Remember playing “telephone” when you were a kid? One of your friends would think of a message, then whisper it into the next kid’s ear, who would then pass it on to the next in line.
Turns out, playing telephone is a lot like using SMS to send messages internationally — except that one of the kids in the chain may suddenly decide to use a different language, or wait several hours before relaying the message, or not pass the message on at all.
Delivering SMS messages across multiple countries is a tricky game that requires you to rely on unreliable networks. Too often, that means your messages don’t get through.
If sending SMS messages is important to your business, it’s important to know why the process can be challenging. Chances are you use, or are considering, an SMS API platform as the infrastructure to integrate SMS with your applications. By learning about potential bottlenecks, you can evaluate an SMS API provider on how they can help you overcome the difficulties and maximize your success.
Problem: potential network issues
Sending an SMS message seems like it should be simple and straightforward. You press Send and your message goes out and pops up on the recipient’s handset.
If you’re sending SMS messages within the United States and Canada, you can usually count on that process happening with no surprises. But sending messages to users in other countries can be complex. Your message may have to pass across unreliable networks, due to the inherent complexities of sending SMS messages globally.
When you send messages internationally through an SMS API provider, the messages navigate a labyrinth of networks, hubs, and carriers. Every time your messages get handed off from one carrier to another, the potential for problems multiplies.
Think of it like air travel: If you have a direct flight or just one connection, chances are you’ll reach your destination on time. But if you have multiple connections through different countries on different airlines, your chance of encountering delays increases.
Likewise, international mobile networks and carriers can introduce complexities that cause your SMS messages to fail in a variety of ways.
Messages may be delayed
When sending SMS messages, you expect your messages to be delivered instantly. However, if you’re dealing with multiple carriers and aggregators (businesses that decide how to route messages to different carriers) around the globe, that’s not guaranteed.
Depending on your use case, delays of up to a minute or two might be OK, as long as the message gets delivered. But for time-critical messages, such as one-time passwords or two-factor authentication messages, a delay of just 20 seconds is the same as failure.
The message might look different than expected
Some networks struggle with delivering a message in the format in which it was created. Longer messages might be split up into multiple messages, or the networks might not support special characters, such as Unicode or GSM.
Format changes could alter a message’s intent, leave the user confused, or even render the message unreadable. And unexpected changes may cause recipients to dismiss a message entirely.
The sender ID might not be retained
With many networks, it’s not guaranteed that yoursender ID will be retained. If users don’t recognize the sender, they may dismiss the message or, worse, block the sender.
The message may never be delivered
Another frustrating thing that can happen when you send SMS messages to users is that the message simply doesn’t show up, and you may never know it.
Unfortunately, this scenario does happen with some networks. Messages don’t get sent, and delivery reports don’t reflect what actually happened.
Low-quality mobile carriers in many countries don’t provide delivery reports on SMS messaging, making it impossible for companies to evaluate their campaigns. Some carriers that do provide reports may even lie about them.
With the problems and unreliability of sending global SMS messages, the situation may seem hopeless. But with the right SMS API provider, you can overcome these challenges.
Plivo helps you get messages through — no matter what
Plivo’s SMS API platform helps you run a successful SMS program, even on unreliable networks. We make sure that your messages not only get delivered but also maintain their integrity and accuracy.
We achieve that by not working with aggregators, but instead maintaining our own relationships with high-quality carriers. That ensures that our customers’ messages don’t get stuck in an aggregator’s infrastructure, but instead take a more direct route to users’ handsets.
One of the techniques we use in countries with multiple carriers is to use handsets as global test nodes. Using this technique, the platform sends messages to the test nodes and measures the results, including deliverability, speed, sender ID confirmation, and character set. Based on this feedback, we can choose the best route to maximize delivery success.
Another approach we use for one-time password messages is to mark them as trackable. When a user receives such a message and successfully authenticates, the platform gets those results reported back. Our delivery reports then let customers measure performance. It’s important to know that you can evaluate carriers on their consistently high deliverability rates.
Our platform supports different character sets in different countries and languages, and with different carriers. GSM is the standard default encoding, and our intelligent message system will automatically encode any text message that contains a Unicode character into the equivalent GSM character. We also ensure that your messages are not split up, so they’re delivered the way you intend.
Another way we help ensure accurate delivery is by supporting sender IDs, which arerequired in many countries to make delivery easy. A sender ID is what appears on someone’s phone to indicate who sent the message. If your sender ID isn’t retained through the delivery process, it can slow down delivery and reduce trust among your users. Plivo’s SMS API platform makes sender ID registration easy, so your users trust your messages.
User data and privacy regulations vary from country to country, making compliance complicated, but it’s critical that you follow regulatory guidelines. Running afoul of data privacy and opt-out rules can put your whole program in jeopardy and potentially subject you to penalties.
Our SMS API platform helps you make sure you’re meeting all of the necessary requirements by
- protecting and purging sensitive customer data,
- complying with each country’s frequency limits, and
- offering simple, automatic opt-outs.
With these features, we can help ensure that your SMS messages comply with relevant regulations.
As we’ve mentioned, carriers in some countries are unreliable. We partner with Tier 1 carriers that promise high deliverability and accurate reporting. But even those carriers occasionally have problems, so we’ve built a redundant carrier network. If one carrier’s systems are down, we can automatically reroute messages to the next best available carrier. As a result, we guarantee uptime and availability rates that work out to less than an hour of downtime over the course of a year.
As your business grows, you may need to contact customers regardless of where they are in the world.
Our platform features a quality-based routing engine that provides fast global delivery. Our real-time message delivery and opening feedback reporting help us evaluate carrier routing with you, so we can apply those insights to future campaigns.
Plivo can even help with open and response rates. Depending on your use case, we can automatically select local phone numbers based on recipients’ area codes. Recipients are more likely to trust and open a message when they see that it comes from a local number.
Businesses have varying needs and use cases for SMS campaigns. Whether you’re sending promotional texts or time-sensitive messages for two-factor authentication, Plivo lets you quickly and easily customize, scale, and integrate features that matter to you.
We let you deliver messages using consistent sender IDs to maintain trust and connection with your customers. You can customize your code quickly and easily to simplify your campaign deployments, and segment your customers to track campaign performance.
And that’s just the beginning. Plivo offers the solutions you need to run successful campaigns.
Choose an SMS API that reliably delivers your messages
To reach customers by text message, you need an SMS API provider that ensures your messages get through. Our SMS API platform and global delivery network help leading businesses reach their global customer base in minutes with SMS autoresponders, surveys, marketing, reminders, and more.
To learn more about the Plivo SMS API platform,talk to one of our experts.