What Are SMS Short Code Messages?

Dedicated Short Code Signage

An SMS short code is a five- or six-digit number your business can use to create an effective text message marketing campaign.

A short code improves the power of your brand and makes it effortless for potential contacts to get in touch and quickly join your list. "Short code messages" are simply text messages that have been sent via an SMS short code.

By pairing your SMS short code with a specific Keyword, you can create a short code text message for your customers to opt in to. It could be for an offer, a helpful request to engage with your brand, or simply an agreement to receive helpful communications from your business.

Types of SMS Short Codes

Dedicated SMS short codes come in two variations: vanity (numbers you choose) or random numbers. Before 2023 carries supported shared short codes along with dedicated short codes, but abandoned support for the shared numbers to strengthen consumer protection and message deliverability. 

Dedicated Short Codes

Sample short code

Dedicated short codes are typically five- to six-digit numbers that you choose to be memorable or fit your brand and offer more security, branding opportunities, and message deliverability.

The process for applying for a dedicated short code isn’t quick — think weeks, not days—and the cell service providers must approve your application.

Advantages of a SMS Short Codes:

  • No Keyword restrictions
  • Control over your SMS short code and associated branding
  • Dedicated throughput means your messages go to the front of the line

Disadvantages of SMS Short Codes:

  • Cost. Leasing a dedicated SMS short code isn't the cheapest way to send text marketing messages, but with the cost savings available for volume senders, the more you send, the more you save. Please contact our team to learn more about short code pricing.

Dedicated Short Code Examples

Here’s an example of how you can use a short code in unison with a Keyword to drive sales and expand customer service through a loyalty program.

Short Code Instore Signage

Short Code Sample Message

How to Use an SMS Short Code Message?

Use your SMS short code to drive signups to your audience contact list, segment new contacts via Keywords, and make your brand easier to contact for new and loyal customers.

Examples of How to Use an SMS Short Code

Grow Your Subscriber List with an SMS Keyword Campaign

First, you need to grow your list. Then, you can integrate your Keyword into your other marketing efforts. You can put it on your in-store signage, include it in your email marketing, publish it on your social media posts, and even place it on your product packaging.

Example of an SMS Keyword Campaign

If you want to grow your list, then a Keyword campaign is a great strategy. Simply pair a Keyword like “JOIN” with a short code like 858585. Easy ways to entice people to subscribe include:

  • Promoting on signage and business cards
  • Converting email subscribers to SMS subscribers
  • Running an SMS giveaway
  • Promote SMS opt-in on your social channel
Sample Message

Increase Sales Using a Promotion Campaign

Once you have opted-in subscribers, you can leverage promotion campaigns to get them to purchase more products. This offer should capture their interest and have an explicit action for them to take. Make sure that you segment your audience and send a relevant offer.

Sample Message

Save Time & Money with a Reminder Campaign

If your business relies on customers keeping their appointments, automated SMS reminders can be a huge time saver and reduce your number of no-shows. You can set up the reminder to go out at any time frame you want before their appointment, and they’ll get a text message reminding them of their appointment details like date, time, and location. You can even include information telling them what to bring or how to reschedule their appointment.

Sample Message

Reach Your Audience with an SMS Notification Campaign

SMS notification campaigns are a great way to get the word out quickly about an event or limited-time offer.

You can reach thousands of people in just a few minutes with messages like this:

How Do I Get an SMS Short Code?

The approval process will be a little different depending on which type of SMS short code you want to use.

Acquiring a Random SMS Short Code

Getting a random SMS short code begins with the lease application. Once you apply, the application is reviewed. Once the application has been approved, you’ll then have to pay to lease the random short code. Once the short code lease payment has been received, a five- or six-digit short code will be randomly chosen for you.

Leasing a Vanity SMS Short Code

The approval process for vanity SMS short codes may feel a bit cumbersome, but it requires detailed planning and quality checks. Here’s how it works:

  1. You will begin by filling out a service approval form. It contains the details about your campaign and is sent to each cellular network that delivers your messages to ensure they comply with each network's regulations.
  2. The cell providers will review your application. The approval process can take several weeks. It's common to be rejected the first time, but you will typically be approved quickly after revisions. It’s essential to make sure that you look at what words your short code might spell. Your application wouldn’t be approved if your number spelled out a prohibited word on a keypad. For example, the number 37847 can spell both “FRUIT” and “DRUGS.”
  3. After your campaign is approved, each network will provide the short code number for testing. This means that the networks will seek the legally required “HELP” and “STOP” options. This provisioning and testing can last up to 6 weeks.
  4. The networks will issue final approval after they have verified that your campaign meets their regulations. Then you can launch a campaign on your new vanity short code!

How Much do Short Codes Cost?

In the United States, short codes are leased, not sold. The lease cost of a short code depends on the type of short code you choose. When you use EZ Texting, our expert support team works with you in the process of provisioning a dedicated or vanity short code and getting it approved. Speak to us about provisioning your own dedicated short code today!

Dedicated Short Code Pricing

We'll help you get started with guaranteed throughput, unlimited Keywords, credit rollover, and low messaging fees, all at competitive rates.

One-Time Setup

Covers carrier app fees and services for SMS and MMS messaging**

Standard Setup

(6 - 12 Weeks)


Accelerated Setup

(3 - 6 Weeks)


Dedicated Short Code Leasing Fees

Monthly subscription that covers carrier leasing and hosting fees

Random Code


Vanity Code



Credits can be used to send SMS (1 credit) and MMS (3 credits) texts*

Credits per Month
Cost per Credit

*   Carrier Pass-Through Fees are billed separately based on exact usage.

** SMS Carriers: Alltell, AT&T, Boostmobile, Cellcom, Cellular One, Cellular South, Centennial Wireless,
     Cincinnati Bell, MetroPCS, nTelos, Nextel, Unicell, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon, Virgin Mobile

     MMS Carriers: Alltell, AT&T, Cricket, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon Wireless

Next Steps Using Short Codes for SMS Marketing

By now, you should better understand what short codes are and which will fit you best.

Many of the world's leading businesses and organizations have already unlocked the power of short codes to craft highly targeted and super-engaging text marketing communications.

We get it — starting your text message marketing journey and joining the ranks of high-profile text marketing superstars might feel a bit overwhelming.

Fortunately, EZ Texting is an experienced text message marketing provider that offers everything from Keywords to short codes and everything in between. As a result, EZ Texting has helped thousands of businesses like yours create deeply engaging text messaging campaigns for prospects and customers.

Ready? Need Access to Short Codes?

When you are ready to purchase your first short code and need some guidance, EZ Texting is here with you every step of the way to help you. We will:

  • Check what numbers are available and select the appropriate short code type for you.
  • Help you fill out your application to increase your chances of being approved the first time.
  • Reduce the revision time by leveraging our experience to know what it takes to get approved.
  • Help you get your campaign up as quickly as possible.
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