A whopping 75% of your customers would be happy receiving SMS marketing messages from you - providing that they’d opted in. If you’re not using SMS shortcodes to offer an easy way for customers to opt into your SMS messages, you could be losing out. Find out everything you need to know about SMS shortcodes for your business by texting MORE to...only kidding - read on and we’ll have you up-to-scratch in no time. 

What is an SMS shortcode

An SMS shortcode is a five-six digital phone number that can send and receive SMS messages. There are two types of SMS shortcodes:

  • Dedicated shortcode - a short phone number personal to your business and brand, which is either randomly selected (non-vanity) or specifically selected (vanity). 
  • Shared shortcode - a short phone number shared between several businesses, coupled with a keyword personal to your business and brand (e.g. Text ICECREAM to 88080). 

While dedicated shortcodes can be costly (around £1,500 per month), shared shortcodes open up this technology to small and medium-sized businesses, costing around £50 per keyword. 

The benefits of SMS shortcodes

So, why would you use an SMS shortcode over a traditional 11-digit long code telephone number? We’re glad you asked:

They’re easier to remember

Passwords, appointments, plant watering - people have a lot to remember these days, and an 11-digit phone number is not top of the list. In fact, the average person can remember only seven numbers - and that’s when they’re paying attention. A five-digit shortcode increases the chances of someone fishing through their bag and reaching their phone before forgetting the number they just heard on the radio or saw in passing. 

They’re easier to read

Five digits are easier to read than eleven digits - in the same way that “cakes” is easier to read than “cauliflower”. And, since we all like an easier life, this makes people more likely to stop, read and opt-in. 

They’re easier to recognise

Consumers have come to recognise shortcodes as a number to opt into something - whether it’s a competition, more information or promotions - making them more likely use it. Psychologists call it the “mere exposure effect”; we call it the “I like what I know effect”.

They’re easier to type in

How many times have you blamed autocorrect when actually, it was a case of fat thumbs? The fewer digits someone has to key into their phone, the less chance of them making a mistake and texting CAT for daily cat facts instead of CAR for an MOT booking. 

They’re easier

When something is easier to remember, read, recognise and type in - it’s easier to do, which makes it much more likely that someone will sign up to your SMS communications than if you required them to fill out a form, send an email or phone a real-life person. 

So, now you know why you should be using SMS shortcodes, let’s take a look at what you can use them for. 

What can SMS shortcodes be used for?

We’re all familiar with “Text WIN to 12345” but if you’re not running a competition for a trip to the Maldives, are SMS shortcodes really something that your business can benefit from? Yes - and here’s how:

Building your audience

SMS shortcodes help build a database of people that want to hear from. Whether you want to alert people to a sale, keep people up-to-date on a development, or just remind people about an upcoming event - it’s an easy way to gather a list of numbers to use (especially when it happens automatically). 

“Text YES to receive future news, offers and hellos!”

Segmenting your audience

Even better than building your audience, shortcodes help you to segment your audience within your databases. You can use this to send more personalised, relevant and welcomes SMS messages - increasing their success and decreasing the number of unsubscribers. 

“Text DOGs to receive daily dog facts.”


Shortcodes can also relieve you from the time-consuming task of responding to customer queries. You can set up an auto-response for certain keywords - responding with further information, without you lifting a finger. 

“Text MORE to find out additional info.”


SMS marketing is a powerful tool - especially when 75% of people actually want to receive special offers via SMS. Shortcodes provide you with the numbers necessary to run successful SMS marketing campaigns, advertising them on local radio, in print or on the internet. 

“Text OFFERS to receive the latest deals and discounts.”

Customer support

50% of customers prefer talking to customer support through text messages and, since you want customer support to be easy for your customers, a shortcode number allows this to happen. With shortcodes, you can quickly connect your troubled customer with someone who can help. 

“Text HELP to speak to one of our experts.”

Opting out

It’s never nice, but having a simple and easy opting-out process is good for your brand and karma, and shortcodes provide just that. 

“Text BYE to opt out.”

How to get an SMS shortcode

The best part about SMS shortcodes? They’re easy to obtain. Much like a usual telephone number, shortcodes and keywords are leased to businesses - all you need to do is to partner with an SMS marketing platform who will assign you a shortcode and give you the tools to make them work for your business. 

SMS shortcodes - final thoughts

The bottom line is that shortcodes make signing up to your SMS marketing communications easy - which makes customers more likely to do it. Find out how SMS shortcodes can work for your business by speaking to one of our experts today.