Shared Versus Dedicated Short Codes
Pitfalls of Not Controlling Your Brand's Mobile Marketing Address and Relying on Shared Short Codes
When starting off in mobile, it's important to maintain control over your mobile identity - today that begins with owning a short code or your mobile marketing address. A Common Short Code (CSC) can either be dedicated to your brand/enterprise or it can be shared among various brand campaigns and applications. The latter presents many known, as well as hidden perils for brands and content providers.
In the June 30, 2007 Washington Post article "Text-Friendly Hopefuls vie for Hearts and Thumbs," Staff Writer, Jose Antonio Vargas reports that Presidential candidates are entering the mobile space to gain support from their base. While Senator Barack Obama decided to secure his own dedicated CSC (62262 which spells Obama), Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton initially chose to share her short code (77007) with other application providers. According to the article, Clinton aides quickly discovered the risks associated with using a shared CSC when a user texted his zip code to 77007 and the reply was information about another brand/application, the address of a community clinic. Needless to say, the Clinton campaign staff is now reported to be securing a new dedicated short code. Given this high profile mobile marketing blunder, it is evident that technical glitches do not discriminate when using a shared short code and the clear solution for avoiding such errors is to secure a dedicated code.
There are 3 main advantages to securing a dedicated short code: (1) All keywords are yours to use; (2) Your Call-To-Action is clear. For example, "Text JOIN to 23377 (BEERS)" rather than "Text 'BUD JOIN' to 23377 (BEERS)"; (3) You are the sole owner of the application and therefore you control message delivery, you own the database, you maintain your brand's integrity. Shared codes involve the coordination of keywords between brands and enterprises to differentiate the supporting applications which run on the code. Additional considerations include:
|Shared Short Codes||Dedicated Short Codes|
|You are not the owner of the code. You have no rights or view as to what companies and services are offered on that code.||No one but you will be able to use your mobile marketing address - the common short code (5 or 6 digit address) for as long as you have the lease.|
|You may not have access to a particular keyword as another company may already be using it or if you want a particular key word, it will have to be preceded by your brand/company, thus increasing the number of words your customers need to text (i.e. instead of just "join" you'll need "join bakery").||There is no middleware application that could mix-up customers or content providers or messages with another company's or worse yet, a competitor's.|
|Consumers must perform multiple interactions to get to your message.||You have maximum flexibility with keywords, and you determine how to direct customer interactions and deliver your messages.|
|Information captured by the short code is routed to you through the owner of the code; you may or may not "own" the data pertaining to your use of the short code. If provided the data, you are likely responsible for inputting that data into your own systems for further analysis.||Since you lease the code, all of the data and customer information captured belongs to you; you can map directly into your existing database without having to input information from a different source.|
|If the code is heavily advertised with key words pertaining to other brands, your brand may be associated with another brand's advertising and application.||Dedicated short codes offer a reliable platform for your mobile campaigns since you are the sole owner and content provider on the code. As long as you are following all industry guidelines, you have no concerns of your campaign being shut down or your brand being associated with another brand's use of the code.|
|Sometimes this can be a fast and inexpensive way to launch a campaign, but then you have to train your fan/customer base on a new code once you "graduate your application" in order to realize the benefits of having your own dedicated code.||You can extend your branding with a vanity code or easy to remember number. Consumers will automatically associate your brand with the code since the call to action in your marketing materials is immediate and natural. Remember, this is your brand's "mobile address" so your most inmportant constituency can find you from any location, at any time to connnect and engage.|
|There is always the risk that the code may be shut down by a carrier because of another company's abuse of the code. This may hinder your ability to run future mobile campaigns. Know what brands and applications are running on the same code as yours.||Industry Best Practices require all short codes to include "Stop" to allow consumers to stop receiving alerts or messages from that short code. When a consumer types in "Stop" they will no longer receive messages - whether they meant to stop your campaign or others on that code they are signed up for.|