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4 Easy Ways to Avoid Carrier Filtering and SMS Spam

Get our top tips for avoiding carrier filtering to making sure your messages reach contacts' inboxes.

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As a marketer, it can be tempting to take advantage of the direct line SMS marketing offers to reach out to customers. But one wrong move and you’ll accidentally get your well-intended message marked as spam.

And one thing we know is nobody likes SMS spam.

Luckily, avoiding carrier filtering is as easy as putting all of your text messaging campaigns through a ”spam test.” Simply understand how carrier filtering works, know some of the common spam trigger words to avoid, and follow SMS marketing best practices.

What is carrier filtering?

Carrier filtering is the action phone carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile take to block the delivery of some—or all—messages deemed inappropriate or spammy from a specific number or business. 

Carrier filters or “SMS spam filters“ range from keywords that prevent text messages from getting through to advanced machine learning filters that protect customers from an invasion of unwanted messages in real-time. 

Typically, customer complaints activate these filters, with the carrier immediately blocking future messages sent from the reported number. But there are a few other reasons for filtering, such as:

  • To ensure SMS marketing compliance with carrier policies, as well as state, local, or country-specific regulation
  • To enforce SMS marketing rules and regulations and protect mobile subscribers from unsolicited or unwanted messaging that are abusive or fraudulent—or contains questionable content
  • To lower mobile subscriber churn and reduce the potential for dissatisfied customers to take legal action and seek damages
  • To prevent peer-to-peer (P2P) messages from being sent through application-to-person (A2P) streams, and vice versa

Carriers are super secretive about their message filtering systems to prevent spammers from learning how to dodge these protections. Unlike email, where the recipient can choose to allow email addresses, mobile carriers don’t take user preferences into account when blocking a message. So you have to be extra careful when sending text messages to customers.

4 tips to avoid triggering carrier filters or spam filters

Your marketing messages to customers may get blocked due to two reasons: spammy content and high-volume texting. Here are the best practices for SMS marketing that will help you avoid carrier filtering:

1. Follow the CAN-SPAM rules

The CAN-SPAM Act is one of the more popular SMS marketing laws that regulate how you can send text messages and to whom. It gives recipients the right to opt out of business communications with a specific business and sets penalties if the business doesn’t respect their request.

Here are some tips for passing the CAN-SPAM inspection:

  • Be upfront about what you’re selling and asking from your clients
  • Clearly mention the company you represent
  • Follow SMS opt-in best practices and let recipients unsubscribe when they want to

2. Avoid spammy words and special characters 

There’s no official list outlining common spam trigger words/topics, but experts agree certain words/phrases are spammy and should, therefore, be avoided at all costs.

“Financial gain” spam words:

  • Save up to
  • Save big money
  • Billions
  • Money back
  • $$$

“Freebie” spam words:

  • Free $$$
  • Free preview
  • Free access
  • Free trial
  • Free money

“Exaggerated claim” spam words:

  • Risk-free
  • 100% satisfied/free/more
  • Human growth hormone
  • You will not believe your eyes
  • Cure baldness

“Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)” spam words:

  • This won’t last
  • You have been selected
  • Take action
  • Limited time
  • Don’t delete

General-use SMS spam words:

  • Important information regarding
  • Information you requested
  • Requires initial investment
  • Social security number
  • Check or money order

Alongside spammy content, steer clear of words in ALL CAPS (feels shouty, doesn’t it?), special characters, and sending multiple identical messages. If you must use special characters, keep in mind your character limit decreases from 160 to 70 per SMS.

3. Don’t use third-party link shorteners

Instead of wasting precious SMS characters on a long URL, you can add shortened links to your messages. 

But carriers aren’t crazy about popular URL shorteners like because they’re often used by spammers to disguise suspicious links. 

To avoid getting your message flagged as spam, you can use a branded shortened link or SimpleTexting’s built-in URL shortener. If you use ours, all you have to do is paste the link into your text, and we’ll automatically shorten it for you.

4. Personalize your content

Carrier filters block text messages they think customers won’t like. Common examples include unwanted advertisements and unsolicited coupons. 

If your messages resemble this type of spammy content, it’ll likely trigger filtering too.

Prioritize sending quality text messages and run SMS campaigns that offer consistent value to recipients. Focus on improving customer relationships with your company by sending important updates (shipping notifications, authentication codes) or time-sensitive information (appointment reminders, flash sale announcements).

Also, your text messages should sound like they’ve come from you—a living, breathing person—and not a bot. Make your SMS content sound casual and polite—just like you would sound when talking to a friend.

The Wrap on Carrier Filtering and SMS Spam

Ignoring carrier regulations will jeopardize your SMS marketing campaign before it even begins. These regulations have a purpose and protect customers, so you must consider them when defining your message strategies and drafting your SMS. 

The good news is compliance isn’t too hard. You can easily avoid SMS spam by:

  • Providing personalized and valuable content
  • Avoiding common spam words and phrases
  • Complying with applicable law and industry guidelines
  • Maintaining a reasonable sending frequency
  • Requiring opt-in and offering opt-out

Want to make things easier? Select an SMS service that can help you stay up to date on best practices and industry updates.

Try Simple Marketing for free and run effective SMS marketing campaigns that spark engaging 1-to-1 conversations with customers.

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