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.

This article explains how to set up your Ontraport SMS number, receive SMS opt-ins, create your SMS messages, add SMS messages and responses to your automated campaigns, and send manual SMS messages with both quick SMS messages and from the regular SMS editor.

The country of the number you are sending from determines the countries you are allowed to send SMS messages to.


Setting up your SMS number

  • Click the profile icon in the top right, then AdministrationSMSbuy number button. The first number is free.
  • Enter a name in the top left. This is just for reference and is not visible to contacts. 
  • Select a country from the drop down menu then enter your area code (optional). Then click . 
  • Click the Choose a Number dropdown menu to see the available numbers. Select one. 
  • Click buy number button  in the top right.

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:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Opting in and out

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:

  1. mscott@ontraport.com 
  2. Melissa mscott@ontraport.com
  3. Melissa Scott mscott@ontraport.com

To opt out of receiving bulk SMS messages, contacts can text any of these words: stop, unsubscribe, cancel, quit.

Creating SMS messages in the SMS editor

  • To create an SMS message, go to campaigns tab → Messages →New message button→ SMS.
  • Give your message a title so it will be easy to find when adding it to a campaign.
  • Type your SMS message. You can use merge fields, but be careful of going over the 160 character limit.
    1. If you use emojis in your message, the character limit will decrease to 67.
    2. Longer messages — up to 1,600-characters — will be broken up and sent as multiple 160-character texts and you will be charged for each message.
    3. Any characters over 1,600 will not be sent.

Note, if you want to include a link in your message, you 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.

Adding SMS messages to your campaigns

To seamlessly integrate your SMS communication efforts with the rest of your marketing campaign, you’ll add SMS elements to your automated campaigns in Campaign Builder.

  • Go to Campaigns and create a new campaign or edit an existing campaign.
    1. If you’re starting a new campaign from scratch, you’ll add the SMS element wherever you choose on the campaign map by clicking the What Happens Next? prompt.
    2. If you’re editing an existing campaign or using a campaign template from the marketplace, click + between any elements where you want the SMS element to exist.
  • Under the Actions tab, click Send an SMS. Once the element is added, click into the SMS element and a settings sidebar will appear.

    1. 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.
    2. Choose which number you would like the text to be sent from or add a new number.
  • There are a variety of ways you can customize your SMS automation within campaigns. To do this, you can add elements to your campaign map that tell your SMS when to send and who to send to.
    1. For example, you can add a wait element that makes your SMS wait a certain amount of time before it is sent.
  • Once your SMS element is set and your campaign is published, any contact that is on your campaign will be sent your SMS text message when it is scheduled to be sent.

Adding automated responses

You can set up automation that responds to the SMS messages your contacts send you. For example, if a contact opted in with a “free ebook” text, your automation can send the free ebook. To do this, you’ll set it up in your campaign.

  • Below your SMS element, click What Happens Next? and add a Condition element, which can be found under the filter tab.
  • Click on the Condition element, then click the blue add condition button.
    1. To set up automation based on a certain text response, use the condition “SMS contains text.”
    2. You can also use the conditions “SMS does not contain text,” “SMS contains email address,” and “SMS does not contain email address.”
  • For the ebook example, use the condition “SMS contains text,” then type “ebook” in the text field.
    1. Under the no path, you can put an end element or any other follow-up SMS messages or emails. Under the yes path,  you can put a send email element that sends a link to download the ebook.

Sending one-off SMS messages

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.

  • Go to Contacts and select the group of contacts that you’d like to send your SMS to.
  • Click the sms action.
  • Select the  tab to create a new message or the  tab to select an existing one. Choose the phone number you’d like to use, then click the blue schedule and send button.
  • Choose if you want to send your SMS now or schedule a time for later by choosing a specific date and time. Click the orange send button.

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 automated campaign rather than a broadcast.

 

Viewing and Managing One-off SMS Messages

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  → Broadcast History and, if you’d like to see only your SMS message, click   and select SMS or Quick SMS.

Stopping a one-off SMS message

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:

  • Select the broadcast(s) you wish to cancel.
  • Click.

 

To view broadcast stats:

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

  1. Scheduled
  2. Sent
  3. Failed

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

SMS Number Pricing

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