Using text messages for business communications is an effective way to provide a quality service for customers. SMS is a powerful marketing tool, with a projected $336.5 billion spent by the end of 2022, according to Statista. With the right SMS application programming interface (API), it's possible to leverage text message marketing to expand your customer outreach and offer additional convenient services direct to your customers' mobile phones.

An SMS API provides businesses with a streamlined solution for text messaging customers easily. There are many options when it comes to choosing a bulk SMS API. Making the right choice for your business SMS needs can mean all the difference for future success. But how do you know what makes a good API for managing your SMS campaign, and what's the best way to match up your business needs with the features offered on an API?

How an SMS API Works

An API is a series of digital tools that allow you to use a computer for communication with other APIs on other computers. In the case of an SMS API, the application connects you to an SMS gateway, which subsequently links to a mobile network. This allows you to send and receive a text message using the API, rather than a mobile phone.

Essentially, in this case the API bridges the gap between the internet and cellular networks, on which SMS messages are communicated. The API specifies the rules and protocols by which the systems interact with each other. This allows you to send and receive text messages application-to-person (A2P), rather than being limited to only sending an SMS message from one phone to another.

Here's a simple explanation of how text messaging with an SMS API works:

  • You write a message using the SMS API, which sends it to your SMS gateway provider.
  • The message is translated into a protocol that's understood by mobile networks, and then gets passed on to your customers' mobile carriers.
  • The mobile carrier sends a response to the SMS provider with delivery status updates, or an error code if there was a problem with your message.
  • The SMS gateway receives the update, which is translated by the API to give you a status update and tell you if your message was delivered to the mobile carriers.

Using an API instead of a mobile phone opens up various additional capabilities beyond simply sending and tracking text messages. These offer many advantages for your businesses. You can send thousands of bulk SMS marketing messages, provide secure payment services, create automated campaigns and responses, and overcome international roaming protocol limitations — to name just a few.

What is an SMS API Provider?

Like with any app or piece of software that a business utilizes to enhance operations and increase efficiency, SMS APIs are developed and offered by a service provider. SMS API providers each have their own digital solution for integrated SMS messaging. They will also vary in their level of expertise and the services they offer.

A good SMS API provider should offer a unique digital platform that can integrate into your existing systems and allow you to send SMS messages in bulk from a computer. This will invariably be supported by a subscription to a service package, which delivers technical support and proactively ensures your SMS API remains operational and connected to the SMS gateway.

Finding an SMS API service provider is as simple as a quick Google search. As the entire enterprise revolves around online activity, it's no surprise that the easiest way to connect with one is via their website. Of course, finding the right SMS API provider for your business is far less straightforward.

As with any Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS), the breadth of available options can seem like a minefield when you're looking for the best fit. A good SMS API provider will be one that is compatible with your company's systems, offer all the features you want and provide a high quality support service at a reasonable cost.

It can be tempting when you see great-sounding offers, like free SMS API solutions, but be wary of such enticements. Many service providers offering free SMS API packages are based in countries where legislation and regulations are far more lax, or perhaps even nonexistent, and this could land you in hot water.

In the U.S. and Canada, there are strict guidelines around what kind of message businesses can and cannot send as part of business-to-consumer (B2C) SMS marketing. These rules are laid out in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and overseen by the CTIA — this is why it's imperative to engage a reputable and trustworthy SMS API service provider. Violation of local regulations can result in serious penalties, including fines and potentially being barred from operating on certain cellular networks.

It's therefore in the best interest of your company to not make such an important decision lightly. Be sure to examine the benefits and risks of any SMS API provider you're considering and choose one that you can be confident in.

What do SMS API Providers do?

An SMS API is designed to simplify the process of sending a text message from a company to a customer's mobile number. Companies like Swift SMS Gateway offer access to the API as well as ongoing technical support to ensure it functions properly and expert guidance on how to utilize the API to its full potential.

Reputable SMS gateway providers will take responsibility for supporting the initial setup of the API, liaising with in-house developers and operations teams to configure everything correctly. Following that, your service provider will walk you through the platform and educate your staff on the SMS API functions that are available. This not only gives you a great insight into the full capabilities of the API and SMS gateway providers, but also allows you to see the potential for expanding your SMS marketing initiatives with additional types of outreach and services.

There are many ways that an SMS API gateway provider can be used beyond simply sending bulk SMS marketing messages:

  • Order confirmations can be kept clean and simple, and go direct to a customer's phone so they're always available for reference.
  • Delivery notifications are another type of transactional SMS that can be automated to inform a customer just moments after their order has been delivered.
  • Two-factor authentication (2FA) codes can be delivered automatically to give customers additional security on their account.
  • Appointment reminders are a useful way to give customers a nudge so they don't miss that important booking.
  • Job alerts are useful for both those seeking employment and companies looking to fill positions.
  • Surveys and polls can reach thousands of people quickly and unobtrusively, with higher read and engagement rates than other means of outreach, like email.
  • Client support — using the two-way nature of SMS messaging to the advantage of your business and customers alike.
  • Opt-in automation makes it quick and easy for new customers to get their phone numbers on your system.
  • Opt-out functionality allows customers to have complete control over what they receive from you, refining your outreach database to only include those with genuine interest.

Engaging an SMS API provider will give you the opportunity to explore these many ways that A2P SMS can enhance B2C communication and improve customer satisfaction while simplifying internal processes. But what's most important is ensuring your SMS API provider is the right fit for your organization and the kind of SMS marketing campaign you want to launch.

Choosing an API SMS Gateway Provider

With so many SMS API companies to choose from, each promising excellent results, it can feel overwhelming trying to figure out which one would be the best fit for your organization's text messaging needs. There are, of course, going to be certain functional features that are specific to your business needs, but some aspects of any SMS API provider are universally desirable for any company.

Here are the top things to look for when considering your options:

Reliability

A high-quality network infrastructure will reduce the risk of your messages being lost or undelivered. Reliable SMS API providers will have a robust network that remains stable to be able to handle sending and receiving thousands of messages.

Expertise

Experience goes a long way in the realms of SMS messaging. Texts have seen a lot of advancement since their inception, but the underlying technology beneath it all remains the same. SMS API services that have stood the test of time and evolved to adapt to the latest changes will bring a wealth of expert knowledge with them.

Scalability

Successfully handling the high volumes of messages that API gateway providers process requires an enterprise-grade infrastructure. It needs to be sturdy enough to withstand massive spikes in traffic and continue to perform at a professional level. Only the best SMS API providers can give you the freedom to scale your SMS campaign and traffic as you choose.

Security

Not all network routing is created equal. Unsecured SMS APIs can be hijacked by spammers, which will reflect poorly on your business and may put you at risk of network infringement penalties. A reputable, experienced service provider will offer high-quality secure network routing for your messages. Look for companies with a well-established reputation and a good track record of customer satisfaction.

Wide Reaching Network

On top of reliable security, you'll also want to be able to reliably send marketing text message communications to customers no matter where they are in the world. Look for an SMS API provider that has network coverage in your desired target markets and can provide 24/7 global support to address any issues that may arise outside of local time zones, if you're sending texts internationally.

Location

Finding a nearby SMS API provider isn't essential, as most SMS companies can easily deliver internationally, but it has some significant benefits. Local legislation and regulations on sending SMS for business and marketing campaign purposes vary dramatically around the world. Experience with the requirements and restrictions in your country will mean you can rely on a local SMS API provider to give you solid advice on how to go about your SMS campaign the right way. They'll also be able to highlight any red flags before any compliance violations occur, keeping your business protected from penalties.

Benefits of Swift SMS Gateway API

Choosing the right bulk SMS service provider for you is a serious decision to make. At Swift SMS Gateway, we understand this, which is why we like to let our track record and API platform speak for themselves.

Based in Ontario, Canada, we provide North American and international SMS coverage through more than 800 global cellular network carriers. We believe that maintaining a superior global network is key to keeping our clients' campaigns running smoothly, no matter their size. Our team of expert technicians have served over 10,000 developers to achieve excellent results in bulk SMS marketing, using both short code and long code message formats.

Our scalable API platform is an ideal solution for large and small companies alike, providing a comprehensive service no matter the size of your business. Thanks to its flexibility, both users who can't code and developers who can will find the Swift SMS Gateway API highly accessible and user-friendly. And if you ever get stuck, our experienced support services offer best effort quick-response answers to your queries.

Want to find out more about how Swift SMS Gateway can help you achieve the kind of SMS marketing you're aiming for? Book a free demo today.