Which one of the above you’ll want to use depends on what you’re doing. To keep things simple, I’ve divided up every possible use case into just two categories: marketing and non-marketing.
Yes, everything that isn’t marketing fits in here under this label. It’s a big list of possibilities, but there’s one simple reason that they are all the same. In theory at least.
That reason is: The people you are sending to must know who you are already.
Think about it. You send messages to your friends and family. Employers send messages to their employees. Automated systems send messages to the IT department when a server fails.
In all those cases either a VMN or a text label would work perfectly. If you need to get replies to your non-marketing messages, then choose a VMN. If the messages are all one-way, just use the text label option.
In these examples, where the recipient knows who’s sending, the fact a VMN is long won’t matter. People will get the message and then just add it to their contact list. Next time you send them a message, it will show up with whatever they named you in their contacts. Just think what you do when a friend gets a new mobile number, or you get a new friend sending you messages. That’s right, you add them to your contacts.
Once we start to think about marketing though, things are a bit different. The person you are sending messages to may have asked for them (they should have if you’re complying with the UK regulations), but that doesn’t mean they’ll add you to their contacts like they would for a friend or employer.
Chances are actually, that they are getting SMS marketing messages from multiple companies. You can’t guarantee they will know who the message is from unless you tell them. Just like you wouldn’t pay for a huge print ad and leave your name off of it, you don’t leave your name off an SMS message. It might be an abbreviated version, but it should still be there.
What does that have to do with shortcodes, VMNs and text labels?
It means you have choices on how to let your customers know you’re the one sending the messages.
For one-way messages, a text label works just fine. You can use your company name and they’ll know exactly who has the great sale starting tomorrow.
For two-way messages, either a shortcode or a VMN will work. Technically speaking that is. In the UK there is no difference in delivery rates or timing for either. Other countries are different, so you should be careful about the source of your information when researching because it can be misleading.
In the US for example, carriers have an agreement that longcodes (or VMNs) are intended just for person to person messages. The carriers themselves, like Verizon and AT&T, can choose to block a longcode if they see more than a one message per second. That would put a damper on most marketing campaigns.
Here in the UK that isn’t the case. But there some best practices to follow that can make your marketing campaign more successful.
In our experience, most marketing campaigns use a text label even if they want to get replies. This way, your customer will always know who the message is from, and you don’t need them to remember a shortcode or a VMN.
If you need to get replies, then you’d need to write the message slightly differently than you might think. Here are two messages for comparison. The first uses a shortcode, and the second a text label.