Short Code, Long Code, Bulk… What? Sorting Out Communication Terms
SMS short codes, vanity numbers, and bulk messaging — communication isn’t just face-to-face or pen-to-paper anymore. In a world of laptops and smartphones, mass texting service and call broadcasting, there are endless ways to communicate.
Smart communicators will learn to harness all of these avenues to communicate quickly and clearly with large groups of contacts. Whether you need to communicate with employees, volunteers, or parents, knowing the ins and outs of mass text messages and voice broadcasting is a huge benefit.
Below, we define the most important and most confusing popular online communication terms. These include SMS shortcodes, longcodes, bulk messaging, toll free, vanity numbers, computer to mobile, MMS, local numbers, and virtual numbers.
SMS Short Codes
An SMS short code is a 5-6 digit number used to send or receive text messages. Usually, this number is short so that it’s easier to remember. The ease of use of these SMS short codes make them popular with businesses.
Additionally, SMS short codes allow for improved mass text service. While long codes are limited to sending or receiving 60 messages per minute, short codes allow the user to send or receive about 2400 per minute.
The utility of SMS short codes is so great that they can come at a high price. In the past, this led to a trend of shared short codes between companies. Now, companies are eliminating or banning the practice of sharing SMS short codes.
Most people are familiar with long codes as normal 10-digit phone numbers. Individuals and organizations use these numbers for both voice calls and SMS text messaging, though they can only send or receive about 1 text message per second, or 60 per minute. They’re only “long” in relation to short codes.
Bulk messaging, or bulk SMS, simply refers to sending out large numbers of SMS text messages at the same time. It is also known as mass text messaging.
Mass texting services are popular for organizations and businesses looking to reach many individuals at once. Organizations use bulk messaging for advertising, entertainment, and even volunteer and employee management. Because short codes can send more messages per minute, it is popular for mass texting services to use short codes in place of long codes.
Toll Free Number
Toll free numbers are those that, when called, don’t cause the caller to incur charges. The recipient of the call pays for the call instead. Some people refer to toll free numbers as freephone numbers.
These types of numbers are popular for businesses who don’t want the cost of a phone call to impact how many people call in, whether it’s to order a product or provide feedback. However, unless the number is specifically stated to be toll free internationally, the caller is responsible for the charge of an international call.
A local number uses the area code of a specific location. Unlike a toll free number, a local number does charge the caller for initiating contact.
Local numbers can play an important part in establishing a business as part of a community. While toll free numbers are national and can position a business as large or intimidating, local numbers can feel more comfortable for clients, customers, and other callers.
Vanity numbers include some toll free and local phone numbers. Such numbers are unique because the owner requests a specific series of easy-to-remember numbers. Usually, these numbers spell out a word, but that’s not necessary for a number to be considered a vanity number.
1-800-FLOWERS and 1-800-TAXICAB are both examples of vanity numbers. While the words refer to the corresponding number keys on a phone, they are also easy to remember and likely related to the company that owns the numbers.
A virtual number is a phone number that does not have a direct connection with a telephone line. Instead, calls or messages directed to this number are redirected or forwarded to a different pre-set number chosen by the owner of the virtual number.
There are two primary benefits of such numbers. The first benefit is that particular employees or on-duty individuals can rotate through as the person on the receiving end of the line while callers only need to remember one static number. The second is that users can forward important calls to employees or other individuals without forcing them to share their personal number with all callers.
Computer To Mobile Communication
Computer to mobile communication refers to messages or voice calls that originate from a desktop or laptop computer but are received on a mobile device. This includes text to email communication.
For businesses and large organizations, computer to mobile communication is beneficial because multiple people can access a single account. So one account contains texts to and from a large contact list even if multiple people need to send and receive information.
Bonus: SMS vs. MMS
SMS stands for Short Message Service. MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging Service.
An SMS text message can receive up to 160 characters of text. An MMS message can include a picture, video, or audio file.
Making Sense Of It All: The Importance of Communication Terms
The terms we’ve defined here aren’t the only terms you’ll come across in learning about technology-aided communication. In fact, these terms are only a drop in the bucket compared to all of the avenues, varieties, and preferences of communication.
However, these terms are a great start to understanding what’s available and what you need. And while it may be easy to mix up sms short codes and vanity numbers now, this guide can give you a basis to build on so you can speak confidently about communication in the future.
If this type of communication seems like it could benefit your organization, consider starting a free trial on DialMyCalls to see just how easy mass communication can be with those that matter most. Learning the terms may take some effort, but communication doesn’t have to.