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How to choose the right SMS provider for your business

Are you on the hunt for an SMS provider to help you tap into the many benefits of SMS marketing? If you’re new to the game, it can be hard to know what to look for – not all SMS providers are created equal. 

When selecting the best-fit SMS provider for your business, make sure they help you kick these six goals.

1. Sail through set-up

Look for an SMS provider that makes it as easy as possible to get up and running. Not just to send SMS from an online web portal, but to integrate SMS with your existing marketing platforms so you maximise existing investments and minimise hassle.

Ask about help guides and documentation. And see if they offer phone support. If you haven’t used an SMS platform before, you’re sure to appreciate some guidance before sending your first message.

2. Keep your database in tip-top shape

It sounds grim, but database decay is definitely a thing. With customer data going bad at a rate of 22% every year, you’ll want to partner with an SMS provider that helps keep things clean.

Choose a provider that offers tools to help you keep your database up-to-date and accurate. For example, with MessageMedia Home Location Register (HLR) lookup, it’s easy to identify and isolate any invalid, incorrect and out-of-range numbers – and remove them from your list so you’re not paying to send text messages to numbers that don’t work.

3. Catch badly timed or duplicate messages

When you’ve poured energy into building up a great database, the last thing you want is for people to unsubscribe due to a poorly timed or unhelpful message.

Look for an SMS provider that provides a safety net to protect against unwanted sends. For example, MessageMedia can apply a social sending window to block out-of-hours messages (who wants to get a text at 2am?). We can also recognise and stop any duplicate messages from being sent to the same customer twice.

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4. Avoid bill shock or confused customers

Do you prepare text message content in a Word doc, and then paste into your SMS platform? If your content contains special symbols (like ®) and Unicode content (like emojis), your character limit drops from 160 to just 70. These stowaways can chew up your SMS credits.

Look for tools like character converter, which detects and replaces almost all Unicode characters before you hit ‘send’. This way, you can make sure the message (a) reads as intended and (b) doesn’t tip over into more costly territory.

Top tip

Arm yourself with knowledge about how SMS providers charge you for sending messages. Here’s how MessageMedia calculates credits against the length of your message.

5. Send from a familiar or fixed number

To build rapport and trust, you’ll want the ability to send messages from the same phone number each time. Sure, using a pool of shared numbers is cheaper, but your conversations can become disjointed and leave your customers confused.

Choose a provider that gives you options for using the same phone number each time. For example, Familiar Sender is a simple way to build trust by sending from a recognised source. Then there are dedicated numbers or alpha tags, which give you an exclusive, easily recognisable number or name. Customers immediately know it’s from you and can see your message history in one place.

6. Check the capacity to scale

It may seem obvious, but always ask your provider how many messages their SMS gateway can process in a minute. Countless other businesses could be sending a message at the same time – particularly during peak sales periods. 

This could create a backlog in the provider’s SMS gateway if they don’t have the technology to scale. The last thing you want is for a time-critical promotional message to get stuck in a lengthy queue or bottleneck, meaning customers miss the boat.

Ask potential SMS providers how they’ll help you

Your business will no doubt have unique needs. As well as ticking off all the common SMS goals above, ask your shortlist of SMS service providers how their platform will help solve your specific business messaging goals.

If MessageMedia’s on your shortlist (we certainly hope so), we’re here to answer any questions you have. Get in touch here.