Choosing a phone number type (10DLC vs. Toll Free vs. Short Code)

Just getting started with SMS? Or looking to unlock accelerated growth? Choosing the right phone number for your brand is an important part of building a successful SMS channel.

There are three primary options to choose from: (A) 10-digit long codes (10DLCs), (B) Toll free numbers (TFNs), and (C) Short codes.

Each of these options has its own pros and cons – read on to figure out which one makes the most sense for your team!

 


Option #1: 10DLC

10 DLC numbers look just like any standard mobile or landline numbers, including your local area code. The only difference is they are enabled for app-to-person use cases (e.g., marketing campaigns) rather than only person-to-person communications.

They are a great way to create a sense of trust with your subscribers. They will also allow you to send MMS campaigns at the same speeds as SMS campaigns.

Pros and Cons of 10DLCs:

Pros

Cons

  • Low-cost
  • Quick to set up
  • Standard message delivery rates across SMS & MMS
  • Local area code builds subscriber trust
  • Delivery rates are based on ‘trust scores’ assigned by The Campaign Registry (may be lower for new or small brands)
  • Message delivery speeds are capped – not suitable for brands with very large subscriber bases

 



Option #2: Toll Free

Text-enabled TFNs begin with one of the following area codes: 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844 and 833. 

They are best-suited for medium-scale SMS outreach. 

Note: beginning in 2022, all TFNs must be verified. We will help you complete the Verified Sender Application through OpenMarket.

Pros and Cons of TFNs:

Pros

Cons

  • Quick to set up
  • Consistent high message delivery speeds for SMS
  • Recognizable area codes build business credibility 
  • Very low throughput for MMS (not suitable for mid-sized or large subscriber base engagement with MMS campaigns)
  • Message costs are higher than those of 10DLC or Short Code

MMS Guidelines for TFNs:

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) guidelines prohibit text messaging subscribers before 9AM or after 8PM in their respective timezones. Keep these times in mind when sending, and reference the below table to approximate how long a campaign will take to send so you avoid creeping into quiet hours and having your messages not be delivered.

# of subscribers

Time to send an MMS campaign on TFNs

100

~2 minutes

1,000

~15 minutes

5,000

~1.5 hours

10,000

~ 3 hours

20,000

~5.5 hours

40,000

~11 hours


Note: For subscriber lists approaching or exceeding 40,000, it is not possible to send a campaign to all subscribers within the window from 9AM - 8PM. You will need to segment your subscribers to send a more targeted campaign, send an SMS campaign instead, or switch to a 10DLC or Short Code number.

 


 

Option #3: Short Code

Short codes provide superior performance so that you can grow your subscriber list exponentially without ever needing to worry about switching to another number.  You can also purchase a customized short code number that your subscribers are sure to remember.

Pros and Cons of Short Codes:

Pros

Cons

  • Guaranteed high message delivery speeds for SMS & MMS
  • Little-to-no campaign filtering by carrier networks
  • Several weeks for application process to be approved by the U.S. Short Code Directory 
  • Application and monthly costs of $500 (contact our team for more information)

 


Switching from an existing phone #

For our clients with TFNs on Twilio, you have the option of transitioning to either a 10-digit long code or a 5-digit short code phone # on OpenMarket.

Note: Our data shows there is zero impact on subscriber churn when you switch phone #’s. Additionally, there is no legal requirement to announce that you are changing phone #’s to your subscribers. Still not convinced? We’ll give you a free campaign to send an updated contact card to all of your customers!

For customers with <10K active subscribers, we recommend transitioning to a 10 DLC number. 

The process of transitioning to a 10 DLC number includes the following:

  • Voyage will collect information required by The Campaign Registry to submit an application on your behalf – please be prepared to share information such as your EIN and your official corporate filing address
  • You will receive a ‘trust score’ by the carrier networks once the application is filed, which will determine your message delivery speed
  • If you are unhappy with your ‘trust score’, you can pursue additional vetting services which may increase that score
  • Once you are ready to begin using your 10 DLC number, Voyage will transfer your account to OpenMarket

For customers with a much larger subscriber base who would like to continue sending MMS campaigns, we recommend transitioning to a 5-digit Short Code number.

The process of transitioning to a Short Code includes the following:

  • Voyage will work with you to complete a Common Short Code Campaign Application with the U.S. Short Code Directory 
  • This application will be circulated to wireless carriers for approval over the course of several weeks
  • Once your application is approved and you are ready to begin using your new Short Code, Voyage will transfer your account to OpenMarket