Should or Shouldn't You Rotate SMS Numbers?
December 13, 2022

Should or Shouldn't You Rotate SMS Numbers?

Companies that rotate text numbers experience a large volume of SPAM and text delivery issues. It's common practice for many businesses that use SMS as part of their communication strategy to message in real-time and in bulk. No genuine two-way communication and engagement strategy would require you to change or rotate SMS numbers. Let's dive in more, and be sure to continue to the end as we cover many best practices and recommendations to stay spam-free and compliant. Maximize your SMS reach by not falling victim to poor text automation practices.

"Snowshoeing" is a spamming strategy used by many. The act of "rotating phone numbers" is described as SMS Snowshoeing. If you're shocked as to why a routine act of "deprecating and buying new numbers" is an act of SPAM, let's clarify.

Snowshoeing involves sending the same or similar worded messages across multiple numbers to avoid per-number rate limits and volume limitations. Let's take a moment to understand the SMS landscape a bit more:

  • U.S. cellular carriers have in place highly trained, large AI/ML models that monitor, detect, and flag messages that fall into predetermined categories set up as SPAM.
  • If a number or set of numbers used is "marked" as SPAM, carriers will likely block all outbound traffic from those numbers. Initially, numbers will be blocked slowly and then multiply quickly.
  • There is a process in place to get the number reviewed and cleared from SPAM (we will not be going into details of this here) which avoids obtaining a new number.
  • Brands and companies that continue to get new phone numbers allotted or continue a Snowshoeing strategy to text will ultimately be banned by carriers or heavily penalized for malpractice. Providers can also review the consent process in great detail if your company is penalized for breaking the rules.

The LOSS INCURRED with rotating numbers

The most significant loss from rotating numbers is the loss of engagement with prospects (leads) and customers.

Imagine agent Sally is having a great conversation with a prospect Jerad. Jerad needs a few weeks to reevaluate, and the conversation pauses. Like newsletter subscription rules, Sally places Jerad in an automated follow-up journey. In three weeks, for any reason, if the phone number Jerad received the initial text from is removed from the existing flow, the change in phone numbers could impact the conversation. If Jerad were texting or attempting to reach your business through that number, all his attempts would go nowhere. While you may switch the number Jerad has with a new number, the connection will be impacted, the experience will be poor, and he will most likely leave your business.

Changing, updating, or rotating phone numbers results in communication drops, lost conversions, missed deadlines, and an awful trailing experience. Audit your SMS/Texting strategies and platforms to ensure you have ownership of your phone numbers and verify you're not intentionally or unintentionally practicing Snowshoeing.

You can do BETTER and MORE with the numbers you own

Yes, you read it right. Ensure the numbers allotted to you through your SaaS service provider are associated and belong solely to your business brand. Because you own these numbers, you should consider putting them on your privacy policy or website so that a simple search can validate ownership. Doing so will point to your online asset to build credibility and reputation. Using a third-party entity to manage conversations for you instead of a SaaS solution could be difficult but possible. I'm happy to connect with you if you have questions and collectively find a solution (while scheduling a meeting, please put the following in the notes: Should or Shouldn't You Rotate SMS Numbers?).

Follow these best practices for best results:

  • Provide all paperwork, from brand details to consent collection screenshots.
  • Ensure a call-forwarding number is set up to route customer calls to the assigned agent or the call center when received from a previously active number.
  • Ensure all links are shared as short URLs and whitelisted, so they do not appear as spam.
  • Keep messaging unique to define the scope of your use case - whether it be marketing, transactional, or appointments.
  • Follow TCPA rules for texting and ensure your platform supports suppressing automated outbound texts during the timeout period.
  • Monitor the delivery, engagement, and unsubscribe reports on a real-time basis. Doing so ensures you can flag and catch any campaigns that might lead to SPAM.

For more SMS best practices, subscribe to our newsletter and check back for new content regularly. Interested in learning more about Botsplash? Feel free to schedule a demo with our team!

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