Use SMS Automation for Programmatic User Engagement

By Josh Whitaker
SMS automation is the process through which text messaging-enabled automation powers some kind of person-to-machine interaction, usually through prompts and keywords.
Prompts: Useful when filling out text fields or to communicate other text-based information. For example, you might ask the user a direct question, then use that data to populate results and analyze preferences or choices. Keywords: The use of specific response words or phrases to understand a users’ needs and drive interaction. The logic is built into an application using an SMS API.
You might have received an automated text message before. If you’ve bought a pizza from Domino’s before, and opted into their communications, you’ll probably receive regular text messages with special discount codes for deals at times when you’ve previously ordered pizza.
For example, “2-4-1 Tuesday’s: Buy your pizzas and get a FREE tub of ice cream when you use the code ‘ICECOLD’ before 10 pm tonight”

What are the benefits of SMS automation?

SMS is arguably the most effective channel to help your business drive engagement in your application or product, outside of the application or product itself. The informal nature of SMS messaging means that users are more accustomed to messages coming from close friends and family rather than businesses—this means you can use a direct, friendly tone to interact with your desired users.
Text messaging provides the perfect way for you to have two-way conversations with a user through a device that’s constantly by their side and in their pockets.
Two things that people commonly forget that can be beneficial for businesses are that SMS messages are both trackable and cost-effective. For a few cents you can send a direct message to a target user and track whether they’ve received, opened, clicked on an internal link or used any code you sent.

SMS automation best practices

As is the case with any strategic approach, it’s important to weigh the pro’s and con’s of your actions before you decide on a process. Some best practices in relation to SMS messaging and automation include:
  1. Personalize messaging by tracking and being responsive to user actions. Include personalization variables such as the recipient’s first name or company in your messages.
  2. Constantly test and refine messaging content, timing, targeting and asks. Send messages such as links to download an app, event or workshop reminders, or status notifications for payments or invoices, etc.
  3. Stay compliant with mobile-related guidelines. Just like with email marketing, marketers should adhere to guidelines set out by the CTIA and MMA
  4. Focus on small tasks, not huge requests. You might send a message relating to the next steps a user has to take to complete something. For example: “You didn’t quite finish this workflow. Reply with FINISH and we’ll submit it on your behalf or text HELP if you’d like a customer success rep to answer your questions.”

When should you use SMS automation?

There are several ways you can use SMS automation— you can get as creative as you like. As a helpful starting point, you might want to consider the scenarios below.

Using SMS as part of an automated onboarding/buying process

Ever considered spicing up your buying process or user journey with an SMS? Research by Oracle found that customers are over 40% more likely to proceed to purchase when SMS messages are included as part of a multi-channel marketing experience.
For example, let’s say that you’re setting up a seminar and inviting all of your current leads to attend. You could set up an automated process that sends an SMS to every lead who hasn’t registered for the seminar yet. You could also send the SMS within a specific time and delivery window so it feels more natural than scheduled.
There are several additional ways that you can implement SMS automation, such as:

Time-sensitive workflows

“A critical issue was just submitted. Read the ticket here: tix.us/S23Jw. Reply with ASSIGN ME to assign the ticket to yourself or FORWARD to alert the rest of your team.”

Notifications that require a response

“Seats just opened up in the ‘Digital Marketing Workshop’ at 2:45 pm in the East Ballroom. Reply with RESERVE to save your seat!”

Short answer surveys

“Your account is missing your address, which helps us connect you with local opportunities. Reply with your address and we’ll update your profile.”

Multiple-choice surveys

“We received your request for an appointment. Would you prefer to come in MONDAY, TUESDAY or WEDNESDAY?”

Value-Added Messaging: SaaS Application’s Guide to SMS

At Telnyx, we’re always trying to help people connect. We’ve put together a guide on all the ways you can leverage SMS in your application to protect user security, connect users with each other or with customer support or improve engagement and onboarding through SMS automation.
Get the complete guide today.

About Telnyx
Telnyx provides embeddable SMS messaging through the Telnyx API. Telnyx delivers messages to any SMS-enabled number in the U.S. or Canada, and we boast delivery rates of up to 98% and free inbound messaging. Contact our customer success team to learn more.