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Shared or Dedicated Short Code: Choosing the Right One

For many people worldwide, SMS-enabled devices have become irreplaceable tools to stay connected with the outside world. Immediately communicating with customers, clients, employees, and members therefore makes SMS an extremely powerful messaging tool for businesses. When considering a short code, the following preliminary questions will be a helpful in evaluating your mobile communication goals:

  • What is the mobile communications budget?
  • What is the timeline to launch a mobile communications campaign?
  • What are the text message volume needs?

There are two short code options for companies to engage their audiences with text messaging: shared short codes and dedicated short codes. Which one is the best choice for your business?

Shared Short Code: Lower Cost, Quick Launch, & Shared Volume

Shared short codes allow a business to run a campaign on a short code that is used by other companies. The primary benefit is a savings in both money and time. Shared short codes cost less than dedicated short codes because a single shared short code is used across various text messaging campaigns run by multiple companies. Dedicated short codes typically cost $500 per month to lease with a $3,000 carrier application processing fee, plus the cost to send each message. Tapping into a short code that is already active saves you the time of obtaining and provisioning a short code yourself (typically an 8-10 week process or more) – plus you can launch your text messaging campaign almost immediately.

Separate campaigns are able to run simultaneously on a single short code with the use of keywords. A keyword is a unique phrase assigned to a short code that identifies a business campaign. For example, Dr. O’s dentist and Sal’s Pizza both use short code 55616 to communicate with their customers. Dr. O uses the keywords SMILE and CLEAN for two separate campaigns: texting SMILE to 55616 subscribes the user to appointment reminders; and the CLEAN keyword designates a special offer Dr. O’s office is running this month. Sal’s Pizza uses CHEESE so subscribers can subscribe to delivery specials. The unique keywords allow businesses to share the use of a short code.

Dedicated Short Code: Brand-Friendly, Better User Experience & 35 Dedicated Messages/Second

Dedicated short codes are an excellent mobile tool for businesses requiring sole use of the short code. While it costs more money and time to launch a dedicated short code, there are certain advantages to consider: they are brand-friendly, offer a better user experience, and handle a higher throughput of text messages.

A short code can become part of a company’s brand strategy particularly with a vanity short code, which allows you to specifically request the numbers of the short code. This might be used to mimic a zip code, or an associated word (e.g., 76453 spells SMILE). Vanity short codes cost $1,000 per month to lease, whereas a random short code costs $500 per month and is randomly assigned.

The second advantage of a dedicated short code is better user experience. With a shared short code, the user will typically have to text a keyword, and then an action word to subscribe. For example, Dr. O wants to run two campaigns with the keyword SMILE. This first is for appointment reminders, as mentioned above, and the second is appointment confirmations. Since both use the keyword SMILE, each campaign should be designated with an action word. The user would text SMILE RMD to set up SMS appointment reminders. When they receive the reminder (e.g. “Your appointment is 3/30/10. Txt SMILE Y to confirm”), the user needs to text the keyword SMILE plus the action word Y for yes in order to route the response to the correct company. With a dedicated short code, this is not necessary.

A dedicated short code can send up to 35 text messages per second. On a shared short code, this volume is shared among the number of companies using a single short code.

CDYNE provides U.S. and Canadian short codes for use with the SMS Notify! API – SMS Notify! is a secure two-way SMS Gateway that facilitates your business communications with a developer-friendly API.

Get more short code information, or test today for free.

Previous blog: Text Messaging: Almost a Guaranteed Read
Next blog: Dedicated Short Code: Steps to Launch

Text Messaging: Almost a Guaranteed Read

Your cell phone beeps, buzzes, or blinks – signaling an incoming text message. How many seconds will pass before you respond and pick up the phone to check the message? How quickly will you respond? SMS is a highly effective and engaging medium of communication and multiple studies show that 95 – 98% of text messages are read within minutes of receipt. Due to the prevalent use of cell phones for text messaging (the Pew Research Center reports that 80% of U.S. cell phone owners use their phone to send and receive text messages), mobile communications provides a huge opportunity for businesses to connect with their audience and engage in immediate and relevant conversations. In the U.S. and Canada, the best way to do this is by using a short code.

A short code is a special 5-6 digit number (e.g., 75195) that allows consumers to subscribe to mobile messaging campaigns. You are probably familiar with ads prompting you to text a keyword to a short code, for example, “Text PIZZA31 to enter to win a free pizza.” Whether SMS communication with your audience is for informational, promotional, voting, feedback, or other contact, there are significant benefits in adding SMS communications to reach your audience:


Short code messages are typically delivered within seconds. This is an immediate advantage for businesses engaging their audiences in real time, and has a broader appeal than an app download or mobile website. 91% of all U.S. citizens have their mobile device within reach 24/7 (Morgan Stanley).

Near Perfect Open Rates

The average open rate for SMS messages is over 95% (Frost & Sullivan). This makes SMS a powerful marketing tool and gives businesses a direct line of communication to support other marketing efforts.

Targeted Communication

There are many opportunities to reach your audience with short codes that range from information and customer service (e.g., opt-in alerts and logging customer issues) to marketing, advertising, and entertainment (e.g., incentives, promotions, polling, games, and  quizzes). A big appeal for companies using short codes is reaching each subscriber in a personal, relevant and timely manner.

Customer Communication Choice

Customers have increased expectations of the companies with which they do business. For many consumers, text messaging is a preferred method of contact, and a golden opportunity for a company to increase the frequency of one-to-one communications.

CDYNE provides U.S. and Canadian short codes for use with the SMS Notify! API – SMS Notify! is a secure two-way SMS Gateway that facilitates your business communications with a developer-friendly API.

Get more short code information, or test today for free.

Next blog: Shared or Dedicated Short Code: Choosing the Right One