SMS and SMS Aggregators – Playing catch up

SMS and SMS Aggregators – Playing catch up

I have been dealing with sending bulk text messages via SMS aggregators since mobileStorm was founded back in 1999. For those of you have never heard of the term, an SMS aggregator has direct connections to most carriers to deliver your text messages through their gateways. Such gateways are necessary because it is virtually impossible to connect directly to the carriers as a single company. It is not worth it to the carriers to manage such an isolated and small chunk of SMS traffic so instead, they make you use the gateways that have already been established by these aggregators.

When we started, there were few choices, and I can only remember a couple off the top of my head (Simplewire and Clickatell). As mobileStorm ventured into other message types, like email for example, we began to understand the need for detailed reporting. However, when we tried to apply such reporting to SMS campaigns, we found that the aggregators lacked even the most basic metrics.

For starters, very few aggregators can provide something as simple as bounce back information. Why is this? Phone numbers bounce just like email addresses do. There are bad phone numbers–numbers that switched to another carrier, are blocked and don’t want to receive text messages or prepaid numbers that are temporary out of credits. All in all, we have identified approximately 30 different bounces, across all carriers. Compare that with the 100 or so different types of email bounces and it’s really not that far off. Not surprisingly, most aggregators have this info, but they save it for premium SMS customers only. This, I feel, is short sighted because it’s only a matter of time before the millions of email marketers start sending text messages and they expect and crave reporting data, so it will pay to have a good strategy to accommodate this.

What about providing something as simple as an open rate on an SMS campaign – or a click through rate and forward-to-a-friend tracking? What about a complaint loop? Carriers already have so much user information stored, from personal info to demographics and even psychographics. Why won’t they share this data with good marketers who have properly opted-in its users? Even something as simple as a first name could be used to personalize the message on the next campaign. Currently, there are very few reports you can receive–pretty much everything has to be built on the service provider’s end. Because of this, when we developed Stun! SMS, we had to develop response rates, unsubscribe and bounce back handling ourselves.

Another big issue with SMS aggregators is delivery speeds. Just one of our Strongmail servers (and we have many) can do about 2,000,000 emails per hour or about 555 messages per second. Comparatively, we can only deliver about 20 to 30 messages per second via our aggregators. Isn’t SMS all about being timely? Most aggregator sales people won’t discuss delivery rates, so make sure you ask up front when choosing one. Recently, I was poking around trying to find an aggregator who could provide us priority delivery and fast speeds to power our emergency alerts platform for schools (STAT). I was told by a sales person that their fastest SMS platform was for their interactive TV division, which powers TV game shows. He told me and I quote, “you’re probably going to think this is sad, but our iTV platform is the fastest thing we have, and we don’t have anything for emergencies.” I wonder how fast that will change with the next Katrina. I mean come on… really, how important is American Idol when people can’t be contacted fast enough about a category five coming their way?

As a result of the lack of features and the aggregators’ slow moving production schedule, I feel that sales people within industry over promise and under deliver. Wouldn’t you be frustrated as well, if you were on the forefront of a major communications revolution, and you lacked basic features?

I won’t lie. It has been extremely difficult in working with most aggregators. They just don’t have their act together, even after raising millions of dollars. I just don’t see how some of them stay in business. The sad thing is you have to use them. It’s not like you can just go around them because as previously noted, the carriers won’t talk to you. Imagine if this is how email worked and you could only use about 12 different companies to send emails in the U.S. I think some attorneys would be crying for anti-trust. For now, these smart dealmakers have a nice lock on the SMS market; although I wonder how long it will last.

Overall, I have only really found two aggregators that I think get it, despite the current limitations of SMS. They do a decent job and do their best with what they have. I am really hoping the bad ones get weeded out so that businesses don’t lose time and money like we have. I am also hoping that the good ones can innovate and provide us with new and exciting features that only email currently provides us today.

Jared Reitzin
CEO
mobileStorm Inc.

Small Business And Entrepreneurship

 

26 Responses

  1. Alan says:

    Who are the 2 good SMS aggregators??

  2. CEO says:

    Alan, I would say Singlepoint (gosinglepoint.com) and Mblox (www.mblox.com).

    If you need a contact let me know.

    Thanks!

  3. James says:

    I would like a contact for gosinglepoint.com and mblox.com.

    Thanks,

    James

  4. Matt Brady says:

    What is the expected per text and standard monthly charge that I should expect to be a good price?

    Is mblox reliable as it relates to quick turn around?

  5. Jared says:

    Matt,

    What are you trying to do exactly? Are you sure you need to use an aggregator? If you do it all depends upon your volume, you might be able to work a deal out around $.03 to $.05 per text message, there is always though a minium monthly fee of $500 to $1000 just to use their service. Both Mblox and singlepoint are reliable and work fast. It all depends on your account manager though, some are better than others. If they like you, they will fight to get stuffed pushed through for you. I hope this helps. – Jared

  6. Valerie Moore says:

    I would like to know if you still recommend singlepoint and mblox as top aggregators and if so, do yo have contacts for those orgs?

  7. Valerie Moore says:

    Jared – Can you give me a account managers for singlepoint and mblox? I am project managing a benefit concert series using a text messaging application to obtain pledges for Autism research.

  8. CEO says:

    Valerie, based upon what you said, I think it would probably work better if you used mobileStorm to deliver your text messages than to use an aggregator. Would you like me to have a mobile marketing expert call you?

  9. Not sure if this thread is still active, but Jared if you have account manager names for either of the two aggregators you mentioned, I'd be quite grateful. We are a small startup that is using SMS push to launch our mobile application at timed intervals.

  10. durbin says:

    Jared, I am looking for an aggregator that has a 2 way sms api. any recommendations would be much appreciated. I know clickatell has one but its ridiciously expensive. Cheers!

  11. arturchik says:

    Hello,
    can someone suggest where I can find a list or ranking of reputable SMS aggregators?

    Thanx

  12. CEO says:

    Arturchik, we now have a two-way API so you can use us as an aggregator. Email sales@mobilestorm.com and tell us what you want to do. I will make sure you get a good deal.

  13. prashanth123 says:

    Dear Jared,

    Seems like you have a ton of information. I would really like to plead you to help me with this. My problem is, currently i am sending the message using smtp, by finding out who the carrier is! given a phone number by some third party source. But as they say, i dont want to rely on the third party thing because what if it could break down sometime. I want to set up my own sms gateway and all the other essentials making me self reliant on whatever i need to make sms possible. My main question is " HOW WOULD I KNOW WHAT CARRIER A PARTICULAR PHONE NUMBER IS GIVEN THE PHONE NUMBER" . I also know that the sms gateway also figures out what carrier the particular phone number is! . And that is exactly whats breaking my head. Can you please tell me how can i figure that out. Pleaseeeeeeeeeeee…. I am eagerly waiting for your reply.

    Thanking you,

  14. CEO says:

    Prashant, the answer is that if you want to send SMS messages quickly and reliably you should be doing a direct carrier connection and sending messages via SMPP. Check out my article on SMTP vs SMPP: http://www.mobilestorm.com/digital-marketing-blog

    SMPP is the best for speeds, reliability and reporting. No matter what you are going to have to use an aggregator. Any aggregator would provide this carrier query service. You might want to look into using our APIs, we offer really good pricing.

    We have a service called the carrier query service. We tap into the largest number portability database in the U.S. We can figure out the carrier on the fly if you are using our API. Is this something you would be interested in?

  15. prashanth123 says:

    Yes, i would like to use your interface, but also i also would want to know the pricing options of sending sms… :)

  16. [...] SMS Aggregators – Playing Catch-Up: In which we explain why aggregators are important to marketers sending out SMS messages – and warn [...]

  17. Thomas says:

    How do you compare with http://www.redoxygen.com ? Do you cover all carriers in the US.

  18. Matti Broza says:

    Why do not you all start using a stand alone multiport SMS BOX, which gives you more control and alternative for the aggregators , you can see one in the following link http://www.hyperms.com/products/sms-gateways.aspx

    Matti

  19. David says:

    Jared,

    What SMS gateway software would you recommend for a starting company? I'm currently working on kannel (kannel.org), but of course haven't done much since I need a SMC.

  20. Jared Reitzin says:

    David, I don't have experience with SMS gateways but I do know that Kannel is the most widely used and accepted. We integrate with aggreagtors like Singlepoint and Mblox. We as much traffic as we do we need to have more of an enterprise partner who can also give us excellent customer service.

  21. Fabio Andres Anzola says:

    David, What is the best method to identify how is the sms aggregation on a specific country?

  22. Brandon says:

    Jared
    Do you think things have improved since you wrote this post in 2007 or are the aggragators essentially the same? Who do you consider the top two best aggragators?

  23. Abraham says:

    To bad, I see Jared and Rob's request not been answered yet. I'm wondering the same. Thanks

  24. iampatrickkennedy says:

    What are the key things to look for with an aggregator?

    I've been looking for someone in Ireland and I'm more or less decided to go with http://zamanosolutions.com/sms-aggregation-gatewa… or TextRepublic at this stage.

  25. Ken Barry says:

    That's the same as http://zamano.com/sms-aggregation-gateway/ isn't it though?

    I wonder why they're running two sites.

  26. متجرنا says:

    مستعمل,حراج,متجرنا,سوق,

    http://mtjrna.com/

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