Decided to take the plunge with SMS marketing but aren't sure exactly where to begin or what type of phone number to get for communicating with existing or prospective customers?

This guide explains the 6-digit phone number – what it is, how it can benefit your business and some real-life examples of the kind of communications you can use it for. You'll also learn how to obtain a 6-digit number ready for starting your text marketing campaigns.

What is a six-digit phone number?

A six-digit number is also known as a short code or Common Short Code (CSC). They're created by wireless carriers and are commonly used by businesses as a sender ID for sending text messages to customers and leads. Short codes can actually be four or five digits long as well as six – the number of digits depends on several factors, such as:

  • Your location in the world.

  • What purpose you'll be using the short code for.

  • Local or international laws and telecom regulations, e.g. the TCPA and GDPR.

How does a 6-digit number work for SMS and MMS messages?

Short codes are for business text-based messages (SMS) and media messages that include images, video or audio files (MMS messages). Note that you can't make or receive phone calls using 6-digit numbers; they're only suitable for text messages. This is where short codes differ from 10DLC numbers; you can exchange calls and faxes with the latter.

Two types of short code numbers

When applying for a short code, you'll have two types to choose from: random and vanity. A random short code is a randomly generated 6-digit code, e.g. 589314. In contrast, a vanity short code is a number you specifically choose that has a deeper meaning or is easier for customers to remember. It might contain repeating or consecutive numbers and have an aesthetic appeal. Many brands prefer to use a vanity short code; however, the option to customise comes with a more expensive price tag.

6-digit numbers: campaign types and subscriber permissions

A 6-digit phone number is ideal for both one-way SMS communications and conversational texting, where recipients can text back. You should be able to turn replies on or off as needed in your SMS provider's software.

No matter which types of campaigns you want to send, it's a legal requirement to get permission and opt-ins from customers and prospects before you start sending texts from your short code.

A good way to do this is to encourage people to text a keyword to opt-in to your SMS marketing messages. That can be as simple as displaying a flyer on your business premises with details of how to subscribe, for example, ‘Want to be the first to know about our end of season sales? Text YES to 12345.’ You could also request signups through CTAs on your website or within your business app if you have one.

Offering subscribers an incentive in return for their phone number is a good idea to sweeten the deal and can help grow your SMS list faster – promise exclusive content, a special discount code or something else of value. Once you've got opt-ins (express consent), you can begin texting your list with SMS marketing campaigns.

Key features and benefits of 6-digit phone numbers

A short code number is available to just one business or sender. By using a dedicated business phone number, you'll build credibility, authority and professionalism. Once customers recognise the number (and providing your SMS campaigns offer value and interest), they'll trust any message from your brand – which in turn should improve your open and response rates.

Other benefits of six-digit phone numbers include:

  • Being easy to remember and quick to tap out on a mobile phone.

  • Being ideal for mass texting, where you send one promotional campaign to all (or a large proportion) of your subscriber list.

  • Fast delivery for high volumes of text messages, especially compared to long code numbers – helping you reach a large audience quickly.

  • Enabling a local or global reach – SMS messaging is accessible worldwide, and even though short codes are region or country-specific, you can obtain multiple numbers if needed.

People using mobile phones

Six real-life use cases for the six-digit phone number

Businesses use six-digit numbers for specific purposes like sending promotional content to a bulk audience or transactional communications to individual customers. Here are some examples below.

1. SMS marketing campaigns

Vanity short codes can be used to promote new products, flash sales, special offers, service information, the latest company news, and much more. Many businesses use short codes for SMS loyalty programmes to distribute coupons and other perks to an exclusive audience.

2. Identity verification

Many service-based businesses now use two-factor authentication (2FA) and verification codes to securely help customers log into their online accounts. If the second verification step requires customers to enter a one-time password (OTP), you can send it via a text message from your short code.

3. Reminders and confirmations

Delivery notifications, appointment reminders and booking confirmations can all be sent from a short code number. Businesses such as dental practices and beauty salons can schedule reminders in advance so they're automatically sent a day or two before the customer's visit.

4. Customer support

If you have two-way texts set up, you can use short codes for conversational messaging to provide quick and convenient customer assistance. And you can also integrate an SMS chatbot with your short code to automate FAQs and free up customer service agents' time.

5. Feedback collection

One of the easiest ways to collect customer feedback is to run a short SMS survey from a short code. It's really convenient for customers to provide a quick star rating by text message, and easy for you to analyse the data. You can also use your short code to send out long-form surveys – just include a questionnaire via an SMS hyperlink.

6. General awareness and emergency alerts

Because short codes offer speedy text message delivery, public organisations or emergency services often use them to disseminate urgent information, like public health and safety announcements, extreme weather alerts, hurricane warnings, etc.

How to apply for a 6-digit number for your business

There are a couple of ways to obtain a 6-digit number for your SMS marketing campaigns. The first is to apply directly to the relevant bodies. In the U.S., you can lease either a random/generic or personalised short code from CTIA and the Short Code Registry, formerly known as the Common Short Code Administration (CSCA). Then you'll submit some paperwork to register your business with cellular providers and carriers so they can approve, verify and safelist you. That's important so your text messages don't get caught up in spam filters.

The above process can be cumbersome and time-consuming, and unfortunately, approvals can take weeks. So another option is to use Messente's services to acquire and manage 6-digit phone numbers. We handle the paperwork and liaison with carriers, so you can skip all the back and forth. You should also find that approvals happen faster too. Talk to us today to get the ball rolling.

Discussing ideas at a marketing meeting

Level up your SMS marketing strategy with a 6-digit short code

Six-digit phone numbers are a type of short code used by businesses to send promotional, transactional and conversational text messaging campaigns. Short codes can be branded or customised for greater impact, and they enable easy mass texting if you need to reach a large subscriber base quickly

Still have questions about six-digit numbers? The Messente team is here to help. Fill out our contact form.