Messaging

SMS delivery problems? Here’s the most common culprit

Brad Roldan
Brad Roldan
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Are you having some issues with SMS deliverability? Less than thrilled at your response rates? A sneaky culprit might be the cause: snowshoeing prevention by wireless carriers. Not sure what snow, shoes, or trekking on ice have to do with texting? Read on!

Not all SMS traffic is the same

The SMS ecosystem is not closely regulated in the US but is generally managed by best practices that all wireless carriers and ecosystem partners adhere to. These best practices are covered in the CTIA’s Messaging Principles and Best Practices, published in 2017.

The document defines general guidelines for classifying the proper use of SMS into two categories:

  • P2P (Person-to-Person), which is characterized as human-like conversations
  • A2P (Application-to-Person), which historically has meant high-volume, unbalanced traffic.

Unfortunately, the document did not contemplate all the requirements that companies need for successful SMS implementations. Specifically, the document does not fully account for all legitimate business needs that require local phone numbers for commercial SMS purposes.

Missing ingredients in today’s A2P SMS solutions

Historically, the only sanctioned method for A2P messaging has been short codes. While easy to remember and fantastic for one-way messaging at high volume, short codes lack key attributes that businesses want for a better customer experience

  • Locality – Local phone numbers usually indicate a business is servicing a specific geographical location.
  • Phone calls – Businesses want their customers to be able to elevate conversations from SMS to a voice call without breaking a conversation stream.

Don’t use the wrong tools for the job

Many businesses have struggled to balance customer experience needs with available market solutions, with some businesses resorting to a practice known as snowshoeing or number pooling. Both terms are commonly used to describe the practice of spreading a large amount of messaging traffic across a pool of phone numbers so that high-volume A2P traffic can appear as low-volume P2P traffic.

Regardless of the definition used, companies that rely on snowshoeing to deliver messages at high volume will find their traffic failing at very high rates. As new programs like Bandwidth’s own Local A2P offering, built on 10DLC become available, the carrier ecosystem will increasingly prevent A2P traffic on local numbers that is sent over P2P channels. And even worse: businesses engaged in snowshoeing may not even be aware that their traffic is never delivered to the final destination!

Burst messaging done right

If a business wants to send out high-volume or bulk messaging they should use a method that is built specifically for it, not modify IP addresses or use multiple phone numbers unnecessarily. Today, the best solutions for bulk texting are short codes and toll-free SMS, and soon 10DLC solutions like Bandwidth’s Local A2P, which allows for sanctioned A2P traffic over local numbers. Need a cheat sheet? Here’s what we’d suggest for your high volume messaging needs:

  • Sending messages from an enterprise entity to a customer: Toll-free SMS
  • Sending messages from a local branch or location to a customer: Local A2P
  • Sending informational notifications, with no expectations of a voice call: Short Codes

Understanding the newest method – Local A2P

While short codes and toll-free SMS are two great methods to send high volume SMS, Bandwidth is leading the way on a new way to send reliable messages using local numbers. Businesses want to send messages from their local, recognizable phone number with predictable delivery and improved ROI over legacy SMS methods. Local A2P Messaging, built on 10DLC, gives businesses a sanctioned, approved route for high volume messaging with the local touch that some use cases absolutely demand.

While this is still an emerging technology, you can submit your use case for early access consideration by reaching out — just click on the button below to send us an email.

Don’t want to wait? Talk to one of our toll-free messaging experts today about how your business can take advantage of enterprise quality high-volume messaging immediately!

Ask us about Local A2P Talk to a messaging expert