Short Code vs. Long Code: SMS 411

Brian Keep, Ytel |  

So you want to implement SMS into your marketing strategy. Now you need to decide on using short code or long code for your campaigns. What’s the difference, you ask? Check out this 411 for a helpful breakdown.

There are ample amounts of opportunity for marketing through SMS, and one of these ways is through short or long code numbers.

There are ample amounts of opportunity for marketing through SMS, and one of these is through short or long code numbers. Short code and long code refer to the phone numbers used for SMS (text messages). 

Check out the infographic for a high level comparison between the two, and keep scrolling for a feature breakdown! 



  • 5 or 6-digit number primarily used for businesses sending and receiving marketing text messages
  • Campaigns pre-approved and monitored by carriers and regulated by the TCPA

    Two variations:
    • Shared short code - a number leased by several companies with unique keywords applied to each
    • Dedicated short code - solely owned number by one business for better recognition and campaign effectiveness


  • 10-digit number tied to area code
  • Can be used for two-way SMS or voice
  • No pre-approvals from carriers required 


Short code is the powerhouse for mass marketing SMS. Because campaigns are specifically pre-approved for use after people opt-in, you can send a variety of marketing communications to your distribution lists.

  • Mass messaging 
  • Notifications like appointment or sale reminders
  • Special offers and promotions


Long code is perfect for two-way communications using both SMS and voice. Instead of mass marketing messages, long code’s wheelhouse is person-to-person business communications that support marketing efforts

  • Customer service chats
  • Personalized communications and information gathering
  • Scheduling ability and appointment reminders
  • SMS-based surveys


The cost of leasing or buying a dedicated short code is much more costly than getting a long code number for the same purpose. As mentioned previously, there are carrier approvals to get for short code, and that process just takes a bit of time. 

Which one is right for you?

That all depends on your SMS campaign needs. Are you wanting to send your message to a huge distribution list? Short code is your answer. Do you want to follow up an inbound call with a customer survey or find out more information from someone interacting with your brand? Long code is the perfect route to take.New Call-to-action

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About The Author

Brian Keep, Ytel

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As the Chief Operating Officer, Brian works consistently with one finger on the pulse and an eye in the sky to ensure that everything technical at Ytel is running smoothly on a daily basis.

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