So, you’ve decided that sending SMS online is the ideal tool to help you grow your business, to help send bulk text messages, or to keep your customers informed and in the loop. Congratulations – choosing business text messaging can be an incredibly powerful tool, enabling growth, success and better communication. However, you can’t do it alone. You need to choose an SMS provider that will work nicely with you and empower you to enjoy all of the benefits of SMS.
The good news is that there are plenty of providers to choose from. The bad news is that they’re not all the same, and some low-quality providers may actually cost you money without delivering the ROI you need to see. Not sure how to separate the wheat from the chaff? Let’s consider seven important elements when choosing an SMS provider.
1. Message Delivery
We’ll begin our discussion with message delivery, which is actually a pretty broad topic, with some important subtopics. Superficially, it’s about getting your message to your intended recipients, but there’s more to it than that.
- Speed: How quickly can the SMS provider deliver your texts? It’s crucial that the timing is right. Too late is obviously bad, as it causes you to miss important windows, particularly if there are time-sensitive events involved. However, too early is just as bad, as it gives your audience time to forget.
- Accuracy: How accurate is the company’s SMS delivery? How many messages are sent to incorrect phone numbers? Is there any kind of accuracy guarantee?
- Reliability: How reliable is the company’s message delivery? Too often, you’ll sign up with an SMS provider and have a good initial experience, only to find that their reliability suffers over time, which reduces your success.
- Open Rate: What is the average open rate for the company’s SMS messages? Ideally, you’ll work with an SMS provider who can truthfully claim a successful delivery rate of 98% or higher.
- Delivery Regions: Finally, make sure that the SMS provider you choose is able to deliver your message to recipients in the regions that matter most to you. Obviously, working with a company that can only deliver nationally will be of limited use to a company that does business internationally.
2. Scalability and Ease of Use
Now we need to discuss scalability and ease of use. Scalability is one of the most important considerations here, as it ensures that you only ever pay for the services and features that you need, and nothing that you don’t. You should be able “start small”, and then ramp up your marketing efforts as your business grows, without paying for all the bells and whistles during your early growth stages.
Ease of use is a vital consideration, too. How simple is it to create custom SMS messages? How easy is it to segment your audience? Can you easily schedule the message? Can you preview the message before sending? Can you easily use templates, attach files, or choose from custom sender settings?
3. Integration with Your Existing CRM
Chances are very good that you already have several important business systems and tools in place. You probably have a CRM that you use regularly (customer relationship management system). You likely have a business loyalty program, as well. In fact, you could have any number of different software programs and other existing tools. Make sure that the SMS provider you choose can integrate directly with your CRM and other software, and that it remains easy to use. You should also make sure that there is web-based access to the platform on offer so that you can easily use it while on the go.
4. Adherence to Best Practices
Spam is big business today. It’s also a big no-no. Make sure that the SMS provider you ultimately choose adheres to industry best practices. For instance, your list should be built with the help of a double opt-in system to ensure that you are only texting those who have authorized you to do so. If you’ll be doing business with the EU, or UK, then you’ll also need to make sure that the SMS provider is compliant with the new GDPR requirements that went into effect in May 2018.
5. You Can Take a Test Drive
Never choose an SMS provider sight unseen. Make sure that you have at least some sort of free trial so that you can put the provider’s offering through its paces. This allows you to get firsthand experience with the system, see how it works under the hood and get a real feel for the ease of use offered.
6. Analytics and Reporting
Any SMS provider can make whatever claims they like in regards to delivery accuracy, and open rate. However, it is important that you are able to verify the effectiveness of your SMS campaign. Make sure that the platform you choose offers integrated analytics with custom reporting so you can drill down into the situation.
7. Good Reputation
Finally, you need to check the SMS provider’s reputation. Go beyond reading customer testimonials on the provider’s website, though. Dig into the conversation surrounding the brand online through social media. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are complaints about the company, and how those complaints were handled. Do your due diligence here to ensure that the company you choose is on the up and up, and is actually dedicated to providing outstanding customer service and support, and a superior product.
There you have them – seven of the most important considerations to make when choosing an SMS provider. The right company will help you reach your audience, keep them engaged, and build your success. However, not all SMS providers are worth your time and money. Use the checklist above to help simplify the process of choosing between various providers and you’ll find that it’s simpler to make an informed, accurate decision.
There you have them – seven of the most important considerations to make when choosing an online SMS provider. The right company will help you reach your audience, keep them engaged, and build your success. However, not all SMS providers are worth your time and money. Use the checklist above to help simplify the process of choosing between various providers and you’ll find that it’s simpler to make an informed, accurate decision.