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How to Prep for Using SMS Messaging in Marketing Cloud Mobile Studio

How to Prep for Using SMS Messaging in Marketing Cloud Mobile Studio

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Your organization recently purchased Marketing Cloud Corporate or Enterprise Edition, which includes one free SMS code that needs to be provisioned. But, you have no clue where to start. 

You understand the value of using SMS in your digital marketing strategy. The only thing holding you back are considerations like code procurement, resources, and timelines. 

Let’s change that by showing you what it takes to get SMS up and running for your org using Marketing Cloud Mobile Studio.

Marketing Cloud Engagement SMS Overview

First thing’s first: SMS stands for short message service and are text-only messages with a maximum character length of 160. Whereas, MMS (multimedia messaging service) messages include images, video, and text. 

 Both types of messages require a number or SMS code to send messages to a mobile subscriber. 

The SMS channel in Marketing Cloud is most successful when marketers use it to deliver relevant messaging like alerts and event messaging. 

Marketing Cloud Text SMS Messaging Codes

Let’s review the types of SMS messaging codes available. 

Code TypeDescriptionConsiderations
Short CodeA short code (typically 5 to 6 digits long) is used in one country or market.Vanity or personalized codes are available in the US.Two-way support: The marketer can send messages to a customer, and the customer can text information back.
Long CodeA long code (typically 11 to 13 digits long) is used in multiple countries and includes a country code prefix.International reach.One-way support (in most markets): The marketer can send messages to a customer, but the customer can’t text information back.Two-way support (in specific markets): The marketer can send messages to a customer, and the customer can text information back.
Private or Dedicated CodeA code assigned to your company for a specific purpose.Unlimited number of keywords.Required for US SMS/MMS programs.
Shared CodeA code that is shared across multiple clients from different verticals.Restricted keywords based on availability. Also limited to five keywords.Not available in the US.


  • Every Corporate and Enterprise Marketing Cloud license includes one free SMS code that needs to be provisioned. Implementation and regulations vary by country, so be sure to consult your account executive to clarify all requirements and charges. Professional services are required to obtain United States (US) and Canadian private short codes.
  • Salesforce pays for the first year of the lease on your code and waives activation fees. Discuss future fees with your account executive. 
  • MMS is only available in the United States. Be sure to let your account executive know if you are interested in MMS activation.
  • MobileConnect can manage multiple short and long codes in the same account.  

How Marketing Cloud SMS Works

There are 4 steps to sending a SMS message: 

  1. Marketing creates a personalized text message in Marketing Cloud Mobile Studio
  2. Aggregator ( Salesforce partners that connect our messaging platform with carrier networks around the world) preps message for delivery to appropriate carrier (Mobile providers across the globe. )
  3. Carrier receives messages and delivers to the final audience
  4. Customer receives personalized text message

Pre-implementation tasks

Now that you have a good level set of what SMS marketing is and how it works, let’s focus on preparing for implementation. 

Below is a checklist of information to gather so you can identify steps for implementing SMS in your Marketing Cloud org.

  • Audience
    • Who is your audience? Internal or external?
    • What are your plans to grow your subscriber list?
    • Do your subscribers overlap with other Marketing Cloud channels?
  • SMS Codes
    • Which countries do you support? Do you have plans for future expansion?
    • Do you have multiple brands that a customer subscribes to?
  • Campaigns
  • Are your messages transactional or commercial (also known as marketing)?
  • What types of campaigns are you sending? Contests, promotions, or regular marketing alerts for sales?
  • What keywords are needed for these campaigns?
  • Frequency
    • Are you sending one-time messages or subscriptions?
    • How often are they sent? Weekly? Monthly?
  • Opt-In Type
    • Will you have a double-opt in campaign or single opt-in?
    • Does your program require age validation?


  •  A mobile subscriber opts out of a single code (not a keyword). If you have multiple brands, it may be best to have a code per brand or per business unit, as subscription is managed at the code and business unit level.
  • CTIA best practices state that SMS subscriptions originating from a web form or mobile app must use the double opt-in.

Marketing Cloud SMS implementation process  (US/Canada)

Here are the steps to take when you’re ready to implement Marketing Cloud SMS messaging in your org.

Step 1: Purchase the license to a US or CA Private Code 

Salesforce pays for the first year of the lease on your code and activation fees are waived.

Step 2: Purchase Required Services

Professional services (Services Partner) are required to acquire and apply for activation with the carriers.

Step 3: Procure your US or CA Private code

Work with your Services Partner to acquire and activate your code with the local country’s carriers. Your implementation partner will provide guidance on your program specifics based upon the answers to your checklist. 

Your implementation partner will also ask you for the following information:

  • Company info (tax ID, years in business, company mailing address, and website)
  • Campaign title, type, and description (name of your SMS campaign and explanation of the campaign)
  • Opt-in type and keyword (web opt-in via API? Single or double opt-in? What keyword?)
  • Opt-in message (what customers receive when they opt-in to your campaign)
  • Message frequency (1 msg/week, 3 msg/week, 5 msg/month)
  • HELP (customer support) and STOP (opt-out) message copy
  • Toll-free phone helpline and a customer support email
  • Mobile-enabled terms and conditions webpage (with an active URL)
  • Mobile-enabled privacy policy webpage (with an active URL)
  • Business Unit/MID information

Your service partner then takes this info and works with aggregators to obtain the code(s) on your behalf. Keep in mind, if something is incorrect or incomplete, the aggregator may ask for fixes, which can delay implementation.

Once the aggregator approves your code request, they work with carriers to complete the activation process. When that’s done, your services partner confirms that your setup is accurate in Marketing Cloud and you’re ready to start sending SMS in typically 8-12 weeks.  

It may seem like a long time for SMS. However, it’s a multistep process involving campaign submission forms, code provisioning, and aggregator approvals, as well as carrier testing. 

Step 4: Migration/Rebuild of existing SMS campaigns on newly activated Short Code (optional)

With your newly activated code, you can ask professional services to re-build your campaigns or self implement.

Now armed with what SMS is, how to prepare and the overall process you can work with your various internal stakeholders to set expectations related to timing, requirements and where your organization may need additional consultation and support.

Pay attention to your timelines and regulations in your area

The terms and conditions pages tend to be a common hangup in the process. Be sure to start working on this in advance and confirm the requirements with your Services Partner before submitting to the aggregator.  Also, be sure to consult a lawyer to develop an SMS regulatory framework for your company and to ensure you adhere to relevant laws in all the markets (states, countries, or territories) in which you are operating.

Have any gotchas to add to the process? Tell us in the comments section below.

Resource: Salesforce SMS Checklist Preparation Guide to acquire US and CA Codes 2/21/2020

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  • Kirsten leads the Sercante Salesforce Marketing Cloud Engagement practice. With over 15+ years of experience working in the digital marketing industry, she's passionate about helping organizations (both B2B and B2C, alike) go from good to great, including Fortune 500 brands such as CVS Pharmacy and Delta Airlines. When she’s not working, you’ll find her supporting Atlanta local sports teams, Atlanta United and Hawks, or on the soccer pitch playing the best game in the world!

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