Blog Post

Considering a short code campaign or ready to put your plans into action? Here’s a quick guide on what to ask, do and expect at every step.

1. Define your goals

Organizations use short codes for many reasons, including:

Browse through a few relevant examples. Can you picture your organization implementing a similar campaign?

Then think about your goals. What do you want to accomplish with your outreach? What kind of need, gap or challenge do you hope to address, and what will success look like?

More tactically speaking, what kind of budget are you looking to spend, and what’s your timeframe for implementation?

Short codes cost from $500-$1,000 per month to lease, with lease terms of three, six and 12 months. You’ll also have to factor in a one-time set-up fee and per-message costs for inbound and outbound usage of the code.

Short code campaigns are typically fast and seamless to set up, but you’ll need to apply for permission from wireless carriers to use a code first. By proactively working with an experienced application partner,  you can ensure a smooth application process and the timely delivery of your short codes campaign.

2. Consider short codes

Now think about your audience and the messages you want to communicate.

First, the people you want to reach should have a mobile phone and use it for texting. But these devices don’t have to be smartphones. Short code campaigns work with any phone that can send and receive text messages.

Short code campaigns are by their nature straightforward and intuitive to use, involving easy-to-remember five- or six-digital numbers and keywords. This makes them well-suited to wide-ranging levels of education and English fluency.

Do you want to reach many people at once? Short code campaigns are well-suited to this purpose, with throughput and reliability rates for message delivery.

How important is permission and trust to your audiences?

In many industries, spam and scams have infiltrated consumer interactions, negatively impacting response rates. With short codes, however, participants control the opt-in process for every campaign, and the wireless carriers who transmit messages on their networks monitor and regulate short code usage based on detailed guidelines.

This helps instill confidence in the people you want to reach. Because your organization has to apply to use a short code, recipients of your messages know these texts come from a source they can trust.

Finally, do you want to improve your response rates? A short code campaign may be the way to do so. Text messaging gets an open rate of 98% versus 22% for email. 

3. Pick a partner

A broad ecosystem exists of short code specialists that can help you choose, apply for and lease a short code and administer your campaign. Read more about them, and the services they provide, here.

4. Lease your code(s)

Whether for a short code marketing campaign, a short code advertising campaign, or informational mobile messaging, picking the right five- or six-digit numeric code is key.

You can lease a short code that’s randomly assigned or shared with other organizations, but dedicated, “vanity” short codes offer several advantages.

A code used exclusively by your organization or campaign is a powerful tool for building brand recognition, loyalty and trust. And a short code whose letters spell out a catchy word or your organization’s name strengthens top-of-mind awareness every time a campaign participant types it into their phones.

Codes are governed by the Common Short Codes Administration (CSCA) and only leased through You can authorize a partner to lease a code on your behalf. If you do so, it’s recommended that you and the partner first work out who retains ownership of the lease if the partnership ends.

 5. Develop your content

Now craft the rest of the content, from keywords to text responses, that brings your campaign to life.

This process involves answering many questions. For example, how many text messages are sent a day? What response do you want to evoke or actions do you want your audience to take next?

During this step, make sure your content follows short code best practices and that the nature and substance of what you text encourages engagement and reinforces your brand.

6. Get the word out

Short codes don’t operate in a vacuum. How will you let people know about your short code and campaign?

Possible tactics include:

  • Traditional print and broadcast advertising
  • Online and social media promotions. Text messaging integrates with websites, apps and other digital communications channels.
  • Ongoing brand communications, like newsletters and emails
  • Community partnerships
  • Word of mouth

 7. Track results

A short code partner can help you track campaign response and results and expand or enhance your efforts.

Find a Code

The first step is finding a random or select code.

Get Started