How to integrate an SMS service into a website and/or a mobile app?

Every year it’s getting more and more difficult to reach out to people. SMS is still considered a cost effective and easy way to notify clients and connect them with your business. SMS services integration is used for marketing campaigns, bulk messaging of deals and news, appointment reminders, order updates, password confirmation, feedback gathering, etc.

A service used for these purposes is called an SMS gateway. It’s a perfect fit for both private companies as online shops, delivery services, clinics, and public entities as healthcare services, elections, educational institutions, etc.

SMS messaging is a powerful tool for engagement, so integration with an SMS gateway will help you quickly deliver timely and concise messages to your clients.

 

How does it work

 

An SMS gateway is a service that enables you to send and receive text messages from a web or mobile app over a mobile network.

The process of messaging includes 4 functional units: messaging application (your company), SMS gateway, network operators and recipients (your clients).

More detailed workflow: An SMS gateway integration is implemented via API, with the help of which developers can easily incorporate the functions of the gateway into your own system. The gateway connects your web/mobile app to a server and to mobile networks (SMSC - short message service centre) via an HTTP or SMPP interface, with the help of which your clients get SMS messages.

 

Image from smsala.com

 

With an SMS gateway you get the following benefits

- processes automation;

- faster workflow, increased efficiency, security; 

- messages scheduling; 

- messages tracking and reports; 

 

What criteria determine the choice of an SMS gateway?

 

Features

Functionality of the service is a top criterion and you should search for the most suitable one for your business. Depending on your expectations, consider the ones that offer phone number verification, personalization of messages, solutions for different steps of customer journey, integration with 3rd party channels and tools.

 

Timing and reliability

Effectiveness of SMS campaigns greatly depends on timing and service’s reliability. Research, negotiations with local network operators and integration process will take some time, so it’s better to choose a service with perfectly setup processes and constant support.

You also need a system that sends messages exactly when you want it to, so be sure to ask vendors about their up-time (should be as close as possible to 100%) and reliability reports. 

 

Location

The choice of a gateway also highly depends on your clients location. Choose one that can connect to mobile networks in the countries your clients are based in for the best deliverability. Costs also depend on your business’s and your clients’ location.

 

Compliance 

Be sure to take into account the compliance factor that includes processes transparency, lawfulness, clear service agreement. As SMS gateways receive your data,  it’s important to check how they store and process it, whether they use special secure protocols and data encryption.

 

Documentation

This is a crucial criterion for your development team. If you want your team to be satisfied with work, have no unexpected trouble in processes and get everything done quickly, be sure to choose a gateway with clear and complete documentation. It’s good to know what programming languages a service supports and how easy the integration process will go.

 

Pricing

For startups and small businesses it’s all about costs. So the choice of pricing model depends on how important SMS campaigns are for your business and how much you are willing to spend as well as countries you are sending messages to and features you’ll need. 

 

Our experience: Twilio, SmsAssistent, SmsApi, Smsp.by

 

Twilio

Features: Programmable Messaging API (for notifications and alerts) and Conversations API (two-way SMS interactions), global senders, 30+ countries, various types of messages (service alerts, reminders, marketing campaigns, conversations), phone numbers verification

Pricing: different options starting with $0,0075 per message (depending on the country) with pay-as-you-go pricing, volume discounts, or committed use pricing

Additional features: expansion with MMS, WhatsApp, chatbots, and more using one API; multiparty and multichannel messaging 

 

SmsAssistent

Features: SMS messaging to any country, phone numbers verification, Email2SMS, integration with CRMs, CMS, special solutions and own products

Pricing: different options starting with 0,277 BYN ($0,1) per message with volume discounts

Additional features: mobile app, integration with Viber

 

SmsApi

Features: global reach, open API and free libraries, special solutions for different types of businesses (small businesses, eCommerce, public institutions), phone number verification, two-way SMS, various types of messages (lead acquisition, bulk SMS marketing, customer service), many types of integrations (Magento, Gmail, WordPress, CRMs, etc)

Pricing: different options starting with $0,064 per message (depending on the country) with pay-as-you-go pricing, volume discounts

Additional features: message templates, mobile app, expansion with WhatsApp

 

Smsp.by

Features: open API, global reach, various types of messages, reports and planning

Pricing: different options starting with 0,025 BYN ($0,01) per message with volume discounts

Additional features: referral system, integration with Viber

 

Final words

 

Although there are many technologies, tools and channels that help you interact with clients, not all of them work for every company. SMS messaging is still a great way to notify you users and communicate with them. It can work perfectly with other tools and channels you use and be easily integrated into your system.

If you need help while choosing the right solution and its integration or have an idea for an innovative product, contact our experienced Fingers Media team!

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