Jacob Morrow

2024-06-04 12:12:17

4399 Views, 5 min read

If you are running a business, you’re well aware that SMS marketing can bring amazing results. Interestingly enough, last year, more than 70% of users decided to subscribe and receive promotional texts from various businesses. This is where short codes come into play. In this article, you’ll learn what a short code is and how to get it.

Part 1: Short Code Explained

What is a Short Code?

The most important question that we need to answer is what is a short code in the first place. In essence, a short code is a type of phone number that is shorter than the regular ones, typically ranging from 5 to 6 digits. You can utilize this special number to send and receive SMS and MMS messages, and that’s why we often refer to it as the SMS short code.

This tool has proven to be invaluable for businesses as it facilitates communication with consumers. For instance, you can set it up to use it in your marketing campaigns, send notifications to your customers, and even for two-factor authentication to add an extra layer of protection. Being this versatile, it is easy to understand why the short code SMS has become such a popular tool.

Different Types of SMS Short Codes

Since a short code number is so versatile, it is only logical that there are different types of it to satisfy every possible use case. Namely, there are four main types of short codes that you can get, which are:

Shared Short Codes – As their name suggests, these codes are used by multiple businesses at the same time. However, there are slight differences as each business can use unique keywords. For example, you might be using the SMS short code “12345” for your pizza restaurant, along with other businesses. Your brand might use the keyword “PIZZA” while a clothing brand might use “FASHION”. Many business owners prefer shared short codes as they are an affordable option, even though some mobile carriers have started phasing them out.

Dedicated Short Codes –A dedicated short code is a five- or six-digit phone number that belongs to a single business. This means that you are no longer restricted to a specific keyword, meaning that you gain flexibility over your SMS marketing campaigns. At the same time, they are one of the most secure options since you don’t share the short code number with any other brand.

Vanity Short Codes – A vanity short code is a number that you select for your business. With this type of number, you have the option to select a memorable short code that will remain in the minds of your customers. For instance, you might select an easy number with the same digits repeating or select a number that ties to your business in a way, such as the year it was founded.

Random Short Codes– Contrary to vanity short codes, random ones are assigned to you randomly by your service provider. The main reason to get a random number is its price as it is significantly more affordable. However, you have no power to make it memorable.

Part 2: Why and When to Use Short Codes

Pros of SMS short codes

We have briefly mentioned that short codes are versatile tools with many advantages. But what exactly are these benefits? Here is what this tool offers:

  • Scalability – this tool has been designed to satisfy the needs of every business, even large corporations. For this reason, they can easily handle the high volumes of messages that you must send in large-scale marketing campaigns.
  • Memorability – these numbers are short in length and easy to remember. Especially if you go for a vanity and dedicated short code, you can make it very memorable for your customers.
  • Enhanced open rates – consumers nowadays are mostly on their phones, and that’s why mobile marketing seems to work better than printed ads. In addition to this, SMS messages have significantly higher open rates compared to other mediums, such as emails. Your customers are more likely to open your text message within a few minutes since they receive it.
  • Boost engagement – an SMS is a low-pressure communication method. This means that your customers can interact with your business whenever they feel like it. Moreover, you can use this tool to conduct polls and surveys without putting pressure on your clients.
  • Speed – you can rest assured that the messages you will send through a short code SMS will be delivered almost instantly to your subscribers. This is crucial for your time-sensitive campaigns, such as flash sales.
  • Security – Many companies are utilizing this tool for implementing two-factor authentication. Therefore, you can add an extra layer of protection to your processes, a fact that can also boost your customers’ trust.
  • Cost-effective – when it comes to marketing campaigns, you need to consider the cost. Compared to other marketing channels, SMS marketing is a rather affordable option that can fit even in your tight budget.

When to Use a Short Code?

Now that you know what is a short code and its main advantages, it’s time to explain when you can use it. The most significant use cases of this tool are the following:

  • Marketing campaigns– SMS short codes are super versatile and you can implement them into your marketing campaigns. For example, you can communicate your sales and discounts, and even organize text-to-win contests.
  • Interactive campaigns – there might come a time when you want to research your audience and learn more about their preferences and needs, or simply let your audience make a selection. An SMS campaign is a great way to engage with your customer base and learn more about them through voting, polling, and other interactive activities. One of the most well-known cases for this is voting via SMS on reality shows and competitions.
  • Important notifications – with this tool, you can quickly send important updates and reminders to your customers. For instance, you can send the shipping status of an order and other delivery notifications.
  • Two-factor authentication – when users need to make payments online, they are always worried about their security. Therefore, implementing two-factor authentication will give them peace of mind. For instance, banks are usually utilizing shortcodes to verify the transaction.
  • Part 3: Examples of successful marketing campaigns using Short Code

    1. Coca-Cola’s Text-to-win Campaign

    Coca-Cola is a huge corporation that invests a lot in its marketing campaigns. A prime example of this is the “Share a Coke” campaign, which allowed users to personalize their favorite soda. In this campaign, people could text a keyword to a short code to personalize virtual Coke bottles with their names.

    Another great example is Coca-Cola’s text-to-win campaigns. For example, consumers could find a unique code on their bottles, which they could send to a short code number to get SMS and data bundles.


    2. Voting on American Idol

    One of the most well-known use cases of this tool is in reality TV show voting. Reality competitions ask their viewers to vote for their favorite contestant via an SMS.

    “American Idol” is a great example of that, as each week, viewers can vote on which performance and contestant they want to continue on the show. The programs usually show a card with all of the contestants’ names, shortcodes, and keywords.


    3.  Unicef Donations

    Many non-profit organizations utilize short codes for donations that will help those in need. For instance, organizations are using this technique for relief during natural disasters.

    A great example of this is Unicef’s campaign for the children who fled Syria. People that wanted to donate, could text a specific keyword to send a predetermined amount to the cause.

    4.  Pizza Hut’s Text-to-Order Campaign

    One more example we are going to examine is Pizza Hut’s text-to-order campaign. In this case, the company asked their customers to place their orders via text to take advantage of exclusive deals.


    5. Get Your Guide’s Text Confirmation

    However, this method isn’t used just for marketing purposes. You can set up this number to send important notifications and status updates to your customers.

    A great example of that is how the app GetYourGuide sends a text message to confirm the user’s reservation and provide a link to the activity tickets that they have purchased.


    Bonus: Leverage the Power of SMS in EngageLab

    Now that you know what a great tool SMS short codes are, you might be tempted to try it out for your business. For instance, you can get a Twilio short code that is available to numerous countries. However, this might take a lot of time and the code isn’t available globally. The app that makes your SMS campaigns even more effective is EngageLab.

    What makes EngageLab such an invaluable resource is that it gives you all the functions you might need to meet your audiences’ demands. First and foremost, you can generate a one-time password (OTP) to implement two-factor authentication. Moreover, you can create your own SMS marketing campaigns and send them to your customers with no fuss. Other functions available in EngageLab are system notifications and transaction SMSs to keep your clients informed at all times. And the best thing of all is that it is available globally.

    When using EngageLab for your SMS strategies, you don’t have to worry about a thing. The app complies with local and global laws and regulations on data privacy and cybersecurity to ensure that your and your customers’ data remain safe. Furthermore, you can automate your processes to make things move faster and more efficiently. And to top things up, you can benefit from real-time SMS tracking that reveals the success of your campaign.

    Here are the steps for getting a short code using EngageLab:

    Create your EngageLab.

    Click the “Sign up” button on the top right corner to create your EngageLab and gain access to all of its features.


    Add SMS Users

    Under the “Authorization” section, you can add your SMS users. Click the “Add SMS_USER” and type their name, which must be a string of 4-20 characters.


    Create a Template

    Then, you must create your SMS template. Click “Create template” and type all relevant information. You can create a verification code, an industry notice, or a marketing campaign template. Wait for your template to be approved which takes place twice a day on workdays.


    Create your task

    Locate the “Send Related” section on the sidebar and click “Task”. Click the “New Task” button to create your task. Type and select all the relevant information to set up your SMS campaign.



    The short code is a powerful tool for businesses looking to enhance their communication strategies and marketing campaigns. With EngageLab, you have the opportunity to get the most out of your SMS strategies by creating effective campaigns that reach your customers globally. Sign up for EngageLab today and take advantage of the free trial to discover its full potential.

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