This is an adaptation of our blog posts "7 ways to Combat Being Flagged Spam." and "How Do Phone Numbers Get Marked as Spam?" Click through those links to read the full articles.

For businesses that rely on calls to generate interest, speak to leads, and close deals, having a phone number marked SPAM Risk or Scam Likely can be a serious blow.

Questions abound: How did my phone number get marked as SPAM, even though I’m following all rules and regulations? Do I have to give up my phone number now that it is marked spam? How do I clean my phone numbers?

Don’t worry! While discovering that one of your business phone numbers has been mislabeled as spam is stressful, all hope is not lost.

How Spam Scoring Works

SPAM ratings are not labeled at the telephone number level. Instead, it is actually the receiving carriers who determine whether to label an incoming call as “Spam Risk”, “Scam Likely”, “Potential Spam” or other negative labels.

Each provider uses a proprietary, private algorithm to automatically assign a Spam designation. Similar to how the Google algorithm works, the scoring is dynamic and depends on many factors. However, the scoring systems used are completely decentralized. This means it can change literally from one phone call to the next, or from one carrier to another.

While the algorithms are not published publicly, we know some of the variables that factor in, including:

  • Call volume

  • Answer rate

  • Call duration

  • Other indicators that hint to the carriers whether these are wanted phone calls.

For example, if a high percentage of calls from a specific phone number go unanswered, the algorithm is going to assume the calls are uninvited. Or if the call duration is a few minutes or longer, the data will show it is an engaging — and therefore welcomed — conversation.

What smrtPhone Does to Combat SPAM

While we do not have direct influence over spam labels, we do our best to set you off on the right foot.

  • All Phone Numbers available for purchase through smrtPhone come from Twilio, who holds phone numbers for 90-120 days, ensuring they have no recent traffic on them. (Please note that sometimes brand new numbers need to be "warmed up" as lack of use can also be considered a negative indicator.)

  • We automatically enroll all clients verified in the Trust Center in STIR/SHAKEN - also known as certified Caller ID, that confirms the number on display is in fact the number of the call origin. This is known to have a positive impact on Spam ratings.

  • We accept returned numbers within 48 hours of purchase for credit or exchange.

7 Things You Can Do Now to Reduce Risk of Being Marked Spam Likely

Even with all of the opacity around spam algorithms, the good news is that you can still influence how your numbers are rated. Below are our tips for things you can do today and every day to lower your chances of your phone number being marked as spam.

  1. Register your phone numbers with data analytics providers. There are independent data registry providers who feed call analytics engines for carriers. Free Caller Registry and Call Transparency are both free and cover the largest mobile carriers in the U.S.

  2. Get verified in the Trust Center to enable STIR/SHAKEN. Learn how>>

  3. Use number pools with smrtDialer. When using smrtDialer for campaigns to cold lead lists, consider limiting the number of lines you use and cycle several numbers for the outbound calls by using multiple caller IDs. Learn how to use number Pools in smrtDialer >>

  4. Park your numbers occasionally. Giving your numbers an occasional rest from outbound calls can help decrease their spam scores. You can still receive inbound calls - so all marketing materials remain valid - but taking a breather from outbound can help.

  5. Comply with all laws, regulations, and provider policies regarding telemarketing and sales outreach. While this may be a no-brainer, we would be remiss to not mention it. In addition to regulatory compliance, be sure to follow the Golden Rule. As you put on your professional hat and make business calls, don’t take off your consumer hat. Imagine you are the recipient of the phone call you are about to place – how would you want to be treated? The better you treat your contacts, the less likely they are to lodge complaints.

  6. Diversity your marketing mix. Inbound leads are already warm and more likely to close. Phone calls are an important - but not the only- ingredient in a successful marketing and sales campaign. A healthy balanced portfolio of lead generating activities including flyers, yard signs, advertising, events, and, yes, phone calls and text messaging, is more scalable and sustainable than a single channel approach.

  7. Don't panic. It’s hard to not stress when you hear that your phone numbers that you’ve printed on 1000 mailers has been marked as Spam Likely by one of the carriers. But remember: it doesn’t mean it is showing that way for all consumers and it doesn’t mean it’s permanent.

Take a deep breath, following the tips on this list, and make sure you continue to follow sound business practices for outbound sales calling. You are not the only business operating in this new environment; all businesses are facing the same increased scrutiny. It’s part of doing business. As the industry shifts, believe in your ability to adapt and achieve and continue to improve and press forward.

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