What is it?
They all try to save money by using one of the SMS/Text plugins in the WordPress Repository.
Rarely do I say “never” and one might argue that it’s a bit strong in this situation even. But once you read this article, give us your thoughts about whether using this type of text system is a viable strategy.
What is SMS/Text?
Short Message Service (SMS) or text messaging is a system that allows people to communicate between two cell phones or from a PC or handheld device to a cell phone. The “short” refers to the length of the message- which is 160 characters. You see this in action every day if you are around a teenager for more than five minutes.
Cell Phones Can Send/Receive Text Messages Using Different Technologies
When someone sends you a text message to your cell phone from their cell phone, they are sending it using a technology called Short Message Peer-to-Peer Protocol (SMPP). This is the method that allows cell phone users to communicate millions of times a day. To send someone a text message using this method, you only need to know their ten digit telephone number – from there the cell messaging system figures out the message routing and what cell phone carrier each person is on.
But, you also have another messaging method that can be used for text messaging communication. Most cell phones have an email address associated with them (i.e. [email protected] for Verizon customers). This is known as Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) and it’s the method that we’ve all used to communicate by email since we sent our first email message. Anyone with an email address (or the ability to send messages through an SMTP server) can send a message to a cell phone user if they know their cell phone number AND the specific domain information for the carrier that the recipient uses.
What’s Wrong With The SMS Plugins for WordPress
The FREE SMS plugins in the WordPress repository (and any other FREE messaging plugins you pick up) rely on SMTP to send the messages. At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Well, email is pretty reliable. Why would it be any different with this?” That’s a good question – and one I intend to answer.
Using the SMTP protocol associated with cell phones is actually only meant for “occasional” use. In fact, all cell phone carriers are not required to deliver any SMTP type messages sent through their system. They usually deliver them without any problems though.
However, if their system becomes overloaded, they can delay delivery of the messages or in the worst case simply purge them from the system and your recipient never gets the message. Plus, if they detect a large number of messages coming from your SMTP server, in rare cases they could block you completely.
Another reason to avoid using SMTP is that it falls under the regulations of email. Remember that pesky CAN-SPAM Act? Well, it applies in this case as well. Not adhering to all the regulations under CAN-SPAM can lead to some serious financial hardships.
Which leads to my next point – optin/optout capability. There’s no way for a subscriber to optin to OR optout of your email (text) list. That alone is a violation of the CAN-SPAM act.
You also have no way to brand yourself using SMTP. For example, if you text the keyword “Sonic” to 86677 (a shortcode), you will be subscribed to Sonic’s text marketing campaign. You’ll get promotional texts from Sonic – not Belk, not Cracker Barrel, and not Arby’s. So, the text marketing campaign is branded specifically for Sonic by their keyword.
There are several other reasons for NOT using SMTP as a text communication tool, but I think you get the idea from these reasons above. It is just not a reliable or professional method of communicating. Now, you may think, “Yes, but I can live with the occasional delayed/undelivered text to save some money.” What if you were arranging a woodworking meeting and that undelivered text didn’t get to the ONE member that was supposed to bring the exotic piece of wood that the group was getting together to work with that evening? Then you’ve wasted everyone’s time and embarrassed yourself.
There are many more reliable methods to communicated using SMS/text and several of them can still use WordPress. However, they are much more specialized and deserve their own post. I’d love to hear your comments below. Maybe if there’s enough interest, we can examine a more reliable SMS WordPress solution.
Woman Reading Sms by Petr Kratochvil