Taking cues from Asia and Europe, U.S. carriers created the Common Short Code Administration (CSCA) as the exclusive entity to lease short codes (5 or 6 digit abbreviated phone numbers) to companies and marketers wanting to access their networks for texting and SMS in the U.S.
Leasing short codes is similar to leasing a domain name. While the wireless carriers want every business to lease their own dedicated short code, it is common to see multiple small businesses share a single short code.
Short Codes ensure that consumers remain in control of their experiences by identifying content providers and providing them a trusted method to ‘Opt-In’ and ‘Opt-Out’ of SMS marketing and SMS giving programs from their phone.
Short Codes activate Radio, TV, Direct Mail, and Print advertising.
With only 47% of U.S. mobile subscribers
carrying smart phones, and only 7% carrying smart phones with QR Code readers, short codes are the choice for conversion-oriented marketers who
want to be able to engage all 300 million wireless subscribers in the U.S.
comScore: Mobile Subscribers and QR Codes.
Short Codes protect our mobile devices from SPAM and unsolicited marketing. They identify the content providers and SMS gateways to both the carriers and consumers. Unlike with e-mail (where you simply lease a domain name and start sending people e-mail messages), all short codes are initially blocked from all carrier networks.
Each Short Code program has to be independently provisioned, tested, and certified by each wireless carrier to gain access to that network. This process currently takes 8-12 weeks. Carriers also conduct regular audits to ensure ongoing compliance of each short code on their networks and they can easily block programs that don't follow their rules.
1. Consumers must ‘Opt-in’ to short codes and alerts from their mobile device before they can be sent anything. Even an initial message that asks for permission is considered SPAM.
2. Consumers must ‘double' opt-in (confirm their handset and intent to subscribe by replying "YES" to a welcome message) to any premium short code program that charges fees - or - to any standard rated program when the subscriber opts-in from a web form.
3. All subscription or alert services that will have recurring messages (even standard rated programs) must provide a compliant opt-In confirmation message. That message must contain:a) Content provider's name (e.g. "Applebees: ")
b) Program description (e.g. "Welcome to our Mobile VIP Club")
c) Frequency of alerts (e.g. "8msg/mth")
d) Rate/cost disclosure (e.g. "Msg&Data rates may apply.")
e) Instructions for opt-out and help (e.g. "Reply HELP for help")
4. All short code subscription services with recurring messages (even standard rated programs) must contain “Reply STOP to opt-out” in each and every message sent from the system. This is a requirement for both premium and standard rated programs.
5. All short code programs must support the universal commands STOP, QUIT, END, CANCEL, UNSUBSCRIBE, STOP ALL, and HELP.
NOTE: There are many other short code requirements and some are different for each carrier. Be sure to choose an application provider with an intelligent system designed to format and process messages differently for each carrier network.
Carrier-assigned short codes can be leased from the CSCA for $1,500 quarterly. If you want to pick out the numbers of your short code (i.e. choose a vanity code), the CSCA charges $3,000 every three months.
A short code can be shared by multiple content providers if the program is managed by one of the
mobile marketing agencies listed by the CSCA as a
Short Code Application Provider.
Like SUMOTEXT, most of these companies have SMS marketing platforms capable of maintaining carrier compliance while differentiating between program traffic through the use of unique keywords.
Due to the growing number of programs being run over shared short codes, wireless carriers continue to tighten requirements for mobile marketing companies who offer these services. As such, SUMOTEXT thoroughly reviews all new programs and regularly reports new programs and their associated keywords to wireless carriers and only allows SMS API access to our sms Gateway over a client's dedicated short code.
For additional information on short codes for marketing or text message codes, reference our short code FAQ which covers SMS codes and mobile short codes for texting and SMS in the U.S., Canada, and international.