Short Codes: What You Need to Know

What is a Short Code?

Short Codes are 5 or 6-digit numbers that can send and receive SMS and MMS messages. Short Codes allow customers to opt into a company’s messaging campaign by texting a keyword to a specific Short Code number. Banking notifications, appointment reminders, marketing promotions, and flight alerts are just a few examples of how Short Codes can be used. Since regulations in many countries prohibit bulk sending via traditional methods, Short Codes are the preferred method for businesses that need to reach a large group of customers. Although Short Codes do not support voice, they are frequently used as a marketing tool to create brand awareness and increase customer loyalty.

  • Short Codes are Country-specific—a US Short Code is unable to send or receive messages to/from non-US numbers.
  • Short Code programs must send a single “opt-in” confirmation message verifying the customer’s enrollment in the identified program and describing how to opt out.

Why Use a Short Code?

Short Codes make it easier for businesses to send and receive SMS at a high rate. Unlike long phone numbers, Short Codes are not tied to an area code and Vanity Codes can be used as unique identifier for your business. IntelePeer’s Short Code service is perfect for time sensitive information that needs to reach large numbers of subscribers. For example, the National Weather service can alert local residents of an approaching hurricane via Short Code.

  • Short Codes are recommended for high-volume applications or Application to Person (A2P). Examples of A2P use cases are Opt-In Marketing campaigns/communications, SMS sweepstakes, polling, TV voting, mobile coupons, alert notifications, appointment reminders, marketing promotions, and 2 Factor Authentication (2FA).
  • Short Codes are suited for high-volume one-to-one transactional notifications, large one-to-many notification bursts, application-driven messaging, time-sensitive messages, and sending to many users at once. Since Carriers vet and approve all Short Codes for their intended use, SC are not subject to Carrier filtering or suspension for heavy traffic like Long Codes.

What Types of Short Codes are Available?

In the US, IntelePeer offers Random and Vanity Short Codes

  • Random Short Codes are dedicated Short Codes that are assigned to you at random from the CSCA (Common Short Code Administration); you don’t get a choice in the number assigned to you.
  • Vanity Short Codes are selected by you but subject to availability. These numbers can be personalized, often businesses select identities unique to their brand or offering. For example, IPEER (47337) is an example of a Vanity Short Code for IntelePeer.

International locations offer Dedicated, Shared, Alphanumeric Sender IDs, and Long Codes.

All US Short Codes are used for 2-way Mobile Termination (MT), outbound sending a Mobile Origination (MO), inbound receiving. International short codes can be 2-Way MT/MO or 1-Way MT.

What are the Regulations for US Short Codes?

Short Codes are closely regulated by carriers, so IntelePeer must collect specific information about your potential use case to ensure ongoing compliance with these regulations. Under US carrier regulations, Short Codes are allowed for application to person (A2P) communication, while Long Codes are only allowed for person-to-person communication (P2P). All advertisements for SMS campaigns must clearly and obviously convey the identification and nature of the program before a user signs up to a program. Mobile carriers take time to review Short Codes to ensure good user experiences for their customers. They also have a set of government guidelines and regulations that all Short Codes must adhere to.

IntelePeer does not control carrier regulations, we will work with you and the carrier to help you become compliant, however, it is important that our customer seeks legal counsel on how laws and regulations apply to your company’s specific practices. Keep in mind that each carrier reserves the right to suspend Short Code service for any user at any time.

These 4 guidelines are the baseline for all CTIA compliance requirements:

  • Display clear calls-to-action. All programs must display a clear call-to-action. Customers must be made aware of what exactly they are signing up to receive.
  • Offer clear opt-in mechanisms. Customers must consent clearly to opt into all recurring-messages programs. Requiring a customer to enter a mobile phone number does not constitute a compliant opt-in. Instead, customers must understand they will receive messages and consent to receive them.
  • Send opt-in confirmation messages. A confirmation message must be sent to customers always. For recurring-messages programs, confirmation messages must include clear opt-out instructions.
  • Acknowledge opt-out requests. Short code service providers must acknowledge and act on all opt-out requests. Monitoring procedures confirm successful opt-out.

Please review the Advertising Guidelines (Short Codes) to make sure your Short Codes adhere to all regulations.

How do Customers Opt-In to Receive Messages?

Opting-in is a formal method of asking permission to send marketing messages. There is a formal opt-in process to receiving follow-up communication, offers, alerts, promotions etc. This ensures marketers that the recipient is fully aware that he or she will get additional information later, thus removing an unwanted element of surprise when the material arrives. Stick to the rules when it comes to the SMS opt-in and you will be set for a successful campaign.

Opting-out of a list means a subscriber has asked not to be added to your list or has asked to be removed from your list. When a subscriber leaves the list, they have “opted out”, and cannot be re-added to your list. You are no longer allowed to send this user messages.

A “STOP” message must trigger one final message confirming that no further messages will be sent and opt the user out of receiving any further messages on that Short Code. All programs must respond to keywords STOP, END, CANCEL, QUIT, or UNSUBSCRIBE.

Example: Using opt-in marketing, attracts leads with an opt-in that asks recent ticket purchasers if they’d like to be entered to win a free trip to Cancun. A few days later, the user gets follow-up information via Short Codes about the contest.