business messaging blog
High Risk SMS Marketing Traffic Best Practices
Scott Navratil

Wireless telecom carriers like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, etc. control whether your company’s text messages reach their consumers. That means you must provide their consumers with a great user experience or else!

On the other side, you are trying to reach those consumers as cheaply and efficiently as possible. How skillfully you do this determines how well your campaigns will perform and how long into the future SMS will continue to be a viable traffic channel for you.

The first trap many marketers face is trying to be “too” efficient. As you split test landers and iterate through designs and even test various offers and verticals, it is easy to fall into the manual-review pit of despair by forgetting to include certain elements on the page.

It’s a hassle making sure every lander or web page that you use contains all the elements that show people that your business is sending them a legitimate offer (that they actually want) but it is an absolute MUST!

If your lander or website doesn’t pass carrier manual reviews, your traffic will suffer lower deliverability rates and in worst case scenario get you banned.

Most importantly, your consumers will act as manual reviewers in many cases. They will look for the same type of validity indicators as carriers and their conclusions will greatly affect your positive response rates and conversions.

Consumers reporting your traffic to their own carriers, because they think your SMS marketing message might be an illegal scam or spam, will definitely cause a carrier to do a manual review. So, keep in mind, make your consumers happy or face their wrath. Why let your legitimate messaging have too many similarities to scammy/spammy traffic?

Valid Business Check

Most manual reviewers have at least a mental list of things to check for in order to determine if the source of traffic (i.e. You) is legit. This is not the same as whether your “message” is legit. This is focused on the business.

They look for the following elements:

  • Contact Info

    • Company Name
      • Inc, Co, LLC, Ltd, etc.
      • Registered Trade Mark ®
      • Trade Mark ™
      • Service Mark ℠
    • Addresses
      • Physical Location or At least City & State
      • Mailing Address
      • P.O. Box
    • Phone
      • Local
      • Toll-Free
      • Fax
  • Policy Links

    Recommended Footer links should include the following types:

    • Terms of Service
    • Privacy Policy
    • Disclosures
  • Directory Listings

    Does your domain show up when searching one of these?

    • Google Search Index
    • Google Maps
    • Phone Books
    • Online Directories

Valid Offer Check

Once you have shown the business is legit, the reviewer moves on to determine if the messages themselves pass muster and are legit.

  • Message Content

    • Topic

      • Most carriers have a banned topics list such as:
        • Porn
        • Pills
        • Payday Loans
        • Criminal Behavior
    • Safety

      • How close is the message to the carriers specific list of unsafe messages that they have deemed unsafe in the past during reviews?
    • Intent
      • Does the intent of the message seem to be scammy/spammy or legit?
    • Phone Numbers
      • Do phone numbers appear in the body of the message?
      • If they call the number in the message and the number they received the message from, do they both ring to the same place?
      • Does the call go to a disconnect or other invalid message?
      • Does the call go to an IVR or answered by a real human?
    • URL Links
      • Do the text characters contained in the links themselves appear scammy/spammy?
      • Do the links contain and scammy/spammy words?
      • Are the links banned on any third party blacklists?
    • Destination
      • Does the link have a valid destination domain, not on any blacklists?
  • Lander Experience

    • Redirects
      • How many redirects?
      • What’s the reputation score for each of the domains in the redirects?
      • Are the redirect stuffing tracking cookies in users browser?
      • Do the redirects block user from clicking the back button more than once?
      • Anything strange or weird happen during the redirect process?
      • When clicking additional times, does the redirect chain sequence change or does the end destination change?
      • Do the redirects behave different depending on browser or OS of the user?
    • Impressions
      • Does the first impression of the landing page seem legit?
    • Load Times
      • When load times take too long it can be assumed some type of malicious code might be running before the actual content loads.
    • Topic or Category
      • Is the lander appear to be on any scam/spam radars including past reviews that failed?
    • Intent
      • Is the intent of the lander to trick, mislead or otherwise confuse the user in some way?
    • Navigation
      • Do the navigation links work?
      • Do the nav buttons link to other domains?
      • Do they appear to be similar to other legit websites?
    • Safety
      • Overall, does the lander seem non-malicious?
      • Does the lander use SSL or other encryption methods when forms appear anywhere on the site?
  • Conversion Funnel

    • Content & Language
      • After reading the content, does the content itself say anything scammy/spammy or deceptive?
      • Does the content read like machine generated garbage?
      • Are misspellings, typos, and bad grammar noticeable?
    • Deceptions
      • If the content “might” seem deceptive, after triple checking everything else to, does the content seem legit or not?
    • Click Tricks
      • Is there are any tricks or strange things happening with popups, forms, button redirects, etc.?
    • Phishing
      • Does the lander or the click flow create the appearance of another company or brand and use language to convince user the site is more trustworthy than it is?
      • Are there misused logo, trademarks, trade names, etc.?
    • Nefarious Code
      • Do any of the forms save the input data being entered in forms BEFORE the user thinks its supposed to, or before clicking a specific button such as “Submit” etc?
      • Does the site appear to be basically the same when cookies are blocked and/or javascript is turned off?
  • Response Checking

    • Opt-Outs
      • When user responds to the text message with STOP, UNSUBSCRIBE, REMOVE ME or keywords like that, does the system honor that request?
    • Responses
      • When user asks questions like “Who is this?”, “Why are you texting me?”, “How did you get my number?” etc. does a legitimate response come back to them?
  • Traffic Imbalances

    • Two-Way
      • Carriers don’t charge each other when their traffic is balanced.
      • If Verizon sends a billion messages to AT&T and AT&T doesn’t send much back, AT&T will be able to invoice Verizon for a lot of money so Verizon has the incentive to block that traffic or at least highly scrutinize it.
      • This means you need consumers texting and calling your numbers to improve the deliverability rates.
    • Sentiment
      • If the sentiment or tone of the inbound messages are “angry” or otherwise negative, you could lose deliverability.
    • Opt-Out Rates
      • If the opt-out rates exceed 2-3% of total traffic, you are in high risk even if the topics of your messages and category of your sites are not. The carriers like to see an opt-out rate under 1%.

Conclusion

Although it seems inefficient to make sure all your landers and websites contain all these elements designed to keep your legitimate marketing from accidentally being classified as illegitimate, spammy or even worse “illegal.”

If you have further questions or concerns don’t hesitate to read our Anti-Spam and other policies in the footer links below.

 

Chantel Fullilove

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