THIS IS MEANT FOR VONAGE CUSTOMERS TO ASSIST IN COMPLETING THE U.S. SHORT CODE PROGRAM BRIEF ON THE VONAGE GCN PORTAL
Overall, there are five (5) sections to complete a Program Brief.
What’s described below:
- Get Started
- Section 1 - Program Brief Website
- Section 2 - Short Code Request
- Section 3 - Program Information
- Section 4 - Campaign Types
- Section 5 - Example Alerts Section
- Click Save and Submit
Hello and welcome to Vonage’s Short Code messaging program! Once we get a short code activated with the wireless carriers, you’ll have access to a nationwide, super fast, very reliable, SMS and MMS 2-way messaging service available at all times to communicate with your customers (or members, employees, systems, etc…).
Your Vonage Account Manager will need your company’s name, contact name to help activate the new short code and email address to get started. Then, you’ll receive an email with a link to begin filling out the Program Brief for your short code. The link’s access is only valid for 7 days, so as time goes by, just notify your Account Manager and they’ll re-send the link to the Brief. Your previously saved information will be visible when you re-open the Brief.
Activation Timing Expectations
Once Vonage internally approves a Program Brief, we send it to get pre-approved by the carriers. Frequently, we receive a few comments back that require updating the Program Brief to comply with program rules. After pre-approval, Vonage leases the short code on your behalf and subscribes it to your account. Vonage also supports Customer Managed short codes, rather than Vonage leasing the code directly. Then, we set-up and test the Short Code messaging application while simultaneously submitting the Program Brief to the carriers to get in queue to activate.
Section 1 - Program Brief Website
When you click the link on the email, you will be redirected to the “GCN Tool” (gcn.vonage.com). The Short Code Program Brief form will be presented with the following request for information:
Along with the company address and contact information, the form requests company information and estimated monthly SMS and/or MMS message volumes for the program.
Please note, at any time, you can scroll to the bottom of the form and click “Save” to save your work progress!
Section 2 - Short Code Request
Here, we ask for short code information.
Will you be bringing a short code with you?
Choose “No” if this is brand new short code.
If it’s a short code migration, then choose “Yes”.
Do you need a random number or vanity number?
Vanity codes have higher monthly lease fees compared to random codes.
Choose “Random” if you want the system to pick a 5 or 6 digit short code number.
If you would prefer to select your own 5 or 6 digit short code number (enter the top 3 choices), then choose “Vanity”.
Vonage will check if the number is available prior to moving forward.
You can check for a specific short code number’s availability by visiting https://www.usshortcodes.com/find-short-code and searching for a code.
Short Code billing type
We recommend choosing "Standard rate" since most mobile phone plans are activated with unlimited message bundles. A standard rate message counts as one-decrement to an unlimited messaging bundle plan (which is virtually zero) and the per message fee is lower for the sender.
“Free-To-End-User” (F2EU) is not recommended since it charges a higher rate per message to the sender and the user does not even notice the courtesy. However, F2EU billing is required for "Emergency" related applications, since some carriers route messages with priority treatment.
Will this program contain Protected Health Information (PHI) in the SMS message body?
Choose “Yes”, only if your program requires HIPAA healthcare privacy and security compliance.
Otherwise, choose “No”.
Short Code features
Choose “SMS” for text messaging programs only.
Choose “SMS and MMS” if you plan to send text and picture messages over the short code.
To activate a MMS program, in Section 4’s “Campaign Type”, select “Marketing”. Then in Section 5’s “Marketing Campaign”, fill-in the MMS program information and upload an image.
Note: MMS content is available on AT&T, T-Mobile/Sprint/Metro and Verizon (99% of the U.S. market).
Section 3 - Program Information
Here, we ask for short code program information.
Provide the short code program name here. Keep in mind, the carriers are looking for consistency in program communications.
We strongly recommend all SMS messages that are sent to mobile handsets begin with the Program Name as the message-header (ie: the first characters of the text message).
This provides immediate recognition to the end-user and helps the short code avoid potential issues that may arise from random content audits performed by the carriers.
For example, “X Alerts: “ occupies the first 10-characters of a text message. The fewer characters the better in the message header.
Provide the short code program details here. The who (what type of end-users, ex. students, customers, employees, members...), the what (what type of content, ex. alerts, URLs that link to browser or download) and the where (ex. ads, website, poster...) of the program.
For example, “Company X will use short code XXXXX to send text messages to opt-in restaurant customers. Users will see promotions to opt-in to the program on dining table tent-cards and by texting in the keyword JOIN, they will receive marketing alerts about upcoming promotions and desserts.”
Is there an Opt-In URL?
Choose “No”, if the opt-in method is Mobile Originated (ie: if the user texts a keyword from their mobile handset to the short code to start).
Choose "Yes", if opt-in to the program uses a website, mobile website or mobile application and provide the site URL address.
If the opt-in site is not yet available, then provide a screenshot (even if it’s just a mock-up) of how it will look for an end-user to opt-in to the program.
For example, the screenshot below has a website Call-To-Action with opt-in disclosure.
SMS Terms and Conditions URL
Provide a URL for end-users to read the “SMS Terms and Conditions”. If a URL is not yet available, then a screenshot must be attached.
The link to the “SMS Terms and Conditions” page should include all of the following items:
Program Sponsor: Brand identification such as “Company X SMS Alerts: ”
Description: One or two sentence overview. Something like “The short code will send customers messages about…”
Frequency: Service delivery frequency of recurring messages disclosure. Either state “Message frequency varies.” Or “Message frequency varies up to __ per week/month/event." Or "Message frequency based on personal settings."
Help: "Reply HELP for help." Option to add a second Customer Care contact. If it's a phone number to call, it must be a toll-free number.
Stop: "Text STOP to cancel.” (or end, opt-out)
Price: “Message and data rates may apply” disclosure.
Add: “Carriers are not liable for any delayed or undelivered messages” disclosure.
Add: "The following Operators at a minimum are supported: Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile®, Boost, Virgin Mobile USA & Metro PCS and U.S. Cellular." disclosure.
Example “Terms and Conditions” below:
Company X SMS Alerts Terms -
- To receive Company X SMS Alerts about our fabulous food, text the keyword JOIN to XXXXX to sign-up (opt-in)!
- Message frequency varies.
- Message and data rates may apply.
- For additional help, reply HELP to XXXXX, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 1-8XX-XXX-XXXX.
- To discontinue receiving messages, text STOP to XXXXX to cancel.
- Carriers are not liable for any delayed or undelivered messages.
- The following Operators at a minimum are supported: Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile®, Boost, Virgin Mobile USA, Metro PCS and U.S. Cellular.
Target Test Date
Provide a date in the future when the program is expected to be ready for testing, certification and activation by the wireless carriers.
Target Launch Date
Provide a target launch date for the program.
Customer care contact information
Provide a Care URL, email address and/or toll-free number.
At least two of three options must be provided for Customer Care. It’s best to support a toll-free number.
Section 4 - Campaign Types
Please, select the type of campaign to run over the short code.
Options include “2FA” (also called One-Time-Password), “Alerts” and “Marketing”.
MMS campaign information should be filled out using the “Marketing” campaign type.
The example below is based on choosing an “Alerts” type campaign.
Section 5 - Example Alerts Section
Here, we ask for alert campaign information.
Is this campaign a one time alert or recurring alert?
Choose “Recurring” if the end-user will receive multiple messages after they opt-in.
If the campaign provides a one-time, single message only, then select “One Time”.
Where will the Call to Action (CTA) be found?
Provide the location where the end-user will be made aware of the program?
For example, on the company website (the CTA ad banner says to text a keyword to join), or at a retail store location, on a flyer, outdoor billboard, etc...
It is mandatory to provide the hyper-link to the URL, or screenshot of the CTA.
What will the CTA say?
This is the disclosure language the end-user will see when they opt-in to the program.
Example CTA ad for keyword opt-in:
"To receive alerts from Company X, text the keyword JOIN to XXXXX to join in (opt-in).
Message frequency varies. Message and data rates may apply.
Example CTA website opt-in:
What keyword will be used to test opt in?
Provide the single keyword that the end-user will text in to opt-in.
It’s mandatory to provide a keyword for carrier activation testing, even if the program’s intended workflow is to only support website or mobile application opt-in.
Do not use the word “Test” as part of a keyword since carriers only review active campaigns.
What confirmation message will be sent to users that opt in?
Provide the response the end-user will receive on their mobile handset after they text the opt-in keyword.
Attempt to limit the SMS Mobile Terminated opt-in confirmation message sent to the mobile handset to 160-characters in length. While larger carriers accept longer messages (multiple segments), some smaller carriers only accept 160-characters.
The Mobile Terminated confirmation message must contain something similar to below:
- Program Name (your brand’s identification).
- Message content standard greeting.
- "Message frequency varies."
- "Reply HELP for help."
- "Text STOP to end." (or cancel, opt-out)
- “Msg & data rates may apply.”
- Example SMS opt-in confirmation message (153-characters):
- Company X SMS Alerts: Hello and welcome to our tasty alerts! Message frequency varies. Reply HELP for help, text STOP to end. Msg & data rates may apply.
Please provide two examples of the “Alert” message that will be sent to your recipients
- Sample “Alert” message 1:
- Company X SMS Alerts: Deal of the day! Use coupon 25OFF to receive 25% off your entire purchase. Visit http://companyx.com for more info. Text Stop to cancel.
- Sample “Alert” message 2:
- Company X SMS Alerts: xxx
What message will be sent to users that send the keyword HELP?
- It’s mandatory for the campaign to reply to all “HELP” keyword requests.
- Example “HELP” response. “Company X SMS Alerts: For more info, call 1-800-XXX-XXXX, or visit https://www.companyx.com Text Stop to cancel.”
What acknowledgement message will be sent to users that send Opt-Out keyword STOP (as well as END, QUIT, CANCEL and UNSUBSCRIBE should all be supported)?
- It’s mandatory for the campaign to reply to all “STOP” opt-out keyword requests, even if a number is not subscribed to the program.
- The program should recognize ALL five of the Opt-Out keywords.
- The final opt-out confirmation message should say that “opt-out was successful and no further messages will be delivered.”
- Example “STOP” response. “Company X SMS Alerts: You have been opted-out and will no longer receive any messages from us. Sorry to see you go. Reply HELP for help.”
Click "Save" and "Submit"
- Click “Save” to store all information (make sure to click Save).
- Complete the Program Brief by clicking “Submit Review”.
- The Program Brief will be reviewed by the Vonage operations team and will either be submitted for pre-approval to the carriers, or returned to you seeking further information to move forward.