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Don’t let anyone sell you an online SMS gateway that lacks any of these four features

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According to the Australian Communications and Media Authority, mobile phone ownership amongst Australians over 18 is at a staggering 92 per cent.

Therefore, mobile is an ideal platform for generating leads and interacting directly with customers.

In fact, a 2010 study by Singlepoint reported that approximately 90 per cent of all SMS messages are read within 3 minutes of being sent and that SMS boasts a 99 per cent open rate.

It is therefore critical to invest in a robust SMS gateway that can efficiently manage your campaigns and take advantage of the many uses of SMS marketing.

And of course, as with any other area of your marketing spend, keeping a finger on the pulse of the value generated from your SMS marketing activities is vital to their success.

With this in mind, we’ve put together this handy guide on what to look for in the perfect SMS Gateway system. Below are four features we recommend keeping an eye on:

Email-to-SMS functionality

Trust me, there’s nothing worse that could happen to your business than being dumped with a system that forces you to entirely overhaul your existing processes and systems.

With email-to-SMS functionality, users can compose, distribute and respond to SMS campaigns from within their existing email client. If you can send an email, then you can use an email-based messaging platform – it’s that simple!

Hot tip: Make it a point to look for a system that supports the most frequently used email clients. I’m talking Apple Mail, Outlook, Yahoo, Gmail and Windows Live.

Robust reporting

Sure, you may have developed a brilliant marketing campaign but when it comes time to evaluation, you’ll need comprehensive data to help you make decisions to refine and optimise your campaign. This is where analytics and metrics are critical.

Hot tip: Opt for a system that supports detailed segmentation for example by location, gender, purchase history and member status.

No software downloads

Investing in a purely web or cloud-based platform comes with several advantages.

Most importantly, your campaign data and customer database is secured with encryption and accessible remotely from any device with an internet connection. This will particularly come in handy in the unfortunate case of theft, property damage or fire.

Other secondary benefits that you will enjoy with this kind of platform include conservation of valuable disk space, and not having to pester the IT guy at work!

Real-time support

For a technical product like an SMS gateway, you definitely need to be sure that you can access personalised support, when you need it. At the very least, that means phone and/or live chat assistance (no ticket lodging!) For more complex queries, it’s great if you can drop into a physical office and receive one-on-one support.

Hot tip: the more established providers often have an extensive online database of FAQs that users can use to troubleshoot issues. This is a great way to resolve minor queries without getting tied up on the phone or sending an email to a customer service team.

All in all, with a 99 per cent open rate, you simply can’t afford to underestimate the difference an effective SMS gateway could make for your business.

Agus Echagüe is the Marketing Manager (or Capocha as she calls herself) at SMS Central, so always has an excuse to be texting at the office. A marketing nerd all the way from Argentina, Agus has worked previously in tech for Paycycle.com.au as well as for consumer brands such as Unilever. Agus believes in balancing hardcore number crunching with airy-fairy, go with your gut style creative thinking and so far it is working out well.

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