Long Code vs. Short Code


There are many pros and cons to using long codes vs. short codes when it comes to text communication and text message marketing. Deciding which to use can be confusing if you don’t know or understand the difference. Taking a look at long code vs. short code numbers in terms of how they can be used for text message marketing, is a helpful way to determine which option would be best for those considering looking into the business of text message marketing.

First, let’s go over what exactly text marketing is and how this advertising and marketing industry relies on long codes and short codes instead of a traditional phone number. Text message marketing is a great way for businesses and organizations to send out messages to multiple or many recipients to notify them of an upcoming promotion, sale, event and other information about the business. Text message marketing capitalizes on the increasingly popular form of communication in text messaging. By using this way to communicate with customers and other potential clients, businesses can attract more business and increase overall sales.

To use text marketing, you need to have at least a long code or a short code consisting of a number similar to a traditional phone number. You will get these numbers from the SMS provider along with a keyword that accurately describes your business or campaign. The recipients will text the keyword in to that short code or long code number in place of a regular phone number. This will opt the recipient into the text marketing campaign so they can continue to receive messages, promotions, discounts and more in the future.  Some text marketing companies will allow users to choose from long codes and short codes depending on the types of text marketing the user plans to use. Now let’s take a look at the difference as well as the pros and cons of long code vs. short code.

Long Codes


  • Among the pros to using long codes for text message marketing include that the long code numbers can be assigned exclusively for long term.
  • In addition, it only takes the long numbers a few days to get set up by the text marketing company. This means you can be using your text marketing campaign in no time after sign up!
  • In comparison to the short codes, long number codes can have access internationally. On the flip side, short codes must be provisioned for each individual country the messages are to be sent to. For example. a U.S. short code can only be sent to recipients in the U.S.
  • Long codes can also be used for voice, email, and fax applications as well as SMS messaging for text marketing efforts.
  • Keywords from the text marketing company can be taken quickly on a shared short code, whereas dedicated long codes are easier to procure and allow for all the keywords you could want, so you don’t have to worry about another text marketer taking your keyword.
  • Long codes also have the ability to reach all carriers. However, not all carriers support short codes.


  • Unfortunately there are a few downsides to using long codes in reference to text message marketing. For example, long codes can be very restrictive throughout including very slow speeds and far less reliable than short code transmissions.
  • Long codes are also not subject to carrier regulations, which can mean SPAM for your recipients.
  • A long code also means a longer number to remember, which can be a negative for those who cannot remember the number to text in to receive your messages. If they don’t remember, it is likely they will not sign up at all.
  • It is also extremely important to note that long codes are designed for peer-to-peer or low volume applications, NOT text blasts. If you plan on sending your text marketing messages to dozens or hundreds of recipients, long codes are not the best option.

Short Codes


  • Just like with long codes, there are some great aspects to using a short code for your text marketing purposes instead of a long code. For example, premium messaging services like downloading ringtones, requesting donations, music and more are only available on a short code.
  • Like the name implies, short codes are obviously shorter and easier for customers and potential customers to remember, so they are more likely to opt into the messaging service.
  • Conveniently, short codes are also much faster when it comes to delivery and far more reliable. If you are going to be paying for a service, then why spend money risking that your messages will get lost in translation.
  • Short codes are optimal for mobile marketing campaigns that work to send hundreds or more messages to tons of people instead of just a select, small group.


  • However, there are also a few negatives to using short codes including the fact that short codes can be rented only on a short-term basis, which means for every new campaign new numbers have to be setup and paid for in order to use.
  • Another negative, short codes take anywhere from two to three months to provision for usage.
  • Cost wise, short codes are also more expensive such as $500 to $1000 per month depending on the type of short code, plus payments to an aggregator for connectivity. However, this is not necessarily a cost that a text message marketer would have to pay for simply because the text message marketing company would be responsible for this overhead cost.