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Adding SMS (text) messages to your Salesforce Marketing Cloud campaigns is a great way to reach prospects where they are and to personalize their experience with your organization. SMS campaigns are created and managed in Mobile Studio, but in order to do this you’ll need to properly configure your system to actually send SMS messages. This post describes what’s involved in configuring Mobile Studio to send SMS messages.

Mobile Studio vs MobileConnect?

Marketing Cloud provides the capability to send messages through a wide variety of mobile channels including SMS, mobile apps and dedicated messaging apps like Facebook Messenger. Each of these channels requires separate configuration and has its own product within Mobile Studio. The focus of this post is SMS configuration but we'll start with a quick overview of Mobile Studio to clarify terminology and product names.

  • Mobile Studio: This is the overarching product that provides users access to mobile-related features. In Mobile Studio you can create and send communications through various mobile channels including mobile apps, group messaging apps, and standard SMS text messaging. The names below describe the products you’ll use to configure messaging through specific mobile channels.
  • MobileConnect: This is where you set up the ability to send and receive SMS messages. MobileConnect configuration is an in-depth process that involves coordination among several third parties. We’ll go deeper into the process in this post.
  • MobilePush: This is where you configure push messages to people who have downloaded your mobile app. In an educational institution, this would likely be targeted at students, parents and/or alumni. In a nonprofit organization, it might be targeted at volunteers or donors.  
  • GroupConnect: This is where you configure messaging through 3rd party message or chat apps like Facebook Messenger. GroupConnect lets you create and manage user profiles, preferences, behaviors and other attributes.

Setting Up MobileConnect To Start Sending Messages

If your organization has never used SMS messaging before, the configuration process can seem daunting. In addition to internal technical configurations, the process requires coordination among several third-party service providers including mobile carriers and Salesforce. Salesforce has created a MobileConnect Enablement Guide to help new clients. However, DIY is not really an option since Salesforce requires that some of the configuration steps be completed by a certified partner. Regardless of who actually does the configuration, you should understand what needs to be done. 

MobileConnect configuration includes the following:

  • Mobile short code acquisition
  • Keyword and list setup
  • Opt-in and confirmation processes
  • Campaign creation and authorization
  • API integration with Salesforce (Optional, but recommended)

Let's look at each of these components.

Mobile Short Code Requisition

Before your organization starts sending texts it needs to acquire a mobile short code, a 5-6 digit number utilized to send high-volume SMS messages. Short codes allow your organization to interact with consumers via text to send alerts, promotions or other notifications. Users must “opt-in” or give consent to receive mobile messages when they sign up. Mobile short codes are issued by mobile carriers like AT&T and Verizon, then leased by a separate company (for example, iconectiv) that specifically manages short code registration and ownership. All codes are governed by an official organization called the CTIA which administers the Common Short Code program to ensure consumer protections. 

Just like with regular phone numbers, it's possible to acquire a "vanity" short code that uses a visually appealing number like 222444.  If this is important to your organization, be aware that there is an additional cost associated with this type of short code and it may require that you have a specific Marketing Cloud package. 

A final note about short code acquisition is that it takes a long time to complete. Regardless of who is helping you acquire the short code, it can easily take 8-12 weeks to get a new short code provisioned.

Keywords and Lists

A keyword is a short phrase which indicates an action via text. Keywords are instrumental in the short code routing process as well as for opt-in and opt-out. Common keywords and their corresponding actions include:

  • JOIN: Giving consent to receive SMS messages, or “opting-in” to the program 
  • HELP: Receiving assistance, or learning more about why they are receiving messages
  • STOP: Discontinuing service, or requesting to stop receiving communications from an organization

You are required to configure keywords for each of the actions above. For opt-in, you can use a keyword other than JOIN, although it's the most commonly used. You must configure HELP and STOP as keywords, but you can also create additional keywords related to those actions. 

Opt-in Confirmation Setup

Both opt-in and confirmation are required when communicating with contacts via SMS. You will invite people to subscribe/opt-in to your SMS campaign which they will do using the keywords mentioned above. You can configure web opt-in confirmation using an API trigger or automation to send a confirmation message to subscribers who opted-in. Salesforce offers a mobile opt-in template that is useful to connect code and keyword combinations with confirmation messages and other information.

Campaign Creation and Testing

When you launch communications that include SMS messaging, you must tell carriers who you are and what you’re going to do on their network. This means you have to build a campaign and then notify carriers about it. In order to create a campaign, you’ll need to have already acquired and configured a short code, set up your keywords and lists, built your opt-in and confirmation process and created actual SMS messages in Mobile Studio.

Once you have all that, you can assemble a campaign that utilizes your short codes to deliver specific messages to a list of contacts who can use predefined keywords to respond (opt-in, opt-out, etc.)  You’ll obviously want to test these campaigns thoroughly prior to launch.

Enable Salesforce Tracking

Configuring SMS tracking through Salesforce is not technically required to begin sending SMS messages.  But if you're using Salesforce CRM (Sales Cloud, Education Cloud, Nonprofit Cloud, etc) without that tracking data, you're missing out on incredibly valuable information. By implementing an API trigger to push tracking information from your SMS campaigns into Salesforce CRM, you'll be able to see tracking data at the individual contact level and the campaign level. This is an optional, but strongly recommended, step in the process. 

Ready To Get Started With SMS?

Adding SMS messages to your Marketing Cloud campaigns is a bit more complex than adding emails or even direct mail to your communication streams. However, if your target audience prefers text messages instead of email then the additional work can make your campaigns much more effective..  If you're ready to get started, we can help!  KELL Partners provides full service Marketing Cloud and Mobile Studio services to get you from ground zero to fully functioning SMS campaigns. 

Contact us today to get started!