10DLC vs Toll-Free vs Short Code: A Breakdown [2024]

March 17, 2024 (Updated by Sam Pelton) | By Jake Meador
10DLC vs Toll-Free vs Short Code: A Breakdown [2024]

10DLCs, Toll-Free Numbers

There are few different options for what kind of phone number you can use to send out mass text messages to your business’s SMS list.

These options include:

  1. Ten-digit long code or 10DLC (example: 402-420-2000)
  2. Toll-free number (example: 1-800-780-8000)
  3. Dedicated short code (example: 52001)
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In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of each option. We’ll also share why 10DLCs in particular are the best options for most businesses.

Option 1: Ten-Digit Long Code (10DLC)

10-digit long codes (10DLCs) are local 10-digit phone numbers (example: 402-420-2000) that can support a high volume of text messages.

10DLCs offer many mass SMS features at an affordable cost. This makes 10DLC an excellent SMS solution for many businesses.

10DLC numbers are ideal for small businesses who want to run effective SMS marketing campaigns. They have high throughput for messaging speeds, and high deliverability rates without being extremely costly.

Pros for Using a 10DLC

  • 10DLCs have much lower monthly costs than dedicated short codes, and in some cases are included for free.
  • 10DLCs have higher delivery rates than toll-free numbers.
  • 10DLCs may improve SMS engagement rates. (Receiving a text from a 10-digit number with a local area code feels more personal than receiving a text from a 5-digit short code or toll-free number.)

Cons for Using a 10DLC

  • For the best delivery rate, you may need to go through a registration process with the mobile carriers, which may take around 1-5 business days.
  • 10DLCs do not offer the same throughput (speed for sending large amounts of messages) as dedicated short codes.
  • 10DLCs may not have as high of delivery rates for messages as dedicated short codes.

Who Should Use a 10DLC?

By using 10-digit long codes (10DLCs), businesses can affordably send mass messages through a personable phone number with a local area code.

10DLCs sometimes have a small fee (as opposed to toll-free numbers, which are free), so that may be a barrier for some businesses.

But we'd recommend this option for most small businesses due to its low costs and quick setup time.

How to Purchase a 10DLC?

Want to get more sales by sending SMS via 10DLC?

Contact us or book a call with one of our experts using the link below to get set up.

Book a Call to Boost Your Sales with 10DLC

Option 2: Text-Enabled Toll-Free Number

Toll-free SMS numbers are 10-digit numbers with an 800 “area code” as the initial digits (example: 1-800-780-8000).

Text-enabled toll-free numbers allow you to send messages without adding extra carrier fees.

All accounts at Mobile Text Alerts include a dedicated toll-free number for free by default.

Pros for Using a Toll-Free Number

  • A toll-free number is included for FREE with all Mobile Text Alerts accounts.
  • Your toll-free number is exclusive to you and your business.

Cons for Using a Toll-Free Number

  • Toll-free numbers generally have a lower throughput than short codes (source).
  • Toll-free numbers may not have as high of delivery rates as dedicated short codes or 10DLCs.
  • Toll-free numbers may not get as much engagement as 10DLCs since they don’t have a “personalized” area code.
  • It is recommended that toll-free number users register their brand, to avoid daily messaging caps (2,000 messages/month) and strict filtering from mobile carriers - this registration process takes about 4-5 weeks for completion (though messaging is still available during the interim period)

Who Should Use a Toll-Free Number?

Toll-free numbers are available for nearly all businesses in need of a mass SMS solution that won’t break the bank.

We would generally recommend 10DLCs over toll-free numbers because 10DLCs tend to have more successful delivery rates (see the 10DLC section above).

However, toll-free numbers remain a free and usable option.

How to Get a Toll-Free Number?

A dedicated toll-free number is included for free with any Mobile Text Alerts subscription. You can get started in seconds to test it out for yourself and for your business today.

Get More Sales with a Toll-Free Number Today!

Option 3: Dedicated Short Code

Dedicated short codes (example: 52001) come with some good benefits, including:

  • The best throughput (rate of messages sent per second)
  • The least spam filtering (because they are heavily regulated)

These short codes are dedicated to the business that leases them - they are also the most expensive SMS option.

Dedicated short codes allow you to send 100s or 1000s of messages at once with high deliverability rates. Using delivery reports and link tracking, you can optimize your SMS campaigns for maximum conversions.

There are 3 types of dedicated short codes. You can lease each one of these short codes or migrate your existing dedicated code through Mobile Text Alerts.

Premium Short Code

Premium short codes allow you to spell out your brand name or a significant word using your mobile phone’s dialpad. Examples include: 827438 for “Target” or 262966 for “Amazon." These codes allow memorable customization, but are pricier than other options.

Vanity Short Code

Vanity short codes are 5 to 6 digit numbers that you can select from a list of available codes. With this option you can choose a code that is easy for your customers to remember.

Depending on the options available, you may even be able to select a code that fits your brand without paying the full price of leasing a premium short code.

Random Short Code

A random short code is a short number that's randomly assigned.

The benefit of choosing a random short code is that you receive all the same short code features for a lower cost than a premium or vanity short code.

Pros for Using a Dedicated Short Code

  • Dedicated short codes have a high SMS throughput volume (source). So messages will go out faster than with 10-digit numbers.
  • Dedicated short codes have established strong trust from mobile carriers, so there’s less concern about messages being filtered out and not getting delivered.
  • Dedicated short codes are exclusive to you and your business.

Cons for Using a Dedicated Short Code

  • Cost – Dedicated short codes are the most costly SMS marketing option by a long shot. Depending on the provider, dedicated short codes cost a one-time $2,500 provisioning fee and up to $1,500/month to lease.
  • Set-up time – You will need to define your campaign and submit it to a number of wireless service providers before your short code is approved. Mobile Text Alerts will do the heavy lifting here and help you get approved. However, the process can take 4-6 weeks.

Who Should Use Dedicated Short Codes?

Since dedicated short codes are in compliance with strict carrier regulations, they offer the safest and most versatile method for mass SMS marketing.

Established businesses (with a higher budget) who want the best SMS features should consider leasing their own dedicated short code.

How to Purchase a Dedicated Short Code?

If you have any questions about short codes or if you’d like to lease a dedicated short code for your business, you can contact us or book a call with one of our experts using the link below.

Book a Call to Get More Sales with a Dedicated Short Code

The Future of SMS Marketing

As mobile carriers push for secure and anti-spam messaging, SMS marketing will become an increasingly clean channel. Along with the cluttering of email inboxes and social media accounts, SMS marketing through 10DLCs and toll-free numbers will grow as the top channels for highly-targeted customer messaging.

At Mobile Text Alerts, our goal is to help you grow your sales through SMS marketing. To that end, we are happy to present these different phone number solutions for growing your business in 2024 and beyond.

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