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Can You Use SMS Long Codes for Marketing?



In the video above, Tatango CEO Derek Johnson answers the question, “Can you use SMS long codes for marketing?” Prefer to read instead? No problem, please see the post below. You can also find answers to all of your SMS marketing questions in our Q&A video library; click here to browse.


Can You Use SMS Long Codes for Marketing?

The short answer is no — brands and organizations cannot use SMS long codes for marketing purposes.

There are two main reasons why brands can’t use SMS long codes for marketing:

  1. The wireless carriers (AT&T, Verizon, etc.) have decided that SMS long codes are not to be used for marketing purposes, but rather transactional messaging, such as delivery notifications and package alerts. Since the wireless carriers provide communication services, they have the authority to dictate how certain communication channels are used.
  2. The functionality and messaging speeds of SMS long codes are restricted to one message per second. If a brand needs to send a mass text message for marketing purposes, SMS long codes don’t provide the capability to send large-scale marketing messages. For example, a restaurant with millions of followers, which is sending a promotion about a lunch special, wouldn’t be able to get the message out fast enough on a long code, leading to consumers receiving the message long after lunch.


What Are SMS Long Codes Used For?

SMS long codes are 10-digit phone numbers used to send and receive messages. Typically, long codes are used for transactional messages, such as two-factor authentication and delivery package alerts, not intended for marketing messages. As mentioned before, the message throughput for SMS long codes is significantly slower compared to short code messaging. Long codes weren’t designed to handle mass text message marketing campaigns, but instead send transactional messaging.

To illustrate an example of how long codes are used, below are two examples. DoorDash uses long codes for delivery updates, and a local restaurant uses long codes to communicate order and rewards information.

longcode messaging example door dash


Can You Use SMS Short Codes for Marketing?

Yes, SMS short codes are 5- to 6-digit phone numbers that are specifically used for marketing purposes. Short codes are registered with the wireless carriers and thus have higher technical capabilities, such as a significantly faster message throughput. Due to this, brands and organizations choose short codes for mass text message marketing campaigns and not transactional messaging.

For example, Tea Collection uses its text marketing program to send subscribers exclusive discounts, catalog updates, and other marketing purposes. (For more information about Tea Collection’s text program, visit their SMS Archives page here.)


About Tatango

Tatango is comprised of a team of seasoned text message marketing experts located in Seattle. Our passion is to help brands and organizations solve their text message marketing challenges, build their SMS marketing campaigns, and increase revenue with the channel that consumers open and engage with most.

Need help solving your text message marketing needs? Contact us today!

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