Twilio and Vonage (formerly known as Nexmo) are two of the most popular API tools for SMS, voice, and phone communication and verification tools for businesses.
When you want to sign up for an account on a site or app like Amazon, Uber, or Lyft, you often need to confirm your phone number to create your account.
This is done for security purposes to ensure that only you have access to your account. Even if someone else figures out your password, they won’t be able to log in without entering the code sent to you via text message.
However, how do companies like Uber send you these text messages? It is actually done with APIs, available from companies like Twilio or Vonage (Nexmo).
Today, I will be comparing these two platforms to help you decide which one is better for your needs: Vonage (Nexmo) or Twilio.
Let’s get into it.
Twilio allows you to send both SMS and WhatsApp messages. Here are some of the types of messages you can send via Twilio:
- With the Programmable Messaging API, you can program messages to be sent to remind customers of crucial activity. For example, you can send confirmation messages after a customer completes a purchase. Or, you can send shipping updates via SMS.
- With the same API, you can send mass alerts to your entire customer base. You can inform them of site updates, for example. Alternatively, you can send crucial alerts to your entire team of employees.
- In addition to important alerts, it is also possible to send marketing notifications and promotional messages. Whether you have a seasonal sale coming up or are providing a discount on a particular product in the hopes of selling all your stock, this feature will come in handy.
- Using the SMS API, you can send two-factor authentication messages, so customers can verify their accounts and logins.
- You can text customers about delivery ETA updates and any other changes to their orders.
- The API can be used to update your sales team about new leads.
In addition, you can set up two-way communication channels using the Conversations API.
That allows you to not only send messages to customers but receive them as well. This API supports not only SMS messages but comes with multichannel support, allowing you to integrate conversations on web chat, SMS, and WhatsApp seamlessly.
It’s not just for one on one conversations, either. In fact, you can scale those conversations and add and remove participants; for example, you can have a 1:1000 chat with many of your customers or employees at once.
Two-way chat support can be done on your website via a chatbox, not only via SMS.
Also, you can allow customers and employees to communicate with each other without revealing the phone number of either one to the other.
Twilio also supports WhatsApp.
That means you can send notifications and promotional messages via WhatsApp. Alternatively, you can have two-way communications on WhatsApp and provide customer care.
Using the APIs, you can share all kinds of media, including images and PDFs, via WhatsApp. Also, you can send locations via the WhatsApp location feature, which will make it easier for customers to find out where you are.
Finally, in addition to WhatsApp, Twilio supports sending messages via Facebook Messenger, but this feature is currently in beta mode. You will have to set up a Facebook page, and customers will have to message your page before you can send them any messages.
Nevertheless, if you are already using the API, there’s not much more work involved in setting it up for Facebook Messenger.
The Vonage SMS API allows you to send notifications to customers and also allows for two-way communication. Customers can respond to SMS notifications to do things like change their orders or edit their delivery details.
In addition, the Vonage API allows for two-way customer support via text message. That allows you to provide help quickly and easily.
Moreover, with Vonage, you can allow two parties to communicate with each other without revealing the phone number of either one.
If you have ever taken an Uber ride and needed to call your driver, or if they have called you, you might have realized that the Uber driver’s supposed number is not their actual number.
Calls and text messages can be rerouted to establish a connection without any of the two parties seeing the other’s actual number. It is not only useful in taxi bookings, but it can be useful when customers need to communicate with delivery drivers, for example.
Like Twilio, Vonage also supports Facebook Messenger. Customers can message your page to learn about products; you can send them product information, answer common questions, and so on.
In addition, you can provide continuous updates via Facebook Messenger, such as stock updates. This real time data feed isn’t limited to Facebook Messenger, as you can send these updates via other channels as well.
Moreover, in addition to Facebook Messenger, Vonage supports sending messages over Viber. Customers will have to sign up on your website and agree to receive messages to their Viber account.
In addition to SMS and messaging, Twilio allows you to program voice calls and notifications.
You can set up call tracking, so you see how customers are calling you. For example, you can see whether they clicked on an ad or found your number on social media — and then route the call to representatives accordingly.
Using an Autopilot system, you can help customers self navigate a call and help them find the help they need. This will save you on costs and lead to better customer satisfaction.
For an additional cost, you can have the recordings of your calls transcribed as well.
Using calls, you can also notify customers about things such as low balances and bills that must be paid.
You can create scalable Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems that respond to customer commands, with text to speech supported in hundreds of languages.
Using the Voice API from Vonage, you can set up voice alerts. Customers will get a call, and you will be able to track who has received each message.
You can also set up IVR systems, so customers can get information about their orders and find out other important information. You can also set up a voice bot.
Call centers can use the Vonage API to route customers to the best agent and then to a customer satisfaction survey at the end. With call whispering, agents can get background information about why the customer is calling and what the call is about before answering the call.
Like Twilio, Vonage offers call recording and transcription, as well as call tracking, so you can see which marketing channels are bringing in the most calls.
With the Twilio video API, you can set up secure video applications for a variety of purposes. One possibility is to create a video-based customer support experience, allowing customers to speak with care representatives over video for a more personalized experience.
Alternatively, you can set up a virtual hiring platform. You can allow patients to connect with doctors, all the while following HIPAA guidelines.
Another possibility is to set up a tutoring platform. Students can connect with teachers or tutors; you can also use the video API to create a built-in video chat capability in your app — whether you are building a social network or a dating app.
Furthermore, you can customize the layout and background of the video chat application to fit with your branding, and you can record live video chats when needed (with encryption).
However, Twilio does not limit you to creating one on one video chats. You can set up livestreaming and reach multiple people in the audience.
That makes it easy to set up online webinars, marketing conferences, training events, and a lot more! You can take the live videos up a notch and offer an interactive experience, allowing attendees to comment, answer polls, ask questions, and more.
Vonage also allows you to set up video chats with its video API. Videos can be set up for a variety of purposes, and they are easily accessible from any browser.
Companies are using Vonage to connect students with tutors, investors with financial advisors, patients with doctors and telehealth providers, and friends and romantic prospects with each other.
Like Twilio, Vonage also supports livestreaming. If you want to set up interactive events, you are limited to 5,000 people in the audience, but for simple one-way streaming, you can have an unlimited number of viewers.
You can generate recordings of the video or only the audio, with encrypted recordings available.
Twilio provides you with a number of ways customers can verify their accounts. With Twilio Verify, you can send push notifications or verification codes via SMS, email, or phone calls to users to authenticate their accounts.
These codes can have anywhere from four to 10 digits. You can send them anywhere in the world with the built-in translation features.
The problem with email and text message verification is that they are not entirely secure. Email accounts can be hacked, and even SMS phone verification can be hacked, using a trick known as sim swapping.
Fortunately, Twilio also allows you to offer customers the possibility to authenticate their accounts using Authy. That allows customers to quickly authenticate via push notifications.
Alternatively, for more secure verification, customers can use one-time passcodes generated by the authenticator app. These passcodes work even when offline and can only come from the authenticator app.
Finally, with Lookup, you can look up caller information, such as which carrier they are using and the type of line they are using. In the US, you can also find out their name and more; Lookup not only allows you to provide a better experience but also helps you ensure you are not dealing with scammers.
With the Vonage Verify API, you can send pin codes via text or text to speech to customers who sign up, so they can verify their numbers.
With Number Insight, you can get some insight into a number that was entered. There are different levels to this API.
On a basic level, you can find out which country a number is from, so you can format it correctly. On a more advanced level, you can see whether a number is a mobile, landline, or virtual number; you can also block virtual numbers from apps like TextMe and Google Voice.
That is because it is easy to set up such numbers, creating more opportunities for fraud.
Finally, on the most advanced level, you can assess the security risk of each number.
Twilio Flex allows you to deploy an online contact center that integrates different communication methods such as SMS, voice, WhatsApp chats, and web chats. In addition, you can get in-depth insights about your performance, so you can improve workflows and increase customer satisfaction.
You can create custom reports and KPIs with drag and drop.
You can see what your contact reps and supervisors are doing. With the Google Contact Center AI integration, you can pull up recommended responses to problems and questions that customers have, allowing you to service them quicker.
Twilio Flex integrates with any CRM you are already using. That could be Salesforce, Zendesk, or another CRM.
In addition to Twilio Flex, another prebuilt application is Twilio Frontline, which also integrates with your existing CRM. From a single application, it allows you to provide your customers with a multichannel experience, pulling information from their profiles to provide them with more accurately tailored responses.
With message templates for WhatsApp, read receipts, and integrated GIFs, emojis, memes, and more, Twilio Frontline allows you to connect with customers on another level.
Vonage’s Business Communications tool includes over 50 features of a contact center. Here are some of the features you might find useful if you need to set up a unified call center:
- Using Virtual Receptionist, set up different options for customers to choose from when calling. Route calls to different departments and care representatives depending on their answers. You can set it up differently based on the hour and time of day the caller is calling.
- With Call Continuity, each call will be rerouted to a prespecified number of your choice even when your phone lines are down or Vonage can not connect to your business line for any reason. This way, you never have to hang up on customers.
- With Call groups, you can have a customer ring multiple people at once — even an entire department — depending on those employees’ responsibilities. This ensures a customer’s call will always be answered.
- Handle up to 50 calls at once with the Receptionist Console.
There are additional features, too. For example, with Paperless Fax, you can send and receive digital faxes on the go, without an actual fax machine. With Call Flip, you can transfer mobile calls to your desk phone and vice versa.
Also, you can have all of your phones connected to the same extension, so you can pick up wherever you are. With voicemail to email, you can have recordings of voicemails sent straight to your inbox; alternatively, you can access transcriptions of your voicemails, so you can read them.
When reps answer phones, you can listen in and monitor their responses. You can also be available to give them advice when they are faced with a situation they don’t know how to respond to; when necessary, you can even barge in yourself.
However, the Unified Business Communications platform is more than just a call center. It is an entire solution for your business phone needs, and you can use it not only when interacting with customers but for communicating with your employees and team members, too.
With Vonage Meetings, you can set up meetings for your team with up to 150 attendees for training conferences and up to 25 simultaneous videos.
Guests can join on desktop and mobile. You can give out special call-in numbers for over 60 countries, with a pin code they can enter to join the meeting, or you can allow them to join video calls from their web browsers without downloading any app or software.
Attendees will be able to share files and screen content while on call. Calls can be recorded for future reference and training purposes.
Other controls are available too; for example, attendees can enter full-screen mode and turn the video on or off.
I would have to say that Twilio is the friendlier of the two tools. It is generally easier to get started with.
I feel like the interface of the Twilio console is simpler, less complicated, and easier to navigate.
In addition, Twilio lays out use cases and features in an easier-to-understand format. As such, it is easier to understand if Twilio is something that can be useful for your business.
Vonage has extensive documentation for its features. There are step-by-step instructions on how to get started with any particular feature.
In addition, there are step-by-step examples of use cases for which different Vonage features would be useful.
Nevertheless, the overall layout of Vonage is a bit more complicated to navigate.
- It is somewhat easier to integrate with
- Pricing is affordable
- Use drag and drop alongside custom code to create workflows
- Support is not always very good and sometimes unhelpful
- Call quality and uptime is sometimes not as great as promised
- There is no support for Viber
- Pricing can be cheaper for some services
- It’s great for business phone services, including setting up a call center and virtual meetings
- Send virtual faxes
- Viber support
- Can be a bit harder to integrate
- Interface isn’t as clean and experiences bugs and lags sometimes
- No Authy support
Pricing at Twilio varies based on the service you are using and how much usage you put in. There are volume discounts, as well as discounts when you commit to usage.
Let’s go over some pricing points worth knowing.
- For voice calls, pricing starts at just $0.0085/min to receive a call but $0.013 to make a call. Of course, pricing varies based on who you are calling. Local calls won’t cost as much as long-distance calls, which can also vary. See here for call pricing.
- For SMS, pricing starts at $0.0075 per message (for both sending and receiving). See here for SMS pricing.
- For email, Twilio uses SendGrid and its pricing, which starts at $14.95/month and allows for 100 free emails a day.
- For WhatsApp, pricing starts at $0.0042 per message, but it depends on the type of message.
Other services have their own pricing plans, as do the apps. For example, Twilio Flex is $1 per active user hour (the first 5,000 hours are free).
For all pricing details, including links to pricing calculators based on your SMS, calls, WhatsApp, video, and other needs, see the pricing page.
Like Twilio, Vonage pricing varies based on the exact API and service you are using. Here are some examples:
- Voice calls start at $0.0144 per minute to make a call
- For SMS, pricing starts at $0.0065 per message for receiving
Pricing varies not only based on country and location, but they always fluctuate due to carrier rate changes, so check the pricing page for updated pricing information.
Ultimately, both have their pros and cons and both have overlapping features in general with similar services. However, Twilio continues to be the go-to platform in the industry, and I recommend it over Vonage.
While Vonage is better in some ways, Twilio is better overall at getting the job done, which is reflected in the higher reviews it enjoys on sites like TrustRadius and GetApp.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.