What’s the True Cost of Adding Messaging to Your App?

Posted on January 25, 2023

The rise of messaging apps has transformed the way that people communicate, both personally and professionally. In recent years, messaging apps have become the most popular type of mobile app, with billions of users worldwide. This has made messaging a critical channel for businesses and organizations looking to engage with their customers and clients. 

The popularity of messaging apps is largely due to the convenience and efficiency they offer. Messaging apps allow users to quickly and easily send and receive messages, without having to place a call or wait for a response. This has made them the preferred means of communication for many people, particularly younger generations.

By offering a messaging feature, businesses can improve their communication and engagement with customers and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. But before you get started building messaging into an app, it’s important to understand the complete picture of what doing so will cost.

The Benefits of Adding Messaging to Your Company or Client’s App

Before you can evaluate whether something is worth the cost, you need to understand what value it brings. What benefits can you offer your company or client by adding messaging to their app, and how do those benefits translate into cost-savings or increased revenue?

How an app benefits from messaging depends on the type of app in question. However, some of the common financial benefits businesses look for when implementing messaging include:

  • Increased revenue – By adding messaging to an app, your company or client can create new revenue streams and generate additional income. For example, they could offer in-app messaging as a paid service or use messaging to promote products or services to users.
  • Improved customer engagement –  Messaging can help to improve customer engagement and retention, which can lead to increased revenue over time. By providing a convenient and efficient way for customers to communicate with a business, your company or client can create stronger relationships and build customer loyalty.
  • Reduced customer support costs – Messaging can help to reduce the cost of customer support by enabling customers to quickly and easily get the information they need without having to contact a company directly. This can help to reduce the number of customer support inquiries and the associated costs.
  • Enhanced customer experience – By providing a messaging feature in your app, you can create a more engaging and personalized experience for your company or client’s customers. This can help to differentiate their app from competitors and drive customer loyalty and retention.

Related: How to Use APIs to Create Customized Business Solutions

Build Versus Buy

Once you know the financial benefits your company or client will receive from a messaging app, you need to decide whether you’ll build out your own messaging API or use an existing one. This is a crucial decision that impacts the final cost considerably. In fact, you could end up spending a lot of money and getting very little benefit. Some of the key tradeoffs to consider include:

  • Cost – Building your own messaging API can be a costly and time-consuming process, as it requires significant investment in infrastructure, development, and ongoing maintenance. In contrast, using a commercial messaging API can be more cost-effective, as it typically involves a one-time or recurring fee, without the need for your company or client to make a significant upfront investment.
  • Flexibility – Building your own messaging API can provide flexibility and control over the messaging capabilities of your company or client’s app or website, but the tradeoff is notable — you’ll be limited by your time and ability to maintain your API in an ongoing manner. With the right commercial messaging API, you can provide your company or client with all the features they need quickly and easily, and they can scale quickly, as needed, with no additional coding effort on the developer’s part. 
  • Expertise – Building your own messaging API requires a deep understanding of messaging technology and best practices. This can be challenging for teams that do not have expertise in this area and may require significant investment in training and resources. In contrast, using a commercial messaging API can provide access to expertise and support from the API provider, making it easier to get started and overcome any challenges.
  • Resources – In order to have the most reliable and speedy messaging API, you need to have certain resources available to you. For example, many free or cheap messaging gateways will be prone to delays, messaging limits, and security threats. Commercial APIs will have more robust systems that solve these issues.

The Direct Costs of Implementing a Messaging API

Once you’ve decided to build or buy, you can begin to evaluate the actual costs of implementing a messaging API so you can compare them with the potential financial benefits. The first costs to consider are the direct costs themselves. 

The cost of the messaging API itself

We’ve largely covered this in the build versus buy section. If you’ve decided to develop the messaging API by yourself, you’ll have a much larger upfront cost that must be accounted for as you develop the needed features for your company or client. 

In contrast, the pricing of a commercial messaging API is usually straightforward. There will be one-time costs associated with setting up a phone number and then per-message costs for the use of the API and the associated messaging gateways that it relies on. 

The cost of integrating the API into the app

Once the messaging API is acquired, it must be implemented into the app. Each feature will take time to develop and a lot of coding.  It’s important to make a complete list of the features your company or client would like to have in the app so that an accurate estimate of the costs can be created.  A commercial messaging API, on the other hand, often offers a wide variety of options that are easily managed from a simple portal, no hours of coding needed.

The cost of ongoing maintenance and support

Developing software is never merely a one-off expense. After the messaging API has been integrated into the app, there are ongoing costs to consider. Some of these have already been discussed, such as the per-message fees for using the API and any recurring costs that may be associated with your chosen API provider. Others may be less obvious.

Related: Are There Any Good Free SMS APIs?

When your messaging app is released to the public, problems will inevitably crop up from time to time. Dealing with bugs and customer support requests is an ongoing expense your company or client will need to account for. If you’ve built out the messaging API yourself, you’ll largely be on your own to resolve these bugs. Using a commercial API will give you access to customer support that may be able to help you resolve issues for your customers.

The Indirect Costs of Developing or Implementing a Messaging API

Many people go into a project without thinking of the indirect costs that may be associated with it. When developing your messaging app, it’s important to consider how the future may be impacted by your current decisions and what the associated costs may be. Cheaping out in the development phase could prove very costly in the future.

The potential impact on your app’s security

Security breaches can be extremely costly. There are financial costs, legal costs that may arise as a result of the breach, and reputational costs that can impact future revenue.

A messaging API can impact an app’s security in several ways. First, the API itself may introduce vulnerabilities if it is not implemented securely. For example, if the API is not properly authenticated, it could be exploited by attackers to gain access to sensitive information. 

Additionally, the use of a messaging API can increase the overall surface area of an app, making it more susceptible to attacks. This is because the API provides another entry point for attackers to potentially exploit.

To mitigate these risks, it’s important for the messaging API to be implemented with security in mind. This can include measures such as implementing robust authentication and authorization protocols, using encrypted connections, and regularly testing and monitoring the API for vulnerabilities. Additionally, app developers should ensure that their own code is secure and follows best practices for preventing common security vulnerabilities. 

The potential impact on your app’s scalability

As your company or client’s app grows, its messaging capabilities must grow with it. There are several considerations here. First, the API itself may have limitations on the number of messages it can handle or the number of users it can support. If an app relies heavily on the API for communication and collaboration, these limitations can become a bottleneck and prevent the app from scaling effectively.

Second, developing and integrating a messaging API into an app from scratch, if not done perfectly, can add additional complexity and overhead, which can impact the app’s performance and scalability. For example, the app may need to make multiple API calls and process the resulting data, which can slow down its response times and affect its ability to handle a large number of users.

Finally, implementing a messaging API can also require additional infrastructure and resources, such as servers and databases, which can increase the app’s cost and complexity. This can make it more difficult and expensive to scale the app as it grows in popularity and usage.

To minimize the impact of a messaging API on an app’s scalability when building it yourself, it’s important to carefully evaluate the API’s capabilities and limitations, as well as the impact of integration on the app’s performance and infrastructure. It may also be necessary to implement caching, load balancing, and other optimization techniques to improve the app’s scalability and performance. With a ready-made messaging API, all development, management, and improvement tasks will be done by the provider, allowing you to integrate the API and move on.

Minimizing Costs and Maximizing Benefits with the Right Messaging API

Creating a messaging app requires a great deal of trust in the API providing the messaging capabilities and the underlying infrastructure that the API relies on. Partnering with a knowledgeable provider can greatly decrease your chances of running into unexpected expenses and help you get your product to market faster. 

Flowroute offers everything you need to code communications into your project in minutes, with fully featured messaging capabilities. To see how Flowroute’s messaging APIs can decrease your company or client’s risk and cost while increasing your efficiency,  contact us to get started today.

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