What is SMS Gateway and How it Works

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SMS Gateway

With open and response rates of 98% and 45%, SMS is the sales and marketing frontier for modern businesses. It serves all business areas, from promotions to instant OTPs and automated reminders. 

The easiest way to harness the potential of this wonder tool is by an SMS gateway API. It enables businesses to reach a vast and growing audience efficiently and conveniently. SMS gateway servers also provide analytics insight to improve future campaigns. As with any strategic endeavour, the journey begins with a clear understanding of SMS gateways and how they work.

SMS gateways: The evolution

The real power of SMS marketing is the ability to send messages to thousands of customers simultaneously. Businesses use global telecommunication networks to send bulk messages through websites and applications. However, the process needs a tool to bridge the gap between these Platforms and the network.

An SMS gateway allows sending and receiving texts from websites or apps to or from the telecom networks. It translates the messages and makes them compatible with the network and mobile devices to ensure delivery. 

Earlier, SMS gateways were hardware components with embedded radios and SIM cards. But, with the rise of cloud technology, SMS gateways have evolved into cloud-based APIs. They use the Short Message Peer-to-Peer (SMPP) protocol to route messages to telecom networks. 

SMS gateway API Working in practice

Technically speaking, an SMS gateway uses a SMPP protocol to send messages. The messages reach a Short Message Service Centre (SMSC) through a RestAPI, an interface containing the customer database. Next, it goes up on the telecom network and reaches the customers. While it seems too much to comprehend, the practical working of the gateway is simple.

Source: Ravesoft 

  • The process begins by composing a message using the website or application, which uploads it to the gateway protocol.
  • The SMS gateway server then formats the message, verifies each recipient’s contact number, and makes the message SMS-compatible.
  • Next, the API sends the SMS to a mobile network that takes it to all recipients. The receivers only need mobile devices, mostly smartphones, to receive the message.
  • The process ends with a delivery report back to the API indicating success.

Getting an SMS Gateway up and running

SMS APIs are the gizmo for SMS marketing that fuels business growth.

While developers focus on technical functioning, what interests businesses is how to get them up and running. 

SMS APIs come with user-friendly interfaces that make it easier to set up. Business teams must only follow simple configuration steps to get the ball rolling.

#1 Selecting an SMS gateway provider

Choosing the right service provider is a differentiator for successful SMS campaigns. Assessing how closely the API features align with intrinsic business goals is crucial. It involves many factors, with security, cost, and scalability being the prime considerations. The expertise and experience of the provider also drive the final decision. 

#2 Sign up with an account

Next is to register an account with the provider and verify it. Some regulations also require the sender’s identity verification. By verifying identity, businesses send messages with the company’s name. Customers see such texts coming from authentic sources and react positively. 

#3 Integrate the gateway with the application

SMS gateways come with detailed, easy-to-understand documentation. Users can follow the documentation to connect with the gateway server and integrate API with the application. However, most SMS API providers offer assisted integration. They do most of the heavy lifting, including the testing and maintenance.

#4 Test the platform thoroughly

Once the set is over, it’s essential to test it. The best way to test is to use it to send texts. Configuration team must ensure that the messages get delivered to the recipients. Once the test is successful, the API is ready to start campaigns.

#5 Create and schedule campaigns

Now, businesses can send messages to customers and prospects. They can use the preset templates to create a campaign and schedule its launch quickly. They can also specify the frequency and exact time to maximise engagement.

#6 Track and analyse performance

SMS gateway APIs also provide analytics and reports. It gives a bird-eye view of a campaign’s performance. It highlights various metrics that help understand the merits and problem areas to improve future drives and overall strategy.

#7 Maintain SMS gateway and troubleshoot common issues

Maintenance and troubleshooting are integral to SMS gateways. Monitoring factors like delivery rate, reliability, and delivery speed is crucial, particularly for time-critical campaigns. Businesses must assess these parameters to ensure smooth operations and timely troubleshooting.

Leveraging SMS gateway service to send Bulk Messages

SMS APIs also allow organisations to send mass messages to a broader and growing audience. Harnessing SMS gateways for bulk messaging is quite straightforward. It only requires connecting with an SMS delivery system, typically a telecommunication network. Since the gateway integrates with the business website or application, it allows messaging directly from these platforms.

Some common ways organisations use bulk SMS gateways for bulk messages are:

Promotional campaigns

It is the most common use where businesses send texts to inform customers about offers, discounts, sales, events, and more. They can also schedule a series of messages such as reminders, customised promo codes, or phased campaigns.

Regular updates

Another use is to send updates to the customers. It includes messages about product launches, periodic services, stock availability, etc. These action-oriented messages inspire customers to interact with the businesses and improve engagement.

Educational messages and announcements

The recent pandemic is a classic example of using bulk messages for educational purposes. Businesses communicate with customers about the latest developments, delivery delays and protocols, store closings/reopenings, and more.

Partnering with the best SMS gateway provider

Finding the right service provider is half the job done. Seasoned and proficient service providers deliver robust solutions customised to the business’s intrinsic needs. It enhances operations and takes a lot of burden off the workforce’s shoulders. Here is what to consider to find the right partner.

Service reliability

For SMS marketing to be successful, the gateway must deliver messages at the right time without failing. Pick a provider with a robust infrastructure who ensures maximum uptime. Assess their delivery rate, reliability reports, unscheduled downtime history, etc.

Location compatibility

Choose a provider with a vast mobile network, particularly in the countries where the business goes. It increases reliability and speed of delivery, improving customer experience. For instance, Airtel has the most extensive network pan-India and globally for flawless messaging. 

Security and Compliance

Maintaining customer data integrity and privacy is paramount. SMS gateway must have robust data protection measures, seek consent from the receivers, and maintain records for regulatory compliance. It is better to trust providers who conduct periodic third-party audits and penetration tests. 

Flexibility and scalability

Find a flexible solution that can work well with specific business tools and provide the required analytics. Also, as the business grows, so do the SMS campaigns. The provider must be able to scale while keeping the pricing in check.

Features and user experience

The features of the gateway must include personalisation, campaign automation, and analytics and align them to business goals. Also, the provider must offer these features without compromising ease of use and overall user experience.

Customer support

Another crucial consideration is support. Check for the availability and quality of the support for the gateway. It should provide quick assistance for all queries like troubleshooting and training.

Pricing models

Finally, a nod from the finance team is a must. The cost differs based on the messages’ frequency, volume, and delivery regions. Most providers offer affordable and flexible pricing, including pay-as-you-go models. Some also claim to provide SMS gateway free. However, It is crucial to verify their claims against quality carefully. Pick one that delivers the best value for money.

SMS gateway: A differentiator for leading businesses

Simply put, an SMS gateway is an API for text messages. It integrates with websites and applications and sends text messages to a large audience at once. The gateway translates the message into an SMS and connects with a local mobile network. It is easy to set up and benefits businesses in multiple ways.

Airtel’s SMS gateway API is a powerful, easy-to-use, feature-rich SMS solution. It is reliable and secure and makes a critical difference by increasing customer engagement, sales, and profitability. Sign up for Airtel’s SMS API to boost the impact of every SMS campaign.