SMS has a vital role in a successful marketing strategy – it offers direct contact with your target audience and ensures your messages are sent and received swiftly. Better still, SMS has near-perfect open rates – almost everyone opens and reads their text messages. However, if you don't monitor SMS marketing performance, all your hard work in generating brilliant and creative campaigns will be in vain.

One metric for measuring SMS campaign performance is the 'delivery rate' – the proportion of SMS messages successfully delivered compared to the total number of texts sent.  An SMS delivery report indicates how many of your marketing (or transactional) messages have hit their mark.

Using software for sending text messages

Before we get into how you can access SMS delivery reports, let's first look at the mechanics of sending out business text message campaigns.

Most enterprises (big and small) use specialist SMS software for running campaigns. Such software offers features like campaign scheduling, bulk messaging, contact management, message preview and analytics. A sub-feature of analytics is SMS delivery reporting.

How are text messages delivered from one device to another?

Text messages go on something of a journey behind the scenes. The delivery process works like this:

  • A text is sent from your device to an SMS gateway (which is managed by an SMS aggregator).

  • The SMS gateway forwards the text to the mobile network carrier.

  • From there, the text is sent to a Short Message Service Center (SMSC).

  • Finally, the message is sent directly to the recipient's device.

Sometimes, SMS messages are stored at the SMSC in case the recipient is unavailable, for example, if their phone is switched off or they're temporarily in an area without network coverage. The text is delivered as soon as the recipient's device receives a phone signal, provided the validity period hasn't expired.

What are SMS delivery reports?

SMS software platforms provide several analytical reports containing important information about each text message sent as part of a campaign. They also provide a top-level overview of campaign performance so you can see at-a-glance whether your campaign has been successful.

Data gathered for these reports originates from the SMSC – it receives a receipt of sorts from each recipient's device once a text has been received.

How can I get an SMS delivery report?

Not every SMS platform generates reports in the same way. With Messente, you have two options:

  1. You can set up automatic reporting to receive an update after each sent message is delivered.

  2. You can request a manual report for a certain period and see the status of all sent messages during that time.

Check out our detailed guide on accessing delivery reports within Messente's platform.

What information is contained in an SMS delivery report?

An SMS delivery report gives you a breakdown of the delivery status for each message you send to each recipient. The SMS API used (and the carrier used) affects the type of statuses you can see. Typically, you'll see the following:

  • Delivered – your text has been successfully delivered to the recipient's handset.

  • Undelivered – your message couldn't be delivered to the handset usually because the phone number is invalid or the SMS content is unsuitable.

  • Failed – the service provider hasn't accepted the message from the carrier, so delivery isn't possible.

  • Rejected – the mobile operator rejected your message.

  • Expired – the message expired after a certain amount of time going undelivered.

SMS delivery reports detail your recipients' phone numbers and your sender ID – the shortcode or long-code phone number you'll be assigned when you sign up with an SMS provider. You'll also be able to see a message ID (a unique identifier for each text message), the channel you've used (SMS or MMS) and a timestamp for when each message is sent, processed and delivered (or failed).

Woman looking at content on mobile phone

Why delivery reports are vital for your SMS messages

SMS delivery reports enable you to check that your text messages are delivered to your contact list and provide stats on how many of your messages 'bounce', i.e. go undelivered for some reason. You'll want the lowest bounce rates possible to achieve your marketing goals, and a good ROI. Your SMS delivery report will also highlight response rates so you can see how many recipients are engaging with your messages.

Finally, you'll be able to tell from your SMS delivery reports whether or not your SMS platform is effective and offers stable and reliable delivery. If not, it's time to look for an alternative solution.

How to improve SMS delivery rates

If you're already running SMS campaigns and are worried that message delivery or response rates aren't up to scratch, do the following:

1. Pick a reputable SMS platform

Use an SMS provider that forwards flagged text messages to the SMSC to request the status report for each sent text message. This way, you can keep track of every successful delivery. Your chosen platform must know the rules for all carriers and networks it works with, such as delivery timings restrictions, legal limitations and velocity and volume restrictions. Your sender ID type can affect some of these rules.

It's important that your provider alerts you if text message delivery is impacted at any point during an active campaign and provides support 24/7 to resolve any issues you may experience. A comprehensive dashboard where you and your team can properly monitor campaign performance (in real-time) is also essential.

2. Figure out what's causing low response rates

Your SMS delivery report will show if messages are delivered but not opened. If this happens regularly, it indicates that your texts are being ignored, perhaps because you're sending too many messages or your content needs improving.

At that point, you can reduce your message frequency and schedule your texts to arrive when your audience is most likely to read them and take action (not too early in the morning or late at night). You could also refresh your content style to see if this has a positive impact. Repetitive content can be flagged as spam, so it's a good idea to mix things up now and then.

3. Check your database

Regularly check the validity of every number in your contact list or database. You might have landline numbers in there, or perhaps some customers have submitted their phone numbers with a typo, rendering them nonfunctional.

Database inspecting and cleaning concept

An SMS delivery report shows vital information

Text message delivery reports are essential when sending SMS marketing or transactional communications. They tell you whether your campaigns are reaching your recipients and if they're being opened, read and responded to.

An SMS service like Messente gives you access to delivery reports with valuable metrics that help you see which texts are delivered, undelivered, rejected, etc. You'll be able to identify incorrect phone numbers and campaigns that have generated lower responses than others. You can then improve your SMS communications and boost your delivery rates.

Explore Messente's user-friendly dashboard to see how our analytics feature works. Sign up for your free account today.