What Are SMS Short Codes?
Maiwenn Marchand
6 Nov, 2020

You just received an SMS from a short code? Or, you would like to use one of these short codes to send out messages to your end-users? You may wonder how to get this short code number as a Belgian company. In Belgium, typical short codes such as 8810, 8811 or similar are free short codes that we provide to our customers so that they can contact their end-users by SMS.

What is an SMS Short Code?

A short code is a specific phone number shorter than a normal phone number (e.g. 8810, 8811, 8686, 8128) they are used to send and receive SMS and MMS messages to and from mobile phones. Also known as Common Short Codes, these numbers are short strings of digits. These short numbers are mainly used to send messages on behalf of companies. They are used in all types of domains: leisure, government, universities, e-commerce… Also, the retail domain in particular uses it through SMS marketing. These short numbers are managed by a common short code Third Party Services Provider. For example, we are a Third Party Services Provider of this type of short codes in Belgium.

What are SMS short codes?

SMS short code services

The short numbers hosted by RingRing allow our customers to send personalised messages to their Belgian end-users. All types of customers contact us to send this type of message: banking institutions, collection agencies, food shops, supermarkets, beauty centres, repairers, delivery people, taxis… Thanks to this type of short code (e.g. 8810), they can all quickly contact their users via SMS with an easily recognisable number, all without revealing their private number. Short numbers represent an important part of our traffic. This is also why the RingRing service must be flawless and why we have two redundant centres in Belgium to ensure an optimal service 24/24. So, if you want this type of number to send out SMS to your contacts, you can ask a generic short code to RingRing! Note that 8XXX short codes are always free for end-users.

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Why using an SMS short code?

Many of our customers use our platform and our short codes to send bulk SMS to their customers. But why do they use short codes to send out SMS? One of the main reasons is that Belgian operators do not allow sending SMS marketing from a normal sim card. Sending mass messages with a generic long number is simply not allowed. Another reason why organisations choose short numbers for business text messages and for transactional SMS is message speed. Also, short numbers have a higher technical capacity. Indeed, as they’re registered with mobile phone operators. Message speed is faster and sending mass messages is easier.

For SMS Marketing

SMS marketing is the general term to describe all business practices via SMS. In general, brands use short codes when sending mass text messages to a consumer’s mobile device. SMS marketing and email marketing have the same objective. The difference here is that the brand sends text notifications to consumers by direct message. You can send special deals, coupons, or simply communicate important offers to end-users. As 90% of SMS messages are read within three minutes, compared to emails that often remain unread or unopened, SMS marketing is very interesting for brands. If you decide to start SMS marketing, also think about making effective advertising for your short number.

Why should companies send SMS marketing with short codes?

To allow more end-users to join your SMS marketing campaigns and most importantly, to get their approval. For instance, you can advertise your short number to consumers on social networks, online, or even through traditional advertising channels such as shops, radio, or print media. The average click rate for SMS marketing is 36%, which proves that SMS is an effective channel for brands and retailers.

For SMS Notifications

SMS notification is a message that companies send to a phone number using the SMMP (Short Message Peer to Peer) protocol. The end customer receives an automatic SMS via a short code to notify a delivery, an appointment or reminder. Most companies use SMS notifications to confirm a purchase or delivery, to remind you of an appointment or, even to remind you to pay an open invoice. Companies prefer SMS as it is a very efficient channel (in terms of opening rate and response rate).

Difference between SMS notification and Push notification

Note that a push notification is not the same as an SMS notification. An SMS allows users to send text messages of up to 160 characters in length via a short code. In reality, it is possible to send up to 1530 characters. In this case, we are talking about multiple SMS. On the other side, a push notification is a very short message. In this case, it is an application that “pushes” the message. Recipients have downloaded this application and have given their consent in their settings to receive this type of notification.

For One Time Passwords

One of the main uses of the SMS short codes is the sending of unique passwords. To send out a one time password, administrators need an efficient and safe channel. An OTP (or one-time password) allows you to connect to a network or service using a unique password. Of course, this password is unique and can only be used once. It is much more complex and secure than static password identification. A one time password avoids common traps such as dialling rules, known bad and weak passwords or the re-use of the same password, and so on. With OTP, IT administrators and security managers can be reassured.

SMS short codes to contact Belgian numbers

We propose to companies to contact their end-users who have a Belgian number via short codes. As explained above, numbers starting with 8XXX are always free for the end-user. The other rows of numbers vary according to the usage. The 2XXX, 3XXX, and 4XXX depend on the type of service. For these short numbers, the ranges are based on content type and price. Sometimes the sender pays, sometimes the recipient pays, and sometimes both. Also, it’s important to know that a company cannot send a chargeable SMS to the end-user that is not a response to an SMS sent by himself. Therefore, if the end-user is charged for an SMS, it is either because he has sent an SMS or because he has received a message in response to a previously sent SMS.

Dedicated and non-dedicated short codes

There is a wide range of short codes available: there are dedicated and non-dedicated or shared codes. Non-dedicated short codes are numbers that several companies can use. The end-user will be able to receive several types of SMS from the same number but not from the same sender. For example, the end customer receives an appointment reminder from his dentist via 8810, and the next day, a promotion code from his favourite shop!

Dedicated short codes, as the name suggests, are dedicated to companies. They are more expensive than a shared short number, but they belong entirely to an organisation. Institutions or banking services mainly use this kind of dedicated short codes. Why? To establish a climate of trust between the customer and his end-users. A company chooses a dedicated short number to send all its SMS messages to its end-users via a number that only belongs to them.

Here are some examples of short dedicated and non-dedicated codes:

Some shared short codes:

  • 8810
  • 8686
  • 8128

Some dedicated short codes :

  • 4411
  • 4884
  • 8836

Dedicated short-codes are used for well-known services such as paying bus tickets or paying for parking spaces via SMS. Companies such as De Lijn (the public transport company of Flanders) or BeMobile (parking service active in Belgium and the Netherlands) use a short code that allows end-users to easily recognise their brand.

Premium short codes

Indeed, some numbers like the 6XXX, 7XXX, and are premium. In this case, premium means that the end-users pay at reception as well as on delivery. These are usually contests, TV and radio, or even online games. Pay attention to the information you give to the end-user on this type of number. Also be careful with children, who can easily pay online without parental consent for a game, for example. Avoid getting in conflict with your end customers and always be clear in your pricing.

How do I get my own SMS short number?

To obtain a dedicated or non-dedicated short code for Belgium, you need to choose an SMS provider such as RingRing. RingRing will then assist you in the provisioning process. If like our customers, you would like to benefit from a dedicated short code, our standard prices are 1.000€ for the set-up and a monthly fee of 225€. You are not a company based in Belgium? No problem. We are used to providing numbers worldwide. We adjust to the regulations of the countries and manage this for the customers. Do not hesitate to contact us directly for a personalised offer.

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