What’s better: short-code, toll-free or local number for insurance agency texting? | Blog | ClientCircle
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What’s better: short-code, toll-free or local number for insurance agency texting?

December 15, 2023 by ClientCircle

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Adding texting to your lineup of insurance agency tools can help you retain more clients and close more leads. In fact, 65% of consumers say they’re more likely to stay with an insurance company if they have the option to text, according to LivePerson’s survey of consumer preferences around insurance.

When you choose a texting phone number, you can choose a short-code phone number that’s between four and six digits long or a more traditional long-code phone number that’s 10 digits long.

You’ve likely received marketing texts from both types of phone numbers. A long-code phone number is the same length as your personal phone number and can have a local area code or be toll-free. You’ve probably seen short-code phone numbers used by larger corporations, such as Gap and Jimmy John’s, for marketing promotions.

Here are four things to keep in mind when deciding on the type of number your insurance agency should choose for texting.

Monthly price

A randomly-assigned short-code phone number costs $500 per month, and the price goes up to $1,000 if you want to choose your short code.

Long-code phone numbers cost significantly less, depending on the service provider you choose. Typically, a long-code phone number will cost between $10 and $100 per month.

Registration process and time

Whether you choose a short-code or a long-code phone number, you’ll have to register your phone number if you plan to text consumers. U.S. mobile carriers require registration of phone numbers used for business-to-consumer texting to help cut down on spam messages and increase the deliverability of legitimate business messages. Where you register and how long it will take for your phone number to be verified depends on the type of phone number you use for texting.

If you have a short-code phone number, you need to lease and register your number through The Short Code Registry™. Even though you can get a short-code phone number the same day, you will need to submit applications with each mobile carrier to have them activate your short-code number on their network before you can start texting. The whole process can take six to eight weeks on average.

If you use a local long-code phone number, also knowns as application-to-person 10-digit-long-code (A2P 10DLC) phone number with a local area code, you will need to register it through The Campaign Registry™. It typically takes between two and six weeks for them to register your phone number. You’ll need to register your brand and each campaign with The Campaign Registry as well.

For local numbers, there is a one-time brand registration fee of $4 to send fewer than 2,000 texts per day, and a one-time campaign registration fee of $15. Most insurance agencies only need to register one brand and one or two campaigns. The Campaign Registry charges additional monthly fees for recurring campaigns. For most insurance agencies using recurring monthly campaigns it costs $1.50 per month but could be as high as $10 per month. U.S. mobile carriers also charge messaging fees for registered A2P 10DLC phone numbers ranging from $0.005 to $0.01 per message.

If you use a long-code toll-free number, you can work with your phone provider to register. The registration process for a toll-free number typically takes around six to nine weeks before your phone number is fully verified.

Regardless of which registry you use, it’s important to provide your legal company name and information to avoid delays in registration. If you do not register your phone number, your messages and number will be blocked or restricted by mobile carriers and may result in fines.

Opt-in management

No matter which phone number you use, you will need to comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and other regulations. You must secure opt-ins from your customers before you can send them automated text messages. You should have a clear opt-in process and a way to track who has opted in.

There are several ways in which you can collect opt-ins for both short-code and long-code phone numbers. You can add a checkbox to your website forms asking clients and prospects for mobile opt-in. Another popular opt-in method is with keywords. You simply ask customers and prospects to text a keyword such as “JOIN” to your phone number.

Pros and cons

Clients can’t call a short-code number. Short-code phone numbers can only be used for texting and don’t support voice calls. This means that if one of your clients receives a text from your short-code number and tries to call you at that number, they’ll receive an automated message saying their phone call cannot be completed. With long-code phone numbers, a customer or prospect can call and speak to someone in your office.

Imagine one of your policyholders gets in a car accident and remembers you texted them recently. If you use a long-code number for texting, they can quickly find your number and call you back. If you use a short-code phone number, they’ll be told their call failed at the time they need their insurance agent most.

Short-code texts are faster. With short-code phone numbers, you can send texts out more quickly—about 40 messages per second. With long-code phone numbers, you can send between one and 20 texts per second. If you have 2,000 policyholders, you could reach them all in about a minute with a short-code phone number and somewhere between one and 33 minutes with a long-code phone number.

But faster isn’t always better. What would you do if everyone you had texted responded right away? You and your staff would likely be overwhelmed trying to message your clients back. And your customers would be frustrated by your slow response time. For most situations, it’s better to spread out your texts. Asking for feedback, renewal reminders and cross-selling are all reasons you might text your clients. The best time to send those texts will depend on the individual, rather than a specific date.

At ClientCircle, we can help you set up texting with a local or toll-free long-code phone number. We’ll guide you through the registration process, help you manage opt-ins automatically and train you on best practices for texting your insurance prospects and customers. Our texting platform is made for insurance so it fits well into your agency’s workflows.

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