Short codes are a useful way to send SMS messages to your customers and receive SMS messages from them. This article describes short codes, and includes information about how to obtain and use them.
What is a short code?
A short code is a unique number sequence that identifies you to the customers you contact via SMS. Short codes typically contain between four and six digits (depending on the country or region), which makes them much shorter than a standard telephone number (also known as a long code).
Short code benefits
Short codes are much more convenient than long codes, especially in situations where your customers contact you. It's very common to ask new customers to opt in to your services by sending a keyword to a short code. For example, if your service provides news about sports, you can invite customers to text their favorite sport to your short code to receive scores and updates. By using a short code, your customers have to type fewer digits, and are therefore less likely to make mistakes. It's also easier to include your short code on marketing materials, such as print ads, web ads, and billboards.
Additionally, short codes allow you to send more messages per second than long codes. Because long codes are designed for sending messages between people—as opposed to sending messages from companies to people—you can only send one message per second. With short codes, on the other hand, you can send up to 100 messages per second1. If your use case requires you to send a large number of SMS messages at the same time, you'll need a short code. In fact, in some countries and regions, such as the United States and Canada, you might be required by law to use a short code if you're sending messages from an application to a person.
Short code pricing and availability
Short codes are most often used in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, but are available in countries and regions around the world. The price you pay to lease a short code varies based on the country or region where the code is based. You might pay more for a custom code than you would for a random code. In the United States, for example, you can expect to pay a one-time setup fee of around $650 (USD), plus a recurring charge of around $995 per month.
Additionally, if you're planning to use short codes for your marketing communications, you'll need to account for the time it takes to set up and deploy them. Short codes typically aren't available "off-the-shelf" and ready for immediate use. In the United States and Canada, for example, it usually takes between 8 and 12 weeks for a new short code to be ready to use on all carrier networks.
SMS short codes and AWS
Amazon Web Services can help you obtain short codes in countries and regions around the world. You can use Amazon Pinpoint to send SMS messages to your customers by using the short codes you purchased. To learn more about requesting short codes, see Requesting Short Codes in the Amazon Pinpoint User Guide.
1. This rate applies to the US and Canada only. Throughput rates may vary in other countries and regions.