Welcome and thank you for spending time reading UNICEL’s blog.

As one of the pioneers of the cloud communications market in India, we at UNICEL have always felt that we enjoy a unique vantage point of the communications market.  Not only do we get the opportunity to hear from so many enterprise customers, we also get to see numerous innovative uses of the technology, we interact with telecom operators on a daily basis to see how they are approaching the market, and we experience the ups and downs of the regulatory environment.  With so much going on everyday, we felt launching a blog was the perfect way to both share the learnings from our experience, but also hear back from our readers.  We hope you find some of our blog entries interesting as we continue our quest to simplify the lives of mobile users across the globe.

Thanks again, and happy reading !

mGage acquires Bangalore based Unicel Technologies

Mumbai, 11 May 2015: mGage, a global leader in mobile multi-channel messaging, has acquired Unicel Technologies, a Bangalore, India based mobile messaging company.  Unicel is a market leader providing integrated cloud communications solutions across SMS, Voice, USSD and e-mail platforms in India. With this acquisition, mGage is now the dominant player in the enterprise mobile marketing and mobile CRM market in India.

As a combined organization, mGage will enable more than 60 Billion transactions annually. mGage’s expanded multi-channel mobile engagement platform has the newest and most advanced messaging features with retargeting capabilities including SMS, Voice, Email, USSD, Push Notifications and OTT. The mGage multi-channel platform serves more than 1,000 blue-chip brands, enterprises and partners through a network of more than 800 mobile operators around the world.

“Success in the mobile engagement market today is dependent on the depth of a company’s solutions, the expertise of its team, and its global scale” – Jay Sheth, CEO of mGage said. “And I am excited that mGage now leads the industry in each of these areas subsequent to the Unicel acquisition.”

mGage’s platform serves both traditional brand marketers as well as customer care organizations within the enterprise, giving companies the ability to reach consumers across the entire customer lifecycle, from acquisition to service to retention. As a result, mGage is the go-to partner for the world’s most consumer-savvy enterprises across a variety of industries — banking, retail, media, e-Commerce, telecommunications, automotive, travel, hospitality, and Government agencies.

Deepak Goyal, COO of mGage India, said, “With the coming together of mGage and Unicel, we are the market leader in our industry within India.  The two organizations together have an unparalleled breadth of innovative solutions that can help our customers take maximum advantage of the rapidly expanding mobile opportunity.”  

Vinay Agrrawal, founder of Unicel commented, “We are extremely excited to become part of the mGage family and believe that the marriage of the two companies will enable us to deliver even greater value to our customers.”

Equirus Capital served as transaction advisor for this deal.

About mGage

mGage, a portfolio company of GSO Capital Partners LP, the credit arm of Blackstone, is the one of the largest and most experienced mobile engagement company in the world. Serving over 1,000 brands across 200 countries and 6 continents, mGage powers billions of mobile interactions across mobile channels including: SMS, MMS, push, voice, social, digital wallet, social messaging apps and more. As a Tier 1 aggregator in India, US and UK, mGage has direct connectivity to the major wireless carriers through a best-in-class campaign management platform and powerful, open APIs.


About Unicel Technologies Private Limited

Based in Bangalore and founded in 2003, Unicel provides Integrated Cloud Communications Solutions across SMS, Voice, USSD, and Email. Unicel provides a complete range of communications services through APIs that customers can directly integrate into their applications, SaaS based applications built by Unicel to meet many common business requirements and customized solutions tailor made to business-specific needs. Company’s clientele includes over 1,000 enterprises across India including various Fortune 500 brands.


5 Best Practices for Effective SMS Marketing

SMS marketing has gained in popularity in recent years given the incredible ease with which marketers can develop and deploy campaigns and the power of one-to-one communication with an SMS that can evoke an instant response from a customer. SMS also provides the ability to effectively measure campaign performance through the use of a ‘call-to-action’ from the customer. The flexibility to quickly test different campaigns provides much lower costs and turnaround time compared to many other forms of marketing. For example, an A/B testing on SMS is more viable than say on TV or E-Mail. However, when marketers choose to use SMS marketing, it is important to understand the strengths and limitations of the medium to get the most out of the campaigns.

We discuss below the top 5 Best Practices for effective SMS campaigns –

  1. Use Proven Mobile Nos. Databases

Databases containing mobile nos. are used for undertaking SMS campaigns. Often Marketers source databases from the grey market and these are mostly overused and can be quite inaccurate with outdated user details. Databases built in-house and fine-tuned over a period of time are way more reliable in terms of a good delivery percentage and quality of responses. So it is best to do campaigns on one’s own database, or at a minimum, on databases from reputable vendors. The criticality of the database is also closely linked to the nature of the product. Though generally mass appeal products work best for SMS campaigns, more niche products can also be used effectively as long as a highly targeted and accurate database is available.

  1. Keep the Content Simple, and Interesting

The SMS content is one of the largest factors for the success of a campaign. Only a content which is simple, interesting and easy to understand will have the desired impact and elicit the much needed user response. Proper punctuation, grammar and readability also go a long way in creating the right impression. Including a ‘special offer’ helps the message stand out from the rest of the offerings in the market, and has a high chance of improving customer responses. Brand names also help lend credibility to the offering and hence should be mentioned in the content.

  1. Have a Straight-Forward Call-To-Action

An SMS content needs to have a user call-to-action that conveys what is exactly expected of the recipient to show his interest in the product on offer. The call-to-action, more often than not, needs to be kept simple. A long winded call-to-action will end up blurring what is expected of the respondent and can lead to response errors. Even for something as simple as a keyword response as the call to action, the chosen keyword should have as few letters as possible as this will eliminate the possibility of the end user making typos while responding. Responses with typos may not get captured by the system and these can form a sizable chunk and sometimes can make or break a campaign.

  1. Call-To-Action Must Suit Campaign Objectives

Depending on the breadth and quality of responses required from the campaign, the call-to-action needs to be suitably crafted. For example, a company with limited resources may want to focus on getting responses only from serious buyers. So the call-to-action needs to convey the same – for example, ‘To buy, send XXX to 55555. On the other hand, a company with a large and experienced sales force may want to get responses even from people just fishing for information – for example, ‘For details, send XXX to 55555’. In the latter case, where there is no commitment required from the recipient to make a purchase, the responses can be about 20-25% higher. Also, the response quality and quantity vary with the channels used for gathering user responses. Responses on short-code are fewer in number but they tend be of better quality. Missed-Call responses, on the other hand, get about 3X more responses but the quality is comparatively a bit poorer.

  1. Choose the Right Day and Time

The day and time of the campaign can affect the campaign’s effectiveness as different target groups will have different profiles around when they are likely to respond to an SMS. Accordingly, one should decide the day and time of the campaign to have maximum impact. For example, a campaign meant for students can ideally be done in early evening when they have spare time from their morning grind of lectures and college. The ideal time to run campaigns meant for working professionals could be late mornings when they would have settled down at work after the morning rush and have the time to look and respond to SMSes. It is also seen that the response rate is up to 20% lesser during holidays and weekends – likely because the chances of people being physically away from their phones are higher. For any campaign, it is often best to do fresh iterations to arrive at the ideal day and time for the campaign.

SMS Marketing has a definite place in the overall scheme of marketing with its purpose and value being distinct from other forms. A clear understanding on the kind of products and the target groups, for which SMS Marketing works well, is the key to getting the desired results.

Cloud Communications: Enhancing the E-Commerce Experience

Excerpt from blog on computer.financialexpress.com

E-commerce in India has been a hotbed of activity lately. The entire consumer experience is seeing a major transformation through greater product choice, transparent pricing and an unmatched convenience. On one hand, buying online offers great convenience, on the other, there is an absence of personalized assistance which one normally gets in a physical store. Due to economies of scale, the online stores are able to offer dynamic discounts across categories. Marketing in such an environment can be a challenge and it needs to be very agile.

Cloud Communications can be an important enabler in helping e-commerce companies in ensuring there is personalized consumer engagement throughout the purchase cycle and also in executing effective and near real-time marketing campaigns. Cloud Communications form an indispensable link between the ‘faceless’ seller and the consumer. Despite a steady rate of adoption of smart phones and computers with internet connections, it is interesting to note that a vast majority of users in India still do not have an internet connection that is readily accessible, reliable and affordable.

Communication sent using SMS and Voice channels is delivered directly to the end user without being filtered by spam filters as can be the case with e-mail. These two modes are also not dependent on internet thus making them a near fool-proof way in ensuring that all the important communication reaches the consumer.

There can be numerous use-cases of using Cloud Communications in e-commerce. The moment a product is bought, an SMS is sent to the customer, confirming the order. A first time buyer choosing Cash-on-Delivery gets an automated voice call requiring him to double confirm the order. The verification process greatly eliminates the processing of frivolous orders, thus saving time and effort. After a product is dispatched, another communication is sent to the buyer with complete details on the consignment to enable effortless order tracking. When the product is about to be delivered, another update is sent mentioning the expected time of delivery. This ensures the user is available to collect the order and thus reduces the cost of delivery and importantly reduces even the cash collection cycle in case of COD. From the point of view of tracking customer service levels, either of SMS, interactive Voice Call or e-mail is sent to the user who can readily share feedback. This feedback data can readily be collated and analyzed.

E-commerce companies have also been increasingly using cloud communications solutions for their marketing activities. An example is, informing the shoppers about a ‘deal of the day’ or a ‘flash sale’. Communicating on SMS or Voice, to a targeted audience would perhaps get higher responses when compared with other modes of communication where the chances of the customer reading the message ‘after’ the deal is over, are more. These solutions give companies the ability to conceptualize and even roll-out a deal, all on the same day. Also, since the probability of non-delivery of communication here is extremely less, enterprises continue to depend heavily on SMS and Automated Calls for end-user communication.

As e-commerce continues to evolve, companies would explore newer and more innovative ways to engage their customers. Cloud Communications would be a critical enabler to this end with companies continuing to leverage Cloud Communications both as a basic necessity of operation and as a seamless aid to enhance overall consumer experience.

Cloud Communications has just begun

Today a majority of the enterprises are well-down the path of deciding how cloud communications can be leveraged to have more cohesive organizations, and customers who are fully engaged. Communication over SMS, Voice, E-Mail and USSD has begun to gain wider acceptance with organizations effectively using these services to meet their objectives. Over the last few years, SMS in particular, has been extensively used by organizations to fulfill a huge majority of the communication requirements. Indian enterprises are however, beginning to realize that SMS is not the silver bullet for all communications requirements. As customers become more demanding, enterprises are looking to become more nuanced in how they communicate

Other cloud communication channels can perhaps offer a much powerful interface for fulfilling an organization’s communication needs. For example, automated voice services can provide a highly interactive communication platform in a way that SMS cannot, while also providing local language interaction that is so critical in a market like India where various regional languages are spoken. Also, as internet penetration increases enterprises are seeing email as a critical element of their customer communication strategy. While traditionally Indian enterprises would attempt to extend their in-house email system for customer communications as well, they have realized that such systems are neither scalable enough, nor do they have the required functionality for effectively tracking communications to their customers. And as quality of interaction becomes much more critical than quantity of interaction, the ability to do intelligent analytics on communications is absolutely critical.

Even other mobile technologies, such as USSD, have seen significant regulatory involvement in helping overcome the inter-operator technical barriers that had limited the effectiveness of such technologies in India.

To meet these changing needs, cloud communications providers have a unique opportunity to provide an incredibly rich set of communications solutions for enterprises. Though the regulatory situation has significantly improved, history suggests that one must expect the unexpected. With more than a dozen telcos still active in India, and with telcos remaining a critical part of the vendor equation, cloud communications providers must know how and when to cultivate relationships with the right telcos. Competition in India will always be fierce, and thus competitive advantage must be an area of constant reinvention. Customers are also incredibly demanding, and so providers must be nimble and ready to provide whatever support is required for success.

Today many providers in India provide point solutions across many elements of the cloud communications landscape. But few, if any, are focused on building a unified communications platform that enables enterprises to effortlessly pick and integrate across communication media, while also providing multiple off-the-shelf applications that can instantly address many enterprise pain points. UNICEL believes that technology expertise and customer insight is at the heart of being able to deliver on that promise, and that is exactly what we have always sought to do. Having completely redesigned our service delivery platform based on these concepts, we have already integrated voice, USSD, and email services onto a single platform that we use to deliver our SMS services, and we are constantly inventing innovative new solutions to enhance enterprise communications.

Two-Way Messaging solution to put you on the fast lane to Interactivity

2Way Messaging_july 30 wordpress-01

Due to today’s dynamic way of how a business is conducted, more employees, customers, vendors and alike are working while on the move and using mobile devices and cloud services to perform day to day business tasks. The need of the hour is to make structured data available with the stake holder that drives mobile enabled communication in a secured manner. Also a system is required for increasing the interaction with mobile users and engaging them in every possible way. Two-Way Messaging Solutions serves the purpose aptly. It helps Enterprises have a global reach, ensure quality service and a secured mechanism to distribute and access corporate data. The solution brings to you the ease of a web enabled application on any phone and related devices, anywhere and everywhere. This in turn helps in achieving high productivity level, save time, cost and enhance the response level resulting in a rich customer delight.

Two-Way Messaging solutions empower enterprises by engaging its community across the globe. The interactivity and the global reach that the solution provides, it helps to engage customers and employees with ease in meaningful interactions in a secured manner. This in turn supports business functions, works as effective PR and accelerates reactions.

Two-Way Messaging has proved to be enhancing operational efficiencies and increased interactivity for enterprises when it comes to dealing with customers and employees. . The younger workers who’re used to texting their friends can use Two-way solutions to interact with their colleagues. Two-Way texting is useful in institutions where the employees deal with sensitive or confidential information. Secure texting makes sure that they keep track of the exchange of information while at the same time, speeding up processes.

With an enterprise texting solution, companies can better enforce corporate messaging policies, thereby making it easier for employees to find and connect with co-workers. Companies in Retail, Healthcare and Financial industries are particularly attracted to this solution since it allows colleagues to engage in secure texting when dealing with confidential information such as patient information etc

An Indian Retail giant has recently introduced the enterprise texting services to reduce the lead time of procurement and distribution. The Two-Way Messaging system has helped the Retail Giant not only cut the cost, but also create a better response management from their vendor pan India. For eg: if a buyer of a certain category requires any product, he simply sends an SMS from the phone. The message is instantly delivered to all the vendors in the given location. The vendors in turn revert with a text stating the pricing and quantity available. This helps the Retail giant in making a quick comparison and helps him save lot of time and money. The material is procured and delivered at the lowest possible cost with a click of a button.

 A multinational healthcare organization has enabled enterprise texting to help the doctors and nurses interact with different departments while carrying out their activities. The fact that these messages can alert the recipient as well as the sender as to when it’s been delivered or read makes it that much more easier for them to keep track of responses. For example, if a nurse texts a doctor, she knows when the message was delivered and read. If a doctor is with a patient, he can instantly text the appropriate people in different departments instead of going to a computer and emailing them. Therefore it cuts down processes and delays.

Two-Way Messaging Solution and Virtual Number

Most Two-Way messaging solutions use a short or long code. UNICEL enables Two-way messaging using a a virtual number which is a ten digit number that is accessible to all mobile users across the globe to receive SMS or Voice calls. An Enterprise can have their unique Virtual Number with minimal cost. As for the receiver, interaction via a Virtual Number is highly affordable compared to a Short Code.

UNICEL owns to its credit of being the pioneer of virtual number in India. During its decade plus of existence, the company has implemented the Virtual Number solutions across different industries to affect the lives of millions of people on a daily basis. Some of the key business that have successfully applied this solution includes BFSI, BPO services, IT industries, Stock Exchange, Retail etc.

Advantages of UNICEL Two-Way Messaging Solutions

Two-Way Messaging Solutions completes your interaction cycle. Responses to mobile users can be initiated via SMS, a Voice call or an E-Mail.

Here’s a list of just a few advantages of integrating UNICEL Two-Way Messaging Solutions to your Enterprise Application:

  • Increases interaction: It increases the speed of response since your customers have the option of responding to your messages right away from a mobile phone. This also helps them engage in the activity as soon as possible rather than be distracted by other things.
  • Gives a personal touch to your business: Two-way Messaging allows businesses to stay in touch with customers since it creates a dialogue. This gives business a personal aspect to it. In this day and age when customers feel invisible in the mass labelled as target audience, this is best way to reach out and retain customers.
  • Global Reach: UNICEL Two-Way Messaging Solutions allows users to remain in touch and effective regardless of their location or devices, thereby extending the everyday essential business communication and productivity tools – the need of today’s business.
  • Works as PR for the company: Communicating directly with the customer can complement marketing and PR initiatives by using dynamic, interactive campaigns.
  • Cost Effective: While it is very easy to implement, it is very cost effective too. Two-Way Messaging Solutions offered by UNICEL comes packed with a SaaS based UI which is user friendly and requires less technological know-how. The services can be accessed from the basic mobiles phones available in the market and thus further reduces the cost of smart phone procurement and mobile application development.
  • Ease of Accessibility & Implementation: Since the responses can be initiated via SMS and a Voice call apart from an E-Mail the derived benefits of the solution can be utilised by even a basic mobile phone user. There are no geographical boundaries when it comes to the implementation of the system and the simplicity of the system makes its very user friendly.

How to incorporate UNICEL Two-Way Messaging Solutions into your business

UNICEL  Two-Way Messaging Solutions allows customers and enterprises to interact with each other using UNICEL’s Virtual Number platform. UNICEL allocates a 10-digit Virtual Number, medium code or a short code to enterprises which they can publish to customers asking them to send SMSes.

UNICEL  hosts these numbers on its virtual number platform. Customers of enterprises who have subscribed to Two-way messaging services from UNICEL can communicate with the enterprise by sending an SMS to these virtual numbers.

Enterprises are given the option to configure static or keyword specific auto-responses via SMSes. SMSes received on these virtual numbers can be forwarded to enterprises as an email or an API. The API integration can organize the required internal action and provide a proactive response as an API Echo itself.

The entire behavior of the two-messaging can be controlled on UNICEL’s Two-Way Messaging UI that offers a comprehensive business rule creation wizard.

Evolution of Cloud Communications

(Excerpt from blog on ET Telecom.com)

The topic of ‘cloud’ has become a hot topic for enterprises as they seek to become more agile in the face of a rapidly changing market. However, one of the biggest areas of enterprise IT spend for which cloud technologies have only started to scratch the surface is in the area of communications. Given the accelerating changes in how workforces and customer bases are becoming more distributed, more mobile, and more demanding, the need for cloud technologies in communications has never been greater. Fortunately this is beginning to change, as many companies have started to focus on how communications can be delivered much more effectively over the cloud, providing greater functionality, flexibility, and value to both enterprises and customers alike. At the same time, given its close dependence on the telecom market more broadly, cloud communications companies have had to face a unique set of technical and regulatory challenges to deliver on their promise.

In many parts of the world, the cloud communications market was kick-started through the emergence of Voice over IP (VoIP) technologies Today a wide range of cloud communications companies have emerged to offer highly innovative and easy to use voice-based services delivered over the cloud, with all the requisite benefits of cloud-based delivery models. Through these services, enterprises are able to build call center applications on the fly, send OTPs/codes over voice calls, and integrate click-to-call features on websites, just to name a few common use cases. Over time, these companies have also aggressively expanded into similar services delivered over SMS, USSD, and other emerging platforms as well. All these services have the simple objective of seamlessly providing a wide range of communications options without any of the technical or cost barriers of using traditional telecom services.

In India too, the cloud communications market has been a hotbed of activity and in many ways has led the West in terms of its development, though the market has evolved quite differently.   Enterprise Messaging, or the more commonly used term ‘Bulk SMS,’ has been the killer application that found almost universal acceptance across industries. Unfortunately, this market was almost too successful for its own good, as ‘use’ turned into ‘misuse.’ This was largely due to regulations that struggled to keep up with the rapidly evolving market, and the famous ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ of the Indian market for exploiting loopholes in the regulatory framework.

Fortunately, the tide has begun to change. In the last 2-3 years, the Indian regulatory scenario has seen a sea change with a clear and strict set of guidelines for ‘Do-Not-Call’, along with closing of loopholes that allowed players to circumvent the regulations. Cloud-based voice services, which have languished in India compared to other markets, has seen the emergence of several promising start-ups. Simultaneously, the regulatory sentiment is changing with regard to opening up VoIP services, which should hopefully become a huge enabler of a much richer set of use cases.

As we look ahead to the future, we believe that there will continue to be tremendous opportunities for innovation in the cloud communications market in India, and we look forward to being a key player in shaping that future.