Are Blocked SMS Messages Hurting Your ROI? 7 Signs You Need a New Provider

Are Blocked SMS Messages Hurting Your ROI? 7 Signs You Need a New Provider

Are Blocked SMS Messages Hurting Your ROI? 7 Signs You Need a New Provider

Crossing borders with SMS isn't just about translation; it's about navigating costs and regulations, too. Learn the signs that your vendor is holding you and your SMS messages back.

With the large sums you pay for SMS, your organization shouldn’t settle for SMS providers who don’t have direct connectivity. 

Said differently, if your SMS vendor isn’t part of the solution, they may become a significant part of the problem. SMS messages you’re paying good money to send may be blocked without your knowledge. They may also fail to meet increasingly stringent compliance requirements, opening your organization to severe penalties.

Another crucial factor to consider is that you’re probably not paying the lowest possible per-message rate. If left unaddressed, this reality hurts your ROI and means you’ll continue to throw good money at bad results.

Before we launch into those red flags, let’s identify some common factors that lead to blocked SMS messages in the first place.

Common challenges that lead to blocked SMS messages

Robust SMS setups, like that of Bird, can automate the communication process and make sure your organization can reach millions, if not billions, of consumers quickly.

When you start using SMS for a new use case, such as a marketing campaign or a 2FA security notification, the registration details will vary depending on the region(s) you’re sending messages in. If you expand into countries other than the US, your international SMS message deployment requires specialized handling by the provider to ensure its effectiveness. 

If traffic registration isn’t executed correctly by your SMS, you can easily run into a host of problems, such as:

  1. Limitations on US numbers, resulting in messages getting blocked without reason

  2. Provider and mobile carrier connectivity issues, reducing deliverability 

  3. A provider’s team, trained primarily on US regulations, being unaware of international rule changes or subtleties

These scenarios assume your provider has completed and optimized your US traffic registration, which may not be the case. Snags that can lead to blocked SMS messages domestically include:

  1. Improper capacity and throughput configurations across your API

  2. Incorrect SMS campaign registration with the proper governing body

  3. Lack of change implementation to your numbers to grow your SMS reach 

To avoid fines and penalties, you need to consider whether your SMS vendor is doing everything to support you as you set sail through uncharted waters. Sadly, most are not.

7 signs you need to find a new SMS provider

Depending on your organization’s SMS messaging strategy, the roadblocks standing in the way of attaining your communication and operational goals may vary in scope and complexity. In our experience, these are the most common signs your SMS solution provider may be limiting your growth and revenue generation instead of supporting it.

1. Your vendor is not actively optimizing your SMS account

A great SMS partner is a proactive SMS partner. As you continue to scale your business and infiltrate various international markets, you need a knowledgeable vendor you can trust to make the necessary adjustments along the way. 

For example, in the US, whenever you want to deploy a new SMS use case, it must be registered first. Once it’s registered, the carriers are the ones who decide how many messages you can send out of the box. A proactive SMS vendor works with carriers to maximize campaign capacity right away. Unengaged providers build a glass ceiling that gets messages blocked.

Native US vendors who aren’t used to handling lots of international traffic or accounts may ignorantly apply domestic capacity limitations across your entire account. SMS regulations outside the US work completely differently, meaning those capacity limitations are irrelevant overseas. If left unchanged, your messages can easily be held back.

There’s also the topic of technical troubleshooting. Vendors who rely heavily on third-party intermediaries (more on that in a bit) typically aren’t privy to data showing whether messages were delivered. Plus, if you need to debug blocked messages, you need a provider who can supply good insights to pinpoint and resolve issues.

Bottom line: Make sure your SMS partner is a dynamic action-taker.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I have visibility into my US vs. international account configurations?

  • Do I have visibility into my blocked messages?

  • When was the last time my vendor proactively resolved blocked message issues?

2. Your vendor can’t provide or register the numbers you need

In a guide we wrote recently, we revealed that 75% of adults want to text or use chat apps to connect with their favorite businesses. But, if your vendor can’t provide and register the correct numbers, this relationship-building opportunity may be a non-starter.

Implementing SMS isn’t as simple as getting a phone number and messaging a list of recipients. Depending on your country, certain types of numbers are allowed, and others aren’t. For example, in the US, you can use 5- or 6-digit dedicated short code numbers or a 10-digit long code (10DLC), offering added security and delivery speed.

If you use the same SMS number for every country you send messages in, you can unintentionally create a lackluster customer experience. Brand messages look like they originate from random numbers, or worse, your messages end up being blocked due to a disallowed number. 

Rinse and repeat across different countries without proper reporting, and your brand will quickly lose consumer trust globally. Once that happens, conversion rates will slide, which limits your SMS ROI.

Without fail, your vendor must be able to provide you with the right numbers and get them registered.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I know if I am using the best-performing number type?

  • Has my vendor ever raised concerns about numbers?

  • Has your vendor ever asked you about use cases? 

  • To what extent do they help navigate this complexity?

3. Your provider is inflating pricing or hiding costs

Of the red flags raised in this article, none are more infuriating than finding out or suspecting you’re getting fleeced on your SMS costs. Judging by recent Gartner data, it’s not an insignificant amount of money, either—31% of the estimated $4.5 trillion spent on IT worldwide is set aside for communication services. Your SMS budget has to work for you, not against you.

Direct SMS messaging costs vary widely based on the country or territory, so doing your homework and getting multiple vendor quotes is imperative. In the US, a message costs less than two cents to send to a customer. However, that same message can cost over 20 cents in Indonesia. Remember: Non-compliant messages will get blocked, regardless of the price tag.

There are also many hidden costs related to a lack of vendor proactivity and blocked messages. These can include, but are not limited to:

  • Penalties and fines related to non-compliance or regulatory violations

  • Slow message delivery that can lead to customer churn over time

  • Ancillary charges related to a monthly messaging commitment (e.g., use it or lose it)

  • Wholesale aggregator marketers add costs via the “grey market”

  • Data breaches or security issues through third-party supply chain intermediaries

"Wholesale aggregator companies make money by being an intermediary that gets your message to a consumer. One message can be bought and sold multiple times, so it’s not uncommon to have six or seven people in the chain. If you start down this road, there’s no guarantee your message will be delivered at all, despite being framed as an option that saves you money."

—Harry Doyle, Head of Overlay Sales, Bird

Additionally, most SMS vendors don’t have or control local connectivity, so they must buy it from other players. Those connectivity providers adjust their prices accordingly to ensure a profitability margin. As a result, SMS vendors are often unable to operate at the scale required to lower prices substantially. Instead, that cost gets passed on to customers like you.

Before choosing to sign or stick with an SMS provider, do your due diligence regarding the overall cost.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Has my vendor ever helped me optimize local costs?

  • Does my vendor have local connections to carriers?

  • Does my vendor have a transparent, transactional agreement in place?

4. Your provider doesn’t deliver important SMS delivery metrics

Question: If an SMS message isn’t delivered to the desired recipient, but your provider doesn’t divulge this information via analytics, can you ever really know how you’re performing?

Unfortunately, this is a more common scenario than you might think. Some vendors, like Bird, provide clients with real-time insight into all their crucial, network-level deliverability metrics. Others don’t, which can lead to widespread confusion and unresolved blocked message issues.

The best SMS solution providers go beyond raw analytics data and support you with:

  • Real-time reporting for real-time updates on message delivery statuses

  • Comprehensive reports that list detailed information like time sent, time delivered, status, and error codes for failed messages

  • Error code explanations to aid in troubleshooting technical issues

  • Historical data that enables you to see previous performance data and analyze trends 

  • Delivery confirmation, providing additional assurance of successful message delivery

Proactive SMS vendors will alert you if there’s a major discrepancy in your delivery numbers. For example, one-time password (OTP) traffic is typically tracked through an API, which means your provider can see the backend delivery rate. If there are any inconsistencies, they can look into it further and work to restore message deliverability.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have visibility into my delivery metrics?

  • If I ask my vendor for more in-depth analytics, can they provide them?

  • Does my provider offer an API to fetch real-time reports?

5. Your provider doesn’t have insight about regulations or compliance

Even more than technical issues with your numbers or carriers, a lack of knowledge about regulatory compliance almost always leads to blocked messages if you’re not careful. 

Each country has specific regulations and compliance standards in place concerning A2P messaging. Examples of well-known regulations include:

  • Data privacy and opt-in/opt-out mandates by country

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards

  • What numbers and names you can use as originating sender IDs

  • What times of day you’re allowed to send certain message types

  • Cybersecurity and risk management standards regarding data privacy

Failure to adhere to those guidelines on your part can lead to failed message sends, fines, and even legal implications. Once an organization gets a reputation for non-compliance, it’s quite difficult to shed that label in the eyes of regulators and carriers.

A strong SMS provider is well-versed in all things regulatory compliance and adheres strictly to those guidelines, regardless of the country you’re operating in. Partnering with them ensures you maintain uninterrupted service and avoid incurring fines or other penalties.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I know if I am GDPR compliant?

  • Do I know if I comply with all applicable local data regulations?

  • Am I up-to-date on all recent regulatory changes?

6. Your provider is local, and you’re ready for expansion

Choosing the right SMS provider today means keeping one eye focused on tomorrow and prioritizing scalability.

Your SMS solution needs to be able to handle the expected uptick in message volume that comes with international expansion. The more your target audience grows, the more comfortable you need to be with sending large quantities of messages at one time. A vendor who can help you execute this without performance issues or delays is worth their weight in gold.

Scalability and the aggregators mentioned earlier don’t go hand-in-hand. Even if you think you’re saving money upfront, working with a trusted operator will make sure any deliverability issues or costs don’t balloon over time. A reputable vendor can also help you scale down during quieter periods to prevent you from adding unnecessary expenses to your tab.

To be clear, we have nothing against local SMS providers. However, the reality is that high-growth businesses must eventually expand into a global arena, which puts a severe strain on their SMS capabilities. Sticking with them can skyrocket your customer acquisition cost (CAC), a figure that may already exceed $300 per client depending on your industry.

Keeping things simple and prioritizing one vendor for all your integrated SMS needs is the way to go.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Can my vendor handle increasing message volume?

  • Does my vendor have geographical scalability and integration capabilities?

  • Does my vendor also have redundancy and failover capabilities?

  • Does my vendor offer automated scaling to keep spending down?

7. Your provider doesn’t offer omnichannel capabilities

The last vendor red flag to keep an eye out for is a lack of SMS omnichannel capabilities. This involves storing, continuing, and personalizing all your meaningful consumer conversations in one platform. Your SMS and MMS threads should live in the same place as those on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and other communication channels.

Despite the advantages of this setup, many enterprise-level organizations are reluctant to make the transition. Achieving API connectivity across a half-dozen or more channels requires scheduling development work and data cleansing. Depending on the organization’s size and resources, it may be a tough pill to swallow.

However, the best SMS solution providers offer APIs that are as powerful as they are easy to use. These vendors, including Bird, deliver:

  • Support for all commonly used coding languages related to APIs

  • Code injection in your messaging templates or automated prompts

  • Connectivity for popular CRM applications like Salesforce and Zendesk

  • The ability to get an API up and running in hours, not days or weeks

  • Dedicated support teams to help you work through technical questions

Moving an API is much less of a hassle than it used to be with the right technology, and it’s worth it to get your SMS experience moved over from a single-channel entity to an omnichannel operation ready for global expansion. 

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my vendor’s API connectivity easy to set up?

  • Do my communication channels and CRM connect with the API?

  • Will my vendor provide support resources during implementation?

Why Bird is the right choice for your SMS needs

With an open rate of over 95%, messaging is undeniably the most effective way to reach your audience. As a recognized global SMS provider, Bird helps you reach customers where they are via the right communication channel without raising any of these red flags.

Customers like Uber, Google, and Facebook partner with Bird for their SMS needs because we offer:

  • Direct carrier relationships that connect you to over 270 carriers for increased messaging reliability

  • Enhanced delivery performance with delivery rates up over 99% and average delivery time under 2.5 seconds

  • Best-in-class data security with ISO 27001, SOC2 Type II certification, and experience working in highly regulated industries

  • Unparalleled scalability with over 16 billion messages sent on the Bird platform each year

  • Delivery reports and analytics that provide in-depth reporting at the carrier level for improved troubleshooting

  • Regulatory compliance expertise that’s trusted by some of the world’s largest banks and tech platforms

  • Cost-effective pricing with connectivity levels that allow us to optimize your sending and reduce cost by 30% or more

Avoid being let down by an SMS vendor that doesn’t pull their weight. For affordable SMS solutions that support your business objectives, Bird is an easy choice.

See the difference first-hand—book a personalized demo with an SMS expert today

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Your new standard in Marketing, Payments & Sales. It's Bird

The right message -> to the right person -> at the right time.

By clicking "See Bird" you agree to Bird's Privacy Notice.