Guides & Tutorials5 min read

Your Guide to SMS Deliverability

SMS is an incredible business tool. It’s easy to set up & use & inexpensive. However, deliverability can derail SMS performance.

Michael Bratschi
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SMS is an incredible business tool. It’s easy to set up and use. It’s inexpensive.
And, SMS messages get 209% more responses than phone calls, emails, or Facebook messages.
And, SMS boasts 98% open rates.
We could go on. However, there’s one thing that can derail your SMS performance: deliverability.
Quite simply, if your messages fail to reach recipients, they never get opened or read. Deliverability issues can cause massive dips in your SMS marketing and customer service performance. So, what can you do?
Well, SMS deliverability is generally a combination of two things: sending messages that don’t trigger spam filters and information quality. Here’s everything you need to know to max out your SMS deliverability.

What does SMS deliverability mean?

SMS deliverability is simply the measure of how many messages reach their intended destination. Deliverability is usually expressed as a percentage of all the messages you send.
A high deliverability percentage means that the majority of your messages are successfully being delivered to recipients’ phones. A low deliverability rate indicates problems with your SMS messages.

SMS deliverability best practices that boost deliverability rates

SMS spam filters evaluate SMS messages and sending behavior to determine if a message is spam or not. If an SMS message has certain qualities, spam filters will stop the message from being delivered.
Here are some things you can do to keep your messages from being marked as spam:

Choose your SMS provider wisely.

Some SMS providers send messages through “gray routes.” A gray route is an indirect path to the destination that is often used to avoid paying network operators for transmitting the message. Since these routes can be used to avoid paying fees, most spam filters will mark any message traversing a gray route as spam.
Unfortunately, some SMS providers outsource their network operations to third-party network operators. So, they may not actually have any control over how your messages are routed.
Therefore, it’s best to work with an SMS provider that operates its own network or sends messages using a 1-hop strategy that connects directly to operator networks to ensure deliverability.

Use numeric sender IDs.

Spam filters almost always assume that messages from alphanumeric sender IDs are spam. So, only send messages from numeric sender IDs.

Send from multiple phone numbers.

Sending a lot of messages from one phone number looks like spammer behavior to spam filters. If your SMS provider has it, use number pooling to spread your SMS sends across multiple phone numbers.
Occasionally, one of your sending phone numbers will develop an unhealthy sender reputation, even if you’re sending messages from multiple phone numbers.
In these cases, it’s best if your SMS provider automatically avoids sending from unhealthy numbers. That way you never mistakenly send messages from numbers with a bad reputation.

Segment your customer lists.

Mass messages with the same body text look like spam. Segment your phone lists based on customer preferences, demographics and other characteristics. Then, send relevant messages to each group to vary your body text. As a bonus, this will usually improve your response rates, too.

Include opt-out instructions.

Always provide clear opt-out instructions. Messages without opt-out instructions are likely to get marked as spam. Including opt-out instructions also ensures compliance with customer data protection regulations.
Following these best practices will make your messages the most deliverable. But, even if you do everything right in regard to how you send SMS messages, you’ll still experience deliverability issues if your contact lists are inaccurate.
Any SMS messages sent to disconnected, non-existent or landline phone numbers will be shown as undeliverable. Clean your phone lists, and remove any numbers that can’t receive text messages to correct this deliverability issue.
Ultimately, you’ll get the highest SMS deliverability rates if you follow these best practices and keep your phone lists clean. And, you’ll get the best ROI from your SMS program, whether it’s marketing, customer service, SMS payments or anything else.
Start off on the right foot with a carrier that operates their own network, and helps you maintain high deliverability rates with deliverability reports, number pooling and custom URLs. Get all of these with Telnyx Programmable SMS.
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