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Shared vs. Dedicated Short Codes 101

Posted by Trumpia on Dec 19, 2016

Shared Versus Dedicated Short Codes

Text messaging software often operates on short codes, which are 5- or 6-digit phone numbers that send and receive SMS and MMS via mobile phones. Short codes are easier to remember, have higher throughput speeds, and can communicate with a massive number of people at the same time.


Short codes come in two varieties, shared and dedicated. Which one is right for you? Here is a brief description of both, as well as a comparison to help you decide.


Shared Short Codes

The first type of SMS short code is called a shared short code, which means it’s used amongst many different users and randomly generated.


Shared short codes also limit what keywords a user can create. In other words, if you wanted to create the keyword “SALE”, but it is already being used by another user that is on the same shared short code, they would not be able to use that keyword. Another downside of being on a shared short code is that you are not allowed to run sweepstakes or text-to-win campaigns.


Dedicated Short Codes

The second type of SMS short code is called a dedicated short code, which can only be used by a single user. The digits of a dedicated short code is also specifically chosen by the user like a vanity license plate.

There are many benefits to a dedicated short code such as:

  • Brand Recognition: A dedicated short code is just as powerful as a website address or social media handles for building brand awareness. For example, you can pick a number that spells out your business’s name.

  • SMS Keyword Exclusivity: With a dedicated short code, brands are free to use almost any imaginable SMS mobile keyword, allowing for maximum creativity, and functionality. When shared short codes are used, however, a business can only use keywords that are not already in use by others.

  • Activity Control: Dedicated short codes allow brands to control the entire consumer experience from end-to-end, ensuring the customer’s messaging experience is consistent with their expectations.

  • Security: Dedicated short codes provide organizations in the financial services, healthcare and government sectors a higher level of security and maximum control.

  • Expanded Functionality: With a dedicated short code, your brand can run certain types of text messaging campaigns that would not be possible on a shared short code such as text-to-win campaigns.

**Please note that sweepstakes and text-to-win campaigns may be subject to federal and/or state regulation. It is up to you to check with local and federal laws to make sure you are in compliance with these regulations.


For more information on other mobile marketing strategies, download the complimentary Mobile Marketing Success Kit.

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Topics: SMS Messaging

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