Getting started with SMS API’s, 7 things to consider

Pricing plans, integration options, security features, compliance, and more – what are the priorities when getting started with SMS API's?
17 February 2023

Growth potential: SMS APIs enable firms to ramp up customer communications thanks to software integration. Image credit: Shutterstock Generate.

With more cell phones on the planet than people (108 subscriptions for every 100 inhabitants in 2022 – according to ITU data), there’s a very good chance that most customers will be carrying a mobile device. But what’s the best way of reaching that audience? People might leave emails unread, forget to visit websites, but most mobile phone users will check their text messages. And that makes short message service (SMS) an ideal gateway for sending appointment reminders, delivery status updates, two-factor authentication information, and even emergency alerts. Application programming interfaces (API’s) offered by a wide range of communications providers allow SMS services to be integrated into apps and other software. But with so many companies offering SMS API’s, what should users consider before signing up to a service? One way of getting started with SMS API’s is to identify the key factors that matter the most to you.


High on the list will be affordability. How many text messages do you plan on sending to clients, and how often? There may be surcharges based on the recipient’s carrier, but typically the more SMS messages that you plan on sending, the lower the per-message cost. SMS API providers such as Plivo offer volume discounts on committed spends as clients scale their usage. Understanding the pricing model before you get started on any software integration will spare finance teams from unwelcome billing surprises later on.


How mission-critical are your messages? In the case of emergency alerts, senders will need to be very sure that the infrastructure powering the SMS API’s is rock solid. Without a doubt, reliability should be a priority. But at the same time users need to be clear on what they want to achieve through SMS messaging and make sure that the full suite of features offered by SMS API’s match expectations.


Sinch highlights the opportunity to deliver personalized experiences to customers. And it can be useful to look through case studies to get a better appreciation of the functionality that messaging platforms can bring. For example, the ability to send and receive messages is a definite must-have for any SMS API, but what else is on offer? Telnyx mentions in-depth monitoring and reporting as other useful functionality to consider.


Most SMS API providers will have trial options, allowing developers to test out integrations and double-check that code and libraries are compatible with target apps and software. ClickSend offers an integrations marketplace that includes solutions for a wide range of business apps, as well as a dedicated SMS gateway API that gives developers the freedom to build exactly what they want. Python has become one of the most popular programming languages, but getting started with SMS API’s doesn’t mean that you need to be a coding expert. For example, Twilio has a no-code quickstart guide alongside its documentation for .NET, Java, Node.js, Ruby, Go, and other programming languages.


You may have chosen an SMS API provider with easy integration features, great documentation and user resources. But breakdowns in communication can still happen. What level of customer support is available? And how effective are contact center agents in solving client issues? MessageBird is active in engaging with users through an events program that gives clients the chance to share experiences and inspire newer customers who may be just getting started with SMS API’s.


All of the goodwill that you’ve built up with your customers can soon unravel if their private data gets spilled all over the internet. And regulators take a dim view of companies that are careless with user information. Asking prospective SMS API providers about the steps they take to secure your information and protect your customer data should be part of the sales discussion. Start your research by navigating to the security tab on their website. Do they have a security tab on their website? Vonage and Plivo are two examples of SMS API providers following good practice and making the information easy to find using the recommended /security URL naming.

8×8, which offers an SMS API as part of its customer communications services, notes that users can add sender verification and branding to business SMS messages. According to the firm, verified SMS (vSMS) is available to Android users with the Google Messages app based in North America, Mexico, Brazil, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, India and the Philippines.


If you’re happy with the security measures, a final step is to dig into the policy pages to make sure that your SMS API provider of choice is compliant with regulations in your region. Note – you could be exposed to legal issues if that answer is no. In general, the more attention to detail you can find on the topic of compliance, the better. Kaleyra has a vulnerable end user policy and makes its End User Care team available during business hours.

The good news for users getting started with SMS API’s is that not only are there plenty of providers to choose from, but customers can get a headstart by prioritizing their research.