A New Era for SMS Marketing: Short Codes, Toll-Free & 10DLC

By Jake Meador | Feb 4, 2021

woman using 10dlc

The End of SMS Short Codes

Traditionally, most SMS marketing has worked on a technical level by using five or six digit phone numbers, referred to as “shared short codes,” to send out mass text messages to a business’s SMS list. 

Carriers will begin transitioning away from short codes as soon as March 2021. Going forward, businesses will need to send bulk SMS messages through one of the following:


  1. Dedicated short code (example: 52001)

  2. Toll-free number (example: 1-800-780-8000)

  3. Ten-digit long code or 10DLC (example: 402-420-2000)

short code mms gaming sms marketing text example


The imminent termination of shared short codes has caused a good deal of concern and worry for business owners and marketers. However, there’s no need to worry! 


In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of each option. We’ll share why 10DLC is a better solution than shared short codes and why it is the best option for most people. 


Feel free to skip to the bottom to learn how to obtain a new 10DLC number for your business.


Option 1: Dedicated short code

Since shared short codes are going away, dedicated short codes (example: 52001) are now the cream of the crop. They come with the best throughput, the least spam, and the most premium features. These short codes are dedicated to the business that leases them - therefore, they are also the most expensive SMS option.


Dedicated short codes allow you to send 100s or 1000s of messages at once with high deliverability rates. Using delivery reports and link tracking, you can optimize your SMS campaigns for maximum conversions.


 There are 3 types of dedicated short codes. You can lease each one of these short codes or migrate your existing dedicated code through Mobile Text Alerts.


Premium Short Code

Premium short codes spell out your brand name or a significant word using your mobile phone’s dialpad. Examples include: 827438 for “Target” or 262966 for “Amazon”. These codes are short, memorable, and expensive.


Vanity Short Code

Vanity short codes are 5 to 6 digit numbers that you can select from a list of available codes. You’ll want to choose a code that is easy for your customers to remember or, if you’re lucky, you may be able to select one that fits your brand without paying the full price of leasing a premium short code.


Random Short Code

A random short is just like it sounds, random. You will receive a 5 or 6 digit number if you choose this option. The benefit of choosing a random short code is that you receive all the same short code features for a lower cost.


Pros for Using a Dedicated Short Code

  1. Dedicated short codes include access to an exclusive short code number.

  2. Dedicated short codes include access to an unlimited number of available keywords.

  3. Dedicated short codes have a high SMS throughput volume (up to 500 MPS, where MPS is messages per second [source]).

  4. Dedicated short codes have established strong trust from mobile carriers.

  5. Dedicated short codes are exclusive to you, therefore they are spam-free.


Cons for Using a Dedicated Short Code

  1. Expensive - depending on the provider, dedicated short codes cost a one-time $2,500 provisioning fee and up to $1,500/month to lease.

  2. Set up time - you will need to define your campaign and submit it to a number of wireless service providers before your short code is approved. Mobile Text Alerts can do the heavy lifting here and help you get approved. However, the process can take 4-6 weeks or longer.


Who Should Use Dedicated Short Codes?

Since dedicated short codes are in compliance with strict carrier regulations, they offer the safest and most versatile method for mass SMS marketing. Established businesses who want the best SMS features should consider leasing their own dedicated short code.


How to Purchase a Dedicated Short Code?

If you have any questions about short codes or if you’d like to lease a dedicated short code for your business, you can send us an email or book a call with one of our experts using the buttons below. 



Option 2: Toll-free number

Toll-free SMS numbers (example: 1-800-780-8000) are 10-digit numbers that can be used for both phone calls and SMS messaging. Toll-free numbers support one-way and two-way messaging. 


Toll-free SMS numbers numbers are ideal for businesses who want to use their existing toll-free number for SMS campaigns. Mobile Text Alerts can help you text-enable your existing toll-free number or provide you with a new one. Toll-free numbers help you achieve a high SMS throughput without adding extra carrier fees.


Request a New Toll-Free Number

Mobile Text Alerts can provide a new toll-free number for you within one day. Simply set up a new account and then contact us to get set up.


SMS-Enable Your Existing Toll-Free Number

If you already have a toll-free number that you use for your customer support or sales team, you may want to enable it to send and receive text messages. This makes things easy for both your business and customers. Feel free to reach out to us here about getting your number SMS-enabled.


Pros for Using a Toll-Free Number

  1. New toll-free numbers can be provisioned within 1-day, whereas short code provisioning can take weeks.

  2. Toll-free numbers can be used for voice and SMS. Customers can call or text you on the same number. This is a cost-effective and customer-friendly benefit.

  3. Toll-free numbers are much more affordable than dedicated short codes. See toll-free pricing here.

  4. Toll-free numbers are secure and recognizable. Customer’s can identify them as belonging to an established business.


Cons for Using a Toll-Free Number

  1. Toll-free messages are subject to carrier filtering. This means that some messages may be delayed or may not be delivered if they do not meet carrier requirements. Fortunately, Mobile Text Alerts can help you with deliverability through fallback methods and messaging guidance.

  2. Toll-free numbers generally have a lower throughput than short codes (3 MPS vs. 500 MPS, where MPS is messages per second [source]).


Who Should Use a Toll-Free Number?

Businesses who want to combine their customer contact number with their SMS campaigns should use an SMS-enabled toll-free number. Many businesses use them to communicate back-and-forth with customers and to send shipping notifications, appointment reminders, service updates, and internal alerts.


How to Purchase a Toll-Free Number?

If you’d like to purchase a new toll-free number or convert your existing toll-free number to send and receive SMS, you can sign up for a free account and reach out to us using the buttons below.




Option 3: Ten-digit long code (10DLC)

10DLC numbers are local 10-digit phone numbers (example: 402-420-2000) that can support a high volume of text messages. Sanctioned by major carriers, they must be registered exclusively to your business. 10DLCs offer the best mass SMS features with the most affordable cost. This makes 10DLC the best SMS solution for most businesses.


10DLC numbers are ideal for small and medium businesses who want to run effective SMS marketing campaigns to large groups of people. Compared to short codes and toll-free numbers, 10DLCs have the best throughput and deliverability rates for the lowest cost.


Pros for Using a 10DLC

  1. 10DLCs were created specifically for businesses who want to send SMS marketing. Businesses can safely use 10DLCs to send SMS marketing messages to their customers.

  2. 10DLCs have much lower monthly costs than short codes. See pricing for 10DLCs here.

  3. 10DLCS have better deliverability than toll-free numbers. They are sanctioned by mobile carriers and therefore are not subject to the same strict filtering.

  4. 10DLCs are dedicated numbers. They are registered to only one business at a time. This will make SMS marketing even more of an effective anti-spam channel.

  5. 10DLCs will likely improve SMS engagement rates. Receiving a text from a 10-digit number may feel more personal than receiving a text from a 5-digit short code or toll-free number.


Cons for Using a 10DLC

  1. Mobile carriers are requiring businesses to register for a 10DLC which can take 1-3 days. Mobile Text Alerts can help you do this quickly and in the meantime, we’ll provide you with a temporary 10DLC to eliminate any downtime.

  2. 10DLCs do not offer the same throughput as dedicated shortcodes. Since 10DLCs are relatively new, carriers are in the process of developing their throughput guidelines. Currently, it varies from carrier to carrier. Another thing to consider is whether or not your business needs a high throughput rate. For many, the standard 10DLC throughput is satisfactory.


Who Should Use a 10DLC?

At Mobile Text Alerts, we believe ten-digit long codes (10DLCs) are the way of the future for SMS marketing. Compared to short codes and toll-free numbers, 10DLCs offer the best of both worlds. Businesses can achieve high sending rates, fast setup times, and affordable costs by using 10DLCs.


How to Purchase a 10DLC?

In the next few months, we will be providing 10DLCs by default to every new Mobile Text Alerts customer. Current customers will be prompted to switch to a 10DLC as well. If you’d like early access, please contact us using the button below.



The Future of SMS Marketing

Shared short codes are soon disappearing but there’s no reason to worry about the change. 10DLCs are a better SMS marketing solution. As mobile carriers push for secure and anti-spam messaging, SMS marketing will become an increasingly clean channel. Along with the cluttering of email inboxes and social media accounts, SMS marketing, through 10DLCs will grow as the top channel for highly-targeted customer messaging.


With 10DLCs, businesses can maintain their high-volume SMS campaigns with low costs and desirable SMS features. 


At Mobile Text Alerts, our goal is to help you grow your sales through SMS marketing. To that end, we are happy to present 10DLCs as an excellent solution for growing your business in 2021 and beyond.


Learn More About 10DLC & SMS Marketing