Dear ThruText Clients,

Our number one priority from now until Election Day is making sure our system is fast and stable in the face of what will be a historic surge in text messaging. In order to make that possible, we want to share some “load management mechanisms” we may implement to address three potential challenges:  

  1. Availability of sending phone numbers
  2. Throughput
  3. Database load 
It’s important to note that we may not have to use any of these mechanisms. We have spent all year reinforcing ThruText, and we are confident in our ability to handle the inevitable GOTV traffic spike. At the same time, we believe in creating backup plans, and because these plans would affect your usage of ThruText, we wanted to give you advance notice. 

Group 1: Availability of sending phone numbers

This election cycle has put enormous strain on the availability of long codes (aka 10 digit phone numbers) used to send your messages. The following are mechanisms to manage the demand for phone numbers to ensure that you can launch campaigns without errors. 

  • Automatic archiving: Active but unused campaigns hold precious local phone numbers that could be reused in future campaigns. We ask that you archive any campaigns you are not using as proactively as possible. We may also automatically archive inactive campaigns (i.e., no recent messages sent or received) to help meet local area code demand. We will provide advance notice via email and in-app notifications before any auto-archiving occurs. 
  • Shifting to U.S. Region: As local area code supply continues to shift, we may switch to launching all campaigns with the “U.S. Region” The U.S. Region pulls from any available area codes across the country to launch your campaigns, ensuring that you don’t hit launching errors due to area codes that are low or out of stock. If we switch to U.S. Region, you will not be able to select the specific area code you will be sending from.  
  • Use of toll free numbers: If the stock of local area codes continues to decrease, we may launch some campaigns with toll free numbers. What this means is that your campaigns will still launch and deliver as normal, but the sending number will begin with the 1-800 prefix. While we know that most clients have a strong preference for local numbers, we have no evidence that using non-local numbers has an impact on response rates.

Group 2: Throughput

ThruText relies on SMS software partners like Twilio to deliver your messages. Throughput refers to the capacity those SMS partners have to deliver messages at any given time. We’ve worked hard to obtain high levels of throughput, but if the volume of messages exceeds available throughput during peak traffic, we’ve developed several mechanisms to respond. 

  • Message queues: If message load exceeds available throughput, messages will be put into a queue, and will deliver as throughput becomes available. This means that some of your messages may not deliver immediately. So if you have volunteers sending out the initial messages, a best practice is to designate sweepers who can respond to replies that may come in later.  
  • Not sending queued messages outside of texting hours: When messages are queued, we will continue attempting to send them during the open-close window of the relevant campaign. If a backed-up queue prevents a message from being sent within that open-close window, we will cancel sending the message so that you can determine whether you want to try again the following day. We know that some messages are time sensitive, such as those related to voting deadlines, and that sending them with a long delay might be worse than not sending them at all. Here’s what will happen in this situation: 
    • We will notify affected accounts individually if messages aren’t sent. 
    • You will be able to identify which messages were not sent via a message export
    • You can use that message export to load up contacts for a new campaign once the queue has abated if you so choose. 
    • If you choose not to resend the messages, we will not charge you for unsent messages.

Group 3: Database and Server Load

We have devoted considerable effort to expanding the capacity of our database and servers to manage traffic at peak time. This includes major infrastructure upgrades and moving large chunks of old data into “cold storage.” However, it remains possible that at peak messaging times, the load may exceed the maximum capacity we are able to provide.

Our primary mechanism to address this issue is to disable or degrade features with high database loads. The following are the features that we would be most likely to limit:

  • Slowing down message sending -- We’re proud of how fast message sending is in ThruText. But at peak times, tens of thousands of texters pressing send hundreds of times a minute can put a strain on the database. If that happens, we will slow down message senders by enforcing a delay in between when they send a message, and when they are able to send the next message.
  • Limit advanced targeting: When a large number of segments and conditions are used in campaign targeting, it puts an immense strain on the database. To alleviate associated slowness, we may limit the number of segments you can use when applying advanced targeting, or disable advanced targeting altogether.
  • Group Uploads -- Like message exports, ingesting large amounts of data via group uploads has a big impact on our database. So it’s also possible that we will decide to either slow down group uploads, or shut them down completely

What You Can Do 
Alongside the mechanisms described above, here are three things you can do to help manage the overall system load:

  • Archive unused campaigns -- As mentioned above, active but unused campaigns hold valuable long codes that can be used for future campaigns. If you have campaigns that you are no longer using, please archive them immediately.  
  • Upload your groups early and at off hours -- Hundreds of clients uploading at the same time creates a major strain on our database. You can help ease that burden, and ensure your groups get uploaded quickly, by uploading early -- well before GOTV -- and doing uploads outside of prime texting hours (i.e., early morning or late night -- between midnight and 9am ET / between 9pm and 6am PT). 
  • Avoid complicated targeting -- Complicated advanced targeting operations that rely on multiple past campaign segments create significant database load. We ask that you avoid such targeting approaches and instead run more, smaller campaigns, or cut your lists in your CRM and then upload them into ThruText.   

Once again, we may not implement any of the mechanisms described above, and we will only do so to ensure that ThruText remains fast and stable. We strive to be proactive and direct, and we wanted to provide you with plenty of advance notice about any potential changes we might make in the home stretch.

-The GetThru Team