Text Message Appointment Reminders: Long Code vs. Short Code

Sending text message appointment reminders is one of the best ways to ensure your schedule stays full. However, the number that sends each text can play a large part in whether patients actually confirm their appointments.

Odds are, your practice uses text messages to send appointment reminders to patients. If it doesn't, stop reading and turn that feature of your dental marketing software on immediately!

When it comes to appointment reminders, texting is the most preferred method (followed by email, phone calls, and direct mail, in that order). This is especially true with millennials, with 75% of the demographic preferring to receive reminders via text. Text message reminders get people in the chair!

Now that we've established their value, let's take a look at an important feature to these reminders: the number they're sent from.

What's in a Number

Depending on your dental marketing software, text reminders will appear in one of two ways, a short code or a long code. These codes refer to what the sender's (i.e. your practice's number) looks like to whomever receives the reminder.

If a short code, the sending number will be a clipped, five- or 6-digit number.

A long code, on the other hand, is more traditional. There are 10 digits, a seven-digit phone number plus area code.

Short Code

Short codes are typically associated with promotions and offers. Businesses that use them often pump out short code texts in high volume.

This is good for sending out a mass of emails, however short code messages can look spammy on account texts not coming from a traditional phone number.

Given their association with giveaways, patients might quickly glance over a text from a short code, thinking it to be promotional instead of an appointment reminder.

Short codes are also typically used in a rotation. One practice might send text reminders from several different short codes. This has the potential to confuse patients, as they aren't receiving communication in a single text thread. In other words, a patient can reply to a message and when the practice responds, their response may come from a different number.

For this reason, short codes are mostly used as a one-way communication tool. They're great for sending quick messages, but not for any prolonged, two-way communication.

Long Code

Long code text messages are, again, more traditional. Think of text chains that you have with friends and family, and you've got the picture.

Text messages with a long code number are ideal for reminders. The main reason for this is that they're familiar.

The engrained familiarity that comes with 10-digits makes long code texts feel less spammy. As such, patients are generally more inclined to read these messages.

Long codes also differ from the shorter variety in that patients may be able to text or call back the number. Now, this is not always the case, and is dependent on the communications suite you use. However, there's the potential for product upgrades to eventually deliver conventional two-way texting.

Decoding the Codes

While markedly different, both short and long code numbers each have their merits.

If your practice prefers limited communication, then short codes are the answer. You can easily text promotions or basic appointment confirmations with limited engagement from patients.

If you favor more two-way communication, then long codes are likely better-suited for your practice. Long codes tend to get better engagement than their shorter counterpart.

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