Send Bulk SMS to Your Leads & Customers via SMS Gateway API
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- Posted By-Biswajit Swain
Do you want to send bulk SMS to your leads and customers in India? In this article you will learn how to integrate your landing pages and forms with an Indian SMS provider, and trigger SMS automatically without writing a single line of code!
There are many SMS providers in India who allow you to send Bulk Transactional SMS to your customers via API.
You can also send SMS manually from inside the dashboard of your SMS provider, but you cannot send it manually all day.
If you get 50 subscribers a day and if you want to send an SMS to all of them, the only way is to automate it.
To automate sending SMS to my customers, I have to make a GET request on the HTTP API URL of the SMS Gateway, and pass the required data such as the phone number and the message to his URL. This will trigger an SMS from their server to the desired phone number.
I have no idea how to make a GET request! But I found a work around. Now I am able to send SMS via Google Sheets automatically when someone becomes a lead via my landing page or blog.
Sending SMS to DND Numbers
The SMS can be sent even if their mobile number is registered on DND (Do not disturb registry). Because I am sending a transactional SMS!
I am allowed to send transactional SMS as long as the user gives me their phone number, in other words, they have opted-in to receive information from me.
Promotional bulk SMS can be sent to any number without their permission, but most of the numbers are registered in DND. You can send a transactional SMS to anyone, but if they have not opted to receive information from you, you are technically spamming people – not recommended.
When you purchase bulk SMS packs from SMS providers, make sure you buyTransactional SMS packages.
Costs Involved in This Setup
For this entire setup to work, you need to have a Zapier.com account. You can sign up for a free 14 day trial account, and after that the basic plan is $20 a month.
Also, you need to get an account at SMSHorizon.in or a similar SMS gateway. You can get your account approved for transactional SMS by contacting them. You can also get a unique 6 character sending ID that appears as the ‘From’ name in the SMS.
I purchased 5,000 SMS (transactional) for around Rs.1,800. That means 36 paise per SMS. With higher transaction volumes and bulk purchases, you can get the cost down to 20 paise per SMS.
There is no free way to send bulk SMS in India. If it exists, they are probably not reliable. If you are concerned about the costs, I recommend sending SMS only to your paying customers.
For example, I send a Thank You SMS whenever someone purchases any product or services from my website. I do not send SMS to people who subscribe on my blog for my free digital marketing course. I am not even collecting their phone numbers on the landing page.
So, make a decision when you need to send SMS and when you don’t need to – because it costs money. It makes a lot of sense to send SMS to your customers because they are paying you. It helps in building a good relationship with your customers when you send timely and useful SMS.
So let’s get started with the steps involved in this setup:
Step 1: Setup Your SMS Gateway Account
If you want to send SMS in India, then the obvious first step is to get an account at an SMS Gateway. I use SMSHorizon.in but some of my friends use Msg91.com and other similar providers.
I recommend SMSHorizon because the support is excellent and the reliability of his infrastructure is top notch. I get almost all my SMS delivered without any trouble.
The dashboard of SMSHorizon is simple and elegant. I get “Sent SMS” reports and HTTP API from the dashboard.
Step 2: Get a Zapier Account
I use Zapier to automate many marketing tasks, not just the SMS part. For example, all the leads from my Unbounce landing page gets saved inside a Google sheet.
Though I have integrated Unbounce landing page to Aweber directly, I still would like to save all the leads on a Google sheet.
That’s because some people do not confirm their email ID when they sign up and they get lost after a few weeks. With my original data in my sheet, I can reach out to them any time.
The first 14 days is free and you will get all the premium features. After that you have to pay $20 a month for the basic account. The basic account runs tasks once in 15 minutes and it can run 3,000 tasks a month.
Step 3: Save all Your Leads to Google Sheets
You have to make sure that all your leads land in a Google sheet. I use it as a central hub for my leads.
My lead sources come from Facebook Lead Ads, landing pages, blog subscribers and downloads / buyers from my payment gateway.
I save all the leads on a Google sheet via Zapier automation or direct integration. From Google sheet, I can use Zapier again to send the leads to an email marketing tool, CRM, trigger an SMS to myself, or trigger an SMS to the lead.
I recommend you follow the same tried and tested process for lead management. The Google sheet where all the leads are saved also becomes your backup for the leads. You are spending money to get the leads and you have to make sure you never lose them.
Step 4: Setup Webhooks in Zapier to Trigger SMS
Many tools have direct integration with Zapier but none of the Indian SMS gateways have an integration with Zapier, yet.
Once of the tools which has Zapier integration is Twilio – an international SMS service, but they do not support transactional SMS for India, and promotional SMS are pretty much useless.
So instead of using direct integrations, we will use webhooks to connect with the SMS gateway. This integration is between Google sheets and the webhoook that sends data to the bulk SMS provider.
Here’s the procedure, step by step. Inside Zapier, click on Make a New Zap
For every Zap, you need to select a Trigger and an Action.
Here the Trigger is going to be a new row in your Google sheet. Zapier will keep looking at your sheet for a new row, and when a new row is added (either manually or through an another Zap), it will perform the Action that you have mentioned.
Here’s the sheet integration I have done. You just have to select Google sheet as a trigger, new spreadsheet row, connect your account, select the file inside your account and you are done.
Make sure you select the right file inside your Google drive and the right worksheet inside the file. Your sheet should have a first row with headers mentioning name, email, phone number (or more details)
Now you have to select the trigger. Here the trigger is going to be a Webhook:
Select Webhooks and include the HTTP API url from your SMS gateway here. If you are not sure where you will find this URL, contact the support guys of your SMS provider.
If you are using SMSHorizon, it will look like this:
Just copy the URL without the parameters / variables and paste it into the URL field in Zapier:
Now you have to configure the variables properly.
In this example, I am showing how it works with SMSHorizon, but with other providers it could be a little different. Just different variables.
I have got a sender ID as XXXX, but that has to be approved by the SMS provider depending on availability. Else, you can use their default sender ID to start with.
Once you save this Zap, you are done. There is nothing else to do.
Whenever a new row is added in the Google sheet, Zapier will ping the SMS provider to send the SMS. With the basic account, this trigger goes only once in 15 minutes.
You can manually trigger it when you are testing by clicking on Run…
Zapier will check the Google sheet for a new row and pass it to the SMS provider via webhook:
Now you would have got the SMS to the phone number that you entered for testing.
You can also check if the SMS has been delivered by checking the Sent reports of the SMS provider.
If it has been delivered, it will show as DELIVRD.