Cyber week: How to achieve high throughput during peak volumes
Curious to know how the Infobip platform handles large messaging volumes during peak seasons? Here we uncover the processes we go through to scale our platform before the shopping rush.
Last year we shared the mobile messaging trends that we saw on our platform during Cyber Week and other major shopping events throughout the year.
In fact, we saw 64% more interactions take place on our platform in North America during Cyber week 2022 compared to 2021. That’s almost 5.6 billion interactions altogether!
But how can one platform handle such high messaging volumes?
Our throughput management and scalable platform are what help our clients reach their customers on the right channel at the right time.
Here we uncover the steps our teams take to prepare, test, and refine our platform capabilities to accommodate peak messaging volumes – ensuring high deliverability, reliability, and greater customer satisfaction.
Phase one: Forecasting
The first step is to analyze the year-on-year growth we experienced last year to forecast what we should anticipate this year. Our teams start to prepare for the shopping season with this first phase approximately one year in advance.
When forecasting, we often look at:
- overall, daily, and hourly messaging volumes for the specified time period and region to define peaks
- type of companies that send the most messages (retail/eCommerce brands, marketing platforms, etc.)
- types of messages sent (marketing, notifications, alerts, etc.)
- carrier capacity and additional throughput requirements
The forecasted numbers help us decide how we’ll prepare our infrastructure. Will we need an additional data center to accommodate these volumes? Are there any software upgrades we’ll need to make to handle the increase in customers, messages, and channels from one shopping season to the next?
Phase two: Hardware and software preparation
Marketing messaging traffic in North America has increased immensely. This surge has led brands to face frequent challenges related to downtime, deliverability, message delays, and low customer satisfaction.
It’s also the reason why throughput limits exist. To ensure higher deliverability, Mobile Network Operators try to evenly distribute messages throughout the day. However, many brands want to get their messages to customers as soon as possible.
The role of a communications platform in these instances is to find a happy medium. We must ensure not to exceed the message thresholds that operators provide, while ensuring customers receive messages from brands in a timely manner.
To do this successfully, we leverage our forecasted numbers to decide if we need to prepare an additional data center to accommodate the expected messaging volumes. If the answer is yes, we aim to start setting one up three to four months in advance.
During this time, we make the appropriate updates to our platform to ensure it accepts, prioritizes, and saves messages coming through in a way that minimizes delays during high-traffic days.
Last year’s forecast showed us that the highest messaging traffic was on the hour (at 8 AM, 9 AM, 10 AM, and so on). Therefore, messages sent during this time that were not time-sensitive – for example, marketing messages – were held and released a few minutes after time-sensitive notifications and alerts to ensure delivery.
Phase three: Testing
Although we test our platform throughout the entire year, our final testing phase takes place approximately one month before Cyber Week.
First, our team runs tests with high message volumes to spot any gaps that need to be filled, hardware or software blockers that should be fixed, or any other potential obstacles that could interfere with traffic and delivery rates over the shopping days. Only when we are confident our platform is ready for Cyber Week messaging, we transfer clients to our new data center.
Then, we have a final meeting with our clients to understand what their Cyber Week traffic will be like:
- who will they be sending messages to
- how many messages will they be sending approximately
- which days and time of day do they plan to send their messages
- what type of messages do they plan to send
This step helps us prepare our platform for message prioritization during peak hours.
For example, if a client tells us they will be sending two-factor authentication messages during Cyber Week, we know to program our platform to send messages from that client first since these are time-sensitive and can affect other parts of the customer journey when not delivered properly.
Clients often give us a breakdown of their distribution plans per hour to help us prepare as much as possible in advance. Having an hourly breakdown also makes it easier to track messages and make tweaks in real time as traffic is being sent and delivered.
As Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach, we have more precise data at hand since we’re able to combine forecasted data, data from customers, and our platform performance test data to make a final decision if we’re ready to roll out or if there are additional tweaks that are needed.
Phase four: Onsite refinement and support
One week before Cyber Week, our team of senior experts from the support, routing, engineering, and monitoring departments meet in Seattle to conduct live monitoring, look out for alerts, and communicate with developers.
A lot can be seen one week in advance, which allows our onsite teams to react to last-minute emergencies and patch or fix mistakes that could interfere with traffic.
Our teams remain onsite during Cyber Week to monitor our platform and data centers.
During this time, they track:
- message prioritization based on client meetings
- message delivery
- volumes to ensure we don’t exceed message thresholds
Tips to maximize message delivery during cyber week
If you’re looking to set up a Cyber Week messaging campaign this year, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Avoid peak traffic times and send your messages during the last 15 minutes of each hour, since the highest traffic volumes are normally on the hour or between 10 AM and 2 PM EST.
- Reduce MMS message sizes to 250KB or less to minimize message delays or risk low delivery rates.
- Stay within your contractual throughput limits.
- Pause system configurations at least one week before Black Friday to ensure changes will not affect message delivery.
Set yourself up for cyber week success
Want to increase ROI and customer satisfaction during Cyber Week this year? It’s never too early to put together your strategy. All you need is a reliable communications provider.
Our full-stack platform, along with our CX consultancy teams, can help you set up a plan of action for success. Our teams continuously work with our dedicated account managers to gather and analyze data so that we can understand our customers’ traffic and needs, upgrade our platform, and adjust goals throughout the year.
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