Text Message Marketing drives key results and significant revenue when properly implemented as part of your digital strategy. In fact, consumers are actively seeking out programs from their favorite brands and engaging more than ever before worldwide. However, while SMS campaigns are simple in nature, there are many things to consider and be mindful of when setting up a program. One of those is how you'll send your messages.

Consumers most often recognize SMS and MMS from retailers and brands through short codes, long codes, alpha codes, and Toll-Free Numbers. These numbers are reputable, provide direct routes for message delivery, and are vetted by mobile carriers for proper compliance and approval. But you might have heard of an alternative in the market: Grey Routes.

What are SMS Grey Routes?

Grey Routes provides an inexpensive (but highly unreliable) way of delivering Text Message Marketing campaigns not sanctioned by the major mobile phone carriers. They're "back door" routes for sending SMS that appear as personal traffic to evade policing and can bounce around the world before delivering. In short, it's a practice you should not use for your mobile strategy.

Grey Routes are a form of fraudulent marketing since they utilize connections for person-to-person messaging rather than pathways from an operator via a provisioned program. They confuse the networks they exploit to avoid fees or lower costs and are illegal by nature.

As noted by Mijo Soldin, VP of Telecom Strategy and Partnerships at Infobip, a world-renowned CPaaS:

‘Grey Routes are a fraud on businesses, carriers, and consumers alike. The purported low cost for businesses inevitably backfires as critical messages are not delivered, harming the user experience or even privacy of consumers, and carriers are faced with uncharged network load that adversely affects all the participants in the value chain.’

Potential Impacts on Your Program

One negative to using Grey Routes for your program is significant message delays from much slower throughputs. Campaigns could arrive hours after they're initially triggered, at any time of day, putting you out of compliance and at risk for even more consequences. Delays are never good in retail marketing, and significant revenue could be left on the table or completely lost. With that, messaging sent on Grey Routes can quickly fail – You could pay through the nose for campaigns that never make it to your subscribers. Whether you save money through this low-cost tactic or not, ROI targets cannot be reached with lost messaging. Even if your volume CPM is half of what you would pay on a short code-supported program, you might need to send double the number of campaigns to reach your contacts. The cost then becomes a moot point.

Grey Routes also don't allow for delivery reports or related metrics. Understanding how your messages perform for optimal engagement and revenue is critical; inconsistent or missing data could set you back tremendously. Not knowing how your campaigns deliver does not set you up for success. If your message deliverability is unreliable, you will undoubtedly create waste in your strategy and pull overall ROI down significantly.

Most importantly, though, Grey Routes creates a lot of consumer distrust. With the potential for lots of filtering and message blocking, your subscribers won't hear from you consistently, channel awareness won't grow, and your campaigns will earn poor engagement overall. Think about your experience – You might not even remember opting into a program when you get messages intermittently and at random times of the day or night.

What to Use Instead

As we said above, consumers are most familiar with short codes, long codes, alpha codes, and Toll-Free Numbers to receive SMS campaigns from their favorite brands (based on where they are in the world), especially when those messages come from the same source with each campaign. Any of these options are significantly more reputable than using Grey Routes for your program and are all much more reliable. While there are some specific benefits to implementing certain methods over others, all are endorsed by the major mobile carriers and can make a strong, positive impact on your Text Message Marketing goals.

Goran Valjak, Senior Telecom Business Executive at Infobip explains:

While Grey Routes may initially appear attractive to brands due to their lower costs, they pose a serious threat to brand reputation and customer security. One of the biggest concerns with Grey Routes is data privacy – When messages are sent this way, they are not subject to the same security and privacy standards as those sent through official [mobile network operator] channels. This leaves brands and their customers vulnerable to fraud and identity theft. Grey Routes are also often unreliable and can lead to message delays or failures. This can damage customer trust and lead to lost revenue for brands. Overall, the risks of using Grey Routes far outweigh the potential benefits.’

Listrak is Here to Help!

Listrak only engages with trusted, reliable global partners to provision compliant mobile programs and provide the necessary delivery data to ensure your success. If you have any questions about Grey Routes and your send options, please reach out to your Account Manager. And if you’re interested in getting started with Text Message Marketing, schedule a demo with us today! 

Listrak partner Infobip is an award-winning communication platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) provider and mobile aggregator. They leverage an extensive office network and proven best practices to simplify how brands connect with their customers on the global stage. 

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