BSG is one of the biggest suppliers in the SMS industry. The company created Testelium, an independent SMS testing platform. Eugenia Vitvinova, Head of Routing at BSG, shares her long-time professional experience.
Why do you need to test SMS messages? How can you ensure that you deliver messages successfully?
In this interview, you will find everything you need about routing and bulk SMS testing. With the help of this information, you will be able to know how to launch successful SMS testing campaigns.
For further details about the Testelium platform, please contact: [email protected]
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As far as I know, the team developed the Testelium platform because of BSG’s need. How was this need articulated?
The testing system was designed and launched in-house before I joined the company. In my opinion, any SMS business can not operate without a testing system. When you release any routes to the clients, you must test them and ensure their quality.
The testing helps to detect the route’s quality and understand the routes’ characteristics.
In particular, we want to know what conditions SMS messages should have upon sending.
For example, technical SMS encodings vary depending on the type of text used. It can be, Unicode, or Latin encodings. Unicode includes Cyrillic, Arabic script, hieroglyphs, and others. So, the content of the message determines the encodings. The encoding specifies the test message templates or the test content written manually. It also impacts the test result: will it be successful or not? Incorrect encoding will harm the test result.
Testing allows you to understand the characteristics of the SMS route, with which sender names,, and what kind of text with what elements could be possible on this route for sending. Usually, testing any product and service is compulsory to confirm its quality before selling.
Hence, the company that provides SMS services should leverage at least one, two, or even three testing systems. They should be integrated into their platform or have compatible technical capacities. BSG has always been using two testing systems for route optimization. We use these tests to compare the results and identify if there are any inconsistencies or bugs, as well as detect additional characteristics of our routes.
How did you choose a test tool to create Testelium?
Usually, we take into account several parameters.
The first one is the ability to integrate with the platform. The software can be great, but if integration with the platform is faulty, it would be impossible to run tests.
The second important factor is coverage. If the test system runs tests only for a few countries, it significantly narrows the area of use and makes it impossible to test some countries and regions.
The third factor is price. It is about volumes and payment terms. For example, many companies work only on a prepayment basis, meaning you first have to buy a package with a certain number of texts, and only then can you run tests.
Later, companies can deal with post-payment agreements when there is already a credit history. Changing the plan and flexible rates are also vital. For example, we need many tests this month, and next month we need a few tests. And if the company can adjust the pricing plans quickly enough and flexibly for the client under such conditions, certainly this will be a determining factor.
The fourth factor is changing the system’s used mobile numbers. It should always be possible to exclude the so-called whitelisting of the test numbers. It is also crucial that the numbers are always active and exactly match the operator upon test. For example, if a test system states that a given number belongs to Vodafone, it must belong to Vodafone.
Can it be otherwise?
Yes, and Testelium can detect this. It happens when one company buys over an operator’s range from another and doesn’t implement changes on time. If, for example, a ported number appears instead of a non-ported number, it is difficult to test the route.
When something like this happens in Testelium’s operations, we have a chat with our colleagues from the company’s support team, where we name the number and describe what it should be and what it is that doesn’t match. Our colleagues try, if possible, to block the number or replace it with another one.
Another essential factor is coverage. For example, you might use a testing system that outreaches 5 or 10 countries. It might be enough for small companies. On the other side, Testelium provides broad coverage with many countries available for testing, which would benefit big telecom companies.
Recently, we have compared the following commercial offers for testing systems from different providers.
Usually, the companies have three proposals:
- 4 countries for testing,
- 10 countries for testing, or even
- 35 countries for testing.
However, there are much more countries in the world. There are top-rated countries, but at the same time, we can’t forget about less favored regions.
What are the benefits of SMS testing?
Firstly, testing allows us to obtain features and characteristics. With their help, we can promptly evaluate the quality of the route and check the quality stability.
Secondly, it helps us to maintain the quality of the messaging.
You should run tests twice:
– before selling the route,
– after the purchase, and in actual traffic conditions.
It is also about testing the route dynamics during different periods, like the time of the day and certain weekdays. It helps to detect possible sending options after setting up the route.
Are there cases when the company might stop running tests or reduce its volumes?
There are different reasons for testing.
For example, you got a route directly from the carrier. You have run tests and written down its characteristics, the traffic is stable, and there are no complaints from clients or failures. In this case, you might stop testing, as the only possible reason for a loss will be related to the operator’s issues or network’s accidents.
But if we are acquiring a route from a partner, we need to double-check its quality. We need to ensure that there is no route replacement and that nothing compromising might lead to quality and/or stability deterioration. It is essential if the link is under traffic loading.
In this case, you need to make tests regularly, at least in the first stages of its operations. The goal here is to keep it on the same level of quality.
Besides the failures, testing allows for detecting the route replacement.
There are other vital paraments like the SMS center’s number or sender ID. You can find changes too.
You can catch this “surprise” by testing and response sending a notification about the route quality to its provider.
If the results are positive and the route is stable, you can send traffic further.
Once the route manager detects changing the route characteristics or quality, we contact the supplier to clarify the deterioration.
The same goes for the case when the delivery rate of the live route goes down. Route testing helps to detect and remove a problem by means of the route substitution by the redundant one.
Why might you need to increase the quantity of the test?
There are several reasons.
First, the intense testing happens on live traffic or due to managers’ requests at a specific time (for example, at 4:26 PM).
Second, running tests when there is a task to send traffic under particular characteristics and sender names.
Thirdly, we need to test when releasing new products, new routes, new carrier connects, and new providers.
In the latest case, we set up new bids, and the provider gives access to the links (routes) we need to check before releasing them to end-point customers.
When connecting a new carrier, we review the characteristics and run significant test volumes to ensure the high quality of the route.
Fourth, you need to have updated route features for weekly commercial offers. It can include the links you need to test before launching them.
Fifth, we perform regular route monitoring given multiple requests and complaints.
Sixth, our support team processes the target routes that the client notifies. The first step here is to send a request to the provider. He might inform about fixed route changing, editing, or malfunctioning. However, we also prefer to run tests ourselves instead of just trusting the notifications.
Finally, for example, in our company, the test system is the Testelium platform, which has great flexibility in coverage and other characteristics. Therefore, the additional test system is only used as a backup for comparison or additional route verification.
What test report indicators have the most value and affect your performance?
If you mean test results under the report, then, I will highlight the next points:
the sender name the message come under;
the content of the message: can the route send the messages with Latin or Unicode encoding (with Cyrillic included as well); it is also important to see if the text is sent without any substitution and if any text is cut out. Besides, operators in some countries could require adding some symbols.
the delivery speed;
the changes in sender’s name;
It can prove the validity of the report (is it a real or a fake delivery report).
At the same time, with Testelium, we can see the more profound characteristics, for example, the following:
- the SMS center of the route;
- the testing number.
The last aspect is extremely convenient when we encounter a problematic delivery, as we need to send requests to the providers, and we don’t need to spend a lot of time finding a mobile number. We can copy it from the system’s interface and send it directly to the provider’s tech team.
We use testing results in the same manner when we are selling the route or during the route evaluation and exchange between SMS hubs and aggregators.
For example, our business partner doesn’t have its own testing systems, and its end-point client surely doesn’t own it too. However, they both need to see the testing results. We make print screens of the result, as it helps us to ensure that the chosen route is working correctly. We provide print screens with route numbers and mobile testing numbers. It is our inner route database.
In your opinion, why don’t other SMS aggregators and hub use testing?
I think it is more of a philosophical question.
Small companies might not have enough resources, and they are more worried about their expenses than considering the results that might be achieved.
It is pretty hard for me to answer this question, because testing is an essential requirement for us. The companies that don’t have a testing system, often sell the route and immediately ask us to send the testing result to them. Perhaps, this type of provider is trying to test their routes using our efforts. It is pretty obvious, and in this case, we have several scenarios.
Scenario one. The company doesn’t have the resources to acquire a testing system and run regular testing.
Scenario two. Though the company is small and lacks resources, it understands that testing will bring additional income in the future. They get that they can invest a rather small sum into testing, but then increase the profits by selling quality routes.
Maybe, some small companies don’t consider such an approach the right one. Maybe, some of them are testing at the expense of others. Maybe, they just don’t know that a testing system can simplify their lives.
Maybe, some businesses have custom testing systems, but they often have limited capacities.
For example, the company started to use tests for narrow coverage. It might be the only several countries where entrepreneurs have bought a few numbers and started to run testing by themselves.
If the company expands, turns into an international business, and changes its focus to the whole world instead of just its region, it would be impossible to survive further without a testing system.
Thank you for your interest!
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