Voice to messaging? Six essential steps for carriers embracing the opportunity

These days, everyone is familiar with those product recommendations that say: ‘if you liked that, you’ll like this.’ They’re everywhere.

Well, here is something for aggregators to consider. If you are successful at enterprise voice, you might want to consider A2P SMS.

Business messaging has exploded in the last ten years. Companies across a range of verticals have grasped the exceptional power of SMS as a communications medium. They understand that text is personal and immediate, and therefore delivers read rates that dwarf what is possible by email.

They also know that SMS is asynchronous. You can store a text and reply to it later. That is a major advantage over voice, which is more intrusive and demands an immediate response.

These are the benefits that created the modern A2P SMS business. According to Mobilesquared, enterprises are on target to send 2.8 trillion A2P SMS messages this year – an average of 25.1 received per subscriber per month. Analysts expect this activity to grow fast over the next decade – not least because MNOs and aggregators are now adding rich messaging (WhatsApp, RCS, Apple Messages for Business etc) into the mix.

In fact, Markets and Markets predict the global A2P messaging market will grow from $62.1 billion in 2022 to $72.8 billion by 2025.

Making a success of your pivot to messaging

Despite the attractive margins offered by enterprise SMS, many voice-based carriers have yet to commit to it. They’re missing out. At GTC, we work closely with MNOs and aggregators all over the world. We know how effective the messaging medium can be. We also know how to go from merely considering the opportunity to running a successful A2P division.

So maybe you are a successful voice carrier. You want to make the leap but are confused about where to start. If so, we should talk. As an A2P messaging consultancy

GTC has the experience, contacts, and technical know-how to advise on every facet of your launch.

But before you do that, read this guide to six essential set-up steps.

Define your footprint

When you enter the A2P SMS market, you should establish your footprint. As a voice carrier, you will already have traffic. But is it global or more focused on specific regions? Simply replicating your existing voice ‘map’ might not be the wisest idea here. Instead, it pays to be focused and to avoid being distracted by endless opportunities. So select a region and then consider a number of factors, including:

  • Product rates
  • The strength of your market presence and resources
  • The number of active competitors
  • The availability of interconnect partners

Build a platform

Every new A2P SMS service starts with a messaging platform from which you can send messages, monitor the flow of traffic, analyse delivery/response rates and more. This might be a challenge: the SMS space has unique technical features and proven best practices. Watch out! It’s different from voice.

There are many messaging platforms to choose from. So how can you make your decision? The variables include the following:

  • Routing infrastructure
  • Pricing and invoicing features
  • Ability to monitor and analyse traffic
  • Reporting features
  • Available inbound and outbound protocol interfaces for connecting partners

Of course, choosing a platform is just the start. Once acquired, you will need to tailor its set-up (hosting, IPs, redundancy, data retention etc.) and then establish connections to your customers/partners. You will also need to run tests and connect to a mobile number portability (MNP) supplier.

As an A2P messaging consultancy GTC has plentiful experience in this area. For more insight, we invite you to read our blog on the topic.

Ready your staff

You have chosen your platform, and now you are ready to start sending A2P SMS messages. There’s more to it than just connecting your partners and running a few tests. To do this effectively, you need trained staff. 

If you already operate a voice business, you have a head start. You are in an ‘adjacent’ business and can re-train existing staff – or hire new ones. GTC can assist in both. Our teams can also provide first or second-level technical support and even fill account manager roles until your own teams are ready.

Create a consistent messaging product: productise

There are two ways to run an enterprise messaging business. The first is to offer enterprise customers a tech spec with a list of available regions and expect them to simply ‘get on with it’. In a scenario like this, customers might find a campaign that ran well in one country performs poorly in another. Or that their routing profile suddenly changes after a few days.

The second option is to provide transparent information on how messages are to be delivered (direct or indirect), guaranteed routing profiles and a promise of quality.

The latter is clearly preferable. We call this commodified and consistent approach ‘productisation’. Customers will value it. What’s more, productisation will act as a hedge against customers making decisions purely on price – and going elsewhere the minute a cheaper option appears.

For a deeper dive into productisation, read our thoughts here.

Make market rates and quality the basis of your price structure

In the voice space, traffic is usually origin-based. Carriers offer different rates based on the country from which the calls are made. Recently, A2P messaging has started to experiment with this logic too. There have been examples of carriers applying different rates for local or international traffic. 

Origin-based pricing is just one of the components to consider in a pricing strategy. In your entry into A2P SMS, a well-defined pricing strategy is actually key. We can support you with our market knowledge to identify and validate market rates in comparison to route quality levels.

As a result, you should feel more comfortable starting commercial discussions, and building business cases for buying and selling. Over time, understanding the best rates/pricing methods will also help you offer and receive the required quality routes.   

For the newcomer to messaging, all this pricing and pricing strategy detail might be a little intimidating. But that’s why we’re here. GTC can help you to evaluate all types of charges.  

Keep your traffic partner options open

As a voice provider, you will be used to deals and negotiations. Generally, this is how the voice market operates – partners haggle until they agree on traffic volumes, rates, contract lengths and business model (by volume or based on profits, for example).

The SMS market doesn’t work this way (yet). A2P traffic is dynamic. It comes from a variety of sources – OTTs, banking, insurance, airlines etc – each with different demands. Some high-volume campaigns last for months. Others for just days or hours. For this reason, carriers are advised against locking up their activity with a small number of partners. Again, GTC is extremely well-connected in the A2P space. Crucially, we are a neutral A2P messaging consultancy. So we can provide honest recommendations on how to grab your slice of the A2P SMS ‘pie’.

In 2022, any carrier with a successful enterprise voice business should surely be weighing up a switch to A2P messaging. The growth numbers speak for themselves. To make your launch a success, you will need to buy the right platform, train your team to use it, find the right partners, set fair prices, create a stable ‘product’ and target underserved regions. Do this, and you can build a long-term viable business.

To find out how GTC can help you get there, contact us

Global Telco Consult (GTC) is a trusted independent business messaging consultancy with deep domain knowledge in application-to-person (A2P) services. GTC provides tailor-made messaging strategies to enterprises, messaging service providers, operators and voice carriers. We have expertise in multiple messaging channels such as RCS, Viber, WhatsApp, Telegram and SMS for the wholesale and retail industry.

GTC supports its customers from market strategy through service launch, running the operations and supporting sales and procurement. The company started in 2016 with a mission to guide operators and telcos to embrace new and exciting opportunities and make the most out of business messaging. For more information or industry insights, browse through our blog page or follow us on LinkedIn.

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