When it comes to SMS outreach campaigns, it’s important to understand that 100% deliverability is an unattainable goal. 

However, since every text you send comes with a price tag, you should know the common issues that can prevent your SMS campaigns from performing well, and learn more about the best practices that will improve your SMS deliverability rate. 

What Is SMS Deliverability?

SMS (Short Message Service) deliverability plays a pivotal role in the efficacy of outreach strategies. At its core, SMS deliverability measures the percentage of messages that successfully reach intended recipients. This metric is crucial for businesses aiming to engage customers through timely SMS campaigns. 

Simply put, the higher your SMS deliverability rate is, the more effective your outreach efforts will be. 

How to Calculate SMS Deliverability?

To better understand the performance of your SMS outreach, you need to understand how to calculate the deliverability of your campaigns accurately, and how to interpret the results. 

The formula for calculating SMS deliverability is relatively straightforward: divide the number of successfully delivered messages by the total number of messages sent, and then multiply the result by 100 to get the percentage of messages that reached your recipients. 

Or, mathematically speaking: 

For example, let’s say you sent 5,000 text messages, out of which 4,600 were delivered successfully. 

By implementing the above formula and dividing 5,000 by 4,600, you’ll get 0.92. When you multiply that by 100, it means that your SMS deliverability rate is 92%.

Run this simple calculation after each campaign to monitor your performance over time and identify trends. 

However, this metric itself won’t mean much unless you know the reasons behind the numbers and factors that prevent your text messages from being delivered. 

The Most Common Factors Affecting Your SMS Deliverability Rate

There are various culprits behind an underwhelming SMS deliverability rate, and we’ll discuss the most common ones you should keep in mind.

Incorrect phone numbers

Sending messages to incorrect or invalid phone numbers is one of the top reasons for poor SMS deliverability. This is something that can easily be fixed to help you get your numbers up. 

Watch out for outdated or inaccurate contact information. Over time, people may change their phone numbers or make mistakes when entering their contact information. When phone numbers are entered manually, typos and errors can easily occur.  If your SMS list contains outdated or inaccurate phone numbers, your messages won’t reach the intended recipients.

Another issue arises when phone numbers are invalid or disconnected. This can happen if a number has been reassigned to a different user, or it’s a landline rather than a mobile device.

Carrier spam regulations

Just like email providers, mobile carriers implement spam filters to block unwanted messages and protect users from spam and abuse. These filters can flag messages as spam if they contain prohibited content, are sent in bulk without permission, or if the sender’s number is not approved for SMS messaging. 

It’s worth mentioning that each individual carrier has its own set of rules and restrictions, so make sure to stay up to date with any changes. 

Carriers may block numbers with a history of sending spam or that have a high volume of user complaints, so it’s important to maintain a positive sender reputation. 

Network issues

Connectivity issues, whether on the sender or recipient end, can interfere with message delivery. These problems can range from temporary network outages to more chronic issues in certain geographic areas. 

Monitoring delivery reports can help identify patterns that might suggest network-related deliverability issues.

Using gray routes

Gray routes are a way to send messages outside of authorized networks, bypassing the need to pay network operators for message delivery. 

While this may seem like a cost-effective solution, it can lead to SMS delivery failures and security issues. 

One major problem with gray routes is that they are unreliable. 

Messages sent through these routes may get lost or labeled as spam, as they travel through back-door channels before reaching the recipient. This can result in poor deliverability and a waste of resources. 

In addition, telecommunication regulatory bodies and carriers deem such a practice as unethical and bordering on illegal, which could lead to serious penalties and jeopardize your sender reputation. 

Failure to comply with A2P 10DLC regulations

With the rise of SMS outreach, it has become increasingly important for businesses to comply with carrier regulations if they want to avoid legal consequences and maintain good SMS deliverability rates. 

The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) has established guidelines for Application-to-Person (A2P) 10-digit long code (10DLC) messaging. 

A2P 10DLC is a messaging service that allows businesses to send automated messages to customers using a 10-digit phone number. This system has been put in place by major carriers in an attempt to protect their end users from spam and give businesses an effective method for sending high volumes of legitimate, spam-free messages faster without having to worry about getting blocked. 

To comply with relevant guidelines, businesses must register for A2P 10DLC through a third-party organization called The Campaign Registry (TCR)

The vetting process ensures that businesses are legitimate and comply with regulations set forth by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the CTIA. Bear in mind that each carrier has its own specific requirements, guidelines, and restrictions when it comes to A2P messaging.

The Best Practices for Ensuring SMS Deliverability

Navigating the maze of all the legal regulations and potential roadblocks can be complex, but there are steps you can take to enhance your SMS deliverability.

1. Register for A2P 10DLC

Registering for A2P 10DLC allows your business to leverage the trust and reliability of carrier-approved channels, enhancing the credibility of your messages. 

It also helps in avoiding carrier filtering and potential blocking, as carriers are able to identify and approve the source of the messages.

All this will help boost your SMS deliverability and the effectiveness of your campaigns. VanillaSoft can help with the registration process by submitting your information to the carriers.

2. Scrub your list regularly

A clean and up-to-date contact list is another important factor in ensuring high SMS deliverability. 

Regularly scrubbing your list involves removing inactive numbers, correcting errors, and updating contact details when necessary. This practice reduces the number of undeliverable messages and helps avoid sending messages to recipients who are no longer interested in hearing from you, or have changed their contact information. 

It’s also a good idea to implement systems that verify the accuracy of phone numbers at the point of collection, such as confirmation texts that require a response.

3. Implement a double opt-in

Confirm recipient consent through a double opt-in mechanism to ensure compliance and keep your list clean. 

By asking your prospects to confirm they want to subscribe to your SMS messages, you will not only protect yourself from spam complaints but also build a responsive and engaged target audience, which translates to higher conversion rates.

4. Disclose your company name early on

A2P 10DLC requires you to disclose your company name in the first message you send to your recipients, alongside opt-out instructions.  

By revealing your identity upfront, recipients can trust that the message is legitimate and not spam or fraudulent. This tactic fosters transparency, which is crucial in maintaining a positive user experience.

5. Include opt-out instructions

Always provide a clear and straightforward way for recipients to opt out of future messages. For example, you can use a simple “Reply STOP to unsubscribe, or reply HELP for more information.” 

By doing this, your recipients will have a clear understanding of what they should do if they no longer wish to receive your text messages, and you’ll avoid spam complaints.

6. Avoid spam triggers

Craft your message content carefully to avoid words and phrases commonly associated with spam. 

Also, avoid excessive use of capital letters, exclamation marks, and hyperbolic phrases such as “Once in a lifetime offer” or similar unrealistic and exaggerated statements. 

Using hyperlinks in SMS messages is another red flag that raises spam suspicions. It’s especially important to avoid URL shorteners or redirects. Carriers want to minimize the odds of misleading content reaching consumers, and bit.ly links can obscure the actual destination of a link. Therefore, such messages are subjected to strict filtering. 

7. Personalize your messages

Avoid sending mass identical body messages to steer clear of carrier filtering mechanisms that detect and block spam. Instead, split your list into several groups and use different SMS copy to prevent setting off spam filters. 

Similarly, whenever possible, use segmentation and tailor your messaging to the preferences and interests of your prospects, and refer to previous interactions they’ve had with your company. Apart from bypassing spam filters, this tactic enhances the relevance and effectiveness of your SMS campaigns.

8. Keep up with regulatory changes

Keeping up to date on new regulations will help you prevent legal troubles and penalties. 

For example, car warranty and debt/credit repair content is no longer allowed to be sent via SMS. Other industries with a high spam rate are also being put under the microscope. 

Additionally, if you distribute information to 3rd parties, bear in mind, that mong other restrictions, you cannot transfer SMS consent.

In Conclusion

Implementing SMS deliverability best practices requires a strategic approach and an understanding of both the technical requirements and regulatory landscape. By focusing on improving SMS deliverability, outbound call centers can enhance customer engagement, ensure compliance, and ultimately drive more conversions, leading to more sales.

Sales Multi-Channels