Many organizations find that a comprehensive, multifaceted communications strategy requires them to leverage tools and technology that make instant, automated communication easier. Frequently, that means implementing texting via a Short Message Service (SMS) application programming interface (API). Here are the basic points you need to consider before deciding on your API of choice and to begin using it to send or receive messages.

SMS API: A Quick Definition

An SMS API is a tool used for application-to-person (A2P) texting that connects separate programs to execute incoming and outgoing messages sent to and received from mobile devices. Simply put, the SMS API serves as the point of connection between web-based applications and an SMS gateway, allowing you to integrate programs to send out individual or bulk text messages and to receive communications as well. SMS APIs should also offer a high degree of customizability to suit your specific needs.

API for SMS Messaging: Basic Categories

Before you can begin setting up automated SMS-based notifications and reminders, or rolling out text message scheduling and security features, you'll have to inventory what your SMS API must help you accomplish. The first point of consideration is whether you need incoming or outgoing functionality. Over time, most businesses and groups may find that they need both.

Potential Incoming SMS API Use Cases

How does your organization listen to its contacts over SMS? Remember, your text messaging user base is wider than just customers and prospects. You may also be using texts to receive information from employees and external business partners, including individuals in your supply chain, vendors and others.

Your SMS API will need to be able to retrieve text messages and associated data sent to phone numbers that you're using for specific SMS interactions. You may be taking in and indexing location pins for new shipments of products and supplies, or you could be handling responses to a marketing call to action. For example, Chipotle recently ran a stealth promotion during which customers could text a specific keyword hidden in one of their TV commercials to win free food — as long as they were among the first 10,000 people to do so.

An SMS API with the appropriate functionality would work well for receiving data related to the winners and ensuring they got their well-earned burritos.

Reasons To Use Outgoing SMS API Functions

Integrating your SMS API with existing programs so you can deliver important text messages to your contacts is a useful way to deliver greater value and improve crucial metrics for your business.

For example, you might use an SMS API alongside your scheduling software to send automated appointment reminders. Your customers may appreciate the gentle nudge, and it could reduce last-minute cancellations and no-shows, which would be a boon for your business.

In a restaurant industry that's suffering from would-be diners who skip out on reservations, automated text message reminders can help keep no-show rates down. When paired with incoming message functionality and successfully integrated with online reservation systems or other booking applications, SMS APIs may also assist businesses by automatically canceling appointments that aren't confirmed via text message within a reasonable time frame.

Internet of Things (IoT) developments also indicate potential new uses for outgoing SMS API functionality, as in the case of one of our clients — a hog farmer who needed to automatically text staff members as temperatures rose.

Selecting an SMS API Service Tier

In addition to determining your incoming and outgoing SMS API needs, be careful to select the service tier that's best for your organization. At Swift SMS Gateway, we support inbound and outbound messaging for all of our SMS API plans. Advanced functionality, like subaccount management and multi-campaign reporting, is reserved for our highest-tier client. As you decide on a plan, be sure to think through your exact SMS needs as well as future directions where you'd like to expand your efforts.

Implement An API For SMS Messaging With Swift SMS Gateway

We know that the complexities of launching an SMS API can be significant, especially if this is new territory for your organization. Our experts are ready to help you talk through your company's requirements and work with you to find a suitable solution for your needs. Contact our team today.