7 Common Reasons Why Your Text Message May Be Delayed

Team MessageFlow
10 min
February 1, 2024

Convenience being extremely or very important to 82% of shoppers is a stat easily transferable to other areas of business and life in general. The idea is a rather broad one, encompassing a number of specific concepts, however, when applied to digital communication, it certainly involves immediacy. Drilling deeper, it has to be said that instantaneous delivery of SMS is a bit of an oversimplification. Once dispatched, texts do indeed arrive without any significant intervals, but if you want to get extremely specific, a short time does pass before they pop up on the recipient’s phone. In essence, SMS isn’t an instant messaging app and that’s fine. What if, though, the time between Sent and Delivered is getting unusually long? What are the reasons SMS may be arriving late?

This article aims to:

  • Help you realize that not every single SMS in a text message campaign may arrive perfectly on time.

  • Discuss the reasons for text message delays.

  • Introduce measures to mitigate the problem of delayed text messages. 

  • Stress the importance of working with a reliable SMS service partner.

Reasons why a text message may be delayed

Being on time is a quality favored regardless of the context. Naturally, you want your texts to arrive with no delays in order to maintain high customer satisfaction and capitalize on any time-sensitive business goals you may have, like closing out sales or delivering any transactional information.

Despite having everything worked out to a tee in organizational terms, there’s still a slew of factors which may affect the speed of delivery and cause some of the users to receive text messages later than expected. 

Common reasons for delayed message delivery

1. Network load

The greater network doesn’t have an unlimited capacity which means that heavy SMS traffic, especially on certain occasions like Black Friday, puts an extra strain on the carrier, causing some of the messages to get stuck and eventually arrive later than expected.

2. Signal strength

Although we take being able to use our mobile phones wherever for granted, especially coming from urban centers, the coverage in certain remote areas, during bad weather, or in places with big obstructions can cause the signal to weaken, delaying the arrival of the message.

3. Mobile phone issues

Next up is the question of the device on the receiving end. If it’s an old model, perhaps with limited memory filled with old messages, switched off, with a damaged antenna, A2P messaging blocked by the user, the default SMS app deactivated, or the user being abroad, your text may not reach them in an ideal timeframe.

4. Carrier issues

The mobile carrier performing the actual task of transmitting your texts may experience a number of issues leading to a delayed delivery. These can include improperly configured network settings, DDoS attacks, or routing issues which can all cause delays because of the messages being rerouted, taking longer to arrive.

5. Cross-network compatibility

With multiple carriers operating in a single market, having different messaging protocols requiring additional processing to be done, plus potential international differences, your SMS message may end up delayed, especially since some networks prioritize their native traffic.

6. Tech issues

Various tech-related problems by GSM operators or the platform you use to dispatch your SMS campaigns may cause temporary issues like server synchronization, which can affect routing and delivery algorithms. Carriers may be conducting maintenance or experience hardware failures also resulting in delays.

7. Overloaded servers

Another reason your SMS may get delayed is when servers can’t process the volume of messages efficiently. This is often due to limited network bandwidth, DDoS attacks flooding with requests, poor processing algorithms, content filtering processes taking up too much resources, or bad planning that doesn’t account for occasional traffic spikes.

Steps you can take to fix delayed text messages

Instead of just waiting for it to happen, you can take a number of preventive measures to minimize the probability of SMS delays and so increase the efficiency of your campaigns.

Database hygiene

First off, you want to make sure that the numbers you have in your database are valid and that you have consent for communication from all the recipients. Before you send a text, check if there are any users who opted-out or blocked your messaging and if so remove them from your SMS list.

Mobile phone network status

Before going live with your campaign, ensure it doesn’t overlap with any planned updates or maintenance work. If you haven’t done it in advance and some delays happened, cross-reference them with the network status history to see if the carrier issues might’ve been the cause.

Tracking and analytics

Especially when using an external service, take a look at the data related to your SMS campaign to see if you can notice any irregularities, as well as confirm successful deliveries. Ideally, the data you have access to can provide you with some valuable insights as to what lead to delayed text messages.

Potential issues with third-party service providers

Your messages being late to arrive may be caused by the SMS provider whose services you’re using experiencing a variety of issues. If you work with an external partner, make sure they’re reliable and have:

  • the highest service uptime

  • are able to scale your campaigns easily 

  • are compliant with SMS marketing regulations, especially if you’re targeting different markets or  countries

Here’s how MessageFlow ensures timely SMS delivery

Building on the final point of the previous section, if you’re looking to create conditions for reliable, on-time text message delivery, we’re ready to step in as your dependable partner, providing a technological framework for running SMS marketing campaigns at any scale.

5 strong reasons for choosing MessageFlow as your business text message solution

  1. We have major experience and knowledge of how to operate in different markets, including internationally.

  2. Direct to carrier connections we have in multiple countries further improve the quality and efficiency of our operations.

  3. We boast a 99.95% service uptime so that you can use the platform whenever suits you best.

  4. Our maximal throughput of 6 mln messages per hour offers huge scalability opportunities.

  5. Delivering 11.7 bln messages a month, we do it in an average time of 3.5 seconds.

Minimize SMS delay using the right tools 

Delayed SMS messages can cause a problem when the campaign you dispatch is highly time-sensitive or when the text is of a transactional nature, supposed to deliver essential information to the user.

Although some of the reasons for a delay are independent of your actions, one thing you can do to ensure the success of your campaign is to work with a solid, reliable tech partner who has all the tools to make sure your texts arrive on time.

That said, we encourage you to learn more about MessageFlow’s SMS marketing channel and all the benefits it offers or contact us to discuss the details of your next texting campaign.

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