How to send automatic text messages

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Today’s marketers are turning to text messaging to create personalized campaigns that reach leads quickly. Because consumers who receive SMS marketing messages consistently engage with the channel, they are 40% more likely to convert. Texts also have a 209% higher response rate than phone, email, or Facebook.

But as more leads engage with businesses over texting, marketers have to find ways to scale their outreach while still sending targeted messages that resonate with leads. Sending automated texts lets you reach more leads with highly tailored messages, scaling their impact without requiring additional resources.

Automatic texts (or automated texts) are messages that send automatically in response to events (triggers). They let marketers send messages to groups of leads or create multi-step journeys. Teams beyond marketing can also use automatic texts to take over repetitive tasks. For example, customer service teams might automate FAQ responses, and sales teams might automate post-demo follow-ups.

With a few pointers, automated texts are easy to set up so you can spend less time on admin and more time engaging leads. In this guide, we’ll cover:

  • How to send automatic texts for your business
  • How to automate texts on your personal phone
  • Examples of automated text messages

For a deeper dive into automated texts, check out our automated text messaging guide.

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How to send automatic text messages

Automatic texts are usually associated with business texting platforms, which provide the essential software that controls automation workflows. Business texting platforms offer features to help you send one-to-many or mass texts, manage contacts, integrate with other business platforms, secure message and contact data, and more. They’re suited to professional settings.

You can automate some basic texts on your personal phone, but your options are geared toward your private life. For example, personal phone automation triggers can include your location or morning wake-up alarm.

Here’s how to set up automations through both business platforms and on your personal phone.

Automating texts via a business platform

An automated text sent through a business texting platform has three key parts: a trigger, an action, and an SMS template.

A trigger is the condition your SMS platform monitors incoming messages for, like a keyword or certain time of day. An action is the action your platform takes when the trigger is activated, like sending a message or survey, or adding or removing a contact (for drip SMS campaigns). An SMS template is a reusable text message.

Three bubbles featuring the words “trigger,” “action,” and “SMS template,” with plus signs between them.

Setting up automatic texts should be easy. The process may differ depending on your platform of choice, but it should look something like this:

  1. Navigate to Automations in your texting platform, and select the option to create a new automation.
  2. Choose your trigger. Select your trigger from the platform’s list. Remember: this is what will kick off the automated text.
  3. Choose an action. Decide which action you’d like the platform to take. In this case, you’ll select the option to send a message.
  4. Choose your SMS template. To send an automatic text, you’ll need to create or select an SMS template. Add custom fields to the template so your platform can insert each customers’ details upon sending.
  5. Test the automation. Text your business line with your personal phone, and ensure you get the correct response. (Remember to use the right keyword in the right time frame!)

The processes for automating other tasks (like closing chats) will look similar. Once you’ve learned how to set up automated text messages, additional automations will be a breeze.

Setting up automated SMS drip campaigns

SMS drip campaigns combine elements from both automated and scheduled texts. (Scheduled texts are manually set to send at a specific time and date. Once scheduled, they won’t send again without your help.)

Like standard scheduled texts, basic drip campaigns send a series of texts at specific times. You can also set up SMS drip campaigns to send a series of texts a certain number of days apart, automatically enrolling contacts based on triggers.

These advanced SMS drip campaigns fall under the umbrella of automation. Here’s the process for creating an SMS campaign and setting up a subsequent automation:

  1. Create a list of contacts who will receive the templates. Note: You don’t need to add contacts to the list yet, because you’ll be using your automation to do that.
  2. Navigate to Campaigns in your business texting platform, and choose the option to create a new campaign.
  3. Choose the “Days Apart” sending schedule. This means that your sequence of messages will send based on the amount of days since the trigger.
  4. Choose additional campaign settings. For example, you might select the option to remove contacts who reply from the campaign, or not enroll contacts who are already in active campaigns.
  5. Create or adjust the SMS templates you’d like to send.
  6. Choose your list of contacts who will receive the templates.
  7. Navigate to the Automations tab in your texting platform, and choose the option to create a new automation.
  8. Choose your trigger. Choose from the list of triggers, e.g. a keyword in an incoming message.
  9. Select an action. Decide which action you’d like the platform to take. In this case, you’ll choose “Add to List.” You’ll choose the list you created for the drip campaign earlier.
  10. Test the automation. Test the trigger with your personal phone, and make sure you receive the first text of the drip campaign!

When you’re testing the automated SMS drip campaign, stay enrolled until you receive several of the campaign messages. That way, you can ensure the entire campaign runs smoothly.

Setting up cross-platform SMS automations

Cross-platform SMS automations are also different. In fact, you’ll probably set them up in your third-party platform. Here’s an overview of setting up a cross-platform automation with your CRM:

  1. Integrate your SMS platform with your CRM. The integration process involves mapping your custom fields between platforms. This is an important step!
  2. Build your text automation just like you would any other CRM automation. For example, in HubSpot, you can simply start crafting a workflow. The SMS integration will populate texting as a new option. To send texts from Salesforce automatically, you can incorporate texts in workflows using Flows or Journey Builder.
  3. Test your automation. Test your automation by activating the trigger with your personal phone. If the workflow starts with an email, send that first.

Cross-platform SMS automations are a game-changer. They unleash endless automation possibilities, empowering you to automate just about any message you can imagine.

Automating texts from your personal phone

Personal phones don’t offer as many automation options. That being said, you can create a few basic workflows with iPhones and Android devices. Here’s how:

iPhone 

You can create basic text automations with Apple’s personal automations tool. Here’s how to set up automated texts on your iPhone’s Shortcuts app:

  1. Open your Shortcuts app and tap “Automation,” the middle option on the bottom bar.
    A Shortcuts app menu. At the bottom, three horizontal icons indicate pages for "Shortcuts," Automation," and "Gallery."
  2. Tap the plus sign in the top right of your screen, then choose “Create Personal Automation.”
    An Automation menu. At the top, a blue interactive bubble says “Create Personal Automation.”
  3. Choose the specifics of the trigger. You can send texts at a certain time, in accordance with alarm or “wind down” events, based on where your device is located, after receiving an email or text, and more. Then, click “Next” in the top right corner.
    A “New Automation” menu listing ten trigger options including “Time of Day,” “Alarm,” and “Sleep.”
  4. Choose “Send Message” from “Next Action Suggestions.”
    An “Actions” menu. A button up top says “Add Action.” Below is a list of “Next Action Suggestions,” including “Send Message.”
  5. Tap and fill in “Message” and “Recipients,” then tap “Next.”
    An “Actions” menu. A bubble up top says “Send [Message] to [Recipients].” The “Message” and “Recipients” fields are empty.
  6. Review the automation and press “Done” in the top right corner.
    A “New Automation” menu. Under “When” is the trigger: “When I get a Message Containing ‘Meeting’ From MacKenzie Dietz.” Under “Do” is the action: “Send Message.”

As you can tell by the trigger options, this tool is particularly useful for automating personal messages.

Android

Depending on your device, there are several ways to send automated text messages on Android via multiple automation-specific and texting apps. Here are some of your best options:

  • Check out your Android texting app’s features. There’s a chance your favorite texting app will have built-in auto-response functionality. Pulse SMS, for example, offers this advanced feature.
  • Set up the SMS Auto Reply app. This tool gives you a step-by-step automation overview once you’ve downloaded it. You can create auto replies for certain lists and choose a schedule, including running on weekends or when Bluetooth connects with your car.
  • Use the Textra app. With this tool, you can schedule texts or create triggered texts based on variables like location and time.

There are plenty of other apps, too. Look for those that offer the most triggers so you can find one that fits your business use.

Automatic text examples

Seeing automatic texts in action can help you create yours. Here are some common automatic text types and examples, including trigger messages or actions.

Keyword-based text automation

These texts are triggered when your texting platform recognizes a specific keyword in an incoming message. Keyword-based automations are useful for FAQ replies and objection responses. Here’s an FAQ auto reply text message example:

Customer texts: “Hi! Will your offices be open on New Year’s Day?” Company automation replies: “Hi there, Harry! We’ll be closed on New Year’s Day. Anything else we can help with? —Longview Accounting”

First incoming message text automation

These texts are triggered when a new contact initiates their first conversation. They’re a powerful way to greet your new contacts or confirm their opt-ins. Here’s what an automated welcome text for a new contact looks like:

Customer texts “Hey, I have a question.” Company automation replies “Hi there! You’ve reached the Red&White Commercial Paint team. Text APPT to make an appointment or CHAT to ask our team a question.”

Time-based text automation

These texts are triggered when incoming messages are received at predetermined times. Use them for after-hours auto replies and during-hours replies. An after-hours auto reply might look like the following example:
Customer texts “Hi! Can you help with my freight delivery? It still hasn’t arrived.” Company automation replies, “Thank you for reaching out to FastCountry Trucking’s customer service team. We answer texts 8am - 7pm, every day. We’ll connect with you by 9am tomorrow!”

Channel-based message automations

You can set up automations based on the messaging channel your contacts are reaching out through. Here are two versions of the same responses to contacts who text a simple greeting. In this case, the automation triages the conversation.

Customer texts “Hi!” Company automation replies “Hello! Do you have a question about the new GaShoe release or is there something else we can help with?”

Customer texts “Hi!” Company automation replies “Hi there! Have questions about the GaShoe peek behind-the-scenes on Stories, or can we help with something else?”

Cross-platform text automation

These texts are triggered when an event occurs in an integrated platform, like a CRM. They’re great for order notifications and demo follow-ups. You’ll create most cross-platform workflows in your third-party platform (e.g., your CRM). Here’s an example of text triggered in reaction to a CRM custom field changing from Demo Scheduled to Demo Completed.

Company automation replies, “Hey Juanita! Any questions about the demo from August 12? —Kalil, Sales, Fast Trak Software”

Automated SMS drip campaign

SMS drip campaigns can be triggered by any of the above triggers. Here’s an example of an automated marketing drip campaign:

Customer texts “SUMMER” Company automation replies “Welcome to TwiceWorn’s summer lookbook! Expect 2 texts/month. Text STOP to unsubscribe.” Next company text says “First big reveal: Beauty influencer Tina Grace has made a body scrub just for us! First images here >> www.twiceworn.com/tina. Text STOP to unsubscribe.”

Leveling up communications with automated texts

Now that you know how to send automatic text messages, you can set them up in minutes and use them for years. But before you jump right into automating, keep these automation tips in mind:

  • Start simple. Before you create an automated SMS drip campaign, set up your after-hours auto reply. Then you’ll feel more comfortable tackling advanced automations.
  • Add personality to messages. Beyond including custom fields in your texts, you should also convey your branding with tone and even tools like emojis.
  • Deliver value. All of your messages should provide some sort of value to your customers. Focus on marketing texts that match leads’ interests and focus on service, and your contact lists will remain long!

Automated texts help you reach your contacts right when you need to, without losing that personal touch. Implemented the right way, they add more punch to marketing campaigns while cultivating stronger customer relationships.

Want a deeper understanding of SMS automations? Check out our automated texting guide.

Ebook cover: SMS Automations, The Complete Guide


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