trends

Localization Is Key for Off-network SMS Traffic

Stephen Yagielowicz

Texting is big business, with more than 6 billion text messages sent in the U.S. alone each day, and trillions of short messages sent worldwide each year. As one might expect, many of these communiqués are unsolicited and commercial in nature. Short messaging service (SMS) marketing has brought trade to texting, providing a very popular platform that users are highly engaged with, and very receptive towards using.

“The open rate of text promotions/offers is a whopping 98 percent,” ePrize.com SVP David Wachs stated. “Compare that to the 22 percent opening rate of emails.”

Foreign spam along with the costly resources it takes to deliver — and to combat — it is high among the primary motivators behind mobile networks refusing to carry this traffic, but these networks show a more lenient attitude towards “locally originated” marketing.

“While an email might sit in a customer’s inbox all day,” Wachs added, “a text is read within minutes, making it a great channel for flash sales and sameday promotions.” The comparisons to email marketing are myriad, with SMS having some advantages. “While email communication is a oneway street, people can actually reply to an SMS promotion and engage with the brand through two-way SMS dialog,” Wachs noted, adding that “By opening the doors of conversation between brand and consumer and then creating customer engagement, marketers will ultimately create a stronger relationship and build brand trust.”

These benefits and others have driven the popularity of SMS marketing, which is very hot in many regions, especially in developing markets where online payment mechanisms are lacking and directcarrier phone billing allows transactions through phone networks.

This of course opens the floodgates of spam; and just as their online counterparts are seeing restrictions on content distribution so too are mobile marketers, as global networks are increasingly blocking foreign off-network traffic, impacting the reach of advertisers and publishers — including those operating in the adult entertainment industry.

For example, in a late August announcement, txtNation.com informed its clients that although mobile networks across Ireland have begun officially blocking any offnet or foreign traffic from their systems, clients would not be impacted because the company has direct operator connectivity to Ireland, providing reliability and stability to its bulk SMS mobile messaging services — and making it “business as usual” for txtNation’s merchants targeting Irish consumers.

But why are networks blocking off-net and foreign traffic and why is it important for bulk SMS marketers to use a direct provider?

Foreign spam along with the costly resources it takes to deliver — and to combat — it is high among the primary motivators behind mobile networks refusing to carry this traffic, but these networks show a more lenient attitude towards “locally originated” marketing.

“All over the world, mobile networks are working to make sure bulk SMS campaign messages are sent and received direct (locally) rather than via indirect (off-shore) routes,” states a txtNation spokesperson. “Ireland is a recent example of a country where traffic from indirect routes is blocked, but even in countries where it is allowed, it is better to use an SMS gateway provider with direct routes like txtNation.”

According to the company, txtNation is a tierone mobile aggregator offering features such as direct operator, Premium SMS and short-codes for Standard Rate SMS (non-Premium SMS) mobile billing, along with bulk SMS and HLR lookup services, backed up by support staff in multiple markets — with local offices supporting local languages.

The firm enjoys direct operator network connectivity with a variety of countries, including Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey and the U.K., and ranks among the top 10 global mobile aggregators for global reach, coverage and connectivity.

In addition to its direct connectivity, txtNation serves an additional 70 more countries via indirect connections to local tierone mobile SMS aggregators in each client country.

The company places an emphasis on quality services with high throughput.

“txtNation focuses on offering only local direct mobile network routes, rather than offering indirect routes. The cheaper (interconnect) routes often return poor campaign results, with low delivery rates,” the spokesperson explained. “We are contractually connected to mobile operators in a number of different countries for delivery of bulk SMS with a high throughput. This means that your SMS messages are sent and delivered first time, with no bottlenecks.”

Reliability is also another factor in receiving the best ROI from mobile marketing, with direct mobile routes providing more reliability in terms of SMS delivery, so clients can be sure of higher delivery rates and thus run better bulk SMS campaigns.

“If you send an SMS message to a bulk SMS gateway, it can generally be delivered in less than 10 seconds, with 99.9 percent reliability,” txtNation’s spokesperson explains. “However, if you use an indirect international routing option, which may be cheaper, then your SMS message is routed offshore, and then is sent via one or two spots before being passed to a local gateway and to the end user’s phone. This can take up to 10 minutes and the delivery rate, in most cases is around 70-80 percent.”

Sending bulk SMS messages remains a viable marketing option that can still benefit many businesses today, but the rules of the game are changing and so it’s important to work with a partner that is positioned locally and adaptive to change.

As content distribution becomes more challenging for many operators, new services are stepping in to provide alternative ways of bringing merchants and customers together — but sometimes (such as with SMS), sticking with established local networks is the way to go.

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