11 Ways To Dramatically Reduce Your SMS Costs

January 17, 2024

While SMS does have crazy ROI.... The costs can definitely add up if you're sending thousands or hundreds of thousands of messages every month.

And while most *smart* businesses doing SMS actually are looking to increase their SMS spend (spend more, make more)...

…You still want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for you buck!

So in this article I'm going to break down some of the biggest considerations to reduce your costs and improve your ROI.

Some of this is technical, some of this is strategic, but all will help you reduce your costs when slinging text messages. 

Let’s get into it!

1) Slash Costs In Half By Understanding Segments

When you send a text message, you’re charged based on the number of segments.

For a normal encoding SMS that limit is ~160 characters.

Here’s the thing: If you go over the character limit even 1 character, you’re going to double your segments, and therefore double your costs.

(And as a side note, you’re going to double your sending time!)

Now I have nothing against sending multi-segment messages, and often it’s a great idea. 

But you really just want to make sure that you are intentionally sending it, and that you’re not accidentally going over with an unnecessarily wordy message.

One quick note:

I always like to leave a little extra room in the character count because I nearly always include a FIRSTNAME merge tag (or other merge tags), and that means each message will vary in length. 

An average name is ~7 characters, but there are always names that are much longer that could accidentally push your costs up… so just leave some extra space!

How Roezan helps with this:

  • In Roezan we have a character / segment counter when you write messages, and we also warn you approx how many credits you’ll be using!

2) Send SMS instead of MMS (in some cases)

SMS stands for Short Message Service and MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging Service.

MMS is when you are going to send pictures etc. 

Naturally, MMS costs significantly more than an SMS (in Roezan and many other platforms, an MMS is 3 credits and SMS is 1).

Recently I was auditing a potential client's account with a competitor and noticed that the platform they were using was sending their messages as MMS instead of SMS, with no reason. There was no multimedia attached and the messages were relatively short. 

I pointed this out to them, and I believe that they will now be saving 50%-60%+ on their costs just by simply sending via SMS instead of MMS!

How Roezan Helps With This:

By default, we send as SMS (lowest cost) and only send as MMS if you add multi-media OR you have a 3+ segment message (see my next tip)!

3) Send MMS instead of SMS (in some cases)

In some cases, it’s actually less expensive to send MMS than to send via SMS. 

For example, many people don’t know but in addition to being able to send media with MMS, you can actually also send up to 1600 characters of text too!

If you were to send 1600 characters of text with SMS it would costs 10 credits, and with MMS it only costs 3! 

How Roezan Helps With This:

If you send messages with over 3 segments, we automatically convert it to MMS for you!

4) Avoid Emojis And UCS-2 Encoding

Warning: This is about to get nerdy!

SMS can be sent with multiple types of encoding. GSM-7 (standard) or UCS-2 encoding.

The big deal is that with GSM-7 you get ~160 characters, but with UCS-2 you ONLY get 70 characters.

So why would you send with only a 70 character encoding?

There are various characters that could unintentionally throw your encoding into USC-2, and therefore increasing your segment count to essentially double, even without hitting your 160-character limit. 

Guilty culprits often include emojis, slanted quotation marks, non-standard spaces, and other characters etc!

Most people don’t even know they did this, and it accidentally shoots up their costs!

So our advice? Just don’t send emojis and only send standard characters. 

How Roezan helps with this:

  • We display approximate segment calculations transparently for you
  • We auto-re-format strange characters
  • We auto-convert 3+ segment SMS to MMS (so you don’t end up paying for a 4+ segment messages!)

5) Segment Your Lists

Instead of sending message broadcasts to everyone on your entire list, Roezan lets you segment your lists easily, so you can send messages to portions of your list based on attributes.

(Not to be confused with “message segments”, mentioned earlier).

For example, let’s say you want to run a limited-time promotion for a product you sell. 

You would want this to go to everyone on your list except people who have already purchased that product.

So in Roezan, you can segment your all-contact lists to exclude your product purchasers list.

This saves you money by making sure the messages are only going to the right people.

There are tons of variations of this concept, and we highly encourage it! 

How Roezan helps with this:

  1. You can easily build lists inside of Roezan
  2. You can also add tags in Roezan (also segmentable)
  3. You can automate list additions from actions via automations (plus data from Zapier, ActiveCampaign, etc)
  4. Further segmentation is available in broadcasts

6) Don’t Be Duped By Carrier Fees

Comparing pricing is not always apples to apples.

One thing that's difficult is that SMS pricing isn’t always straightforward and transparent.

Recently, I was auditing a client's account and comparing pricing between their old vendor and us, and on the surface the old vendor's pricing looked better than ours.

(Clearly possible, our main value is not being the cheapest but being the BEST!)

The big caveat was this asterisk on their pricing that said “*carrier fees not included.”

Despite the physical size of the asterisk, this is not a small detail!!! 

Carrier fees represent often 15%+ MORE in costs.

In fact, this customer was paying hundreds (or potentially thousands) of dollars a month in extra carrier fees that were not clearly displayed on the competitor's pricing page. 

Check out this invoice: 

How Roezan helps with this:

  • Our pricing is transparent, carrier fees are included in our pricing.

7) Improve Your Deliverability 

Deliverability is a big deal in text message marketing land. 

There are a few points to this but improving your deliverability will help reduce your costs (and improve your ROI).

How Roezan helps with this:

8) Keep Lists Clean & Compliant (Plus Use Opt-Out Messaging)

Another one of the best ways to keep costs down is to just simply make sure you’re only sending messages to people who want to be receiving them!

First, in order to be compliant, you only can text people who have given you explicit permission to text them (just having a list of phone numbers is not the same!). 

Don’t worry, if you haven’t got explicit permission, you can easily run some campaigns to collect this (just ask us!).

Next, when you send broadcasts you can include “reply stop to stop” at the end and allow people to opt out. 

How Roezan helps with this:

  • We honor all opt-out requests automatically! 
  • If anyone replies ‘stop’ or ‘unsubscribe” or variations of that, we’ll auto-opt them out. (not all platforms do this)

9) Auto-Clean Bad Numbers

It’s natural that your lists may accumulate “bad” phone numbers over time for a multitude of reasons

  • Landline or other non-textable number
  • Valid but non-functioning phone number
  • Invalid number
  • Contact changed phone numbers
  • etc

You’ll want to make sure your lists are clean from these numbers, and don’t try to send to them. 

How Roezan helps with this:

We automatically attempt validation upon import and upon every send, and auto-opt out any invalid numbers! 

This helps keep your lists clean and reduces costs.

10) Use The Right Type Of Number

There are multiple number types you can use to send SMS A2P.

  • 10DLC: 10 Digit Long Code
  • Toll-Free: 1-8XX 
  • Short Code: 5 Digit Short Code

Each type of number has its pluses and minuses, but for many marketers in our use case, toll-free makes the most sense for many reasons, and one of them is cost!

Short Codes can cost thousands of dollars per month and in many cases add no functional benefit (but this depends on your situation).

How Roezan helps with this:

  • We use toll-free numbers by default
  • And we consult with clients about what is best for them

11) Send MORE Messages (?)

This sounds strange but the more messages you send, the cheaper per message cost you’ll get. 

So it ends up being cheaper to send more messages!

How Roezan helps with this:

We keep your costs down by

  • Allowing flexible packages - you can upgrade, downgrade, cancel anytime
  • Price breaks on volume - the more you send the more you save!
  • Rollover***** - If you don’t use all your credits, they roll over! Not every platform does this!

12) Bonus: Let Us Take A Look

If you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your SMS program - book a call with us and we can do a quick audit of your current program / account. 

With a simple audit, we recently predicted that we’ll save a client 30-50% of what they are currently spending, even without changing their strategy, or even the number of messages sent!

Or if you don’t have an SMS program yet, check out our SMS accelerator or book a call with us to help you get set up the right way - the first time!


There are lots of ways to save money on SMS and these are just a few.

If you’d like help making sure you’re getting the best ROI from your program, just hit us up!