Are you paying to deliver text messages that aren’t going through? Are your numbers getting flagged as spam or blocked? How can you send text messages that are in compliance?
Your outbound strategies include multiple outreach channels. You’re not just relying on your predictive dialer to reach leads by phone calls. You’re taking advantage of SMS tools to contact leads via text message.
HOWEVER … you’re not sure how many of your messages are being delivered. Maybe you’re wondering if anybody is even getting your texts.
In this post, we’re looking at SMS best practices for outbound call centers, and why it’s recommended that you use Toll-Free SMS [text messaging] to improve successful texts and how to reduce the risk of blocking.
How is compliance in the SMS Industry monitored?
Cell phone carriers have collectively implemented monitoring software at the entry point of their network in an effort to mitigate potentially fraudulent traffic/messages. This software monitors the volume and content of text messages coming into their network to better determine if messages should be delivered all the way to their end users [for you, the leads you’re targeting]. It has the ability to dynamically read and flag messages if the content/volume being sent is not compliant.
Local SMS vs. Toll-Free SMS
Local SMS [Person-to-Person (P2P)]
Local area code numbers you obtain through your software provider are sent on this platform and must adhere to the industry standards/regulations. There is very little tolerance for marketing programs and language on this platform, because it’s designed for personal contacts to communicate back and forth.
If your traffic is mainly one-way (meaning your inbound messages are drastically lower than your outbound messages), you should be using Toll-Free SMS.
Toll-Free SMS [Application-to-Person (A2P)]
This is the platform used for Toll-Free SMS. It was designed with commercial traffic in mind. Content filtering and volume thresholds on the A2P platform are not as strict. You are required to maintain full opt-in records, complete with time-stamps, as well as provide a way for leads to opt-out at any time they see fit.
With looser restrictions on Application to Person (A2P) platforms, your messages will not be as rigorously monitored as they are on Person to Person (P2P) platforms.
How do I know if my SMS messages are compliant?
Messages and the number(s) they are being sent from can fall out of compliance and be flagged as SPAM. The following point to the disadvantages and limitations of using local area code numbers (P2P) for your SMS campaigns — some are consequences of noncompliance.
- No delivery receipts
- Network delivery receipts are supported, but carriers do not send handset delivery receipts. This means that the provider of a number you are trying to send a text to can mark the text as delivered, but still flag the message as spam. If this happens, your messages will look like they are working but they will never reach the lead’s phone due to these carrier restrictions.
- Speed restrictions
- You may send a maximum of 1 SMS per second and per number in the US due to local carriers regulations. If you send messages more quickly, the message(s) will be rejected. If you require higher throughput, you can purchase more numbers and spread your traffic across your numbers. E.g., 10 numbers = 10 SMS per second.
- Volume restrictions
- Maximum of roughly 250 messages per day per number. If this is exceeded your number will be blocked and will no longer work.
- Two-way traffic expected
- Carriers will expect traffic to be bi-directional. Meaning, for each text you send out, you get a response back most of the time. Monitoring software in place in the industry looks for roughly a 1:1 send to receive ratio.
- Blocked urls and keywords
- Repetitive URLs [url shorteners like Bitly] and keywords [via content filtering to flag prohibited content] in the SMS body will be blocked by the carriers.
Are You Running a “High Risk” Marketing Program?
“High risk” marketing programs are marketing programs that operate in industry sectors that historically have been prone to higher than average amounts of fraudulent traffic, content filtering, and blocked messages. Traffic is in the wrong place and needs to be moved to a more effective channel.
Outbound call centers operating these types of programs are most at risk of getting blocked and running into TCPA compliance issues. If you’re unsure if your use-case falls into the category of “High Risk,” check with your software provider.
The best practice for high risk marketers is to move to A2P, Application to Person, Toll-Free SMS.
What you can do to mitigate the risk of your messages getting blocked
Depending on your use-case, you may want to consider using SMS-enabled Toll-Free numbers. Here are some of the advantages to your outbound SMS campaigns using toll-free texting:
- You will know if your message was sent to the number you paid to send it to, because toll-free number routes support handset delivery receipts.
- No daily restrictions on maximum messages per day.
- A2P [application to person] traffic can be sent via toll-free numbers.
- Marketing programs on SMS enabled toll-free numbers are allowed on a limited basis. Be aware that carriers are running higher blocking mechanisms across traffic to catch and eradicate spamming. The monitoring is more rigorous than on short codes, so you need to ensure you have bona fide opt-ins with time-stamps associated with the opt-in records.
- T-Mobile classifies all toll-free traffic as business related traffic or A2P therefore delivery rates may be lower than other networks. Customers have the ability to opt out when they’re signing up to avoid receiving marketing messages. Ultimately the customer needs to contact T-Mobile and make a change to their service plan.
Outbound SMS Solutions
The fact that Toll-Free SMS numbers allow you deeper visibility into your message deliverability make them highly valuable to outbound marketers.
Convoso has a track record of monitoring and moving potentially noncompliant messaging to a channel with the highest possible deliverability. We strongly recommend the switch to Toll-Free SMS [Application-to-Person (A2P)]. Toll-Free texting supports the volume and speed you need to run your SMS campaigns, while reducing your risks of noncompliance.
SMS is a powerful outbound tool for more conversations
With open rates of up to 98 percent, text messaging is one of the most effective tools for reaching your audience. Unlike junk mail, spam, or adverts that can be ignored, people tend to read every text they receive.
Increase conversion rates for outbound campaigns
Automated SMS uses smart triggers to automatically send a text based on call count, phone call outcome, or any value populated in the lead record. With dynamic fields you can customize text messages to leads for a more engaging experience.
Boost your sales with 2-way SMS
Give your agents the ability to send texts to leads promoting your product or service. Then, receive responses indicating interest. Two-way messaging is also a simple and effective way to schedule callback times.