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What is A2P messaging?
A2P messaging stands for application-to-person messaging i.e. a person receives a message through an application. This application can be both web-based OR mobile-based.
What does this mean? Picture this, your phone buzzes and you see a notification, It’s a text from your friend. Your friend typed it out, hit send and it landed in your inbox. Since this was initiated by your friend, who is a ‘person’, this type of messaging is called person-to-person messaging or P2P messaging.
On the other hand, when you receive a message from a business, There is a good chance that it has been automated and sent from an application. Thus it is called Application to person messaging or A2P messaging.
A2P messaging is also called Business SMS or enterprise SMS, various forms of texting like Group Texting, Broadcast messaging, MMS Group messaging, Automated texting etc. can be easily executed through A2P messaging.
How does A2P differ from its counterpart P2P messaging?
As we discussed, P2P messaging stands for person-to-person or peer-to-peer messaging while A2P messaging stands for application-to-person messaging.
But, let’s now look at what really makes A2P messaging and P2P messaging different from a technical perspective.
|Attribute||P2P Messaging||A2P Messaging|
|Throughput||15 - 60 messages per minute||Generally a lot higher than P2P, exact number varies from carrier to carrier, for example with AT&T you can send upto 4500 messages per minute|
|Volume||1,000's of texts can be exchanged per day. (consumers usually send or receive a few hundred messages in a day.)||Varies from carrier to carrier, for example with T-Mobile you can send upto 200,000 messages daily|
|Unique Sender||Usually a single 10 digit mobile number is used by an individual||Businesses may have more than one registered phone number. (10DLC,Shortcodes and Toll free numbers)|
|Unique Recipients||The number varies based on your carrier and also your mobile device. A Consumer typically sends messages to a limited number of recipients (e.g., 10 unique recipients)||Businesses can send texts to their entire opt-in database at once (Usually defined by the carrier but 200,000+ messages can be sent daily)|
|Balance||1:1 ratio of outgoing to incoming messages per telephone number. A message is usually responded with a message||Typically not 1:1 as messages could be promotional. Though with 10DLC numbers and A2P messaging, messages can be conversational and maintain a 1:1 ratio.|
It’s important to note that if as a business you have not enabled A2P messaging and continue to text your customers through P2P messaging, the mobile carriers can filter and block your messages. This is because A2P messaging has brand vetting and campaign vetting processes which ensure no recipients receive spam messages. Hence, if you wish to use Texting for business communication then A2P messaging is the most secure and efficient way.
How does A2P and P2P text messaging work?
The path for A2P messaging looks something like this:
Sender A2P messaging platform > SMS gateway > Carrier > Recipients mobile
A typical path of P2P messaging looks something like this:
Sender’s mobile phone > Carrier network > Recipient Mobile phone
Note: The SMS gateway or the SMS aggregator acts as a bridge between the texting software and the mobile carrier. They are the link between carrier networks, such as T-Mobile and AT&T, and text messaging software providers–such as Emitrr.
The network carrier performs various checks to see if the message sent is unwanted or spam.
Benefits of A2P messaging
1. Send High volume messages
As discussed in the section above A2P messaging allows businesses to send mass texts. This means you can send around 200K texts in a single campaign if A2P messaging is enabled. Sending such a huge volume of texts without the messages getting marked as spam is only possible through A2P messaging.
2. Improves customer engagement
Texting has an open rate of 98% and a response rate of 45% hence it is the most engaging business communication channel. Other than that A2P messaging allows for 2-way texting, This means that both the business and the customer can send each other texts and engage in conversational messaging.
When customers have a channel to easily connect with businesses the engagement rates also increase significantly. A2P messaging also allows businesses to retain their existing business phone number for messaging, Since customers are usually familiar with the business phone number, they will feel more comfortable engaging with the business.
3. Allows you to select the implementation of your choice
A2P messaging can be implemented in multiple ways 10DLC numbers, Shortcodes, or Toll-Free Numbers can be used to text customers. Depending on the budget and the number of messages you intend to send to your customers, you can choose your implementation method.
4. Ensures a better delivery rate as messages are not likely to get marked as spam
A pre-requisite with A2P messaging is brand registration and campaign vetting. These are done by the business’s chosen mobile carriers. This process ensures that the business isn’t planning on sending spam or unwanted messages to its customers. Once the mobile carriers clear the brand for message delivery, none of the messages sent by the business would be blocked or filtered.
If for example, you continue to use P2P messaging for your marketing communications, without campaign vetting they will get blocked. Therefore, in order to ensure the seamless delivery of messages A2P messaging will be advantageous!
5. Advanced texting features
Since A2P messaging is facilitated through texting software, it has advanced texting features. Some of these features include assigning conversations to team members, viewing the number of unread and read messages, assigning dispositions to each conversation, adding notes to conversations, metrics, automated texting, schedule-based texting etc. Essentially you can choose to automate customer communication and engagement as a whole using A2P messaging.
Business texting software allows integrations with other applications that you use for your customer management. You can integrate with your CRM and manage contacts easily. You can also manage all customer conversations on a single platform so that your business is constantly on top of all customer queries and can drive continuous customer engagement.
Support features are always available with business texting software either in the form of knowledge bases, chat: live and automated, or calling. Any issue you may face during the setting up of the campaign or delivery will be handled by the support team.
8. Available on a device of your choice
Business texting software can be used on desktops, Tablets and mobile phones so that you can share messages with your database 24X7.
9. Cost Effective
A2P messaging is relatively inexpensive compared to traditional communication channels like phone calls making it a great communication channel for businesses of all sizes.
A2P messaging allows for the personalization of each text that goes out making your business communications relatable, engaging and more likely to drive responses.
Use Cases of A2P messaging
A2P messaging has various use cases for a business, here are our top picks-
- Marketing campaigns: Marketing campaigns are targeted at a business’s entire customer list. To send text messages to such a vast number of customers, you will need to have A2P messaging enabled so you can ensure your messages are not marked as spam and delivered to your entire database. A2P messaging platforms allow you to track important metrics so that you can constantly improve your campaigns.
- Two-Factor authentication: Two-factor authentication (2FA) sends a one-time password to a person’s mobile phone when they try logging into one of their accounts. This helps prevent hackers from breaking into your customers’ accounts. A2P messaging is often used for 2-factor authentication.
- Order notifications: A2P messaging is also used to send updates to customers about their purchase orders. Customers can get confirmations about their order purchase, the status of the order if it has been shipped, etc. Other useful information such as the order number is also included in these messages.
- Appointment reminders: Various service-based businesses like healthcare practices, HVAC companies etc. need to send reminders to their customers about their upcoming appointments. This helps ensure that they can constantly keep there calendars full and don’t lose out on revenues. Appointment reminders are also facilitated through A2P messaging.
- Review requests: A business needs a decent number of reviews from its customers to establish credibility on platforms like google, Healthgrades etc. Collecting these reviews from the customers often requires a nudge from the business. The best way to ask customers for reviews is to send them a text message requesting a review. You can add the link to the review site in this message. Various studies have shown that texting helps businesses generate the most reviews as compared to any other communication channel. Businesses can also automate this process, For eg- a customer will receive a text requesting for a review 30 mins after they leave your office.
- Surveys: Surveys are a great way to collect customer feedback. Unless you know how your business is being perceived by your customers, you won’t be able to identify gaps in your operations or improve your services. Hence it’s vital that you gather customer feedback. Text messaging is a great way to engage customers and get their feedback. Again, you need to send a survey to all your customers and therefore A2P messaging is required, businesses can automate this process as well.
- Unusual activity/Emergency alerts: A2P messaging can be a great way to alert customers about any fraudulent activity on their accounts. Businesses can also easily share emergency alerts with A2P messaging.
- Reservations: Just like the healthcare industry, the hospitality industry has also started sending out text messages for reservation confirmations as well as reservation reminders. This also is facilitated through A2P messaging.
What number to use for A2P text messaging?
Now that we’ve covered the different use cases of A2P messaging, we can look at the ways in which you can implement this for your business text messaging needs.
Essentially there are three different types of numbers a business can choose to use for A2P messaging. These are-
1. 10 DLC
10DLC OR 10 Digit Long Code is nothing but a 10-digit phone number that all of us usually have. Businesses can use 10DLC numbers to send messages to their customers. Businesses need to register with their carriers to use 10DLC for A2P messaging.
The benefit of sending messages through a 10DLC number is that you can keep your business’s phone number. Customers will not only be able to receive messages from this number, but also respond to it.
A 2-way conversation medium can be established between you and your customers using a number that your customers are already familiar with.
A shortcode is a 5 or 6-digit number used to send text messages from businesses to many people through a software program. Earlier Shortcodes were the only way businesses could send high-volume messages.
Shortcodes were available for businesses to buy. Often these shortcodes were shared by a couple of businesses, with recent developments Shortcodes have become dedicated, i.e shortcodes are no longer shared by businesses, it has also become quite costly. Its monthly usage cost has become over $500 per month, in addition to the per message cost.
Texts from such numbers definitely come across as promotional and hence might not drive a lot of engagement. However, they can work really well if you want to create an opt-in database, businesses usually use it for this purpose so that they can filter the audience that does want to hear from them and then start texting them from a 10DLC number to drive engagement.
3. Toll-Free Numbers
Toll-free numbers (TFN) can also be used for A2P texting. TFN A2P messages can handle medium-volume message broadcasts and are great if you want a cost-effective, more professional phone number from which to message your prospects and clients.
Laws and Regulations regarding A2P messaging
While A2P texting is a boon for businesses to do mass customer communication, it should be done carefully, all legal regulations must be followed. The A2P messaging regulations include TCPA(Telephone Consumer Protection Act) and associated FCC(Federal Communications Commission) regulations regarding customer consent for communications. Broadly speaking the laws state that businesses should:
- Obtain a customer’s consent to receive messages generally
- Obtain a customer’s express written consent to specifically receive marketing messages
- Ensure that customers have the ability to revoke consent at any time.
Consent may vary on the type of message content exchanged with a customer. To better understand the kind of consent you need from your customer, first, you need to know the three types of messaging and their associated consent principles.
1. Conversational messaging
Conversational messaging is a back-and-forth conversation that takes place via text. This kind of texting is usually used to resolve customer queries that could be around sales, support or other general queries.
2. Informational messaging
Informational messaging is when a customer gives their phone number to a business in order to receive certain informational texts from the business these include Appointment reminders, Emergency alerts and notifications, Order and purchase confirmations, shipping and delivery updates, events and conference updates etc.
3. Promotional messaging
Promotional messages usually contain a sales or marketing promotion. Adding a call-to-action (e.g., a coupon code to an informational text) may place the message in the promotional category generally speaking new product announcements, seasonal and special occasion discount offers, flash sale messages, and abandoned cart messages all fall under this category.
And the associated consent types are:
1. Implied Consent
If the customer initiates the text message exchange and the business only respond to each customer with relevant information, then no verbal or written permission is expected. This is implied consent, as the customer is texting first.
2. Express Consent
The customer should give express permission before a business sends them a text message. Customers may give permission over text, on a form, on a website, or verbally.
3. Express Written Consent
The customer should give express written permission before a business sends them a text message. This may include signing a physical or digital form or responding to an email or text with a specific message indicating consent.
So how exactly are the message types and the consent related?
|Message Content Type||Consent Type||Comment|
|Conversational Messaing||Implied||Since in conversational messaging customer initiates the text, mostly to inquire about a product/service, the consent is implied.|
|Informational Messaging||Express||Customers usually allow businesses to contact them to update them about their account activities, fraud alerts, appointments, etc. These messages are informational and the consent given is express.|
|Promotional Messaging||Explicit||Promotional messages are sent by businesses to engage their customers. It’s used to market the business/its services. Therefore the consent given has to be explicit.|
The most important law around A2P messaging is regarding customer consent. These laws will ensure a high delivery rate of your business messages.
Aside from keeping in mind consent laws, make sure you also follow the below-
- Include opt-out prompts in your message body
- keep the message short and to the point
- Do not include any suspicious links in the message body
Bonus question: Should you use a CPaaS platform or a SaaS platform for A2P messaging?
Now that we have understood the ins and outs of A2P messaging, you might want to understand the ways in which you can implement A2P messaging.
There are two methods you can consider for your business, A2P messaging through a CPaaS platform or through a SaaS platform.
So what exactly are these? How do they differ? and which is the better way to implement A2P messaging?
CPaaS stands for Communication platform as a service. It is a cloud-based delivery platform that allows businesses to add real-time communication capabilities to their existing business applications. Let’s understand this in simpler terms.
Suppose you use Hubspot as your CRM, It helps you manage your entire customer cycle. However, One thing it can’t do is provide real-time communication features. You decide that you want to use this existing application and enhance it to allow communication features as well.
Several CPaaS platforms are available that provide APIs and developer tools to integrate various communication channels into Hubspot and other CRMs.
Fact check – What is an API?
API stands for “Application Programming Interface”. It’s a way for different software programs to talk to each other and share information. Think of it as a waiter who takes your order at a restaurant and then communicates that order to the kitchen. The kitchen prepares the food and the waiter brings it back to you.
In the same way, an API acts as a middleman between different software programs. It allows one program to request information or functionality from another program (usually in the form of data), and then receive a response back
If you request for API from CPaaS messaging providers, your in-house team of developers can use it to code communication features to your existing CRM and get started with A2P messaging.
SaaS stands for software as a service, SaaS platforms deliver applications or software over the internet. SaaS products need not be installed, they can simply be used over the web. In other words, customers can access software from any device with an internet connection.
SaaS products are specifically designed to solve a problem or provide a specific service. For example, a business texting software such as Emitrr provides all communication-related features under one roof and also integrates with CRMs so that you can manage all your customer communications from a single platform and also enjoy advanced texting features like —
- Schedule-based texting
- Automated texting
- Easy conversation management
- Assigning conversations to team members
- Group messaging and Broadcast messaging
- Personalization of messages and a lot more
An obvious thought may cross your mind, if you already have some business applications why not use them instead of investing in a new software for business texting? You can use a CPaaS platform to help you achieve enhanced communication through your CRM itself.
Here are a few things you should consider before taking your decision –
Starting with CPaaS for A2P Messaging
First and foremost you will need a dedicated team of in-house developers. If you have this team of developers, they will be able to use the APIs obtained by the CPaaS provider and set up your desired communication channels.
So basically, you will pick real-time communication features that you need embedded in your existing application and use APIs to facilitate it.
Advantage: The advantage of using a CPaaS platform is that you get to customize your communication methods. You get to choose what you want and implement it accordingly.
Once the developers receive the APIs, they need to code the required communication features from scratch.
Limitation: The limitation of CPaaS is that it can be costly and time-consuming to build. If you do not have a team of in-house developers who know how to implement the APIs, you will find yourself spending more time and money.
So should you then consider a SaaS platform instead?
Starting with SaaS for A2P Messaging
SaaS platforms as we discussed earlier, provide a very specific service. All you need to do is subscribe to a SaaS business texting software and you can start using A2P messaging almost instantly.
Advantage: So if you opt for a SaaS platform for A2P messaging, it provides you with all your communication capabilities in one place along with support if anything goes wrong.
Businesses can also enjoy advanced texting features and choose to automate various texts that go out to customers at a certain time based on the criteria that the business defines
SaaS platforms also provide seamless integrations with any other business applications that you might be currently using.
Limitation: It might not be suitable for organizations that are just starting out and have limited contacts to communicate with.
Have a look at this table comparing SaaS and CPaaS
|Developer Bandwidth||Not required||required|
|Support features||Available||Limited Availability|
|Dependency on other apps||No||Yes|
SaaS: The better option for A2P messaging
Some of the reasons why we think a SaaS platform is better than CPaaS for A2P messaging are:
- No need to invest in developers: A SaaS platform comes with predefined capabilities that are ready to use, you do not need a developer team to get it going. Any issue that you face regarding the platform would be solved by the platform’s support team.
- It is cheaper: You may think that the cost of getting an API from a CPaaS provider is cheaper, but it is quite the opposite. As mentioned above, you will need a dedicated team of developers who are responsible for keeping the communication channel up and running. On the other hand, a SaaS platform will do it for you from the go and make it simple for you to use your desired capabilities.
- You get the latest and the best capabilities: By using a SaaS platform you get enriched communication features, which are constantly updated with advances in technology. Features such as viewing unread and read messages, assigning conversations, adding notes etc. with a CPaaS platform you can only send and receive messages with the provided APIs. Anything other than that will have to be developed by your team.
- Independent of other applications: Since SaaS services are standalone platforms, they are not dependent on other business applications for their implementation. With CPaaS on the other hand, one significant thing to note is that you can only use a provider API if your existing business application allows an integration with the CPaas platform you are considering. Aside from that, what level of integration is available with your application is another factor that needs to be considered.
Some FAQs related to A2P Messaging
- What does A2P SMS stand for?
A2P SMS stands for Application(A) To (2) Person (P).
- What is A2P SMS?
A2P SMS is the messaging between a software application and a person. In A2P messaging a text is sent from a texting software to a person’s mobile phone. Texting software is used by businesses and enterprises to communicate with their customers.
- What is A2P SMS and P2P SMS?
A2P SMS stands for Application to person and is used for communication between businesses and customers, whereas P2P stands for Person to Person or Peer to Peer, and is used when two or more people communicate with each other.
- How is A2P SMS implemented?
A2P SMS can be implemented in three ways: 10DLC, Shortcodes, and Toll-Free Numbers.
Note: A2P messaging and A2P SMS is used interchangeably.
If businesses wish to communicate with their customers effectively and legally, they have no option but to ensure that A2P messaging is enabled. A2P messaging can be implemented through business texting software that makes customer engagement super easy!
Not adhering to A2P messaging guidelines while communicating with customers, can lead to serious fines and offences.
Consent is to be obtained from your customers when you use A2P messaging to send promotional and informational messages.
There are three ways in which you can implement A2P messaging. It can be done through, 10DLC, Shortcodes, or Toll-Free Numbers.
You can connect with Emitrr today, to learn how you can start A2P messaging for your business! Schedule a demo here.
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