What are the differences between Toll-free SMS vs. Short Codes vs. Local Phone Numbers?
  • Pony Express HQ

What are the differences between Toll-free SMS vs. Short Codes vs. Local Phone Numbers?

Updated: Mar 23

So you want to use text marketing but your not sure if you should get a toll-free SMS number, a short code or a local number? Well, we’ve got you covered and in this post, we’ll explain the differences and advantages of each type.


For example, both short code and toll-free numbers can be very effective for SMS based on the right use case. For high volume messages, like appointment reminders or verification messages, a short code is often the right option. Or maybe you want to start a customer interaction, have better engagement, and use two-way communication with text messages and transfer them to a phone call, in which case a toll-free phone number is a better option. For branded interactions for visibility, vanity toll-free numbers reinforce brand recognition and make your messages immediately identifiable.


With that background let’s dive deeper into each type.

What are the differences between Toll-free SMS vs. Short Codes vs. Local Phone Numbers

Short Code phone numbers

Short codes are addresses of 5 or 6 digits typically used by larger businesses for communicating with consumers at high-volume (e.g., airline flight delays, banking account alerts, shipping company delivery notifications, school delays, etc.). The short code platform was developed to accommodate higher volume SMS traffic with upfront consumer protections from unwanted messaging traffic and review procedures to ensure the appropriate use of the platform.


In the United States, the Common Short Code Administration (CSCA) operates the cross-carrier short code registry. The CTIA Short Code Monitoring Handbook offers best practices and other guidelines for conducting A2P messaging campaigns using short codes. Short codes are not subject to carrier filtering. In fact, short codes are the only way to ensure the deliverability of your messages without the risk of them being filtered by carriers.


Due to their high throughput, short codes are subject to a strict set of requirements. The CTIA has a list of rules that all short code programs must follow. For example, there are specific language requirements you must include in your advertisements, terms page, and messages. Interpretation and enforcement of these rules vary from carrier to carrier. Short code programs are subject to random compliance audits conducted by carriers and the CTIA — your short code could get shut down if it doesn’t meet their standards. In short, short codes have the most oversight and compliance of the three types.


Toll-Free phone numbers

A Toll-free short message service (toll-free SMS) is used to send text messages from toll-free numbers including 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, and 833 to other mobile phones. For businesses with an existing toll-free phone number, you can text-enable it. Having the same number for both voice and messaging means a better user experience for your customers.


Toll-free messaging works best when your use case is person-to-person, such as customer support or sales, with both the sender and the recipient having a conversation via text. However, because toll-free numbers can support a higher throughput of messages per phone number than traditional ten-digit numbers, some businesses do choose to use toll-free numbers for one-way communications like alerts and notifications as well.

Use cases suited to toll-free SMS,

  • Customer support

  • Marketing communications

  • Both the sender and recipient having a conversation via text

  • Time-sensitive alerts and notifications

  • Group messaging with appropriate opt-out capabilities.


Short Code or Toll-Free SMS?

Though short codes both send and receive messages, the reality is that short code SMS is routed through a different infrastructure than toll-free SMS. Consequently, the deliverability of these two forms of communication can differ widely. If your goal for SMS texting is marketing then the toll-free number is a better solution than trying to go the short code route.


A responsible communications provider should have a series of checks and balances built into its contract process to ensure that the toll-free SMS channel remains spam-free.


Though short codes both send and receive messages, the reality is that short code SMS is routed through a different infrastructure than toll-free SMS. Consequently, the deliverability of these two forms of communication can differ widely. If your goal for SMS texting is marketing then the toll-free number is a better solution than trying to go the short code route.


** We are giving away a 3-month free trial of a toll-free number for a limited time.🎉

If it sounds like it's a good fit for you, try it out today!

Local Phone Numbers?

Depending on your needs, audience size, and marketing strategy, you may prefer getting a local phone number for your SMS text message marketing. Reasons to consider a local phone number include:

  • If you are primarily targeting a local area. This way people feel more comfortable responding to you when they see a local number.

  • With a local phone number — you can choose your desired area code ###-555–5555 as well.

  • Note that telephone carriers typically limit the number of text messages sent from one local phone number per day to about 100 unique recipients.

  • If you like to send MMS /images ( text messages with pictures), be aware that the image will be sent as a link when using the local number option versus the full image available with the toll-free number. Most modern smartphones show a preview of the image link. Click to learn more.

  • If you are working with a tight budget — all Pony Express HQ accounts come with one free local phone number (unlike competitors, who charge a recurring monthly fee)





So that’s a wrap on the differences between toll-free SMS, short codes, and local phone numbers when considering what to use for your SMS marketing.


Got questions? Leave us a comment below.


Happy texting!

Pony Express HQ 💬



#smsmarketing #textmarketing #blogging #Tollfree #ShortCodes #LocalPhoneNumbers #mobilemarketing #grouptexting


Source: https://www.usshortcodes.com/info

PONY EXPRESS HQ
  • Pony Express HQ Facebook Page
  • Pony Express HQ Twitter Page
  • Pony Express HQ LinkedIn Page
  • Pony Express HQ Instagram Page
  • Pony Express HQ Pinterest Page
  • Pony Express HQ Blog Page
  • Pony Express HQ RSS Feed

Pony Express HQ is a 100% opt-in service.
Please see our Privacy Policy, Terms Of Use, Anti-Spam Policy to learn about our position on spam and the privacy of your data.

Pony Express HQ has a zero-tolerance policy for text messaging spam and reserve the right to immediately cancel the account for any user that does so. Don't be that person. 🙅‍

Standard message & data rates may apply. For help, text "HELP". To opt-out of any Pony Express HQ related group list, text "STOP" or contact Support, contact@ponyexpresshq.com​.


Pony Express HQ neither provides lists of phone numbers nor do we give access to our clients’ contact lists.