Political SMS Marketing

Short Codes vs. Long Codes (Which One to Use In Your Political Campaign)

Short Codes vs. Long Codes (Which One to Use In Your Political Campaign)-2

Text message marketing is the most effective marketing channel to raise donations, increase voter turnout, and spread awareness for your cause or organization. With an astonishing 99% open rate, political organizations use text message marketing to fundraise more efficiently and win elections more effectively.

Political SMS marketing requires one of two types of phone numbers: short codes and long codes. In this blog post, you’ll learn the difference between SMS short codes and long codes so you can choose which one is right for your next political campaign. 


What Are Long Codes? 

10-digit long codes, also known as 10DLC, are 10-digit phone numbers similar to your mobile phone number. Historically, 10DLC were only used in peer-to-peer texting (P2P), when one person texts another individual person. For example, texting with your friends is a form of P2P texting. 

However, recently the industry approved 10DLC for mass text messaging from political campaigns and organizations. With 10DLC, advocacy groups and political organizations can send texts from a local number. Voters can also receive text messages from their favorite political candidate’s 10-digit phone number. When using 10DCLs for mass text messaging, political organizations should still be mindful of receiving consent from subscribers to message them, in order to follow TCPA guidelines.


What Are Short Codes? 

Short codes are 5 or 6-digit phone numbers. Using an automated system or application, a political organization can send mass text messages with just a few clicks of a button. This application-to-person (A2P) texting needs a phone number from which to send messages, similar to regular texting. Traditionally, A2P texting could not use long codes — only short codes. However, now A2P texting can send both short codes and long codes.

An excellent marketing feature of short codes is that they’re easy for consumers to remember, so when they see a short code on a donation page, podium, or billboard, they’re easily able to text it and opt in to join a campaign’s texting program.

Four types of short codes are used in SMS marketing:

  • Shared short codes can be used and paid for by different brands simultaneously. Regardless of the organization sending text messages, all messages will come from the same phone number.
  • Dedicated short codes are only used and paid for by a single brand or organization, and their prices range from $500 to $1,000 per month. A dedicated short code can be a vanity or generic short code. Dedicated short codes are the preferred options for political organizations because they ensure total ownership of the number — you wouldn’t want a nefarious user or conflicting organization to have access to your number or risk that your text messaging program could be shut down because of them.
  • Non-vanity short codes are also known as random or generic short codes and are randomly assigned. Non-vanity short codes are much cheaper than vanity short codes but not as easy to remember.
  • Vanity short codes are typically chosen for a particular aesthetic, and brands can choose a specific one. Vanity short codes usually use consecutive or repeating numbers such as 33333 or 12345. They’re the most expensive type of short code, costing up to $1,000 per month, but they’re also the most visually appealing and best for brand recall.


Short Codes vs. Long Codes

Which type of phone number is better—short codes or long codes? Let’s take a closer look at each one to determine which makes more sense for your campaign.

When to Use Short Codes

Advantages of Short Codes

  • Easy to remember: Short codes are shorter and tend to have an aesthetic appeal, making them more memorable than 10DLCs. They can potentially yield higher response rates.  
  • Spam-free: Text messages sent from short codes are unlikely to be identified as spam since wireless carriers approve their content when codes are set up. 
  • Complete ownership: Short codes can be customized for a single organization. Although customized short codes cost more, you can choose one that’s relevant to your organization. A relevant short code can significantly impact your marketing campaign and enhance your subscribers’ experience.
  • Faster messaging speeds: For large subscriber lists, short codes can be a beneficial option because they often have faster throughput.

Common Uses for Short Codes 

  • Mass text messaging campaigns
  • Text-to-win campaigns
  • Text-to-vote campaigns
  • Promotions
  • Payment reminders
  • Charity donations


When to Use Long Codes 

Advantages of Long Codes

  • Text and call: With long codes, political organizations and advocacy groups can use the same phone number to send text messages and make calls. 
  • Easy setup: Long codes are faster and easier to set up than short codes. 
  • Low cost: A2P texting with long codes is less expensive than leasing a short code.  
  • Personal approach: Messages from a 10-digit phone number seem like they’re sent by people instead of mass platforms. Often, they make a great personal follow-up to a mass text message.

Common Uses for Long Codes

  • Two-way communication with customers
  • Delivery and tracking updates
  • Appointment reminders
  • Local campaigns
  • SMS network with internal staff
  • Urgent messaging 

As you can see, long codes and short codes have different advantages and uses — it’s not an either/or situation. If anything, each type of phone number supports specific needs and desired outcomes, helping political organizations have a more strategic campaign to achieve their long-term goals. 

Short Codes vs. Long Codes (Which One to Use In Your Political Campaign)-1


Partner with Tatango

These days, political marketers have more ways to reach constituents than ever before, and choosing the best communication channels for your political campaign is no easy task. Political SMS messaging is an effective way to gain traction, making your job easier. There’s no doubt using text messaging is one of the easiest decisions you can make. 

Tatango has been an industry leader helping top political candidates and organizations for 14 years. Our SMS software can use both long codes and short codes, and our Customer Success Team handles the entire phone number provisioning process for our clients. Talk to one of our text messaging experts to help you choose the best phone number to achieve your goals. 

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