A well-planned SMS marketing campaign relies on a company receiving a consumer’s consent to send SMS messages by asking them to fill in a required field when they purchase a product, as just one example. With this consent comes the customer’s contact information, which the company that is performing the marketing then adds to their SMS system. That system then takes all those numbers and sends out a mass text message. With the SMS marketing completed, a business owner can wait for the advertising to do its job, glimpsing at the information from the analytics now and then making sure all is working as intended. But then, a message is returned alongside with an Error Message Text.

What Is An Error Message Text?

An error message comes when a text message doesn’t get to where it needs to go. How that error text message appears depends on the SMS system a business uses. Typically, the message will have a dedicated numerical warning code and the information from that code helps the sender troubleshoot the issue. An error message can come about for several reasons, with the popular ones detailed below. Once a business owner understands where the problem stems from, they can start to fix the issue, with different solutions for different problems.

Common Error Message Reasons

Undelivered Message

The undelivered message comes about due to the mobile service carrier being unable to forward the message on. The carrier then returns the message to the SMS software as undelivered.  There are several reasons why the SMS message got returned with an undelivered status message. Most relate to the end-user, as opposed to the sender. Such issues include:

●      The intended recipient registering with a Do Not Disturb or Do Not Call application that blocks the marketing content of the message.

●      The mobile phone receiving the message cannot accept the message due to limitations from the mobile service provider or specific configurations.

●      The mobile service provider of the recipient has blocked the message from getting to the intended mobile device due to its contents or sender not meeting their rules or policies.

●      Not all undelivered error messages come about due to the recipient. The error may occur because the number is incorrect. The area code might be wrong or missing, or the number could be incorrect altogether.

Why Would A Mobile Service Provider Block A Message

SMSHyperloop-Error message text 2

As stated above, a mobile service provider may block a message because of its contents or if the sender doesn’t meet their policies. When this happens, it’s usually for one of two reasons. A mobile service provider uses a system to determine if a message fits into the spam category, with that system deciding if a message is P2P or A2P, before blocking the content if necessary.

●      P2P – Peer to peer messages are regular text messages sent from one person to another. The sender ID data that accompanies such messages is an indication to the mobile service provider that the message is a standard text and doesn’t need blocking.

●      A2P – Application to peer messages come from a system used for mass messaging. These systems often get used for spam SMS messages, so a mobile carrier can filter them. With the right routing of the message, a company can avoid this to a degree. However, some carriers refuse any messages sent via this means if the message contains specific keywords in the text field, such as those containing religious or sexual content, or those of a political nature. Remember political texts are an exception to the rule.

Further Reading: The Ultimate Guide To The TCPA

Failed To Send

The above reasons for an undelivered message are mostly down to the recipient. On occasions, the error might stem from the sender of the message. Often, this is because of an issue with the setup of the system. Usually, the encoding of the message can cause it not to send as intended. The problem is especially common when sending messages to the U.S. from abroad. Unicode is the standard SMS message encoding in the U.S., with the 70-character limit as part of this encoding. Globally, however, GSM 3.38 gets used and allows for 160 characters. If a message gets sent to a U.S. audience, using GSM 3.38, it will often fail to send as the mobile phone carrier cannot process the message.

The SMS System Is Not Compatible With The Message

Another reason why a message comes back undelivered that is the fault of the sender is if their system sends messages with the use of long codes. Many free SMS messaging services use long codes for the sending of messages, though that system comes with a variety of limitations. Long codes come designed for private use as opposed to commercial. A business using a long code system can send one message per second, with a limit of 500 messages a day. Any messages after that 500 limit will not send, hence why the text message is coming back undelivered. It is worth mentioning that the number that comes with a long code system is assigned, as opposed to getting chosen by the business.

The alternative to a long code system comes in the form of a short code system. Short code got developed explicitly for sending messages en masse, for a purpose precisely like an SMS marketing campaign. A valid short code system that does often come with a monthly fee, a business can send over 100 text messages a second with the daily limits going into the thousands. The number used to send the messages is a five-digit number approved by mobile service providers, meaning that the chance of it getting picked up by a spam filter is unlikely. There are two types of short code that a company can take advantage of:

●      Dedicated Short Code – A dedicated short code is the more expensive of the two. A single company can purchase a specific five-digit number if it’s available. It allows a company to run multiple marketing campaigns under a unique number, which helps a consumer recognize and connect with the sender.

●      Shared Short Code – A shared short code is the cheaper of the two because it does not belong to a single company. Instead, many companies use the same five-digit number, though each company has its own keyword within the message as a form of validation of the sender. If a customer replies to the message with a specific keyword, the short code system knows which company to forward the message to.

Related article: SendGrid

How A Company Can Avoid Getting Its Messages Blocked

Marketing campaigns cost, on average, between 6% and 10% of a company’s revenue. If the SMS messages component of that marketing campaign isn’t getting delivered, a company is effectively throwing money away. It is unlikely that every marketing text will go through, though there are steps a business can take to ensure maximum exposure.

Don’t Cut Corners

The first and best step they can take is to employ the services of a legitimate SMS marketing system. These systems come with a monthly fee, but that fee gets charged because they have already done the hard work. The paid options are easy to implement, with some basic knowledge of Java code or similar required. Moving to the paid SMS software puts a business in a different class, as the software has established methods as an answer to getting around spam filters, so there is no excuse for eliminating this variable.  Of course, a free system will save some money upfront but ends up costing more in the long run when considering missed business potential.

Check The Numbers

Second, no matter how good a mass SMS system is, the numbers a company has on file need to be correct. A prevalent mistake that leads to messages getting returned as undelivered is that the marketing list has wrong numbers, whether they are missing an international code, that international code is formatted wrong, or the number is just invalid. Alternatively, the number might be for a landline and not all landline phones can accept text messages. A company should do its due diligence to ensure the details they have are correct, and if they then keep getting the same error, the problem lies elsewhere.

Encode For The Right Audience

Like the international code of a mobile number, a company must ensure they have the correct encoding for its message, depending on where they wish to forward it. Unicode works for Northern America, though not necessarily for Europe, as one example. A company should research the encoding requirements of its target market and adjust their settings accordingly to ensure their message will get to where it needs to go.

SMS Marketing The Right Way

Social media marketing, via Facebook or similar, is now one of the most popular means of advertising, but SMS marketing has many benefits. It is the best way to get a message directly to a user’s screen. Getting a marketing campaign off the ground may come with some hiccups before it can function as intended, though if a company approaches the task in the right manner, they will be sure to see the profit. The above can help any issues get addressed, then the company in question can give their marketing a retry, with hopefully better results.