Messages XR allows site admins to send messages and notifications in multiple languages through multiple channels. As part of the Messages XR package, you may have the option to send SMS text messages to constituents. In this article, we'll explain how to distribute your message as an SMS text message.
This feature requires mobile numbers to be populated in the profile data of your constituents, and an understanding of consent requirements is essential.
Note: This feature is currently only available for organizations in the US.
Composing SMS messages
After you've named your message, go to the Message Details screen to configure your message and select your messaging channels.
Select whether the message is Promotional or an Important Announcement, and as you add list(s) or group(s), the total number of users who are subscribed to each channel will appear on the corresponding tab below. You may choose whether to send this message via each channel.
To add an SMS message:
- Go to the SMS tab and select the toggle for SMS details.
- Type your message (up to 160 characters).
Note: If a text message contains one or more Unicode characters (emojis or accented characters, for example) the character limit is 70 characters, in line with the industry standard for SMS. You may want to use an online character counter! Also, keep in mind that message URLs are included in the character count.
Best practice: It is a best practice to send short SMS messages. Longer messages may automatically be sent as multiple “segments,” which can cause mobile carriers to mark the message as spam and not deliver it.
Including a link to archived message
You might be able to convey your entire message in 160 (or 70) characters, but if not, you can also include a link to the email message. Make sure that you have enabled the Email tab and composed a message using a template, then select the “Add link to full message” toggle below the message preview on the SMS tab to generate a shortened link.
This adds a “short URL” option, which will automatically link the SMS message to the email archive URL. Schools should not use their own URL shorteners (especially free ones), as most are banned by U.S. carriers and may result in messages being blocked. The characters in the URL will be counted toward the total for the message.
Sending SMS text messages
Just as bulk emails are governed by regulations such as the CAN-SPAM Act, automated text messages and recorded voice messages are required to comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). For additional details, please refer to Consent requirements for text and voice messages.
Who can we send a message to?
Students, parents, and faculty who provide mobile numbers to educational institutions are effectively granting consent to receive SMS text messages for “important information,” as well as non-emergency messages related to the school's "educational mission."
Any constituent with a "mobile" number listed in their profile will receive Important Announcement SMS messages, unless they have unsubscribed.
Best practice: As a best practice, schools should send SMS via Important Announcements, and limit it to communication such as school closings and deadlines or announcements. More guidelines can be found in our FAQ section.
What can/can’t we send in a text?
It's a good idea to limit SMS messages to information like school closings and important, time-sensitive deadlines and announcements; however, few types of messages are explicitly disallowed.
Categories of messages that are forbidden include:
- High-risk financial services
- Third-party lead generation services
- Debt collection or forgiveness
- “Get rich quick” schemes
- Illegal substances
- "S.H.A.F.T." use cases
For more details about these categories, please refer to Forbidden message categories for SMS and MMS in the US and Canada.
When can we send a text?
Per the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, text communication must occur between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Unsubscribing from SMS text messages
At any time, users can reply STOP to SMS, which will unsubscribe them from all SMS messages. To begin receiving messages again, users can reply with the word START.
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