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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Ward

Cracking the Code: What you Need to Snag Your Own SMS Short Code

If you’re considering adding SMS to your Braze channel mix, there’s a good amount of detail to prepare and compliance to understand before you hit submit on that application for carrier approval. The requirements, applications, and rules are always changing, and the review and approval process can be long and daunting. Even as consultants, we learn something new each time we submit a client’s application. If this is something you’re tackling for the first time, partner up with a trusted consultant (like us!) or SMS SME (still us!) to help make the process easier and possibly faster.


Once you decide to adopt SMS, the process to apply is quite clear, but ensuring you’re compliant and providing proper application responses is a little fuzzier. Based on our experience, we suggest you work through the steps below, so you’re armed with all of the details needed to complete the application successfully.


1. Be prepared to wait. Grab a snack and get cozy, it takes weeks to get a short code (and sometimes long code) through the review and approval process. Give yourself at least 8-12 weeks before your first campaign is supposed to launch. The timer doesn’t begin on your application until it’s fully accepted, not necessarily when you submit your first draft! There will be a varying number of coordinated reviews and feedback coming directly from providers, like Twilio, and carriers, like AT&T, Verizon, etc.


2. Define your campaign name, use case, and frequency. Don’t be a spammer. Each code is approved for specific campaigns and use cases, and you will need to ensure the use case is fully defined and easily described before submitting your application. Included in the use case you’ll also need to share whether the message frequency will vary, is in response to an action or event. Some examples include marketing or promotional (messages may vary), customer support or transactional (response to an event), alerts and password reset (one time text).


3. Create sample content. They need to see it to believe it. Once your use case is outlined, create some sample content to submit with your application. It’s a good idea to provide multiple versions of the content you will be sending. The more explicit and detailed your content, the easier it is for providers (e.g. Twilio) and carriers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, etc.) to review. If it’s marketing/promotional create a few different types of promotions, if it’s transactional, create a few status or service messages.


4. Define your Global Keywords and experience for each. People need options. Let them know how to start and stop receiving messages, and if they’re in a pickle, how to reach out for help. Do know, this content will be scrutinized and must follow the current requirements for consent and content regulations. Keywords and message types are standard, but you will need to customize your response messaging based on the minimum requirements.

Message Type

Messaging (example only)

Keyword (example only)

Opt-in

MyBiz: Thanks for subscribing to promo texts from MyBiz. Msg freq may vary. Reply HELP for help, STOP to cancel. Msg&data rates may apply.

START, Y

Opt-out

MyBiz: You unsubscribed from MyBiz promo texts and will no longer get msgs. Visit http://help.com or Rply HELP 4 help. Msg&DataRatesMayApply.

STOP

Help

MyBiz: Visit http://help.com for help. Msg freq may vary. Reply STOP to cancel. Msg&data rates may apply.

HELP

5. Draft compliant Terms & Conditions. Bring in the big guns. If you already have SMS terms on your website, you’re ahead of the game, if not, you’ll need to start net new. A draft document prepared and approved by your legal team will suffice and it’s recommended to submit in an editable format so that you can coordinate any requested updates between your legal team and the SMS reviewers. You will also need to provide a link to where the T&Cs will be publicly accessible online once your campaign goes live. Additionally, to ensure the reviewers can validate that you’re in compliance, you will be required to provide a signed letter of authorization and mockups of your User “Opt In” experience, screen shots (actual or mocked up) of your app, message responses, etc. The more details you can provide upfront, the more efficient the review process.


6. Configure Braze for execution. Set it and forget it. Once the codes are approved, they will be set up in Braze by your Customer Success team. You will need to identify and share which App Group the code aligns with (if you have more than one) and you will need to name the Subscription Group assigned to your code. The Subscription Group will collect all the phone numbers of users who have provided consent to receive SMS messages and will be assigned to your specific use case.


7. Validate completeness and compliance. Details are everything. Before submitting your application, it’s a great idea to do a gut check and have your consultant, peers, SMEs and customer success team validate that you have completed all the of requirements, are submitting the proper documentation and using the correct application forms.


We hope you find the above list helpful. It is a summarized version of the requirements at the time this article was written, so please validate current requirements (as noted in #7) before submitting an application. This is specific to short code provisioning, but a similar process exists for a 10-digit long code that can be used for testing or other limited use cases. We’re always looking for tips and tricks to get through this process quicker and easier, so hook us up with your pro-tips!




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