About Short Codes

SMS Marketing Campaigns: Why Sharing Isn’t Caring

6 Reasons Why It’s Smart to Use Dedicated Common Short Codes

For marketers, one thing hasn’t changed in the digital age: you need to handle your brand with tender loving care. Being able to control it – to convey it consistently – isn’t always easy in the Wild West of the web.

Take Control of Your Regional and National SMS Campaigns

Which brings us to common short codes (CSCs), the five to six digit numbers that power SMS mobile marketing campaigns. When purchasing a CSC, you have an important choice. You can get a dedicated code, one exclusively for your use, or share a code with, well, anyone else who wants it. In comparing the two, it’s easy to see the benefits of having total control, especially if you’re running regional and national campaigns. Following are six reasons why dedicated codes make it easier for your business to promote and protect its brand.

1. Brand Recognition and Protection.

In SMS messaging, your code is your brand. As part of text campaigns, CSCs help you sustain a two-way customer dialogue. For example, if you’re marketing frozen yogurt, you could send a message to let customers vote on their favorite flavor. Next time, you could send an offer that also contains a video link, so customers can learn about your green-friendly practices. Every time you text and each time consumers respond, the same CSC is used. Your code embodies your brand. In fact, it literally is your brand. Over time, loyal customers will associate the number with your company, just as they do your logo, your corporate colors and so on.

If you use a shared code, however, you don’t reap the same exposure. Typically, a text marketing provider leases a common short code and then sub-leases it to numerous organizations. A nail salon or local bar might share your CSC, diluting both your exposure and brand value. Your brand can even be tainted, if that bar is promoting Wet T-shirt Night while your regional daycare chain is pushing fall enrollment. A dedicated code protects you better.

2. Control of Short Code Activity.

With a dedicated code, you alone control how the code is used. It’s yours to promote contests, discount offers and coupons or to distribute information about your products and brand. You also have the ability to ensure regulatory compliance. That’s not the case when you share a code. If carriers have disputes with anyone using the code – if they have issues with offers or marketing practices – they may shut it down entirely and poof, there goes your campaign. Consider this too: when you send notifications, alerts or account information, customers need to know the information is coming from you . A dedicated code eliminates any confusion. No one else can use it to reach your customer base.

3. Keyword Exclusivity.

If you have a dedicated code, you also own the right to all keywords used with it, for instance, “coffee” to promote your offer of a free cup. Even better, since no one else uses the code you don’t have to include your name: “coffee” instead of “Murphy’s Diner coffee.” Shorter keywords and phrases are easier for consumers to remember and text. With shared codes, you’re complicating things for customers and yourself. Marketers know the importance of clear calls to action. The shorter, the better – why string them out and risk a lower response?

4. You Own All the Data.

Since you own the lease for the code, any customer information exchanged on the code is yours. No one can dispute your right to full data access. It’s a different story, though, with a shared short code. Since all activity on the code is routed through a third party, whoever owns the lease, you may not own or have access to customer message histories. You could be missing a valuable piece of the SMS marketing puzzle.

5. Portable and Scalable.

Dedicated codes are a must for larger SMS campaigns. When you buy a code for exclusive use, it’s completely portable for regional promotions across the entire country, plus fully scalable throughout all 50 states. For instance, using the same code you can tailor messages for city-specific store openings or special events. When you’re ready to scale up, take your promotion coast to coast. Shared codes aren’t as portable. If for any reason you decide to switch codes, all subscribers to your shared code must start over. They would need to enter your new code in their mobile phones. Message histories would not automatically transfer.

6. Secure Messaging Platforms.

Secure SMS technology solutions are often an integral part of an organization’s mobile strategy, particularly in the financial services, healthcare and government sectors where information is sensitive. Secure messaging platforms can use either a shared or dedicated code, however, we anticipate organizations which require a high level of security will be opting for a dedicated short code to provide maximum control.

Dedicated Codes Shared Codes
Promote and protect larger brands Share the code, share the risk
Control all activities "Those other guys did what?"
Shorter, stronger keywords Brand name + Keywords = Zzzzz
Complete ownership of customer data Maybe, maybe not
Portable and scalable Can't take it with you when you go

What About Long Codes?

Long code SMS texting uses full phone numbers. It’s what you do when you text your spouse to pick up a bag of dog food, versus using 5 or 6 digits to reply to redeem a coupon. Some text marketing providers offer long codes as an alternative, generally with a limited number of messages and keywords. Your dentist, for example, might use long codes to send reminders and cut down on missed appointments. However, long codes are not designed for secure communications, which require proprietary platforms and specialized software. And because long codes take more time for your customers to enter, they have the potential to depress campaign response.

The Bottom Line

Dedicated short codes give you a sustainable advantage as you compete in the world of SMS marketing. If your regional or national brand runs high-volume text campaigns; if your brand has significant value and needs real protection; and if control, flexibility and security are essential, sharing is high- risk. It’s smarter to lock things down.

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