Rules To Text By: Best SMS Practices For Email Marketers

Marketers hoping to jump into SMS might be surprised to find that it has as many ways to trip up as email. But that is the case, judging by Twilio SendGrid’s 2022 Email Deliverability Guide. 

Tt starts with getting the message to the customer. According to the study,  SMS delivery can fail due to:

  • Invalid phone numbers
  • End-device level errors (like a handset being turned off)
  • Problems with network connectivity

As with email, a certain percentage of texts will never be delivered. But the study contends that “SMS messages sent programmatically through an SMS Gateway have an advantage — application logic can verify delivery.”

Then there is compliance. Brands using SMS must adhere to not only to state and local regulations, but with rules enforced by wireless carriers regarding both transactional and marketing messages. 

You think ESPs are tough? Wireless carriers have “filtering systems to protect mobile subscribers from unwanted spam, fraud, or abuse,” the study notes. “Filtering can range from a simple list of prohibited terms to advanced machine learning systems that adapt based on the messages passing through them.”  

Twilio SendGrid encourages these best practices for avoiding such issues: 

- Get permission via an online form or by asking consumers to text a particular keyword to a mobile number or shortcode, 5 or 6 digit phone numbers specifically made for mass mobile communications.

- Check your phone list: Invalid numbers are the most common cause of delivery problems. Texts sent to changed or faked phone numbers won’t reach their destination.  

- Don’t be spammy: Include clear opt-out instructions, and precise language and punctuation in your messaging. Above all, send relevant, time-sensitive information. 

Uses either toll-free numbers or brand-friendly short codes to support higher sending volumes and reduced filtering. Shortcodes are “individually approved by wireless carriers so they won’t get blocked and can send at a faster rate than regular mobile numbers,” the study states. 

The study concludes that “SMS is a universal communication channel that is meant to enhance, not replace, an existing email program. Just like email, SMS messaging should aim to keep recipients happy with valuable, relevant, and personalized information on the channels they prefer.”

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