How Traffic Segregation Affects SMS Marketing

Maia Wells
SMS Marketing

SMS marketing is booming in popularity, because it’s a direct channel to personal devices all over the world. At the same time, consumers are demanding better experiences and gaining more awareness about the right to data privacy. To combat the potential for SMS spam and fraudulent messaging, mobile network operators (MNOs) use a strict series of traffic segregation strategies. Find out more about how MNOs segregate their traffic and how this can impact your SMS marketing strategy.

sms marketing traffic segregation

What is SMS Traffic Segregation?

Every time an SMS is sent through an MNO, they use traffic segregation strategies to divide these messages based on both their type and urgency. These types include both P2P and A2P messages. When an SMS message exchanges between two mobile subscribers, it’s referred to as P2P SMS and when an SMS message is sent from an application to a mobile subscriber, it’s referred to as we call it A2P SMS.  Powerful filters, machine learning, and monitoring software are all used to review and then screen A2P messages before they’re delivered to the recipient.   

The standard classifications used when segregating A2P messaging includes sorting them into three main categories:

  • One-Time-Passwords (OTP) and other time-sensitive SMS
  • Transactional SMS
  • Promotional SMS

SMS Message Types and Traffic Segregation

Let’s take a closer look at each of these classifications and why MNOs need to prioritize specific SMS over others. 

One-Time-Passwords (OTP) and Other Time-Sensitive SMS

Strong authentication SMS like OTP helps increase your customers’ security and protect them from identity theft or fraud. These messages include an automatically generated code that users enter to log in to a site or complete a transaction. Other time-sensitive SMS include two-factor authentication when a customer logs on to a site using their regular user ID and password and then receives an additional OTP which adds another layer of security. These messages are time-sensitive, and the codes within them expire after a set period, so they need to be delivered by an MNO as fast as possible.    

Transactional SMS

Most regulatory bodies across different regions allow for delivering a transactional SMS at any time of day. These messages keep your customers up to date regarding the information relating to their orders. This can include order confirmation, delivery notifications, and anything else related to a specific transaction. These differ from marketing SMS, as they are meant to communicate a status on a relationship that was established specifically for that transaction. Companies cannot advertise or convey any marketing through transactional SMS messages. 

Promotional and Marketing SMS

If you’ve got a specific promotion based around one of your products or services, promotional SMS can be used to engage your customers directly. This may involve sending a coupon code, letting customers know about an upcoming event, or launching a new product. Many companies have been successful in their SMS marketing efforts, using these efforts to add to their overall marketing strategy.

With so many people using their phones as their lifelines, communicating with them via SMS is also a great way to remind them of events and webinars they may be interested in or already signed up for, helping to increase webinar engagement

It’s important to keep in mind that In specific regions, the delivery of promotional SMS is blocked by an MNO at certain times of day to protect users from being disturbed.

Why Do MNOs Segregate Traffic? 

Different countries and regions have different regulations when it comes to A2P SMS. It’s important that MNOs can identify and then segregate SMS to maintain compliance while also guaranteeing the delivery of your messages. MNO firewalls quickly identify traffic coming through different routes. This allows operators to deliver each message through a specific channel at the optimum time. For example, time-sensitive OTP messages need to be prioritized and delivered within a specific timeframe. 

Regulations in specific European countries like France restrict the delivery of promotional marketing SMS to Monday through Saturday between 8 am and 10 pm. Messages sent outside of these times will be placed in a queue by the MNO and sent the following day. Transactional and OTP messages can be sent at any time, but must be sent via separate connections to be easily segregated. An SMS API can be integrated with minimal effort, allowing companies to automate the process of sending messages to international recipients, ensuring they are delivered at the correct time and compliant with country regulations.    

Most ecommerce companies will send a blend of all three SMS types, but expect individual MNOs to identify the source and type of A2P messaging before these are segregated and delivered according to their type. 

How MNOs Combat Fraudulent SMS 

As more and more companies start using SMS marketing to connect with their customers, the application-to-person messaging (A2P) market has shown exponential growth. Known as grey route traffic, 2.8 trillion A2P SMS messages are sent each year. 

This unprecedented growth unfortunately leaves room for bad actors to take advantage of the situation. Some of this fraudulent activity can include illegal or grey route messaging. SMS text messages that are sent through illegal channels are called grey routed messages. This practice is often less expensive for the sender than sending a normal message. These unauthorized routes can expose the message data, subjecting the receiver to various security risks. These actions have resulted in a significant loss of revenue because of illegal routes used by certain resellers when attempting to send messages. 

As the number of illegal messages grows, the revenue of MNOs can start to drop. This gray-route traffic costs MNOs $21 million per day or $7.7 billion per year. It exploits channels retained by MNOs for delivering person-to-person (P2P) messaging, placing excessive strain on networks, impacting the delivery of genuine P2P messages, and costing MNOs revenue as the MNO cannot correctly apply termination charges.   

In an effort to protect their revenue, many operators have started to deploy two main strategies to control both A2P and P2P SMS traffic within their network. These include:

  • Traffic segregation 
  • Firewalls

Always Use a Proven Platform for SMS

When it comes to keeping your return on investment as high as possible, it can be tempting to turn to unregulated providers of SMS marketing services. Be aware that these may rely on some of the illegal gray-routes we’ve outlined above. This can result in your messages being blocked when they’re run through the traffic segregation systems of individual MNOs. It’s always best to work with a proven platform that understands the regulations behind SMS marketing in addition to having a deep understanding of how MNOs segregate and deliver messages both locally and abroad.