Create SMS Campaign
Text messages, SMS campaigns, Flash sms – whatever we call them – they all share great opportunities as an output channel in both marketing and transactional communication with your customers.
While every man and his dog fight for attention in the email inbox, text messages are quite controversially often not receiving the same attention.
The content of SMS Campaigns is of course rather limited compared to other output channels, but studies have shown that more than 90% of receivers of a text message are checking an SMS within the first five minutes of receiving it – making the open rate far superior to even the most successful Email Campaigns out there.
Text messages can range from regular SMS Campaigns, birthday greetings, and Black Friday outbursts to booking confirmations, shipping details, and timely reminders.
Let us dive into how to create your very first SMS Campaign.
Create your very first SMS Campaign
An SMS Campaign can be made rather simple, but include merge fields as well
You will find SMS Campaigns in the menu to the left. Let us go ahead and click ‘Create SMS Campaign’. We will see a somewhat familiar-looking page.
Whether we want to send an Email Campaign, SMS Campaign, APP Notification, or any other output channel, we will be met with our Campaign Builder that will more often than not look quite familiar with small differences unique to each channel.
Select your Recipients
If you have previously created an Email Campaign, the Builder will look rather familiar
We start off by choosing our recipients for our Campaign. You can read more about Lists and Segments in our wiki articles about the subject here.
On the right side, apart from an internal Campaign Name, we meet our first unique features of SMS Campaigns. Each SMS must be sent by someone – that someone is you, and in most cases you input your Company Name as the Sender Name. This is the name that the receiver will see as the Sender.
There are small regulations and a few limitations when it comes to Sender Names for text messages in various markets, but you do not need to worry about that – our validation will tell you if something is off.
We have two extra options here – Flash SMS and Remove Chars. We will skip this section for now as we continue to the SMS Builder to finally dig our hands into writing the content of our SMS Campaign. Information regarding Flash SMS and Remove Chars and how you can take advantage of these possibilities will be given in detail at the end of the wiki under Advanced Options when creating an SMS Campaign.
Create your Content
The length of a typical SMS is 160 characters
The content of a text message is limited to being mainly text. Most phones will automatically detect links, phone numbers, addresses and deal with them accordingly such as creating shortcut links to open Maps, make a call, and so on if the phone recognizes an address, etc. This will be handled by the operating system on your receiver’s phone.
What we can control is the text in the message. You can type or paste in your text here in the editor as shown above. Not all text has to be manually written though as we will personalize our message.
A typical SMS consists of 160 characters. We are counting your characters as you type them, but you will always have two pitfalls when it comes to the number of characters.
Using merge fields and personalized content such as a First Name will make the length of the text message defer for each recipient – and you can’t be sure to stay on one side of the text message counting as one or two messages. However, the benefit of personalized content will in most cases far outweigh the risk of an extra spent SMS credit here and there.
In the panel to the right, you will find Data Fields, dates, etc. which can be merged into your Campaign.
The Lists and/or Segments you chose on the first page will determine which fields are available for you to merge in. Some options such as General Data Fields or Today’s Date will always be available to you.
Merge fields are your best friend when it comes to personalizing your message! You can merge in First Name, Birthdates, Coupon Codes, shipment and order information, club member points, links, etc. See our Wiki about Data fields here for a deeper dive into creating and utilizing Data Fields.
The other pitfall is special characters taking the count of 160 characters per text message down to 70 characters. If your merged Data Field contains passwords, coupon codes, links, etc. this is a risk you will want to take, as the value of the field might be invalid without it.
If you write in another alphabet than the Roman one, such as Cyrillic, Japanese, Arabic, Korean, etc. you will have to live with all of your text messages being 70 characters as these alphabets are seen as special characters altogether. These things might vary from market to market or the carrier for each receiver and are not something you or we can really do much about except to be aware of it. If you want to prevent these special characters altogether – head on to the Advanced Options when creating an SMS Campaign to read about the RemoveChars option.
Schedule your SMS Campaign
SMS Campaigns can be sent manually or automatically.
View SMS Campaigns is your mission control for already created SMS Campaigns
On View SMS Campaigns you can get an overview of your SMS Campaigns. You can preview them, edit, rename them, organize them in folders as well as schedule them for a manual send out.
An SMS for a Black Friday campaign might be a one-off sending scheduled manually, where birthday messages, order confirmations, etc serve their right as a part of a Flow or sent as a Trigger.
Combining the possibility of personalizing the message, using segmentation to find the recipients, and using Flows or Triggers to send the SMS Campaign you ensure to send the right message, to the right person – at the right time.
Advanced options when creating an SMS Campaign
You might have noticed a few toggle options in the SMS Builder at this point. If in doubt – leave them be, as the default settings ensure you the safest and most reliable experience. They do, however, make sense in their own respective way in the right circumstances as explained below.
Remove Chars will prevent you from writing special characters taking the length from 160 to 70 characters. How and why this is a topic is explained in the section below.
Automatically shorten links is pretty self-explanatory. We shorten links by default on send-out to prevent long hyperlinks to your shop or website from consuming a lot of unnecessary characters – raising the cost of sending your SMS Campaigns unnecessarily. If you do not like us to do that – go ahead and toggle this option off and we will simply let your links be written as they are. Bear in mind that the respective phone of your recipients might recognize a hyperlink when they see one and do their own presentation of it, which in most cases is a simple underline or a blue text.
Use Unsubscribe Link is on as default. It will at the text you add here instead of “STOP SMS” along with a link where your recipients can unsubscribe from receiving SMS Campaigns from you. If you send marketing material, you are in most markets required to serve your recipients with a way of opting out of getting marketing messages from you. However, if you send transactional text messages such as order confirmations, 2-way passwords or shipping information – you do not need this option and can safely toggle it off.
Include unsubscribe Key-tag at the end of the SMS is only relevant and available to you, have you set up a 2-way SMS way of subscribing and unsubscribing from your List.
As the Flash SMS will not be saved on the receiver’s phone making it ideal for sending messages containing severely sensitive information, 2-factor authentication codes etc. It is not possible to include neither images, links, or any other content than a few lines of text.
- Flash SMS is a type of SMS that will only appear once on the receiver’s phone.
- Flash SMS will not be stored on the device.
- Flash SMS cannot contain images.
- Flash SMS is a great option for sending very sensitive data or time-limited information.
Remove special characters
Remove Chars is a helping tool to avoid inputting special characters. As mentioned previously, a text message can contain up to 160 characters. That is if you restrict yourself to using the UTF-7 encoding. If you are using characters that cannot be encoded with UTF-7 such as Cyrillic, Chinese, Korean, and Arabic, the SMS will be re-encoded using UCS-2 to support the UTF-16 characters, affecting the maximum length going from 160 to a mere 70 characters per message.
Messages containing these characters are therefore significantly more expensive to send to a large number of recipients – and to avoid them completely – use this toggle to be sure that you do not accidentally copy/paste them in. Any characters that are merged in via merge tags such as various Data Fields will not be checked for UTF-16 characters since these Data-fields could contain crucial information, tokens, links, etc that would be invalidated by any tampering of the content.
Aside from Data Fields, it is possible to merge subscription forms to let your receivers sign up with their emails as well. Combine this with sending to a Segment where you only send the SMS Campaigns to those who have not entered their email address. Read more about Segments here.