like:

  • Easy to remember: A 5 or 6 digit text number is easier for your contacts to remember than a 10-digit one;
  • Faster message delivery: Mass short code texting lets you send 100 texts per second. While long codes only send one text per second;
  • Getting replies: A short code text message allows your subscribers to reply. But, they can’t make calls to your short code;
  • Professionalism: They make you look professional and trustworthy; and
  • Brand recall: Like the vanity short codes used by Obama, those unique to your brand stand out. Audiences knowing and trusting your brand won’t miss your text message in their inbox.

Also, a short code text message makes it easier for your texting campaigns. Such as:

  • Getting people to subscribe for future texts with SMS opt-in;
  • Updating subscribers about promotions like a time-limited sale;
  • Sending fast updates to your large contact base;
  • Conducting surveys;
  • Texting campaigns for donations; and
  • Text-based voting.

Short Code Types

Dedicated short code text messaging comes in two types. Known as “Vanity”, and “Random” short codes.

Dedicated Short Codes

Big companies like Domino’s, Subway, and McDonald’s use dedicated short codes. It allows them exclusive ownership of their short codes. It makes their unique brands stick out amongst other short codes. For instance, Pizza Hut owns this dedicated short code: 69488. No other business or organization can use 69488 as an SMS short code. 

 The Common Short Code Administration (CSCA) assigns available dedicated short codes. For instance, if available, the number “33333” may become your dedicated short code. Exclusively use the 33333 short code for your marketing campaigns. 

Vanity Short Codes

A large company promoting its brand selects specific numbers easily remembered by consumers known as “vanity short codes”. For instance, selecting 12345 makes it easier for consumers to recall.

Or, as mentioned above, the Obama campaign used a number sequence of 62262 because it spells out Obama on a telephone dial pad. Like vanity license plates, the vanity short codes promote a brand.

Information on Shared Short Codes

You may have heard of the term shared short codes. This is the process of SMS software providers who owns specific short codes, and lease the short codes to many businesses, companies, and organizations on a shared basis. 

For example, the SMS software provider owns the short code 212121 and leases the number to two businesses. One sells automobile tires and the other offers auto lubrication services. They use their unique keywords like "LUBE" and "TIRES" with the same short code 212121.

However, beginning in 2021 every mobile carrier across the U.S. and Canada have come together and have made the decision to unilaterally end service for shared short codes. This means every SMS software provider will no longer have any shared short codes. If you are using a shared short code you will need to switch to a long code (555-555-5555), a toll-free number (800-XXX-XXXX), or lease your own dedicated short code. Textedly provides services for all three of these options. 

Random Short Codes (Non-Vanity)

A non-vanity short code (also called a “random short code”) is randomly selected by the CSCA. You don’t choose your short code like a vanity or a dedicated one. It’s truly a random selection process.

Yet, sometimes the random selection spells out a word on a phone dial pad. Then, you may build a brand around that word.

Which Short Code Type is Right For You?

Deciding which short code fits your business or campaign becomes important for success. Let’s explore each type to see what kinds of businesses or campaigns fit well with them.

Why Choose a Dedicated Short Code? 

 Many reasons exist for choosing a dedicated short code. Usually, it’s a combination of the following benefits: 

  • Brand Recognition: A brand’s short code must contribute to your brand’s recognition. Just like your toll-free phone number, website address, and logo support your brand’s reputation. Choosing a dedicated short code supporting your brand becomes essential.
  • Brand Consistency: Choosing a dedicated short code allows your brand to control a consumer’s experience from start to finish. The correct dedicated short code ensures every mobile message remains consistent with your brand’s story.
  • Database Mobility: Your audience and customers expect your brand’s messages using the same number. Don’t lose your short code by moving to a different SMS provider without a migration process.
  • Exclusive Keyword: Dedicated short codes allow your brand to use any text keyword. This gives you total keyword control over your campaigns.
  • Direct Access: Your brand maintains direct access to wireless carriers with a dedicated short code. SMS marketing depends on messaging speed.
  • Complete Control: Dedicated short codes gives your brand complete control of how to use your short code. A very important tool for local or national brands. 

 Why Choose a Vanity Short Code?

Check out the benefits of a vanity short code to see if they fit better for your business:

  • Easy Recall: Choose a vanity short code viewers will remember. Either sequential numbers like 12345 or repeat numbers like 55555 or even double repeating numbers like 242424 are easier to remember than random short code numbers like 173942; and
  • Consistent Branding: No other short code type works best for consistent and uncontested branding than the vanity short code.

Shared Short Code

Shared short codes had two benefits:

  • Reduced Costs: Short codes pricing range from $1,000 a month lease for random dedicated short codes and $1,500 a month for vanity dedicated short codes. Sharing the same short code with other businesses did at one time reduce these costs down to $0 per month.
  • Faster Approval: Applicants must wait from 8 to 12 weeks for approval of their random or vanity dedicated short codes. But, a shared short code already exists. That meant no waiting. If your campaign can’t wait, then a shared short code would have worked best for you. If your budget doesn’t allow for $1,000 or more per month, then a shared short code would have saved you money. But this is all a thing of the past. Every mobile carrier has made the decision to end service for shared short codes. If you need a dedicated short code, you can get one through Textedly.

Dedicated Short Code Pricing

Features USUnited States CANCanada
Random Short Code* $1,000/month N/A
Vanity Short Code* $1,500/month $1,000/month
* All short codes are billed quarterly
** One-time setup fee for US short codes: $1,000.
*** One-time setup fee for Canada short codes: $3,000.

How to Promote Your Short Code

Several strategies exist to promote your short code which can help collect subscribers. Let’s explore several of them.

In-Store Signs

Your store advertises your short code marketing campaigns in many ways like:

  • On your receipts;
  • In your coupons;
  • On your in-store displays;
  • On your floor mats;
  • On your product tags.

Your Website

Create a landing page dedicated to your short code marketing campaign. Take advantage of the unlimited words to use a landing page approach. Include a catchy headline, snappy supporting headlines, reinforcement statements, and a Call-To-Action (CTA) to subscribe while displaying your short code.

Also, display ads promoting your short code marketing campaign in your relevant web pages. Add blog posts to your website focusing on the keyword associated with your short code using a CTA.

Social Media Marketing

Don’t forget about the power of free social media platforms to promote your short code and its marketing campaign. Hashtag your short code in all your social media channels. Add a “#shortcode” and a short description in your Tweets, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and other channels.

LinkedIn posts and articles reach out to millions of businesses. Adding a “#shortcode” promoting your new marketing campaign results in new B2B subscribers.

Start Texting Short Code with Textedly

Take advantage of the latest technology that short code texting offers your business or organization. Use short code texting for your marketing campaigns and reap the rewards that cost-effective short code text messaging provides your business or organization. Sign up for a 14-day free trial to start short code texting with Textedly today.