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Best practices for SMS deliverability

SMS deliverability is the number of messages that are actually delivered to your recipients phones and it can be affected by the number of messages that returned soft and hard bounces, but also unsubscriptions. Mobile device carriers automatically block SMS that they consider spam or abuse. To avoid your SMS campaign from being blocked and returning soft or hard bounces or registering too many unsubscriptions, we have listed the best practices and rules to ensure the best deliverability for your SMS campaigns. 

❓ What is SMS deliverability?

SMS deliverability refers to the ability of an SMS to reach its recipients' phones without being discarded by the mobile device carrier, filtered, or blocked.

Deliverability can be difficult to understand, but we made sure that you have all the relevant data on your SMS campaign report to know if your campaign was successful or not. To learn more on how to read your SMS campaign reports, check our dedicated article SMS campaigns statistics and reports.

A high number of delivered SMS means that your SMS campaign was successful, and there is a good chance that your recipients will read your text. And since you are charged on the number of messages sent, not the number of messages delivered, high deliverability ensures a good ROI (Return On Investment). However, if you have a high number of soft and hard bounces or a high unsubscription rate, your SMS campaign may be suspended.

Follow our best practices to maximize your SMS campaign deliverability and avoid suspension ⬇️.

👥 Building up and maintaining your database 

Respect SMS marketing regulations in your recipients' country

An SMS inbox is more personal than an email inbox, and receiving an SMS from an unwanted sender or at an unwanted time can make you feel uncomfortable. This is why most countries put regulations in place to protect customers from unsolicited text messages.

Before sending SMS messages to your customers, ensure you understand and follow the SMS marketing regulations in your recipient country.

💡 Good to know
To help you comply with the United States SMS marketing regulations, we enabled the Manage compliance for United States 🇺🇸 feature during your SMS campaign creation in Brevo. To learn more, check our dedicated article Always comply with the United States SMS marketing regulations with our compliance feature.

Only import contacts expecting to receive your SMS campaigns

Only import contacts that are expecting to receive your SMS and will open them. Sending SMS to contacts who gave their consent results in higher engagement and lower unsubscribe rate, thus improving your deliverability.

Comply with opt-out legislation 

You do not want to keep contacts on your list if they aren’t interested in your content, which will hurt your engagement. If they’ve lost interest, make it easy for them to unsubscribe with a clear opt-out language at the end of your SMS message. Otherwise, they might get frustrated and block your phone numberTo learn more, check our dedicated articles Include an unsubscribe option in your SMS messages and SMS opt-out keywords (HELP, STOP, START, INFO).

Clean your contacts lists

Keep in mind that the more your content is of interest to your recipients, the more your SMS are likely to be delivered to your recipients phone. We therefore strongly recommend that you take the time to identify and blocklist contacts who have never opened a single one of your campaigns or have not for a while. To learn more, check our dedicated article Manually subscribe or blocklist a contact from your emails, SMS, or WhatsApp messages.

You can also use our segmentation tool to filter unengaged contacts, such as contacts whose numbers:

  • were added more than two years ago and are unengaged,
  • did not receive your campaign at all, 
  • resulted in soft or hard bounces in the last few months,
  • are landline numbers, as they will result in a soft bounce,
  • are incorrect or cannot receive phone calls.

On our side, Brevo automatically blocklists contacts:

  • who have unsubscribed from your SMS,
  • for whom an SMS has resulted in a hard bounce.

No action is required on your side, and we advise you not to remove those contacts from your blocklist.

Target specific segments 

Using list segmentation is a good way to stick to good SMS practices. Use segmentation to send relevant SMS campaigns to your contacts.

Also, the more you target contacts with content that is relevant to them, the more likely they are going to actually read your SMS. So having different contact lists based on interests or segmenting according to specific database information can be a key element to have good SMS deliverability. 

Segmenting your contacts based on what you know about them is also useful for sending more targeted SMS marketing campaigns. Segmenting will result in better campaign results and increased knowledge of your contacts.

To learn more about segments, check our dedicated section in the Help Center. 

🧑‍💻 Check your technical configuration 

Have a sufficient number of credits 

Before sending your SMS campaign, ensure you have a sufficient number of SMS credits to send it. Remember that the number of consumed credits for SMS depends on the destination country of your SMS. You can check how many credits a pack of SMS will cost you depending on the country destination on our pricing page

❗️ Important
If your SMS campaign contains more than 160 characters, you will pay for 2 SMS instead of 1. 

An insufficient number of credits may result in a campaign suspension. If your campaign is suspended due to an insufficient number of credits, you will be notified directly on the platform from your Notifications center.

Include your company name in your campaign

When sending an SMS campaign, ensure you clearly identify your company name in the message to help your customers understand where the message is coming from. Usually, when sending bulk SMS messages, most providers send them through a shortcode, which means your contacts won’t know it is coming from you. To learn more, check our dedicated article Short codes, long codes, and personalized SMS senders. Use URLs containing your business domain or aligned with your brand. 

If a customer receives an SMS without knowing where it's coming from, at best, they will ignore it, at worst, they will block your phone number or unsubscribe. And if you send a promotional coupon to customers and they do not know where to go to use it, your SMS campaign won't return a good ROI. 

📲 Build effective SMS campaigns 

Do not send prohibited content

If you send SMS campaigns containing prohibited content, your campaign or account may automatically be suspended.

Our SMS providers enforce restrictions upon content in SMS messages, no exceptions can be made:

❌ Prohibited content
  • Sexually explicit pornography or e-commerce
  • Sexually explicit content: videos, images, audio, etc. 
  • Compensated sexual acts, like escort services, sugar dating 
  • Any type of narcotic or psychotropic substances, notably based on or containing THC (Cannabis), whether their distribution and/or consumption is legal or not. 
  • Misinformation/"Fake news" 
  • Security services doing "phishing/smishing simulations" 
  • CBD
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Home job offers making "get rich fast" promises, financial packages, and pyramid schemes
  • Clairvoyance, fortune telling, and astrology
  • Gambling and other money games

Make your SMS campaign valuable 

SMS campaigns are a bit more intrusive than email campaigns, so you would expect the content of SMS marketing messages to be exclusive with true added value. Your customers must feel they have good reasons to stay subscribed to your SMS campaigns. If you’re consistently trying to provide value in some way, you will create stronger relationships and have successful marketing campaigns.

Don't forget also to prompt your customers to take the next step by adding a call-to-action to your Marketing SMS. You can prompt them to visit your website, use a promo code or join an event, for example! 

Keep it short 

❗️ Important
The use of URL shorteners (like bit.ly or tinyurl) in SMS messages is not recommended as it may affect the deliverability of your messages and result in hard bounces.

An SMS message is, by definition, a short message, and standard text messages only allow for 160 characters. Since your customers will read your SMS campaign within minutes of receiving it, they might not have much time to be caught by your message, so you must be concise and straight to the point to convey your message and prompt them to take action.

❗️ Important
If your SMS campaign contains more than 160 characters, you will pay for 2 SMS instead of 1. 

Send your SMS campaigns with the right timing and frequency

When you send your SMS campaigns, ensure you send it at the right time in the destination country. If your contacts receive your SMS campaign in the middle of the night, there is a good chance that your message will be ignored, or worse, your contacts will unsubscribe because you disturbed their sleep. Some countries even impose regulations that dictate that you can only send messages between 8 am and 9 pm in the recipient country. Ensure you understand and follow the SMS marketing regulations in your recipient country.

In addition to those regulations, we recommend that you send your campaigns at times that make sense for your particular campaign. For example, if you send a promo code available for 24 hours but don't let the time for your customers to use the code, your campaign won't return a good ROI. 

Brevo allows you to schedule the sending of your SMS campaign while creating your campaign to avoid bad timing. To learn more, check our dedicated article Can I schedule the sending of SMS messages?.

Consistency also plays an important role in the deliverability of your SMS campaigns. We recommend that you send SMS campaigns at least once a month so that your contacts don't forget that they subscribed to your updates. 

Personalize your content 

Take advantage of the more personal aspect of SMS messages and offer personalized content that will make your customers feel valued. Write a message with a professional yet conversational tone. To learn more, check our dedicated article Personalize your SMS messages with contact attributes.

And, just as you can expect better results from segmenting your email lists, the same applies here: use segmentation to send relevant SMS campaigns to your contacts. To learn more about segments, check our dedicated section in the Help Center. 

Test your SMS campaigns 

Testing your campaign will allow you to spot spelling mistakes, too many characters, contact attributes, displays, links you have added to your SMS campaign, and more. This is an important step that will allow you to identify any errors that could affect the deliverability of your SMS campaign.

Before testing your campaign, check that the contacts in your test list have a valid phone number in their contact details (SMS field) and that they will be able to receive your campaign. To learn more, check our dedicated article Send an SMS campaign.

❗️ Important
The cost of sending your test SMS will be deducted from your SMS credits. 

📈 Monitor your statistics 

Regularly checking your SMS campaign reports will help you maximize ROI, maintain high customer engagement rates and avoid mobile operator filters

If you have a high unsubscribe rate, it can mean that the consent collection for your SMS campaigns has not been done properly and needs to be reviewed because your recipients did not expect to receive updates from you. It can also mean that your content is irrelevant to your recipients and that you must segment your recipient lists. 

High rates of soft and hard bounces also affect the deliverability of your SMS campaign, as it can mean that recipients blocked your phone number or couldn't receive your campaign because their phone number isn't valid or available during the sending of your campaign. 

Campaigns that register a high rate of unsubscriptions or soft and hard bounces are automatically suspended by our system to protect the sender reputation. Ensure you respect all the best practices listed in this article. 

To learn more on how to check statistics for your SMS Campaigns, check our dedicated articles SMS campaigns statistics and reports , and Transactional SMS statistics.

⏭ What's next? 

🤔 Have a question?

If you have a question, feel free to contact our support team by creating a ticket from your account. If you don't have an account yet, you can contact us here.

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