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Everything to know about 10DLC numbers

Alia Paavola
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Text messaging has become a communication game-changer for businesses. But, as this messaging channel grows in popularity, so do user protections. One of the positive protections in business texting was the introduction of the 10DLC.

Though this commercial number type didn’t always exist, experts predict it will become the norm for business text messaging in the future. So what exactly is 10DLC, how can businesses use it, and what are its pros and cons?

What is 10DLC?

10DLC stands for a 10-digit long code. It’s a particular phone number used by businesses to send bulk SMS or MMS. 10DLC is governed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA). This number type requires businesses to follow specific guidelines and comply with regulations such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in the United States. Once approved, 10DLC numbers can be used for application-to-person messaging (A2P). 

Businesses can use 10DLC for a wide range of messaging use cases, including customer communications, marketing campaigns, transactional messaging, appointment reminders, notifications, and more. More important, 10DLC allows for two-way messaging, enabling businesses to engage in interactive conversations with their customers, clients, and prospects.

10DLC vs. shortcode

Dedicated shortcodes are five or six-digit numbers used for SMS and MMS messaging, but not for two-way messaging or voice calls. They’re easy to remember and can become recognizable to your brand. Once a brand’s shortcode is approved, shortcode messaging has no volume caps, and a high throughput.

Availability and cost: Shortcodes are typically more expensive and harder to obtain compared to 10DLC numbers. The approval process for shortcodes is extensive, and leasing or purchasing a dedicated shortcode can be pricy — it’s common to cost up to $1,000 a month. 

Throughput and scalability. Both 10DLC numbers and short codes support bulk messaging with high throughput. However, short codes are considered to have the highest message throughput of all number types.  

Regulation and compliance: In addition to having oversight from the FCC, mobile carriers, CTIA, short codes are also regulated by the Common Short Code Administration (CSCA).

Use cases and applications: Short codes are often used for specific use cases such as 2FA, large marketing campaigns, notifications, and similar. 10DLC numbers are more versatile and can be used for a wider range of messaging applications because, unlike shortcodes, they support both two-way messaging and a high message throughput.

10DLC vs. toll-free number

Toll-free numbers, initially designed for voice calls, can also be used for messaging. 10DLC and toll-free numbers have similar use cases and functions. The key difference between 10DLC and toll-free numbers is price and whether or not you want a local area code. 

Availability and cost: Toll-free numbers are the least expensive option for SMS as they don't require a registration fee, a $15 monthly Campaign Registry compliance fee, and DCA vetting fee. When it comes to the cost of SMS, it’s the same for toll-free and 10DLC. 

Throughput and scalability. Registered toll-free and 10DLC numbers both support high-volume messaging. 

Regulation and compliance. 10DLC numbers must register with the Campaign Registry. Businesses and their 10DLC messaging use case must be vetted before messaging can occur. There is a small monthly fee to stay on the Campaign Registry. On the other hand, toll-free numbers must register with mobile carriers as well, but messaging can occur while awaiting approval.

Use cases and applications: Toll-free numbers are commonly used for customer support, answering inquiries, and other customer service-related applications. However, both toll-free numbers and 10DLC can be used for a variety of use cases, as they support two-way messaging, voice, and high message throughput. 

While toll-free numbers are widely recognized and familiar to recipients, they don’t support group messaging

Take a look at some main differences between the 10DLC vs. toll-free vs. shortcode. 

A chart comparing 10DLC vs. toll-free vs. shortcode numbers
A comparison of 10DLC vs. toll-free vs. shortcode numbers

As you can see, there isn't a hierarchy of number types, it just depends on what you want and need as a business. Do you want to prioritize a local number? Do you want to prioritize message throughput? Do you care most about cost and getting set up to message immediately?

Who should register for 10DLC?

Any business that wants to use A2P messaging must register its 10DLC number. With the new rules implemented in early 2023, companies must register before sending text messages. The approval process can take two to three weeks. 

Benefits of having 10DLC for your business

Here are some advantages to using a registered 10DLC for your business texting needs. 

  • Familiarity to recipients. Typical 10-digit phone numbers are familiar to customers as they use and see them daily. This can result in higher open rates and better engagement. Moreover, you can choose an area code or text-enable your existing voice-only number (ex. landline, VoIP) for A2P messaging. This can result in higher open rates and better engagement.
  • Improved deliverability and throughput. Registered 10DLC numbers are designed for high message throughput, resulting in fast and reliable message delivery. This helps ensure that your messages reach your intended recipients promptly.
  • Cost-effective solution. 10DLC numbers are typically more accessible and cost-effective compared to short codes, making them a budget-friendly option for SMS and MMS messaging campaigns.
  • Leverage existing voice numbers. You can often text-enable your existing voice-only number like a landline, VoIP, or toll-free number for A2P messaging. This is helpful if you have a business number customers already know. 
  • Scalable solution. 10DLC numbers offer scalability for businesses of all sizes, from small businesses to large enterprises, allowing for messaging campaigns to be tailored to specific business needs and goals.

Limitations of 10DLC

Here are some drawbacks of using a 10DLC for your business. 

  • Delays in verification and activation. Regulators implemented new vetting requirements for 10DLCs. To use a 10DLC, businesses must register and get approval. No messaging can be done on the 10DLC number until it’s approved. The process can take two to three weeks.

  • Carrier message filtering and blocking. Many mobile carriers implemented spam filtering to protect their customers. As a result, they can filter or block messages they deem objectionable. When carriers block a message, they don’t provide additional information about why it was flagged.

  • International limitations. 10DLC numbers are specific to the United States and may not be available or suitable for businesses with international messaging needs.

10DLC use cases

Businesses can use a registered 10DLC number in many ways. Here are a few use cases to consider.

  • Order updates. Share updates with customers about their purchases. This can include order confirmations, expected delivery timelines, and more.

  • Reminder texts. Send customers reminders about upcoming appointments, unpaid bills, hotel stays, etc.

  • Promotional messages. Send SMS marketing messages to customers or leads. This could include sharing exclusive discounts, product launch alerts, or abandoned cart reminders.

  • Real-time alerts. Send your contacts need-to-know information like emergency alerts, last-minute service cancelations, or flight delays.

  • Customer support. Use a 10DLC to give your customer support desk a boost. Text back and forth with customers to resolve issues and answer questions quickly.

  • Request feedback. Send a survey to customers via SMS or just ask about a recent experience. 10DLCs support two-way conversations, which makes getting actionable feedback easy.

  • Internal communication. Use 10DLC messaging to communicate with employees in the field or send memos.

  • Sales follow-up. Use your local 10DLC to follow up with leads after they request more information or use it to share a requested quote.

Discover 100 customizable text message templates for business for additional use cases.

How to register your 10DLC

Before you can send any type of message, you must register your 10DLC with The Campaign Registry. The registry, created by mobile carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile, serves as a central database. The registry keeps track of the businesses using 10DLCs and their use cases.

To register, you must provide details about your brand and campaign. Registering your brand means sharing information about the company, like size, address, and tax ID number. Campaign registration requires brands to submit information about their use case, including how they will use the 10DLC, example messages, and how they’ll collect opt-ins from customers. 

Once you provide this information, Textline submits it for approval. This approval process is called vetting. It simply means the registry is working to verify your submitted information.

Get 10DLC registration right with Textline

A2P text messaging opens up an effective communication channel with your customers. Let Textline help you navigate the increasingly complex registration ecosystem for 10DLCs. We have the expertise and industry connections to quickly get your numbers registered and approved.

Choose Textline to help you pick the right number type and get set up correctly the first time. Get started on the right foot today with a free 14-day trial.

Need an immediate or less-expensive texting solution? Try a toll-free number instead.

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