How long does it take to send a text message?

4 minute read

Team Mobile Messaging

Text messages deliver your content to your audience in a format that’s fast, widely adopted, and highly likely to be opened. That’s why, when organizations need to update their subscribers quickly, they turn to mobile messaging.

But just how fast is text messaging? Well, it depends.

While some mobile messaging providers may advertise lightning-fast SMS send speeds from their platform, there are other factors that influence how quickly messages travel to recipients. For instance, once your message leaves the text messaging platform, it goes through the recipient’s wireless carrier before landing in their text messaging app. Message content also plays a role in its speed.

As you evaluate mobile messaging providers, it’s important to consider each of the factors that affect speed, as well as the ways in which these providers can help you navigate these factors – especially if your mobile messaging success relies on quick delivery.

Factors That Affect SMS Send Speeds

Regardless of how fast a provider promises to send messages, a provider’s send speed doesn’t tell the whole story. We’ll briefly discuss a few of the factors that impact send speed here.

Delivery to a Wireless Carrier

Before a message gets from your platform to the recipient, it is placed in a queue for processing by an “aggregator” that routes messages to each of the major US wireless carriers. Depending on how quickly the aggregator processes your message, this step can add time to your delivery speed.

Speed between the Wireless Carrier and the Recipient’s Phone

The most significant factor in a message’s journey is the part between the wireless carrier and a subscriber’s mobile phone. The carriers each set their own limits on the number of messages that can be sent per second, per short code. No matter how quickly a platform sends messages, wireless carriers are likely not delivering those messages to subscribers in nearly the same time frame.

MMS or Multi-Part SMS

MMS send rates are slower than SMS, so if you send multimedia content to your subscribers, they won’t equal a mobile messaging provider’s advertised speed. Longer texts may also affect the delivery speed of your messaging, as a multi-part SMS can change a broadcast from a single message per recipient to two or more messages per recipient.

Message Content

Messages with customized links, personalization, or other dynamic content require more time to filter and generate than simpler messaging. As your list of subscribers grows, the number of messages you send also grows, further increasing the message generation time. For larger lists with complex segmentation, the combined filtering and message generation process can take several minutes.

Of course, segmentation and dynamic content are key parts of engaging mobile messaging programs. So just as you would consider these essential platform capabilities in your search for a mobile messaging provider, you should also consider whether your potential platform can help you navigate message timing.

Evaluating Mobile Messaging Providers for Speed

When you need to send information quickly, it’s important to choose a mobile messaging provider that can help ensure your messages arrive as soon as possible. A provider’s advertised send speeds are only part of this picture.

Here are a few things to look out for:

  • Providers may claim speeds of a million messages per second, but has their capacity been tested? Ensure that the provider you pick has the scale to support large mobile programs.
  • Does the provider offer clear metrics? Do they provide delivery receipts or display messages that fail to send or are still pending/queued? Clear reporting can provide insights into just how quickly recipients receive your message.
  • How experienced is their mobile strategy team? Mobile messaging platforms backed by industry expertise can help you optimize your programs for peak performance.
  • Does the provider have the security and stability to support your program? Needless to say, a platform with uptime issues will definitely affect your send speed.
  • Does the platform or their aggregator have the reach and reputation necessary for you to achieve maximum carrier throughput? Established partners can help ensure that your messages are accepted and distributed with top tier priority by the wireless carriers.

Now That You’re up to Speed on Send Speeds…

Ultimately, the time between hitting send on your message and the message hitting a recipient’s device is tricky to calculate and varies by message. An Upland Mobile Messaging expert can help you plan and execute automated, personalized messaging campaigns that reach all or specific segments of your audience with relevant messages on time.

To learn more about how you can deliver engaging messaging quickly, talk to your Upland Mobile Messaging customer success manager, or contact us here.

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