Short codes are simply short telephone numbers – typically five to six digits – to which mobile phone users can send SMS messages.
They are easier to read and remember than normal telephone numbers, and now widely used by businesses, brands and organizations to increase audience, consumer and member engagement.
The messaging rates from short codes are usually the same as from long codes, however this may vary among providers.
Text messages sent to short codes can be billed at standard rates or, in the case of premium-rated SMS, above normal SMS rates. They can also be used to subscribe customers to re-occurring monthly services.
While earlier short codes were limited to use across specific carriers, the introduction of Common Short Codes (CSCs) means users can send and receive text or SMS messages to short code number regardless of the mobile carrier they subscribe to.
Frequently used in automated response services, CSCs call on users to send an SMS command or prefix to a designated short code number. The service then responds according to the command received.
To receive weather updates supplied by particular news service, users might be asked to send and SMS message using the word 'weather' to a CSC number designated by the news organization.
If they are replying to a text message already received, only the command or prefix – in this case 'weather' – needs to be given. When short codes are used in advertising or in printed material, however, both the prefix and the short code number need to be displayed.
Short codes and associated prefixes are typically shown using either one of these two formats:
They are not all the same! Do some research before deciding on an SMS provider to manage your campaign.