Advanced Training: SMS Text Integration

The following information is provided by and applies to Manychat accounts:

 

What accounts can send SMS?

Sending SMS is available for usage on a Pro plan only in the following countries:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • UK (Beta version, limited functionality)

You can still collect phone numbers and save them to System Field on Free plan in every country but have to upgrade to Pro to get a long-code number and start texting.

What can be sent via SMS? 

You can send Text Messages that contain text, emojis, and links that you send to your contact. Any inappropriate, drugs, weapon-related, or pornography content can’t be sent via SMS according to the law.

Please, read carefully country restrictions for getting consent and sending texts.


In the USA and Canada, you can send Multimedia Messages via SMS. UK users are unable to do that due to the UK numbers being in Beta!
Multimedia Messages contain images, GIFs, text, emojis, and links you want to send to your contact. A single Multimedia Message can contain up to 10 pictures (maximum of 4.9 MB in total file size) and text up to 480 characters. It is important to place all the pictures above the text so we will merge everything into 1 Multimedia Message.

You may have up to 1000 subscribed SMS contacts per Phone number. Once that limit is reached – an additional Phone number will be generated to store new contacts.

How do I start sending SMS through ManyChat?

1. Activate SMS integration under Settings -> Channel-> SMS tab.

After clicking the “Connect” button, you can choose the country. ManyChat will assign the number accordingly. This number will be used for all SMS communications originated from your ManyChat account (broadcasts, SMS-based widgets

Note: If you’ve connected the SMS channel before June 4, 2021, you may have a few phone numbers (for broadcasting, for SMS-based widget).

2. Get consent for receiving SMS and phone number. For this, you have 2 System Fields to store this data: ‘Set SMS Opt-in’ and contact’s mobile number.

To do so you need to enable the Set SMS Opt-In feature in the User Input Block. This is crucial for sending SMS messages! Also, when asking for a phone number from your subscriber, make sure that by confirming their phone number they agree to receive your SMS messages.

Here is an example of how an SMS opt-in flow can look. 

There is a second way.

For getting consent in the US and Canada, check out this sample flow.

It provides an example of how to collect phone numbers and consent from your contacts. You can edit the text in your version of the flow sample as you wish within your bot.

In the example, you can see that we ask for a Phone Number first with a “User Input” block that has a “Phone” field type. After that, make sure that you’re saving the “User Input” value into the SMS System Field (just like in the example) and after that, you can ask for confirmation from the user to be able to receive SMS messages. That is done with an “Action” block that uses the “Set SMS Opt-in” action.

NOTE:

  • It’s important that the phone number looks like +12345678901 or 12345678901 for them to work correctly. If the contact entered the number incorrectly, for example, with brackets or dashes, it will still be added to System Field. ManyChat will clean out unnecessary characters and prepare the number for sending SMS. However, make sure that the country code is always present in the phone number in order for the SMS messages to be viable.
  • Right now, Verizon and AT&T phone users are unable to receive SMS messages with the external URL shorteners due to an issue between these two mobile providers and the Twilio automated SMS service that we are using. You can solve this issue by either disabling the SMS body link shortener in ManyChat’s Settings > SMS or by excluding a link from the SMS message altogether and instead use a button to move contacts through the flow (e.g.: if you were using a Ref URL leading to your own chatbot – remove the URL from the SMS and instead add a user reply button leading to the same flow).
  • The m.me URL shorteners have not yet been released, but right now there is a workaround to use our Ref URLs instead.

If you want to send test SMS messages to yourself, you need to Preview this Flow or just make sure that you are in the audience that will get it. Don’t forget to fill all the fields and provide a confirmation to receive SMS messages, because without following these steps you won’t be able to test SMS Messages. Moreover, the SMS Message block might not appear in your Flow Builder before you’ll provide a confirmation for these actions.

3. Add SMS Messages to flows.

SMS Message is a type of block that can be accessed from the “Add Step” menu:

You can use an SMS Message block in a similar way as all other ManyChat blocks. However, there are some exceptions:

  • You can generate a link automatically. That can be done by clicking on the “Link to another step” button and choosing another block.
  • The character limit for one Text Block is 480 characters. 480 characters will be shown as one big Text Message in your mobile device. However, Text Messages have a 160 characters limit and because of that ManyChat counts 160 characters as one Text Message and charges in a similar manner. For example, 480 SMS will be charged as 3 Text Messages. (IMPORTANT!!! When using Emojis, your per-one-Text Message character limit drops from 160 to 70; more on that can be found here)

4. Send SMS broadcasts.

You can send bulk SMS messages to your contacts with SMS opt-ins. To do that, you need to go to Broadcasting -> Broadcasts section of ManyChat:

When clicking the  button, you will be asked to select the channel you want to start with.

Choose either an SMS or a Multiple Channels option (in case if you want to mix Facebook messages and texts in a single flow).

After all the setup is finished, simply click on the “Send now” button. You’ll be able to see the SMS Broadcast event in the “Live Chat”.


NOTE: If you want to test this SMS Broadcast beforehand, click on the “Preview” button.

Learn more about different types of broadcasts from this article.

What can affect SMS delivery?  

When writing a copy for SMS, carefully examine the content and pay special attention to these “red-flags”:

  • Overuse of capital letters
  • Overuse of emoticons
  • Overuse of  exclamation marks and informal words like “hey”, “pssst”, “yooo”,
  • Prices
  • Spam words like “free”, “won”, “now”, “only”, “sale”
  • Links processed by URL shorteners
  • Note that keywords like “YES” and “START” that a contact writes in their SMS response will be processed by Twilio automation and not the ManyChat automation! In that case, keywords will be recognized as the opt-in keywords and make that subscribe viable to receive your SMS message (if they are not already viable for that).
  • Following the same logic, keywords like “STOP“, “UNSTOP“, “UNSUBSCRIBE“, and “CANCEL” will opt the person out of receiving SMS messages so you won’t be able to send them your automated SMS, regardless of how you set up SMS keywords on the ManyChat side!

Used properly, those things can increase your CTR, but be careful! Here are some examples of texts at risk of being marked as spam:

Get a FREE box NOW with any purchase of another box. ONLY TODAY ???
Click link below to add to cart. https://jdkshb.at/s/t3HTiL,1

Hey %%first_name%%, YOU WON!!!!!
Click here to claim your FREE t-shirt https://abcsd.at/s/r44gCC,1

Yoooo bro, GREAT BURGERs and TASTY WINE ???
If you wanna to learn more, simply click the link below. See you SUNDAY!!!!!
HURRY UP and get $10 coupon for BURGER BAR https://dkslkdlklh.at/s/Jh_617,1

How much does it cost? 

Country Price per Outbound Text Message Price per Inbound Text Message Price per Multimedia Message Price per Phone Number per Month Number of one-time free outbound SMS
US and Canada $0.01 Free $0.02 Free 50
UK $0.05 Free Not available Free 50

ManyChat SMS is a ‘pay as you go’ feature. ManyChat charges your account partially: we bill you when you reach a 10$ credit limit.

The charges are taken from the same card that is connected to the ManyChat page. If the payment fails twice, the channel will be turned off until payment is received.

Why can the price be “approximate”?

If you use Variable Fields like “First Name,” the price is approximated because different contacts will have different numbers of characters in their name.

If you use a Dynamic Image Block the price is approximated as well since we don’t know the total file size of the image you are sending.

The following is the BETA version of pricing. 

To learn more about pricing, check the Billing section at Settings Page.

Your Billing history is also divided into 2 sections: subscription Invoices and Service payments.

Subscription Invoices for your PRO plan (in Messenger). Service payments for your service payments for SMS/Email.

Opt-out text 

To help you stay compliant with mobile carriers’ policies, we add Opt-out text into the first message for each new contact. It is added automatically, but only to the first message of the conversation and it won’t be added anywhere else.

By default this text is the following: 

 Send STOP to opt-out 


The length of the opt-out text will be added to the length of the initial message. The opt-out text contains 21 symbols or more if you decide to change it. Thus, the price of the initial message may become higher by the price of a single message segment.

The opt-out text cannot be removed, but you are able to change it by sending a request to our support team as shown on the screenshot.

Nexmo phone numbers no longer available

Starting from March 2021, all the Nexmo-related numbers will cease to be available for connection. This means that if the country of your SMS number is managed by Nexmo – you will not be able to connect it to new ManyChat accounts.

In addition to that, starting from April 2021, all the Nexmo-related numbers will cease to function for all of our ManyChat accounts.

Where can I see my statistics?

You can see statistics in the SMS block for a specific SMS. Unlike Messenger, the SMS channel does not show open rates.

Please note:
 ManyChat successfully validates phone numbers for all countries. Despite SMS is working only in several countries, for now, we’d recommend collecting numbers for all countries to have a database for future openings. We highly recommend adding phone numbers with country codes. It will help you to make your text messages delivered directly to those people who gave you phone numbers;
– You can now import your contacts into the Audience tab using their phone numbers. More can be found here.
– In order to get info on your clients’ opt-ins, you can always write to our friendly support! Read more here.

– You can see the Contacts Statistic in your ManyChat Settings > SMS. Even if you opt your SMS contats out of receiving further SMS messages, their phone numbers will still be contributing to that statistic. This is done for events when such a contact decides to re-subscribe back to your SMS messages by sending an SMS to your phone number.