SMS Delivery Report: How It Works [2024]

November 9, 2023 (Updated) | By Sam Pelton
Man viewing SMS delivery report

Success in your business is all about… measurements.

You need to be able to measure how well or how poorly different elements or campaigns are doing. You need to be able to see data and results.

As a businessperson, you already know this. You know about goals and metrics and KPIs.

You’ve probably felt the frustration and uncertainty of trying something out for your business but having no way of knowing whether or not it yielded any desired results.

And that’s why if you’re using an SMS marketing platform, you need a tool that provides an SMS delivery report.

Without reporting, your SMS marketing will just be throwing things into the mix with the vague hope of some kind of result.

But if you have a way to see some specifics, that can give you confidence that you’re on the right track, or help you see where you need to improve.

We’ll talk about 5 specific ways an SMS delivery report can help you with that, plus some best some best practices on how to get the best delivery possible.

But before we get into that, let’s do a quick rundown of the SMS delivery report in your SMS platform and what kind of information you can glean from it.

business woman texting SMS delivery report

What Is an SMS Delivery Report?

Your SMS delivery report, or “Sent Messages Report,” will give you an overview of all your sent messages, plus a breakdown of individual text blasts.

Your overview will let you know:

  • The content of your message
  • How many recipients your message was sent to
  • Whether or not your message was an MMS (picture message)
  • The time and date your message was sent
  • The name of the administrator profile that sent the message

Clicking on an individual message will show you a full report of all the intended recipients for that message.

From there you’ll be able to see the name, phone number, email address, and message status for each recipient.

Here are some examples of message statuses that you might see:

  • SENT - This means that the platform didn’t notice any issues when sending out the message
  • FAILED LANDLINE DELIVERY - This means that the phone number was detected as a landline number, so the message could not be delivered
  • INVALID NUMBER - This means that the phone number was detected as an illegitimate phone number, so the message could not be delivered
  • REJECTED/UNDELIVERED - This means that while the message was successfully sent on the platform end, it was not delivered by downstream providers or carriers

These statuses can help give you more insight on your messages so that you can make more confident, informed decisions.

Business woman looking at SMS delivery reports

5 Ways an SMS Delivery Report Helps Give You the Info You Need

1. An SMS Delivery Report Lets You Know If You Have Any Bad Numbers

Finding Bad Numbers: Example 1

Let’s say you send out an SMS blast to your customers - perhaps some kind of promotion.

You’ve got a good feeling about this campaign. You’re hyped up, and you wait with anticipation to see how many sales this text promotion brings in.

And you wait. And you wait. And you wait.

Your excitement soon fades into disappointment as you realize your campaign was a dud. No one took the bait.

You’re perplexed. You thought it would be an outstanding success - it offered a can’t-miss deal, had enticing copy, and was sent via the most popular avenue of communication (texting).

What happened?

Trying to solve the mystery, the first place you look is your SMS delivery report.

Upon viewing your report, you find that all your recipients are showing as “landlines.”

You suddenly realize your mistake - You had accidentally loaded in your customers’ landline numbers rather than their mobile numbers.

With relief and a renewed excitement, you make the appropriate adjustments, clearing out the landline numbers and loading in the correct numbers.

You re-send your campaign and are overjoyed to find that it yields exactly the successful response you were hoping for.

Finding Bad Numbers: Example 2

Or let’s say you want to save some money and clean up your text marketing list.

(You’re always looking for ways to organize your life and make efficient use of your hard-earned money, after all!)

Upon looking at your SMS delivery report, you discover several phone numbers in your past couple of blasts that are showing as “invalid.”

You can now go in and remove those “invalid” numbers. That way, you’re not wasting your time and money sending messages to illegitimate recipients.

These are just a few examples of how your SMS delivery report can help you determine if there are bad phone numbers in your messaging list, so that you can adjust accordingly.

5 Ways an SMS Delivery Report Helps Give You the Info You Need infographic

2. An SMS Delivery Report Helps Confirm Whether or Not Your Message Was Actually Sent

Now maybe you’re not super tech-savvy… or maybe you are.

Either way, you can probably acknowledge with the rest of us that technology is a fickle friend.

It works beautifully one moment and the next seems to melt down like a toddler throwing a tantrum. For some, this is a recipe for extreme irritation.

Alleviate the Confusion

An SMS delivery report helps you alleviate some of this confusion as it applies to using your SMS marketing platform.

For example, let’s say you’re trying to send out your SMS blast and you click “Send.” Then your internet connection goes out.

Or perhaps you scheduled a message for a specific date or time yesterday, but didn’t realize your message credit balance was running low.

In both of these cases (or other situations like them), you may be simply wondering, “Did my message even go out?”

The Solution: View the Report

Instead of puzzling and fretting, you can simply view your SMS delivery report, and from there you can see that your message did indeed (or did not) send correctly.

Confusion resolved!

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3. An SMS Delivery Report Helps You Determine If There Are Issues with Your Message Content

From your perspective, it probably seems like the process of sending texts should be simple. It should be as easy as clicking “Send” and all your messages go out successfully, right?

While in many ways the SMS marketing process is incredibly simple, sometimes the phone carriers’ anti-spam measures make things a little tricky and can cause messages not to be delivered.

Delivery Status Help You Analyze

Your SMS delivery report can help ease the frustration of these seemingly unexplainable delivery issues.

In particular, you can keep an eye out for a REJECTED or UNDELIVERED status for your individual recipients.

The messages displaying this status could have been rejected for a variety of reasons, but one possible reason is that they were blocked as suspected spam.

So if you ever see this status for your messages, one thing you can check is whether or not your message contains any content that could be triggering spam filters.

Best Practices to Avoid Non-Delivery

More are this below, here are some best practices to help avoid non-delivery due to spam filtering:

  • Make sure all recipients for your messages have legitimately opted in to receive your texts
  • Identify yourself or your organization/business within each message
  • Try to avoid using public URL shorteners such as if possible
  • Don’t include content in your message related to “SHAFT” - sex, hate, alcohol, firearms, or tobacco (including cannabis)
  • This should go without saying, but don’t include content that is misleading or fraudulent (or is similar to fraudulent scams)
  • Include clear opt-out instructions (such as “Reply STOP to opt out”) in your messages. (Note: Your SMS platform will automatically remove people who reply to any of your messages with the word STOP from your text list.)

If you run into REJECTED or UNDELIVERED statuses for any of your messages, go over the above list and see if your message content passes all the criteria. If not, you can make the appropriate adjustments and try again.

Best Practices to Avoid Non-Delivery infographic

4. An SMS Delivery Report Helps You Gauge the Success of Your Efforts

Imagine a world in which you send out some kind of text or email marketing campaign and there was absolutely no report back.

No confirmation that the message went out. No record of the message being sent. No delivery statuses. No way to gauge the success or failure of your efforts.

Sounds pretty frustrating!

That’s why if you’re a businessperson, you recognize that you need reporting to make decisions. And you're probably always looking for ways to analyze your marketing efforts and improve.

What Does a Delivery Report Help You Know?

You want to know:

  • Was that campaign worth it?
  • What elements worked within that campaign?
  • What elements just didn’t connect like you expected?
  • Did that campaign yield the results you were hoping for?
  • What can you learn about how to get better results in future campaigns?

So rather than wallowing in wondering uncertainty, you can use an SMS delivery report as a tool to help you gauge the success of your SMS marketing.

What Does a Delivery Report Help You Determine?

You can view your report to determine:

  • Whether or not you have landline or invalid numbers you need to remove
  • Whether or not your SMS campaign ran into any known delivery issues that could be addressed
  • Whether your messages were “regular” SMS, or were MMS (picture messages)
  • How many people were sent each message
  • Which particular groups or individuals were sent each message
  • Which messages were sent during a specified time period
  • What the specific content was for each message

You can use all of that information to educate your analysis and make decisions on future SMS marketing efforts.

Woman texting SMS delivery report

5. An SMS Delivery Report Helps You Manage Your SMS Platform Subscription

As a businessperson, you not only need to make informed decisions about your marketing efforts.

You also need to make informed decisions about the specific tools you use, and the finances that go into those tools.

Should you continue to use your current tool, or should you change to a different provider?

Should you remain on your current plan, or could you save money by switching to another pricing tier?

Should you retain your current billing cycle, or would it be more prudent to change to another payment frequency option?

It can sometimes be difficult, time-consuming, and frustrating to make these kinds of decisions.

That’s when an SMS delivery report can help.

Being able to see a report listing your messages helps you make determinations about your messaging patterns, such as how many messages you’re sending. The number of messages sent is the key component to determining which plan you should be on.

The report can also help you see whether or not there is any pattern of behavior in your messaging you could change to help you save money.

For example, if your messages are longer than 160 characters they will use up more credits. With that in mind, you may observe from your report that your messages tend to be long and wordy.

In that scenario, you may then determine that you could use up fewer messaging credits in your subscription by shortening the messages in your campaign.

A simple analysis like that could save you hard-earned dollars and comes out of simply observing the message content in your SMS delivery report.

SMS Delivery Reports for Android and iOS

As a bit of a side note, you can get delivery receipts not only for business texting but for personal texting as well.

For some Android phones you can set “message delivery confirmation” for SMS to On in your messaging app settings.

For iOS devices such as iPhones, there is no SMS delivery reporting. However, there are message delivery reports for text messages sent via iMessage. (iMessage is how messages are sent by default among Apple device users.)

Why Would an SMS Fail to Deliver? Infographic

Why Would an SMS Fail to Deliver?

There are a few reasons why an SMS may fail to deliver:

  • Arguably the most common reason an SMS may fail to deliver would be that phone carrier filtered out the message as suspected spam (see “How to Improve Delivery Rates” below for some ways to help prevent this).
  • An SMS may fail to deliver if the end device was turned off.
  • An SMS may fail to deliver if the end device was out of the range of service.
  • An SMS may fail to deliver if the end device had lapsed in service at the time the message was sent.
  • An SMS may fail to deliver if the end device is not able to receive SMS.

How to Improve Delivery Rates If You’re Seeing Low Rates in Your SMS Delivery Report

If you’re seeing low delivery rates in your reports, it could be that your messages are being interpreted as spam by the mobile carriers. There are a few measures you can take to help with this.

  • Make sure you’ve registered your traffic with the wireless carriers. You can do this by filling out a form directly within your SMS platform’s dashboard.
  • Be careful with links. Don’t shorten your links unless you have a branded link shortening tool.
  • Avoid directly mentioning touchy topics. This would include content promoting sexual topics, hate speech, gambling, alcohol, firearms, tobacco, marijuana, loans, and other potentially questionable items.
  • Make sure your recipients are clear on who you are. You should collect consent from people to send them text messages, and you should be explicit about who you are when you send your messages.

How SMS Marketing Boosts Sales and Confidence

Thus far we’ve discussed specifically SMS delivery reports and how they can help you make informed decisions.

But maybe you’re currently just a curious onlooker. Perhaps you haven’t quite reached that decision to even move forward with SMS marketing as a tool for your business yet.

That’s OK! If that’s the case, you’re probably reading this so that you can make the kinds of informed decisions we’ve been talking about.

Here are a few stats to help give you some confidence:

  • Texts have an open rate as high as 99%.
  • According to the CTIA, 2.2 trillion texts were sent in the United States last year alone.
  • Some groups of people spend as much as 10 hours a day on their cell phones.

And you know just from personal experience about how texting has overtaken the nation.

SMS marketing helps give you confidence that you’re reaching people in the most effective way possible. And thus, you can get the best response from your marketing efforts.

Because you want to know that you’re using the best tools for your business!

Get More Confidence in Your Marketing with SMS Delivery Reports

The bottom line, as you’re likely well aware, is that information is king.

Being informed allows you to ease that uncertainty that creeps up into your business decisions.

Being informed allows you to focus more time on the huge benefits of SMS marketing and less time on confusion and frustration.

Use an SMS delivery report with your SMS marketing tool to help contribute to that confidence in your marketing efforts.

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