Carriers Behave Differently! (Unicode, Character Limits)

Before beginning development and messaging with the CRM Text API, it’s important to understand that the mobile carriers we work with are all independent companies that have their own way of doing things. All carriers that support our short codes allow and support the delivery of up to 160 characters in each text message. They also all support MMS messaging. For a list of carriers that support our short codes, click here. But there are a few areas they differ greatly which will affect your development. Plan Accordingly.

Unicode Special Characters
Want to tell people about El Niño or ask someone to submit their resumé? Be careful. On some carriers that message will be transcribed and show up on a user’s mobile device as El Ni$o or Resum?. This problem occurs mostly on the Sprint network but has also been reported with Verizon.

Generally, common special characters assigned to a Qwerty keyboard using shift on the 1-0 keys (Example: !$#) will deliver properly. The ampersand (&) symbol will not render properly on Sprint and is used as a parameter separator in calls to the API. So send messages with it. Also, be weary of special characters which take several keyboard shortcuts to generate. Test!

Check out the below example from a campaign sent on behalf of Spotify, by one of our Clients, in which a musical note was used inside the message. The image on the left is an AT&T iPhone where the one on the right is a Sprint Galaxy S5. Not very cool!


That's some funky ugly monkey above. But guess what happens when you take the musical note out?


Additionally, links typically render properly and you can feel comfortable sending a www. Or http:// web address .

Also, if you are using the CRM Text user interface to send your campaigns from time to time, be weary of copying from Microsoft applications. It’s best to type out your campaign within our UI or copy and paste it from a text file. Microsoft Word and other MS applications transcribe special characters differently and it does not behave well when delivered by the carriers.

1600 Character Messaging
Here as well, carriers behave differently. Most of the carriers we work with will deliver a 1600 character message as one text message to the user’s mobile device. However, Sprint will deliver the message in 160 character increments. The problem with this is that the message is often poorly broken with the end of the message delivering first, followed by the middle, then the beginning. It renders the message virtually unreadable. In fact, you can use the images above and get the idea.

The truth is that you can get your message across in 160 characters or less. Sending 500 characters of text to a subscriber will result in an opt-out. This is America. People here don't even read books that long anymore. So keep your message very short. If you need help with that, let us know. We are experts in chopping long winded campaigns.

If, however, an 160+ character message really is necessary, you can use MMS to get your point across with Sprint or any other carrier that supports short codes, and your message will show up clean and unbroken. Now, you may have to go and dig up an image file to make it happen. But pictures make your brand and message better anyways. MMS messages are delivered in one wrapper...meaning, if you combine text with a picture, it's delivered as one MMS message. What that means is you can write that novel you've always wanted to and deliver it to a Sprint phone using MMS and it won't look like long as it has a picture attached. It will look like the figure below.