Using an SMS gateway offers a unique and efficient solution, allowing you to send SMS messages in bulk to subscribers across multiple providers.
Although the primary medium of sending an SMS is through a mobile phone, sending SMS messages in bulk can be quite tedious using a phone.
Moreover, if the target audience are subscribers of a variety of networks, the possibility of mobile carrier incompatibility becomes an issue.
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What is an SMS gateway?
An SMS gateway service provider allows you to send and receive bulk SMS from a computer.
SMS messages pass through a wireless carrier before being routed to a mobile phone.
They are generally used for one-to-many communications. When a text message is sent, the SMS Gateway Provider translates it to a format suitable for delivery over the network, and then the text eventually reaches the recipients.
An SMS gateway allows a computer to send and receive SMS messages to and from SMS capable devices. SMS gateway API adds bulk SMS service capability to the software applications you already have on your device. Service SMS Gateway providers offer their API to help you send automated, bulk SMS messages from your existing software applications.
The SMS gateway allows you to send and receive SMS and other media in 2 ways:
Messaging Service Through A Platform
For this method of sending bulk SMS requires using a platform. It typically needs a web application which you can connect from any device with an active internet connection.
The process for sending SMS from a platform involves setting up a web database, usually by an SMS gateway provider, that you will use to send the SMS that allows you to connect from any device with internet access to send and receive SMS messages.
Sending via an SMS API
Unlike using a platform, an SMS API helps you to connect your software to the SMS gateway directly. This allows you to send and receive SMS directly in SMS gateway software you already use, rather than using a platform.
An API, or Application Programming Interface, is the medium through which the functions of one computer program is made available to another. As a user, you cannot see the API. It is invisible to you and works in the background of software applications.
But then, how do the programmers of both computer programs know how to make this connection? They use a standard protocol, which is also called an API specification.
The word “API” can be used to mean both the protocol mentioned just above and the service that is performed by using an API in the protocol sense.
All this may sound very arcane, but if you have ever linked a social media account such as Facebook to your company’s website, you have used an API.
What Is an SMS API, then?
Simply put, SMS API is the kind of API that will let you or your business integrate SMS messaging into the platforms you already use. An SMS API is like a bunch of instructions that help applications or computer programs send SMS via an SMS gateway.
How Does the SMS API Work?
The SMS API establish a connection between telecom carriers and the internet. This bypasses the need for using an intermediary such as a platform or software application to help things function.
You do not need to log in anymore after having integrated the SMS API manually. You can send messages automatically using API protocols, which saves you time and money.
The main advantage of using SMS API over other types of applications is that access to an internet connection is not necessary.
As long as your clients and prospects have access to cell phones (which we can say almost definitely that they will), they can receive your SMS messages.
What are the advantages of using an SMS gateway provider for sending text messages?
For your technical team:
Automate SMS sending
To have an efficient and automated SMS Marketing plan, you need to integrate with your CRM software, Customer Data Platforms and other omnichannel marketing applications.
Integrating your software will allow you to automate transactional and promotional tasks such as purchase confirmations, scheduled reminders, and more interactive uses of SMS, like customer service and gathering feedback.
You can facilitate this by using an SMS gateway API that is compatible with your existing software.
One of the main advantages of integrating SMS gateway via an API with your software, is that it’s simplified and seamless automation based on an SMS service.
To bring out the maximum efficiency of SMS marketing, SMS services like Octopush make the process of API integration with your CRM software easy to understand and implement according to your need.
Octopush provides easy-to-read API Documentation on its website.
Get a long-term solution
SMS marketing offers a differentiating real-time communication medium with customers at an era when speed is the key. An SMS gateway software gives you the ability to conduct one-to-many communication with a personal touch for each user.
This versatile nature of SMS makes it a very efficient channel for both promotional and transactional messages. So, integrating an SMS gateway API provides you with a long-term solution for consistent reach and engagement
For members of your marketing and communication team, they can :
Instant text message bulk delivery
When it comes to sending bulk SMS, it is important to have fast delivery to ensure that your entire SMS list receives your message at the same time.
For example, if you want to alert your customers about a restock of a popular product that you are offering on your website, you might need to send the text to hundreds or thousands of people, with as little delay as possible.
Delivery speed is a key factor while reaching the target group within a peak-activity hour. Bulk SMS service sends using an SMS gateway are delivered instantly, and 90% of all text messages are read within 3 minutes of being received.
This high efficiency of SMS gateway makes it ideal for sending short-term offers or flash sale alerts to your customers.
Reduce costs in customer support
Unlike email or social media, receiving SMS in real-time does not require the users to have an active internet connection.
An SMS provider proves to be efficient in terms of cost and time for offering customer support. Unlike customer service over phone calls, you do not need to have support staff working round the clock to respond to customers.
Text-based customer service has more upsides, such as cutting long hold times and avoiding multiple call transfers that customers experience during a phone call service.
Octopush offers a reliable SMS service at competitive prices, saving you the cost of hiring full-time customer support staff.
Engage in a two-way personalised communication
A survey shows that around 75% of consumers become very frustrated when they are unable to respond to a text by a brand because of a no-reply text messaging system used by many businesses.
SMS Gateway allows you to receive and record replies from customers for each text you send.
Recently, one of the most popular trends in shaping up customer support is the SMS chatbot feature. Chatbots save time and effort by answering common inquiries through automation, much like real-time interaction with human support staff.
These chatbots powered by Artificial Intelligence can not only answer common questions but also complete automated tasks without the need for any human intervention. The integration of SMS gateway API with your software makes setting up an SMS-based chatbot easy and secure.
Take advantage of campaign statistics
Businesses now have access to segmentation tools that lets your audience get updates that are relevant to them. Running targeted promotions gives you a degree of control over boosting conversions by aligning your promotions with the intent of your audience.
Integrating an SMS gateway gives you access to statistics obtained from your past campaigns, which helps you track the performance of your campaigns.
You should be able to track metrics, such as how many messages were delivered, opened, or how many users clicked on the links that you sent. Integration with your CRM also allows you to segment your customers in your SMS list according to their demographic, geographic or behavioural data.
6 key questions to help you choose your SMS gateway
1) What is the payment method for SMS messages?
SMS gateway can be broadly divided into 2 categories in terms of payment method:
- Based on credits: You buy a certain number of credits. Sending an SMS costs you one or more credits, depending on the country you are sending your text message to. For example, sending a text to India may cost you 1 credit, while sending a text to the US will cost you 2 credits.
- Based on SMS: You buy a certain number of text messages. Sending a message is the same regardless of the destination or gateway.
Octopush, for example, works with the remaining amount of SMS messages because it is more intuitive. The price per SMS may vary depending on the amount you buy or the type of SMS you send. For our users, it has therefore been easier to understand their SMS balance that they can actually use.
2) Does the text provider require a minimum quantity of text messages purchased?
Some companies require minimum purchase amounts, like to buy at least 1000 or more credits every time. If you are unsure about the success of your text campaign, choose a provider that does not require minimums.
You will have plenty of time to increase the number of messages after you test if your campaigns are being successful or not.
3) Are messages subject to an expiration date?
For some platforms, credits or text messages expire after a certain period of time, after which they can no longer be used. This could be annoying if you want to test your campaigns in your own time and pace, so you should check this before signing up with a provider.
Octopush, for example, doesn’t impose any expiration dates on your SMS, but it does on your account. For security reasons, if you don’t sign in to your account for a full year, it becomes inactive and is automatically shut down.
4) What’s the quality of the network coverage?
Network coverage is an important factor. As it is quite possible that a text router may not be able to deliver your messages in certain countries or via certain mobile operators. You can usually find a detailed list of countries and operators covered on the text provider’s website.
Some SMS routing platforms offer very competitive rates. But beware, as the quality of their network coverage can be quite poor. Your messages may never reach their destination, or else after a very long and random delay.
One option is to check with their customer service providers to see if they cover the location you are interested in, but the most efficient way is to send a test SMS to see if they actually get through.
Companies like Octopush offer free SMS messages so that you can test their deliverability, speed and accuracy of the message you compose.
5) Is your system compatible with the API provided by the SMS gateway?
You will make the most of your SMS gateway service by integrating it to your software. This way, you’ll be able to trigger automatic pre-formatted messages to your clients. Which will save you time and will improve the customer experience.
Every software is written in a certain “protocol”, which is the way how data is transmitted between computers. These protocols typically include :
- HTTP, the most common and easiest to use.
- HTTPS, for encrypted and therefore secure data.
- SMTP, for sending and receiving text messages from email software.
It would be wise to check that your software is compatible with the provider’s API before making any commitments. Or at least that they support all protocols, like Octopush.
6) Is the API easy to use?
Every API comes with its documentation to provide instructions for the Programmers and Developers on how to connect it and use it with your software. However, some companies don’t take this seriously. And they include lousy documentations that end up with you losing your time or even changing your provider.
Normally, the documentation for setting up the SMS API is provided publicly, so make sure to check with your Developers if everything is detailed and comprehensible. It will save you time and effort in the long run, we assure you!
How do I set up an SMS Gateway?
There is no doubt that to make the most of your SMS gateway service. You will need to integrate it with your software. This allows you to trigger automated and pre-formatted text messages to your audience. But to achieve this result, you need to check if the SMS gateway is compatible with your software.
Softwares are written in certain protocols that determine how data is transmitted between devices. Software protocols include:
- HTTP (Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol), which is the most common and is the easiest to use,
- HTTPS (Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol Secure), which is used to transmit encrypted data for security purposes, and
- SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol), which is used for sending and receiving text messages from email software.
Check the compatibility of your software with the provider’s API before you choose to use the service. If you are unsure, you can utilise the services of Octopush, which supports all of the protocols. To make its system universal and accessible, Octopush used HTTP and SMTP protocols.
You can send automated messages from existing automatic email systems using the SMTP SMS API. Octopush also ensures a secure transfer of data to your platform by allowing you to use HTTPS.
Integrate the SMS gateway API
Once you have checked the compatibility of your software with the SMS Gateway, you can proceed to complete the integration. For Octopush, you can integrate SMS using their efficient SMS HTTP API. You can then send SMS messages to more than 196 countries directly connected to its infrastructure.
Octopush not only offers the best price with its SMS gateway integration via API. But also ensures that the process of integration is smooth and hassle-free. Its website lists all of the documentation required for the SMS gateway integration API.
After you have registered, you will receive an API key to be identified within its system. You can also find the API key on your user profile. You can also access a typical “user” / “password” connection. If you need to outsource the development using the Octopush API, a “user” / “api_key” connection allows you to do so without having to provide access to your data in the user interface of your Octopush account. This ensures that your data is safe from any third parties.
Prioritise ease of access
The ease of the SMS gateway integration via API should be a priority for you. Generally, documentation that comes with the API provides instructions for the programmers and developers regarding the integration process. You need to look for providers who provide clear and relevant information in their API documentation.
Since most of the companies put the documentation for setting up the SMS API on their websites for public view, you can check if the documentation is clear enough to make the work easy for you.
When it comes to the implementation of the SMS gateway, Octopush has developed a simple API to make it a swift process. The API Documentation provided on its website is clear and comprehensible for you to follow.
Explore offered payment methods
Generally, you will come across two types of payment methods for SMS gateway service providers- credit-based and SMS based.
In the credit-based system, you need to buy a certain number of credits. The cost of sending an SMS will be in terms of the credits. For example, each SMS may cost two credits, or a bundle of 100 SMS may cost 180 credits. Credits can also vary for geographic locations. For example, sending texts to local recipients may cost one credit, while international recipients may cost 5 credits.
The SMS-based system is comparatively simpler, where you need to buy a certain number of text messages. The destination or gateway does not affect the number of SMS in this case. You might buy a fixed number of SMS for 30 Euros and send them to varied geographic locations.
In the case of Octopush service provider, the price per text message varies on the purchasing amount and the message type. This makes it easier for you to understand how many texts you have remaining in your balance.
It is important to note that for some platforms. There is a fixed validity time for credits or the number of texts. This could be particularly inconvenient for you if you intended to use the text message for a longer period. So remember to check any expiry limit before signing up with a provider.
However, Octopush does not have any expiration dates on the validity of your SMS. It does have an account validity policy for security purposes. If your account is inactive for a whole year, that is if you don’t sign in to your account for 365 days. It will become inactive and will automatically shut down.