In today's world, texting has become one of the smartest branding tools to engage customers. Brands utilize SMS marketing in so many ways, like for sending notifications and appointment reminders. With higher customer engagement, read rates, and ROI, it's no wonder that so many businesses are prospering after they incorporate SMS into their marketing strategies.

It is worth mentioning here that the US Cellular Telecommunication Industry Association (CTIA) regulates all the SMS sent across the country. Companies use both short codes and long codes to send messages for communicating with the customers. In this post, we will look at the SMS long code, its rules, and its benefits in detail.

SMS Long Code – All You Need to Know

SMS Long code is a standard 10-digit mobile number assigned to a business or user to send promotional texts. Also referred to as inbound numbers or virtual numbers, long codes allow P2P, i.e., peer-to-peer communication. Businesses use these response numbers for A2P, i.e., application-to-person messaging.

Long Virtual Numbers (LVNs) have a minimal setup time; you can get an SMS long code within a few hours. Not only does a long code enable you to send messages, but you can also place calls and send faxes through the same long string code.

It helps you optimize your communication with your customers. Due to the consistent interaction channel, the customer need not approach you through multiple points of contact. Long codes are particularly ideal for brands that want to connect with their local customers. Businesses use virtual numbers for many reasons, some of which we've listed below:

  • Low volume communication
  • Sending notifications and alerts
  • Announcing the arrival of new products or services
  • Appointment reminders
  • Internal Networking

Rules Governing SMS Long Codes

Whether you opt for an SMS long code or short code, make sure to align your SMS program with the messaging rules. Violation of the regulations may lead to the closure of your long code. In addition, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) bans your SMS program if you send messages to the users without consent.

Therefore, it is important to adhere to the regulations of the carrier to avoid potential audit failure. Let's briefly touch upon the rules of SMS long codes.

Terms and Conditions

Businesses sending messages through virtual numbers must publish the specific terms and conditions of their SMS program on the webpage. Also, the page should be accessible through a hyperlink in the auto-reply text. According to the carrier rules, the 'Terms & Conditions' webpage must contain the following details:

  • The name of your company
  • HELP and STOP instructions
  • You company's Privacy Policy
  • Customer support information
  • A "message and data rates may apply" notification

Sender ID

You can only send messages via long code using a pre-approved US sender number. The sender ID, therefore, cannot contain alphanumeric or other numeric codes.

Opt-in Program

You cannot send any promotional content to a user unless you have their explicit permission. Opt-in programs help you get the customers' consent for sending marketing texts. The opt-in message must have the mandatory information, such as the name of your program and HELP/STOP instructions.

Opt-Out Program

According to the messaging rules, besides the opt-in program, you have to give the user freedom to opt-out of your SMS program. It is a pre-requisite to flash opt-out or STOP instructions in your messaging programs.

The opt-out option allows the user to unsubscribe or quit your program anytime. Moreover, you must respond to the customers who text-in the keyword HELP for your support, whether or not they are subscribers.The opt-out option allows the user to unsubscribe or quit your program anytime. Moreover, you must respond to the customers who text-in the keyword HELP for your support, whether or not they are subscribers.

Message formatting

The standard length of a text message sent through virtual numbers is 160 characters. However, for businesses operating from Canada, the maximum length of marketing text is 136 characters.

SMS long codes Unicode up to 70 characters per message. However, these response numbers do not support binary and concatenation. Long codes do not support the Euro symbol (€) either.

Message Content

The rules governing SMS marketing do not allow sending inappropriate messages to the end-user. It is important to factor your targeted audience when formulating your messages' content.

The CTIA strictly forbids the deliberate or unintentional propagation of offensive or inflammatory content through your SMS program, such as hate speech and lewd content. Violations will lead to an immediate ban.

Message Frequency

According to the rules, you can only send one SMS per second via a long code. Exceeding the limit can cause the rejection of your messages. Furthermore, you will have to pay a $1500 fine per incorrect message.

Benefits of SMS Long Code

1. Affordability

Compared to short codes, registering for long virtual numbers for marketing purposes is quite affordable. The smooth and cost-effective registration process makes it an ideal SMS program for small businesses.

2. Instant Setup Time

One of the key benefits of using long codes is the minimal setup time. You may get your registered response number within a few hours. As soon as you get the user's permission, you can start sending messages without further delay.

3. Personalized Interaction

Messages sent via standard 10-digit numbers have a more personalized appeal. You may register for long codes, either using your local area code or the area code of your targeted audience. This helps customers recognize your brand more quickly.

4. Two-Way Communication

Long codes provide a two-way communication channel to the businesses. The one-on-one interaction helps you to entice customers and cater to their needs more effectively. Customers' responses and feedback can help you make changes to your marketing strategies to make them more impactful.

5. Global Reach

Long codes provide a communication platform with standard texting and voice calls. However, opting in for a long code offers some other benefits as well. Virtual numbers allow you to send messages globally. For instance, if you offer international shipping, you can use the same code to send the message to your international clients.

A man standing with his hands up with a server, and a cellphone beside him

Final Word

While long codes offer so many benefits, these numbers have some limitations too. For instance, some customers may find it difficult to remember the code due to the digit length. In addition, long codes have minimal setup time, but the individual message fee for long code is higher than the short codes. Before you make the decision, it is better to consider your business requirements and make sure that a long code is right for you.