In today’s hyper-connected world, businesses need to be on more than just one communication channel to engage their customers effectively. Whether you are notifying them about a product/service, providing customer support, or confirming their orders, your customers want to hear from you on the communication channels they use daily. Some may prefer live chat within your app or website. For others, it may be text, WhatsApp, email, phone call, or Facebook Messenger. Not really up to you!
To stay on top of your communication-with-customers game, frankly, you need help. You need a platform that does it all for you. One such platform is Twilio, which we are reviewing today.
Twilio is used and loved by thousands of businesses and millions of developers worldwide. But - is it for you or do you need to go with an alternative? Let’s find out!
What is Twilio?
Twilio is a cloud-based communication platform that allows developers to integrate communication features such as voice, video, messaging, and authentication into any software. The platform offers a viable set of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) for integration as well as client libraries and SDKs (Software Development Kits) for computer programming languages like Java, Java Script, Python and more.
An appealing aspect of Twilio is how its services are available on a pay-as-you-go basis. This is huge for developers or businesses that are on a budget when starting out with the platform. Because of its reliable and scalable communication features, which we will talk about in a moment, Twilio is widely finding applications in customer support systems, verification or authentication systems, reminders, notifications, etc.
Twillio comes packed with the ability to create an engaging and flexible voice experience.
With resources like Twilio's Voice SDKs at your disposal, you can quickly modify this experience to your taste as you go. Backed by the Twilio Super Network, the communication is high-quality and reliable. Besides, you get access to cloud-based private connections, unlimited scaling, and carriers from all over the world.
When programming your voice applications with Twilio, you can integrate call tracking, embedded calling, customizable alerts, multi-party calling with global dial-in, masked calling with temporary proxies, a scalable IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system, and more. Interestingly, there is a new AI-powered feature called Voice Intelligence, which is currently in beta. It generates actionable insights from your voice calls with an AI algorithm that analyzes the recorded calls. From a business point of view, it sounds perfect as these insights are first-hand and likely to be more reliable.
Another thing worth mentioning is that as a Twilio caller, your calls are Trust Hub-verified. It means that they are trusted by the recipients and have better odds of getting answered.
Twilio Video is a platform feature that enables you to build and embed custom video experiences into your software. You can add custom layouts and video backgrounds, thanks to Twilio's robust APIs and SDKs.
Twilio provides a cloud-based, scalable infrastructure with all the support you need (such as developer tools, documentation, reference applications, sample code, etc.) so you are all set to build and launch your software for Android, iOS, and JS. When it comes to video communication, stabilization of picture quality is of major importance. Lucky for you, video applications built with Twilio are optimized for all network conditions.
Other salient features of Twilio Video include AI-powered noise cancellation, prioritization of video tracks for specific participants with Network Bandwidth Profile API, network quality monitoring, and the ability to add animation, text, whiteboards, etc. for more engaging video communication.
MessagingX is a dedicated messaging platform on Twilio that you can leverage to talk to your customers across their preferred communication channels. Aside from the support for 1500+ global carriers, the platform offers reach into 180+ countries, which is ideal for businesses running their operations globally.
Twilio provides two APIs for messaging: Programmable Messaging API and Conversations API. The former is intended for one-way, transactional messaging with support for SMS, MMS, and WhatsApp. It is preferred for alerts, offers, promotions, and other marketing messages. The latter, however, is intended for two-way chat or conversations with support for SMS, MMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Google's Business Messages.
SendGrid Email API
In business, undelivered emails are nothing but missed opportunities. Well, not every email you send is going to land in the recipient's inbox but you sure can maximize your chances. Twilio SendGrid allows you to do that. Thanks to its flexible API and powerful, hybrid Mail Transfer Agent (MTA), the platform is equipped with features like automated queue handling and throttle risk detection, ensuring improved inbox placement.
Twilio SendGrid has added a new dashboard called Deliverability Insights, which provides insightful analytics and helps you improve your deliverability. The tool monitors primary metrics such as delivered mail, undelivered mail, processed mail, opened mail, etc. It also assesses delivery and open rates and tracks deliverability trends over time to determine the scope of improvement. Besides, the Deliverability Insights dashboard provides personalized guidance and dynamic recommendations based on the real-time analysis of your email program. It sounds perfect for avoiding bounces and blocks and boosting your email health.
The SendGrid Email API also allows for building, managing, and testing dynamic email templates. You can create custom email triggers for specific events. And there is quick and hassle-free integration via the cloud-based SMTP service.
Twilio Engage is a customer engagement platform that helps foster deeper relationships between businesses and customers. Unlike the data sold by third-party companies, it collects first-party customer data in real time that you can use to create personalized marketing campaigns on any communication channel. You can then manage and analyze those campaigns from a single, intuitive dashboard.
Twilio Engage is a combination of a native customer data platform and a native omnichannel that drives data-driven business growth. It also helps you build dynamic customer profiles from your real-time interaction with customers - no SQL expertise is needed. These profiles which are developed with a consented data collection process, help you know your customers better over time and identify potential opportunities for engagement.
Twilio Flex is a cloud-based engagement center that drives conversions from conversations with customers. This platform gives your customer service and sales teams the data and channel flexibility to deliver exceptional, personalized service.
With the help of detailed, first-hand customer profiles built with Twilio Segment, Flex makes the interactions with your customers feel more personal.
This platform is built on top of Twilio's Programmable Voice and Programmable SMS APIs and provides a variety of features such as omnichannel support, intelligent routing, and real-time reporting.
One of the key advantages of Twilio Flex is its flexibility as it allows for data integration from other CRM systems like Salesforce, Zendesk, etc.
Twilio Segment is a Customer Data Platform (CDP) - a place that houses data about every touchpoint and interaction between customers and your product or service. This database can be segmented in a number of ways, empowering you to generate highly personalized customer experiences across various channels. This practice helps you acquire more customers, boost brand loyalty, and grow lifetime value.
Here is how Twilio Segment works - it starts with collecting and structuring customer data into one centralized place. You can now filter out the bad data and use the good data to build relevant customer profiles. Then, it helps you activate these profiles to create personalized interactions with customers, for example, when promoting a new product or service.
Twilio has quite an interesting pay-as-you-go pricing model - which means that you only pay for the product or service you are using on the platform. Thus, the pricing is also individual for each product/service. For example, for Twilio Segment (Segment and Engage combined, there are three plans - Free, Team and Business. The Team plan costs $120 a month. The Business plan, however, offers custom pricing.
Twilio Flex costs $1 per active user hour or $150 per named user per month. The SMS/MMS pricing varies from country to country and starts at $0.0079 for sending and receiving SMS within the United States.
Moving on, the Programmable Voice pricing starts at $0.0085/min to receive and $0.013/min to make a voice call. To see a comprehensive list of all Twilio pricing, the official Twilio website is the best place. It is worth mentioning that there is also a free trial for some products and services.
Twilio’s feature-packed platform is not immune to some limitations either. To be clear, these limitations may hardly matter to most businesses or developers but they are worth a look. First, Twilio dashboards are not optimized for mobile use yet. Second, because of its vast scope, the platform may seem daunting to some, especially beginners. And finally, the pricing, which seems alright when using just one or two Twilio products, can start to really add up to a significant amount when using more and more products.
Undoubtedly, Twilio is an excellent communications platform that offers a wide array of APIs and customization options. It is sort of a complete package. And the best part is that you can even manage your cost as you scale your business, thanks to its pay-as-you-go pricing model.
But when compared to its competitors, it is ideal for businesses with low-volume requirements to go with less expensive options like Bandwidth. Thus, we would recommend Twilio for businesses that are looking to invest in their own communication infrastructure or upgrade the existing one.
If you are hesitant to pay for Twilio, it is a good thing that there is a free trial and a free plan for certain products/services. So, knock yourself out as there is nothing to lose!