Sep 13, 2023
7
mins read

Bulk SMS in India: A Comprehensive Guide

Satyam Gupta
Product Manager at Message Central
Bulk SMS in India: A Comprehensive Guide

Key Takeaways

  1. Bulk SMS essentially means send text messages in large numbers with a targeted message to a pre defined set of people. The method of communication has gained immense popularity in India
  2. Multiple benefits make bulk SMS a popular channel. These include wide reach, cost effectiveness, instant delivery, personalization etc.
  3. Multiple regulations are to be adhered to while using bulk SMS as a communication channel. These include sender ID registeration, empanelment of service providers etc.
  4. Enabling bulk SMS in India requires having an SMS API provider who is compliant of all the regulations pertaining to bulk SMS
  5. There are multiple ways to improve results from a bulk SMS campaigns like using custom fields, short links, page links etc.

Introduction

In today's digital age, businesses are constantly looking for effective ways to connect with their target audience and promote their products and services. One such powerful tool in their arsenal is bulk SMS. Bulk SMS allows businesses to send a large number of text messages to a predetermined group of mobile users within a short span of time. It is a cost-effective and efficient method of communication that has gained immense popularity in India. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the various aspects of bulk SMS in India including its benefits, regulations, and the process of sending bulk SMS messages.

TRAI recently warned telcos that they’ll crack down on SMS spammers.

Benefits of Bulk SMS

benefits-of-bulk-sms-by-message-central

Bulk SMS campaigns offer a wide range of benefits for businesses if done right with the right bulk SMS provider. Here are some key advantages:

1. Cost-effective Marketing

Bulk SMS is a cost-effective marketing tool, especially when compared to traditional forms of advertising like TV and print media. With bulk SMS, businesses can reach a large number of customers at a fraction of the cost.

2. High Open and Response Rates

SMS messages have an extremely high open rate, with studies showing that over 98% of SMS messages are read by recipients. Additionally, SMS messages have a significantly higher response rate compared to other marketing channels like email.

3. Instant Delivery

Bulk SMS messages are delivered instantly to the recipients' mobile phones, ensuring that your message reaches them in real-time. This makes it an ideal tool for time-sensitive promotions, event reminders, and important updates.

4. Customization and Personalization

Bulk SMS campaigns can be customized and personalized to suit the needs of individual customers. Businesses can include the recipient's name or other relevant information to create a more personalized and engaging message.

5. Wide Reach and Accessibility

With the increasing penetration of mobile phones in India, bulk SMS campaigns have the potential to reach a wide audience. SMS messages can be sent to both urban and rural areas, making it an effective tool for businesses operating in diverse locations.

6. Easy Integration with Other Marketing Channels

Bulk SMS can be easily integrated with other marketing channels like email and social media to create a comprehensive and cohesive marketing strategy. This allows businesses to reach their customers through multiple touchpoints and increase brand visibility.

Regulatory Guidelines for Bulk SMS in India

regulatory-guidelines-for-bulk-sms-in-India

While bulk SMS offers numerous benefits for businesses, it is important to adhere to the regulatory guidelines set by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). These guidelines ensure the privacy and protection of consumers. Here are some key regulations to keep in mind when sending bulk SMS messages:

1. Time Restriction

Bulk SMS messages can only be sent between 9 AM to 9 PM from Monday to Sunday. Messages sent outside this time range will be queued and delivered the next day.

2. Do Not Disturb (DND) Numbers

Bulk SMS messages cannot be sent to numbers registered under the Do Not Disturb (DND) registry. However, there are exceptions for certain types of messages like transactional SMS or messages related to political, charitable, informational, survey, and personal categories.

3. Sender ID Registration

Sender IDs, which represent the brand name or number from which the SMS is sent, need to be registered with the TRAI. The registration process ensures the authenticity and accountability of the sender.

4. Consent and Opt-out Option

Businesses must obtain consent from customers before sending them promotional SMS messages. Additionally, they must provide an opt-out option, allowing customers to unsubscribe from receiving further messages.

5. Content Guidelines

SMS messages must comply with content guidelines and should not contain any prohibited content like political messages during the election period or gambling-related content.

6. Empanelment of Service Providers

To ensure compliance with regulations and maintain the quality of bulk SMS services, businesses should only engage with empaneled service providers. These service providers should be registered with TRAI and have a track record of delivering quality services.

Extra Tools to Improve SMS

Custom Fields

Custom fields allow you to add personalized information to your messages, making them more relevant and engaging. For example, you can include the recipient's name, account details, or any other dynamic information in your messages. This personalization creates a more personalized experience for your recipients and increases the chances of engagement.

Attachments

Some SMS service providers allow you to attach files or documents to your messages. This can be useful for sending invoices, receipts, order confirmations, or any other relevant files. Attachments can provide additional information or documentation to support your message and enhance the user experience.

Page Links

Including links to web pages or landing pages can drive recipients to take further action. Whether it's directing them to a product page, a sign-up form, or a promotional offer, page links can help increase conversion rates and engagement. Make sure the links are concise, clickable, and lead to mobile-friendly pages.

Short Links

To save characters in your messages, you can use URL shorteners to create shorter, more compact links. Short links make your messages more visually appealing and leave more space for your actual message content. Many URL shorteners also provide analytics and tracking capabilities, allowing you to measure the performance of your links.

Survey Links

If you want to gather feedback or conduct surveys, you can include survey links in your messages. These links direct recipients to online survey forms or questionnaires where they can provide their responses. Gathering customer feedback through SMS surveys can provide valuable insights and help improve your products or services.

Ticket Code

For event or appointment-based businesses, you can generate unique ticket codes for each recipient. These codes can be included in your messages and serve as proof of registration, entry, or reservation. Ticket codes provide a convenient way to manage and track attendee information and ensure a smooth experience for your customers.

Ticket Link

In addition to ticket codes, including a link to a ticket management portal or registration page can provide recipients with easy access to their tickets or event details. This simplifies the registration or check-in process and enhances the overall customer experience.

By leveraging these extra tools and features, you can make your SMS campaigns more interactive, engaging, and effective.

How to Send Bulk SMS Messages in India

Now that we have covered the benefits and regulatory guidelines of bulk SMS in India, let's explore the process of sending bulk SMS messages. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Choose a Reliable Bulk SMS Service Provider

Selecting a reliable and reputable bulk SMS service provider is crucial for the success of your SMS campaign. Look for providers with a proven track record, good customer reviews, and a user-friendly interface.

2. Obtain Sender ID Registration

Register your sender ID with the TRAI to ensure that your SMS messages are sent from an authentic and recognized source. This step helps build trust with your customers and enhances the deliverability of your messages.

3. Collect Customer Database

Build a database of customer mobile numbers who have provided consent to receive SMS messages from your business. Ensure that you comply with data protection laws and respect customers' privacy.

4. Craft Engaging and Relevant SMS Content

Create compelling and concise SMS content that delivers your message effectively. Keep the message short, clear, and relevant to the recipient. Personalize the message whenever possible to increase engagement.

5. Schedule and Send SMS Messages

Using the bulk SMS service provider's platform, select the recipients from your database, customize the message parameters, and schedule the SMS for delivery. Ensure that you adhere to the timing restrictions set by the TRAI.

Scheduling Messages

Timing is crucial when it comes to SMS marketing. By scheduling your messages to be delivered at specific times, you can increase the chances of engagement and response. Consider the following factors when scheduling your messages:

  • Timezone: Take into account the timezone of your recipients to ensure that your messages are delivered at an appropriate time. Sending messages during late-night hours or early mornings may result in lower engagement rates.
  • Relevance: Consider the nature of your message and the recipient's preferences when scheduling. For example, sending promotional messages during weekends or holidays may yield better results compared to weekdays.
  • Frequency: Avoid bombarding recipients with too many messages in a short period. Space out your messages to maintain a healthy balance and prevent message fatigue.

Most SMS service providers offer scheduling functionality that allows you to specify the exact date and time for message delivery. Take advantage of this feature to optimize the impact of your campaigns.

Staggered Sends

If you have a large recipient list, consider staggering your message sends to avoid overloading the SMS service provider's infrastructure or facing delivery restrictions. By splitting your recipient list into smaller segments and sending messages in batches, you can ensure a smooth and reliable delivery process. Staggered sends also help you manage the responses and engagement from recipients more effectively. It allows you to monitor and respond to replies or inquiries in a timely manner, ensuring a personalized and interactive experience for your recipients.

Field Validity Periods

Field validity periods allow you to set an expiration time for your messages. This ensures that your messages are only delivered within a specific timeframe and are not held up or delayed by the SMS service provider. Field validity periods can be especially useful for time-sensitive or event-based messages.

6. Track and Analyze Performance

Monitor the performance of your SMS campaign using the analytics provided by the bulk SMS service provider. Track metrics like open rates, response rates, and conversions to evaluate the effectiveness of your campaign.

Conclusion

Bulk SMS is a powerful tool for businesses to connect with their customers, promote products and services, and enhance brand visibility. By following the regulatory guidelines and best practices with a bulk SMS provider in India, businesses can leverage the benefits of bulk SMS and create impactful marketing campaigns. Remember to choose a reliable bulk SMS service provider, obtain sender ID registration, craft engaging content, and analyze the performance of your campaigns. With proper planning and execution, bulk SMS can be a valuable addition to your marketing strategy in Indi