A2P SMS text

What is A2P SMS?

A2P SMS or application-to-person SMS is the sending of SMS messages from a business application or system to an individual.

When you receive a text from a company like an appointment reminder or a code, that’s an A2P SMS.

A2P SMS messaging is also known as business SMS, enterprise SMS, transactional and sometimes bulk SMS or SMS marketing.

Just to add to all the terms, A2P SMS is also known as MT SMS.

The term A2P SMS specifically refers to the activity of a business sending text messages rather than an individual sending messages to another.

A2P Texts are often automated and are triggered by an event. For example an order confirmation text might be triggered by a customer making a purchase.

Exciting stuff.

How does A2P SMS Work?

A2P SMS works by integrating the sending of texts into a software application, system or website.

Usually the business uses an SMS API to integrate SMS, which allows their system to programmatically control the a2p sms flow, based on their own requirements.

Occasionally, companies will use a bulk SMS service to manually upload mobile numbers and send messages in batches to their customers.

What is an A2P SMS gateway?

A2P SMS gateway is simply another term for SMS API or SMS gateway.

What can A2P SMS be used for?

A2P SMS is used for a much broader range of applications than it used to.

Here are some of the most common ways that companies use a2p SMS.
SMS Delivery Notification – notify date and time of a package delivery
SMS for 2fa (2-Factor Authentication) – send unique codes via SMS
SMS Appointment Reminders – confirm date and time of appointment
SMS Order Confirmation
SMS Server Alerts – send alerts on server status
SMS to Highlight Important Emails – Can increase email open rate by 27%
Promotion –  Sales and Marketing texts
Customer Surveys and Polls
SMS Job Availability Alerts – alert candidates to new job opportunities
Customer Support by SMS
Integrate SMS into workflows – Integrating SMS into workflows can increase customer engagement

A2P SMS also supports the sending or emojis although that’s rarely a good idea.

What are the Benefits of A2P Messaging for Business

Business SMS has been around since the late 90s and despite being very basic, it’s popularity continues to grow.

Mobile messaging research company Mobile Squared reported that,

“SMS accounted for 96% of the total business messaging spend in 2022, with 10% more businesses spending on SMS following the disruption around the globe caused in 2020.!”

They also predict that SMS will grow by an astonishing 87% between 2019 and 2025.

There are several reason for its continued longevity…

No one ignores SMS
Unlike other messaging channels like WhatsApp and Facebook’s Messenger where you can easily mute groups or conversations, SMS retains the ability to grab our attention for every single text.

Research by Mobilesquared revealed that 90% of texts are read within 5 minutes of landing on the phone. 

SMS is low cost
Typical costs to send an A2P text have reduced by about 65% in the past decade. Back in 2002, you could expect to pay about 10 pence for business text, in 2022 the cost is around 3 pence.

Business SMS prices over time

There’s almost no SMS spam
Since GDPR came into force in 2018, bringing with it new a2p SMS regulations and the penalty for sending SMS spam became potentially ruinous, spam has dramatically reduced. 

This means that companies sending A2P text messages enjoy incredibly high response rates

Response rates to A2P SMS are high
SMS enjoys the highest response rates of all the communication channels. Compared to email, which struggles to achieve even 1% response rate, SMS rates are often 20% or more.

SMS is trackable
Using short links in texts allows you to track exactly how many customers are clicking through to your mobile optimised website directly  from the text.

Can you receive replies using A2P SMS?

Yes, you can receive replies to your outbound SMS.

To do this you need to set the originator or sender ID (who the message is from) as a reply number.

If you put your own mobile number, then replies will be routed back to your phone.

You can also use a virtual mobile number, provided by your SMS supplier. 
In this case, replies will be routed back to you via email or pushed to a URL that you can set.

replies to a2p sms

Is A2P SMS secure?

A2P SMS is not end to end encrypted in transit or at rest. So in theory anyone that manages to intercept your text, will be able to read it.

It does raise the question of the suitability of SMS as a way of sending 2fa security codes. But in practical terms, the chances of your SMS being hackled are tiny.

So despite the inherent security flaws of A2P SMS, it’s the only universal messaging channel that everyone can use and for that reason alone, SMS is likely to continue as a major option for delivering 2fa codes. 

How popular is A2P messaging?

Mobile squared reported that 1.3 million businesses started using A2P SMS in 2020 an increase of 20%.

A2P SMS traffic increased 14% between 2019 and 2020. This is very strong growth for a very basic messaging channel that has been around since 1994.

Between 2019 and 2020 global A2P SMS spend increased by 51.6%.

Despite the limitations of SMS compared to other messaging platforms, SMS continues to enjoy very strong growth.

We were originally thinking that SMS would start to plateau in 2022. What we’re actually seeing is that SMS is going from strength to strength.

Nick Lane – Chief Analyst – Mobilesquared

All this is in stark contrast to P2P SMS messaging, which is declining very rapidly.

Could anything replace a2p SMS?

According to more research by Mobilesqaured, A2P business messaging accounted for 99.2% of all business messaging traffic in 2019.

But that dominance looks set to change. They predict that by 2024 the market share of A2P SMS  will have dropped to 59.3%.

New messaging channels will become more popular as businesses look for richer ways of communicating than just 160 plain text characters.

Market share of business messaging apps in 2024

Business SMS 59.3%
WhatsApp Business App 15.8
WhatsApp Business API 13.7%
RCS Messaging 11.3%

Business Messaging Market Share in 2024
Data source – MobileSquared

Which industry sectors send the most a2p SMS?

The following is a breakdown of industry sectors that use The SMS Works SMS API for sending a2p messages to their customers.

Why choose The SMS Works for your a2p SMS?

There are literally dozens of UK companies offering A2P SMS services, so you’d expect us to briefly list a few reasons why we think we deserve to make your short list.

Low cost – We’re among the lowest cost SMS providers in the UK and we guarantee to beat any like for like quote.

Pay only for delivered texts – Unlike almost all other SMS companies we only charge for delivered texts, all failed SMS are refunded – it’s a fairer and more transparent way for working.
Robust and reliable – We’ve invested in our SMS infrastructure to ensure the platform can handle the most demanding applications.
UK based data centres – All our servers and data centres are UK based
Comprehensive A2p SMS documentation
 – Copy and paste code snippets to help get you up and running fast
Rapid support – We’re here to help fast. We aim to respond to all support requests within 2 hours, but we’re often much quicker.

Related articles

What is P2P SMS? The consumer relation to A2P SMS, here’s a quick explanation of P2P SMS.

Transactional SMS Hang on, isn’t transactional SMS the same as A2P SMS? There are actually slight differences. Here’s the low down.

How do email and SMS open rates compare? Of course you shouldn’t be choosing between email and SMS, you need both. But it’s quite interesting to compare them.

author avatar
Henry Cazalet Managing Director
Co-founder and Director of The SMS Works, a low cost and powerful SMS API for developers. About Henry