The Key to Sending Links in Your SMS Without Being Blocked

By:  Brenton Milne - Consultant

Red Oxygen has enforced anti-spam regulations since our inception, over 20 years ago. We like to think we made the initiative cool but there’s no written proof, so formal credit probably goes to the Spam Act of 2003 from the Australian government, and the CTIA in the US has backed it up with vigor. 

Now with 10dlc regulations from the U.S. carriers pushing ahead, albeit in a cumbersome, bumble-some kind of way, the hope that spam will become less and less is seeing some light.

But 10dlc has posed a few problems for those sending righteous messages and still getting them blocked by carriers, we discuss reasons and solutions in this past post (link). But the one we get asked about the most is….how to send messages that include links.

Here’s the problem with SMS Links

So many messages rely on links to ‘get more info’ or ‘claim this discount’, to name a few. Though the suggested guidelines from the carriers have said it’s best not to send links, as they’re a red flags to be blocked. 

BUT this isn’t entirely true, barely even close. We were supposed to read between the lines to see what they really meant, that is; don’t send links that aren’t obviously track-backable (yep, not a word, but you understand). 

Including a full trackable url can easily use up all 160 characters that a standard SMS counts. And sending shortened links created by a public link shortening service doesn’t give the carrier obvious connection to a legit company.

The answer is Branded Shortened URLS

Branded shortened URLs…but wait…what’s the difference, you ask? Branded shortened URLs are unique to you or your business, and typically have a hint of who the owner is right in the link. 

Public shorteners like the free version of bitly create random links, with no clear owner, but also like bitly, you can upgrade your account to be assigned links that carry a unique nod to the owner or sender.


Roger’s Gourmet Rabbit Food might be announcing a sale, but the full url looks like this…neither friendly or short. 

A branded shortened link could be, referencing the initials of Roger’s store.

While a public shortener version of the same URL might look like this: abg.6u/8tg…neither remotely memorable or track-backable (yep, there it is again).

You can see that the branded shortened link is the clear winner.

The upgrade to the ‘branded links’ level of a public link shortening company is worth its monthly fee in blocked messages. Carriers will feel more comfortable sending them and you and your recipient will reap the rewards.

This is not a paid promotion, but of course, Bitly is still a very strong contender in this space, though there are many to choose from. Choose wisely though, and realize that some plans will expire links after 30 days or maybe if it hasn’t been clicked within 180. While some only track up to 5000 clicks, others are unlimited. Like anything else, shop around.


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