4 SMS Bulk Messaging Best Practices

Explore SMS Bulk Messaging best practices & get key considerations for implementing an effective mobile messaging platform to support your business requirements

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4 SMS Bulk Messaging Best Practices

Enterprise companies worldwide are turning to bulk SMS messaging as a mass marketing communication tool and business notification solution. With good reason: with over 6 billion people using mobile phones worldwide, the notion of easily texting hundreds of thousands of customers or prospects has great appeal and can achieve real world results. SMS Bulk Messaging provides enterprises, banks, media companies, consumer brands — practically any business in any industry — to reach large numbers of their users instantly. And since every mobile phone ships with a messaging app that can handle SMS at a minimum, global reach of SMS is exceptionally high. In fact, native SMS enjoys high opt-in rates nearly everywhere, including the US (86%), Europe (82%), and Asia (77%).

Bulk SMS Messaging, Also Known As Mass Texting, Is Continually Evolving.

Mass texting is fast becoming an emerging business-to-consumer communication solution, also referred to as application-to-person messaging. While commonly used for alerts, reminders, and customer notifications, bulk delivery of SMS messaging has more recently been embraced by marketing and sales teams to deliver surveys, rewards, special offers, and promotions. Organizations in every industry are finding entirely new ways to engage customers with greater immediacy through bulk SMS solutions. Before venturing into any form of concurrent text marketing campaigns, there are several best practices you should consider. These tips will guide you as you evaluate providers who can support your mobile mass communication efforts and elevate them over the long haul.

Supporting The Backbone Of Your SMS Messaging Service.

Google the term “bulk SMS” and you’re sure to find plenty of guides on how to get your message right and how to send group text messages more effectively. But before you start preparing a bulk SMS campaign, consider these tips for finding a partner who can offer a solid infrastructure to support your business requirements:

1. Throughput matters: Ensure messages get delivered to the right customer at the right time.

Since some bulk SMS use cases are more time-sensitive than others, it’s critical to confirm that your provider can deliver on your expectations. Before any messages are sent, evaluate your provider’s “throughput”: the number of messages your provider can send per second or mps. Emergency alerts, for obvious reasons, should be delivered with top priority. On the other hand, it’s okay for certain marketing campaigns to be delivered over the course of several hours. If you need to deliver 100,000 messages simultaneously, for example, your provider must be able to accurately queue these messages, and have the ability to dequeue them, at a rate equal to the available throughput. In this example, if your provider offers 10 messages per second, it will take 10,000 seconds or 2.7 hours for all messages to get delivered. Bottom line: know the capacity your provider can handle.

2. Valid phone numbers matter: Ensure messages are being sent to SMS-capable phone numbers.

When running a bulk SMS campaign, it’s conceivable that some of the numbers on your list are landlines or VOIP numbers incapable of receiving SMS. Messages sent to these numbers will not be delivered, but depending on your working agreement, you may be charged for them regardless. Most SMS providers only check if the number has a valid format; they do not check if it is capable of receiving SMS. Find a provider who does.

3. Automated responses matter: Make sure to manage customer responses.

SMS is such an effective channel for engaging with your customers that it’s important to anticipate, and effectively handle, responses to your messages. One way to do this is to provide a set of keywords in delivered text messages that customers can include in their replies. A keyword makes it easy to build automated response handling. For example, if you’re running a promotion where the first 1,000 customers who respond to a text message get a special deal, ask them to reply with a ‘Y’ if they want to participate. Make certain your provider is able to respond automatically and in real-time.

4. Compliance matters: Get customer approvals before messaging.

As a rule, you should never initiate an SMS campaign without your customer’s permission. Depending on your geographic location, your company is likely required to comply with wireless carrier compliance rules, industry standards, and applicable local law. One key compliance requirement is to ensure that recipients of your SMS messages have expressly consented or “opted-in” to receiving texts as part of your campaign. It’s recommended to familiarize yourself with compliance standards for opt-in message flow. US industry compliance standards for short code opt-ins can be found in the CTIA Short Code Monitoring Handbook.

Twilio SMS Messaging Supports Leading Best Practices

The use of Mass Texting is clearly on the rise. From 2015-2017, its use by B2B marketers has increased by 197 percent. Simply put, SMS delivery is synonymous with speed — demanding immediate attention. Twilio’s Cloud Communication API offers the ultimate solution for supporting the SMS Bulk Messaging best practices cited above, including:

1. Throughput: With Twilio, SMS rate limit is tied to the phone number. In the US, domestic numbers have a rate limit of one mps (message per second) while toll-free numbers can handle three mps. All non-US phone numbers have a throughput of 10 mps. Short codes have a default throughput of 100 mps, which can be increased if needed.

2. Valid phone numbers: With Twilio’s Lookup API, you can automatically verify if a number is SMS-capable before sending it a text message. We recommend examining all phone numbers in your database well before the planned start of an SMS campaign. Repeat the process whenever new numbers are added to remove landline or VOIP phone numbers.

3. Automated response handling: Twilio’s unique markup language, TwiML, is used to tell Twilio what to do when you receive an incoming SMS. TwiML makes it extremely easy to build automated response handling. When receiving a customer response, Twilio’s software responds to incoming SMS messages within your web application. Based on the response, the service can automatically read and submit the correct response accordingly, based on the business logic you’ve established.

4. Industry compliance: Twilio can ensure your bulk SMS campaigns stay compliant with local regulations from day one. Carrier regulations in most countries mandate that users should be able to easily opt out of receiving messages. In the US for example, when a user texts certain keywords like STOP or UNSUBSCRIBE, businesses are expected to automatically to opt them out. With Twilio, this is built into long code phone numbers, minimizing the risk of compliance for your business. Twilio also provides an advanced opt-out classifier to detect if a user has the intention of opting out. For example, a user could say ‘Stop messaging me’ or ‘don’t disturb me’ and Twilio would accurately detect that as a request to be opted out.

Beyond best practices for bulk messaging, Twilio offers a myriad of features with their SMS Bulk Messaging including language services, 99% uptime, and an easy-to-integrate API. Your developers can vet the service as well (for free!) And if writing code is not part of your organization’s expertise, you can easily build the same workflow in Twilio Studio using a drag and drop builder.

Ready to see how Twilio can help create a successful SMS Bulk Messaging program?

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