Shake Up Your Business With Short Codes

Email marketing, SMS advertising, USSD codes, WhatsApp marketing… businesses have no shortage of ways of contacting customers and accessing potential leads. However, when it comes to “easy as pie” there is one communication method which is the easiest and cheapest by far: short codes.

Research and general opinion seem to point to the number 7 as the “magic figure” which is the number of digits that the average person can hold in their memory at any given time. Short codes capitalise on this aspect of our mental capabilities and work with a 5- or 6-digit code for fast and efficient two-way communication between consumer and business.

But what exactly is all the fuss about? What does the use of short codes mean for businesses in Africa?

Unpacking Short Codes for Business

Short codes have taken all the frills and etiquette of ordinary conversation and burned them. We are left with a pared-down, immediate and precise method of communication with a single goal in mind – and it works beautifully.

Short codes are made up of 5 or 6 easy-to-remember digits which can be used for marketing, promotional messaging, special offers, competitions, event or appointment reminders, coupons and so much more.

Businesses can choose between a dedicated short code which means that only your business can operate on this number (Text Yes to enter our latest competition), or a shared code which allows multiple businesses to make use of the same code but differentiate traffic by means of a keyword. (Text BURGER to 12345 for your free coupon.) Bulk messaging using this platform is super-fast and accurate. Responses can be automated for follow-up and everything is easily tracked and measured.

How Can Businesses Benefit from Using Short Codes?

Having a short and memorable number associated to your business makes communication easy. But what can short codes be used for?

Special Offers and Promotions

For any company who has a promotional product or service, this non-invasive and short message puts it all together in a succinct little package with everything you need to know. (Pizza restaurants seem to have mastered this art!) Even insurance companies who – let’s face it – may not offer a product as exciting as pizza, can use this versatile platform by making it a simple thing to get a quote or a call back from one of their team.


We all like to win, but we don’t like jumping through hoops. Short codes make entering competitions a snap.


Remaining compliant in the legal labyrinth around the collection and use of personal data can be a headache. Following protocol and giving consumers the ability to opt in or out with a single message keeps you compliant and keeps your customers happy.

Build Your Database

Further to the above point, short codes allow you to store and build customer information in your all-important database to keep in contact with potential customers. An absolute must in any business.


Missed appointments to your doctor, optometrist, or hairdresser are a thing of the past with a small nudge in the form of a short code.

We have only scratched the surface of the benefits of short codes for business in this list, but the value is clear.

Short Code Best Practice

It’s important to know that you will be held to a high standard when it comes to the responsible use of your short code once it has been registered. Hate speech, pornography, gambling, alcohol and other dubious communications are likely to get you shut down in a hurry, as will non-adherence to the country regulations that you intend to operate within.

Regulations for South Africa are stringent and include a requirement for the express consent of the consumer, as well as the ability for the consumer to withdraw their consent at any time.

Cellfind offers short codes in the following countries and can assist you with the set up and the associated regulatory requirements if your business is going into Africa:

  • South Africa
  • Namibia
  • Swaziland
  • Lesotho
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Malawi
  • Zambia
  • Nigeria
  • Botswana

For more information on short code best-practice click here or chat to one of the Cellfind team who will be happy to assist you.

Leave a Comment

Chat Now