We’ve decided to drop our short codes in favor of long ones.
Short codes are 5 or 6 digit phone numbers used specifically for the sending of text messages. They look like this, “41932”. Short codes are leased. Long codes are simple 10 digit phone numbers that can also be used to send SMS messages, and appear as simple phone numbers; “613-707-1897.”
This will allow us to expand our service considerably, offering additional functionality to new or existing clients.
MMS (or Multimedia Messaging Service) is the next step in SMS/text messaging. It expands the sending of text to the sending of images, ring tones, etc. Early research data suggests that MMS outperforms SMS for businesses, and that customers prefer it.
Unfortunately, Canadian short codes are not MMS compatible – at least not through our provider – and there’s no indication that this is going to change anytime soon.
This is a HUGE pain in the “you-know-what”, since many of our customers have indicated an intense interest in MMS messaging. Other prospective customers have taken their business elsewhere, since we couldn’t offer the service.
There IS an alternative, and that’s to switch to long codes, which are MMS compatible.
For Some People, Short Codes are Causing Confusion
Short code use in Canada is still in its infancy. We’ve heard it numerous times; our customers consistently have to educate their clients on how to subscribe to their mobile service… because they are confused by the 5 or 6 digit phone number.
Long codes, which appear exactly the same as “regular” phone numbers, eliminate this issue entirely.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that customers may be more comfortable with receiving messages from long codes, which they recognize and are familiar.
Long Codes Allow Greater Programming Functionality
Assigning each customer a unique long code makes it much easier for us to offer expanded functionality including contextual and one-to-one messaging.
No Geographic Limitations
Short codes are limited to usage within the country they are issued. In other words, if you were using a Canadian short code on our service, you wouldn’t be able to connect with your American customers with it. And Americans, vice versa.
Long codes have no such geographic restrictions.
Canadian Carriers can Support 160 Characters
Only 136 characters are supported by the Canadian carriers when communicating via shortcode. Considering that Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation requires opt-out information and a link to sender identification information in every message, these extra 24 characters sure are going to be nice to have.
Canadian Carriers Support Concatenation on Long Codes
Because Canadian carriers don’t support concatenation (or the merging together of messages) on short codes, messages in excess of 136 characters were being split up and delivered as separate texts. Concatenation is supported on long codes, so messages in excess of 160 characters will be delivered as a single text. This provides a better end experience for the user.
Massive Cost Increases
As of November 15, 2015 our cost to send an SMS message via a Canadian short code is tripling. Since we can’t absorb this cost, we’d have to pass it on to our customers, which would drastically affect out ability to remain competitive, price wise.
Long Codes Allow Us to Reduce Our Costs and Reduce Subscription Fees
Short code leases are expensive. By being able to eliminate these fees, we can offer a lower-price service to our customers.
You can Still have a Short Code if You Like
If your business wants to operate on its own short code and use it with our system, we can certainly accomodate you. Give us a call at 800-378-8507 or contact us via email to discuss how we can make this happen.
What are the downsides?
From our customer’s prespective…. there aren’t any, really. Sure, there’s a bit of a transition period while clients change their “calls to action”, but other than that, the service will continue on seamlessly.
Dropping our short codes will allow us to offer – with a minimum of customer inconvenience – a dramatically improved service. This change will be fully implemented by July 20th, 2015.