For successful business solutions, it’s no longer enough to send each SMS individually. The multiple communication of tomorrow already requires a platform in large format. This is where SMS gateways come in to bundle, distribute and organize the bulk mailing of messages in a well structured manner. But do you know what differences there are? Which routing really gets your message to its destination and what if a parameter in the logfile should be incorrect – who will help?
The daily use of a message distributor makes high demands on its capacities. Thousands of SMS are sent and received worldwide, minute by minute. In this process, employees of corporations link with each other, companies maintain customer loyalty, start-ups acquire new financiers, rescue teams organize their missions, IT departments check their systems via server monitoring and much, much more. But not all tasks are suitable for the same gateway. In addition to the question of volume and prices, reliability, functionality and service all play a role.
Differences in form, function and content
Local gateways, that are for example GSM modules – compact devices with lots of inlay. First of all, their installation is based on the scope of application or the mode of operation of the module, and is done in the in-house control cabinet, in conjunction with a server or at a freely selectable location, where there is enough space. This may even be in the car (e.g., eCall emergency systems). Although the topic already provides the first criticism: GSM modules always need additional space.
In turn, individual consumers can be monitored directly via this “control center”. For example, the system may report an alarm after a certain interval (activation number or operating hours) or failure. Depending on the type of building, it can be configured via SMS and thus independent of location, optionally also via USB. However, only within a fixed storage volume.
Advantages of GSM modules:
- There are no third party providers involved. The transmission takes place directly and with high data security.
- The location-independent configuration is possible at any time via SMS.
Disadvantages of GSM modules:
- The applications are proprietary and limited. Telephone book entries e.g. must be individually expanded if necessary due to fixed storage capacities.
- Likewise, the technical throughput is limited. Each SMS takes about 2-3 seconds. For single transmission quite ok, but with regular bulk mailing (for example alarms) an absolute no-go.
- In the terms and conditions of network operators for GSM modules, the use of SIM cards are generally prohibited or one agrees in special contracts.
- There are sometimes no other interfaces included. Although a server can be connected, this in turn requires a lot of know-how and effort.
- GSM modules can also do without Internet access, but even for direct consumer monitoring a mobile network is required to send an SMS to addressees. If the device is in the basement, the system will not work if in doubt. Here, again servers and know-how can remedy this situation.
- The same applies to the dependence on the power grid. Resilience would only exist with a UPS device, redundant power supply, etc. – and thus additional hardware costs.
- For maintenance, a specialist should be consulted. Repair costs are borne without the appropriate contract and warranty itself.
Differences in the type of applications
GSM modules are used primarily for tracking and locating vehicles, truck fleets, ships and containers, as well as for building monitoring in the form of an alarm system. For a lower demand, GSM may also be a solution for server monitoring and alerting.
But web apps with SMS gateways are much more effective. Everything happens online and with almost unlimited capacities. In addition, many enhancements are possible, regular updates are automatic and the user has a variety of functions available that, although preconfigured, but in principle are scalable and customizable with each individual need. Especially in the field of business SMS, such web SMS services are very far ahead and take communication to a new level. These solutions are ideal for marketing strategies.
Advantages of web service:
- Scalable API applications that adapt to the needs of users and provide unlimited storage, including managing contacts, are a matter of course.
- As a rule, several interfaces are offered, via which an external software can be integrated.
- Automated settings such as bulk SMS, time-delayed transmission, voice messages and much more can be triggered via SMS, among other things. Some providers rely on newly developed tools, such as the sms77-cli plugin.
- Data protection is ensured by SSL encryption. External software can be connected so this.
- Additional features are integrated, such as journal, delivery reports, statistical evaluations, etc.
- The service can often be linked directly to the own website.
- Within minutes, the account and all personal adjustments are set up and you’re ready to go. Data can be easily imported and exported, e.g. contact information.
- Maintenance work on the server is included as well as a competent support team, which helps in case of problems or takes time for specific requests for the user and is not afraid to take on new challenge.
Disadvantages of web service:
- No disadvantage in the true sense, but still to note: the purchase of hardware requires a one-time cost, the prices per SMS, however, initially only in a small style, but can add up over time.
- All data such as phone numbers, content of the messages, etc. must be entrusted to the service provider. One more reason to look for a reputable provider.
Especially for marketing and business solutions, a web service provides important benefits. This applies to local commerce as well as e-commerce and high-end professional communication, which are essential for applications in the area of logistics, IT controlling and finance sectors. Likewise, gastronomy and hotel companies benefit from the opportunities for customer acquisition and retention. Numerous processes, from alerting to two-factor authentication and Public Wifi Codes for local customers can be easily organized. Bulk SMS, be it the newsletter or the system alarm, reach immediately, at any time and worldwide the right recipient. There were many other application examples, so here are a few at a glance:
Areas of application at a glance
Car repair shops no longer call the customer when the repaired car can be picked up – they send an SMS. The same goes for the optician and many other traders. In the field of eCommerce, SMS distributors have also become established. Optimal here are secure interfaces, via which a separate, external software can be switched on. Thus, inventory and merchandise management systems, contact details, diaries and other status information are easily organized with the same.
These are just a few examples from various industries where SMS is a significant component of communication. Large financial service providers and organizations rely on B2B & A2C solutions as do companies in the catering, hotel and logistics industries. Even with the local club, the doctor’s office and other contact-based facilities that are more likely to practice B2C applications, the so-called Short Message Services play a crucial role. But it is only via the SMS Gateway that specifications can be targeted used, such as personalized bulk SMS and two-way messaging. Likewise, the issue of number validation is mentioned here in order to not only complete the organization by SMS, but also to keep it up to date. For all this a gateway is responsible.
What options should a gateway have?
- Address book with group management
- Journal and delivery reports that can be evaluated as statistics to track when and how much SMS were sent
- Time-delayed SMS and standing orders
- Personalized salutations, also for bulk SMS
- Simple import and export of data
- Accessibility via various scalable API interfaces with integration of external software
- SMS2Email, Email2SMS, Inbound SMS, Voice
How reliable must a provider be?
- The support is easily accessible, responds quickly and helps competently, even if it takes a little more time.
- Modules, specially developed tools and features are updated and further developed. Some are probably outdated and will be replaced.
- Understandable terms, privacy and secure connections are elementary.
- The provider informs: e.g. on time about server maintenance, price adjustments or new features.
How transparent should the offer be?
- Comprehensible price lists with several offers, subscriptions, possibly a start credit should be easy to find and clear structured
- Full cost control for the user, ie manageable price lists (point 1) as well as statistical evaluations or analyzes of sent messages
- Documentations are provided which help to configure own parameters
- The provider informs about relevant themes and news, e.g. in his company’s blog
The gateway of the next generation
Basically, SMS are still the only messaging tool with 100% compatibility with all mobile phones. So not only smartphones, even older models can be reached worldwide at any time. So the question arises as to what the future of SMS gateways is now. And even there, the forecasts are extremely positive, because no other medium is so successful and reliable in use.
Google RCS (Rich Communication Services) is on the rise, but even if the service scores by not affecting the inclusive volume, it remains a Google-dependent offering. Whatsapp and iMessage have no open API interfaces, are also manufacturer-dependent or not installed on every mobile phone, which many recipients can not be reached.
SMS is and will be always is feasible. Especially applications with receiver groups that need to be well organized, have here an ideal communication solution. In contrast to the email, SMS are demonstrably faster and above all were almost always read while the email likes to end up in spam. According to studies, the opening rate for SMS is over 99%, the reading rate within 3 minutes.
So if you compare SMS Gateway with each other, you should pay attention to professionalism and flexibility. Just with cheap price it’s not done. Nothing is more annoying than to individually check fake status reports whether all messages have actually been delivered or not. With the right SMS service, you might pay 1-2 cents more per SMS, but it saves a lot of time and nerves. Another decisive factor is an intuitive workflow that is immediately ready to go even without a page-by-page instruction manual. Then you just have to find the right content for your message.
Whether there is still need for action or groundbreaking visions? We stay tuned…