Telcos stop issuing delivery reports on bulk SMSes, companies fret

New Delhi: Telecom operators have stopped issuing SMS delivery reports to telemarketers, saying it is in line with the regulator’s mandate of protecting consumer information, a move which will hurt enterprises who send promotional text messages.

But companies who send bulk SMS with numeric headers are complaining that not revealing which SMS was actually delivered to the end user means they won’t be able to ascertain if their SMS reached its target audience. Also, they will now need to pay for all the messages, irrespective of whether they were delivered or not.

Messages with numeric titles (or headers) carry only promotional messages with an attempt to educate/sell/extend a promotional offer to a prospective customer. Companies say delivery reports are an important tool which have significantly reduced customer acquisition costs for brands.

Post the deployment of a blockchain-based platform by telecom operators, beginning October 9, marketers have not been receiving delivery success or failure notifications, as per the Telecom Communications Customer Preference Regulation (TCCCPR), 2018 to protect consumers’ preference and consent data.

“This may not be a welcome change for enterprises (specially SME & startups), as it will become very difficult for them to assess the success of any marketing campaign,” said Tushar Agnihotri, country head for India at Route Mobile. “Most companies have a practice of assessing ROI (return on investment) on marketing cost incurred, this change will leave them blind folded on performance of SMS as a marketing tool.”

He added that this change may force enterprises to adopt alternate practices which can help them better understand the importance of customer database management.

“This change may also mean that brands might migrate to alphabetic headers which are more relatable and trustworthy for users,” a senior executive at a leading telemarketing firm said.

Reliance JioBharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea didn’t respond to ET’s emailed queries on the matter.

Some telemarketers, however, say they will have to pay for every SMS sent, whether it is delivered or not, compared to previously when they would need to pay only for the messages delivered. This comes in the backdrop of telcos hiking commercial SMS charges by 25-30% beginning September.

About 1 billion SMSes are sent out every day in India, of which 60-70% are transactional in nature and the remainder is promotional.

“Due to higher costs, we have been losing clients… close to 500 small telemarketers have shut shop in Delhi alone in the past one month,” said Alok Nath Pathak, director of New Delhi-based messaging service provider ValueMobi Media. “Now with this change the situation will get worse.”

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