Should I Use a Shared Short Code in My SMS Marketing Strategy?

By Mitzi Mori, Senior Product Manager at Urban Airship

Wondering whether you should use shared short codes (SSC) in your text marketing program? You’re not alone.

In addition to the many reasons shared short codes are not our favorite, AT&T recently announced that they are discontinuing support for shared short codes. They no longer will approve new SSC, effective immediately, and have plans to end support on existing SSC this year. We predict other carriers will make similar moves.

So if you’re in the midst of deciding whether to use a shared short code — or whether to migrate from a shared short code to a dedicated code — here are some reasons to consider avoiding them.

Shared Short Codes Are Risky, Limiting & Create Negative Customer Experiences

Using an SSC can provide cost savings because the monthly lease for a short code is split across the various brands that use it, but the savings come with risk and limitations that keep SSC from actually being cost effective.

One Bad Actor Can Shut You Down

For example, if one brand sends a message violating the carrier’s guideline or sends content that violates compliance, the carrier can shut down the short code, affecting all brands who share that short code.

Shared Codes Can Confuse Customers

The Keywords You Want Might Already Be Taken

Keyword Confusion Can Create Unintended Opt-Outs

Shared Codes Mean Your Brand Is Not the Main Point of Contact for SMS Support

Dedicated Short Codes Reduce Risk & Create Strong Customer Experiences

With dedicated short codes, brands can set up as many keywords as they like. The customer experience is more streamlined. It also eliminates any confusion about which brand a customer is interacting with. And there’s no risk of unintentional opt-outs, which means your SMS engagement channel is more reliable.

As an additional benefit, dedicated short codes can be made into vanity codes, a personalized code for your brand. For instance, 54657 for Kohl’s (the numbers spell out the name in the telephone keypad) and 827538 for Target. Dedicated short codes like vanity codes can help set your brand apart from others.

It’s Time to Migrate from Shared to Dedicated Short Codes

Want to further your SMS education? Check out these great resources on SMS marketing.

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