Is It Worth the Investment?
If you’ve been researching text messaging lately, you’ve read lots of content around long code, better known as 10DLC. Most of which becomes outdated almost immediately as carrier requirements evolve. As a result, many SMS pros are becoming increasingly confused about the level of resources needed to plan and execute long code campaigns, whether this format is ideal for specific use cases, and understanding any legal ramifications of using it.
We’ve even heard from some businesses that have put a moratorium on messaging until the carriers get their fees, processes, and penalties figured out, and have moved more resources into voice. Despite the ongoing changes, which don’t appear to be letting up any time soon, long code is still an excellent marketing tool for your dollar.
But let’s back up a moment to summarize where we came from, and where we are today.
To begin, any form of messaging is still a good bang for your buck. Why? Because it’s the only part of your marketing portfolio virtually guaranteed to be seen, and in fact almost instantly. Research shows 98% of all people open their text messages within the first couple minutes of receipt. No other marketing channel comes close! (We’re happy if our e-mail opens are in double digits – and never mind click-throughs.)
So if you want to communicate with your customers in a timely manner, messaging is a must. Furthermore, over three quarters of consumers say it’s their preferred channel for communication with a business.
What Exactly is Long Code?
Long code messaging is the use of a standard 10-digit phone number to send a text, as opposed to short code messaging which uses 5-6 numbers. Not all that long ago, long code messaging was simply peer-to-peer (P2P) – i.e., the standard one-on-one messages we send to our friends and family all day long. Alternatively, short code and toll-free messaging have always been mostly application-to-person, or A2P. A2P messages are sent in bulk, utilizing special lines designed for faster, heavier through-put. Because they’re automated, they also allow for message scheduling, automated responses, etc.
Eventually marketers and the like saw the advantages of sending long code messaging campaigns via A2P lines. Long code encourages open rates by appearing to be from a local number; it also has the advantage of being voice enabled for easy callback. Even better, long code allows you to send MMS messages; that is, you’re not restricted to the 256-character limit of SMS, and you can include photos, pictures, audio and video. While you might not care about that if you’re just confirming an appointment, it’s vital to selling ambiance or a juicy burger.
The Birth of 10DLC
With all of that expanded and unintended content, however, the A2P lines started to get clogged. Carriers considered banning them, but then saw the commercial possibilities and created dedicated A2P lines just for these bulk A2P long-code campaigns: the birth of 10DLC. Now we use the terms “long code” and “10DLC” interchangeably, but in reality they don’t completely overlap. 10DLC supports business (i.e., bulk A2P) long code messaging, but one-to-one/P2P messaging is also long code. In fact, some still refer to 10DLC as “commercial long code.”
The addition of 10DLC lines for A2P long code allowed carriers to create new revenue streams, but at the same time added more headaches for them in a world that is tired of endless omnichannel spam. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) already regulates calling and email, and it would only be a matter of time before they came for messaging. So the carriers decided to become self-policing and created The Campaign Registry (TCR | CampaignRegistry.com), tying 10DLC monetization together with campaign requirements and penalties for those who don’t follow them.
Long Code Campaigns Today
Although it’s an additional step in the process, registering your brand and messaging campaigns today is relatively easy. The better messaging providers like Commio have integrated registration into their platforms so you don’t have to go any further than the same website in which you handle all your messaging needs. And, our Customer Success team is happy to walk you through it.
Although there seem to be a lot of requirements, most of them are common sense, particularly to marketing professionals; start by ensuring that all of your recipients are opted in. Tell them who’s sending the message; no alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and such; be clear about your offer; and give them a way to get off the mailing list if they so desire. Each carrier code of conduct (COC) plus TCPA and CTIA has required guidelines (see more on messaging). Plan, budget, measure, manage.
Again, long code is a great way to reach people quickly and “locally.” And if your pitch requires graphics or audio, it can’t be beat. It’s not really much of a surprise that they added rules and fees as the channel matured, and to be sure it is still a bit of a mess as carriers work out the details. But it’s still cheaper than a lot of marketing, including short code, and a great deal when you can be assured that 98% of your customers will read your message. (Funny enough, I paused to open a text from my vet just now–messaging works!)