Unless you have a considerable amount of mobile marketing expertise, applying for, leasing, and getting approval for a dedicated short code can be overwhelming. Fortunately the team at EZ Texting has years of experience helping our clients launch “dedicated” mobile marketing campaigns and we can assist you every step of the way.
As a Mobile Application Service Provider (MASP), EZ Texting maintains good relationships with the cellular networks who deliver your messages. We ensure our clients are fully aware of their compliant messaging obligations and follow the guidelines for mobile marketing stipulated by the Cellular Telephone Industries Association (CTIA).
However, before getting into the technicalities of applying for, leasing, and getting approval for a dedicated short code, it is important to determine whether a dedicated shortcode number is an appropriate vehicle for your marketing. A brief explanation of what an SMS short code is and how an SMS short code service works is a good place to start.
What is an SMS Short Code?
An SMS short code is a five- or six-digit number that replaces a full-length telephone number. Usually an SMS short code is an easy-to-remember number, or it spells out the word of a business or brand when typed on a mobile keypad - for example, to type in the word “pizza”, you would press the keys 74992. The most-commonly used SMS short code at EZ Texting is 313131, which is easy to remember.
An SMS short code is used with keywords in mobile marketing campaigns. You often see or hear advertisements inviting you to text (say) “discount” to (say) 313131 to get a discount on your next purchase. The consumer has no difficulty remembering the SMS short code and can respond to the advertisement later if they do not have their cellphone available at the time or is driving.
There are different types of SMS short code. The ones you will most often see are called “shared” short codes. A shared shortcode number is one that is shared between multiple clients of a short code service provider. A “dedicated” short code is a random shortcode number that is exclusive to one brand or business, while a “vanity” dedicated short code is usually a highly sought-after number (90210 for example) or a number that spells a specific word when typed into a keypad (74992/pizza for example).
To give you an idea of cost, a shared shortcode number is usually provided free of charge by a short code service provider. A random dedicated short code can cost around $600 per month to lease, while a vanity dedicated short code starts at $1,000 per month to lease depending on the popularity and demand for the number. Cost is probably one of the most important considerations when determining whether a dedicated shortcode number is an appropriate vehicle for your marketing.
How a Shared SMS Short Code Service Works
One question frequently generated by our explanation of an SMS short code is “if multiple clients of a short code service provider are using the same shared SMS short code, then how can you tell whose incoming SMS messages are whose?” The answer is easy to explain. It is all to do with the keywords used by each individual client and a process known as “direct to client short code”.
When a client subscribes to a bulk text marketing package with a shared SMS short code service, they are allocated one or more keywords. When an SMS short code service provider receives an incoming SMS message to one its shared shortcode numbers, the SMS message is directed to the client who is using the keyword contained within the message.
The disadvantage of this process (and the advantage of using a dedicated short code) is that, if you opt to use a shared SMS short code service, the keyword(s) you want to use in your mobile marketing campaign may not be available. There are ways around this issue other than paying for a dedicated shortcode number. You could use alternate keywords in your marketing, acronyms or abbreviations.
Applying for a Dedicated Shortcode Number
If you feel that your proposed mobile marketing campaign is too focused on a particular keyword to risk the keyword being unavailable on a shared SMS short code service, the process of applying for a dedicated shortcode number is as follows:
Apply for Your Dedicated Shortcode Number
Currently, dedicated shortcode numbers and vanity dedicated short code numbers are administered by iconectiv - a company appointed by the CTIA in 2016 to manage the USA´s Common Short Code Registry Services. The application process is relatively simple and it takes just a couple of days for your application to be approved.
Complete Your Service Approval Form
Your Service Approval Form contains the details of your mobile marketing campaign. It has to be sent to each of the cellular networks who deliver your messages to ensure it is compliant with the networks´ regulations. This process can take several weeks, and it is not unheard of for a network to reject a Service Approval Form, only to approve it after revision.
Provisioning and Testing Your Dedicated Short Code
After approving your mobile marketing campaign, each network will provision the dedicated shortcode number for testing. This means that the networks will be looking for the options for consumers to request “HELP” or to “STOP” receiving your text message marketing and opt out of your service. Provisioning and testing can take up to six weeks.
Obtain Carrier Approval and Launch Your Campaign
Once each of the networks has verified that your mobile marketing campaign complies with their regulations, they will issue a final approval. Once the final approval is received from all the cellular networks, you can eventually launch your campaign. Again, you may be waiting several weeks after the testing period for your final approval to arrive.
If your campaign is ready to launch now, it may be an important consideration for you that the process for applying for, leasing, and getting approval for a dedicated short code could take several months to conclude. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the process can also be overwhelming if you do not have a considerable amount of mobile marketing expertise.
Why You Should Use a Dedicated Short Code Service Provider
If - despite the cost and the length of time it may take before you can launch your mobile marketing campaign - you would still prefer to use a dedicated short code, it is in your best interest to take advantage of the experience of a dedicated short code service provider, particularly considering the process detailed above.
A dedicated short code service provider will know how to check what vanity short code numbers are available, so you have the option of applying for a shortcode number you want or accepting a random dedicated short code. A dedicated short code service provider will also have experience of completing the service approval form in a manner than will achieve approval without the need for revisions.
Finally, a dedicated short code service provider will be able to put all the compliance mechanisms in place to ensure that your dedicated short code sails through the provisioning and testing phases. This can save you several months waiting for final approval - several months in which you could be profiting from the success of your dedicated mobile marketing campaign.
Try EZ Texting´s Free Shortcode Service
EZ Texting offers organizations and businesses the opportunity to test our text message marketing service via our “Free & EZ” pricing option. Effectively a free shortcode service using a shared short code, Free & EZ is an ideal way for organizations and businesses to become more familiar with text message marketing, give proposed mobile marketing campaigns a trial run, and better determine whether text message marketing is an appropriate vehicle for your marketing.
Our free shortcode service is a fully operational service, with a demo keyword included in the package. As it is a Free & EZ free shortcode service, there are no contracts to sign, no set-up costs, no credit card required and no commitment required for you to subscribe to a higher level of service at a later date. You simply register for the service with your email address and can access our industry-leading text messaging platform immediately.
For further details on our free shortcode service offer, and for more information about applying for a dedicated short code, do not hesitate to speak with a member of our Client Success Team. Our Client Success Team is exceptionally knowledgeable on the pros and cons of dedicated shortcode numbers, and will be able to talk you through the advantages and disadvantages of a dedicated SMS short code service as they apply to your particular circumstances.