What’s A2P (particularly A2P messaging), and why do you need to know?
Here’s one reason: there’s billions of dollars on the line. According to Statista, in 2022 A2P messaging “was generating approximately 48 billion U.S. dollars in revenues” globally. And according to Grand View Research, the A2P messaging market is “expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.9% from 2023 to 2030.”
Working in a business environment means keeping up on so many different things. Having acronyms thrown around here and there doesn’t help things.
But the concept of A2P (and A2P messaging) is something every business should consider, particularly if you’ve never delved into the world of sending SMS for your business.
So in this article, we’ll get into the concept of A2P and how it relates to you.
If you just want some quick explanations, you can check out the first section and get a brief rundown on what you need to know.
And if you want to dig deeper, you can check out the rest of the article.
Let’s get started…
A2P in its most basic definition simply means “Application to Person” text messaging.
This means that when you’re not sending a text message directly to an individual (from your own device) but are rather using a third-party application to send texts (usually to a list of multiple people), you’re engaging in A2P messaging.
This is in contrast with P2P—”Person to Person.”
P2P messaging means that you’re directly sending personal text messages from your own personal device. With P2P, you’re not sending texts via a neutral third party but are engaging in personal conversations.
When text messages are sent for business purposes, they are quite often sent on an “A2P” basis—people in the company are communicating with their clients and customers indirectly via messaging apps. They’re not typically sending personal text messages from their individual phones.
(This type of messaging is necessary if you want to send text messages on a mass scale, since it’s not feasible to manually send hundreds, thousands, or millions of messages at a time!)
Essentially, the general bottom line is that if you’re sending text messages to customers through an SMS platform, you’re engaging in A2P messaging. If you’re sending text messages to anyone (whether customers or friends and family members) via your personal phone, you’re engaging in P2P messaging. That’s because your texting is being done on an individual basis from your own personal device.
If you want to send texts for your business, you’ll need to find an SMS/MMS service that gives you A2P phone numbers you can use to send messages. If you try to send business texts to customers via a P2P phone number, your messages will likely get filtered out as spam and get prevented from being delivered.
The 2 main SMS methods businesses are currently using to send A2P messages are registered 10-digit long codes (10DLCs) and dedicated short codes (these are often short 5- or 6-digit numbers and are costlier to set up than 10DLCs).
To sum, we can borrow from Statista’s definition: “A2P SMS are short text messages sent by businesses and companies to their clients as a way to deliver informational or promotional material.”
And that’s the gist of A2P. If you want more details, keep reading…
An A2P 10DLC (10-digit long code) is a 10-digit phone number with a local geographic area code that can be used to send text messages from an application to individual recipients.
In other words, it’s a phone number that looks like a “normal” P2P phone number but it allows you to send business texts to your recipient list.
To obtain an A2P 10DLC, businesses must go through a registration process with the mobile carriers, which can typically be done by submitting a form through the provider of your SMS platform or API provider. This registration process includes providing some information about your business, messaging use cases, and the expected message volume. The carriers then review and verify this information to ensure compliance with industry regulations and best practices.
Unregistered 10DLC’s are typically only meant for P2P messaging, so if you try to send A2P messages via an unregistered 10DLC, your message will likely get flagged as spam and be prevented from being delivered.
Other sending options for A2P messaging include text-enabled toll-free (TETF) phone numbers and short codes.
In our experience, TETF numbers tend to have more delivery issues than 10DLC, even if those TETF numbers have been pre-registered and vetted by the mobile carriers.
Short codes (typically 5 or 6 digits) are the best option in regards to messaging speed and successful delivery, but they are costlier to set up and lease than other options.
To get an A2P 10DLC so that you can send A2P text messages to your subscriber list, you just need to set one up within your SMS platform.
For example, in the Mobile Text Alerts platform you can simply select your desired area code, pay the appropriate fees (if applicable), and fill out a brief registration form. We would then submit the form on your behalf and you would be registered once your form is approved by the mobile carriers.
Some plans would include an A2P 10DLC for free, while others may require a minimal charge.
You can always add or remove 10DLCs if you decide you need more or that you don’t need one.
The process for obtaining an A2P short code is a bit more involved than a 10DLC.
With short codes, the mobile carriers do more vetting. You’ll fill out a similar “registration” application as you would with a 10DLC, but you do have to pay a significant upfront application fee.
The process then takes several weeks for the mobile carriers to review and approve before your phone number can be live. This whole process is fairly manual, so you would get in touch with a sales rep to help initiate things and to keep them moving.
Short codes are desirable because they provide the best and quickest deliverability. Since they’re short, they also provide a better user experience, because it’s easy for people to remember and type in the phone number. (This is especially important if you incorporate text-to-join keywords to allow people to opt in to your text list, since you want to make it as easy as possible for people to text in - so that they can subscribe to receive your messages.)
A2P messaging is text messaging that originates from an “application” (or a business) rather than from an individual. In essence, if texts are being sent via an SMS platform or API rather than personally from someone’s own device, it could be considered an A2P message.
We’ve touched on this concept already above, but now let’s elaborate a bit more.
A2P messaging can include any range of messages, from sales promotions, customer service notices, transactional notifications, event reminders, appointment confirmations, or anything in between.
A2P messaging can be accomplished through either SMS (text-only messages) or MMS (media messages).
Here are some examples:
One of the most common uses of A2P messaging is for marketing—sales, promotions, product launches, or any other marketing-related communication effort.
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Texting is conversational and personal. Recognizing this, more and more businesses are using SMS to go about customer service initiatives.
Support Update: Hi [Customer Name], we've received your support ticket regarding account access. Our team is working on it. We apologize for any inconvenience and we thank you for your patience! We'll notify you once resolved. For further assistance, respond to this text.
Hi [Customer Name], we're upgrading our systems for enhanced performance. During this time, there might be a brief service interruption from 1 AM to 3 AM. We apologize for any inconvenience caused.
We’d love to hear about your recent purchase! What could we have done to make it better?
Text messages are a quick, efficient, and effective way to send a quick transactional notice prompted by something your customer has done, or by an update your customer would want to know.
Account Verification: Hi [Customer Name], your verification code is 987654. This code will expire in 10 minutes. Please use it to complete your account setup.
Order Confirmed! 🛍️ Thank you for shopping at Style Haven. Your order #123456 is confirmed. Items will be shipped within 24 hrs. Need assistance? Reply ASSIST. Track your order at [link]
Delivery Update 🚚 Hi [Customer Name], your package is out for delivery and will arrive today between 2 PM to 5 PM. Track your order at [link]
Anyone looking to boost attendance to an event should give texting a try. Since everyone actually reads all of their texts (unlike email), you’re more likely to get people’s attention so that they actually attend your event.
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A2P texting can be used for any other variety of purposes. Here are just a few examples…
Happy Birthday, [Customer Name]! 🎉 Wishing you a day filled with joy and celebration. As a token of our appreciation, use code BDAY10 for 10% off your next purchase! Shop here: [link]
Subscription Renewal Reminder: Hi [Customer Name], your premium subscription is expiring soon. Don't miss out on uninterrupted access! Renew now: [link]
Hi [Applicant Name], your application for the Marketing Manager position is currently under review. We'll notify you of further updates. Thank you!
Whether you want to engage in A2P 10DLC messaging or short code messaging, you can get the process started now with no commitment.
You can simply get a free trial account to see how it all works so that you can play around with it and see how you might want to go about things for your business.
Get a free trial now (no card required) and try it for yourself.
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