Why it’s important to select the right bulk SMS Provider

By Christophe Collier
November 30, 2012

The mobile phone is undeniably one of the most personal things we own. I don’t know if there’s a name for the fear of spending a day without your credit card, wallet, or purse but there is one for the fear of being without your mobile phone – it’s called Nomophobia (no-mobile-phone phobia)!

The level of attachment we have to our mobile phones presents marketers with an unmatched opportunity for initiating personal interactions with customers in real-time. Like most people, I usually check my email inbox five to ten times a day, but I check new SMS messages and push notifications as soon as I hear my phone chime.

In countries such as France, where you have to use an SMS short code to collect opt-outs, 99% of opt-out requests are typically received within a few hours of launching a campaign. A couple years ago, mBlox conducted a survey that validates these numbers.

We’ve all heard the famous saying, “with great power, comes great responsibility,” and it’s as true for mobile messaging as anything else. With the ability to reach billions of people across the globe, using the right bulk SMS provider couldn’t be more important; the quality of your provider’s service can make or break your campaign’s success, not to mention your brand image. Here is a short example:

You find a brand-new low-cost bulk SMS provider who allows you to send three times as many messages as a trusted SMS provider does for the same price. In addition, both service providers offer the same bandwidth allocation. Sounds great right? Not so fast…

Your campaign, which was three times bigger than usual, took significantly longer to execute than you expected and, as a result, didn’t reach your customers until 2am. Since many people use their cell phone as an alarm clock, your message woke up many of your customers when it arrived in the middle of the night.

Imagine how this oversight could impact your customers’ perception of your brand.

This is obviously a worst case scenario, but before selecting a bulk SMS provider, ask the following questions:

  • How many years of experience do they have? What type of SLA do they offer?- An established provider is more likely to have a resilient infrastructure, and a good infrastructure is necessary for a robust SLA.
  • Ask about the latency- Latency is the amount of time the provider will take to process an SMS campaign. This metric is especially important when dealing with two-way campaigns which allow consumers to respond with text requests for more information about your offer or service.
  • Ask about their capacity- Can they send millions of SMS messages in just a couple of hours? For important bulk SMS campaigns, this is critical. If you are promoting an item in a retail store, you do not want the message to arrive at 10pm when the store is closed or a day after the sale started.
  • Are their carrier connections direct or multi-hop?- The shorter the route to the consumer, the better. A good bulk SMS provider will be able to tell you exactly how your message will be routed. It’s also a good way to cross-check latency and capacity. An SMS going through more than one gateway (i.e. one “hop”) before reaching the destination network is less likely to be delivered in due time.
  • Ask them about their technical support
  • - Do they offer 24/7 support?
    - Is support available during business hours in the country you want to reach?

There are certainly more questions you can ask, but these provide a good starting point. If you want to perform your own trial and test the provider’s support options at the same time, ask for a test account.