When researching VoIP providers, you are bound to have many questions that need answered before you find the right fit. Questions that immediately come to mind might be, "Can I choose my ULCs?" or "Can I automate my number porting?" but, one area that should not be ignored is a VoIP provider's stance on SMS services. To help guide your VoIP provider search, we're going to answer 8 Questions When Choosing VoIP SMS Services in today's Talking with Tapolci video!
1. Where do you provide coverage?
Much like purchasing a DID, you will want to verify where a provider offers SMS coverage. Don’t assume that their DID coverage map is the same as their SMS coverage. Most providers utilize many upstream carriers, and there is a good chance that one or more of their providers don’t offer SMS. It is always good practice to ask specifically where they offer SMS service to be sure that your areas are covered.
2. What SMS applications do you provide?
SMS messaging can be used for a lot of different purposes that include:
- Person-to-Person Text Messaging
- Information Provisioning
- Alerts/Notifications (E-mail, Fax and Voice Message Notifications, E-Commerce and Credit Card Transaction Alerts, Stock Market Alerts, Remote System Monitoring)
- Two-Way Interactive Text Messaging Applications
- SMS Marketing.
It is important to know how you want to sell your SMS service and if your provider offers it the way you want to consume it.
3. How will you bill me?
There are two types of billing for SMS services; per message and flat rate. Per message billing is when you are billed 'X' dollars per message. Also be sure to understand if your providers bill for both inbound and outbound messages, or for only the latter.
Flat rate SMS service is paying a single monthly payment for unlimited messages. Each type of billing has its own advantages. Choosing a flat rate billing method is more predictable from a cost and revenue basis. However, if done strategically, per message billing can save you money.
4. What are my SMS rates?
Whether you purchase SMS services per message or flat rate billing, you will want to know your message rates. If you are going to purchase SMS services on a per message rate look for the sweet spot between .0085¢-1.2¢ per message. You may find some providers that have lower per message rates and others who charge greater than 1.2¢ per message.This is why you want to use all of these questions when you are choosing an SMS provider.
If you are purchasing SMS services on a flat rate basis, you'll find that the cost will land anywhere from a $1.00 to $1.50 MRC (monthly recurring charge). On any flat rate product, you want to look at the terms of service or your contract for the acceptable use policy. No company wants you to send an obscene amount of message through a flat rate product, so there is typically a clause in the terms of service called the acceptable use policy which caps the total number of messages sent.
5. What SMS features do you offer?
There are many features that can be added onto your SMS service. The type of service you promise your end user will determine what features you will need. Some of the basic features include:
- Two way SMS
- Group messaging
- MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) Support
- Message history
Some of the more advanced feature include:
- API compatibility
- Message Templates
- Long and Short Codes
- End User Applications
My favorite feature is the SMS Forwarding. This features give the end ser the ability to forward text messages to any email or number. This means the end user can give out his VoIP number instead of his personal mobile number and still receive messages on his private device.
6. How do you provision SMS?
Provisioning SMS should be accomplished using an online portal, API, or smartphone app. If your provider, or the provider you are researching, does not have instant SMS provisioning, it is advised to look elsewhere.
You should not only have the ability to add SMS to any VoIP number, but you should also have the ability to remove SMS from any number. If removing SMS from a number is done via email or phone, you need to start looking for another provider. There is no excuse for not being able provision SMS instantly online with today's technology.
7. Will I have access to SMS reports?
SMS reporting is important in its own right, but it is critical to your company if you’re purchasing SMS services on a per message rate. Receiving reports on usage provide you with a quick and easy way to audit your per message SMS charges. Auditing your flat rate SMS service is an easier task, but reports will help you watch for anyone sending more than the acceptable use policy allows.
Failure to monitor abusers will severely cut into your margins. On the other hand, you may find that many end users will not come close to using the entire monthly $1.00 MRC. These accounts will provide you with breakage and help your margins, so this is something to consider when selecting your billing structure.
8. Do you provide SMS management tools?
You will need a way to organize and manage your SMS services as they grow. Having the ability to organize your SMS services into Groups and assign these groups to a Client will make your SMS processes more efficient.
Having the right tools to manage your SMS will also save you time in your day. One simple but powerful tool is the bulk change tool. This tool gives you the ability to add, edit, and delete multiple SMS services at once. Using tools like these will keep your business running smoothly and efficiently.
We hope this list helps you improve your SMS offering as its demand increases. SMS is a feature that won't be going away anytime soon, so be on the lookout for more articles on text messaging in the near future.
To try out all of the features we covered in today's post, sign up with us for a Free Trial! With a VoIP Innovations BackOffice Free Trial, you'll get a full hands-on experience with our award winning features, like our Personal DID Inventory and DID Wizard. Click the button below to start your trial today!