A shortcode is a short combination of numbers used instead of a traditional mobile number. They are considered easier to remember, and trendier too, than a VMN. But the important thing about them is that they come in two types: dedicated and shared.
Dedicated means the shortcode belongs to just one organisation. A shared shortcode can be used for multiple businesses at one time. While having something just for your business sounds great, a dedicated shortcode is too expensive for most organisations. And a shared shortcode can work just as well.
The only real difference when it comes to using keywords with shortcodes is availability. If you have a dedicated shortcode, you can choose any keyword you want. But that option comes with a bill that’s likely over £10,000 per year, not counting the cost of the messages you send.
If you’re budget is less than that, you can rent keywords on your SMS provider’s shortcode. At fastsms, our keywords are just £25 per month (or £250 per year). You can rent your keywords for as long as you need them, which makes it an affordable option. For example, let’s say you choose the keyword “HOME” for your opt-in campaign. You run the campaign for two months and you get 1,000 subscribers (just to keep the maths easy). The total cost for the campaign would be the £50 for the keyword “HOME”, and £35 for the confirmation messages sent to the 1,000 who opted in. The grand total is £85.
You’d have paid the £35 for messages no matter what, even with a dedicated shortcode. So, using shared shortcodes is much less expensive, even counting the rental of keywords. Of course, if you wanted to keep the keyword for a longer period, or you had more opt-ins, the cost would change.
At this point, you may be wondering what the downside to a shared shortcode is. It isn’t cost, obviously. The fact that it is shared means that keywords can only be used by one organisation. If my business used “HOME” at the same time as yours, on the same shared shortcode, who knows where the messages would go. Maybe we’d both get them and we’d be in quite a fix.
Reputable SMS providers ensure that keywords on their shared shortcodes are only used by one customer at a time. And they tell you before you pay for them. For example, fastsms has a keyword order form in our platform. It automatically checks to see if the keyword is available before you make your final order. Our software then sends any messages with that keyword to your account so there’s never any confusion.
Some of our competitors claim you need a dedicated shortcode for SMS marketing with keywords. What I’ve described above shows that isn’t true. Shared shortcodes make it affordable for everyone, but dedicated ones are available for those that need them.