Text messaging is an important channel for customer engagement these days.
People actually prefer to receive a text in certain situations. Not only that, but people read their text messages more reliably than they read emails. But there are a lot of reasons beyond getting killer open rates as to why the readability of text messaging can be really valuable.
Since people read their texts reliably, it’s a great communication channel for sending reminders or confirming information. Use it in any situation where it’s important that you get a response, or when ordinary texting isn’t an option.
Ultimately, being able to communicate with your customer base through text helps you reliably deliver information and get a response or user action.
Text messaging via email can be handy for:
- Call centers.
- Real estate agents and agencies.
- Help desks.
- Financial firms.
- Insurance companies and agents.
- Educational institutions.
- Collections agencies.
- Medical practices.
- Application developers.
However, there’s a catch: only send text messages to phone numbers that you’ve gotten permission to text.
If you’re looking for more information about TCPA compliance, you can check out our blog about it. For now, just be aware that you need to have some authorization process in place so you can get permission to text people. Otherwise, you can get blacklisted as a spammer and the concequences of that are no fun.
This post will focus on the nitty-gritty of sending text messages from the internet.
How SMS Email Works
SMS email addresses act as a direct link to a carrier’s SMS gateway.
SMS gateways help send communications traffic between carriers. Most carriers have their own, proprietary messaging protocols. So carriers use SMS gateways to connect to other carriers without having to send messages using a different messaging protocol for every carrier.
This makes life easier for carriers. It also makes things easier for app developers and the like. Without SMS gateways, every app that sends SMS messages would need to have the carrier-specific protocol for each carrier it sent messages to. So SMS email addresses identify where each carrier’s SMS gateway is. This enables internet apps and users to connect to a carrier’s SMS gateway and communicate using standard protocols.
This is a quick and rudimentary explanation of how SMS email works. Hopefully, you get the idea. You use SMS email addresses to send messages to mobile phones from devices other than cell phones or from the email client on your smartphone.
Why Send Text Messages Via Email
Depending on how you’re sending out your text messages, it can be easier to use email messaging software to send mass texts. Using email is also good for texting people who don’t have smartphones or sending texts when you don’t have your phone.
There are tools for sending texts to actual phone numbers. But things are easier if your tools are consolidated. It’s also more intuitive since email software is set up to make batch sending much easier. So sending mass texts over the internet can reduce your costs and save you time.
If you need additional privacy, sending texts via email also helps protect your phone number. The text comes from your email server. So the recipient won’t see your phone number when they get your text.
This is a handy option for collections agencies, private investigators, and other industries that want to keep their identity private.
However, you can’t just put phone numbers in the “To” in your email client and blast a bunch of text messages. You need the right SMS email address for each number in order for your messages to be delivered to the cell phone phone.
Gathering SMS Emails
SMS emails are email addresses that correspond with phone numbers.
SMS emails are typically built from the phone number and carrier name. An SMS email looks something like this:
You could take a guess at the carrier and try to build SMS emails yourself.
These are the SMS email domains for some of the most common carriers:
- AT&T: [phone number]@text.att.net (SMS only)
- Verizon: [phone number]@vtext.com (SMS only)
- T-Mobile: [phone number]@tmomail.net (SMS and MMS)
- Sprint: [phone number]@messaging.sprintpcs.com (SMS only), [phone number]@pm.sprint.com (MMS only)
- Virgin Mobile: [phone number]@vmobl.com (SMS only), [phone number]@vmpix.com (MMS only)
- Tracfone: [phone number]@mmst5.tracfone.com (MMS only)
- Metro PCS: [phone number]@mymetropcs.com (SMS and MMS)
- Google Fi (Project Fi): [phone number]@msg.fi.google.com (SMS and MMS)
- Cricket: [phone number]@sms.cricketwireless.net (SMS only), [phone number]@mms.cricket.wireless.net
- Boost Mobile: [phone number]@sms.myboostmobile.com (SMS only), [phone number]@myboostmobile.com (MMS only)
- Republic Wireless: [phone number]@text.republicwireless.com (SMS only)
- U.S. Cellular: [phone number]@email.uscc.net (SMS only), [phone number]@mms.uscc.net (MMS only)
- Page Plus: [phone number]@vtext.com (SMS only)
- C-Spire: [phone number]@cspire1.com (SMS only)
- Consumer Cellular: [phone number]@mailmymobile.net
- Ting: [phone number]@message.ting.com
But these are just the major carriers. There are actually far more carriers than many people realize. Obviously, there are faster and easier ways to get SMS email addresses.
The best way to gather these is with a phone number validator.
This automatically checks a number to identify the true carrier and provides the associated SMS email. These emails essentially provide direct links to the carrier SMS gateways. The SMS email is what you’ll put in the “To” field of your email client to send messages to phones from your computer.
Most phone number validators are capable of batch processing. You can use this to get SMS emails for entire phone lists. This way you can put the data in an Excel or CSV file that you can use to create email lists in your bulk email client.
This method offers you a quick way to use your phone list to create an email list and segment that list with your email software.
In addition to gathering SMS email addresses, a quality phone number validator can also gather information about whether numbers are active or not. Your message won’t be delivered if the phone number is inactive, even if you’re using an SMS email. So, it makes sense to check the active status of your phone numbers as you gather your SMS emails.
What Can You Send to a Phone Via Email?
The two formats for sending non-voice data over the internet to mobile phones are SMS and MMS.
Typically, SMS (Short Message Service) is used for pure text communication. SMS messages should be 160 characters or less. If you send a message that’s longer than 160 characters, it will be sent using MMS.
MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) is used to send pictures, music, animations, and other interactive documents, and files. You can send files of any size. However, large files will sometimes be rejected by the carrier. Additionally, not every phone plan includes MMS.
It’s best to use MMS for smaller scale operations where you have more information about the recipient’s phone and phone service. Stick with SMS if you’re just sending plain text.
Building an SMS Email Program
The average cell phone user doesn’t know their SMS email address. So it’s best not to ask end users for SMS emails.
The best way to get SMS emails for mass texting is to collect phone numbers first. You should also get authorization to contact these numbers via text when you ask for a customer’s phone number. If you’re gathering numbers from a website, web form or even a fish bowl with business cards be sure to include clear language that allows you to text these customers. If you need to know what language pertains for your situation, Google “sms opt-in compliance”.
Once you have permission and your list of phone numbers, use a batch phone validator to validate the phone numbers in your database and append the SMS emails. Next, separate the landlines from the cell phone numbers on your list. You can do this pretty easily. Just filter your list by line type in Excel. Then create separate lists using the filtered data.
Now you can use your list of cell phone numbers for your mass texts.
If you’re sending text blasts, you may want to use a phone validator that also tells you which phone numbers are on the do not call (DNC) list. Although most DNC lists include only landline numbers since cell phones are only supposed to be permission-based calls, as a general rule, it’s best not to text numbers that are on the DNC list, unless you absolutely have the authorization to contact every phone number on your list.
Also, be sure to include a way for people to opt out of the text communications in the text messages. This is a federal compliance requirement. But people can get irritated if there’s no way to get you to stop texting them.
If you’d like to use SMS email and save on SMS fees, check out the Searchbug batch phone validator.
The Searchbug batch phone validator gives you all the information you need to send mass texts via SMS email with complete confidence.
How do you gather and validate SMS email addresses? Leave a comment and let us know how our phone validator works for you or what you think could be better.