Short Codes

Common Short Code Administration

In Canada the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) is the authority on wireless issues, developments and trends. They represents cellular, PCS, messaging, mobile radio, fixed wireless and mobile satellite carriers as well as companies that develop and produce products and services for the industry.

The CWTA is the exclusive entity to lease short codes (5 or 6 digit abbreviated phone numbers) to companies and marketers wanting to access their networks for texting and SMS in Canada.

Leasing short codes is similar to leasing a domain name. While the wireless carriers want every business to lease their own dedicated short code, it is common to see multiple small businesses share a single short code (ex: 77223).

Short Codes ensure that consumers remain in control of their experiences by identifying content providers and providing them a trusted method to ‘Opt-In’ and ‘Opt-Out’ of SMS marketing and SMS giving programs from their phone.

Purpose of Short Codes

Short Codes protect our mobile devices from SPAM and unsolicited marketing. They identify the content providers and SMS gateways to both the carriers and consumers. Unlike with e-mail (where you simply lease a domain name and start sending people e-mail messages), all short codes are initially blocked from all carrier networks.

Each Short Code program has to be independently provisioned, tested, and certified by each wireless carrier to gain access to that network. This process currently takes 8-12 weeks. Carriers also conduct regular audits to ensure ongoing compliance of each short code on their networks and they can easily block programs that don’t follow their rules.This can be a very complicated period as both the applicatio providers and the carriers have to be on the same page.

5 Big Rules for Compliant Short Codes

1. Consumers must ‘Opt-in’ to short codes and alerts from their mobile device before they can be sent anything. Even an initial message that asks for permission is considered SPAM.

2. Consumers must ‘double’ opt-in (confirm their handset and intent to subscribe by replying “YES” to a welcome message) to any premium short code program that charges fees – or – to any standard rated program when the subscriber opts-in from a web form.

3. All subscription or alert services that will have recurring messages (even standard rated programs) must provide a compliant opt-In confirmation message. That message must contain:

a) Content provider’s name (e.g. “TGIFridays: “)
b) Program description (e.g. “Welcome to our Mobile VIP Club”)
c) Frequency of alerts (e.g. “6msg/mth”)
d) Rate/cost disclosure (e.g. “Msg&Data rates may apply.”)
e) Instructions for opt-out and help (e.g. “Text STOP to end or HELP for help”)

4. All short code subscription services with recurring messages (even standard rated programs) must contain “Reply STOP to opt-out” in each and every message sent from the system. This is a requirement for both premium and standard rated programs.

5. All short code programs must support the universal commands STOP, QUIT, END, CANCEL, UNSUBSCRIBE, STOP ALL, and HELP.

NOTE: There are many other short code requirements and some are different for each carrier. Be sure to choose an application provider with an intelligent system designed to format and process messages differently for each carrier network.

Shared Short Codes vs Dedicated Short Codes

A short code can be shared by multiple content providers if the program is managed by one of the Short Code Application Provider.

Like GALAXYTEXT, most of these companies have SMS marketing platforms capable of maintaining carrier compliance while differentiating between program traffic through the use of unique keywords.

Due to the growing number of programs being run over shared short codes, wireless carriers continue to tighten requirements for mobile marketing companies who offer these services. As such, GALAXYTEXT thoroughly reviews all new programs and regularly reports new programs and their associated keywords to wireless carriers and only allows SMS API access to our sms Gateway over a client’s dedicated short code.

For additional information on short codes for marketing or text message codes, reference our short code FAQ which covers SMS codes and mobile short codes for texting and SMS in Canada.

NOTE: Ethical and compliant mobile marketing companies like GALAXYTEXT only support Bulk SMS when the client has a dedicated short code and each consumer has expressly initiated an opt-in from their mobile device (as all carriers require).

Top 10 Business Goals Enahanced by Short Codes
•Short Codes kick-start conversations with customers and prospects.
•Short Codes can facilitate Contests, Sweepstakes, Polls, and Surveys.
•Short Codes can collect Opt-ins for Mobile Loyalty and Rewards programs.
•Short Codes can collect E-Mail addresses for E-Mail Marketers.
•Short Codes can link Fans to social media sites.
•Short Codes can provide 1-click installs for App Developers.
•Short Codes can link shoppers to commerce and self-service content.
•Short Codes can automate lead capture and fulfillment for Trade Show Marketers.
•Short Codes can integrate with and other CRM data sources.