01 Feb International SMS Messages: Best Practice, How, and Why?
Are you unsure about how to start an SMS campaign beyond the borders of South Africa?
We’re here to help!
In this brief guide, we’ll take you through some technical details, and explain what you need to consider before you set up international SMS messages.
International SMS Messages
Your first step should be to decide what type of messages you will send. There are so many ways to use an SMS, for example:
- One Time Pins (OTPs)
- Appointment reminders
- HR messaging from management to employees within a company
- Courier and parcel tracking
- Gift vouchers or promotion codes
- Sales promotions
- Marketing campaigns
- Customer service communication
- Order confirmations
You probably already have something in mind, so once you’ve settled on the purpose of your message, you’ll need to work on its content. The text contained in the message needs to be as concise as you can possibly make it.
Depending on the country it’s being sent to, the content will determine how the message is sent.
The text content used in SMSing is made up of specific types of code. There are two basic character encoding schemes, GSM-7 and UCS-2 and this encoding determines the length of your message.
Most of the Latin based languages (like English) use GSM for their alphabets, which are 7 bits per character. In total, using GSM code, your text is allowed to have 160 characters per SMS.
GSM-7 includes letters from A to Z with associated symbols, numbers and most punctuation marks. Extra characters that aren’t found in our alphabet, are considered non-GSM. These would include emojis and smart quotes.
UCS-2 encodes all the non-GSM characters, with each character holding 16 bits. So UCS takes up a lot more room in your text. This means you might create a simple message, but the way it’s coded makes it longer than you think it is (maybe skip the smiley faces).
If your text is too long, your message will be sent in two, or even three message parts. However, the text will be reassembled into one message on the receiver’s phone (this is known as concatenation).
The short of it is this: Think carefully about how you structure your SMS messages, and what you put in them.
Best Practice – Why and How
When it comes to international SMS messaging, it’s imperative to follow the regulations of the specific countries you’re sending to. For example, in South Africa, we know all about the POPI Act. Other countries have similar regulations on what you can and can’t send, and to whom. This will influence how your messages are delivered.
Do some research on whether or not you need to include opt-in or opt-out responses, and make sure your SMSes will be delivered during that country’s business hours. You might also want to check what content is considered inappropriate in that area. No matter the aim of your SMSes, alienating or offending people is no way to win hearts.
Sending and Receiving
Now, let’s look at how you will send your messages. There are two basic sending categories:
- Person to Person (P2P)
P2P messaging means the recipient might have the option to reply, so you could engage in a short conversation, such as in a customer service exchange.
- App to Person (A2P)
A2P messaging doesn’t support a reply from the receiver’s phone. These one-way SMSes are often used in 2-factor authentications and marketing messages.
Our bulk SMS gateways are perfect for international messaging. Whether you’re doing P2P or A2P, you get all your replies, contact lists and reports in one place.
Your Sender ID
Your sender ID will be displayed in one of two ways, either as Short or Long Codes.
Short Codes are better suited to bulk messaging such as an SMS competition. The number is usually no more than six digits long and can accommodate high volumes of messages – up to 100 per second. They also work well for A2P messaging, such as notifications and time-sensitive OTPs.
Most countries use Long Codes for sending messages and receiving phone calls. These numbers work best for P2P communication and offer about one message per second. Panacea can supply your business with standard, premium, and reverse billed Short Codes as well as number rental for Long Codes.
Spam and You
Before you dive in and buy a bulk SMS package, it’s a smart idea to put some thought into your campaign. International SMS messages can be a simple way to expand your brand’s reach. However, an SMS done wrong can also be a great way to tick people off, getting your number blocked as spam.
That’s what you don’t want!
Naturally, you want to make your campaigns as effective as possible. So, do it right and take a minute to check out what Panacea’s SMS platform has to offer!