What Is Toll-Free Registration? The Latest SMS Update

What Is Toll-Free Registration? The Latest SMS Update

An iPhone on its home screen with four rows of apps

As of September 30th, carriers now allow only registered toll-free numbers to send messages on their networks. While this might sound intimidating, it simply means that carriers will need to approve your business and use case before you’re able to send bulk text messages to your subscribers. The process is quick and free of charge, and it’s in most businesses’ best interest to complete registration — toll-free numbers that aren’t verified will be restricted to a set limit of messages. If that limit is passed, any further messages they send are blocked. 

So how does toll-free registration affect your business, and how do you go about getting your number verified? Here’s all you need to know about toll-free registration, why it’s being implemented, and how SlickText is helping the process to go as smoothly and swiftly as possible. 

The Basics of SMS Marketing Numbers

As a newer marketing solution, the SMS marketing landscape is constantly changing. Just as SMS marketing platforms are constantly striving to find the most creative and efficient ways to engage subscribers, carriers are fighting the good fight, making sure they do what they can to protect their customers from bad actors, spammers, and scammers.

A long, long time ago (around 2 years), the carriers announced they would no longer allow shared shortcodes — which is when one 5-6 digit sending number could be shared across any number of businesses and senders. This change made it hard to determine which businesses were sending which broadcast text messages, and good actors would get blocked when the carriers needed to keep a bad actor from reaching their customers. 

Instead, they moved to require that each individual sender have its own number. Shortcodes, however, can be costly to set up and maintain. To solve this, toll-free numbers were made available for sending and were a low-cost way to separate senders by number while still allowing mass text messages to be sent. Unfortunately, because of the low barrier to entry, they quickly became disposable to bad actors, as they could easily acquire a new number once blocked.

Enter: Toll-Free Registration 

An illustration of phone security, with a lock pictured on the screen.

To help distinguish trusted senders from possible bad actors in the toll-free pool, carriers developed a process to register a toll-free number. Registering a toll-free number is essentially telling the carriers: “Hi! This is who we are, this is what we do, this is why we’re texting people, and here’s who you can reach out to if there are any issues.”

An unverified number is significantly limited in the number of messages it can send.  Once a number is verified, these limits are removed, making toll-free — with its high volume and reliability — an excellent sending number type for most use cases. The registration process has existed for a while. We here at SlickText have quietly verified as many numbers as we could without disrupting our customers’ experience.  

As of September 30th, registering a toll-free number has gone from a “best practice” to a requirement. In an effort to streamline the process, if you have an unverified number, you’ll see an alert in the top right corner of the SlickText platform. From there, you can answer a few quick questions, and your registration will automatically be submitted. Once the application is submitted, the number is cleared for sending.

There are, however, some instances where applications will be rejected. When your use case is submitted, your website and business will be reviewed. If materials are found that are not compliant with carrier guidelines, the number will be blocked from sending. If this is the case for you, please reach out to our support team and ask about a 10DLC.  

Registration does not mean your content is not reviewed. It’s still possible to be blocked after you’re verified if you stray from carrier guidelines or if you receive high opt-outs/direct spam complaints from your subscribers — although if you follow the SMS marketing best practices, this shouldn’t be an issue. In most cases, the carriers will provide the next steps to unblock the number. Often this includes updating your privacy policy, cleaning your list, or enabling a confirmed opt-in. But again, once you have a verified toll-free number, you can typically expect higher delivery speed and less of a chance that your messages will be filtered. 

What Does Toll-Free Registration Mean for Me?

SlickText has, as a standard, worked to get most toll-free numbers registered since it has been an option. Because of this, many of our customers won’t need to take action. Those who do will see an alert within the platform. From there, just fill out a quick form to get the application submitted — SlickText handles the rest.

Learn More About Toll-Free Registration

While toll-free registration is a big change in the world of SMS marketing, the SlickText team is working to make the transition as seamless as possible. You can explore some of our resources to learn more about other sending options, and if you have any questions just reach out to SlickText support or your Account Executive.