Messaging • Last Updated 5/21/2024

10DLC vs. toll-free messaging for ISVs: Which to use

Learn the difference between 10DLC vs. toll-free messaging and which is best for your ISV to best serve your customers.

Kelsie Anderson

By Kelsie Anderson

Choosing the right messaging solution is crucial for independent software vendors (ISVs) that need to integrate effective communication systems into their applications. And in today’s mobile-first world, engaging with customers through SMS is more important than ever.

The two most popular messaging options are 10DLC (10-digit long code) and toll-free messaging. Each has its strengths and unique applications depending on your business’s needs.

To help you understand which is best for you, we’ll discuss how ISVs can get set up with Telnyx and give you a comprehensive comparison of 10DLC vs. Toll-Free numbers to help you decide which is best for your business.

Which account setup is best suited for an ISV on Telnyx Messaging?

Before getting into the details of different messaging types, we need to cover account setup for ISVs.

At Telnyx, we typically see ISVs split into two scenarios:

  1. ISVs send all their messaging traffic from their own numbers. In this case, ISVs will set up their accounts and Messaging profiles like any other Telnyx Messaging customer.
  2. ISV end-users (typically individual customers) send their traffic themselves via the ISV’s applications. A classic example would be a marketing automation platform that allows its users to send SMS as part of their campaigns.

This second setup requires a more complex arrangement, which is typically split into the following two options:

1. Standard accounts

Standard accounts are the recommended and most common option for ISVs that allow users to send their own traffic. In this scenario, your ISV has a single account but creates separate messaging profiles and numbers for each customer.

Standard Messaging Account

These accounts are typically less complex to manage, though ISVs will need to employ Usage Reports or a similar per-Messaging profile to help you separate charges per individual customer.

Note: Telnyx plans to offer billing controls on a per-message-profile basis in late 2024.

2. Managed accounts

Managed accounts allow ISVs to create a single master account with managed sub-accounts for each customer.

Managed Messaging Account

This setup can be cleaner for many ISVs, as it allows for total separation of billing. However, it can become unwieldy at scale since you need to complete all the same checks—such as Level 2 Verification—for each managed account.

To learn more about the differences between Standard and Managed Accounts and which is right for you, check out our complete guide.

Once you’ve decided how to manage your accounts, the next question is whether you should use 10DLC or toll-free numbers for messaging.

10DLC vs. toll-free messaging: What’s the difference?

When your ISV is deciding between 10DLC and toll-free messaging, you should consider factors like volume, cost, and likelihood of customer engagement to find your best fit. Below, we’ve provided definitions for 10DLC and toll-free messaging, as well as a comparison of their features.

What is 10DLC?

10DLC numbers are designed specifically for commercial SMS and MMS use (A2P messaging). They support higher message throughput than traditional long codes and offer improved deliverability with fewer carrier filtering issues.

10DLC is beneficial for businesses seeking a local presence because it allows them to send SMS from a number that looks like a standard personal phone number.

What is toll-free messaging?

Toll-free messaging uses toll-free numbers (e.g., 800, 888) to send SMS and MMS messages. Historically, these numbers have typically been associated with customer service and support. But recently, they’ve been adapted for mass texting purposes.

Toll-free numbers support a high volume of messages and have higher throughput limitations than 10-digit long codes for SMS.

However, understanding the definitions of these messaging types doesn’t give you enough information to make a decision for your ISV.

Comparison of 10DLC and toll-free features

To help you understand which messaging type best fits your ISV’s needs, we’ll discuss their main differences.

Send rates and deliverability

10DLC numbers offer send rates that are generally sufficient for most business needs. Carriers have approved these numbers for business use, reducing the risk of messages being blocked or filtered as spam.

On the other hand, toll-free numbers can handle higher volumes of SMS messages at faster rates. This ability makes them ideal for businesses that need to send large volumes of messages quickly during peak times.

Cost implications

10DLC campaigns require a registration process with carriers, which includes fees for brand registration and campaign use. These costs can add up, especially for businesses running multiple campaigns.

Toll-free messaging usually involves a flat per-message rate without the additional costs associated with carrier registration. This pricing can be more cost-effective for businesses sending high volumes of SMS messages.

However, as a general rule of thumb for ISVs, 10DLC often works out to be more affordable if you send more than several thousand messages per month per brand. It costs between $25–$50 for the initial setup of a single brand, campaign, and number in your first setup. Then, it costs between $3–11 per month per campaign.

Customer perception and engagement

10DLC numbers provide a local feel, which can enhance customer engagement and trust, especially for businesses targeting specific geographical areas.

Conversely, toll-free numbers might not provide the same local presence but are often associated with professional and established businesses, which can enhance credibility.

10DLC vs. toll-free messaging with Telnyx: Side-by-side comparison

While the above comparisons can give you a general idea of the differences between 10DLC and toll-free messaging with any provider, here’s a snapshot of how costs and registration can differ with Telnyx:

Registration cost$4 base fee + $15 per campaign (up to 49 numbers per campaign) + $15 Brand vetting fee (optional but highly recommended)
More details here
Monthly cost$1 per number + $2–10 per month per campaign$1 per number
Paperwork involved3 registration submissions
More details here
1 registration submission
More details here
Typical Telnyx cost per message part$0.004$0.0055
Approval times for numbers
(as of April 2024)
3 business days5 business days
Works with sub-accountsYesYes
MMS supportYesYes*
Other benefitsLocal numbers (e.g., by state)Free inbound calling

*There are volume constraints for toll-free MMS. Telnyx recommends using 10DLC for MMS when conducting large-scale sends.

Best use cases for 10DLC and toll-free messaging

The differences between 10DLC and toll-free messaging mean that each has ideal use cases. Depending on your ISV’s customers, you might want to offer one over the other in different situations.

When to use 10DLC

10DLC messaging is typically best when businesses need to rely on familiarity and a personal touch to connect with customers. It’s ideal for:

  • Local businesses: Familiar area codes can help establish a local presence with a business’s audience.
  • Customer support: Effective for managing customer inquiries and support services where customers prefer interacting with a number that appears more personal.
  • Marketing campaigns: Suitable for targeted marketing campaigns where personalization and customer engagement are priorities.

When to use toll-free messaging

On the other hand, toll-free messaging is best for situations where volume or urgency is a top priority:

  • High-volume campaigns: Best for businesses that need to send out large volumes of messages quickly, such as promotional blasts or urgent notifications.
  • Customer service: Useful for businesses with a national presence offering customer service and support, where the emphasis is on accessibility rather than locality.
  • Event notifications: Ideal for sending timely alerts and reminders where immediate delivery is critical.
  • Compliance receipts: Toll-free SMS supports handset delivery receipts that allow you to ensure messages were actually delivered to a customer.

Still not sure whether to use 10DLC or toll-free numbers? Take our quiz to find out which is best for your ISV.

Once you understand which messaging type is best for your ISV, you’ll probably be wondering how to set up your account.

Setting up messaging services with Telnyx for ISVs

As detailed in our table above, registering 10DLC and toll-free numbers requires different information. Although the processes are different, you can set up either within the Telnyx Mission Control Portal.

10DLC setup

  1. Brand creation: Create a separate brand for every end-user you resell to.
  2. Campaign creation: Create campaigns and assign campaign IDs to phone numbers. Ensure phone numbers aren’t shared across multiple brands to avoid penalties.
  3. Number assignment: Assign the campaign ID to a set of phone numbers (up to 49 without special permission).

Toll-free setup

Toll-free setup is much simpler than 10DLC and involves just one step: Number registration.

You can register each number separately via a single form (or in bulk via the Telnyx Toll-Free Verification API). Unlike 10DLC, there are no Brands or Campaigns. However, it’s still important to register numbers per customer and use case.

Best practices for registration

As with all messaging, there are best practices to ensure delivery and compliance for all customers:

  • Ensure all recipients have opted into contact with your business.
  • Avoid selling or purchasing user data.
  • Steer clear of prohibited content like SHAFT (Sex, Hate, Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco) and high-risk categories like debt collection.
  • Maintain consistency across your company’s branding and registration details.
  • Ensure transparency, especially around opt-in procedures.

For more information about messaging compliance, check out our in-depth guide.

10DLC vs. toll-free: Which is best for your ISV?

Choosing between 10DLC and toll-free messaging ultimately depends on your customers’ needs. If they prioritize local engagement and cost-effective targeted campaigns, 10DLC might be the right choice. However, if they need to send high volumes of messages reliably and quickly, toll-free messaging is likely the better option.

Both methods offer robust solutions for ISVs looking to enhance their communication strategies. And you can send messages with either using Telnyx Messaging API. With quick and easy setup and high throughput for both 10DLC and toll-free messaging, Telnyx is an ideal solution for ISVs who want to make sure every customer message gets delivered smoothly.

Contact our team to learn how using the right messaging type can boost your customers’ engagement and visibility. Or visit our support docs for more detailed information on 10DLC and toll-free setup.

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