VanillaSoft SMS Best Practices

VanillaSoft’s SMS feature is a powerful person-to-person messaging tool that allows callers to interact with contacts and leads on a more personal level. In an effort to fight spam and abuse, cell phone carriers, both the sending carriers and the receiving carriers, have recently increased regulations and monitoring practices to ensure that person-to-person SMS messaging is used as intended.

Most importantly, person-to-person SMS (such as what VanillaSoft offers) is intended to be used for conversations, not for marketing or unsolicited messaging. As of 2018, carriers are cracking down on messages perceived as violating the intent of person-to-person SMS. The side-effect of this crackdown is that sometimes legitimate messages may be blocked. The following are some suggestions to help reduce your chances of your SMS messages from being blocked: 

Velocity Thresholds and Throttles

Velocity refers to the speed and frequency at which SMS messages are sent. Below are suggestions on how many messages can be sent before SMS may be disabled on your phone number. Note that these are guidelines only, and can vary depending on the recipient’s SMS carrier:

- 60 messages per minute from a single originating telephone number
- 125 messages per 60 minutes from a single originating telephone number
- 1,000 messages per 24 hours from a single originating telephone number

Traffic Balance

Another important metric that is considered by SMS and cellular carriers is the traffic balance. This refers to the balance of incoming and outgoing messages to and from a single number. For example, if you text a contact 3 times and only receive 1 response, you are texting at a 3:1 ratio.

The current industry guidelines call for a ratio close to 1:1, meaning that sending a high volume of non-responsive text messages will raise a red flag for many carriers. Because of this, you should always ensure that your text messages are conversational and focused on engaging with contacts.

Content Filtering & Fingerprinting

Carriers also review the content of each message for keywords/phrases that help to indicate if it could be spam. Some things that may indicate spam are:

- a website URL
- commonly used words or phrases that have previously been flagged
- a recipient reported the message to their carrier
- the same message has gone out multiple times with little or no variation

Once the carrier’s filtering system has flagged a message for
spam, it “fingerprints” that message, taking several key data points that it compares against all future messaging. This is similar to the logic that’s been applied for years to e-mail spam.

Much like e-mail spam, there is no hard-and-fast rule as to what messages or content might trigger a filter. Furthermore, the strictness of these filters will vary carrier to carrier, so what’s blocked by one Carrier might be allowed with another.

A general suggest is to keep your messages conversational and in keeping with the intent of person-to-person communication. Sending URLs, marketing material, sales pitches, quotes, etc. will greatly increase your chances of being flagged as spam. 

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