What to look for when choosing a bulk SMS provider

Surely you have already noticed: there are many bulk SMS providers. There’s so many, in fact, that you may struggle finding the one that fits your needs best. Some of these providers lure potential customers with extremely cheap or even free SMS, no matter to which countries you want to send or how many SMS you send.

It won’t surprise you if we tell you: you should not use these providers for your SMS dispatch. If you give your data and messages to the wrong provider, not only do you run the risk of your SMS not arriving, there may also be legal consequences. That’s why in this blog post we want to talk about the question: 

What should you look out for when choosing a bulk SMS provider?

The routes

One of the most important factors you will encounter when looking for a bulk SMS provider is the routes via which the SMS are sent.

Very cheap providers, for example, often send via so-called “Grey Routes”, in which the SMS is handed over to a foreign network operator to be sent back to the destination network (possibly via detours). This exploits a procedure that is enabled by network operators exclusively for private international messaging, not for commercial SMS sending.

Sending bulk SMS via Grey Routes is not only highly questionable and unsafe in the business sector, but also extremely unreliable: Mobile operators are of course aware of this phenomenon and are working to prevent unauthorized sending via Grey Routes. Not least because of this, it happens time and again that a high percentage of messages sent via these routes do not arrive.

Your bulk SMS provider has to have a reliable connection to network providers

But even those Grey Routes that are still working are unreliable. The potential for errors is greater due to the redirection of messages. In addition, delivery takes much longer due to the long detours and you have no control over what data is being passed to which parties. In fact, you have no idea which parties are even involved in the SMS route.

Therefore, a reliable routing is one of the first things your future bulk SMS provider should bring to the table.

Ask your preferred bulk SMS provider what routes they use, try if sending works before signing a contract and be especially careful if you are offered very low prices.

Pay attention to: Reliable routing.

The server location and other privacy requirements

In fact, it doesn’t matter whether you want to send bulk SMS or send messages to a few people: In any case, you should know where the provider’s servers are located. The reason for this is quite simple: data protection.

If you send SMS to recipients in EU countries, you must comply with the requirements of the GDPR. This means in the case of sending bulk SMS through an SMS gateway: If there is even a single recipient from an EU country, the data must be stored and processed in the EU. You really shouldn’t cut any corners here, because violations can be expensive.

Depending on which countries you want to send SMS to, there may be other regulations that come into play that not only affect data protection, but also other aspects of sending SMS, such as opt-outs and permitted content. Make sure to find out in advance about the individual regulations in the respective recipient country.

Pay attention to: The server location (EU) and other privacy requirements, if needed.

Other regulations in other countries

Many countries have special rules when it comes to sending SMS. You should therefore familiarize yourself in advance with the laws of the recipient countries. We provide an initial overview here:

The terms of payment

You have probably already thought about the price you expect from your bulk SMS provider. But beyond the price per SMS, you should also be aware of possible additional costs.

Many providers sell packages with basic fees, which often have a fixed minimum term. Still other bulk SMS providers even demand a certain minimum turnover or fees for receiving SMS. Inbound numbers, which allow you to receive SMS through the respective provider, usually also cost money.

So find out what you will end up paying and how flexibly you can adjust these costs to the products you use. Also, there are providers where even creating an account costs money. Make sure you can try out the service in advance without obligation.

Pay attention to: The price, but also any other costs, such as basic fees as well as contract periods.

The scalability

Scalability is important when looking for a bulk SMS provider, which in some cases intersects with the payment terms, or pricing.

Surely, you know how many SMS you currently want to send on a regular basis. But what if this number increases sharply in the near future because you gain many new recipients? If you don’t want to rule out this scenario, you should urgently pay attention to the scalability of your bulk SMS provider’s gateway.

If you assume that the number of your SMS could also decrease, you should also take this into account. Some provider payment plans require a minimum purchase or maybe, if the number of recipients decreases, you could actually have a cheaper offer but have to keep the more expensive plan for a certain minimum term.

Pay attention to: The number of SMS that your provider can send quickly and whether it is possible to vary this number greatly on your end if needed.

The additional products

You want to send bulk SMS, we know this much. But is that all you want? Maybe you also want to be able to send text-to-speech messages or use certain analytics features? Would you like to know whether a link you sent was clicked by the recipients? Or would you like to validate your recipients’ numbers in advance by performing number validation to delete invalid numbers before sending them for the first time? Maybe you also want to enable customers to reply to your SMS and therefore need your own inbound number?

For companies, especially, it is becoming more and more important to be able to to receive SMS online, because conversational marketing is on the rise.

Want to learn more about receiving SMS online with sms77.io?
Go ahead and read our blog post about inbound SMS.

Again, it’s good if your provider of choice allows you to use the products flexibly. That way, you don’t have to sign a completely new contract if you decide that a particular feature makes sense for your business after you’ve started sending SMS.
So find out what products your potential bulk SMS provider carries, which of them you want to use, and exactly what you’ll pay for which products.

Pay attention to: What features you may want to use in the future and how much will you be willing to pay for them.

Conclusion – reliability and fitting options

Stay away from dubious low-cost providers or even those gateways that offer free SMS sending. The unreliability of the service of these providers erases all the advantages of sending SMS and, in addition, you always run the risk that the data of your recipients is not safe.

Additionally, you should be clear about which offers and products are important to you and how your SMS dispatch might develop in the future. Compliance with the GDPR should also be at the forefront of your mind. Furthermore, you should educate yourself on the payment terms of the respective provider.

sms77.io meets the requirements of the GDPR and offers you a scalable and reliable gateway for your SMS dispatch. Moreover, we also offer other products that serve as useful additions to your SMS dispatch. You don’t sign a package deal with us, but only pay for what you use. Without minimum turnover or a designated contract period. You only pay a basic fee if you decide to use our inbound products.

All the best
Your sms77 team

Header: iStock.com/Vasyl Dolmatov

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