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At MagicSMS we understand that just thinking about a SMS Short Code can be daunting. But remember, we are here to help you every step of the way.

So, to begin, there are two concepts that you need to familiarize yourself with first. It'll only take a minute and once you've got them down the rest is easy!

1. What is a SMS Short Code

Many of us become intimidated or overwhelmed by the term “Short Code” because of how technical and complicated it seems.

On the contrary, SMS Short Codes are easy to use and simple to understand. Most of us have used SMS Short Codes without even realizing it. For example, Idols South Africa asks audience members or viewers to sms in their votes for their favorite idol singer. If you've ever done this, then you've used a SMS Short Code, because the Short Code is the number that you sent your sms to.

A Short Code is just what it sounds like. It's a short and easy to remember five digit number - similar to a short telephone number - that can receive sms text messages sent from mobile phones connected to any of the 4 South African cellular networks. Meaning that a Short Code is compatible with and therefore accesable by any Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and/or Telkom Mobile phone user.

SMS Short Codes are extremely powerful and effective when used in mobile marketing campaigns. And to be honest, there is no better call-to-action than a SMS Short Code, simply because they start a conversation between the consumer and your organization instantaneously. SMS Short Codes allow the consumers to decide whether or not they want to initiate contact.

Anyone with a mobile phone can send a sms text message to a SMS Short Code to enter a competition, request information, join Bulk SMS Marketing lists, vote in contests and much much more. It is simple and easy, with no special knowledge or consumer education needed.

Also keep in mind that when a consumer ultimately decides to send that sms to your SMS Short Code, for whatever the reason, they are automatically added to your company’s contact database! Ready to be informed about future special offers by means of our MagicSMS Bulk SMS services.  Learn More about Bulk SMS...

2. What is a Keyword

Keywords are the actual text that consumers sms to a SMS Short Code. A Keyword is usually a single word consisting of letters, but it can also be a code consisting of digits.

Keywords may be used on a SMS Short Code in order to allow the consumer to:

  • Enter a competition
  • Vote or take part in a poll or survey
  • Respond to a promotion or offer
  • Request a call-back
  • Receive a mobile discount voucher
  • Join your Bulk SMS Marketing list

Keep in mind that you want to keep things simple, easy and straight forward for your customers - especially the spelling of keywords.

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Launching your first mobile marketing campaign with MagicSMS

The following information should help you decide whether or not your brand, business and/or organization should use a Dedicated Short Code or a Shared Short Code when you launch your first mobile marketing campaign with MagicSMS.

3. Dedicated Short Codes

A Dedicated Short Code is a SMS Short Code that is paid for and used exclusively by one brand, business and/or organization.
For example, Tuks FM has the dedicated SMS Short Code number 41072. This means that no other business can operate on Tuks FM’s dedicated SMS Short Code number, because it’s dedicated to that specific business.

Therefor, in a nutshell: A Dedicated Short Code is your own personal SMS Short Code; no other business or service will have the same Short Code. Dedicated Short Codes are yours and yours alone.

4. Shared Short Codes

A Shared Short Code is a SMS Short Code that is shared between multiple brands, businesses and/or organizations. In order for multiple brands, businesses and/or organizations to use the same SMS Short Code and ultimately to avoid messaging issues, each brand must select their own unique SMS keywords, which allows MagicSMS to determine which brand, business and/or organization a consumer is trying to text message and therefor interact and/or connect with.

Let's say John's Liquor Store is running a SMS competition where Joe Public can win a Brandy Hamper by sending the keyword BRANDY to the Shared Short Code 47777. John's Liquor Store's keyword therefore is "BRANDY".

Now, at the same time, June's Flower Shop might run a SMS competition where Joe Public can win a Dozen Roses by sending the keyword VALENTINE to the Shared Short Code 47777. June's Flower Shop would therefore use the keyword "VALENTINE"

See how two different companies can use the same SMS Short Code but have different keywords? MagicSMS monitors which brand or business is using which keyword so that when the Shared Short Code 47777 receives a sms text message, we transfer the sms message to the correct database according to the keyword in the sms text message.

MagicSMS can configure these SMS Short Codes to your specification and pricing can be set to according to your needs.

Also, MagicSMS host the servers and run the total campaign for and on behalf of our clients. Setting up a SMS Short Code campaign is fast and easy and full audit trails of every incoming sms text message are available in real time.

So all our clients have to do is concentrate on BUILDING THEIR BRAND!

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Frequently Asked Questions

If you expect a lot of random sms messages to be sent to your SMS Short Code, then you should definately choose a Dedicated SMS Short Code. For example: A radio station will receive random messages from listeners. This listener will ask for a song to be played and another listener might send in a birthday wish to his Grandma. The chances of them starting their sms with the CORRECT keyword are extremely slim, compared to the chances of them simply shooting from the hip when typing their sms message and sending it off to the advertised SMS Short Code.

On a Dedicated SMS Short Code, the sms that may be sent to your SMS Short Code can be as long as you or the sender wishes it to be. There are no real restrictions. But please keep in mind that a very long sms message will be broken up into sections of 160 characters when you view your incoming or received sms messages. 

However, on a Shared SMS Short Code the lenght of the sms that may be sent to your SMS Short Code is limited to a 160 characters. Should the sms be longer than 160 characters, the part of the sms that is from character 161 and onwards will be lost and not routed to your account. This will happen because "technically", the part from character 161 and onwards are seen as a "seperate" sms message and since THAT "second" sms did not start with a Keyword, we do not know to which account that sms should be routed to. 

In short: EVERYWHERE!!

All the advertising that you do allows for an opportunity to get the public to interact with your brand either via a sms competition or a call to action.

Let us explain: 
You might do various different advertising campaigns at the same time. For example, you might do an advert in a Magazine, a Pamphlet drop, a Facebook advert, an advert in the local newspaper, as well as a radio advertising campaign. Let's say you are promoting something that the public wants more info about, for example the fact that individuals can get more information about your advertised product.

You would then advertise something along the lines of: For more info, simply sms the word HELP to 41076 (R1.50/sms) and one of our friendly consultants will call you back.

However, each advertising method should get its own distinct keyword, which means the advert on Facebook might be for the same campaign, but the keyword that should be sms'sed might be the word FAMILY to 41076 (R1.50/sms).

Doing it this way allows you to see which advertising method had the greatest return on customer awareness and generating interaction, and ultimately leads to media measurement. Which in turn will SAVE YOU MONEY because you will not, in all probability, spend more money in future on advertising campaigns that compared less favourable with others.

This is also a great non-intrusive way of expanding your database of people that have interacted with your brand, as it also allows you to obtain the mobile number of members of the public that interacted with your advert, but that have not yet been converted to clients. 

All SMS messages received on your SMS Short Code will be stored in a Database, administered by MagicSMS. You as The Client will have controlled access to the information in your Database, as a login and password will be needed to access the Database by means of a Website interface.

Once you have logged in to your account, you will be able to see all the SMS messages received on your SMS Short Code. The information will be displayed on the page in real time - which means as the sms messages come in, so you will see them.

Clearly, this will allow you the freedom to control your own campaign. No need to contact us to find out how many sms messages were sent, or how many entries there were, or when they were sent etc.

We are in a position to send random reply messages back to a user based on a sent sms. This means that when people interact with your SMS Short Code, each person will get a reply sms message back confirming the receipt of their sms.

But if you are smart, this also allow for additional advertising and marketing opportunities.

Please keep in mind that each Keyword based campaign can have its very own set of random reply messages.

However, you will need to supply us with those reply messages that the people that sent the sms will get back.

Below you will find a little disclaimer that you MUST use in all printed/readable advertising for sms based promotions. It can be in small print. However, it is extremely important that the COST OF THE SMS IS ALWAYS DISPLAYED where the SMS Short Code is shown.

Also keep in mind that if it is a competition based campaign, the closing date is very important, and the date below is simply an example. Also note that in accordance with the Consumer Protection Act, sms’s charged for competitions may not exceed R1.50/sms, and the cost below is simply an example.

Sms charged R1.50/sms. Free sms' do not apply. Errors billed. Sender must have billpayer's permission. We may contact you with future offers via sms till you opt-out. Closing is date is 37 Whateverday 2099.

Sms’e kos R1.50/sms. Gratis sms'e nie van toepassing. Foutiewe sms'e betaalbaar. Rekeningbetaler se toestemming benodig vir deelname. U deelname impliseer dat u toestem tot toekomstige kommunikasie via sms tot u anders laat weet. Kompetisie sluit 37 Whateverday 2099.


Below you will find a little disclaimer that you MUST use in all audio advertising for your sms based promotions, for example radio adverts. It is most important that the COST OF THE SMS MUST ALWAYS BE MENTIONED where the SMS Short Code is mentioned.

Sms charged R1.50/sms. Free sms' do not apply.

Sms’e kos R1.50/sms. Gratis sms'e nie van toepassing.

Let's discuss your project 

Simply SMS the word MAGICSMS to 34963 (R2/sms) and we'll call you back

© 2003-2021 MagicSMS. All Rights Reserved

The service provided by MagicSMS must be used for solicited marketing only. All marketing messages sent must be delivered to devices/numbers that have positively opted into receiving SMS messages. We adhere fully to all best practices as set out by all governing body regulations, codes of conduct and legislation governing the application of databases, contact lists and bulk SMS advertising.

Specialists in Mobile Marketing, Bulk SMS, SMS Marketing, SMS Gateway & SMS Shortcodes

MagicSMS is a trading name of ARPU Management Holdings (Pty) Ltd

MagicSMS ® is a registered trademark registered at the South African Trade Marks Office in terms of Section 29(2) of The Trade Marks Act 1993