8/10: SMS Company Evaluation

8/10: SMS Company Evaluation

There are many SMS providers serving the Australian market. Make sure you pick the right provider that can cater to your company’s needs.

* Average cost for ON-NET messaging

Here’s a list of SMS service traits you should look for:

  • Reliability
  • Cost
  • Features
  • Services
  • Usability
  • Customer Service
  • Location
  • Billing Methods

Reliability

Message reliability can be affected in a couple of ways. Primarily the routing used by the service could be the issue, but it can also be affected by server size, location. and stability of their application code. Quality services will generally make an SLA available, showing their server statistics.

Features

The amount of innovation that a company puts into its service will lead to a more efficient system, and more platform options. If you need a complex solution the requires processing replies and automated services, it is best to look for a company that demonstrates a commitment to innovation.

Services

Sometimes what you’re looking for won’t exactly fall into any specific service type. In these cases, it’s important to know whether or not your SMS provider has the ability to create custom solutions. If you have an ambitious idea that you would like to integrate somewhere down the road, then make sure you communicate the logistics with your potential provider to see if they have the flexibility to do so.

Usability

It is always worth paying a little extra for a service with an excellent user interface, rather than a cheaper service that does not. If you can not send a message from your platform within a few minutes, you might want to evaluate your platform decision.

Trusted online services will provide a free trial to allow you to get access, and get the feel for the application. It should let you send a limited about of test messages and process relies.

Customer Service

Does the service have a phone you can call? If not, chances are you aren’t going to get much customer service. Most international online services will have an email address you can contact, but don’t expect an immediate response. If you are looking for quality customer service, choose a local business with local numbers and offices. You will have a better chance of receiving good customer service, which should include advice to give you the best solution at the best price.

Location

If you are a government organisation or a blue chip company you may be familiar with Data Sovereignty. This ensures that data does not leave the country. This generally excludes all ON-NET providers as their messaging is generally routed via the US or UK. Only the top services will have true direct connections with servers within the country. The drawback here is price. Accessing authentic access means paying top tier pricing. The reality is that Data Sovereignty is a bit of an illusion, as data on a server can just as easily be hacked from outside the country. The term is usually designed to keep administrators happy and abiding by draconian processes.

Negotiating SMS Prices

The Australian SMS market pricing is mostly decided on message volume. As each company in the chain adds margin, the higher your message volume, the cheaper your SMS cost. The more value a company adds, the more margin is charged. Conversely as higher volume leads to further discounts up the chain, the more volume you have, the more a company will want to win your business. Volume is generally calculated on monthly commitment, but can also be via a pre-purchase commitment.

Billing Methods

There are a few common ways to pay for SMS messages and there are several factors that are taken into consideration when offering a payment type. Depending on your requirements and access to a credit card you will need to make your preferred payment type aware to your preferred supplier as soon as possible, so that they can structure their offer accordingly.

There is nothing worse than going through an entire evaluation and procurement process just to find out that the company does not have a compatible payment method.

The most common payment styles are:

Post Paid Invoice

Normally available to clients with high spends or full service arrangements. A traditional style of payment where the client uses the services of the company and they issue an invoice either monthly or at the end of a designated project period.

Pre Paid Credit Card

Pre-pay operates like the carrier style plans where a client purchases a set amount of credit or text messages by credit card and then uses it until their balance reaches 0. Make sure you check with your supplier whether credit expires or not. Generally there is an expiry period depending on what price you are paying.

Pre Paid Invoice

Same as by credit card but if you do not have access to a credit card, some companies will issue you an invoice and then once they receive your funds, top up your account balance.

Subscription

Subscription services offer a certain volume of SMS for a monthly fee. They generally charge a lower cost per SMS but expire any unused credit or charge an expensive overage fee if you go over your monthly allowance. This is good if you want to cap your monthly costs but you need to manage it carefully to keep your costs in check.

International A2P Messaging

VMN = Virtual Mobile Number | Custom ID = Custom Sender ID | DR’s = Delivery Receipts

Messages can be delivered via A2P services to all countries. However every country has its own set of rules and limitations that make reliable delivery difficult to achieve for a single provider. This is why country specific providers generally have the edge over global services.

The most common variations from country to country are:

  • Carrier Connection Types
  • Message Costs
  • Virtual Number / Shortcode Availability
  • Virtual Number / Shortcode Cost
  • Custom Sender ID Availability
  • SPAM Laws
  • Delivery Rules
  • Delivery Receipts

As you can see there are many variations that need to be addressed, currently no international provider can offer a better service than a local one due to the myriad of requirements needed in the local market.