Types of SMS Sending Numbers: Toll-Free, 10DLC, & Short Code

Types of SMS Sending Numbers: Toll-Free, 10DLC, & Short Code

Updated February 3rd, 2023

For most SMS marketing platforms, toll-free numbers are the default sending type — largely because they’re the most universal and, typically, least expensive option.

Toll-free numbers are just one of the options for application-to-person (AP2) texting, with the other two options being 10DLCs and short codes. Depending on what you need to use mass texting for, your sending number type may change. Each type of sending number has its own unique characteristics, but all types require verification or a registration process by the cellular carriers for your particular brand or company. 

Here’s what you need to know to determine which type of sending number is best for your business. 

What Is a Toll-Free Number?

A hand holding up a white phone screen

Toll-free numbers are most easily identifiable by having one of the following area codes: 833, 844, 855, 866, 877, or 888. These are suitable for most types of businesses since they have a high sending output and one of the lowest associated costs — which is also why they’re SlickText’s go-to option for new customers with subscriber lists of all sizes.

You can also customize the last few digits of your toll-free number, making it more memorable and specific to your business — one popular example is 1-800-FLOWERS. If you already have a toll-free number, you can easily enable it for SMS marketing. 

Toll-free numbers are one of the most affordable sending options, although they don’t support quite as much volume as short codes. If you have a small-to-medium-sized subscriber list, though, then you won’t have any issues using a toll-free number for your broadcast texts

At SlickText, we make toll-free registration quick and easy. Our team will have your new toll-free number verified by collecting brand info directly through your SlickText dashboard. This is a very quick process — the shortest of all three sending options — and you can begin sending texts right away while we wait for the info to be reviewed by cellular carriers. 

Toll-Free Number Benefits:

  • Cost-effective
  • Recognizable format
  • Customizable
  • High throughput

Common Toll-Free Number Uses:

  • Marketing and promotional texts
  • Customer service
  • Two-way chatting

What Is a 10DLC?

A woman wearing sunglasses and looking at her phone

10DLCs, also known as 10-digit long codes or local numbers, utilize a local area code of your choice (assuming there are numbers in your preferred area code available to provision). This sending number type will have less carrier filtering than toll-free numbers but the throughput, or how quickly your messages are delivered to contacts, can vary depending on your use case and the types of messages you send. It may even be possible to use your existing local business number — if it isn’t a VoIP number or already enabled for texting.

If you’ve ever seen a celebrity giving out their number so fans can “text” them, it’s likely they’re using a 10DLC, since they can use a local area code while still supporting mass messaging.

The registration process for a new 10DLC number typically takes around two weeks. You can even register your landline number, if you have one. These numbers support the lowest volume of messages, averaging a sending speed of around 10 messages per second. 

At SlickText, we’ll have you complete a short form with basic company information like your mailing address, EIN, support email address, and phone number, as well as a few sample texts to show the types of messages you plan to send. From there, approval time takes around 48 hours. 

10DLC Number Benefits:

  • Local number recognition
  • High throughput and less filtering (lower risk of being associated with spam texts)
  • Still a cost-effective option

Common 10DLC Number Uses:

  • Local businesses
  • Celebrities or personalities

What Is a Short Code?

A stack of cell phones

Short codes are 5- or 6-digit numbers and work best for businesses looking for easy brand recognition and needing to send very high volumes of messages as quickly as possible. This is considered the most premium option, but also the priciest. For people needing to send bulk messages, though, it’s worth it — short codes boast a sending speed of over 500 messages per second. 

There are two different types of short codes: random and vanity. Random short codes are assigned by the Short Code Registry upon approval of your short code application. Vanity short codes, on the other hand, are selected by you. You can see if your preferred short code is available by searching here. We recommend having a backup short code in mind in case your preferred option is not available.

Keep in mind that short codes take around 4-6 weeks to provision and register before your new number will be available to use. Any campaigns you need to send during this time can be sent from your current toll-free or 10DLC number, and we’ll help transition your contact lists to the new short code once it’s ready to use.

Short Code Number Benefits:

  • Able to handle the highest sending volume
  • High deliverability and limited filtering

Common Short Code Number Uses:

  • Alerts and notifications
  • Marketing
  • Two-factor authentication 

Similarities Between Sending Numbers

While each sending option has its pros and cons, there’s some common ground between the three. No matter which number you pick, when you sign up for SlickText, you’ll gain access to some of these features:

  • Inboxing: reply to single messages without sharing group details.
  • Opt-in tools: easily grow your subscriber list with tools like text-to-join keywords, QR codes, web forms, and more.
  • Subscriber engagement tools: drive traffic and grow your list with things like mobile coupons, text-to-win contests, loyalty programs, and more.
  • MMS messaging: while MMS uses more characters than MMS, it allows you to send GIFs, photos, and videos. 
  • Built-in compliance: we help keep your deliverability high by doing everything on our end to ensure you’re compliant with current SMS regulations. 

Which Sending Number Should I Choose?

A text bubble made from paper

How do you know which type of number to use for SMS marketing? In short, the sending number you choose largely comes down to your use case. If you’ll be sending a high volume of messages that need high deliverability, then a short code is the best option. If you want to communicate on a local level with a trusted number, then 10DLCs work best. Toll-free numbers have versatility and affordability, but you may not be able to send at the same volume as other options. 

If you’re struggling to decide on the best sending number, the SlickText team can help evaluate your needs. From there, we can give you informed advice on which options fit your use case. 

Here are some helpful questions you can think over as you’re making your decision:

  • How much are you willing to spend?
  • Do you want to customize your number or make it more recognizable?
  • How important is deliverability?
  • What will you primarily be communicating with your subscribers about?
  • How many texts will you need to send each month?
  • Are you willing to wait longer during the setup process?
  • How much growth do you anticipate seeing in your subscriber base?

Start Texting with SlickText

Reach out to your SlickText contact or SlickText Support if you’re interested in switching your sending number type from toll-free number to 10DLC or short code. We may need more info about your business to determine if the preferred option is available for your account and can provide you with specific cost details.