Short Code Texting Explained for SMS Marketing

Understanding how and when to use short codes will give you a leg up on your competition when you’re planning your text marketing campaign. The best short codes are simple, easy to understand, and get to the point.

What are Short Code Messages?

Dedicated Short Code Signage

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

They come in two variations: dedicated short codes, which include vanity and random numbers, and shared short codes, which aren’t worth spending much time on as they’re being phased out by the carriers.

By pairing your 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 in the future.

Types of SMS Short Codes

There are different types of short codes that work best for different businesses in different scenarios. They also give you different types of access to Keywords depending on which one you pick.

Sample Shared Short Code

Shared Short Codes

Shared short codes are exactly what the name suggests. They are codes that are shared by multiple different people within the same text message service provider.

NOTE: Shared short codes are being left behind by the carriers to strengthen consumer protection and message deliverability.

Dedicated Short Codes

Tax Text Message

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 terribly quick — think weeks not days—and your application also has to be put through an approval process with the cell service providers.

Remind clients to schedule appointments for regular services like filing taxes and reviewing investment portfolios. It’s difficult for taxpayers to keep track of all important deadlines, they’re likely to appreciate and even depend upon your automated reminders. This is true of tax season but it is also something that can be used throughout the year, such as reminders for quarterly estimated tax payments.

There are two types of dedicated short codes: vanity short codes and random short codes. Vanity short codes allow you to choose your textable short number, but cost more. Random short codes, meanwhile, are truly random and you cannot choose the number you will be given, but they do cost less than vanity short codes.

Advantages of Dedicated Short Codes:

  • Multiple keyword options available
  • Control over the number and associated branding
  • Dedicated throughput means guaranteed deliverability

Disadvantages of Dedicated Short Codes:

  • There is a cost involved. 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 a Short Code Message?

Your business’s central philosophy behind using a short code text message should be to help your customer. Figuring out the most welcome way your business can intersect with your customer’s needs with a short code message campaign will dramatically increase the ROI of your texting campaign and your relationship with your customer.

Here are some examples of how:

Examples of How to Use a 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 out 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 subscriber
  • 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 a Short Code?

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

Getting a Random Short Code

Getting a random 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.

Getting a Vanity Short Code

The approval process for vanity short codes may feel a bit cumbersome, but it just requires some 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 that they comply with each network's individual regulations.
  2. The cell providers will review your application. The approval process can take several weeks. It's pretty common to be rejected the first time, but you will typically be approved pretty 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 provision the short code number for testing. This means that the networks will be looking for 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'll be able to 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!

Next Steps Using Short Codes for SMS Marketing

By now, you should better understand what short codes are and which one will be the right fit for you.

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. 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.

Join the 210,000+ customers who have used SMS marketing to connect with their audiences.