Phil Portman
Phil Portman 19 June 2023

Decoding SMS Delivery Statuses: Quick Fixes for Failed and Undelivered SMS

SMS marketing is an integral part of digital marketing that helps you maximize your reach and conversions. SMS or Short Message Service is the globally-accepted solution for sending and receiving short text messages. It has been here for over 3 decades now, but businesses have recently realized the potential it holds to reach their customers effectively. The channel offers a quick and convenient way to convey important updates to your customers. Even though it’s widely used and supported by most smart and non-smart mobile devices, there are instances when an SMS remains undelivered or fails to deliver.

There can be several reasons for this to happen and it’s crucial to understand the intricacies involved in troubleshooting these issues. In this article, we’ll delve into the world of SMS delivery statuses and help you uncover reasons and fix failed or undelivered message issues.

Before we get into those, let’s take a look at different SMS statuses:

Different SMS Delivery Statuses: What Do They Mean?

Here we’ve tried to cover universal SMS statuses for better understanding:

1. Sent

Sent SMS status refers to a message being submitted to the network carrier for delivery from your SMS marketing software. It gives the impression that the message has been smoothly forwarded and will reach the intended recipient. However, the journey of your SMS message has just begun and goes through multiple stages until it reaches customers’ devices.

Seeing the sent status, most people would breathe a sigh of relief that their text would reach their customers. However, your text messages haven’t reached recipients yet but have arrived at the server that delivers them. Losing the network connection during this stage may cause your messages to be stuck in this stage.

There can be several reasons why your messages get stuck:

  • Busy periods and congested networks can cause messages to be stuck in the sent stage.

  • Sometimes servers are super busy and have stopped the service completely.

  • If the recipient’s device is off or the number is out of service, the message may not get through from the Sent to Delivered status.

If the message is stuck in the “Sent”, rest assured that your message will get through in due time. If it doesn’t in the next 72 hours, try sending it again.

2. Delivered

When the message has moved from “Sent” to “Delivered”, it gives the confirmation that the message has reached the recipient. However, this does not mean that the recipient has seen the message. Still, it’s a good sign because your text message is ready for them to open, read, and respond.

Once your service provider gets the confirmation that the SMS is delivered, it sends the signal for the same to the sender. However, in some parts of the world, the delivery report can fail due to unreliable mobile networks. This also causes the message to remain in the “Sent” status even when it has been delivered.

Apart from that, sometimes, it shows the “Delivered” status while the customers haven’t received your message. This is because the recipients’ mobile devices have memory issues or their SMS inbox is full. In this case, clearing the memory or deleting the old message would ensure that recipients receive the messages intended for them.

3. Undelivered

Messages showing this status remain undelivered due to several reasons including the invalid phone number or non-supportive SMS text or content. Sending a message to invalid numbers or phones that are not capable of receiving the message may cause it to remain in the undelivered state.

Thus, it’s best that you filter your phone numbers using a specialized tool so that you only message the right phone number. For instance, tools like 'Landline Remover' help you filter mistyped, landline, fake, and DNC numbers. Doing so ensures that your contact list database has the correct numbers and that your messages do not get stuck in the “Undelivered” state.

4. Failed

Failed to deliver status refers to the network provider being unable to deliver the message. This can be due to the service provider not accepting the message and rejecting it for technical reasons. Additionally, a message can show failed status because,

  • An important part of the message is missing

  • Technical failures

  • Incorrect phone numbers

To avoid your messages getting failed to send status, do the following:

  • Try sending the message again

  • Double-check the network connection before resending text messages

  • Check the numbers before sending an SMS or see if any details are missing

Also, check that the numbers on your list are uniform and the country codes are correct. Many times, systems may use the first digit of the number as a country code, which results in your messages getting delivered to ghost numbers.

Quick Fixes to Resolve Message Delivery and Failure Issues

Here are some quick fixes you can apply to resolve SMS delivery and failure issues:

  • Check and filter your SMS contact list for invalid or landline numbers.

  • Take a look at the laws of your country if they prohibit you from sharing certain types of content.

  • Try avoiding the peak hours for sending bulk SMS messages to ensure that your messages get delivered.

  • Ensure that your contacts are not on the DNC list.

  • Also, check that the country you are messaging to doesn’t block foreign numbers.

  • Ensure that the content is viewable and not too large in size or text and that recipients’ devices are capable of reading them.


We hope that this article helps you understand the different SMS delivery statuses and issues that can arise while sending text messages. Understand that “Sent” status means the message is sent from your device and is in a queue to get delivered to the recipient.

Once the message is sent, it will either get delivered if there are no issues or you’d see “Undelivered” or “Failed” status. However, all hope is not lost as you can try sending the messages again or resolve the issues as described above.

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