New Year Recap: 6 Most Common Questions About SMS [2024]

December 20, 2023 | By Sam Pelton
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SMS is changing and there are questions to be answered.

With the New Year on the horizon, it’s time for another recap of some of your top questions from 2023 with the answers.

That way, you can go into 2024 armed with the info you need to maximize your texting efforts.

  1. What are the character limits for texting?

The basic character limit for SMS is 160 characters.

Once you hit the character limit, your message will be split up into 2 or more messages. (Most mobile phones will still deliver your message as a single unit to your recipients.)

You can also choose to send your message as an “MMS,” which allows you to attach a media file (usually an image) and opens the character limit up to a maximum of 1,550.

  1. How do messaging credits work when my message exceeds character limits?

If you’re sending an SMS at 160 characters or less, your message will count as 1 messaging credit per recipient. If you exceed 160 characters, it will count as 2 credits per recipient. If you exceed another 160 characters, it will count as 3 credits per recipient—and so on.

If you’re sending an MMS (up to 1,550 characters), your message will count as 3 messaging credits per recipient regardless of the length of the message.

  1. What carrier restrictions should I follow to get the best message delivery?

The primary carrier restrictions you should follow in order to get the best message delivery would include:

  • Registering your brand (see section below)
  • Avoiding SHAFT content (see section below)
  • Avoiding non-branded URL link shorteners (see section below)
  • Including your brand name in all of your messages
  • Including opt-out instructions in all of your messages
  • Keeping opt-out rate low by having a clear opt-in process and valuable content
  • Sending texts during regular hours (not before 9am or after 8pm in a recipient’s time zone)
Carrier restrictions to follow

  1. What is brand registration?

Brand registration is a simple form you can fill out within your Mobile Text Alerts platform, asking you about your business/organization and how you’ll be using texting. It just takes a couple of minutes to fill out and once it’s submitted, we send it off to the mobile carriers for review.

This simply allows the mobile carriers to pre-approve your messaging traffic, which reduces the chances of your messages being identified as spam and blocked from being delivered.

Use the chat box on the bottom right corner of this screen if you have questions about brand registration or need any help getting started with that.

  1. What are SHAFT standards?

The mobile carriers are very strict about content related to SHAFT—which stands for:

  • Sex
  • Hate
  • Alcohol
  • Firearms
  • Tobacco

Although the acronym only includes those 5 words, the concept of SHAFT extends to nearly any topic with potential legal or ethical concerns, including:

  • Cannabis
  • CBD
  • Vaping
  • Gambling
  • Loans
  • Work-from-home opportunities
  • Anything illegal (or potentially illegal)

If messaging content includes references to any of the above topics (or any other similarly questionable topics), it will likely be blocked by mobile carriers.

If your business legitimately pertains to one of the above topics, you can still send messages. You’ll just need to take care not to specifically mention your products/services. You’ll also need to make sure not to include images or links that mention the questionable products/services at hand.

Instead, you can keep your messages more generic (i.e., “25% storewide clearance today”). If you let your texting audience know ahead of time what to expect, they won’t be confused if your messages are a little more cryptic.

Contact us via the chat box in the bottom right corner of your screen if you would like any help navigating how to send messages for your business in light of SHAFT.

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How to send messages if your content pertains to SHAFT

The main rule to follow when sending links is to never use a publicly accessible URL shortener such as

As far as message delivery goes, your best option is to include the full link rather than to shorten it, particularly if you haven’t registered your brand (see “What is brand registration above?”).

If you’ve registered your brand, you can shorten your link using a branded URL shortener—your Mobile Text Alerts account comes with a free branded URL shortener that you can set up under your Link Tracking page.

Message with Confidence in 2024

With answers to 6 of the most common questions from 2023, you’re ready to move forward into 2024 with confidence in your messaging. If you have any questions, support is only a quick chat away (just use the chat box in the bottom right corner of your screen).

Don’t have a Mobile Text Alerts account yet? Get a free 14-day trial now.

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