In 2018, AT&T announced that it would institute a shared short code ban on SMS text message marketing. Decision-makers did not indicate when exactly this would take place. But now that 2020 is upon us, AT&T is moving forward with its plans to block shared short codes.

But AT&T is not the only carrier targeting shared short code SMS marketing. Other carriers - such as Verizon and T-Mobile - are seriously considering their own versions of a shared short code ban to protect their customers from spam texts.

If you've been using shared short codes to reach your customers, it's time for you to switch before your deliverability plummets.

Until recently, blocking individual shared short codes operating in clear violation of spam/scam laws has been the norm. But this approach is tedious. It is simpler for a carrier to block the medium entirely.

Disclaimer, AT&T indicates that their shared short code ban does have exceptions. For example, emergency notifications and charity-related messages are still allowed.

What is Shared Short Code?

Short code is any SMS marketing strategy using 5 or 6-digit numbers to connect with customers. To be clear, dedicated short code is not in danger of carrier blocking - the shared short code ban targets vendors that allow more than one brand to use the same 5 or 6-digit number to reach customers.

Source: CleverTap

Dedicated short code only allows one brand per phone number. These numbers are safe so long as brands do not violate SMS marketing regulations that prevent spam and scam texts.

But dedicated short code is expensive. It can send thousands of texts in seconds (a clear advantage over standard long code formats). It also sends reliably over A2P (application-to-person) channels.

To hack the cost of dedicated short code, SMS providers began marketing shared short code. Multiple clients can split the cost of short code and still maintain functionality.

What Sparked the Shared Short Code Ban?

The problem with shared short code is that not every brand using the same number values marketing ethics equally. One sender with poor judgment ruins the experience for other vendors.

In time, cell carriers have recognized the spam/scam issues prevalent through this medium - hence the shared short code ban. This move gives carriers more control over who can text their customers for marketing purposes.

Is It True that Standard Long Code is Under Fire Also?

In some respects, standard long code is in more danger of carrier blocking than is shared short code.

Like shared short code, standard long code is attractive due to its affordability. That said, brands can't send nearly as many texts in a single blast as they can using short code.

Standard long code numbers (10-digit numbers) frequently bypass SMS A2P protocol and send text messages over P2P (people-to-people) channels. While this is not illegal, this "gray routing" method is not altogether ethical.

As cell carriers develop better processes for protecting their customers, they are actively targeting standard long codes.

What's the Solution?

If shared short code and standard long code are no longer reliable platforms for text message marketing, what's the answer?

For those that need to send thousands of texts at a time, dedicated short code might be your best option. But again, if you're budget-strapped, this may not be the best option, either.

Here at Emotive, we have three solutions to help you retain your SMS marketing and improve text messaging ROI.

Get the Recipient's Permission

Always get permission from recipients before you send them text messages. Additionally, make sure that customers can opt-out easily. This approach will keep customers (and carriers) from blocking your number.

Counter to the Shared Short Code Ban: 10DLC

Verizon recently developed 10DLC (aka, commercial long code) to give SMS marketers a stable protocol for sending and receiving texts.

10DLC numbers are 10-digits (giving consumers a personal touch) that travel over A2P channels and allow for recipients to reply. Also, it's notably cheaper than dedicated short code.

2-Way Personal Messaging

Thanks to 10DLC, text message marketers can expand their strategy to prioritize engagement metrics over CTRs (click-thru rates).

With 2-way personal messaging, your brand can ask questions or elicit a direct message response from consumers. The real-time interaction is more satisfying to customers, and brands can generate a more robust ROI.

Key Takeaways: Why the Shared Code Ban Matters for Your SMS Marketing Strategy

AT&T's shared short code ban signals an end to gray routing techniques. In time, cell carriers will create more substantial barriers toward those brands trying to bypass SMS best practices.

If you feel that AT&T's shared short code ban threatens your marketing strategy, consider altering your text message marketing approach. Our Emotive team can help you transition to 10DLC and demonstrate how our 2-way messaging platform generates more engagement, purchases, and customer loyalty.