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Short Codes for Political Texting

Learn how a political short code can nurture conversations, mobilize voters, and boost campaign success.

Illustration of several signs/pop-ups displaying various textable short-code messages, like “Text VOTE to 858585,” Text POLITICAL to 919191,” “Text BALLOT to 858585”
April 10, 2024
Kathleen Crampton
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Reading time about 7 min

Texting voters involves leveraging various SMS features and best practices, but did you know there are also various textable numbers your campaign can choose from? A political short code is one of them.

Learn everything you need to know about a short code, from what it is and how to use it to SMS regulations for political communication with this special number.

 

What Is a Short Code?

A short code is a unique number, usually four to six digits, that businesses and organizations use to send and receive SMS and MMS messages on mobile devices. Wireless carriers lease short codes but can be applied through most text messaging platforms because they’re exclusively A2P messages.

Illustration of a smartphone displaying a text screen, with the contact image showing red, white, and blue and a 6-digit number

 

Shared Short Code

You may have heard of shared short codes or used one yourself. Once upon a time, multiple brands used to be able to share one short code, each company sending messages or inviting subscribers from the same short code.

While this was an affordable way to text contacts, it invited a lot of risks: scammers could also get a hold of these short codes and send spam messages to contacts. Wireless carriers would then flag the short code number or ban it altogether. As you can see, this wasn’t a good situation for either organizations or customers, so shared short codes have been phased out to make way for dedicated short codes.

 

Dedicated Short Code

Dedicated short codes are reserved for exclusive use by one brand or organization. So, your dedicated political short code is yours alone. Dedicated short codes are typically the only short codes that text marketing platforms offer because shared short codes aren’t accepted anymore.

There are two types of short codes:

  • Vanity: A vanity short code is a number or word people can easily remember, like 858585 or VOTER.
  • Random: A random short code is a randomly generated number, like 428176. It’s not as memorable but more affordable than a vanity short code.

In this article, we’ll use “short code” and “political short code” interchangeably, but they both refer to the same thing: a dedicated short code.

How Is a Short Code Different from Other Textable Numbers?

What's the difference between short codes, long codes, toll-free numbers, and textable landlines? To create a comprehensive political campaign text messaging strategy, it’s important to understand the differences between the types of textable numbers and how they can complement your short code.

 

Long Code

Long-code numbers are also called 10DLCs (10-digit long-codes) and have texting and calling capabilities. These are recognized as common 10-digit local phone numbers, like 858-201-2121. They give a brand a trusted, local presence and have two options: low volume and high volume.

You can learn more about 10DLC numbers in our A2P registration guide.

 

Text-Enabled Landline

Do you already have a 10-digit local number? No problem. You can transform your existing 10DLC landline into a textable number through your text marketing service.

 

Toll-Free Number

A toll-free number begins with a toll-free area code (800 or 888) and is a great option for a national brand or organization. A toll-free number might be right if you're running a national campaign. Remember that it takes more time and effort to secure than some textable number options and requires a small monthly fee.

How to Know if a Political Short Code Is Right for Your Campaign

To help you determine if you should get a short code for your campaign, let’s review the advantages and potential downsides of acquiring one-to-text voters.

 

Benefits of Political Short Codes

Illustration/image of a pop-up that says: Don’t forget to register to vote! Text VOTE to 858585 to learn more.

Using a political short code for your political campaign text messaging has several incredible benefits.

  • Subscriber list growth: People can subscribe to your contact list in seconds by texting a memorable keyword to your easy-to-recall short code.
  • Unlimited keywords: Speaking of keywords, use as many unique keywords as you’d like for people to subscribe to your SMS list, text for more information, or start a conversation.
  • Decreased opt-outs: With a reputable and memorable number, contacts will easily recognize your campaign, giving them peace of mind that your messages are trustworthy. Learn more about how to minimize opt-outs.
  • Enhanced delivery: The highly regulated nature of dedicated short codes means they are more likely to avoid spam filters. Plus, you can view delivery receipts, a huge benefit when managing your subscriber lists.
  • Fast messaging speeds: Short code numbers can send up to 500 messages per second, more than any other textable number.
  • Mass texting at scale: High throughput means reaching wider audiences at scale for your broad mass texting campaigns.

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Incorporating Short Codes into Campaign Text Messaging Strategies

The main thing to be aware of with short codes is that they don’t support phone calls. This might be seen as a big downside for political campaigns and organizations. After all, phonebanking is a crucial way to communicate with voters.

So, what’s the solution? Use your political short code alongside a textable phone number that can also be used for making calls, like a 10DLC number. This strategy is a win-win: (1) Your campaign can now text and call voters, and (2) with a 10DLC, you can create more personal connections with contacts.

Remember that a short code is ideal for mass texting large groups of people. So, perhaps your campaign sends donation reminders to your entire SMS audience. Then, it can use a 10DLC to send a particular subset of constituents more targeted messages, providing that personal touch with a local number.

You might still be wondering, “Can I use a political short code to target specific demographics of voters?” Yes, you can use a political short code to target specific demographics of voters by leveraging microtargeting tactics. Still, a 10DLC number will be your best bet for helping voters feel like you’re reaching them on a local level. Consider pairing the two together for a winning campaign.

 

The Cost of Political Short Codes

Chart showing cost of political short codes.

How much does a political short code cost? A political short code costs between $1,000 and $1,500 monthly, plus a one-time setup fee. Your monthly costs vary depending on whether you lease a vanity or a random code, with vanity short codes being more expensive.

Though a dedicated short code costs more than other textable numbers, it can help the number of SMS subscribers soar and help expand your political campaign’s reach. Learn how to calculate the ROI of your SMS marketing campaign.

How to Get a Political Short Code

To secure a dedicated short code, contact EZ Texting to help you get started. Your campaign must fill out an application to be sent to the wireless carrier for review. Then, the carrier will test the short code number to ensure all the information you provided is correct before approving your application.

Once approved, you can use your brand-new short code to launch your SMS campaigns, following the best practices for political text message content. What are the best practices for writing political text messages? The best practices for writing political text messages include knowing your audience, including impactful and engaging content, personalizing, providing educational resources, and motivating voters to take action.

Illustration of three icons with arrows between them

Learn more about how to text voters with strategies that work, and look at examples of 7 winning text messages for political campaigns for inspiration.

 

Regulations for Political Short Codes

Now for the fun part: compliance! Are there any regulations for political text message campaigns? Yes, there are regulations for political text message campaigns, and we’ll cover the basics here.

Sample Text Message

No matter what type of textable number you use, it must maintain compliance with the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act), which dictates that any business or organization sending text messages to consumers (voters included) must get written consent beforehand. Another part of SMS regulations for political communication is that you must provide a way for contacts to opt-out.

But these aren’t the only compliance essential practices. You might still be wondering, “How can I avoid getting my political text messages flagged as spam?” To avoid getting political text messages flagged as spam, other than obtaining express written consent and providing a way to opt out, follow these steps:

  • Don’t provide misleading information
  • Avoid sending messages too frequently
  • Do not send messages during the TCPA-mandated quiet hours (typically before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m.)
  • Always identify yourself
  • Follow text messaging laws by state

 

Get Your Dedicated Short Code with EZ Texting

Ready to reach more voters with your political short code? Contact EZ Texting today to learn which option is best for your campaign. We’ll help you every step of the way: from applying for a short code to powering up your campaign with text messaging features. Start your free trial today!

Effortless Political Texting Starts Here

Every contact counts! Gather, segment, and reach them all year.

GET STARTED

FAQs

You can use political short codes instead of regular phone numbers, but for political campaigns wanting to increase their local reach, leveraging a short code and a 10DLC is a great option.

You can track and measure the success of your political text message campaign by analyzing clicks, text replies, opt-ins, and opt-outs. Tracking fundraising goals, event RSVPs, and volunteer sign-ups can be an insightful practice to determine if your SMS messages motivate contacts to take action. It’s also good to conduct A/B testing for political text messages to see what format works best.

You can personalize your political messages for better engagement by tailoring messages to specific voter segments, using first names, referencing particular regions or locations, and including content relevant to each individual or group. These strategies can create a more personal connection with voters.

Some examples of effective political text messages are in our article, 7 Winning Text Messages for Political Campaigns.

Yes, you can integrate your political short code with other campaign tools, like campaign management software, fundraising tools, and more, to create a cohesive experience for your constituents across various channels. Read more about the best digital political campaign tools.

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