The world of text messaging and telecommunications is complex. You’ve got a bunch of ways to text and send messages.
Does your business or organization want to text with customers or reach a lot of people? Then you’ll need to understand:
This is why I've written a guide to P2P, A2P, 10DLC, and more.
I’ll show you the difference between shortcodes vs long codes, text-enabled toll-free numbers. And I’ll cover how to get set up with an A2P 10DLC business text messaging service like MessageDesk.
Read on for more.
You’re probably familiar with 1-on-1 text messaging and group text messages sent from your smartphone. But 1-on-1 and group texts are different from mass texts sent from a bulk text service.
So the first thing you need to understand about sending text messages as a business or organization is the difference between P2P SMS and A2P SMS.
P2P stands for person-to-person or peer-to-peer texting. This is when two or more people text 1-on-1 or in a group text message from their personal phones using iMessage, Google Messages, or another app. Carriers limit how many person-to-person P2P SMS messages you can send. This is why they’re meant for personal communication, not business text messaging.
A2P stands for application-to-person messaging. Businesses and organizations use A2P software applications and business text messaging services to send text messages from a computer to many mobile devices. Application-to-person A2P SMS text messages get sent at thousands of messages per second using carrier-vetted SMS gateways. This makes A2P ideal for business text messaging.
|P2P SMS||A2P SMS|
|Message Originator||Person (Personal Phone)||Software (Business Text Messaging Service)|
|Messages Per Second||1||10+|
|Carrier Approved for Business Texting||🚫||✅|
The big difference between A2P and P2P messaging comes down to who’s sending texts and how they’re sending them.
People send P2P text messages manually, one-by-one. This is normally done on an iPhone or Android. There are also numerous P2P instant messaging systems and group text apps.
Whereas a broadcast text messaging service like MessageDesk often sends A2P text messages automatically in mass.
Your takeaway: carriers approve of A2P texting for business messaging. But peer-to-peer P2P messaging is meant for consumers and personal use only.
There’s another reason for the two different texting channels.
Carriers give businesses and organizations trust scores based on their messaging habits. They’re held to higher texting and communication standards than consumers for promotional and transactional messages.
You can check out the CTIA Guidelines, FCC guidelines, and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) compliance guide for the specifics.
A2P messaging works by registering a “brand” and a campaign with carriers using services like Campaign Registry.
Most A2P business texting services like MessageDesk already have carrier relationships through platforms like Bandwidth, Twilio, and Vonage. This makes A2P approval through Campaign Registry easier for your business or organization.
All it takes to get A2P approval on your existing phone number with MessageDesk is one form submission.
Ok, I’ve made the differences between P2P and A2P messaging clear. Now it’s time to look at the different types of phone numbers you can use to send A2P text messages.
When it comes to phone numbers, you’ll find three different types in North America:
All of these number types are viable for sending business text messages. But each comes with its own features that you’ll want to be aware of.
10DLC stands for 10-digit long code phone number. A 10-digit long code 10DLC phone number looks like this: (123) 456-7890. Carriers used to limit 10DLC phone numbers to P2P texting and calling for personal use. But businesses and organizations can now use 10DLC numbers for local A2P messaging and business SMS sends. You can even text-enable an existing landline number.
A shortcode is a 5 or 6-digit short phone number like “222333”. SMS short codes are used for one-way mass text message sends. Short codes were first popularized by American Idol in 2003 with their “text-to-vote” campaigns. Businesses and organizations now use shortcodes for all kinds of “text this phrase to…” campaigns and text blasts. Texting with these numbers typically starts with an opt-in message. Once a user opts in they can text simple one-word replies for more information.
Authorizing and enabling a shortcode has traditionally been expensive and inaccessible for most small businesses and organizations.
As a result, businesses started leasing shared short codes, like 111222 to keep costs low. Shared short codes normally require a one-time setup fee.
But there’s no overhead.
You only pay for the messages you send while incoming SMS messages are free.
A dedicated shortcode is a number that only your business or organization may use. These are expensive and they take time to acquire.
A dedicated shortcode may be randomly generated or your business can select a custom “vanity” shortcode. Vanity short codes may look like “287437” - spelling out “BURGER”.
Text-enabled toll-free numbers (TETFs) are 10-digit numbers with an 800 prefix. They don’t use local area codes but they’re intended for toll-free SMS. You can call and text other mobile phones just like any other 10DLC number. Many organizations use toll-free SMS numbers to provide customer support, send appointment reminders, provide order tracking, book reservations, and send marketing and sales promotions.
TETFs are approved for A2P SMS, so they allow businesses and organizations to send higher volumes of text messages (text blasts).
You can use both 10DLC texting numbers and toll-free SMS 800 numbers for A2P when you create a MessageDesk account.
There are three different ways to send A2P text messages. But which way is best for your business or organization?
Start by asking yourself:
|5 or 6-Digit Short Codes||10DLC Long Codes||Text-Enabled Toll-Free SMS Numbers|
|Number Formatting||99999 or 555555||(123) 456-7890||(888) 123-4567|
|Per Second Message Send Rate||40-100||1-10||5-20|
|A2P SMS Approved||✅||✅||✅|
|Two-Way Conversational Texting||🚫||✅||✅|
Short codes used to be the only way for businesses to send high volumes of text messages.
Local 10DLC and toll-free SMS numbers change all of that.
Both make it possible to send high volumes of text messages.
Customers prefer one-on-one two-way conversations when talking with businesses. Emails don’t get opened and no one talks on the phone unless it’s urgent.
Toll-free SMS numbers and 10DLC messaging allow your organization to send personalized, conversational messages at scale.
Because 10DLC and toll-free SMS numbers use the same number convention you can text enable your existing business landline.
For more advanced VOIP users, you can even use the same number to translate it from text to voice.
Not only can you text customers at scale, but you can also call them too. 10DLC and toll-free SMS numbers come voice-enabled.
With both numbers, you can consolidate and centralize your customer communications channels with one line.
The cost for a business to use A2P with a 10DLC or toll-free SMS number is lower. We’re talking a few hundred dollars per month.
Compare this to a few thousand dollars per month for a dedicated short code.
10DLC and toll-free SMS allow you to send text messages and MMS messages. You can enhance your messages with coupons, product images, and other rich media.
Eventually, RCS (Rich Communication Services) will replace MMS. You’ll get even richer features and functionality like file sharing, read receipts, and more from a 10DLC number.
Visit the MessageDesk website to create a free account.
Enter in all of your organization's information.
MessageDesk offers smarter, simpler ways to send text messages using carrier vetter A2P SMS channels.
We’re here to get your business or organization set up with a 10DLC or toll-free SMS number to start more conversations.
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