What Is Twilio? A Beginner's Guide

Reading time: 10 min read
Aditya Rayaprolu
Written by
Aditya Rayaprolu

Updated · Aug 16, 2023

Aditya Rayaprolu
Technology Architect | McKinsey & Company | Joined February 2023 | LinkedIn
Aditya Rayaprolu

Aditya is an Azure DevOps and Infrastructure Virtualization Architect with experience in automation,... | See full bio

Florence Desiata
Edited by
Florence Desiata


Florence Desiata
Joined June 2023 | LinkedIn
Florence Desiata

Florence is a dedicated wordsmith on a mission to make technology-related topics easy-to-understand.... | See full bio

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Effective communication is crucial in today's competitive corporate world, with various channels like texting, calling, and emailing. Twilio offers a valuable platform for developing telephony-based communication solutions, ensuring smooth communication during hectic times.

Twilio is a Communication Platform as a Service platform that helps software developers create seamless customer experiences through Application Programming Interfaces. Using these components makes communication much more manageable.

Among Twilio's approximately 200,000 active corporate customers are industry heavyweights like Spotify, Uber, Netflix, and Airbnb. During the epidemic of 2020, its popularity skyrocketed.

Discover more about Twilio and how its features have helped big companies with this comprehensive guide. Start learning by scrolling down below.

Key Takeaways

🔑Twilio is a powerful customer engagement platform that major companies like Uber and Netflix use.

🔑Using Twilio simplifies communication for developers, making it easy to build without extensive coding.

🔑Cross-channel marketing is automated by Twilio Engage, and Frontline streamlines sales workflows.

🔑Twilio Flex provides a comprehensive contact center, supporting various channels for efficient task management.

🔑 Real-life success stories include Duolingo, Toyota, and Lyft, which benefit from Twilio's solutions.

Applications of Twilio - Discover Its Purpose

Twilio has a lot of services that can cut down on how much time and money it takes to make an app. Let's look more closely at how Twilio can help with your projects:

  • Communications APIS - Lets you send messages, talk on the phone, and talk on video.
  • Programmable connection choices - Gives virtual phone (VoIP) numbers, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking, and messages.
  • APIS - Can be used to power abstraction for jobs like identification, message control, and call routing.

Here is a list of Twilio's tools developers can use to make the perfect unified communications system.

  1. Twilio Engage - Twilio's launch of Twilio Engage introduces an automation platform for marketers to execute cross-channel campaigns effectively.

This platform has all the essential features, such as:

  • Tools
  • Data
  • Analytics
  • Messaging

Twilio Engage combines Segment, Twilio, SendGrid, and WhatsApp, offering a competitive edge over marketing tools like Adobe and Salesforce. It simplifies campaign creation and delivery to customers.

  1. Twilio Frontline - Any sales team can connect with customers. It integrates with any customer database or CRM and helps build relationships through messaging, audio notes, voice, etc.
  2. Twilio Flex - Provides a comprehensive contact center for businesses, offering efficient task management via email, SMS, WhatsApp, WebChat, and Messenger. It also has customizable integration with CRM for customer information consolidation.
  3. MessagingX - Twilio simplifies connecting with customers across the globe. It is a global API for sending SMS, MMS, and OTT texts. 

It has smart sending tools that make sure messages get to users no matter where they are. Twilio has phone lines that can send and receive SMS in more than 180 countries.

  1. Voice - With this tool, you can add VoIP, PSTN, or SIP calls to any website or app. You can change and adjust how the voice works. It also has the options of live voice reaction, recording transcriptions, and speech recognition.
  2. Video - You can create your own video-sharing website. Sending a video call invitation through text message is just one example; other options include combining online chat with traditional phone calls, such as:
  • Scheduling virtual meetings 
  • Holding video calls to assist clients
  1. Interactive live streaming - With Twilio Live, you can easily create engaging live virtual events with chat, polling, and global broadcasting features. 

It offers unlimited spectators a secure and compelling experience while enabling developers to capture and preserve live broadcasts in real-time for future usage.

  1. Email - Twilio SendGrid Email API provides a reliable, scalable solution for integrating email communication, optimizing customer engagement, and delivery success. 

It offers easy integration, brand protection, and robust analytics. Expert services ensure smooth migration and prevent deliverability challenges.

👍Helpful Articles: For those unfamiliar with web API, check out this helpful article What Are The Main Differences Between Web API vs. Rest API? to learn more.

  1. Authy - This API helps improve your security with push authentications and gives you more options for logging in with soft keys. It lets customers log in safely using email, SMS, and voice instead of just passwords.

Twilio’s key features

Twilio's Contribution to Other Businesses

Twilio improves productivity and costs by efficiently deploying remote agents, digital channels, and self-service solutions.

Check out these real-life success stories where Twilio has revolutionized their businesses. 

Logo of Duolingo


Duolingo partnered with Twilio to improve app engagement and secure contact syncing. It enhanced language learning's social aspect by providing an interactive experience for global users.

Twilio's integration made Duolingo's user verification and friend connections seamless and secure, resulting in an engaging language learning experience for everyone.

Duolingo and Twilio partnership

Empowered by social features like friend quests, celebrations, and collaboration, learners on Duolingo stay motivated. This resulted in a more valuable and efficient language learning experience.

Logo of Toyota


Twilio Flex proved to be the game-changer for Toyota Connected North America (TCNA). By leveraging this contact center solution, TCNA empowered its agents to deliver swift and consistent customer experiences. 

This enabled the company to scale its telematics platform efficiently. Twilio’s seamless customer experience led TCNA to be the leading innovator in the automotive industry. Their robust, AI-driven Drivelink platform delighted over 6 million Toyota and Lexus drivers.


Logo of Lyft

Twilio Flex has revolutionized Lyft's contact center operations. Providing the company with a fully customizable solution enhancing rider and driver experiences. 

Flex enables Lyft to scale efficiently, enhance customer trust, and provide exceptional interactions. With Twilio's support and future-oriented approach, Lyft aims to innovate and solidify its ride-sharing leader position.

Keep reading to learn more about why Twilio is a good choice for your business.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Twilio

Twilio's programmable APIs enable customized business communication solutions, ensuring tailored digital experiences. 

Learn about the advantages and disadvantages of using Twilio as your cloud communication platform below:


Find out why so many people are switching to Twilio below.

  • Twilio Studio empowers various use cases, including curbside alerts and mobile/browser app chatbots.
  • It supports web chat and Facebook Messenger with conversational messaging for seamless customer interactions.
  • Their versatile SMS APIs allow customized text messaging integrated with other business apps and websites.
  • Highly scalable Twilio pricing for large enterprises without binding long-term contracts.
  • Abundant resources page for easy setup of SMS campaigns.
  • Responsive and helpful customer service for basic inquiries.
  • APIs and shortcodes available in multiple coding languages, catering to most developers.


For a more complete picture, let's look at the downsides.

  • Its complexity may overwhelm non-programmers and beginners.
  • Setting up responses could be more user-friendly and intuitive.
  • UI can be overwhelming with too much text; a simpler interface would be beneficial.
  • Usage analytics could be more comprehensive and user-friendly.
  • Documentation could be improved for easier navigation and understanding.
  • Customer service response time may be delayed when communicated through email.

Now that you know much about the Twilio platform, it's time for money talks. The following section gives an overview of Twilio Pricing.

Cost of Using Twilio

Twilio offers 16 pricing editions, ranging from free to $150, along with a free trial option. Explore the editions below to find the best match for your needs:

Twilio’s Pricing

SendGrid Marketing Campaigns 

Twilio SendGrid lets you send and receive automatic and interactive emails. It uses Twilio's route network, preventing your emails from going to the spam folder.

Find the best plan for your budget by exploring the available price options. 

  • Free Plan: $0/month
  • Basic Plan: Starts at $15/month and goes up to $200/month
  • Advanced Plan: Starts at $60/month and goes up to $900/month

Twilio Flex 

Twilio Flex is a configurable cloud contact center that supports WhatsApp, SMS, Facebook Messenger, and WebChat. It also offers performance monitoring and guidance.

Start by trying out Flex for free. Then, choose a price plan from Twilio's open options that fit your team's needs.

  • Hourly Rate: $1/hour per user
  • Monthly Rate: $150/month per user

Twilio Engage & Segment 

Twilio aids your business's email marketing efforts with its powerful segmentation engine, enabling quick syncing of large contact lists. Additionally, you can enhance email performance and impact by tracking essential data.

Explore the power of Twilio Engage & Segment with a free trial. Check out the various pricing editions and find the right one for you. 

  • Free Plan: $0/month
  • Team Plan: Custom pricing
  • Business Plan: Custom pricing

Twilio Frontline 

It lets any sales team connect with customers. It connects with any customer database or CRM and helps build connections through messages, recording notes, voice, and more.

Frontline’s price tiers are as follows. 

  • Free Version: $0/month
  • Team Version: Custom pricing
  • Enterprise Version: Custom pricing

Programmable Messaging API Pricing

SMS, MMS, and WhatsApp enable automatic transactional messages for alerts, reminders, password changes, user authentication, and delivery updates.

  • Pay-as-you-go: Varies based on message type and destination country

Programmable Voice 

Get the essential Programmable Voice API and intelligent services for building your voice application. No commitments are required; you only pay for what you use.

  • Pay-as-you-go: Varies based on call type and region

Programmable Video 

Use Twilio Video to easily include high-quality, scalable video experiences into your apps. Start building without paying anything upfront. Get a free sample credit for Video Groups and P2P, or start and run for free with Video WebRTC Go.

  • Free: for one-to-one video
  • P2P: up to 3 participants
  • Group: up to 50 participants
  • High-volume: for larger audiences

SendGrid Email API 

The Twilio SendGrid Email API gives you the freedom to make your ideas come to life. It also helps you with the need to grow them up and put them into production. 

Find the best business plan for you. Start for free and upgrade the app later.

  • Free: 100 emails per day, with use permissions for one teammate.
  • Essentials: $19.95/month for up to 50,000 monthly emails.
  • Pro: Pricing ranges from $89.95/month for 150,000 emails to $749/month for 1.4 million emails, supporting 1000 teammates, dedicated IP, and email validations.
  • Premier: Custom pricing with direct support from Twilio team members and features from lower-tier plans.

📝Important Note:  Some plans offer additional features and customization options, and the prices may vary based on your specific requirements.

If you know what Twilio is, its main features, and how much it costs, the next step is learning how to use it. 

How To Use Twilio

Let's explore how you can integrate Twilio’s API into your web and mobile apps.

  1. Obtain Twilio Credentials by creating an account at https://twilio.com/console, and choosing the Free trial option.

    Create a free Twilio account
  2. Access the API on the account details page.
  3. Get a free Twilio Phone number for making calls and sending messages.

    📝Important Note:  Use E.164 formatting for phone numbers in Twilio's API - "+[country code][number]". An example of this is "+18675309".

  4. To send SMS and MMS, get the Twilio Messaging SID.
  5. Find Twilio API on RapidAPI.com or go directly to the Twilio Package Page.
  6. Use your Credentials to connect with Account SID and Account Token.
  7. Log in to RapidAPI to access your customized Code Snippets.
  8. Customize fields, choose the desired language, and select the code you need. 


For businesses with global communication needs, Twilio is an excellent choice. It has a solid omnichannel messaging capability and impressive API integration for every need.

Twilio offers numerous benefits but may be costly and time-consuming for smaller businesses without a strong tech focus. If coding knowledge is not a priority, exploring alternative solutions might be a better fit.


How many free SMS can I send with Twilio?

The Authy or Verify API endpoints allow a maximum of 35 SMS sent daily and 100 calls and SMS per month.

How fast can you place or receive phone calls with a Twilio phone number?

Every Twilio accounts have a default rate limit of 1 outgoing call per second (CPS) for Programmable Voice and Elastic SIP Trunking calls.

Does Twilio track calls?

Twilio Voice enables you to build a custom call-tracking solution with local phone numbers, call forwarding, and detailed reports.

Does Twilio use VoIP?

Yes, Twilio's Voice API allows businesses to easily handle calls, making, receiving, and monitoring calls through a VoIP platform.

Does Twilio require coding?

No, most solutions can be built without code, making it easy to deploy from your Twilio Account without extensive configuration.


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