Shared Short Codes for Text Message Marketing

In this blog article, we explain what shared short codes for text message marketing are. We look at why and for what kind of brands they are a good solution, and we discuss why they might not be a good solution for others.


What Are (Shared) Short Codes?

Short codes are five to six-digit phone numbers that serve as a communication method for all kinds of brands and their customers. An example of a short code number could be 12345 or 123456.

A shared short code is a type of phone number that is simultaneously used by thousands of brands. They way these companies are all able to have the same short code is because they use different keywords to interact with their own customers.

So when multiple brands are on the same short code, they differentiate themselves from other companies with a keyword that matches with the type of products they are selling.

For example, a pizza restaurant can use the keyword “PIZZA”, and a retail store can choose the keyword “RETAIL”.

These keywords and others are used by consumers when they want to opt-in to the SMS marketing campaign of a brand. They text the keyword to the shared short code in order to trigger the opt-in process.


Why Do Brands Share Short Codes?

Unfortunately, shared short codes bring along some serious issues. However, before we get into those issues, we like to mention one of the biggest benefits that shared short codes have. Most importantly, they are a very cheap solution compared to dedicated short codes, which are phone numbers that are only used by a single brand.

Dedicated short codes cost between $500 and $1000 per month. The difference in their price depends on if they are vanity short codes, which are good looking phone numbers that are chosen by the brands themselves, or non-vanity short codes, which are less good looking, randomly provided phone numbers.

With shared short codes, the owner of that phone number still pays between $500 and $1000 per month, but the thousands of brands on that phone number actually take care of the cost.

Since they share the cost of the short code, they only have to pay a small amount like for example $1. If the shared short code owner has 10.000 brands that all use the phone number for $1 per month, then that person can make a $9000 profit from a $1000 per month costing short code.

The reason why brands choose to use shared short codes is often because they cannot afford the $500/$1000 cost of dedicated short codes. The shared short code is therefore a very convenient solution for them.

With that being said it is important to also understand the negative aspects of a shared short code before you decide to start using one as a brand.


Why Brands Do Not like to Share Short Codes?

When brands share the cost of a short code, they also share the responsibility for using it properly. A wireless carrier can decide to shut down the entire shared short code in the case of misuse, and it only takes one brand to cause this problem for the thousands of other companies that use the SMS phone number.

This is obviously a concern you do not want to deal with on a daily basis if you run a legitimate and respectful business.

A second concern that needs attention is the fact that consumers often mistype keywords when they want to opt-in to a brand’s text message marketing campaign.

When this happens, they will receive a response message, but that response message will come from the short code owner instead of from the brand they are trying to reach out to. Many consumers perceive this as a negative customer experience.

Another negative customer experience occurs when consumers opt-in to multiple businesses that share the same short code. This will become confusing for them, because they are going to receive messages from different brands that use the same phone number.

Companies that use the same phone number can also encounter problems of accountability. Often, brands don’t want to associate themselves with other companies that are using the shared short code. People might think that there is a relationship between brands when they use the same number, and that is a situation that most businesses like to avoid.


Use a Shared Short Code or Get Your Own Dedicated Short Code

If you are a small/local business with a low budget that wants to make use of SMS marketing, then a shared short code is a great solution.

If you run a large company, and you want to protect your brand’s reputation, then it is always best to use a dedicated short code for your text message marketing efforts.

Contact us today to discuss the possibility of getting your own dedicated short code for SMS marketing.

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