An SMS short code is a five or six-digit phone number that is used by businesses to enroll consumers in SMS programs and send coupons, offers, promotions, and other messages via SMS. Sometimes they are known as as a CSC, which stands for Common Short Code”.
Using a short code offers many benefits for your business:
- Dedicated short codes have high messaging throughputs- 100 texts per second or more.
- Short codes become identifiable with your brand. Recognition is important in marketing. When you’re competing for attention, you’ll want your customers to know the message is from you so they won’t ignore it.
- Short codes are easy to type and can spell easy-to-remember words. Customers who want to reach out to you via text will have an easier time remembering and typing in your number if it is shorter or spells something they quickly associate with your business. Maximize your marketing investment by using short codes rather than full phone numbers on your website, printed materials, or radio or TV ads.
- Running successful text campaigns can help build a better customer database. Used in conjunction with CallTrackingMetrics tracking, short codes are an easy way to collect prospect or customer phone numbers for your database.
- CallTrackingMetrics can help measure your text campaign’s effectiveness. Like any campaign you track with your CTM account, you can easily measure the success of a short code text campaign using CTM’s reporting.
Short Code Pricing
There are three components to short code pricing:
1. Setup fees
Payment for the one-time setup fee is due before we can begin the approval process with our carriers. This is true of new short codes or if already have a short code.
2. Recurring Annual Leases / Service Charges
Short code leases and service charges are billed on an annual (once yearly) basis. The initial lease payment is due before we can begin the approval process with our carriers.
3. Usage Fees
Short code message usage is billed at a per-message rate consistent with your subscription plan. CallTrackingMetrics short codes can send 100 messages per second by default, but this limit can be raised for an additional fee. Some wireless carriers charge additional per-message transaction fees. These fees vary depending on the carrier and message type.
Getting a Short Code
- Contact us at email@example.com and indicate that you are interesting in setting up a short code and let us know if you already have a short code that you want to start using on our service. A member of our sales team will discuss the details with you, confirm pricing, and get your sign off on a short code contract. An invoice will be sent to you for your setup and annual lease fees.
- We will send you our Short Code Request application. The application will ask information about your use case and business, make sure you have all necessary documentation for compliance, and allow you to choose your vanity number if desired.
- Once your application is submitted, we will review it and advise you of any changes you may need to make in order to be compliant with carrier requirements and any additional documentation we need. This process typically takes 1-4 days, depending on the time it takes to address any necessary changes.
- Once we have approved the application and payment has been received for your setup and annual lease fees, we will submit the application to our upstream carrier. Your application will then enter their review and testing process before your short code will be connected and ready for use. Carrier review and approval may take 8-12 weeks (or longer) even if you already have a short code and are self leasing or transferring it to us. Your annual lease begins as soon as the application has been submitted to our upstream carrier.
Options for Customers Who Already Have Short Codes
1. Porting Your Short Code
It is within the customer’s best interest for CallTrackingMetrics to lease a short code on the customer’s behalf to make sure the lease is always paid for. Migrating your US short code from your current provider over to CallTrackingMetrics can take the standard provisioning time of 8 to 12 weeks. We begin counting this time starting with receipt of your initial payment, and consider this completed when your short code is re-approved by all wireless carriers.
Please note that the migration process can vary considerably, as it depends on each mobile carrier reviewing your short codes use case and campaign message flow. If you want to migrate a “live” code to CallTrackingMetrics, you will have to manage traffic to and from both CallTrackingMetrics and your current provider for a period of time — likely for two to six weeks. Each wireless carrier will migrate from your current provider to CallTrackingMetrics on different dates.
We will provide instructions for using the Lease Transfer feature on usshortcodes.com to transfer the lease as part of the porting process.
If the customer wants to lease a code on their own, they will pay a lower annual fee to CallTrackingMetrics but will still be charged lease fees from usshortcodes.com and are responsible for paying those on time. Customer self-leased costs noted above only account for CallTrackingMetrics fees (lease fees from your provider are not included in this pricing). The time to get a self-leased short code up and running can still take 8-12 weeks.
The process depends on if the short code is already connected to carriers or not.
- If it isn’t connected to carriers then the process is nearly identical to obtaining a new code. All we need is a copy of the lease receipt with your Application. To obtain your current lease receipt, log into your CSCA account and download a copy of your current receipt from the “My CSCs” section of their account portal.
- If the code is already connected to carriers then the process is what’s called a Live Migration. The process takes a bit more communication than a new code, but overall we try to make it as seamless as possible. Customers will still apply for a short code using our Application but will also complete a Migration letter authorizing the migration.
In both options above, Customers will still start with completing the application.
Compliance for Short Codes
Per CallTrackingMetrics Terms of Service, the Customer is required to comply with carrier compliance requirements, industry standards, and applicable law in the use of any provided short code.
Short Code Campaigns Prohibited by Carriers
There are certain categories of short code campaigns that carriers will not allow. These rejected categories include:
- Adult or otherwise inappropriate content
- Depictions or endorsements of violence
- Profanity or hate speech
- Endorsement of illegal or illicit drugs
In addition, carriers may at times reject—or indefinitely delay approval of—short code campaigns that they deem to be competitive, such as offering or advertising competitive communications services. Carriers may also decide to reject other types of campaigns from time to time for reasons they alone determine. Carriers have considerable discretion over the SMS traffic that they decide to carry on their networks.
CallTrackingMetrics will not provision the prohibited campaigns listed above or any campaign that violates our Terms of Service for all other campaigns. CallTrackingMetrics will use good faith efforts to get your short code approved by the relevant carriers. Unfortunately, we have no control over whether carriers approve or reject your particular use of a short code or the time that it might take for the carriers to reach a decision. Therefore, because CallTrackingMetrics has no control over carrier approval, customers bear the risk for any costs that CallTrackingMetrics incurs to lease a short code on your behalf and/or any fees that CallTrackingMetrics pays on your behalf to the carriers or regulatory authorities to provision your short code.
Special Rules for Campaigns Involving Health Information
If a your short code has medical uses or deals with medical information, you will need to complete the following two steps:
- After purchasing a short code, you will need to complete an additional form provided to you by the short code team.
- When compiling your short code application, you will need to include the following in your terms of service or end user agreement:
“This short code program does not contain medically sensitive information. While the Content on the Site is about specific medical and healthcare issues, the Content is not a substitute for or replacement of personalized medical advice and is not intended to be used as the sole basis for making individualized medical or health-related decisions.”
Additional Compliance Guidelines
The compliance guidelines in the links below are provided as a courtesy to help you build a short code message flow and advertising that complies with carrier requirements and industry standards. You should expect that your short code campaign will be audited at some point by a carrier or industry organization. Campaigns are typically audited for compliance with the industry guidance found at the links below. Each carrier reserves the right to suspend short code service for any user at any time, and following the compliance guidance in the links below is not a guarantee against a carrier suspending short code service.
In addition, any text messaging campaigns—whether they use short codes or long codes—may also be subject to compliance requirements under applicable laws and regulations. You should not assume that you need only comply with carrier requirements to have a fully compliant text messaging campaign. The laws and regulations that apply will depend on the particulars of the text messaging campaign, including where the texts originate, where recipients of the texts are located, where the company is located, the industry they are in, and the content of the text messages.
CallTrackingMetrics is not in a position to interpret any laws, rules, or regulations and is providing this information only as a courtesy. You should consult with your their legal counsel to ensure that your text messaging campaign is compliant with all laws, regulations, and requirements that apply to your particular text messaging campaign.
International Coverage for Short Codes
Short codes are provisioned on a country-by-country basis. A short code is only able to send messages to, and receive messages from, same-country phone numbers on carrier networks that have approved the short code.
US short codes can only send to US phone numbers on US carrier networks that have approved that short code. If the end user is on a supported US carrier network but is out of the country (or in a US territory such as Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands), the message may be delivered successfully, but delivery is not guaranteed.
For Canada and UK short codes, the same principle applies. Please note that UK short codes’ coverage extends to England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, the Isle of Man and the Guernsey islands. UK short codes will not work for end users in the Republic of Ireland.
Please note that even though a carrier is supported, short code messaging capabilities may not be enabled for all end users’ plans.
CallTrackingMetrics US short codes can deliver SMS messages to the following mobile phone carriers in the United States:
Major carriers: AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and T-Mobile USA.
Minor carriers: Aio Wireless, Alaska Communications Systems (ACS), Appalachian Wireless (EKN), Bluegrass Cellular, Boost Mobile, Carolina West Wireless, CellCom, Cellular One of East Central IL (ECIT), Cellular One of Northeast Arizona, Cellular One of Northeast Pennsylvania, Chariton Valley Cellular, Cricket, Coral Wireless (Mobi PCS), Cross, C-Spire (CellSouth), Duet IP (Maximum Communications New Core Wireless), Element Mobile (Flat Wireless), Epic Touch (Elkhart Telephone), GCI, Golden State, Google Voice, Hawkeye (Chat Mobility), Hawkeye (NW Missouri), Illinois Valley Cellular, Inland Cellular, iWireless (Iowa Wireless), Keystone Wireless (Immix Wireless/PC Man), Metro PCS, Mosaic (Consolidated or CTC Telecom), MTA Communications, MTPCS (Cellular One Nation), Nex-Tech Wireless, Panhandle Communications, Peoples Wireless, Pine Cellular, Pioneer, RINA, Sagebrush Cellular (Nemont), SI Wireless/Mobile Nation, Simmetry (TMP Corporation), SouthernLinc, SRT Wireless, Thumb Cellular, Union Wireless, United Wireless, U.S. Cellular, Viaero Wireless, Virgin Mobile, and West Central (WCC or 5 Star Wireless).
MMS-enabled US short codes are able to deliver MMS messages to the following mobile phone carriers: AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and T-Mobile.
Puerto Rico: Local Puerto Rico carriers Claro and PR Wireless are not reachable using short codes. Puerto Rico users on AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint may receive short code SMS from a US short code, however delivery is not guaranteed. Short code SMS to Verizon is not supported in Puerto Rico.
Deprecated carriers: The following carriers have recently been deprecated industry-wide. Nextel was purchased by Sprint in 2008 and the Nextel services were deprecated in 2013. Nextel customers are now Sprint or Boost customers. The remaining parts of Alltel (Allied Wireless) were purchased by AT&T in 2013 and were brought completely under the AT&T brand in 2015. Cincinnati Bell Wireless ceased offering short code provisioning in February 2015 and all short codes that were previously live on CBW have been deprovisioned on that carrier.
CallTrackingMetrics UK short codes can deliver SMS messages to the following mobile phone carriers in the United Kingdom: Vodafone, O2, T-Mobile, Orange, Virgin Mobile, Three, Everything Everywhere, C&W Guernsey, and Manx Telecom.
CallTrackingMetrics Canadian short codes can deliver SMS messages to the following mobile phone carriers in Canada: Bell (including NorthernTel, Solo Mobile, and Telebec), Fido, MTS, Rogers, SaskTel, Telus (including Koodo Mobile and Public Mobile), Videotron, Virgin Mobile, and Wind.