Technology & Roadmap

Bulk SMS API: How It Works & How to Get Started

  • March 14, 2022
  • 5 mins read

SMS remains the most commonly used communication tool for businesses — be it for marketing, sending instant OTPs, automating regular reminders etc. — because they are reliable, easy-to-use and cost-effective.

Gartner finds that SMS open rates and response rates are as high as 98% and 45%, respectively. With a robust SMS API, businesses can automate their SMS campaigns and engage customers more proactively.

What is Bulk SMS API?

Bulk SMS API is a software interface that enables your business to integrate SMS into an existing software platform, website, third-party application, mobile app, or CRM. 

By simply entering a few parameters, you can send any number of customised SMSes to a large number of users/customers. You can also schedule campaigns at any time of the day, allowing your business to operate outside business hours — as and when your customers need you. 

How does Bulk SMS API work?

The SMS API is an HTTP-based REST API that enables you to send SMSes using internal applications or software. It allows you to send SMS messages using code. 

You can trigger SMS notifications to your customers on autopilot based on predetermined conditions. Once integrated with an SMS API, you can send an HTTP POST request, which will then automatically trigger SMS campaigns to the numbers of your choice.

Read more about this here.

Integrating Bulk SMS API with marketing automation tools

An important benefit of Bulk SMS APIs is its ability to integrate seamlessly with marketing automation tools that allow customer segmentation, targeting, message customization, analytics etc. This enables businesses to trigger bulk SMSes to large groups of customers without leaving their preferred tool.

For instance, Exotel’s bulk SMS API integrates with both WebEngage and CleverTap effortlessly. This means that you can manage customer relationships on  marketing automation tool of your choice, send SMSes directly from its interface as well as track advanced analytics about your SMS campaigns in one place.

When to use Bulk SMS API?

Bulk SMS APIs can be used every time you need to send SMSes to a large group of users/customers. Depending on the nature of your business, this can be any number of things such as promotional messages, deadline reminders, educational information, status updates etc. 

Promotional SMS campaigns using Bulk SMS API

The most common use case for bulk SMS API is promotional campaigns. Businesses send regular SMSes to customers to inform them of new offers, discounts, product launches, sales, events etc. For large promotions, businesses also schedule a series of SMSes that include reminders, special offers, customised messages etc.

While most businesses send bulk SMSes with just information about promotions, you can also make these actionable by including customised offers or promo codes. For instance, you can automatically create a custom promo code for each customer and send it via SMS, which they can then use to avail discounts. This will help you accurately measure the return on investment on these campaigns, allowing you to optimise their performance over time.

Regular updates to customers

Banks, for instance, send periodic updates about account balances to customers. The Income Tax Department sends reminders to taxpayers about upcoming deadlines. E-commerce portals remind customers of abandoned carts or stock availability of particular products. All of these are bulk SMSes that can be automated with Bulk SMS APIs.

Announcements and educational messages

Since the pandemic, the situation across the globe has been volatile. Businesses have been using Bulk SMSes to inform customers about latest developments like stores being closed/reopened, stock delayed/arrived, schedules changed etc.

Types of Bulk SMSes

The two most common types of bulk SMSes are static and dynamic Bulk SMS APIs. 

1. Static bulk SMS: This is when you send the same content to a group of numbers. Typically, these are reminders, product launch updates, promotional messages etc. Static messages can be easily cached and remain the same every time it is delivered to the user.

2. Dynamic bulk SMS: This is when you send a different message to each customer. These SMSes are personalised content that changes based on factors like customer’s location, time-zone, or their stage in  purchase journey. Messages about current bank balance, order confirmations, delivery updates are examples of this.

 

How to choose a Bulk SMS API provider for your business?

Choosing the right Bulk SMS API provider will decide the success of your SMS campaigns. This depends on factors like security, scalability, price, delivery rate, speed, customization options etc. Let us look at them one by one.

Security: To avoid data breaches and protect customer data privacy, you need a service provider that offers secure network routing for your bulk SMSes. Check if they have robust security practices and protocols for network security, data at rest and data in transit. Ask if they perform third-party audits and penetration tests to identify their security blind spots. 

 Strong infrastructure: Your customers need you 24×7. So you need your SMS infra to be up 24×7, without glitches. To ensure this, choose a service provider that offers a robust infrastructure and minimal downtime. Enquire about their SMS delivery rates, history of unscheduled downtimes, time taken to respond, time to restore services etc.

Reliability: An SMS API that crashes at the thought of sending 1 crore SMSes is of no use to you. Make sure that your bulk SMS API can handle large volumes of SMSes on a regular basis. To ensure this, compare uptime rates across providers. Ask for case studies or testimonials of large organisations in your industry.

 Flexibility: A good bulk SMS API should be able to adapt to your needs. While choosing one, look for integrations and personalizations. Check whether it works with the tools you use and offers the analytics you need. Also learn about the support available for the product.

 Scalability: As your business grows, so will your SMS campaigns. To do this, you need a service provider with the infrastructure and capability to scale. Moreover, it also needs to offer economies of scale, avoiding dramatic increases in your spending.

User experience: Not all tools are easy to use. This can especially become a hindrance if you have huge teams engaging a large number of customers. The best way to test user experience is to try the bulk SMS API product before trying. You can try Exotel’s Bulk SMS API solution here.

Affordability: Service providers that offer very low prices often compromise on their reliability, product features and customer support. On the other hand, expensive providers might make a dent on your ROI. So, choose carefully. 

Take into consideration all costs — direct ones including taxes, expiry of unused credits, etc. and indirect ones such as the opportunity cost of changing providers at a later stage. 

 

Summing It Up

Today, bulk SMSes are an important communication tool for all businesses. Regular, timely and personalised communication at the customer’s fingertips can make a critical difference to customer engagement, sales and profitability. To make the most of your SMS campaigns you need a partner who can offer speed, reliability, security and scalability at affordable rates. 

This is exactly what we do at Exotel. Our bulk SMS API offers 94% delivery rates, personalization through intuitive user interface, compliance with TRAI guidelines, and strong data security through our SLAs. 

Speak to an Exotel expert today. Or book a demo today to see how Exotel can help you effectively reach your customers. 

Manisha Mishra