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Michael Bogan
Michael Bogan

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What is 10DLC, and Why Should You Care?

10DLC stands for Ten Digit Long Code. Those who are familiar with United States phone numbers know that they’re made up of ten digits: a three-digit area code followed by a seven-digit number that identifies a person or business. A 10DLC is, essentially, a phone number in the United States. But more accurately, it is a phone number specifically sanctioned by telecom carriers for use in business messaging.

In this post, we’ll look at the benefits of 10DLC for your business and the necessary steps to get started with 10DLC. Along the way, we’ll consider options for leveraging existing services to simplify the process of starting your 10DLC journey.

10DLC: numbers for customer communication

The use of 10DLC for business messaging is championed by the major telecoms to help protect their customers from spam and the misuse of traditional phone numbers and toll-free text numbers. 10DLC is designed for businesses that want to communicate directly with their customers for low-volume use cases like notifications, reminders, or multi-factor authentications.

Sometimes, 10DLC is used interchangeably with A2P, which stands for application-to-person. Other times, you’ll see A2P and 10DLC used together. They all refer to the same thing.

What benefits do you get with 10DLC?

The major benefit you get with 10DLC is consistency. You’re contacting your customer base because you need to provide information or get them to take action in some way. Examples include the following:

  • Provide a login code for two-factor authentication
  • Remind a patient of a scheduled appointment
  • Notify meet-up attendees of a change in location
  • Send an updated home value for a recently completed appraisal

On these occasions, it would certainly be a poor user experience for your text to be flagged as spam and prevented from arriving. To use 10DLC for this communication, however, businesses go through an application process (that we’ll discuss in more detail below) to verify their identity and document their use case. By going through this verification process, you get the support and assurance from major carriers that your communication over 10DLC won’t be throttled or flagged as spam.

In addition to stability and support from your provider, you also get another key aspect of customer communication: recognition. Especially with the uptick in spam calls and texts (By the way, your extended car warranty is expiring soon, so press 2 to speak with a representative), ensuring your business communication won’t get blocked is critical to a successful customer-business interaction. You even have the option to pick a local number so your customers know that it’s coming from a legitimate place.

A 10DLC also brings centralization to your business communication. Because 10DLC is text and voice enabled, you can make calls and send texts from the same number. This is a great benefit to your customers; they can text your 10DLC if they’re unable to talk or call if they’re unable to text. You do, however, have the option to limit the communication channels if you’d like. For example, if you have two 10DLCs, then it’d be reasonable to reserve one for texting and another for calls, with voicemail enabled. This approach provides continuity on both communication paths for your business, providing a better experience for your customers.

The last notable benefit of 10DLC is cost savings. 10DLCs generally cost around the same as a traditional long code or a toll-free number: around $1 per month. This is in sharp contrast to a short code, which can range from $500 to $1000 per month!

How do you get started with 10DLC?

If you plan to use a provider like T-Mobile or AT&T, your first step for using 10DLC will be to apply for a 10DLC status. A status is a designation recognized by telecom providers that acts as a verification for your business or use case. After you apply, your status will be either unverified or verified.

An unverified status generally indicates that there was a problem with your application causing your business to not be registered with The Campaign Registry (TCR), which is the reputation authority for business messaging. A verified status indicates that your application went through successfully. Having successfully registered with TCR, you can purchase 10DLC numbers and submit applications for messaging use cases (which are called “campaigns”).

Above, we mentioned that this application for status applies if you want to use T-Mobile or AT&T.

At the time of writing, Verizon is a bit of a special case, in that they don’t require you to apply for a status. Instead, Verizon uses its own filtering mechanism to determine what communication is spam and what isn’t.

Each provider has different message throughput limits, and the throughput given to your business also depends on its size. For example, small- to medium-sized businesses using AT&T have a throughput of 75-240 messages per minute. With T-Mobile, throughput for small-ish businesses might be around 2000-10000 messages per day.

While applying for a 10DLC status is straightforward, where you go from there can quickly become complicated. You also need to:

  • Purchase (and manage) your 10DLC numbers
  • Send campaign applications to providers to let them know what kinds of messages you plan on sending
  • Connect your 10DLC numbers to your messaging application

Go it alone, or leverage a service?

The adventurous types might try to do all of the above on their own, cobbling all the pieces together themselves. In my opinion, it’s probably a better use of your time to leverage existing services that can help you manage these low-level concerns. That way, you can focus on building business value—developing your messaging application and fine-tuning your customer experience.

There are different services out there that can help bootstrap your 10DLC initiative. Some offerings assist you through the application process with TCR, ensuring you get the best possible messaging throughput for your type of business. You can also get campaign management and a REST API for managing 10DLC numbers and messages.

One of the tools I found out there is called Numbers, which comes from OpenMarket (Infobip). It’s an all-encompassing tool, starting with the first step of brand registration all the way through messaging application integrations and APIs.

The Numbers API from Infobip lets you handle all of your number management (purchasing, setting up, configuring), while the SMS API lets you programmatically handle sending, receiving, and scheduling messages, along with coordinating two-factor authentication. Overall, these third-party APIs free up developers from having to roll their own solutions so they can keep their attention on core business needs.

Wrapping it up

We started with this question: Why should you care about 10DLC? Ultimately, 10DLC provides some key benefits to help your business succeed. A 10DLC gives you:

  • A supported path to communicate with your customers. Using a 10DLC helps you avoid getting flagged as spam which will negatively impact your customer communication. You also get the support of the major telecom providers.
  • Savings. 10DLCs cost less to operate than other options like an SMS short code or a toll-free number. Not only is a 10DLC the right tool for communicating with your customers, but it also helps your bottom line!
  • Improved reach and recognition. 10DLCs can be local numbers that are recognizable to your customers, and they can be voice and text enabled. This gives you multiple options for communicating with your customers and also ensures a higher probability of reaching them.

With advantages ranging from reputable pathways to cost savings and even improved reach, it’s no wonder so many businesses rely on 10DLCs. Perhaps your company will now join the many others who are already dialing and texting their customers!

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