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Decoding SMS delivery status: Messages sent, delivered, failed, undelivered

MessageFlow Team
5 min read
SMS
October 27, 2023

Despite the emergence and growth of many new channels, SMS marketing remains the heartbeat of modern business communication. With 23 billion messages sent globally every day, it maintains its status as one of the most popular means of interaction. In the post-pandemic era, 1 in 10 businesses worldwide have been using SMS service for A2P (application to person) communication with iOS and Android devices. If you happen to be one of these organizations, you want to know what the status of the message you dispatched is. Today, we’ll dig into the issue to help you understand what’s the difference between a sent and delivered message, as well as untangle some of the other statuses an SMS may have.

What is a sent SMS message?

With the execution of the "Send" command, your SMS takes its first steps on a digital journey. This status somewhat suggests that it’s all done, but in reality, it's just the opening stage of the process.

At this point, you may be tempted to exhale in relief, thinking the task is complete. However, lurking in the shadows is a potential pitfall: the "failed to send" status. But fear not, there’s an explanation for it, should this situation ever occur to you.

Text message delivery process

What “Message has been sent” means is that your text message has hopped onto the digital expressway and is heading towards the server tasked with delivering it to your customer. It's akin to a messenger reaching a checkpoint, not the final destination yet.

Keep in mind that this journey may get rudely interrupted by the loss of Internet connection. The SMS, despite being in transit, may stumble, resulting in the "failed to send the message" notification. 

In essence, a message status saying "Sent" means that’s been submitted to the mobile network or carrier for delivery.

What is a delivered SMS message?

Ah, the sweet satisfaction of "Delivered"! It's like a bell ringing, signaling that your text is now at the doorstep, ready and waiting for your recipient to open it.

Once it reaches the recipient's phone, the service provider eagerly indicates that message delivery was successful. A signal comes through the digital waves, declaring the status change to "Delivered successfully." It's a moment of assurance, a virtual nod that your words are now within arm's reach of your audience.

Why is the delivery status stuck on Sent?

Still, in the complex web of global connectivity, there are rare instances where the text message delivery report falters, leaving the status clinging to "Sent" despite the successful arrival. 

That said, even when the successful delivery report comes, the tale doesn't always end as expected. Sometimes, the elusive "Delivered" status graces you while the customer's phone remains silent. Why is that? This may be due to the device’s memory issues or the inbox being full. The remedy for this is usually as simple as clearing the cache and restarting the device.

In essence, a message being delivered means that it’s reached the recipient's phone but it doesn’t tell you if it has been actually seen yet.

What is a failed delivery of a message?

No need to panic, a hiccup in the SMS journey is often an easy fix. Sometimes, the carrier may reject your text not out of human error but due to some temporary technical glitches.

As far as common reasons for a failed delivery go, consider temporary lack of network coverage, the number being unavailable (i.e. switched off or no longer under contract with the operator), or the owner being abroad with no roaming service on. It also may happen that the phone is experiencing some technical issues or has its inbox full. 

In the rare event of connections dropping, triggering a text failure, remain calm. It's like a dance where the partners momentarily lose step but regain the rhythm right after.

In essence, when a message fails to arrive at its destination, it means that the service provider didn’t accept the message and thus delivery wasn’t possible.

What is an undelivered SMS message?

The "Undelivered" status signals a detour in the SMS's journey, often caused by an incompatible phone, incorrect number, or unsuitable content. Think of it as the message being lost in translation due to a mismatch in the digital language. Most often sending a text to an invalid number is the prime suspect in this digital whodunit. 

Now, before you embark on a mass-texting spree, consider the following advice. Take time to evaluate the quality of the phone numbers in your contact list or database. Although they all might seem correct at first glance, many will prove to be mistypes, landlines, or just phony (pun intended). 

The importance of the accuracy of your database can’t be overstated. Make sure all the numbers are properly formatted to avoid your SMS messages getting lost in the digital wilderness.

In essence, a message is deemed undelivered when the service provider receives a notification saying as much for any of the reasons mentioned.

Final thoughts on SMS delivery reports

Within the range of various business communication channels, the SMS emerges as one which resonates with immediacy and impact. It's a tried and tested dynamic force that transcends smartphones, offering high deliverability, an open rate that speaks volumes, and a conversion rate powered by the simplicity of the format.

As we moved through the nuances of SMS campaign statuses, our goal was to help you understand the differences between "Sent," "Delivered," "Failed," and "Undelivered." These statuses aren’t just digital labels, they act as footprints that lead you through the labyrinth of communication.

Getting the gist of these statuses is key to optimizing your future campaigns, as the better insights you have, the more adeptly you can adjust your strategies, making sure that each SMS counts towards success.

Get your delivery rate up with MessageFlow!

And speaking of success, why navigate this realm alone when you can have a reliable partner? We, at MessageFlow, excel at cross-channel communication, offering a CPaaS (Communication Platform as a Service) solution designed to ensure your messages not only get successfully delivered, but do so with the speed and precision that the global market demands. Utilizing direct connections with GSM operators worldwide, we guarantee a seamless path for your marketing and transactional messages dispatched via the panel or SMS API integration.

Ready to take the SMS channel for a spin? Whether solo or as part of a cross-channel communication campaign, the synergistic results await. Reasons why SMS messages are worthy of your time include the ease of launching, no spam filters, and high response rates, offering a cost-effective avenue with incredible ROI and analytics.

Should you have questions about any aspects of business communication involving SMS, let us know. We're here to provide the assistance you need. Reach out at contact@messageflow.com and let's make sure your messages are successfully received.

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