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How to troubleshoot outbound SMS issues
How to troubleshoot outbound SMS issues

Troubleshooting common issues with outbound SMS text messages sent with Engage

Alyssa avatar
Written by Alyssa
Updated over a week ago

My outbound SMS draft is displaying zero contacts, excluding my contacts, or my contacts are all unsubscribed!

If you're creating a new SMS message in Engage, but your contacts are excluded, this may be because the contacts are unsubscribed. Even if a phone number is listed, when a contact is unsubscribed, no SMS messages will be sent to them.

This is sometimes due to a bulk contact import that doesn't include a column for subscription status. The default subscription status is subscribed if that column is missing or blank.

To bulk subscribe your existing contacts (don’t worry, you don’t have to redo or archive everything), head to your contacts page, select the contacts you’d like to subscribe to Engage, click the Actions menu on the left, then select Manage Engage Subscriptions.

You can bulk select contacts by clicking the small checkbox at the top of your contact list if you want to subscribe everyone on that page.

A window will pop up where you can bulk subscribe your contacts:

Alternatively, if you have pages and pages of contacts that need to be subscribed that were previously imported into Givebutter - you can use the import spreadsheet you used to add them to Givebutter to bulk subscribe them.

Simply add an Email Subscription Status and/or Phone Subscription Status column to the previously used spreadsheet and re-import the spreadsheet with the new column. As long as you don't change the Contact information, it won't create duplicates, and it will just subscribe them to SMS and/or Email.

Use any one of these true/on/yes/1 in the subscription status column to subscribe contacts and any one of these false/off/no/0 to unsubscribe contacts.

After this, you should be able to create a new Engage SMS draft, without your contacts being unsubscribed.

Text messages are being received in multiple messages and in random order.

If you've sent out a text blast that is supposed to be one message, but it breaks into multiple messages that are in random order, it's possible the receiver's cellular carrier does not support SMS concatenation.

What Is Concatenation?

SMS is limited to a certain number of characters. When your message only contains plain text, the character limit is 160. But when your message includes special characters, paragraph breaks, or emojis, the limit is only 70. If the text message surpasses those limits, it will break the message into multiple text messages unless the cell phone carrier supports SMS concatenation.

Concatenation means keeping SMS messages over the character limit (160 or 70) as one large message instead of breaking them into multiple messages.

Some carriers, such as US Cellular and CSPire, do not support SMS concatenation. The older a carrier or phone is, the more likely it does not support SMS concatenation. Therefore, messages will be sent in multiple texts instead of one singular text.

Once a message is broken out into multiple text messages, the order of the messages (whether they come in the order they were written or not) is uncontrollable and not preserved, so these messages that are broken out are received in an unpredictable order.

My audience primarily uses US Cellular, CSpire, older phones, or older carriers.

In this situation, we would suggest keeping your outbound text blasts to under 70 characters, and preferably plain text (without special characters or emojis.) This will enable your SMS messages to be delivered as a single text message rather than multiple randomized messages.

I'm being limited to 10k contacts at a time.

Please note that there is an SMS sending limit of 10,000 messages (or one message to 10,000 contacts) per day. If you need to send more messages, please spread them across multiple sending days.

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