Not all is equal in SMS land. You may have come across some surprisingly cheap text message prices. And, you might be thinking: it’s just sending SMS — surely there’s not too much of a difference between each product?

Well, unfortunately not all SMS providers have your business’s best interests at heart. We’ll dive into SMS and MMS delivery and the differences between grey routes and direct routes.

All so you can choose the best SMS platform for your business.

Cheaper SMS often equals cheaper routes

Managing all costs matters when you’re growing a business — you’ve got to keep your COGS down. But, sometimes there’s a hidden cost to using a cheaper provider.

With SMS, often cheaper providers send their messages via grey routes instead of direct routes. Which can lead to slower delivery times or your messages not being delivered at all.

To help you weigh up the benefits of investing a fraction more on quality SMS, we’ll compare the two below.

What are grey routes for SMS?

Grey routes are shortcuts that some SMS providers take in order to offer you a cheaper price. They exploit vulnerabilities in telecommunications networks in order to send your important business messages. Doesn’t sound good, does it?

Picture this: your message, which was sent from the US is destined for a recipient in the same country. However, your message is being sent by a grey route so it takes an international detour. Your important business message bounces through overseas networks, eventually reaching its US destination at a fraction of the cost—or sometimes for free.

GIF showing SMS bouncing between countries due to senders using grey routes

Grey routing deliberately confuses networks by bouncing messages between various carriers, masking the message’s origin. While it may not be outright illegal, it’s a breach of ethics and it can compromise your business.

The hidden costs of grey routes

If your SMS provider used grey routes, it can seriously impact your business. Even though your messages might be a few cents cheaper — it’s a price that’s too high to pay. Apart from the ethical concerns, here are some of the main problems with grey routes.

  1. Security nightmares
    Messages sent via grey routes become vulnerable to unauthorised access, copying, or worse— alterations. They can expose your recipients and your business to potential malicious content.
  2. Volume problems
    Most businesses send thousands of messages at once, often via automations. However, bulk messages can stress grey routes beyond their capability, your messages might get lost or be delivered late. Which can be a problem for timely texts.
  3. Sudden shutdowns
    While they’re not technically illegal, grey routes are frowned upon. Grey routes can be shut down without warning, which leaves your business without one of its important communication channels. And you are scrambling to set up SMS all over again.
  4. Delivery disasters
    With all the international detours and bouncing around, messages sent via grey routes are easily stalled, lost, or blocked. Which leaves you wondering what’s going on.

For businesses and consumers alike, the aftermath is a trifecta of wasted resources, compromised data, and a severe dent in trust and satisfaction.

What are SMS direct routes?

Fear not — with all dark, there is light. Welcome direct routes, also known as the “white” routes. These are the ethical highways used by high-quality SMS gateway software providers like ClickSend.

We think that business SMS traffic, or A2P traffic, deserves a dignified journey. Direct routes mean that your SMS traffic follows a straightforward path without unnecessary detours.

GIF showing message being sent from one country and received in another, no detours
SMS direct routes have one origin and one destination, no detours.

SMS providers are able to offer direct routes by complying with any rules and standards set by the networks. In response, the networks offer specific mobile channels designed for business messaging. These channels are built for high-volume, fast delivery of SMS and MMS so your messages get delivered.

The benefits of direct routes for text messaging

When an SMS company uses direct routes you can trust that your messages will get delivered. Plus, you know that you’re working with a company that you can trust. Here’s some of the other benefits of direct routes.

  1. Swift delivery
    Fast and effective communication is good communication. With direct routes, you are guaranteed speed in message delivery so there’s no hold ups or lags.
  2. Reliable, always
    Direct routes are trustworthy and dependable routes. They’ve been set up with care and there are agreements in place between the provider and the network. When you send a business message, you can be confident it will reach its destination.
  3. Security first
    Direct routes make business messaging safer and more reliable. By taking a straightforward path, they minimise the risk of security threats, follow established rules, and lower the chances of unauthorised access or interception. This means your messages are better protected, and you have more control over their journey.
  4. Client satisfaction
    Your customers expect on time and trusted communication, that’s not been tampered with. Using direct routes can protect your brand reputation and keep customers happy with reliable, secure messaging.

How to detect grey routes before you sign up

So, how do you safeguard your business from falling into the grey route trap? Simple – stay vigilant and ask the right questions.

Beware of suspiciously low prices
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Extremely low prices can be the first indicator of a provider sneaking in grey routes.

Question your provider
Interrogate your SMS provider. Ask them outright if they ever use grey routes or any other indirect methods. A direct connection to networks in your country is non-negotiable.

Why choose ClickSend for reliable business SMS

At ClickSend we exclusively use direct routes for your message delivery. Which means that your messages reach their destination fast with speedy delivery. You can trust that your messages will always find their way via our reliable routes. 

Plus, we take security very seriously. From in-built processes to help you register secure, global numbers to spam protection and enterprise-grade security — we’ve got your businesses back.

And in terms of pricing, we offer great value pricing with a pay as you go pricing so you never overspend on your sends.

Ready to choose wisely?

Use an SMS provider that only ever goes direct. At ClickSend, we’re proud of our direct routes, carrier connections and customer security. Sign up for a free trial today — we’d love to show you our platform.

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