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Delayed text messages: 9 most common reasons and ways to solve them

Reading Time: 7 minutes

A common myth in SMS marketing is that text message delivery is always instantaneous, except for large multimedia files.

In reality, text messages usually arrive almost instantly but issues like network congestion and poor signal strength can lead to delayed text messages, even for the shortest messages.

Delayed text messages can lead to customer dissatisfaction. You could also lose time-sensitive opportunities to close sales and a lot more.

In this post, we’re going to help you understand some of the main factors that affect the timeliness of message delivery and the steps you can take to prevent delays.

Let’s get started.

What are delayed text messages?

A message can be classified as ‘delayed’ if there’s a significant time gap between the time you send the message and the time the message gets to its destination.

The message reaches the recipient later than expected. And in some cases, it does not get there at all.

This is bad, considering how powerful SMS marketing is as a marketing method.

In fact, it’s so powerful that a Grand View Research study shows the U.S. SMS marketing market size will be worth $12.6 billion by 2025—from $2 billion in 2015.

With companies ready to invest so much in SMS marketing, delayed text messages need to be addressed to achieve the best ROI.

Any text message not delivered on time can negatively impact your brand reputation, revenue, as well as customer experience.

It makes it important to understand the key causes of delayed text messages in order to implement the right solutions and preventative measures.

Why text messages might be delayed

Here are some common reasons for delayed text messages that have little to do with your SMS marketing strategy .

1. Network congestion

Congestion on the network carrier due to heavy traffic can cause delayed text messages.

Congestion tends to occur if many people send messages simultaneously, such as on New Year’s Day. The high volume of traffic can cause messages to be queued for delivery, leading to delays.

2. Technical glitches and server issues

Delayed text messages can result from software bugs and synchronization issues with the server.

It can interfere with message routing, processing, and delivery algorithms. This leads to message queuing that causes delays.

3. Carrier-related problems

Carrier problems like misconfigured network settings, Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks, and routing table issues can disrupt network operations.

This can cause messages to get stuck in transit or take a longer route, leading to delayed messages.

4. Poor signal strength

Rural areas and locations with bad weather and big obstructions like mountains, cliffs, and large buildings often have zero or very poor network coverage.

If the recipient is in such a location, there’s likely to be a delay in message delivery.

5. Device-specific factors

A subscriber could experience a delay receiving text messages due to issues with their phone.

An old or outdated device, for instance, could have limited processing power that delays incoming messages.

Other issues could be:

  • Limited memory capacity
  • A phone that’s switched off
  • A damaged or disconnected antenna
  • The recipient may have blacklisted A2P messaging
  • A deactivated messaging app. Some people use internet-based messaging as their main texting medium, and deactivate the default messaging app
  • A roaming user. If the number you’re trying to contact isn’t in the country, there could be a delay in delivery

6. Cross-platform compatibility

If you’re sending a message from a network that’s different from the recipient’s network, the process may delay.

This is because some mobile networks prioritize traffic from their network over others.

Interoperability challenges can also occur. Different carriers use differing technical protocols for messaging. It could call for additional processing to ensure messages are routed correctly and delivered, which can cause delays.

7. Temporary outages

Routine maintenance, planned upgrades, unanticipated technical problems, and hardware failures can cause temporary service outages.

In the same way, if your messaging system relies on third-party services or APIs for some of its functionalities, an outage in these services can cause delayed text messages.

8. Overloaded servers

Delayed text messages can occur if the servers cannot process the volume of messages efficiently.

This can be caused by:

  • Inadequate resources, such as limited network bandwidth
  • DDoS attacks that flood the server with an unmanageable number of requests
  • Poor message processing algorithms
  • Resource-intensive content filtering processes that make the server incapable of keeping up with the message flow
  • Inadequate capacity planning that doesn’t cater to unexpected spikes in message traffic

9. Delivery failures

Compliance with regulatory requirements in the respective jurisdictions can prevent carrier filters from blocking message delivery.

This can include:

  • Failing to obtain consent from the recipient for marketing messages
  • Failing to provide opt-out options
  • Exceeding message frequency limits
  • Using misleading sender information
  • Sending text messages outside of allowed timeframes
  • Including prohibited content in your messages

How to solve text messages delays or messages not being delivered

The occasional delayed text messages are inevitable. The most important thing is to know when it happens and what actions to take.

Steps to identify delayed messages

Step 1: Verify the recipient’s information

Poor list quality is a common cause of delivery failures. Check if the numbers in your SMS list are valid.

You should also check if you have consent from your subscribers for marketing messages.

Confirm if there are customers in your SMS list who have opted out or blocked your number and remove these numbers from your list.

Step 2: Check network status

Check the delivery status of recipients that are using different networks and compare their delivery times and success rates.

It can confirm if a network issue of a specific carrier is the cause of the delayed text messages.

Step 3: Set up tracking and analytics

Reliable SMS providers have tracking and analytics features you can use to verify message status.

For instance, using Omnisend’s SMS automation provides you with access to reports on subscribers who have successfully received your SMS, as well as delivery failures.

Step 4: Consider issues related to the carrier

Some mobile network operators make communications about upcoming routine maintenance and planned upgrades that can cause temporary network outages.

Be on the lookout for these communications. It can help you anticipate and plan for potential text message delays.

Step 5: Consider issues related to the SMS service provider

Assess the dependability of your current SMS service provider. Check if they:

  • Have a high level of uptime
  • Are compliant with all industry standards and regulations related to SMS marketing in the regions your customers are in
  • Are scalable. As your business grows, the provider should be capable of handling the growing number of text messages with little room for errors.

Step 6: Consider issues related to third-party messaging apps and services

If delivery to a specific subscriber is failing, check if message delivery to other recipients using the same network carrier is successful and timely.

If this is the case, the recipient could be using third-party messaging apps and services instead of the standard messaging app.

How to resolve delayed messages

You can take these actions once you’ve established why the message isn’t delivered.

1. Resend the message

Try resending the message to see if the network and carrier issue has been resolved. However, be careful not to retry too many times. It could trigger the spam filter.

Before resending, check if the message content needs modification. You can try to:

  • Make it shorter
  • Remove excessive advertising content
  • Add an opt-out instruction
  • Turn it into a personalized text message . Sending multiple identical messages can trigger carrier spam filters
  • Remove any forbidden content

2. Use alternative communication methods

A multi-channel marketing approach can help you reach customers who don’t receive your text messages.

You can use email or set up push notifications on your website to send order confirmations, product recommendations, and cart recovery messages to customers.

3. Contact technical support

Reach out to the technical support of your SMS provider. They can investigate the issues causing delayed text messages and provide a solution.

4. Contact your carrier

Contact your carrier about the delayed text messages. They can confirm if there’s an issue with their network or with sending text messages to other networks.

They could also provide a workaround.

5. Use message scheduling

This is where you set your text messages to be sent out at a specific time in the future.

Message scheduling optimizes your send times. It ensures that your messages are sent out during off-peak hours when traffic is low, or at a time that is most convenient for the customer.

Tips for preventing future delays

Here are some measures you can take to prevent delayed text messages.

Update your devices and messaging apps regularly

SMS providers regularly update their apps to improve their compatibility with the latest network protocols.

Updates also fix bugs and issues that could affect the messaging app’s functionality.

Monitor signal strength

Pay attention to the network indicator on your device.

In case there’s a poor network, enhance your signal reception using a signal booster.

Clear cache and data

Clearing cache related to the messaging app’s settings can resolve a misconfiguration that could be causing delayed messages.

It also creates more storage space. This can reduce app lag and stabilize the messaging app’s performance.

How to schedule delayed text messages using Omnisend?

Omnisend is a powerful SMS marketing platform you can use to schedule messages for the most convenient and respectful time for subscribers in different time zones.

During events and holidays, schedule messages during off-peak network usage times when there’s less network congestion.

All you have to do is add a delay block to one of the workflow nodes in your SMS automation.

Here’s an illustration:

You can set the delay to a specific time or day, as you see fit.

Wrap-up: Reduce the impact of delayed text messages using Omnisend

Delayed text messages are very real, and businesses sometimes struggle to manage the issue. It can result from faults on your side, the recipients’, or the network carriers’.

The good news is that you can control and avoid delayed text messages by adopting the most effective strategies and precautionary measures.

You can resend the message and see if it resolves it. If it still fails, contact your SMS provider or carrier. They can investigate the problem and provide you with a solution.

Ensure you’re using a powerful SMS platform like Omnisend to track your delivery and bounce rates.

Omnisend can also help you take corrective and preventative measures like scheduling text messages for a time that they’re likely to be delivered, and a lot more.



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