SMS Long Codes vs. Short Codes: The Definitive 2024 Guide

SMS Long Codes vs. Short Codes: The Definitive 2024 Guide

Short codes and long code numbers can be used to send text messages and directly engage and educate your customers about your products or services. Deciding whether to use a long code or short-code number isn’t always obvious. While short code text messages are more suitable for sending bulk messages, long codes appear more personal to customers. However, long codes have limited use. 

So, which one should you use: short codes vs long codes? 

In this article, we’ll explain what each type of SMS is, their key benefits, and which type of campaigns each option is most suitable for. 

Short code vs long code: A quick comparison 

SMS long codes 

SMS long codes are 10-digit numbers used for business text messaging. In the US, the long code includes a three-digit area code. They’re used for corporate phone numbers, chat applications, and automated phone systems. These numbers also support voice and multimedia marketing.  

Types of long codes 

There are two types of long codes: 10-digit long codes and toll-free numbers. 

  1. 10-digit long codes (10DLC): 10DLC preferentially allows A2P SMS traffic for use cases like sending alerts, marketing messages, and notifications. They offer enhanced deliverability and support voice and multimedia messaging service (MMS) marketing. 10DLC offers higher messaging throughput compared to unregistered long codes—up to 4,500 transactions per minute per operator. However, they do not support read receipts.

  2. Toll-free numbers: Incoming calls are billed to the receiver and are free for the entity making the call. In the US, area codes 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, and 833 indicate toll-free numbers. Most countries have their own set of dialing prefixes that indicate toll-free numbers. They’re mostly used for voice calls but can also support two-way messaging. Toll-free numbers offer a throughput of up to 10 messages per second without any extra carrier surcharges.

Benefits of long codes for your business

Long codes offer your business the following advantages.

  1. Personalized experience: Long codes include an area code and a two-way texting feature, enabling businesses to send targeted alerts and reminders to relevant audiences.

  2. International reach: Long codes support text messages for global businesses. You can send and receive SMS using your extended code virtual number.

  3. Set-up advantages: They are easy and quick to set up. Even a landline number can be converted into a 10DLC code. 

SMS short codes

Short codes are five—or six-digit numbers used to send SMS and MMS to customers at scale and cost-efficiently. Customers can recall short codes easily, making them a great way to reach a large audience. 

Businesses utilize short codes for SMS marketing, two-factor authentication (2FA), customer surveys, and more. Short codes can handle massive messaging traffic. They’re an excellent choice for businesses with large customer bases.

Types of short codes 

There are three types of short codes:

  1. Dedicated short codes: Businesses own and use these codes exclusively to send unlimited text messages for a specific keyword. Since the brand owns the code, it also owns the available keywords for it. Thus, brands can customize the opt-in keywords for their SMS marketing campaigns.
  1. Shared short codes: They are codes shared among several distinct businesses. They are not allowed in the US, Canada, and a majority of countries across the world. 
  1. Vanity short codes: These codes are specifically picked by brands due to their aesthetic appeal. They may have repeating numbers or consequent numbers. For example, Chipotle uses the short code 888-222.

Benefits of short codes for your business

Short codes have the following benefits.

  1. Easy to remember: Short codes have more recall value, which increases if your business opts for a vanity number.
  1. Faster deliverability: Short codes offer the best deliverability across the US and Canada. 
  1. Allows bulk messaging: SMS short code lets you send up to 400 messages per second. Default throughput starts at 50 messages per second.  

Scalable messaging with Plivo’s SMS API platform

You can interact with your customers in 220+ countries all over the world using Plivo. 

Plivo’s global reach is just one reason why enterprises choose our platform for their SMS campaigns. Here are a few more. 

  1. Enterprise-grade platform: Plivo is engineered for high availability, reliability, and 99.95% uptime SLA.
  2. Proven quality and scale: Plivo’s direct to carrier network and intelligent routing ensure the highest SMS deliverability in the US and Canada.
  1. Premium customer support: Plivo’s 24/7 customer support ensures you receive technical guidance and industry expertise whenever you need it.
  1. Lower cost of ownership: Plivo offers usage-based pricing where you pay only for what you use. You also get additional discounts with committed use as you scale your campaigns.

Request a trial today to learn more about how Plivo can help your business. 

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