As a user with firsthand experience of sending an SMS, sending a text message may seem instant and easy.
However, the reality is that it is an entirely technical and intricate process, especially if the message comes from another country.
One of the challenges that an international brand encounters is avoiding grey routes. This is because SMS messages work uniquely in every country – each has its own requirements and accepted formats.
For example, a text message may originate from country A and be intended for recipients from the same country. Instead of sending the message directly from sender to receiver carriers, it is transmitted overseas through different channels across the world to eventually be delivered in country A with little or no cost.
Another example is a brand from Country A that wants to send a message to Country B. Country B has its own set of SMS rules and regulations. Sending a message to Country B may require hefty fees. The brand chose to go through grey routes, using the channels with lesser restrictions in the neighboring countries of country B. In the same way, the message was delivered to Country B with little cost.
Before any detailed explanation, let us first know what SMS grey routes are.
What are SMS Grey Routes?
Grey routes are pathways of an SMS that avoid a specific country’s requirements and regulations.
Instead of going through a direct or white route, SMS goes through back door routes with loose restrictions.
Simply put, a grey route is not legal nor illegal, but it exploits the vulnerabilities of networks and avoids international laws.
The term was from the combination of white routing (legal) and black routing (illegal).
Why can grey routes be considered more illegal?
Initially, an SMS is sent through a legal channel. However, it travels through illegal channels before being received by customers. It is like going through roadways without traffic enforcers.
Why Should Brands Avoid SMS Grey Routes?
Many brands are tempted to use grey routes to cut costs, but they do not know that there are more reasons to avoid this kind of pathway.
Here are some risks:
1. Grey routes reduce the quality of your SMS messages.
Going through less regulated channels means more possibilities of your messages getting altered and even copied.
With lesser restrictions, messages that contain unsupported characters in a country will simply become nonsense to specific receivers.
Another is that using the grey route does not provide your message with a qualified sender ID.
Your messages may appear illegitimate if the sender ID you have used does not comply with the local requirements.
These can signify low credibility of your brands to consumers.
2. Grey routes do not guarantee SMS delivery to your target receiver.
Because of the lack of regulations along the way, grey routes are unreliable when it comes to ensuring your messages are delivered to your target customers.
When you use grey routes, your messages may get lost as it moves through different locations before being received by the target receiver.
It can be marked as spam and get blocked along the way.
3. Grey routes do not provide you with accurate delivery reports.
A delivery report provides detailed information on the delivery status of the SMS. With this, a brand can easily track if the message has been delivered.
It shows why the message was not successfully delivered or if a contact is no longer active.
It is crucial to have an accurate delivery report to track and monitor messages and ensure a high percentage of delivery the next time.
Grey routes do not provide accurate reports on delivery and open rates. You do not get complete transparency as it often manipulates traffic to bypass firewalls and illegal routes.
4. Grey routes cause a delay in SMS delivery.
Avoiding regulated paths means finding a longer route. Likewise, it will take longer for your customers to receive your message.
In general, we expect that once we trigger the send button, the message will instantly reach its recipient.
With grey routes, a text message is more likely to take hours before making it to a customer.
5. Ultimately, grey routes are illegal.
Grey routes bend a lot of international SMS laws and fees. There is no roaming agreement in place. It is shady and not reliable.
One crucial thing to know is that the used pathways and regions are not complying with regulations, so they have big chances of being shut down anytime.
How to Avoid SMS Grey Routes?
According to Mobilesquared, white-route traffic is forecast to account for 85% of total traffic in 2022. This is because more mobile operators are uniting to fight against grey routing.
You, as a brand, can implement ways to avoid your messages going through the SMS grey route. Here are some helpful ways to do it:
1. Utilize A2P Messaging.
Application-to-Person (A2P) messaging solutions ensure secure, reliable, and fast delivery of your SMS messages to your prospective recipients.
They have specific and legal channels set up for business SMS.
Aside from this, there are a lot of advantages to using an A2P messaging solution aside from avoiding SMS grey routes.
Specifically, the benefits of M360’s A2P messaging solutions include enjoying awareness and reach, driving conversion and sales, and influencing retention and referral.
2. Depend only on secure networks.
Generally, it is the network that your message will go through that device how the SMS will be routed.
It is imperative to depend only on legitimate networks and are known to be secure and established already.
Trustworthy and established networks only utilize white routes, which are entirely safe, legal, and effective in avoiding SMS grey routes. Also, they implement software that identifies and shuts down grey routes.
3. Ensure that your provider uses direct connections.
Using direct connections means sending your messages straight to the local mobile phone networks.
This is the absolute way to avoid SMS grey routes. Ultimately, if you think that your provider uses grey routing, consider switching to a more reliable one.
4. Test the speed of SMS delivery.
Most SMS service providers let brands have a free trial of their service. It will simply let you experience the quality and speed of SMS delivery.
If the messages took so long before arrival, you could ask queries regarding the pathway used by the provider.
5. Partner with a local SMS aggregator.
SMS aggregators are very important in avoiding SMS grey routes. They are familiar and careful in abiding by the country’s rules and regulations.
An aggregator acts as a middleman between SMS service and network providers. They often can negotiate a better price with the host network.
With this, brands no longer have to view grey routes as their option because of their low price.
Wrapping Up: Not Worth the Risk
Indeed, it is hard to risk the quality of the SMS messages your clients may receive.
The significant risks are not worth it if, in the end, you decide to repeat the cycle because many of your prospective contacts did not receive the message.
While going through grey routes may seem like the best way to cut marketing costs on the surface, you may possibly spend more..
After all, you should prioritize your relationship with your customer by providing them with the best experience possible.
The great news is that 天博 Inc., a leading IT company in the Philippines wholly owned by Globe Telecom, offers SMS aggregation services.
Ensure that your messages will be avoiding SMS grey routes and reach Filipino clients, contact our team of experts today.