SMS Short Codes Are for SMS Sweepstakes: 3 Types of Mobile Marketing Phone Numbers Explained

This article explains the different types of phone numbers for SMS marketing and how to use giveaways to build a mobile subscriber list.

sms short codes are for sms sweepstakes 3 types of mobile marketing phone numbers explained blog post title
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SMS short codes also called short numbers or dedicated short codes, are a type of SMS marketing phone number, used for sweepstakes, contest, and giveaway promotions. However, all mobile phone number types are not all the same. In fact, the types of SMS marketing phone numbers, namely long numbers and short codes can vary widely when it comes to pricing, use cases, and technical capabilities.

Dedicated SMS short codes are used for SMS sweepstakes, contests, and giveaways. But you may need several types of of phone numbers for SMS marketing in order to achieve your marketing goals. Phone numbers for SMS sweepstakes are essential for delivering messaging before, during, and after your promotion.

SMS Short Codes Are for Text to Win Sweepstakes: SMS phone Numbers Explained.

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sms short codes are for sms sweepstakes 3 types of mobile marketing phone numbers explained blog post title

In this article, we’re exploring what is a dedicated short code for SMS sweepstakes, how to build a mobile subscriber list from giveaways, and the 3 types of phone numbers for marketing and how they are used by brands. We’ll also cover tips on how to choose the right phone numbers for SMS marketing and text to win sweepstakes.

Let’s dive in!


  • What is A2P 10DLC?
  • What are the types of phone numbers for SMS marketing?
  • Why use a dedicated short code for SMS sweepstakes?


Types of phone numbers for text marketing

Here are the three types of phone numbers for SMS marketing: short code phone numbers, toll-free numbers and A2P 10DLC. These text marketing phone number types are defined by the following:

Short Code Phone Numbers

A short code is a five or six-digit telephone number that is used to receive SMS and MMS messages. A dedicated short code is the mobile carrier approved phone number type for sweepstakes and other mobile marketing campaigns.

In 2021, T-mobile and AT&T banned the use of shared short codes for marketing purposes because of the spam and fraud they attracted. Today, dedicated short codes are the standard for giveaways and related SMS marketing.


Toll-free Phone Numbers

A toll-free number is used for toll-free calling and to send or receive texts. Toll-free phone numbers have distinctive three-digit area codes, such as 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, or 833. They are typically used for mobile customer-service calling and texting. This phone number type also includes vanity numbers which are toll-free telephone numbers that include a name or acronym, such as 1-800-FLOWERS.

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Vanity Toll-free Phone Numbers

Vanity numbers provide a branding boost. In addition, vanity phone numbers have the advantage of memorability and ease of access when it comes to customer support. However, recently brands are switching away from vanity numbers and toll-free numbers toward A2P 10DLC.

What Is A2P 10DLC?

Application-to-person 10-digit long codes (A2P 10DLC) allow businesses to send both SMS and MMS messages via a standard 10-digit long code (10DLC) phone numbers for marketing purposes. Application-To-Person (A2P) SMS is a type of software application that can send out one-way or two-way messages.

A2P 10DLC Phone Numbers

In order to use A2P 10DLC phone numbers, businesses must register for A2P 10DLC. A2P 10DLC is a system in the U.S. that enables businesses to send A2P type messaging.

A2P 10DLC SMS marketing messages are typically automated or integrated within a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. All senders must first be approved for a sender ID to avoid spam by registering with The Campaign Registry via a business text messaging service. Unregistered A2P messaging is not permitted and will incur fines from U.S. carriers.

A2P vs P2P Messaging & SMS for Business

Telecom companies are no longer permitting companies to send any messaging via P2P long numbers. P2P long numbers were not designed for business or marketing purposes but strictly for personal communication among consumers. As of 2022, A2P 10DLC is now the standard when it comes to SMS marketing.


What Is a Long Phone Number?

A Long Number, which is also known as a Long Code, is dedicated phone number on a cellular network or Mobile Subscriber Integrated Services Digital Network Number (MSISDN). Toll-free phone numbers, vanity phone numbers. Mobile and landline 10-digit phone numbers are examples of long codes.

Regarding mobile phone numbers vs landlines, a Virtual Mobile Number (VMN) is assigned to a specific range of phone numbers to distinguish mobile long numbers from US-based landlines.

Long numbers can receive SMS text messages without the requirement for a SIM card or GSM device. Mobile carriers charge users standard network charges in order to send SMS text messages with rates varying by carrier.


How Do Brands Use Long Phone Numbers for Customer Service?

To send two-way SMS a sender ID is required for some international mobile carriers. This is why local USA and Canada long codes are preferred by brands for customer support in these countries. However, there are also regional phone numbers available which brands may opt for in order to reflect the locations of their brick and mortar stores or company headquarters.

Brands use long phone numbers for providing personalized automated SMS, as well as, one-to-one SMS responses, namely for customer service. The most utilized mobile phone number formats for mobile customer service.


A2P 10DLC Is the Standard for Brand Customer Support

From a technical standpoint A2P 10DLC is a superior choice to a toll-free phone number for SMS marketing. Unlike toll-free texting which is limited to up to 25 texts per second, A2P 10DLC phone numbers permit up to 1,000 texts to be sent per second.

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Brands Don’t Only Use A2P 10DLC: Dedicated Short Codes for SMS Sweepstakes

When brands run sweepstakes, contests, and raffles, they use short codes, instead of long codes. Dedicated short codes allow brands to send automated texts but they don’t permit personalization, unlike A2P 10DLC. This may mean that your brand will need both phone number types for successful SMS marketing.

Brands must consider scalability and customer acquisition cost (CAC) when it comes to choosing phone number types to use for text to win sweepstakes and SMS marketing. The cost of acquiring a sweepstakes participant, who may not become a customer without significant nurturing via other channels, may not be feasible given the campaign budget.


How Are Dedicated Short Codes Useful for Mobile Sweepstakes?

Brands used to rent short codes to run SMS sweepstakes in order to attract sweepstakes participants during promos. However, using shared short codes is now banned for SMS marketing and is not recommended.

A dedicated short code must be used to run a mobile sweepstakes for several reasons:
  • Mobile carriers consider the A2P 10DLC or dedicated short code as the compliant option for marketing
  • SMS short code vendors are required to register with The Campaign Registry (TCR) to avoid spam
  • Only the brand can use a dedicated short code during a predetermined period
  • Dedicated short codes are useful for recurring sweepstakes making it possible to scale an SMS sweepstakes strategy
  • Provides an entry method for the sweepstakes in addition to free Alternate Method of Entry (AMOE)

Short codes are the most expensive options for a mobile phone number for a SMS marketing campaign. They provide the ideal format for creating high converting mobile sweepstakes that attract participants. Brands also use vanity short codes for the WOM opportunities and brand awareness advantages they bring to the brand.

Unlike long numbers, dedicated short codes also require the most time to plan. Annual sweepstakes planning or starting at least 12 weeks before your SMS sweepstakes begins will help ensure that your SMS short code approval and setup is completed in time.


Premium Short Codes vs Free to End User FTEU Short Codes for SMS Sweepstakes

Decide whether to obtain a premium short code or a standard-rate free-to-end-user (FTEU) short code for your sweepstakes SMS marketing. Consider the following differences:

  • A premium short code covers the costs of sending and receiving text messages by billing them to a subscriber’s mobile plan.
  • A FTEU short code makes it possible for the sweepstakes sponsor to cover the cost of sending and receiving messages sent to the dedicated short code. Then, sweepstakes participants get to enjoy the sweeps promo experience 100% free of SMS messaging charges.
  • Vanity short codes like toll-free vanity numbers are in limited supply and must be requested. Otherwise, a premium short code is a randomly picked number.
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Short Codes vs Long Numbers for SMS Sweepstakes

What are the risks of using a long number for SMS sweepstakes? Long numbers simply cannot handle the number of messages that would be received by sweepstakes participants.

Long numbers are restricted to the rate of one message per second, or 60 messages per minute). This limit cannot be increased. On the other hand, short codes are open to high traffic volume applications.

Dedicated short codes are capable of sending up to 500 messages per second. By using a sweepstakes SMS shortcode, brands can ensure that they are delivering a seamless customer experience. SMS sweepstakes shortcodes enable participants to receive important updates and messages quickly.

From sweepstakes transactional emails to coupons and sweepstakes storytelling and prize reveals, you want to make sure that your sweepstakes participants can receive everything your brand sends by using SMS shortcodes for sweepstakes and contests.

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Should You Run an SMS Sweepstakes?

If you’re planning to run an SMS sweepstakes, consider the following.

The importance of growing a mobile subscriber list through SMS marketing

Growing your email marketing list is useful to reach customers who are already engaging with your brand via your website. However, if you want to draw in a slightly different audience that includes your social media fans, use SMS sweepstakes to grow your mobile subscriber list.

Here are a few reasons to include SMS sweepstakes in your SMS marketing strategy:

  • Demographic data. Geolocation to determine sweepstakes participant / existing customers’ location while participating and to serve localized content. Mobile sweepstakes can be highly effective for data insights for brands with their own apps.
  • Mobile automation. Unlike email marketing, customers for the most part expect that any interaction with a brand via SMS will involve marketing automation. Use this to your advantage to nurture sweepstakes participants to turn them into customers.
  • Dedicated short codes are brandable. If you run recurring sweepstakes, you can use the same dedicated short codes in new campaigns. By doing this, you’ll be able to repurpose sweepstakes marketing assets from past campaigns to promote new ones.

In addition to the sweepstakes prize itself, to attract multiple subscribers, brands need to offer some amazing freebies, coupons, or deals that sweepstakes participants will act on immediately. These offers should both bring mobile subscribers to engage with your brand. Also use SMS marketing to educate them about the brand’s products and services without having to visit the website directly.

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