Trusting Delivery Reports

In this post we explore pitfall #3 – Trusting Delivery Reports from our eGuide,“Think SMS is Easy: Seven Pitfalls to Avoid When Sending SMS Messages.”

SMS delivery is not guaranteed. In fact, various studies have shown that around 1% to 5% of messages are lost entirely, even during normal operation conditions, and others may not be delivered until long after their relevance has passed. Consequently, it's vital to measure delivery rates, especially if those messages are mission-critical.

Most APIs allow you to process delivery receipts to determine the status of the message (i.e., delivered, failed, expired, etc.). But, there are a number of reasons why you should be dubious of delivery reports:

Not All Carriers Report Delivery Status

Some carriers don't provide delivery confirmation, or only provide them sporadically, and often there is an incremental charge.

Differing definitions of receipt

Published delivery rates are usually defined as delivered to gateway, which more or less means “Hey, we sent the message.” But, there's a lot that can happen to a message when it's en route.

Fake Delivery Reports

There have been plenty of documented cases where providers publish fake delivery reports that confirm a message was delivered when, in fact, the message was never delivered.

Delivery Does Not Translate to Completion Rates

In the world of authentication, companies need visibility beyond delivery; they need to measure actual completion rates. The completion rate is the number of successful authentications (where the user correctly inputted the one-time passcode back in to the website) divided by the number of messages sent. Generic API services usually don't equip their clients with this level of visibility and transparency.

In addition to costing end-user frustration, undelivered SMS messages are quite costly. Customers are charged for every SMS sent, even if some of those messages don't actually get delivered. While individual SMS messages cost just pennies to send, customers may end up paying tens of thousands of dollars for undelivered messages and never once get alerted.

Generic SMS API services are not in the business of providing this level of insight and visibility. For messages that positively, absolutely have to get to end users, finding a vendor that will partner with you to optimize true delivery rates is vital.

Check out the other pitfalls in our new eGuide: Download e-Guide here.

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