Choosing a bulk SMS provider that will allow your business to send thousands of text messages to your customers can increase sales and appointment conversions to events by twofold and there have been many research studies conducted to quantify these statistics.
But there are many things to look for when selecting a provider to ensure they offer the following features.
Choose an SMS gateway in your country
The first place to start is to join an SMS provider in your country so that your messages are delivered by local SMS gateways. Once you join you will be provided with a contact book interface where you can upload and add SMS contacts to your address book.
Once your contacts are uploaded you can organize your listings into various customized categories so you can target individual messages to recipients.
The perfect example of this is for a cruise operator that wants to inform all of their customers of changes to a cruise departure time. The operator simply selects the group recipients to send to which corresponds to the cruise event, types the message which can be customized with a First name to personalize the message, and then send the message or schedule the message to be sent at a later date or time.
An SMS API will let you interface directly with an SMS gateway and can send bulk SMS messages using data collaborated from your website.
The API will include PHP coding where you can easily customise it so you can add contacts to your contact list, send automated text messages for alerts and reminders and other specific actions including order tracking.
Buying SMS Messages
You can save a substantial amount of money if you buy SMS in bulk as many providers offer reduced prices and volume discounts based on purchasing over $1000 of SMS.
The difference in price can range from 20 cents to send a single message to 5 cents to when you purchase in bulk so if you plan on sending out many messages over the year it is best to buy a larger amount of SMS credits and always make sure your messages dont expire during this period so please check with your providers terms and conditions of use or usage policy.
SMS Contact List
When building your SMS contact list make sure you have the permission of the person who you are marketing to. This is important so you comply with regulations imposed by governments to reduce spamming to mobile phones.
When you broadcast an SMS message out to a large number of recipients it is always best practice to include an Opt Out option so recipients can unsubscribe from future SMS messages and again this mandatory in many countries around the world.
Most providers will also allow you to modify the sender ID so you can change the ID of the message when the recipient receives the message. For example you may want to list you business name ABC Taxis or ABCDentist up to a maximum of 11 alphanumeric characters.
Up-time guarantee & security
Make sure your SMS provider has a local SMS gateway and has a guaranteed up-time of 99% to ensure your messages are going to be delivered when you want them. Most gateways will throttle messages so that they are delivered instantly and spread the load of the messages across several servers.
A secure connection will also provide a level or privacy to your activities so always ensure that your messages are sent in a secure environment and always keep you your login and password by secure from third parties to avoid your account being compromised by anonymous parties.
SMS Keywords & Virtual Number
Your provider should also offer SMS keywords and a virtual number for your mobile marketing.
By setting up SMS keywords you can allow people to subscribe to your lists or to receive SMS content to their phones by simply texting a keyword.
For example a real estate agent could use a keyword displayed on a for sale billboard selling a property and when the recipient sends the keyword to a virtual number they instantly receive more information on the property which could include a URL to the website containing further information and instructions on how to contact the sales agent.
This also provides a tangible benefit to the agent by building a list of mobile numbers of the people who are interested in a property.