8 Questions When–Choosing VoIP SMS Services
Many businesses today take advantage of Short Message Service (SMS) text messaging in their marketing. In the past, texting had a bit of a reputation as a very casual, non-serious form of communication that did not belong in the workplace, or even in marketing activities to reach out to consumers. This has changed with the rapid expansion of text messaging, and so many people have adopted this form of communication that now almost everyone who uses a smartphone or cell phone also uses text messaging services. Now that texting is no longer just for teenagers talking with their friends, more and more people are getting on board with regularly using texting as a form of normal communications. This has created a huge opportunity for businesses to use texting in their marketing.
- Short Message Service (SMS) Text Messaging–For our purposes, SMS text messaging is a texting service and type of communication offered by Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers. SMS text messaging is also typically offered by traditional phone companies.
If you are thinking about using SMS texting in your business and you do not already have a VoIP service, you probably have a lot of questions for VoIP vendors you are considering. In this article, we will share eight questions you should probably ask each vendor you consider before signing up for VoIP services. These questions pertain specifically to SMS text messaging services. If you ask these, you will get more information you can use to help you decide if that particular vendor is worth it. When you learn their answers, that will give you more information to guide your choices.
- What Specific Features Do You Offer With SMS?
- What SMS Apps Do You Provide?
- What Are My SMS Rates?
- How Do You Provision SMS?
- How Will You Bill Me?
- Do You Offer SMS Management Tools?
- Where Do You Provide Coverage?
- Will I Have SMS Reporting?
Read on to learn more about questions you can ask your vendor or any vendors you are researching.
1. What Specific Features Do You Offer With SMS?
There are basic and advanced SMS features you may need and your business may benefit from. Basic SMS features are the kind that are more typical for these plans. Your VoIP vendor may offer customizable VoIP SMS plans or may allow you to upgrade for more features in the future if you need to do so.
Basic SMS features:
- Group Messages
- History (Saves Messages)
- Two-Way SMS
- Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
If you need more advanced features, then you may appreciate some of the options on this next list.
- Templates for Messages
- End User Apps
- Long and Short Codes
- API Compatibility
2. What Specific SMS Apps Do You Provide?
You can use a variety of different types of apps with SMS services. Depending on your vendor and plan, you may have any of the apps on this next list. If you are looking for specific apps, be sure to ask before signing up. Missing out on the right apps can in some cases be a deal-breaker for some businesses.
- Alerts and Notifications
- SMS Marketing
- Information Provisioning
- Interactive Applications (Two Way)
- Person-to-Person Text Messaging
It is important to find out if a particular vendor offers the types of uses for SMS text that are important to your business.
3. What Are My SMS Rates?
Find out how much your vendor charges for text messaging. Typically, this is done per-message. You will want to find a competitive price per message. Usually, this is a little lower or higher than 1 cent per text. Since this number varies considerably from one vendor to another, it is important to ask around and find out an exact number whenever possible.
Flat rates are usually capped at a specific numbers of messages, so find out what the cap is, too. If you go over that cap in a particular month, you may end up being billed for a higher rate on any messages after the cap. Your flat monthly rate is only for a limited number of messages per month, in other words.
You will want to know pricing details and find out how these prices are calculated throughout the month. Get this information upfront so there are no surprises.
4. How Do You Provision SMS?
SMS provisioning allows you to change account settings for the VoIP phone numbers within your account. That is, in other words, you can assign SMS to a number and decide later to remove it if you needed to.
Find out how your vendor does this provisioning and whether they make it easy for you to make changes whenever necessary. You should be able to do this online, through a portal, without having to email or phone support. If not, then they are probably not the best vendor for you.
5. How Will You Bill Me?
Get all of the billing details upfront to avoid surprises. Different companies charge differently for VoIP services, so this is something to keep in mind. You should find out if billing uses a flat rate, charges per message, charges for both inbound and outbound or just outbound. You need to be prepared to calculate how these rates impact your business. If you need to, you should be able to figure out if specific charges are a good or bad deal for your business.
6. Do You Offer SMS Management Tools?
SMS management tools help you to manage and keep track of your messages as you continue to use text messaging and your archive of messages grows. It may help to be able to organize and file away these messages based on who you are corresponding with, for example.
7. Where Do You Provide Coverage?
It is always a good idea to check and make sure the vendor provides coverage for your specific area, just in case. Sometimes, vendors use other carriers to manage their SMS coverage, which can result in you missing out on coverage if you are outside the right area to receive service.
Even with VoIP, it can always be a good practice to double-check coverage and limitations on your plans. Some vendors may set their own restrictions or have local laws that apply to the services they offer. Find out what these limitations are and get this information upfront, whenever possible. Mention every specific location you plan to use it, just to be sure. Of course, VoIP can allow you to use phone communications anywhere thanks to the Internet–but there may still be limitations, so it is worthwhile to ask anyway.
8. Will I Have SMS Reporting?
SMS reporting is one way to keep track of how your marketing campaigns are going and stay aware of your per-message charges and other analytics information. If you are sending a large volume of messages, having great reporting can be even more critical so you can ensure that you are not wasting your time. You can also watch how many specific users on your account are using at work, so you are aware of your progress towards any caps and so you know where you stand. If you have users that send too many messages, then you may significantly cut into your profit margins.