SMS – also commonly known as text messaging – allows the transmission of short text messages between mobile phones all over the world. It’s used by over 3.7 billion people, making it the most widely used data application in the entire world. Bulk SMS messages can be used by companies as a form of direct marketing to reach millions of customers. It’s also used to quickly disseminate information to a large number of customers by media companies, banks, software applications, as well as consumer brands.

While SMS is a relatively old technology, SMS is still growing as a business to customer marketing and communication channel, especially in developing countries. Bulk SMS is an extremely effective marketing and communication tool in developing countries – particularly because of the lack of internet penetration in many regions. Even in developing regions with low internet penetration, the majority of households will have at least one cell phone capable of receiving SMS messages. And in an age where spam filters block the majority of bulk emails, bulk SMS is often the most effective high volume option for spreading your marketing message to a broad demographic or reaching out to existing customers.

But spam filters and lack of internet penetration are not the only reasons to choose bulk SMS marketing over traditional email mailing campaigns. SMS messages allow a more direct, 1 to 1 contact right to an individual’s palm. It’s also cheaper than virtually any other bulk marketing or communication channel available. Bulk SMS allows businesses to reach hundreds of thousands, even millions of people in a matter of seconds, no matter where they are and whether or not they own a computer or a smartphone.

Cost Of Bulk SMS In Developing Countries
Bulk SMS allows companies to market a broad range of products and services both domestically as well as internationally for a cost-effective price. Typically, the software/interface required to send bulk SMS is offered by the provider for free, while the company pays for individual SMS messages on a per message basis. Typical SMS software allows companies to quickly upload large lists of phone numbers or schedule messages to be sent at specific times/days where they’re most likely to be read. For companies that have their own software for sending bulk SMS messages, an SMS provider is still needed to reach a large number of mobile operators in order to send bulk text messages.

In general, the cost of sending bulk SMS messages will vary considerably depending on the bulk SMS gateway, the specific destination country, the carrier coverage, the number of messages, the quality and reliability of the routes, as well as a host of other factors. Additional discounts may be possible with providers who offer a direct to carrier model that cuts out the middle man. Some providers may also offer small discounts to non-profit and charitable organizations.

The overall price is only one factor to look at when determining the true cost of a bulk SMS campaign. Because quality and reliability of the networks can be an issue, particularly in developing countries, the actual number of successfully delivered messages needs to be factored into the cost. A service where a high percentage of messages go undelivered may be less cost-effective than a service with a higher price per message, but higher delivery rates. Some providers may also have hidden fees or setup charges that can add to the overall cost.

Pricing for sending bulk SMS in developing countries is generally lower than in developed countries – for obvious reasons. In India, bulk SMS provider rates can vary anywhere from 0.40 US cents/1000 SMS messages to $6/1000 SMS messages, with the most important factors being the number of messages and the service provider. Below are rough estimates of bulk SMS messaging prices for some notable developing countries.

Bangladesh – $0.0137 USD per SMS
Kenya – $0.0137 USD per SMS
Pakistan – $0.0137 USD per SMS
Philippines – $0.015 USD per SMS
Thailand – $0.015 USD per SMS
Vietnam – $0.04 USD per SMS
Zimbabwe – $0.0195 USD per SMS

Bear in mind that specific prices for bulk SMS messaging services will vary significantly depending on a number of the factors listed above, and the only way to get a specific prices for a bulk SMS campaign is to request a quote from an SMS provider.

The Cost Of Bulk SMS In Developing Countries – by David Veibl. David is writing for Silverstreet, about the business aspects of mobile advertising and bulk sms gateway providers’ situation on the market.