Oftentimes the simple and effective way for marketers to reach their audience is via SMS messaging, a direct and engaging channel that hits the mark with consumers on the go and on devices they’re never without.
But despite having the right idea and a well-rounded campaign on paper, you can hit some unexpected walls once you get to setting up and launching it. This is where a professional technology provider comes in to help you overcome any problems.
2-way SMS to engage consumers
2-way SMS makes for truly engaging and effective SMS marketing by adding the possibility to send consumers SMS messages, and get an answer back. Widely used for customer engagement, loyalty programmes, customer service and market research, it has a unique demographic and geographic reach.
2-way messaging requires a mobile number for sending and receiving messages, technically not tied to a SIM card. The number can either be a 4-6 digit short code, limited to country borders, or a virtual long number (VLN) that can receive SMS messages from all over the world.
Connectivity for SMS campaigns
In both cases mobile operators assign numbers and contracting numbers directly from them can be a long and technically complex process. However, specialised providers, by acting as a single point of connection to telecoms, make the technical setup much easier for brands and marketers.
These firms partner with operators, negotiate number ranges and then connect to their networks. Technically speaking, it involves two necessary steps - connecting to the mobile network using operator APIs via one of the protocols (SMPP, HTTP, UCP, EMI or others), and setting up a secure VPN tunnel.
Both steps require time and technical expertise outside the scope of regular operations of most brands and marketers. The VPN tunnel component especially takes time and effort to set up and configure, but it brings the necessary security level in line with communication standards.
However, the most time-consuming factor is definitely negotiating with mobile operators individually. In many cases specialised providers will give marketing professionals the shortest path to number procurement and the shortest time from an idea to campaign rollout, thanks to existing relations with mobile operators and technical know-how.
Global reach – overcoming the challenge
Once the logistics of connectivity, security and other technical requirements are out of the way, you’re ready to bring your campaign idea to life. Before you do though, counselling on the intricacies of international SMS messaging will come in handy even to seasoned marketers.
Time zones, languages, local regulatory requirements can sometimes be a challenge, one not easily overcome without a very specific skill set.
Mobile marketing increasingly knows no national boundaries. In many cases, the main obstacle to SMS marketing campaigns on a global scale is procuring SMS and 2-way SMS capabilities in multiple countries.
That’s where a global SMS provider will harness its local footprint to offer technical prerequisites for a wider campaign from a single point of contact. But there’s much more to be gained from this kind of expertise.
Some national telecoms regulators issue licences for 2-way SMS short codes. In such cases, you want a provider with local presence and local knowledge to procure the numbers you need and spare you a lot of hassle.
In another example, mobile marketing regulation and privacy protection measures vary from country to country, restricting the usage on certain days or for certain purposes, especially when it comes to 2-way SMS. These aren’t obstacles that couldn’t be easily scaled, and SMS solution providers with a global footprint are best positioned to help.
Tools and reports
Connectivity is the key, and consultancy also ranks high, but professional marketers need front end tools to manage SMS conversations, receive inbound SMS from consumers, track responses and handle all the data gathered from campaigns.
Tools such as these usually come complete with number procurement, setup and consultancy. Bundled together, these services allow marketers to focus their efforts and resources on creating engaging campaigns.