Short Code – The Definitive Guide to Mobile Messaging & Marketing

February 9, 2016 | 4 minutes read

“Text HOT to short code 1901 for the best music from your favourite artistes on your phone!”
“Be the first to know! Text NEWS to 1944.”
“Win airtime every day! Text FREE to 1902.”

You have most likely seen hundreds of these text messaging campaigns or heard about them, but wondered what these funky 4 or 5 digit numbers are, or where they come from.

Well, here’s your answer.

They’re called Short Codes.

As an individual or business, reaching out to friends, clients and customers in the most personal way – their mobile phones – should be of great interest to you. These days, more organizations and businesses are turning to short codes as the backbone of their SMS messaging and marketing campaigns, as they have realized that text message marketing is a very quick, inexpensive, and more productive way to reach their customers (or potential customers).

Short codes have also been made more popular in the last few years by a number of television shows that allow viewers to text a message to a short number. Examples include viewers sending a text message to a short code to vote for their favorite contestant of a reality TV show, or to make a charitable donation.

What is a Short Code?

An SMS short code is short numeric number (typically 4-5 digits) that is used to opt-in consumers to SMS programs, and then used to send text and multimedia messages, offers, promotions and more, to those customers that had previously opted-in. A consumer interacts with an SMS short code by composing a new text message on their mobile device, and addressing it to the SMS short code. In the examples below, the SMS short codes used are 1901, 1944 and 1902.

SMS Keywords

When a customer wants to opt-in to an SMS campaign, they’ll not only need to know the SMS short code, but they’ll also need to know the SMS keyword for that specific campaign. The SMS keyword helps a provider like SMSGH determine which SMS campaign the consumer is trying to opt-in to. Once received, the SMS provider routes the message through the SMS software, which then would send back a confirmation text message to the subscriber who originated the message. In the first example above, the SMS short code used by this business is 1901, and the SMS keyword is “HOT”.

Here are five things to appreciate about short codes, and how and where to get them.

1. An SMS short code service is one of the quickest and most effective ways to get your marketing campaign off the ground.

2. SMS marketing enables you to engage your prospective customers at the point of display, and you can quickly generate sales leads using SMS marketing. Wireless subscribers send text messages to common short codes with relevant keywords to access a wide variety of mobile content.

3. There are two kinds of short codes: shared and dedicated. Dedicated short codes are owned and managed by one body, are costly and take a while to set up. In Ghana it can cost anywhere from GHs5,000 to GHs7,000 per year and take up to 72 hours to get ready. Click here to get more info.

4. Shared short codes are used by many different bodies. Each business sharing a short code would be assigned a unique SMS keyword, which helps an SMS provider like SMSGH determine which SMS campaign a user is trying to opt-in to. The cost involved in setting up a shared short code is less than that for a dedicated short code.

5. If you text STOP or HELP to a short code, the service would respond. This is implemented to help users respectively end a subscription or learn more about the short code service, and is useful for managing these services.

Can’t wait to see what you can do with short codes? Get started today. Talk to a sales expert now. Or see short code pricing here.

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