What is SMS delivery?

SMS delivery is the distribution of mobile messages, including short messaging service (SMS) and Premium SMS, directly to the end-user’s mobile devices.

In the context of marketing, the SMS delivery rate is crucial for SMS marketing campaigns.

SMS advertising market


annual growth rate


estimated market volume by 2029

Source: Statista

How is SMS delivery rate calculated?

Because of technical issues or other reasons, achieving a perfect 100% SMS delivery rate is impossible. Aiming for around 98% is realistic.

The SMS delivery rate is easy to calculate. The formula goes:

Messages delivered / Messages sent = SMS delivery rate

What influences SMS delivery rates?

Businesses mostly don’t send marketing messages manually but rather use APIs, platforms, and software. Meaning, that these companies will have best practices available to improve SMS delivery.

However, there are two factors that influence deliverability:

  1. Carrier spam filters – Carriers have strict rules about what you can send in a text message. If you trigger their spam filters, your messages could be blocked, hurting your reputation. To avoid this, learn the rules and personalize your messages as much as possible. Mass messages often get flagged as spam, so adding a personal touch is vital.
  2. Grey routes – are cheaper ways to send texts, but they often involve sending your messages through other countries, which can significantly lower your delivery rates. Even though they’re not illegal, it’s best to steer clear of them.

Sometimes, messages aren’t delivered because of problems with the recipient’s phone. This is out of your control and usually temporary, so don’t worry too much if this happens occasionally.

However, if you see a significant increase in failed deliveries, it could be because people are unsubscribing or blocking you. Here are a few key tips for SMS marketing to keep your subscribers happy and prevent this.

How to improve SMS deliverability?

To improve your SMS deliverability, follow these essential tips:

  1. Maintain a clean list: Regularly update your contact list, removing invalid or inactive phone numbers. This ensures you’re only sending messages to those who want to receive them.
  2. Get consent: Always obtain explicit permission from recipients before sending them SMS messages. This can be done through opt-in forms or keywords.
  3. Personalize messages: Tailor your messages to intended recipients using their names or referencing their preferences. This makes your messages more relevant and engaging.
  4. Timing is vital: Send messages at appropriate times, considering time zones and recipient preferences. Avoid sending messages too early in the morning or late at night.
  5. Keep it short and sweet: Craft concise messages that get straight to the point. Avoid excessive emojis or abbreviations that might trigger spam filters.
  6. Include a clear call to action: Make it easy for recipients to understand what action you want them to take, whether it’s visiting a website, making a purchase, or responding to a survey.
  7. Monitor and analyze: Track your SMS delivery rates and open rates to identify any delivery issues and optimize your messaging campaigns accordingly.
  8. Avoid spam triggers: Be mindful of words and phrases that might trigger spam filters. Research common spam triggers and avoid using them in your messages.
  9. Choose a reliable provider: Select an SMS service provider with a good reputation for deliverability and reliable infrastructure.
  10. Comply with regulations: Familiarize yourself with SMS regulations in your target markets and ensure your campaigns comply with all applicable laws and guidelines.

Following these best practices can significantly improve your SMS deliverability rate, ensure your messages reach your intended audience, and achieve your marketing goals.

SMS delivery statuses

The following table shows the different statuses and their meanings.

DeliveredThe message has been delivered, and the arrival was confirmed via delivery receipt.
Not deliveredThe message isn’t delivered.
ExpiredThe Status Reason is unavailable subscriber.
SentSMS was sent but not delivered.

What is SMS delivery confirmation?

Many SMS marketing platforms offer analytics tools to help you track your message performance. Businesses can use this data to improve their marketing strategy.

 Delivery status metrics are essentially based on the same concept as SMS receipts (or SMS read reports).

You might wonder how to know if someone read your text. Most phones used to have a setting for read receipts, where the recipient could confirm they’ve read the message.

A notification is sent back to the carrier each time a message is successfully delivered. These notifications are the primary way to track delivery rates, and most platforms use them to provide you with data for your SMS delivery reports.


Remember, successful SMS communication goes beyond just hitting “send.” It involves understanding deliverability, utilizing analytics, and adhering to best practices to create a seamless and impactful messaging experience for both you and your audience.


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