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What is a 6-Digit Phone Number & How Does it Work?

Find out the benefits of obtaining a 6-digit number for your SMS marketing campaigns.

Sample promo ad with short code
March 21, 2023
Chloe Mulliner
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Reading time about 4 min

Chances are, you’ve probably received a text message from a 6-digit phone number on your mobile phone. Maybe you subscribed to your local pizza joint to score 10% off your next order or joined your favorite coffee shop’s loyalty program. Nowadays, nearly every kind of business sends marketing messages from a 6-digit number, so why isn’t yours?

If you run a small business and you’re not taking advantage of 6-digit numbers and SMS marketing, then now’s the time to make the switch. Follow our guide below to learn more about 6-digit numbers, how they can benefit your business, and how to write an effective text marketing message.

What is a 6-Digit Phone Number?

Let’s start from the top: What is a 6-digit phone number? A 6-digit number is like a 10-digit phone except, well, shorter. Instead of using the ten digits, you’re familiar with, a 6-digit phone number only uses six. Aside from its length, the only difference is that you can’t call a 6-digit number, as it only works for text messaging.

Often called short codes, these are 6- (and sometimes even 5) digit numbers that wireless carriers provide businesses and organizations to use when mass texting mobile users. Using short codes as their online phone number, businesses and organizations can send marketing texts, alerts, and notifications and even engage in two-way texting conversations with consumers.

Blank SMS Message highlighting the six digit code

For example, using a 6-digit number, a business can send subscribed mobile users appointment reminders, status updates on their deliveries, alerts about upcoming closures, notifications about changes to their accounts, and even promotional messaging with discount codes.


6-Digit Phone Number Compliance

So, once your business has acquired a 6-digit phone number for text messages from a wireless carrier, you can begin firing off texts to your customers, right? Wrong. Before sending any kind of promotional messaging to your customers’ mobile phones, you must ensure you’re compliant with the law.

Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), sending SMS marketing messages to mobile users without obtaining their written consent is illegal. Failure to do so can lead to hefty fines. Therefore, your customers must subscribe and agree to opt into your text marketing program.

To achieve this, you can create an opt-in option where your customers send a specific keyword to your short code. By sending this keyword to your 6-digit number, customers agree to your texting terms and conditions.

Learn more text messaging laws by state to ensure your SMS messaging is compliant with the law.

Benefits of Using Short Codes

You can’t make a phone call from a 6-digit number as a marketer, but you can use it to boost your customer engagement and conversion rates.

One of the best parts about using an SMS short code is its ease of use. Instead of typing in 10 digits, your customers only need to enter six. Not only does that reduce the likelihood of them making a mistake, but it’s also easier for them to remember it. After all, a short code like 141414 is more likely to stick with your customers than a long string of numbers like 331-445-9240

To see this in action, let’s say you run an ice cream shop and want your customers to join your text marketing program, so that you can send them promotional messaging. By law, you must receive their consent before sending them texts, so this 6-digit number is handy.

So, from here, you can create a simple keyword (like ICECREAM) that your customers can text to your easy-to-remember short code (like 858585), and ta-da—they’ve subscribed within just mere seconds.

an SMS text conversation between the number 141414 and another user

Using this 6-digit number, you can send mass texts to all your subscribed consumers, providing them with everything from information on product launches and events to promo codes, contests, and more.


Different Kinds of Short Codes

Until 2021, there were shared short codes in which various businesses would use the same short code with different keywords. However, this created some loopholes for scammers, so wireless carriers have since decided to ban shared short codes.

With these changes, dedicated short codes are the only option, in which businesses are each assigned a unique short code that is not shared. That said, you can choose between two kinds of dedicated short codes: a random short code and a vanity short code.

A random short code refers to the string of six digits the wireless carrier leases to your business without you having a say in the specific numbers used. Now, if you’d prefer to select a certain set of numbers (at a more expensive rate), you can request a vanity code. In this case, maybe you want a more recognizable series of numbers, or perhaps a set of numbers is already associated with your business. For example, if your business is called 33 Lemons, you might want your number to reflect this with the vanity code 330033.


How to Acquire a 6-Digit Phone Number

Once your business or organization has decided on a vanity or random short code, acquiring one is pretty simple. Simply contact your wireless provider and fill out a form requesting a code. The wireless provider will then assign you a 6-digit number.

After you’ve paid for and received your number, you can begin creating your first SMS marketing campaign. But remember, before texting any marketing content, gain your mobile users’ consent and review the CTIA Short Code Monitoring Handbook for best practices.

Contact EZ Texting Today

Now that you know more about 6-digit numbers, it’s time to get one of your own so you can start developing SMS marketing campaigns for your small business. Hurry! Contact EZ Texting today to learn how our texting platform can benefit your brand. Happy texting!

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