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A2P messaging: definition, use cases, and how it compares to P2P

Alia Paavola
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Application-to-person messaging has become a popular way for businesses to communicate with customers and employees.

Below we share the definition of A2P messaging and how it differs from P2P. We also break down how businesses are using A2P messaging and discuss its benefits.

What is A2P messaging?

A2P messaging is a term for when businesses send SMS messages to mobile users via a software application or web browser. 

Mobile network operators like Verizon and AT&T consider all messages sent through Textline, or other SMS application platforms, to be A2P. 

A2P messaging is sometimes referred to as business text messaging, business SMS, or enterprise SMS. 

Businesses often use A2P messaging to send SMS marketing texts, appointment reminders, two-factor authentication codes, and more. 

There are three number types that can be used to send A2P messages: short codes, toll-free numbers, and 10-digit long code numbers.

How does A2P messaging differ from P2P messaging?

P2P messaging, or person-to-person messaging, is defined as two-way messaging between humans. This is the standard back-and-forth text communication you have with friends and family on your personal mobile device. P2P includes group messaging on a native mobile device and within dating applications like Tinder. 

On the other hand, A2P messaging is texts sent from an application to a mobile phone. This is likely to be the texts you receive from businesses.

Although the text messages received by your contact look the same for P2P and A2P, there is a difference in how the messages are delivered. 

For P2P SMS messaging, the messages are sent from the sender’s mobile device via a mobile service provider and delivered to the recipient. 

For A2P SMS messaging, the A2P messaging platform routes the message to an SMS gateway. From there, the message is translated and passed to the mobile service provider, which sends it to the desired recipient. 

The graphic below shows how A2P vs. P2P messages are delivered.

Flow of delivering P2P messages.
How P2P messages are delivered.
Flow of delivering A2P messages.
How A2P messages are delivered.

A2P messaging also grants users access to more features. This includes automatic replies and mass text messaging. 

A2P allows businesses to send text messages in bulk to many contacts at once. With mass messaging, if a customer replies to your message it will initiate a one-on-one conversation. 

A2P also allows businesses to automatically send messages without human intervention. This includes auto-replies for when a customer messages in after business hours or scheduling a mass message to send ahead of time. It also includes an automatic confirmation message sent after a customer places an order, for example. 

Examples of how businesses use A2P messaging

Businesses use A2P messaging to communicate important information with consumers, employees, leads, and potential candidates. Below we share a few examples.

Appointment reminders or confirmations

Use A2P messaging to send automated appointment reminders or confirmations to your clients. This will allow you to cut down on no-shows and help keep your business schedule on track. These messages span reservation reminders from restaurants and hotels, appointments for healthcare providers, service confirmations for home repair companies, and more.

Emergency alerts

Emergencies happen unexpectedly. Use A2P messaging to quickly alert your customers or employees. Using A2P messaging will allow you to get a text message to your target audience in a matter of seconds.

Order updates

Keep customers in the know about their orders using A2P messaging. Set an automatic message to trigger when a customer places an order, send shipping updates, or delivery confirmations.

Billing updates

Send customers text message updates about their outstanding bills. This includes payment reminders or payment confirmations.

Customer care

Use A2P to support customers. This includes using it for customer support, customer service, or account management. Add texting as a communication channel to resolve customer issues, answer questions quickly, or send reminders about upcoming contract lapses.

Two-factor authentication

A common way businesses use A2P messaging is for 2FA. Send customers an automatic message to confirm their identity.

SMS marketing messages

Use A2P messaging for promotional campaigns. Send offers, discounts, or abandoned cart reminders to customers.

Internal messaging

For businesses that have field workers, SMS is a great way to reach them. Send a text message blast to employees to notify them of important memos or ask if they can fill a last-minute shift.

Out-of-office messages

Set an automated out-of-office message to send to customers if they text into your business phone number and you are unavailable. Send them a text that triggers when your business is closed or you are on vacation.

Sales messages

Use A2P messaging to support your sales team. Allow sales members to reach out to their leads or contacts via an A2P platform to close more deals.


Use A2P messaging to text potential candidates about job openings. Use it to schedule interviews, remind candidates about interviews, and request additional information.

Thank you messages

Send a group of customers a thank you text message using an A2P messaging platform.

Fraud alerts

A common use case is sending SMS messages to alert customers to fraud or suspicious activity on their accounts. This is particularly common with financial institutions. 

Benefits of A2P messaging

There are many benefits of A2P messaging. Below we break down seven.

Increased reach

The reality is that 97 percent of Americans own a cell phone. This makes A2P messaging via SMS a great way to reach your customers.

Contacts see your message

A2P SMS is more effective than email. In fact, SMS has an average open rate of 98 percent, compared to 20 percent for email. Additionally, the response rate for SMS is 45 percent, compared to 6 percent for email.

Improved customer engagement and satisfaction

Businesses can improve customer satisfaction and engagement by using A2P messaging. That’s because it supports quickly responding to and communicating with customers. 

Reach customers quickly

A2P SMS messaging allows businesses to reach customers quickly and send updates immediately. In fact, the average text message is read within three minutes and responded to in 90 seconds. A2P is an easy way to get time-sensitive messages out. 

Reach many customers simultaneously

A2P messaging allows businesses to mass text. This means you can send one consistent message to many contacts at the same time. 

Automate parts of your workflow

With A2P platforms, you can automate SMS messages to send to customers at the right time. For example, you could get an SMS message to send every time a customer places an order. 

Flexible message formats

Most A2P services support both SMS and MMS. MMS allows you to send messages with larger character counts, photos, links, and more. 

The bottom line

A2P messaging is becoming popular in business communication. In fact, the global A2P messaging market size is expected to grow by more than $10 billion by 2025. 

That’s because A2P messaging allows businesses to engage with contacts where they are: their mobile phones. Use A2P for marketing, customer relationship management, and more. 

Textline is an application-to-person SMS provider built for businesses. No matter your use case, Textline can help you revolutionize customer communication. Book a demo or start a free trial today. 

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