Longcodes, shortcodes, custom sender IDs—which virtual number should you use?

Longcodes, shortcodes, custom sender IDs—which virtual number should you use?

A Sender ID is the name or mobile number that your SMS campaigns are delivered from, which makes it a very important piece when it comes to your mobile brand and credibility. The most common Sender ID options include: shared virtual numbers, dedicated virtual numbers, shortcodes, and custom sender ID’s.

Shared Virtual Numbers

Let’s start with shared virtual numbers. Generally, these numbers are free and are your default option if you don’t have a dedicated virtual number or shortcode. They’re not exclusive to your business, and they change from time to time from a pool of rotating numbers. This means your Sender ID might be different for every campaign you send, which can be very confusing for your customers.

Dedicated Virtual Numbers

For number consistency and exclusivity, most businesses choose a dedicated virtual number. Dedicated numbers allow you to receive SMS replies. These numbers can have a visual component if you purchase a gold or vanity number, which gives your customers an easier number to remember.

Standard vs Gold vs Vanity

There are 3 types: standard, gold, and vanity. Gold numbers are very easy to recognise and remember, and vanity numbers spell a word using your keypad:

  • Standard number: +61 467 528 788
  • Gold number: +61 459 333 444
  • Vanity number: +61 467 528 778 (614675BURST)

Dedicated virtual numbers also enable features like SMS keywords, which can help you launch quick interactive surveys, contests, giveaways, competitions, and more.

[21/8/19] Important Update: We now offer Callable Virtual Numbers. These numbers allow you to receive calls in addition to all the features described above from a regular virtual number.


Shortcodes are very similar to dedicated virtual numbers, but are more expensive. These numbers typically range between 4 to 6 digits (e.g. 134568), and their length is dependent upon the country’s delivery policies and general availability. They are commonly used for promotions, voting, information services, and by large corporate enterprises.

Keep in mind that we don’t provide shortcodes in Australia. You’ll need to contact your carrier to procure one.

Custom Sender ID’s

If you’re using a dedicated virtual number, you can also send your SMS messages with a Custom Sender ID. This helps your customers immediately identify you as sender, but you can’t receive replies directly, which makes it inconvenient for replies and opt-outs. Instead of replying to your SMS message, they have to text your number directly. This is best used for one way SMS messages.

Using a dedicated virtual number without a custom sender ID
Using a dedicated virtual number with a custom sender ID

Both dedicated virtual numbers and shortcodes are leased on a month to month basis, and they can be cancelled at anytime. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.