Short Code Facts - What Are Short Codes and Keywords

The Basics of Texting Codes

A short code is a five-or-six-digit phone number people typically send a text message to in order to subscribe to a texting campaign or to take part in a survey. Most people have seen an advertisement inviting them to do something like, "text JOIN to 313131."

The Keyword in this example advertisement is “JOIN.”

The short code is 313131.

While a telephone number must be unique, a short code can be either dedicated or shared. Shared texting short codes, like 313131, allow businesses and organizations to scale up their text marketing for very little cost. Your SMS Services provider will supply the short code for you in much the same way a phone company supplies you with a phone number.

Short codes are often used by retail companies as part of their mobile marketing strategy. Companies will advertise a special deal via a billboard, TV, magazine, the side of bus, etc. and invite consumers to send a text to take advantage of the special deal. For example:

  • Text “offer” to short code 313131 to get a free beverage with your next pizza order.
  • Text “discount” to short code 313131 to receive a discount voucher for your local store.

Short code texting can also be used by other commercial and non-commercial organizations to engage with an existing database of members. Some examples of how short codes of these scenarios include:

  • Text “house” to short code 313131 to find out more about a home you have seen advertised.
  • Text “donate” to short code 313131 to contribute to your church´s charitable work.

Short Code Texting

When a person texts a keyword to a short code number, they are added to the organization's contact list and “opted in” to receive future bulk text messages. People can opt out of the bulk text messaging any time they choose, usually by texting “stop” to the same short code.

Once an organization has compiled a contact list, sending their members a mass text message is simple. Users log into a bulk text messaging platform, upload the group(s) within their contact list they want to send a message to - or all of their database - compose a message, and click send.

Sorting contacts into targeted groups saves money by limiting the volume of your send. Your customers will also be less likely to unsubscribe because the message is relevant to them.

The simplicity of short code texting helps to make bulk text messaging one of the most effective ways of communicating with large groups of people simultaneously. Its speed and ease-of-use encourages individuals to engage with and respond to text messages far more than any other channel of communication.

Using a Short Code to Create Groups

If an organization has - or is likely to have - a large short code texting database of contacts, one of the easiest ways to sort the contacts into groups is to use short code with different keywords. (Please note that the reason we keep referring to “short code 313131” is because it is one of the shared short codes used by EZ Texting clients. An explanation of shared short codes follows below).

For example, a retail store offers a selection of keywords to its prospective customers and asks them to text the keyword most relevant to their interests. The retail store´s database would be automatically sorted into groups by keyword, enabling simpler management of the database and ensuring that sports enthusiasts are not bombarded by texts relating to interior decorating.

Different keywords can also be used to conduct polls among an organization´s short code texting database. A restaurant could, for example, ask its database to text its favorite pizza topping from a choice of “pepperoni”, “mushroom” or “ham” to short code 313131. The exercise of conducting a poll not only generates engagement, but the results can be used to shape future marketing campaigns.

Shared vs. Dedicated Short Codes

There are two types of texting codes - shared short codes and dedicated short codes. As the name suggests, a shared short code is "shared" among the clients of a bulk text messaging service provider. Dedicated short codes for texting are unique to each individual company or organization, but they are expensive.

“Random” dedicated short codes for texting are any random five or six digit combination of numbers and can cost in excess of $6,000 per year to rent. “Vanity” dedicated short codes for texting - codes such as short code texting number 313131 that are easy to remember - can cost more than double for a year´s rental depending on your use case and industry you are in.

Vanity short codes can have their uses for brand awareness if your organization has a name or marketing message that can be typed out on a cellphone keypad in six or fewer digits. For example, a restaurant with the name PIZZA-X might benefit from renting the vanity short code 749929. Vanity short codes may also be ideal for larger retail businesses running multiple or geographic-specific promotions.

For a deeper explanation of how keywords and shared short codes work, click here.

What is a Direct-to-Consumer Short Code?

Because the majority of clients of a bulk text messaging service provider are using a shared short code, there has to be a way of distinguishing one client’s customers from another. This is done by monitoring which client is using which keyword and then transferring inbound text messages with specific keywords “direct to consumer short code” or directly to that client’s database.

Therefore if one of our clients ran a marketing campaign with the keyword “offer,” and another ran a marketing campaign with the keyword “deal,” we would know whose contacts are whose, and add them to the appropriate client’s database, or “direct-to-consumer short code” accordingly.

Keywords are typically rented by the month or included in a subscription package (you can check out EZ Texting´s keyword pricing options here. This means that if we have more than one client wanting to use the keyword “offer”, it may be necessary to wait until the keyword becomes available before a second client can launch their marketing campaign. Alternatively, the second client could select an alternative keyword such as “bestoffer” or “offer1” to use in their campaign.

Try it for Free Now!