Short Codes: a Simple and Quick Way to Engage Your Audience

4 min read

A company can use a short code even when there are no contacts in its customer base.
Volodymyr Khalaburskyi
Service & Projects Support Manager at GMS

All of us have, at some point of time, received messages like “Send SMS to XXXX short code and participate in the promotion.” All you need to do is dial 3-4 numbers on your mobile phone to vote for your favourite participant, call a taxi, find out about the status of an order or the balance on your mobile account.

Volodymyr Khalaburskyi, Services & Projects Support Manager at GMS, gives us the lowdown on short codes: what it is, for whom and its use in businesses.

Let’s start at the very beginning. What is a short code?

A short code is a special abbreviated phone number that a company uses to send SMS and voice (IVR) messages. GMS offers two types of short codes: regular (random set of 3-4 digits) and gold (for example, 3838).

The service is extremely simple, and therein lies its advantage. It is easy to order, easy to develop, and easy to implement in a marketing campaign.

What is the difference between using short codes and creating an email or Viber marketing campaign?

The open rate of SMS messages is 94%, and the conversion rate is 45%. No single email campaign will give such a level of discovery. Similarly, none of the send-outs on social networks will ever achieve a read rate of 94% audience.

9 out of 10 text messages are read within the first 3 minutes of receipt. If you take a look at someone’s mobile phone, the email app icon will likely display a high number of unread emails; on mine these are 2,700! Now take a look at the unread count on the SMS app icon, it will most likely be blank. People are far more prone to checking all incoming messages as soon as they arrive, without any delay.

Short codes have another important advantage: in just 10 minutes you can evaluate the marketing campaign. We can send you an email with a report containing statistics or, optionally, provide access to the web interface, where you can track the results of your campaign in real time.

All these make SMS a very special communication channel for brands. Using SMS, the involvement of the audience in the marketing campaign using the shortcodes will be higher. And quicker.

How does it work and how does one choose a short code?

Once you decide to use a short code for your marketing campaign, this is how it works: you contact us, select a short code and compose the message text according to the marketing templates. We offer you two options: routing (you independently configure the logic of the interactive, and we provide access to a single short code across the territory of Ukraine) or a comprehensive service (we develop and customise the logic according to all your individual requirements).

The implementation time depends on the complexity of the campaign logic. If you order routing, it can be done in a day, in the case of a complex service it could take about 10 days. By logic, I mean the interactive`s algorithm: these can be simple answers in one message, or a long chain of questions and answers, such as when inquiring about satisfaction with the company’s service.

Who uses short codes most often?

First and foremost, medium and large businesses with their own customer database.

Most clients using Short code service by GMS are big business: retail, banking, oil companies (petroleum stations).

Our client ALLO is one of the most successful examples. Once or twice a month, usually on weekends, ALLO arranges marketing campaigns using short codes for visitors to the entire store chain. Should you walk past one of their store on those days, you will be invited to participate in the promotion and get a discount.

Nova Poshta has long been using short codes regularly. For example, if you are waiting impatiently in a queue, you can send an SMS to a short code with the branch number, and the manager receives a notification that that branch needs more operators.

Small businesses can also use short codes effectively. A big advantage of short codes is that you can use the service even if you do not have any clients in the database. The smaller the audience, the more effective this communication channel would be.

Let’s say a coffeehouse raffles a monthly subscription for the purchase of coffee to celebrate its birthday. You create a colourful poster and put a special code on the checks which a customer needs to send to the short codes you have selected. And so you begin to create the first database of contacts.

Short numbers can also be a source of revenue. There are several tariff plans: the subscriber himself pays for the SMS, the business pays for the subscriber’s SMS, and a third option which is the so-called “premium” tariff with a fixed cost for the SMS message from 1 to 50 UAH, which the business establishes. In the last-mentioned, the company receives a portion of the price of each message.

How much does it cost to connect a short code?

For companies that can create the logic on their own, the connection via the API JSON is completely free, the monthly fee for the short code itself starts at 1300 UAH. The cost of an integrated turnkey service depends on its complexity.

What should be taken into account when selecting a partner company?

Choose a company with a solid reputation, preferably confirmed by, for example, certificates of quality and information security (ISO/IEC 27001, 9001 and ISO/IEC 20000-1). Our company has been working in the messaging industry for 12 years. We are recognised as the leaders in the messaging market in Ukraine, and 900+ mobile operators are working with us around the world.

At GMS, each client is supported by a team of project managers and developers. Together we discuss each individual case and develop an interaction or connection scheme, prescribe all the nuances, provide access to online statistics and follow the process 24/7/365.

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