The use of free or public link shortener URLs like bit.ly is prohibited in SMS messaging. It’s understandable that you may want to include shortened links in your SMS communications because full links can take up space. Before you consider using a link shortener, however, it's important to understand the rules for using shortened URLs in SMS.
Why are certain link shorteners prohibited?
Free or public link shorteners such as Bit.ly, tinyurl.com, etc. are prohibited with SMS.
The reason free or public link shorteners are prohibited is because they are frequently abused by spammers and malicious senders. In addition, shortened URLs are commonly confused with spam and appear untrustworthy to phone carriers which causes them to block delivery of these SMS messages.
To prevent deliverability concerns, TextP2P prohibits the use of free or public link shortener URLs in SMS messages. If free or public link shorteners are detected in your message, your message will automatically be blocked from sending.
How can I do URL Shortening and Tracking?
When sending SMS or MMS messages containing shortened URLs to users, use a dedicated, branded short domain that belongs to your business.
Sending messages containing unbranded URLs is a common technique used for fraud/malicious messages. Because of this, consumers are less likely to click on the link, because they are not confident of where the landing page will take them to.
According to T-Mobile’s Code of Conduct, and US carrier expectations in general, a short link should be both:
- proprietary– a dedicated custom domain that belongs to your business, not a free shared public link shortener
- properly branded– the domain aligns with the message sender identified in the text message itself
What does "proprietary" mean?
"Proprietary" means the short URL belongs to your business and is not used by unrelated businesses or organizations. Do not send links that have been shortened using shared public URL shorteners, such as free TinyUrl or Bitly links. US carrier policies strongly discourage the use of shared public URL shorteners, due to the frequency of use by spammers, scammers and other bad actors. The use of these public shared shorteners will result in higher risk of filtering, with no recourse if filtering does occur.
What does "properly branded" mean?
For an example of what "proper branding" means, consider an imaginary political organization called Americans for Clean Air, sending call-to-action messages to opted-in subscribers.
This message contains a URL that is not properly branded,because it does not align with the organization name:
Hi, it’s John from Americans for Clean Air (ACA). Please contact your representatives today to let them know you care about reducing air pollution. For more info: abcd.com/1234xyz - Reply STOP to unsubscribe
The below message has a properly branded short URL that meets US carrier expectations:
Hi, it’s John from Americans for Clean Air (ACA). Please contact your representatives today to let them know you care about reducing air pollution. For more info: aca.com/1234xyz - Reply STOP to unsubscribe
How can I implement this?
We recommend you use a branded link from a free service like Rebrandly. You will want to register a custom domain for your business that can be used.
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