When it comes to SMS messaging, there's an important distinction between generic API and mission-critical SMS API services. Generic API services equip developers with an API to send SMS messages from point A to point B, while mission-critical SMS services wrap additional services behind the scenes to ensure the highest level of global deliverability.
For mass marketing campaigns, generic API services are more than adequate. But security messages (think two-factor authentication messages with one-time passcodes) require extra care to optimize delivery rates and minimize message latency.
This brings us to our first pitfall of generic SMS API services – they generally lack direct connections on a global scale.
It may seem pretty simple. You integrate the API into your website or set-up a communication path in your marketing department and start sending. That's the easy part, but it is one thing to send a SMS message, it is quite another to actually deliver it.
Typically SMS messages go through multiple hops and multiple “middlemen” before reaching their final destination. These middlemen also known as SMS aggregators partner with mobile operators to offer wholesale SMS services at reduced rates. Unfortunately, with each additional hop, the probability of failure increases. And each hop creates an opportunity for failure and makes it more difficult to troubleshoot if there are delivery issues.
Generic API services often lack direct connections to mobile operators for any of their routes and rely exclusively on SMS aggregators to get the message from point A to point B.
Mission-critical messaging services must invest in the processes, system and carrier relationships to optimize global delivery. They should be able to quickly course-correct when delivery issues inevitably happen. For two-factor authentication, password resets, shipment notifications, and other business process messaging, purpose-built APIs coupled with direct operator connections ensure that messages are delivered, not just sent.
In the next blog post, we will review the second pitfall – underestimating the operational impact of deploying a generic API SMS service.