How to Send SMS Online
Time to read: 4 minutes
Take a quick glance at your text message inbox, and you’ll get an idea of how useful Short Message Service (SMS) is for businesses. You probably have appointment reminders, delivery notifications, two-factor authentication (2FA), or marketing messages. These are just some of the ways businesses send SMS online.
Among the many advantages, text messages have a high open rate, are cost-effective, and are permission-based, which makes them an effective way to engage your customers.
If you’re ready to start reaping the benefits of this tool, you may be wondering how exactly to send SMS to your customers. The answer isn’t to pick up your phone and start texting them directly, but rather to use an SMS service. These services enable you to send one-way communications and even engage in multiparty conversations.
This post will walk you through how to send and receive SMS messages online.
There are 2 main ways to send text messages to your customers, whether you’re looking to have one-on-one conversations or send bulk SMS.
- Use an SMS app: A ready-made app, such as these apps for Android, can be a great place to discover what SMS can do for your business. It’s easy to start using many of these apps, but you may outgrow the capabilities as you scale your program.
- Build a custom solution with an SMS API: A customized app is a good option if you have a developer on your team who can build the right solution for your business. An SMS API gives you the foundation to deploy your SMS program with just a few lines of code. Plus, you can expand to Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), WhatsApp, and more with the same API.
Once you’ve chosen your platform, the next thing you’ll need to start sending text messages is a phone number. Your SMS service provider should have a variety of phone number options, including:
- Local: Local numbers are assigned to a specific region, such as +1 (303) XXX-XXXX for Colorado. These are useful for local businesses that want the number to reflect the area and community.
- National: National numbers, which are more common outside the US and Canada, aren’t region-specific but are designed to be reachable from anywhere within a country at the same cost. Large businesses that serve an entire country often use national numbers.
- Mobile: Mobile numbers are distinguished from local numbers in many countries and are the only ones that can send and receive SMS. In the US and Canada, however, mobile numbers aren’t distinguished from local numbers.
- Toll-free: Toll-free numbers are free of charge for the caller, which is why many businesses choose them to avoid calling costs for customers. If you already have a toll-free number, you can enable it for text messaging (in the US or Canada). Having the same phone number for calls and texts makes for a seamless user experience. Plus, toll-free numbers have a higher throughput of messages than traditional 10-digit numbers, so you can use them for alerts and notifications. However, toll-free numbers are best for person-to-person communications, such as customer support or sales.
- Short code: A short code is a 5 or 6-digit phone number used to send and receive SMS and MMS messages. You can get a randomly assigned short code or choose a vanity short code that’s easy to remember. However, because carriers audit and approve these phone numbers to send high volumes of messages without filtering, this also means short codes are subject to regulatory requirements and best practices.
Learn more about the different types of phone numbers and the capabilities of each.
First, local regulations (which we’ll discuss next) often require businesses to verify numbers, which helps improve deliverability. Additionally, consumers are 27% more likely to make a purchase from an SMS marketing message sent from a verified number.
Twilio has an inventory of verified, global phone numbers to choose from, so you can reach your customers worldwide. If you prefer to use your existing number, Twilio also allows you to add SMS and Voice capabilities to your landline or mobile phone number.
Each country has regulations and guidelines for using phone numbers and sending commercial SMS messages, and it’s crucial for businesses to comply with these regulations. Otherwise, you could face fines from regulatory agencies, or carriers could flag your messages as spam and filter them. Before you send SMS online, read about the country-specific regulations you need to follow.
For example, in the US, A2P 10DLC applies to businesses sending application-to-person (A2P) messages using a verified, 10-digit local number. As a result, national carriers AT&T and T-Mobile require companies sending more than 3,000 daily texts to register the following information:
- Who they are
- What messages the businesses will send via SMS and MMS
Twilio’s Trust Hub simplifies the registration process and helps ensure compliance with this and other local regulations.
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