Telephone Equipment Manufacturing | 1917
A Short Code is a 5 or 6 digit number administered by the Common Short Code Administration for use in Application-To-Person (A2P) messaging. These numbers are called “common” because they’re provisioned across all participating mobile networks in the United States. Short Codes are built to handle messaging at scale and are typically used to reach large audiences for a range of use cases.
Short Codes are country specific and this guide is only applicable to U.S. Short Codes.
Messaging with Short Codes is an established and effective way to engage with large audiences. Unlike 10DLC (ten digit long code), where a company can register and start sending in a matter of days, Short Codes can take 6-12 weeks to provision and are often audited to ensure proper use. This scrutinous application process makes Short Codes one of the most trusted and effective channels for A2P messaging, allowing companies to reach large audiences quickly and reduce the risk of filtering at the carrier level.
Short Codes also offer the highest messaging throughput of any number-type, with delivery speeds as high as 500 MPS. Because Short Codes were built for messaging at scale, mobile carriers are expecting high volume and don’t preemptively block messages as spam.
Lastly, with a max of 6 digits, Short Codes are much easier to remember than their 10-digit counterparts in long code and Toll-Free numbers. This can improve opt-ins, open rates and engagement with your messaging campaign.
The industry standards for Short Code Compliance are governed by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) as well as the industry-led CTIA. Be sure to review the regulations outlined in the TCPA and the CTIA Short Code Monitoring Handbook with your own legal counsel. You should also familiarize yourself with CTIA’s Messaging Principles and Best Practices as the carriers will look to see if they are being followed if your messages are flagged for any reason.
Short Codes are provided on monthly leases and can be acquired through Voxology or directly through usshortcodes.com, should you choose to manage your own lease. Random short codes are $500/month and Vanity/Select Short Codes, ones you choose yourself, are $1,000/month.
The lease fee for a Short Code is nonrefundable, even if the code is never fully provisioned on mobile carriers. During the life of the lease, you have the exclusive right to the use of your Short Code.
If you choose to manage your own lease and migrate the Short Code to Voxology, you’ll need to provide the receipt of purchase in order to provision on our platform.
After acquiring a Short Code you’ll need to submit an application ensuring your Short Code campaign is compliant. The application will include information such as: legal entity name/address, messaging use case, call to action, terms of service, customer care and opt-out methods.
Short Codes are heavily regulated. To avoid unwanted messages over their networks, carriers want a clear understanding of what types of messages you’ll be sending. Your Short Code may be audited from time to time after provisioning to ensure compliance. The table below lists a few examples of messaging use cases for Short Codes.
|Authentication||Two-Factor Authentication notifications|
|Customer Care||Respond to inbound requests, schedule appointments or notify about service availability|
|Engagement||Notifications about community events, suggested exercises in a workout program or educational content|
|Marketing||Customer surveys, promotional events, abandoned cart notifications or discount codes|
|Public Safety||Critical messages from utility provider for service outages|
|Operations||Workforce communication, shift scheduling, or delivery tracking and notifications|
The Call To Action (CTA) for your messaging program is how your audience joins (or subscribes) and is critical for your program’s compliance. These can range from in-person sign-ups to online registration. Carriers require every short code application be submitted with a mockup of your CTA. A mockup can be of a webpage, signage or a verbal script. The mockup doesn’t need to be an exact replica of the final product as long as all the required elements are included. At a minimum, your CTA must include:
Be sure to review the industry standards for opt-in methods found in the CTIA Short Code Monitoring Handbook.
A link to the publicly available, mobile Terms of Service for your Short Code is required for your Short Code application. While the specific requirements for the contents of your Terms and Service may vary due to the nature of your messaging use case, the minimum requirements are listed below.
Please review the CTIA Short Code Monitoring Handbook and confer with your own legal counsel to ensure your Terms of Service are fully compliant.
It is required that all Short Codes are configured to respond to messages containing certain keywords. The responses for these keywords must be included in your Short Code application. At a minimum, your Short Code should support keywords to opt-in, opt-out and receive customer care information.
|Opt-In||“You have subscribed to [Program Name] account alerts. Message frequency varies. Message and data rates may apply. Reply HELP for help. Reply STOP to stop.”|
|Opt-Out||“You have opted-out of [Program Name] account alerts and will receive no further messages. Reply START to opt-in.”|
|Customer Care||“[Program Name] account alerts. Call 888-123-4567 for customer support or more information. Reply STOP to stop.”|
Please review the CTIA Short Code Monitoring Handbook for requirements specific to your messaging use case for Opt-In, Opt-Out and Customer Care responses.
During the provision process, your Short Code may be tested by the carriers. During testing your Short Code will be expected to respond to the keywords with the responses listed in your application.
Take a look at Voxology’s Getting Started Guide for Programmable SMS to learn how to configure an auto-responses for your Short Code.
There are various one time, recurring, and usage-based fees associated with registering and using a Short Code for messaging. The fees outlined below are set by your messaging provider, their vendors and the mobile carriers. Prices were last updated on April 13, 2023 and are subject to change at any time.
There are a variety of setup fees associated with provisioning a short code on a messaging network depending on what features you require and what provider you choose. These fees can vary so be sure to inquire with your provider about the cost of setting up your short code.
The lease fees below are the list rates assuming you manage your own lease and are often billed quarterly. Lease fees can be more expensive if a third-party vendor manages your lease.
|Short Code Type||Monthly Fee|
Carrier Fees are charged by the mobile carriers per message part sent or received in addition to any messaging rates charged by your messaging provider.
|Carrier||SMS Inbound||SMS Outbound||MMS Inbound||MMS Outbound|
Fees charged by the messaging provider for each SMS or MMS message part sent and received.
See Voxology’s Short Code SMS and MMS rates on our pricing page.