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Send SMS text messages
Last updated on: July 10, 2023

Complete your Sender Profile registration to avoid blocked messages

Anyone sending SMS or MMS messages to U.S. or Canadian numbers must complete their Sender Profile Registration. This registration keeps you in compliance with the 2023 update to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

If you send messages without registering, carriers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, etc. will likely block your messages. You will still be charged for sending blocked messages.

To avoid this, submit your Sender Profile Registration here. And use this article to successfully complete your registration. Reach out to our Support team with any questions!

Note that The Campaign Register (TCR) reviews each submission manually. Their review might take a few weeks, and they may contact you for more information.

SMS text messages are a great alternative to sending email to reach your contacts. You can use them to send discounts, purchase confirmations, appointment reminders, or any other information that you want to get in front of your contacts’ eyes immediately. You also have the option to include images in your text message marketing for US and Canadian numbers.

This article explains how to implement SMS messaging in your marketing and business processes by sending SMS messages through automation or manually.

Learn how to use Ontraport’s Inbox to send SMS messages in this article.

Please note before you begin that the country of the number you are sending from determines the countries you are allowed to send SMS messages to. You can purchase additional numbers in other areas if you need to reach a country out of your home region.

Table of contents

Setting up your SMS number
Register your sender profile
How to register
Check the status of your registration
United Kingdom SMS Registration
Opting in and out
SMS filtering and blocking
Creating SMS messages in the SMS editor
Using Ontraport’s AI Copywriter
Adding SMS messages to your automation
Adding automated responses
Sending one-off SMS messages
Viewing and managing one-off SMS messages
Stopping a one-off SMS message
Viewing broadcast stats
SMS number pricing

Setting up your SMS number

  1. Click the profile icon in the top right, then AdministrationSMSBuy Number.
    • The price of your first SMS number depends on your account level. Check out the pricing page to learn more.
  2. Enter a name in the top left. This is just for reference and is not visible to contacts.
  3. Select a country from the drop down menu then enter your area code (optional) → click Search.
  4. Click the Choose a Number dropdown menu to see the available numbers. Select one.
  5. Click Buy Number in the top right.

buy number example

Note, due to Twilio’s regulatory compliance updates, users from certain countries — such as Australia, France and Ireland — may receive an error message when they attempt to purchase a number.

If this happens to you, follow the steps below to have our Support team set up your number for you:

  1. To determine what documents you need to submit, go to Twilio’s phone number regulations → select your country → scroll down to “mobile numbers” and find your country’s required documentation in the “requirements for businesses” section.
  2. Submit a ticket to Support containing all the required documents.

Note to users in New Zealand: Due to local carrier restrictions, Twilio does not support two-way SMS messages from long code numbers. If you want to send SMS messages in New Zealand, you’ll need to purchase a dedicated short code number.

Register your Sender Profile

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This step is required for accounts sending SMS or MMS messages to numbers in the U.S. or Canada. However, we recommend that all users register their Sender Profile to avoid spam traps and increase sending speed.

In 2023, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) forced carriers to address the rise of spam and scams sent to mobile phones by requiring Sender Profile registration. This registry is designed to promote transparency about who is sending SMS messages and their purpose. To see the full FCC report, click here

As of May 2023, all businesses that send messages to U.S. or Canadian numbers must register. Iff you previously registered, re-register using the form below.

Depending upon their carrier, unregistered companies may be subject to non-compliance fees and blocked traffic.

How to register

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  • Read the guidelines in this article before you fill out the form.
  • Click here to go to the registration page and fill out the form. Ontraport will submit this on your behalf. 

Note, Ontraport users previously submitted their registration through the Sender Profile section in their account. Due to these changes, we created the registration page above, which contains all the required information to protect our customers from fees and blocked traffic. As of May 12, 2023, you can not register your Twilio Sender Profile directly from your Ontraport account.

Check the status of your registration

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You will receive all updates on the status of your registration by email.

United Kingdom SMS registration

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Starting May 27, 2024, the UK has a new policy for businesses sending SMS messages to contacts in the UK. All businesses must register in order to buy UK long-code phone numbers.

This registration is separate from the Sender profile registration and only applies to customers who have purchased a UK SMS number.

All businesses with existing UK SMS numbers must register by September 30, 2024. This registration is part of the UK's Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations. Follow the steps below to register your SMS number and ensure smooth communication with your contacts.

If you create a new UK SMS number after May 27, 2024, you will be prompted to register when you purchase your new number.

  1. Go to Your profile → AdministrationSMSUnited Kingdom SMS registration (UK only).

  2. Click Register, then complete Twillio’s registration wizard.

  3. Click Done when you’ve completed your registration.

After you register, you’ll receive an email letting you know if your registration was accepted or rejected.

  • If it is rejected, Twillio will share why it was rejected so you can make adjustments and resubmit.


SMS filtering and blocking

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To protect mobile users from fraud, spam, and other unwanted messages, Twilio blocks and filters certain SMS messages with problematic content. They also do this to comply with the rules set by carriers and regulators.

Here’s a summary of what will cause Twilio to block the messages you send to your contacts:

  • High unsubscribe rates
  • Public URL shorteners (bitly, tinyurl, etc.)
  • Forbidden message categories for SMS/MMS in US and Canada
  • Inappropriate content
    • Transmitting or storing any content or communications (commercial or otherwise) that are illegal, harmful, unwanted, deceptive, inappropriate, objectionabile, violating others’ rights, confirmed to be criminal misinformation or otherwise pose a threat to the public
  • Harmful code or bots
    • Transmitting code, files, scripts, agents or programs intended to do harm including viruses or malware and using bots to gain access to use services
  • Hate speech
    • Use of the services by a hate group, content or communications that originate from a hate group or sending exploitative, abusive or hate speech

Note, you will still be charged for filtered or blocked messages.

Opting in and out

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Your contacts must opt in to receive SMS text messages either by filling out a form with their SMS number or by initiating communication by texting your Ontraport SMS number.

Note, if you would like to opt in contacts through the API or import a list of contacts who have already opted in, please contact Support.

Leads can opt in to your email and SMS marketing messages via text. This is a great way to collect leads from live events. At a minimum, they need to send you their email address, but you can also collect their names. Here are the three formats your leads can use to opt in:

  • Melissa
  • Melissa Scott

opt in example

The first time you send a message to a contact, Ontraport adds the notification saved in your Sender Compliance Message field in your sender profile. Ontraport also adds this message if you haven’t sent an SMS message to your contact in over 30 days. Note that this message may increase your message count.

To opt out of receiving bulk SMS messages, contacts can text any of these words:

  • Stop
  • Unsubscribe
  • Cancel
  • Quit

text unsubscribe example

Creating SMS messages in the SMS editor

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  1. To create an SMS message, go to AutomationsMessagesNew MessageSMS.
  2. Give your message a title so it will be easy to find when adding it to an automation map.
  3. Type your SMS message. You can use merge fields, but be careful of going over the 160 character limit.

SMS character limits

The limit to your SMS messages is 1,600 characters. Messages that contain more than 160 characters will be split into smaller messages called segments.

You pay for each segment of your message. So an SMS message that contains 161 characters will be sent as two segments, and you will be charged for two messages.

Learn more about how your character limits and message count affect your SMS pricing here.

Maximum message length

Twilio, Ontraport’s SMS partner, limits messages to 1,600 characters. However, they recommend that your messages are at most 320 characters. Smaller messages will provide the best deliverability and user experience for your recipients. Learn more about Twilio’s message length recommendations here.

Add an image to your message (Optional)

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This can be a great way to make your text message marketing even more compelling.

Due to Twilio’s policy, messages with images are only available to send from US and Canadian SMS numbers. Twilio also charges different rates for messages with images. Check out our pricing reference to learn more.

  1. Under “Add Image to your Message,” click Select Image.
  2. Choose the image you would like to include from your image library, or upload a new one.
    • Recipients whose phone numbers do not support images will receive a link to the image.
  3. Click Insert.

Note, if you want to include a link in your message, you’ll need to add the URL you want to link to in your message.

  • It is not possible to hyperlink in SMS messages, and URL shorteners will cause deliverability issues.
    • US carrier policies forbid the use of free public URL shorteners, so your messages will be filtered if you include them.

Use Ontraport’s AI Copywriter

Use our AI Copywriter to easily compose succinct, engaging content for your messages. The AI Copywriter uses natural language processing and machine learning to craft specific content on the subject matter you request. And you can select the format you’d like the copy written in, such as “bullet points” or “two sentences.”

Here are the steps:

  1. Open the SMS editor.
  2. Click AI Copywriter in the bottom left side of the editor. The AI Copywriter window prompt will pop up.

  1. Tell it what you’d like in your copy and click Write. The AI Copywriter will then generate copy based on your request.
    • The AI Copywriter will be most likely to produce desired results if you provide it with details about the subject, length, format, tone and style.
    • For example, “Write me 3 bullet points on the benefits of effective communication between couples.”

  1. If you are satisfied with the result, click Copy text and paste it wherever you like.
  2. If you don’t like the result or want to generate more copy, click Try Again. Your original input will remain but all AI-generated copy will be cleared.

Adding SMS messages to your automation

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You can automatically send the right message at the right time by using automation for your SMS messages. Just add the Send an SMS element to your automation maps.

  1. Go to Automations and create a new automation map or edit an existing map.
    • If you’re starting a new automation map from scratch, you’ll add the SMS element wherever you choose on the map by clicking the What Happens Next? prompt.
  2. If you’re editing an existing automation map, click + between any elements where you want to add the SMS element.

add new element example

  1. Under the Actions tab, click Send an SMS. Once the element is added, click into the SMS element and a settings sidebar will appear.
    • Under Send Contacts this SMS, choose an SMS text message from the dropdown menu that you would like to send, or create a new one.
    • Choose which number you would like the text to be sent from or add a new number. (This is the number your contacts will see when you send the text message.)

send an SMS settings

Note, contacts who have opted out of SMS messages will still appear on your SMS elements and click-through groups, but they won’t receive your message.

Adding automated responses

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You can set up automation that responds to the SMS messages your contacts send you based on the content of their message. For example, you can ask leads to text you “free ebook” to trigger automation that sends your lead a free ebook. To do this, you’ll use an “SMS received” trigger or goal with “SMS contains” conditions. Here’s how:

  1. Create a new automation map, or edit an existing one.
  2. Add a trigger if you want to create a new line of automation, or add a goal if you want to add on to existing automation.

SMS trigger example

  1. Click Add Condition and select one of the “SMS contains” conditions.

SMS trigger condition example

  • The “SMS Contains Text” and “SMS Does Not Contain Text” conditions allow you to add the text you want, such as “free ebook.”
  • These conditions are not case sensitive. However, it’s a great idea to add multiple conditions. Then if your leads text you different versions of your keyword, your automation will still fire. See an example in the image below.

SMS trigger multiple condition example

  1. Click What Happens Next? below your trigger or goal, and continue building your automation.
    • To continue the free ebook example, you’ll add an email that includes a link to download your ebook.

Inbound SMS automation example

Note, you can also use the “SMS contains” condition on standalone condition elements. This option is great if you want to nest conditions to take different actions based on what your contacts send you.

automation example

Sending one-off SMS messages

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You can also send one-off SMS messages manually to a single contact or to a group of contacts. SMS messages sent to a single contact are sent immediately, while broadcasts to a group of contacts are sent via the broadcast queue. SMS broadcasts can be viewed and managed in Broadcast History.

  1. Go to Contacts and select the group of contacts that you’d like to send your SMS to.
  2. Click SMS.
  3. Select the Quick SMS tab to create a new message or the Choose SMS tab to select an existing one.

SMS action tabs

  1. Choose the number you want from the “From number” dropdown.
  2. Click Start Now or click Send Later to schedule your SMS to send at a specific date and time.

Note, many phone carriers have strict spam filters that may be triggered when you send more than one of their subscribers a message at the same time — which can happen if you send broadcast messages to a group of contacts. If your message trips a filter, they will simply discard your message without any feedback, and they may block your sending number. It is safer to send SMS messages through an automation rather than a broadcast.

Viewing and managing one-off SMS messages

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All messages that you send manually to two or more contacts can be viewed and managed in your account’s Broadcast History. You can also view messages sent to a single contact if they were scheduled to send at a later time.

To get there go to ContactsBroadcast History and, if you’d like to see only your SMS message, select Group: All and select SMS or Quick SMS.

broadcast history example

Stopping a one-off SMS message

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If you choose to send an SMS immediately to two or more contacts, there will be a five-minute delay while it queues to send. This gives you time to cancel it if it was sent in error. You can also cancel SMS messages that you scheduled to send at a later time by following these steps:

  1. Select the broadcast(s) you wish to cancel.
  2. Click CancelOkay.

Viewing broadcast stats

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You can check the status of your manually sent SMS messages by hovering over the “sent” column and see the number of messages:

  • Scheduled
  • Sent
  • Failed

The “failed” status will also show you why the messages were unable to be delivered.

broadcast history hover stats example

The number you see in the sent column shows you how many contacts you’ve sent the message to — not the total number of segments. For example, if you send a two-segment message to 1000 contacts. You will see 1000 sends, but Twilio will charge you for each segment of the message — 2000 sends.

SMS number pricing

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Ontraport provides the first SMS number at no charge for all accounts. The price of additional SMS numbers and price per sent and received message depends on location. Visit our pricing reference page for more information on SMS subscription plans.

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Related support articles
SMS Sender profile registration
Send automated emails
 Pro tips
Tip #1: The Automations Marketplace has a free SMS lead capture and follow-up template that you can use and adjust to your needs.
Tip #2: If you search for available SMS numbers to buy and none turn up in the results, try removing the area code from the search criteria and then searching again. If still no numbers turn up, that indicates there are no numbers currently available in that specific country. Numbers often do become available though, so check back frequently to find and secure a number in your desired country.
Tip #3: Quick SMS messages do not have a name, but you can click on them to view the details and see the content of the message.
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