What Brands Need To Know About SMS Short Code

In 2021, e-commerce businesses are looking to compete in the ever-growing digital economy. However, the traditional forms of marketing and advertising — direct mail, radio, newspaper, TV — are no longer worth the effort, which makes sense considering that it is a digital economy they’re navigating.

Companies relying on the traditional forms of marketing to grow their e-commerce business will find themselves lagging far behind. Of course, this is not to say traditional forms don’t still have their place among specific demographics of consumers.

Marketing in E-commerce

The point is clear for e-commerce businesses — marketing efforts must turn towards digital directions. This includes efforts focused on search engine optimization, digital content, social media, email marketing, and mobile marketing, advertising, and messaging. 

Effective marketing strategies must meet the customer where they’re at. For many, that is online and on their phone. The release of the “smartphone” sent marketing efforts in a new direction. Media and news consumption shifted to online platforms, optimized for mobile use, and never looked back. Pew Research data reports that 57% of American adults admit getting their news entirely from their mobile devices.

Furthermore, many prefer to do their shopping online, with the numbers growing by the year. Data from recent e-commerce statistics reports that roughly 80% of Americans buy online, half of which do so from their phone. E-commerce businesses would do well to consider this data and prioritize their mobile marketing efforts.

Types of Mobile Marketing

In mobile marketing, three strategies are most prominent: mobile internet marketing, emailing marketing, and text message marketing (SMS). 

Mobile internet marketing

Mobile internet marketing encompasses a lot of things; it is considered multi-channel. Simply put, this digital strategy looks to target users on their mobile devices across many platforms, but mainly through mobile web browser advertising.

Mobile email marketing

Yes, it is as simple as it sounds. Mobile email marketing seeks to engage users through their email. They usually take the form of product or service promotions. Unfortunately, unwanted spam also works its way in as well. 

SMS marketing

Short message service (SMS), better known as text messaging, is a mobile marketing strategy to rival email. It seeks to engage customers with short text messages — usually with links to promotional offers. Of course, this means the customer has already consented to receiving this form of communication at some point, usually within the sales funnel. SMS marketing will be the focus from this point on.

SMS marketing considered 

There is no lack of opinions when it comes to the debate over email versus text messaging marketing, but let’s look briefly at some marketing research data to help us bear out the facts on why SMS marketing could prove more effective:

  • SMS messages are faster – Email can be sent quickly, within seconds, but received — not so much. On the other hand, text messages are often viewed within minutes — the average open rate is 99%. Not so with email—it tops out at 33%.
  • SMS messages are concise – Most people know the feeling that comes when scanning through an email that never seems to end; most people don’t even bother. SMS messages for marketing are short, with most being no more than 160 characters.
  • SMS messages are direct – Most people have their smartphone within arm’s reach at all times, with the text notifications on. This means SMS messages won’t spend time in an inbox. It is usually heard and seen quickly. The average response rate is greater than email; 45% compared to 6%. 

SMS messages can also be used as an alternative to email as an abandoned cart recovery option. An SMS abandoned cart recovery tool like LiveRecover can be easily integrated into most e-commerce platforms.

What Brands Need to Know About SMS Short Code

Now that we have taken the time to evaluate the effectiveness of SMS messages as an e-commerce marketing strategy, let’s look at an important component that brands planning to use the strategy must know about: SMS short code.

What is SMS short code?

If a company or e-commerce brand plans on utilizing SMS marketing tactics to reach new and existing customers, they must consider SMS short codes. SMS short code is an abbreviated phone number (five to six digits) that brands can use to run SMS marketing campaigns. 

These short codes give the customers the ability to opt into promotional campaigns, service alerts, receive coupons, and more. This is usually done by the customer texting certain keywords to the short code. Once a customer has subscribed to these short codes they will receive alerts from the brand.

SMS short codes are perfect for companies looking to run a high-volume mobile marketing campaign. Furthermore, short codes are permission-based, meaning the customer chooses to opt in. They can also choose to opt-out. 

Why brands should use short codes 

  • Short codes are, well, short and easy to remember for most people.
  • They can be marketed in a variety of business channels; social media, radio, print, etc.
  • It brings legitimacy to customers; short codes are used by businesses, not random people. Also, for peace of mind, they can check the code in the SMS short code directory.
  • Short codes are quick and can handle the mass volume that comes with big marketing campaigns.

Types of SMS short codes

Brands choosing to utilize SMS short codes for their mobile marketing campaign should understand the different types of short codes available; there are only two options, soon to be one: Shared and dedicated short codes. 

A quick mention of shared short codes – Obsolete on June 1, 2021

To understand short codes, it is worth mentioning shared short codes. However, it is important to note that most major wireless providers will make the shared short code option obsolete as of June 1, 2021. At a glance, shared short codes are SMS short codes shared by multiple businesses and brands — this is usually done because it is less costly. But at this point, there is no need to bother with shared short codes. 

Dedicated SMS short code

Businesses looking to establish brand identity would be better off choosing a dedicated short code for their mobile marketing campaigns — you own, you control it. A single brand uses dedicated short codes. 

It is often used by bigger brands that can afford the cost of having a dedicated short code. Perhaps dissolving the shared short code will open up the market to more affordable options for smaller brands. Unlike shared short codes, dedicated short codes put full control in the hand of the brand; but that also means it assumes responsibility to comply with all laws and regulations that come from messaging services.

Two types of dedicated short code

  • Random short codes The meaning of random short codes should be self-evident; it’s a random code assigned to brands. Brands who opt to choose random short codes have no control over the digits they get. However, this is the cheaper option. 
  • Vanity short codes Vanity short codes allow brands to choose their own short code number. This is the more expensive option, but it does allow brands to choose a more memorable set of numbers to use as their short code.

How SMS short code can be used by brands

In closing, let’s look at seven ways your brand can utilize SMS short code for your SMS marketing efforts; there are certainly more.

  1. General alerts – Want to remind your customers of a workshop or webinar? SMS short code can be used to blast all your subscribed customers with that announcement or reminder.
  2. Customer feedback and surveys – Brands can use SMS short codes to improve business performance by sending feedback surveys to customers who have opted in. 
  3. Customer support – SMS short code provides a great way to establish two-way messaging between the customer and customer support, answering their question in a timely manner. 
  4. Appointment reminders – If you are a business that provides a service, SMS short code can be used to remind customers of upcoming appointments.
  5. Promotions or contests – If you have an extensive promotional campaign or contest coming up, SMS short codes are a great way to get your customers involved in your marketing efforts. 
  6. Payment and billing – Getting payments on time can be tough. With SMS short codes, customers can receive alerts informing them that a payment is coming up or a bill is due.
  7. Tracking deliveries – SMS short code can be used to help customers track the status of their online purchases, as well as giving them alerts upon delivery.

SMS short codes do come with a cost, but for brands looking to make a splash with their SMS marketing efforts, SMS short codes should certainly be considered useful in their e-commerce toolbox. 


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