July 11, 2016

Going Beyond Tier 1 Aggregation

The way we define aggregation has changed. Previously, the leading aggregators were simply known as Tier 1 – a definition by the Common Short Code Administration (CSCA) that clearly laid out the definitions for each of the three major “tiers”:

  • Tier 1: Direct connections to at least four of the five major U.S. carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon) and support for both SMS and MMS
  • Tier 2: Direct connections to at least three of the five major U.S. carriers and support for SMS only
  • Tier 3: Resellers offering services on the backbones of Tier 1 and Tier 2 aggregators and charging a premium or markup to customers

But this simple form of ranking aggregators no longer exists. In recent years, the CSCA has stopped using the term “Tier 1”. The process of evaluating the quality of an aggregator now requires taking a closer look at the services they provide along with their direct connections.

Here are a few things that brands and application service providers should consider when selecting the right aggregator:

Direct Connections

While categorizing aggregators on their number of direct connections has faded, the value of working with an aggregator that has direct connections with the major carriers has not. In fact, it should be a prerequisite when exploring a relationship with any SMS aggregation partner. Working with a directly connected messaging aggregator carries several benefits:

  • A higher quality connection with higher uptime and reliability
  • Better throughput when compared to an aggregator relying on secondary connections
  • Better support by being able to directly raise and quickly resolve issues with the carrier

MMS Capabilities

One of the main elements separating aggregators is their ability to support Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) messaging for multimedia content – pictures, audio, and video. Not all aggregators with direct connections to the major carriers have MMS capabilities. While an aggregator might promise you fast and reliable delivery of SMS messages, they may not be able provide the same service for messages with rich content. However, this only scratches the surface of the benefits of working with an aggregator with MMS direct connections.

“In the current market, clients need to think about what other elements a directly connected aggregator with MMS connectivity provide in addition to just the pipes to the carrier,” said Marc Ouellette, Director of Carrier Operations, Technology and Operations at mGage. “I think that increasingly, it will be the value-added products that set aggregators apart into tiers.”

One value-added tool that aggregators can offer are transcoding APIs. Being able to quickly and seamlessly insert video, images and other multimedia content into an MMS message is a powerful marketing tool. However, ensuring that the multimedia files are optimized for size, resolution and formats across multiple carriers and devices is essential for delivering the messages to the end users.

mGage’s Transcoding API works with 12,000 different devices – the largest number in the industry. We also are able to deliver these messages to any handset user in the United States and in much of the rest of the world with absolute confidence that the message will reach intended recipients without delays or errors.

International Connectivity

Companies often launch U.S.-only text messaging campaigns and later decide to expand the reach of the campaign globally. If their domestic aggregator lacks the resources or connections to properly manage international text messaging, it opens the door for a range of potential problems. Working with an aggregator who knows how to get an international campaign live will save you headaches in the future.

Many of the challenges associated with launching a U.S.-only campaign are the same for international campaigns – only multiplied by the number of countries the campaign will reach. Some of the specific issues with international messaging include:

Regulations: Local regulators in each country have individual rules protecting consumers’ rights and controlling the types of messages that can be sent. Maintaining compliance requires knowledge of the rules and best practices that have been established for each country. Not following these rules can lead to fines, suspension, or a shutdown of campaigns.

Supported Features: Within a country, individual carriers may support different features such as providing handset delivery receipts, allowing concatenated SMS messages, and supporting types of message encoding.

Reliability: The quality of international messaging routes can vary substantially. This is particularly true when dealing with countries with limited telecommunications infrastructures. Aggregators who focus on utilizing quality routes by maintaining direct connections with the leading local providers increase the speed, reliability, and deliverability of the messages sent to their customers.

mGage has a legacy of more than 15 years of international messaging experience. We have the capacity to process over 3 billion messages a month, across six continents and over 550 operators, via four inter-connected global messaging hubs.

Campaign Management and Reporting

Top aggregators also provide their enterprise customers with ways to manage complex communications campaigns across a wide spectrum of channels. Most enterprise-level organizations have existing CRM systems, and integrating them into a mobile messaging platform unlocks the power to match customer interactions with previously collected information about individuals.

Users want to do more than send out an SMS message and hope that it has a positive response. They want to use metrics from their SMS campaigns in conjunction with data points from other tactics to get a clear sense of their success, and where they need to adapt. Messaging platforms need to provide detailed reporting on the success of campaigns on both macro and granular levels.

mGage’s Communicate Pro is a robust, cloud-based real-time messaging platform that delivers interactions across channels including SMS, MMS, Push, and social media. Customer data can be synchronized through the campaign management tool or a set of APIs. Users can build multi-level messaging campaigns that are targeted through Smart List management, and track the effectiveness of these campaigns with drilldown reporting. Marketers can create multi-step programs to deliver personalized messages to individual users based on their profiles and their previous mobile interactions.

Having direct connections with the major U.S. carriers shouldn’t be a defining metric in deciding on an aggregator today; it should be the bare minimum. The aggregators who will rise to the top of the industry in the coming years will be the ones that go beyond simply sending messages from Point A to Point B and instead focus on innovative ways to bring value-added tools that connect organizations and customers via mobile messaging.

The information included herein is distributed for informational use only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be taken as such.  All clients are responsible for meeting legal requirements and other rules that apply to their messaging programs.  Consultation with legal counsel is strongly recommended.

Jack Ukropina
Jack Ukropina / Administrator

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