Businesses use SMS text messaging because it lets them engage with customers and prospects in a way they like. People prefer receiving messages on their mobile devices to getting a phone call or an email message, and they open incoming messages quickly upon receipt.
What’s the best way to send SMS messages to sales prospects, customers, and other audiences? Hint: It’s not hiring an intern with a cell phone and fast fingers to sit in a cubicle banging out texts.
The best approach is to use a cloud communications platform with an SMS API (application programming interface) that lets your developers easily integrate texting into your existing applications. By using an SMS API along with a communications platform as a service (CPaaS) you can tailor your message to different target audiences. You can also use different caller IDs if you like, so you can send messages from different numbers to represent different divisions or product lines. And you can send your messages to a single recipient or a giant list, depending on your use case. You can even attach images or audio or video clips, in which case your SMS message becomes an MMS message (M for multimedia).
CPaaS Evaluation Criteria
Once you’ve decided to use an SMS API, how do you pick the best one? Focus on four factors: features, geographic reach, pricing, and support
Under the category of features, look for support for various number types — long code numbers (including 10DLC), short codes, and toll-free numbers — as well as things like automatic rate limiting and message queuing, support for GSM and Unicode characters and smart encoding, and long message concatenation.
Under geographic reach, the platform should be able to send messages to every country and region where you might have customers — and where you might have them in the future. Look for a cloud communications platform with a global presence, including relationships with in-country Tier 1 carriers with direct interconnectivity to local telecom network operators.
Look for transparent pricing, published on the vendor’s website. Consider how many messages you plan to send and receive every month, then do the math to find the estimated monthly cost of each platform you’re considering. A difference of a fraction of a penny in a rate may not seem like much, but if you’re sending tens of thousands of messages (or more) per month, the numbers add up.
While writing applications with an SMS API should be relatively easy, the whole telecom infrastructure has enough moving pieces to make things complicated. Look for a service provider that offers clear, comprehensive documentation, an expert support staff, and services for handling complex tasks on your behalf, such as porting a phone number to the platform or maintaining regulatory compliance.
The best SMS API?
Taking all the factors into account and comparing CPaaS alternatives, one platform seems to have the edge: Plivo. It has a complete feature set, connectivity in 190+ countries, and pricing lower than that of alternative solutions.