SMS – Under the Hood

This week’s technical marketers meeting is all about SMS and a ton of information and under the hood aspects have been covered by Kevin Ryan in this session. This blog post is a brief summary of all key highlights shared in the webinar. Let’s start with the agenda…

  • Application Overview
  • Subscriptions
  • Outbound SMS
  • Inbound SMS
  • Delivery Receipts
  • Tokenized Sending
  • Roadmap

SMS Messaging Value Chain and Messaging Process:

  • Marketer: Creates text message in Marketing cloud
  • Marketing Cloud adds personalization using data from the Customer Success Platform
  • Tier1 Aggregators prepares the message for delivery to the appropriate carrier (T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, etc.,)
  • Carrier receives the message and delivers it to the appropriate audience
  • Audience positively disrupted by a personalized text message

Mobile Terminated (MT) is an outbound message that is sent to the customer. Mobile Originated (MO) is an inbound message originated at the handset which comes back to Marketing Cloud

Code is essentially a mobile number that a carrier has segmented for use in A2P messaging. There are 3 types of codes

  • local codes: designated for sending in a single country
  • International codes: UK / Australian long codes sent on international sender id, can send to around 70 countries – one way
  • shared codes: either international or local codes shared among multiple enterprises

Mobile Code Acquisition Process and timeline for US and Canada:

  • Services Kick Off
  • CAF Completion, T&C Page Set Up : 1-2 weeks
  • Aggregator Review and Revisions : 1-2 weeks
  • Carrier Review and Revisions : 4-5 weeks
  • Code Launch

Mobile Code Acquisition Process and timeline for International codes:

  • Code Purchase
  • T&C Page Set Up: 1-2 weeks
  • Code Acquisition/ From Name registration: 1-2 weeks
  • Code Launch

We can get contacts into Mobile Connect by entering them manullay, importing them, API call or thru Keyword Opt-In(MO). In order to send a text message to an end user: Mobile number, Subscriber Key and Locale fields are required in the DE.

Mobile Connect supports three out of the box opt-in flows:

  • Single: User opt ins by using a keyword text in or by sharing their phone number and check a form verifying that they have activated an opt in
  • Double: User opt ins via methods in the single opt in, but have an additional task of authenticating their subscription by responding with a Y or Yes
  • Age Validation: Asks age and is prompted to respond with a number. If the number is above a certain age then they will be subscribed
Single OptIn Flow
Double OptIn Flow

Code and key words relate to mobile subscriptions, in order to consider a user subscribed / unsubscribed, major thing that needs to be considered

  • Mobile Address Status is the overall status of a contact within the mobile tables. Values: Active, Inactive, Deleted(1,2,3)
  • Optin Status ID – Values: NOTOPTEDIN, OPTINPENDING, OPEDIN(0,1,2)
  • Optout Status ID – Values: NotOptedOut, OptedOut, DeletingNotOptedOut, DeletingOptedOut(0,1,10,11)

Subscription Considerations:

  • Always indicate message frequency within the subscription confirmation message
  • Use QueueMO to run all opt-ins in order to designate the subscriber key for a given contract instead of the mobile number and avoid the duplicate contacts
  • Users with OPTINPENDING status are considered as unsubscribed contacts

Subscriptions live at code and hierarchy level

  • Atleast one OPTEDIN subscription is required to send a user an outbound message
  • Multiple join keyowords can be used to assist with end user segmentation
  • Subscriptions are not required for text response messages

Both Global and Custom Stop requests will opt the user out of the entire code

Outbound SMS Under the Hood:

  • Messaging Application: Content Creation, Message Creation, Configuration Settings, Keyword management using Mobile Connect, Journey builder or the API
  • Send Engine: Number Validation, Ampscript Rendering, Subscription Validation, Message deployment
  • Aggregator: Message Routing, DLR Provider
  • Carrier: Message delivery, DLR Provider

How SFMC handles MOs/Inbound Messages:

  • First instance processing: First noun in the inbound message is processed as keyword
  • SFMC first checks against the Global STOP processor and then the Custom STOP processor
  • All other unrecognized keywords are handled by default keyword processor

Tokenized Sending

Sensitive information like PII/PHI need not be stored in the Marketing Cloud and can be transmitted to MC only during send time which is a most common use case for the financial institutions. All the sensitive information can be stored in the data warehouse/external systems and the MC stores only a single token per send attribute.

That’s a lot of learning and many questions answered surrounding the ambiguity of how the sms work under the hood. I would highly recommend this webinar for any one working with SMS messaging. You can find the presentation and the full recording here.

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