Creating a strategy to text with your customers is a must for today's modern businesses, but how do you know what options are right for you? Let's review the common vocabulary, and pros and cons of selecting certain phone number options for your programmable messaging strategy.
Person to Person (P2P) Messaging: P2P is a peer-to-peer, two-way text message conversations between humans. These messages are conversational, one-to-one messages most likely between two cell phone numbers.
Application to Person (A2P) Messaging: A2P uses software to send automated SMS text messages to a person. It's most commonly known as "SMS text blasting." With one-way A2P software platforms, you can send an automated text to a person (or list of people), but they cannot reply back, aside from confirming one-question simple details, opting in or out. Examples of one-way A2P are sending promotional link messages, Two-Factor Authentication codes or auto-confirming appointment or event details.
Mav is two-way A2P. Mav sends automated text messages to a person, but they can text back - no text blasts here. Think of Mav as "A2P2A2P," or conversational automated texting. Mav texts a user (automated), they reply, and Mav responds with a personalized message based on the answers they give (using artificial intelligence) - so the conversation is two-way automated.
A2P 10-Digit Long Code (10DLC): 10DLCs are unique, ten-digit phone numbers specifically designed for business messaging. These numbers look the same as a common US phone number (a one, three-digit area code followed by a seven-digit number) and can be used for A2P business messaging. They have a lower spam risk than a shared short code, though not as fast of a message sending speed. Message carriers use a variety of vetting and rating processes to determine how many texts-per-second (TPS) a business is able to send, and the total volume of messages they can send per day. Businesses who want to improve their TPS or send messages beyond their daily quota will need to be third-party verified for their likelihood to send spam messages.
Toll-Free Texting: Many 1-800 or toll-free phone numbers can be text-enabled. This means, a business can text customers from a phone number they already use or own, allowing customers the option to "text or call" them. This is a popular option for consistent and convenient brand experiences, and due to the fact that the TPS for text-enabled toll-free numbers is often slightly faster than a 10DLC (though not as fast as a short code). For call centers, having one main phone number to route phone calls through is essential, and using that same phone number for texting and introducing reps, scheduling call backs or transferring calls will create a consistent experience for leads.
Upcoming changes to toll-free texting: Beginning May 15th, 2022, new toll-free numbers must be verified in order to send text messages. Existing toll-free numbers until September 30th, 2022 to get verified. If you are using Twilio, the verification process is free, and requests are submitted via a ticketing system. This process is mandatory in order to continue to send text messages from a toll-free number.
Short Code: Short codes are four to six-digit numbers (shorter than a typical phone number) designed to be easy to recognize and remember. Because of this, they are often advertised by businesses on TV, radio, direct mailers and billboards. These codes are administered and leased under a "Common Short Code Program" by the Common Short Code Administration, Cellular Telecommunications Internet Association (CTIA) and iconectiv, the registry service provider. They are often preferred by businesses for text message campaigns because of the reliable speed and the recall from advertising.
An important note on shared short codes: For many years, businesses and platforms were utilizing shared short codes to save on costs. In order to do so, the business would have a unique keyword or link that could direct users to their experience. The sharing of these numbers made them more susceptible to Spam filters, and shutdowns for all businesses utilizing the code if one of the members was violating rules. In 2021, all wireless carriers banned the approval of new shared short codes, and over time, have begun to block messages from existing shared short codes.
Because of these new regulations, businesses will need to utilize an A2P 10DLC, toll-free number, or purchase their own, dedicated short code. The process for securing your own short code can take months, and will require registration and approval by all wireless carriers in order to become active. It is also significantly more expensive than the alternatives, but more reliable with faster messaging for high-volumes.
SMS Keyword: This refers to the phrase a customer texts to the business to initiate a conversation. Most commonly used for routing to a business shared short codes (though not any more!), a keyword can attribute the source of a user for various SMS campaigns. For example, a business could test which locations or platforms their advertisements are being seen on, or add additional qualifications for customers that send a specific keyword.
The Campaign Registry (TCR): The Campaign Registry is an officially sanctioned information hub that allows Campaign and SMS Service Providers (CSPs), like Mav, to verify A2P 10DLC messaging campaigns on behalf of its customers. Registering tells TCR who is sending text message campaigns, and what messages are being sent. The benefits of registering and becoming a verified 10DLC is to ensure more reliable and simple messaging that is far less likely to be marked as spam by the mobile carriers.
Mav has a block of local 10DLC, Toll-Free numbers that we can assign and verify via The Campaign Registry. We also work with our customers who want to enable and verify their existing Toll-Free or 1-800 numbers for SMS, or secure new, verified 10DLCs.
Now that you have a clear picture of your options for business messaging, you may have an idea of which direction you'd like to go in. Or, maybe you're still a bit confused about how to secure the right number, and get your business approved by the wireless carriers.
We're here to help.
One of the benefits of using Mav is that we handle the entire process - from deciding which phone number option is right for your business, to verifying those numbers, ensuring you stay compliant and avoid spam filters, and knowing how to scale to high volumes with the fastest speeds and most competitive pricing. Not to mention, we already have a registered and approved short code that our customers can use, or we can help you navigate the process of securing your own short code or verified A2P 10DLC or toll-free number.
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