Short Code Single vs. Recurring Message Programs

In the US carriers currently only recognize 2 different kinds of short code campaigns: Recurring and Single Message. Knowing which kind of program you are dealing with will determine how a given application is filed with the carriers, what requirements must be met for the Call to Action, and how keyword testing is setup.

Overview

The vast majority of US short code campaigns fall into the recurring program bucket. It is helpful to remember that single message programs must fit a very narrow set of requirements, and anything outside of those requirements will be put into the recurring bucket. The definitions depend on how users are being opted in, as well as the overall number of messages being sent.

Single Message Programs

Single-message programs, or “one-off” programs, deliver a one-time message in response to Consumers’ opt-in requests. Examples of single-message programs include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Informational alert
  2. Purchase receipt
  3. Delivery notification
  4. Two-factor authentication

At a minimum the opt-in should include:

  • Program description with a clear call to action for the end user to enter their phone number
  • Alternative communication channel (email or phone call)
  • User cannot be required to opt-in to receive SMS
  • “Message and data rates may apply”
  • “1msg/request”
  • Link to both SMS ToS and Privacy Policy

*Single message programs do not need to contain HELP or STOP language within the Call to Action. 

Notice: Single message campaigns, such as two-factor authentication (2FA) messaging, are not required to honor opt-outs via STOP keywords. However, these campaigns must still respond to STOP messages, notifying users that they have not been blocked, and providing details on how to be added to the block list if they wish

Recurring Message Programs

Because they reach out to Consumers on an ongoing basis, recurring-messages programs require additional disclosures. Examples of recurring-messages programs include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Content or informational alert subscriptions (e.g., horoscopes, news, weather)
  2. Flight status notifications (multiple messages)
  3. Marketing and loyalty promotions.

At a minimum the opt-in should include:

  • Program description with a clear call to action for the end user to enter their phone number
  • Opt-in must be optional
  • “Message and data rates may apply”
  • Message frequency
  • HELP and STOP language
  • Link to both SMS ToS and Privacy Policy

Further short code rules and regulations can be found in the CTIA Handbook

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