What is an SMS Sender ID and what do you need to know when choosing one?

What you need to know before you choose a Sender ID for your SMS

When you start looking into sending SMS for your business, you will encounter many technical terms and details that you will want to understand and pay attention to. One of these technical terms is the so-called Sender ID, which is sometimes also called SMS Sender ID or Sender Name. Special rules may apply to what names you can choose depending on the recipient country, but there are also technical details you should know about. In our blog post, we would therefore like to show you what to pay attention to when selecting a Sender ID.

What is a Sender ID when we talk about SMS?

A Sender ID is the information about the sender that is presented to the recipients of an SMS. Basically, when you send an SMS via an ordinary mobile phone, a phone number is also a Sender ID. In the context of SMS, Sender ID is often used synonymously with the alphanumeric sender name.

An alphanumeric sender name is – as the name suggests – a name consisting of alphanumeric characters that is displayed to recipients when they receive an SMS.

Alphanumeric characters are usually the letters from A to Z in the English alphabet and the numbers from 0 to 9. So these are also the characters that you can use for the sender name of an SMS.

In some definitions, certain special characters also belong to the alphanumeric characters. For your sender ID you should avoid special characters and blanks (space characters), because when sending via an SMS gateway these may not be displayed correctly or may be transmitted incorrectly.

When sending via an SMS gateway, you can usually choose the sender name. However, there are restrictions to consider, which you will learn more about in the following sections.

The sender ID is displayed to recipients as the sender of the SMS message

What should you look for when choosing a Sender ID for your SMS?

Besides the type of characters you can use for your Sender ID, you should also consider other factors. These include both the character limit that exists for sender names and the fact that it is not possible to reply to alphanumeric senders. Furthermore, there may be restrictions in your recipient country.

Also, make sure that your sender name is unique, so it cannot be confused with that of other companies or brands.

The character limit

Due to technical limitations, alphanumeric sender names cannot contain more than 11 characters. This is true everywhere, i.e. this restriction applies to every Sender ID at every provider.

As already mentioned, you should avoid using special characters and spaces for your Sender ID. Rather choose a sender name consisting of lower and upper case letters. Of course, numbers are also allowed.

You can also enter a number as Sender ID. In this case, 16 digits are available. If you choose this variant, a reply from your recipients will – logically – be sent to the number you specify as the sender.

What should your sender name look like?

  • FlowerDude
  • ACME
  • DrSmith
  • +491771783130
  • Veterinarian (too long)
  • Apple (trademarked name)
  • Miss Fox (avoid space characters)
  • #business (avoid special characters)

The missing reply option

For some companies, an alphanumeric sender is just right, but for others it is not. This is not least because recipients cannot reply to SMS from alphanumeric senders. The reason is obvious, but often overlooked:
When an alphanumeric sender name is sent along, it is transmitted instead of a mobile phone number. So there is no valid “address” to which a reply could be delivered. Therefore, in the message histories of most smartphones, it is not even possible to reply to SMS from alphanumeric senders.

For more information, see our help article Replying to SMS with sender names.

International Sender IDs for SMS

If you send SMS internationally, you have to educate yourself particularly well. This does not only apply to the sending and the legal conditions as such, but also to the use of an SMS sender ID.

In some countries Sender IDs have to be registered in advance or they are replaced by a number or another sender name by default. Make sure to check this before sending your first SMS with an alphanumeric Sender ID. Otherwise your SMS may not reach its destination.

Sending SMS internationally

When sending international SMS you have to pay attention to many details. You can find more information in our blogpost.

In which cases are alphanumeric senders useful?

An alphanumeric sender name is always useful when two-way communication is not necessary, i.e. you do not want to receive replies. In addition, recipients will immediately recognize who is sending them an SMS if you use a sender name. Our customers use alphanumeric sender names, for example, when sending OTP or other authentication, but also for confirmation SMS of all kinds as well as in marketing.

What are the alternatives?

If an alphanumeric sender is not an option for you, for example because you want to receive replies, you can specify your own number to which your replies will then be delivered. If you want to receive these replies online, you need your own inbound number, which you can easily book yourself.

If you are still undecided which type of inbound number makes sense for you, we recommend our blog post on Inbound SMS at a glance.

Find a guide on how to set your sender ID for SMS sent via the seven gateway in our helpdesk article.

All the best
Your sms77 team

Header picture by Priscilla Du Preez via Unsplash

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