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Understanding SMS Deliverability: Tips to Increase Your Reach

Understanding SMS Deliverability: Tips to Increase Your Reach

In the mobile-first era, SMS has become an indispensable arrow in the marketer’s quiver. Boasting unmatched open and engagement rates that dwarf traditional mediums like email, SMS deliverability strategies help reach audiences on devices that are always by their side.

But sometimes, despite your best efforts, a text won't reach its intended recipient. At some point after hitting “send,” the message vanishes into the digital abyss, remaining undelivered. 

Naturally, this can frustrate your outreach efforts, whether you're prompting feedback, dispatching surveys, sending confirmations or following up. And, to make matters worse, you might often wonder why your engagement rates are low, unaware that your message was undelivered. 

We’re here today to demystify this common phenomenon and provide tips to improve your SMS deliverability rates. 

The Importance of SMS Deliverability

In the days predating the iPhone—when the Motorola RAZR and Nokia 3310 reigned supreme—undelivered texts were a relatively common phenomenon. However, with the technological leaps we've seen in the smartphone age, it's easy to assume that such snags are a thing of the past. 

Yet, here we are, scratching our heads, asking the same question: why are my text messages not being delivered?

In short, SMS deliverability answers whether or not a text message was successfully delivered to your customer’s phone. Think of it as the digital equivalent of ensuring a postcard made its way from your mailbox to the recipient’s front door. 

For businesses, ensuring high deliverability rates is of paramount importance. A failed text could mean a missed appointment, a lost sale or an unhappy customer left unaddressed. Especially in an age where timing is everything, message reliability can heavily impact the efficacy of your outreach and customer satisfaction rates. 

Reasons Behind Undelivered Text Messages 

While there are myriad reasons why a text might go astray, some of the more common culprits include: 

  • Network congestion. Just like highways during rush hour, cellular networks can experience congestion during peak hours or when infrastructure goes down. This traffic can cause delays or SMS delivery failure.
  • Wrong numbers. Sending an SMS text to a non-existent or mistyped number is a surefire way for a message to go undelivered. While this often results in a bounce-back notification to the sender, there's a catch. The message could be delivered to the wrong recipient if the mistyped number is valid but assigned to someone else.  
  • Carrier filters. Sometimes, carriers flag and block messages their automated systems identify as spam or suspicious. These include bulk or impersonal messages, errors and misspellings, and those with phishing characteristics or sent without proper opt-ins.
  • Recipient device issues. The end user's device can also be the reason for a message not going through. The text may not be delivered if their phone is switched off, out of service range, or their inbox is full.
  • International texts. If you have customers abroad that you wish to reach, domestic SMS plans may experience deliverability challenges. When sending texts internationally, you might encounter different carrier rules, fees or network and device compatibility issues that result in undelivered messages or unexpected charges.
  • Do not disturb numbers. When some recipients activate the "Do Not Disturb" settings on their phones, texts are silenced or delayed, potentially confusing whether a message was received.
  • Flagged keywords. To combat spam, carriers often monitor for specific keywords or patterns indicative of unsolicited messages. If your text contains such flagged content—even unintentionally—it may never reach its intended audience.

Tips to Improve SMS Deliverability 

If you want to maximize the reach of your bulk SMS marketing campaign, consider these deliverability strategies:

  1. Maintain a clean contact list. Regularly update and prune your list to remove invalid or non-responsive numbers. This enhances deliverability and ensures you're reaching engaged and relevant audiences.
  2. Understand carrier regulations. Take the time to thoroughly review and familiarize yourself with the specific rules and regulations set by different carriers. This ensures your messages are compliant and reduces the chance of  being blocked or filtered.
  3. Craft concise, clear messages. Although character restrictions have eased up over the years, brevity remains the soul of SMS. Ensure your messages are short and to the point. Additionally, avoid using spammy language or excessive capitalization that might trigger carrier filters.
  4. Double opt-in. Be sure to abide by the TCPA rules on marketing text messages. Always identify yourself in the message and offer new subscribers a double opt-in and opt-out mechanism. This method involves sending a confirmation message to ensure the subscriber genuinely wants to receive your messages, building trust and creating a more engaged list.
  5. Control your domain. When sending links within your messages, limit them to domains you control or own. Unknown or shortened URLs can sometimes flag your message as  malicious or spammy.
  6. Time your messages. Consider sending your messages during non-peak hours. Not only does this reduce the chances of network congestion affecting deliverability, but it also makes it more likely that recipients will engage with your message.

Craft Deliverable Messages with Texting Base

Ensuring your SMS messages reach their intended destination is vital for effective marketing. After all, if they aren’t even being delivered, you can't accurately measure the effectiveness of your messaging strategies.

From invalid numbers to network congestion, many factors can hinder SMS deliverability. However, by maintaining a clean contact list, understanding carrier regulations, crafting clear messages and timing sends, you can enhance your SMS delivery rates and  engagement. 

Looking to improve your SMS campaign's effectiveness? 

Texting Base’s SMS marketing platform can help you automate and optimize your SMS efforts. With user-friendly features designed to enhance text messaging for small businesses, we can help leverage the power of texting to grow your business. 

Sign up today for your free trial.