Wireless Text Message Bounce DataBounce backs, or messages that are returned to you after they are sent out, are an incredibly important part of any messaging campaign. I am sure most of us are familiar with email bounce backs. There are about 100 different types of responses; however most ESPs like mobileStorm categorize email bounce backs into 4 simple categories: Hard, soft, spam, and unknown. It is incredibly important to make sure that if you are sending email, you are taking action when a message is returned.

Failure to remove a hard bounce is as bad as receiving a spam complaint at some ISPs. If you keep trying to send these bounced messages enough times, it can cause you to get blocked. That\’s because ISPs see it as a spam attack, no matter if you are just blindly trying to find valid email addresses. voice broadcast and fax broadcast bounces are important, too; they can let you know if the phone line is busy or if the toner cartridge is out of ink, so that you can retry your call or fax again at a later time. Even the post office returns undeliverable mail. Bounce backs tell marketers a wealth of information as to why a message was not delivered, or in some cases, was delivered.

Direct mail, email, voice, and fax are all messaging media that have taken years to develop. But wireless text messaging, or SMS, is one medium that is still developing, and the industry is still trying to standardize its bounce back process. It amazes me how far SMS is still behind. For instance most SMS aggregators won\’t even provide you with bounce back information if all you are sending is a non-premium SMS message. They save their bounce information for premium SMS customers. I touched on this a bit in my post about SMS and SMS aggregators and how behind the times they were. Currently we\’ve defined about 30 different types of SMS bounces and each carrier has its own set of bounce codes. There is nothing standardized.

Like email, SMS bounce information is very important to ensuring you keep a clean database and save money. While I don\’t think a carrier will shut you down because of too many hard SMS bounces (because I don\’t think they have the tools in place yet), keeping bad phone numbers in your database is going to cost you money because at the end of the day you are paying per message, and SMS costs a lot more money per message than email.

Some SMS bounce data can tell you that a subscriber\’s pre-paid wireless phone is out of credits and therefore cannot receive your SMS at the moment. Sound familiar? Take a guess as to what other type of email bounce back this sounds like\”¦. If you guessed, \”A soft bounce that happens when your subscriber\’s email inbox is full,\” give yourself a gold star! The reason we refer to both of these types of bounces as a soft bounce is because in both cases, at some point this person is going to get his or her act together and either re-up or delete some emails. However, in both cases the application logic should remove this person from your active database if you get more than five bounces in a 30 day period.

Coming from the email world and licensing one of the most advanced email bounce tools on the planet (developed by our friends at StrongMail), mobileStorm has taken the initiative and developed its own application to manage SMS bounces. Let\’s take a look at a few types of bounces we found. Please note for intellectual property reasons, we have not listed all of the bounce reasons, the bounce code, or the type of action Stun! takes in removing or moving the subscribers cell phone to a different category:




bad response to message: Invalid Dest Addr


bad response to message: ESME Receiver Reject Message


prepaid check failed

Verizon bad response to message: Invalid Service Type
Nextel bad response to message: Invalid Dest Addr
Verizon ALL: Throttle limit – message rejected

If bounces are as important to you as they are to me, then I suggest that before you choose to go with a mobile marketing platform or an SMS aggregator, you ask them how they handle bounce backs. And you might want to refer to bounce backs as \”carrier error codes\”; this is most likely the term for bounce back data in the SMS world. Best of luck reaching your audience and driving revenues!

Jared Reitzin
mobileStorm Inc.
Entrepreneur Blog