How Does an SMS API Work? Everything Developers Need To Know
SMS communication is all about speed and efficiency. Your messages are shorter, so you must say more with fewer words. Sending and receiving text messages is nearly instantaneous, allowing for more direct and time-sensitive communication. An SMS API takes this speed and efficiency to the next level by allowing you to automatically send text messages from your existing applications.
But how does an SMS API work? Here’s everything developers need to know.
What Is an SMS API?
SMS API stands for short messaging service application programming interface. An API is software code that allows two different platforms or applications to work with each other. So, an SMS API allows you to connect an SMS gateway or provider with other software your business uses, like CRM/CMS (customer relationship management software/ content management system) apps or e-commerce platforms.
You can use an SMS API to automatically schedule and send SMS messages directly from your business applications. For example, you could integrate SMS with your appointment booking system and trigger automatic reminders and alerts to go out via text message 48 hours before a patient’s appointment. Or, you could add an SMS API to your company website’s “Contact Us” form, so customers can easily opt-in to your text marketing campaign and trigger a welcome message with the click of a single button.
How Does an SMS API Work?
The SMS API provides a channel for your application to communicate with your SMS platform and vice versa. To send a message to your customers through your CRM software, it looks like this:
- The CRM sends a request to the SMS API, which passes the message along to your SMS provider.
- Your message is translated into a protocol that mobile networks can understand and then is passed along to your customers’ mobile carriers.
- The mobile carrier responds to the SMS provider with the message delivery and status updates or returns an error code if there was a problem.
- Then, the SMS API translates the status updates into a format that your application can understand and passes the information back to your CRM.
You can do more with an SMS API than just send text messages back and forth, though—you can also use them to integrate other SMS functionality. For instance, with the secure payment service Text2Pay, operated within the user’s native text messaging app, you could use an SMS API to integrate functionality with your online ordering system, business accounting software, or e-commerce platform.
SMS APIs are written in and compatible with a wide variety of programming languages, with PHP, Java, and Python being some of the most popular. An SMS API can also use varying protocols to communicate with your applications depending on the complexity of the integration. For example, many out-of-the-box software applications and SaaS (software as a service) platforms use simple HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) API integrations.
What Are the Benefits of an SMS API?
Before we dive into the benefits of using an API to integrate SMS functionality, let’s go over the advantages of using mass text messaging. SMS is a quick, cost-effective, and reliable way to reach your audience, whether you’re running B2C marketing campaigns, managing enterprise-level communications, or trying to stay in touch with your political supporters. Mass text messaging is used by every type of organization across every industry because of how effective it is. Customers are more likely to open and respond to text messages than emails because SMS is both more convenient and feels more personal than other digital communications.
An SMS API allows you to take advantage of these benefits in an even more convenient and effective fashion. That’s because an API allows you to automate your SMS messaging and employ advanced SMS functionality right from the business applications you’re already using.
For example, you can integrate an SMS API into your customer support software so your customers can text you for assistance and be connected to a live support agent. Then, when the support session is complete, the API can feed important metrics (such as the number of messages sent before the issue was marked resolved) into your software so you can audit for quality assurance and efficiency. Finally, your customer support application can trigger an SMS survey to go out within 24 hours, then collect and report on the results.
How To Integrate an SMS API
The exact process to integrate an SMS API with your business software will depend on the specific SMS provider and application you’re using. However, most SMS API providers, like NorthText, develop their APIs to be easy to use and integrate. That’s because SMS APIs are created by developers who know the exact functionality, methods, and challenges you’ll be working with.
For example, NorthText has an entire API database of innovative UX tools called “the library”. Our API library offers everything you need to integrate our SMS messaging into your workflows. We even provide you with code snippets that you can simply copy and paste into your website or application and customize as needed. Plus, our live, U.S.-based team of developer support agents is just a text or phone call away if you need more hands-on assistance.