Beware “Economy” SMS Services

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It’s happened yet again. Another new SMS provider appeared recently in the UK. What caught my eye was a press release saying they were the preferred provider in London. Then I found another press release saying they were the best in Birmingham. Those are bold claims needing hard proof to back them up. After all, we’ve won Best SMS Business Platform-UK two years in a row. But we’ve never heard of this company. So, I checked them out. What proof did they have to meet either claim?

As it turns out, the press release only had a quote from an unnamed member of the company as proof that people preferred their platform. I wondered if their website had any more information so I looked it up. But I found an unimpressive website. It provided no data to say they even had customers, let alone to show they were the most preferred provider out there.

But then it got worse. I noticed they offer two different tiers of pricing: Premium and Economy. That immediately raised a red flag. A huge one.

The Truth About Economy Messaging

What do you think of when you hear the word “economy”? Cheap, cut-rate, rinky-dink? Or you might think of a bargain or a deal. The difference, of course, is whether the low cost also reflects low quality.

In the realm of SMS messaging, economy is always synonymous with low quality. Here’s how it works:

The economy SMS provider sends their economy customer messages out over “grey” routes. These routes travel through a variety of foreign countries in an attempt to circumvent direct connections to the networks.

Why do they do this?

They do it so they can trick the receiving network into believing the message came from an approved source (one that has a commercial agreement with them). By doing so, they don’t have to pay the fee to the networks to deliver that message. Because the routes avoid these fees, they are often considered illegal, or at least dubious. Using these routes can save you less than a penny per message. You might think that’s a good deal.

But remember that part about foreign countries?

Now, imagine sending a message to all your UK customers, but it travels through Russia, India, or the Far East first. How long do you think that would take? A LOT longer than if you sent the same messages via an SMS provider using a direct-to-network route.

In addition to slower delivery time, you’d also find that many of your messages were never delivered. Or you may discover you don’t know if they’ve been delivered because the service can’t provide you with a delivery status.

How much money did you save if you can’t even be sure the message was delivered? Or how much did you lose if you sent out a time sensitive offer, but it took so long to get to your customers that they were too late to claim it? And what if the delayed message disturbs the customer at 3.00 am? Will that enhance your image?

The truth is you would have lost money no matter what because you’ll probably need to switch to a reputable provider and then re-send the campaign.

The Reality of "Premium" Pricing

A reputable SMS provider will have a single price per message that only varies by the number of messages sent. If you send 1,000 messages you pay one rate. If you send 1,000,000 you’ll get a lower rate because of a bulk discount. The more you send, the more you save.

Here’s how trustworthy providers send messages:

There are routes that the networks and good SMS providers use to deliver their messages. These are called Tier 1 routes, or “white” routes.  Messages delivered over these routes have a cost associated with them defined in commercial agreements between networks and SMS gateways. These costs are like any other commodity – the more you order the lower the price per order.

What these paid-for-routes provide are fast delivery and guaranteed delivery receipts. Messages arrive usually within seconds of being sent. And the network then sends a delivery status back to the SMS provider so you can see how many messages were delivered and how many weren’t – usually because of a bad mobile number (one that doesn’t exist or isn’t in service).

And the cost per message for using these Tier 1 routes are completely reasonable. They’re often not too much more than the less desirable economy options from companies who choose to offer it. And when you consider the guaranteed delivery and message status receipts, why would anyone choose something that’s less reliable for fractions of a penny?

Choosing Your Provider

There’s a lot to consider when you are deciding on which SMS provider to use. This blog began by discussing a new company that’s sprung up recently, making claims of greatness with no proof to back them up. On the web, anyone can say anything. It’s an unfortunate fact any business needs to consider before signing contracts or paying for services.

One way to help you decide whether an SMS provider is all they say they are, is to ask questions. In our Buyers guide to choosing and SMS provider, we share nine questions you should ask any company you’re considering. A good company will have clear answers to all the questions. And they should be willing to answer them too. You can download the buyers guide here.

Our friendly staff are happy to answer any questions you have, whether they are in the guide or not. You can find us in on our live chat, via email, or phone.

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