What is an SMS shortcode?

A shortcode works like a regular telephone number, but it has one characteristic which makes it really special – its length. Shortcodes, as their name suggest, are shorter than most telephone numbers as they are made up of only 5-6 digits. The value of this is that it’s really easy for your customers, and prospective customers, to remember the number and get in touch with you.

Typically, businesses use shortcodes as a means of allowing customers to opt-in to their SMS marketing or feedback campaigns.

The process is simple: a customer sees your shortcode advertised in an appropriate place (online, billboard, t-shirt, radio, print ad, restaurant window etc), and composes a new text on their mobiles addressed to your shortcode and containing the keyword advertised along with the number. For example, a fast food company might advertise a promotion by printing it on its drinks cups: ‘text QUENCH to 800911 to receive a free drink with your next burger’. A customer interested in receiving this offer would simply follow those instructions, and receive the offer in a reply to their text.

The keyword is absolutely crucial, particularly for businesses using shared SMS shortcodes, as these are assigned to many different companies simultaneously. The inclusion of the keyword in the text allows the SMS provider to determine which of the multiple campaigns the customer is opting into, and then route the message through the SMS marketing software, thus ensuring the correct response is sent out to the subscriber. Therefore, there is no real room for companies to get subscribers mixed up, as the keywords differentiate between which company a customer is contacting, even if they are all texting, for example, 912131. While large corporations like Dominos may have dedicated shortcodes, meaning theirs is not shared with any other business, keywords are still important, as often there are multiple campaigns running side by side, and customers may be trying to opt-out or offer feedback, too.

Shortcodes’ considerable value when it comes to branding and making your business known cannot be denied. They give an infinitely more professional feel than a standard mobile number would, lending your business a sense of scale and professionalism which customers will appreciate. It encourages interaction with your customers, and makes them feel valued and rewarded for their loyalty, boosting all-important customer relationships and encouraging continued loyalty to your brand. By giving them an incentive to sign up for further offers, you also make it much more likely that they will keep coming back to you, every time they receive a text!

So if you are looking to strengthen your marketing campaign or your relationship with customers, or for an easy way to receive consumer feedback, SMS shortcodes might be the perfect answer. Their memorable, simple to use, and have the potential to be extremely powerful business tools.

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