Text Messaging Advice – SMTP Is Not Worth It

Text Messaging Advice – SMTP Is Not Worth It

Sending Text Messages Through SMTP Isn’t Worth It

When you shopped around for a text message marketing company, you probably noticed a few firms offering super-low monthly fees and unlimited texts. Sounds too good to be true? That’s because it IS too good to be true. These firms are sending their client’s messages via SMTP, violating a mobile marketing best practice.

In brief, there are two ways to send text messages to cellphones. The first, SMS, is the standard protocol. This is “true” text messaging using short codes, and is closely regulated by cellphone carriers. The second protocol, SMTP, isn’t really text messaging at all. Instead, it’s a way to send an email that looks like a text message. Because it’s not really texting, it doesn’t require a short code and is not charged by carriers as a text message. Using SMTP messaging is a bad idea for quite a few reasons.

First, it might be illegal. Since these are emails rather than text messages, they are subject to the FTC’s CAN-SPAM Act. If you use SMTP to send unsolicited messages, you can be fined by the FTC for up to $11,000 per message. And because SMTP messages don’t provide an opt-out mechanism as SMS messages do, they usually do qualify as spam under the CAN-SPAM Act.

Second, cellphone carriers can and do block SMTP messages. The SMTP delivery channel for cellphones was never intended for receiving commercial messages. Carriers monitor this channel and if they detect your messages (as they eventually will) they will block you out. They won’t even notify you. Your messages will simply stop arriving.

Third, sending via SMTP requires you to know the cellphone carrier’s domain name. Should the carrier change domains, your lead list will suddenly be useless. SMS messages don’t have the same potential issue since they are sent directly to the recipient, not to the carrier’s domain. As with point #2, the carrier won’t notify you that they’ve changed domains – why should they, when you’re not supposed to be sending SMTP messages in the first place?

Fourth, a text message marketing company that uses SMTP instead of SMS is likely to be extremely shady. SMS senders must go through a rigorous screening process and must comply with Mobile Marketing Association rules. SMTP senders just need an email server and a high-speed connection. There’s probably a reason why the firms using SMTP didn’t make it through the SMS screening.

Fifth, one of the biggest benefits of SMS marketing is its reliability. About 95% of SMS marketing messages reach their intended recipient. With SMTP marketing messages the number is more like 40%-60%. So that cheap SMTP service actually costs about twice as much per received text message as you’d think from their advertised rates.

And sixth, using SMTP messaging will annoy and anger your prospects, since they have no control over the messages. They can’t opt-in simply by texting a code, as they can with SMS messaging, and even worse, they can’t opt-out easily either. Your company is likely to wind up with a bad reputation if you use such questionable marketing tactics.

So how can you tell for sure if your text message marketing company is using SMS? Simple. The company will use a short code for each and every message, and they will charge you a per-message fee. The exception to the per-message fee model is the text message marketing firms that include a small ad in every text they send for you. Don’t take the marketing firm’s word for it, as many will claim to be using SMS when they are actually using SMTP.

To summarize, any mobile marketing company that uses SMTP messaging is bad news and you should definitely not do business with them. Stick with SMS – it’s safer, it’s more legit… and you get what you pay for.

Rob Woodward III

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