With more than 6.5 billion users, SMS text messaging represents the largest platform to reach consumers. More than Facebook (2.9 billion), Instagram (1.4 billion), and TikTok (1 billion). And with 98% open and 30% response rates, it’s no wonder that more than three-quarters of marketers surveyed said SMS is the most successful way to reach customers.
We use text multiple times a day, most likely never thinking about the journey those digital bits and bytes take getting from one mobile phone to another. Many assume it’s a simple, straight “Point A to Point B” path.But, in reality, the journey can be more circuitous.
Nonstop or not?
When selecting an airline flight, a nonstop route will be the quickest way to get from “Point A,” say, New York City, to “Point B,” say, San Francisco, just less than six hours. But, while a direct flight is the fastest, it is also the most expensive. Selecting a JFK-to-SFO flight with a stop in Denver will take a few extra hours – but it also will cost a few hundred dollars less. It’s a balance of speed vs. cost.
The average text message takes a similar indirect journey. Businesses looking to reach customers via SMS should use an application-to-person (A2P) messaging solution with a dynamic carrier-grade routing platform. These message routing platforms continuously test different networks for the most efficient and cost-effective pathway for a text. Again, a balance of speed vs. cost. Only with A2P messaging there is a third metric: message delivery. Think of it as landing the plane.
Reliability is paramount
Businesses and consumers alike have come to rely on text messages for everything from appointment reminders to delivery status updates to offers and promotions. So it’s important that the platforms and networks used to send and relay those messages are reliable. Marketers don’t want to have to guess the cause of a campaign’s low open rate. They need to know concretely: was the offer a dud or did the network actually fail to deliver the message?
In addition to the continual testing of networks for the most efficient route in terms of time and cost, it’s important for these message routing platforms to have a way to actively monitor delivery failures and the ability to fine-tune networks based on current traffic conditions. There are many reasons that some message traffic fails to reach its destination, and message routing platforms must detect failures in real-time and add that information when calculating subsequent routes.
Factors to consider
Just as there are differences in the levels of service offered by various airlines, message routing platforms also differ in reliability, functionality, and footprint. When evaluating an existing or potential platform, consider the following questions:
- Does the platform have direct global reach? Today, a brand’s consumers can be anywhere in the world, regardless of its physical presence, and global reach requires a considerable investment in infrastructure to achieve direct connectivity.
- Is the vendor knowledgeable about local regulations? From the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in the U.S. to GDPR in Europe to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), each region has its rules regarding marketing via text message, which are constantly changing. Ensure the vendor has the knowledge needed to stay on the right side of the law.
- What volume of direct connections can the vendor support? Direct connections result in text messages that are delivered faster, since there are no delays caused by intermediaries. Additionally, messages sent through direct connections have higher deliverability than those sent via an indirect route.
- What integration options does the vendor offer? Integrating message routing with other platforms allows businesses to streamline operations through improved workflows and enhance the overall customer experience. Common integrations include customer relationship management (CRM) systems, marketing automation software, and eCommerce platforms.
Given its ubiquity, SMS is likely to remain a leading marketing channel for the foreseeable future. Its high open rates, immediate delivery, and cost-effectiveness are merely added benefits. Message routing platforms ensure that carefully crafted offers, messages, and other communications take the optimal journey from brand to the customer.