Are you someone who is solving the puzzle of choosing the best SMS marketing service provider for your business?
If yes, then this article is for you.
You did your research to realize the ultimate potential of SMS marketing and decided to venture into it with your aspiring spirits.
You also know how you can leverage the benefits of SMS marketing.
The unique benefits of SMS marketing like high reachability, instant delivery, high open rates, instant opt-in and opt-out, etc make it stand as an incomparable marketing channel.
But, to utilize the tremendous benefits of SMS marketing, you also need a convenient SMS marketing platform which enables you to communicate with your customers effortlessly.
When you take the step to see the world of SMS marketing, you come across an unlimited number of SMS service providers.
It again puts you under dilemma to choose which one is the best SMS marketing service platform.
It is the world of marketing and sales hype.
Hence, it is a crucial task to sort out which bulk SMS service provider satisfy all your marketing needs.
But, the task becomes easy when you know how to choose the best SMS gateway provider.
You are not here to gamble and become a contributor to someone else’s sales target.
You are here for your business.
Here are the seven different dimensions you have to deal with when you are on your mission to select the best bulk SMS service provider.
1.Telecom Operator Partnerships and their Networking Routes.
Any SMS marketing service provider is an intermediate bridge between you and telecom companies.
Telecom companies provide network pathways to reach your customers.
You need to know whether the SMS service provider has partnerships with all the primary Telecom companies in the industry.
You have to inquire whether the bulk SMS provider can reach all your customers in the database through legitimate network pathways or routes.
Telecom companies charge SMS marketing service provider for providing network routes to your customers.
The network routes are of three types:
(a) Licensed network pathways which are good for quality and security are called white routes.
(b)The network pathways which are illegal from customer end, as well as the SMS gateway provider end, are called black routes.
(c)The network pathways which are one-way illegal, either from customer end or SMS marketing service provider end, then they are called grey routes.
Telecom service companies are determined to block the grey routes, and it will ultimately result in your failure to reach your customers.
Moreover, the quality of the black pathways is low which may cause failure of the campaign or data breach.
Although, the messages sent through illegal routes, most of them are considered as spam.
In the words of Hugh Spear, Former Group CEO & Co-founder of Dialogue,
“Taking the grey route to bypass operator charges increases the chances of non-delivery, provides a safe, profitable haven for the spammers, and risks damaging brand reputation for the brands associated with the messages and the operators themselves.”
Your Integrity is your brand loyalty. You shall never risk it for stinginess of a bulk SMS service provider to pay the connection fee.
You need to make sure that the bulk SMS service provider is handling the campaign through white routes to reach all your customers.
2.Customization and Features of SMS marketing service provider
It is you who know your customers more than anyone.
So, you need to customize your campaign with personal touch according to your customer segment behavior patterns.
SMS marketing service provider serves you with the integrating platform in which you have to upload your customer data.
The software segregates data based on mobile networks and sent to respective network pathways provided by telecom companies.
You need to see that the integrating platform allows you to customize your data and messages.
You must be able to schedule the campaign and automate it according to your strategies.
And you should be allowed to customize your message in any language with different media links and images.
SMS marketing service providers in the market are coming with different features like SMS alerts, partner programs, Unicode, two-way communication options, analytics, internet SMS, etc.
Understand every feature provided by different SMS service providers.
Then, sort out the elements which are helpful to your type of campaigns.
For example, if you want to conduct hyperlocal campaigns, you may need only local coverage areas.
Then you can eliminate the feature of international coverage area and filter the SMS sending services accordingly.
Your campaigns should make use of the features and tools provided by the SMS gateway providers to the fullest.
See that the SMS marketing service provider is providing you unlimited keywords along with short codes and long codes, which act as addresses to your SMS.
Choose a bulk SMS service provider who is also providing advanced marketing solutions.
The platform should enable you to conduct contests, polls, schedule messages to know your customer behavior.
The bulk SMS service provider you choose must be able to provide the free opt-out option to your customers.
You make sure that your provider doesn’t send the messages to Do-Not-Disturb (DND) numbers.
The software or the service you choose must provide an automatic self-filtration system of DND numbers.
Else, it is a tedious job for you to filter the DND customers.
Customer’s choice is an ultimate secret of success for any business. You are graceful when you respect their decisions.
3.Technology and support of SMS marketing service provider
The SMS marketing service provider with robust and fine-tuned SMS gateway technology provides you the best experience with zero downtime.
The software or the platform you obtain from the SMS service provider should have a powerful and intelligent API and HTTPs.
An API is an interface to connect to your SMS service gateway where you can send and receive transmissions and services.
You use API for linking the database and CRM with the platform.
You configure your API to accept your application connections through the web-based interface where you manage your plugins, run and monitor your campaigns.
Most of the platforms in the market are available with free APIs.Check out those options.
There are bulk SMS providers who provide guidebooks for API integration with detail explanation of different plug-ins and sample codes.
It helps you in extensive integration with the platform and reduces your development efforts.
Make sure you opt for a user-friendly interface as you have to use the platform on a regular basis.
Take live demos from the SMS gateway providers and understand different tools and processes of the platform before you start.
Many a time, there comes a situation where the messages you sent reach lately to your intended customer or do not reach at all.
It is one of the significant factors which you need to check with your SMS service provider.
Make sure that the throughput of your messages is superior. So that, the messages reach the customers in the free moment.
Delivery speed has a vital role in the increase of your click-through rates and conversion rates.
Choose a platform from where the messages take not more than 5 seconds to reach the customers.
The SMS service provider should be able to monitor the messaging throughput throughout the campaign.
It is better if the platform incorporates with proactive alarming tools so that the SMS service provider handles the messaging queue issues without delay.
Your message should reach your customer, no matter what.
Any software accompanies with some bugs.
You need to make sure that the SMS marketing service provider is ever-ready to fix the bugs.
Understand the protocols which the SMS marketing service provider follows to fix the bugs when they arise.
It helps you to communicate with your bulk SMS service provider in time and initiate the process without any delay.
The hardware used by the SMS marketing service provider also affects the performance of your campaign.
You need to know about the server which handles the messages, including the history of problems like downtime experiences.
Know about the actions taken to mitigate them.
Choose the SMS marketing service provider who is reliable with the lowest downtime.
It is better to choose the platform which has geo-redundancy so that the data can be saved in case of any mishaps.
Check the details of updates and upgrades of the software and their latest release features.
Understand how much regularly the software is updated and how the clients are receiving the updates.
The SMS service provider should have a customer service panel to provides you service at any time regarding product demos, queries, complaints, etc.
The SMS sending service provider with a good team of marketing experts and support engineers makes a right partner for your business.
Check if they are readily available for troubleshooting your technology and marketing issues in your campaigns.
It is better if the SMS gateway provider you choose has a physical office.
In case of any need of support or explanation, you can approach them directly without causing the delay in emergency situations.
4.Tracking and Analytics by SMS marketing service provider
To know whether the campaign is the success or a failure, you should first know if your messages reach to all of your customers.
You should understand what the after-effects of the campaign launch are.
To know that, your SMS marketing service provider should provide you the platform with different tracking tools.
Tracking tools bring out the reports of different success metrics like delivery rates, failed messages reports, open rates, subscription rates, opt-out rates, subscriber’s demographic and geographical data.
You need to understand the significance of your SMS marketing service provider to score well in all success metrics of an SMS campaign.
Your bulk SMS service provider should be able to track your CTA links and provide you click through rate.
The click-through rates are one of the vital SMS marketing success metrics.
“Click-through links embedded in the SMS are the secret sauce of a successful SMS campaign“-Jay Sheth, CEO-mGage-India.
The bulk SMS service provider must be able to provide you the detail analytical report of your campaign along with expert advisory.
It helps you to improvise your campaigns in future.
But, before that,
you need to make sure that the reports and analysis provided by the SMS marketing service provider are authentic and genuinely certified.
You need to check if the SMS service provider presents you immediate, active, real-time and transparent reports.
Be aware of the bulk SMS providers who misguide you with fake reports.
In this competitive world, every SMS gateway provider showcases themselves as the best bulk SMS service providers for reasonable tariffs.
But, there are SMS providers who come with the taglines of ‘cheap and best,’’lowest price,’ etc. and provide low-quality services and lousy experience.
Some SMS service providers may charge you more for the service they provide under the name of brand value.
But you have to be vigilant enough and make sure you do not fall in to trap.
Compare the prices offered by different bulk SMS service providers and learn what could be the cause of the differences in their service costs.
Several SMS marketing service providers have price estimation tools on their websites which can be used to estimate the campaign cost.
You can use the estimated data for comparison and analyze the cause of price differences.
The bulk SMS service providers are providing the services in 2 ways-
(a)Monthly plans which offer a specific quantified package of messages and services regarding credits.
(b)Unlimited message plans which charge a certain price per each message along with additional services.
Choose your plan according to your marketing needs, your budget, size of your business and size of your targeted audience.
If you want to receive messages or call from your customers, you need to choose a different sign-up option and pay the additional fee.
You need to check with the SMS sending service provider about any hidden charges like separate API fee, subscription fee, sender ID fee, etc.
Select the SMS gateway provider who does not bill you for DND numbers.
Enquire about all your fee structure details thoroughly and compare with other SMS provider charges.
Analyze the quality and experience of service through free trials.
Then, you stand in a point where you can differentiate the SMS service providers for different operations and services.
You need to choose a right bulk SMS service provider with whom you can travel for a long way for reasonable charges.
6.Experience and Reviews
Nothing can give you the precise picture more than the personal experience.
Many SMS marketing service providers in the SMS market industry provide free trial versions.Try out them.
The more time you spend with trial versions of different SMS service providers, the more you understand the difference in services and their usages.
Then you can easily choose the one which you find as easily adaptable and reliable according to your business needs.
You can understand the service conditions by considering the reviews of other clientele of the bulk SMS provider.
Go through the clientele portfolio and try to reach out to them for genuine discussions about the SMS gateway provider.
You need to check the market reputation of the SMS provider by taking account of any awards or recognition achieved.
An excellent reputed SMS service provider is always open to communicate with you.
Approach them online or offline and get in-depth insights of their services without any hesitation.
7.Legal and Ethical aspects
Apart from features, services and their benefits provided by the bulk SMS service provider, the vital aspect you need to check is their transparency.
There are several bulk SMS service companies in the SMS marketing industry, but not everyone maintains acute transparency and business ethics in their services.
So, watch out!
You need to check whether the SMS sending service provider is providing their mentioned services with dedication.
Sometimes, the list could be just for the sake of attracting traffic or with some hidden charges.
You need to know Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) rules and regulations
formulated for SMS marketing.
Check if the SMS marketing service provider is in complete compliance with them.
You need to make sure if the SMS gateway provider is licensed by the Government to avoid further litigations.
Remeber that you are responsible for the security of your customer data.
You need to check whether the SMS marketing service provider is acting accountable and equipped enough to protect your valuable customer data.
A service with ethics is always trustworthy. Obtain it and provide the same to your beloved customers.
On Final Note
You may find several companies in the market which satisfies most of the aspects mentioned above and provide you services dedicatedly.
But, at the same time keep eyes open on the SMS service providers who come with fake promises and eventually end you up with disappointment.
Choose the bulk SMS service provider which provide you not only services but also immense support throughout your campaigns.
Your right partnerships are your weapons to achieve success.
Tell us what you think about these 7 dimensions of SMS marketing platforms for choosing your best SMS marketing partner.