How to Send an SMS Campaign
SMS Campaigns are one-time, broadcast-style SMS text messages you can use to send updates, announcements, or any other type of marketing content to your Audience.
Before sending your first SMS Campaign, review these best practices:
💡 SMS Compliance Pro Tips
- Collect Contacts’ documented permission to send them SMS marketing messages
- Explain the frequency of sends in your content pitch (“Sign up to receive weekly updates and deals!” is better than “Sign up to receive updates!”)
- Send SMS Campaigns between the hours of 8 AM and 8 PM EST
- Be aware of SHAFT guidelines. Do not send SMS content about Sex, Hate, Alcohol, Firearms, or Tobacco (including cannabis and vaping)
- Send content about illegal actions or substances, violence, adult content (including nudity), profanity, or hate speech
- Send Contacts more than one SMS message per day.
Sendlane's Built-In Compliance Tools
- Contacts will not receive SMS messages until their consent to receive SMS marketing messages is documented in their Contact Profiles
- If SMS messages are scheduled or attempted to send immediately after 8 PM EST, the Campaign will be sent the following morning at 8 AM due to quiet hour legal restrictions
- Contacts will not receive more than three (3) Campaign SMS messages per 24 hour period
To create an SMS campaign, click the Campaigns icon > New Campaign > SMS Campaign
Create an SMS Campaign
Enter a descriptive name to identify your campaign. This name is only visible in your Sendlane account and will not be communicated to Contacts.
Click the Google Analytics checkbox to identify traffic coming into your website from your campaign using Google Analytics. Paste your UTM Tracking Code in the provided text box.
Click Next: Audience to save your selections and continue!
Configure SMS Campaign Settings
Drag and drop Lists, Segments, or Tags into the Included and Excluded sections to determine who receives your SMS campaign.
Excluded will override Included. For example, if the Jewelry List is in the Included section and the Apparel Tag is in the Excluded section, Contacts with the Apparel tag applied to their Contact Profile will not be sent the SMS Campaign, even if they are also on the Jewelry List.
Check the Audience size for your SMS Campaign at the top right of the Audience screen and click the Update button to calculate a new Audience size if you change your Audience up!
Click Next: Content to save your selections and continue!
Set SMS Campaign Audience
On the Content screen, you’ll see how many credits your SMS Campaign will cost per Contact in your SMS Campaign’s Audience, create your SMS message’s text, insert at least one tracking link, insert optional emojis or images, and send test versions of your SMS Campaign.
Enter your SMS Campaign’s content in the Text Message box and see a preview of your campaign as it will appear in your Contacts’ text messaging app. Use the emoji button in the bottom right corner to add an emoji to your message!
🚨 Use emojis with care: inserting an emoji causes your message's character count to double
Characters in the ASCII format (A - Z, a - z, 0-9, spaces, and most common punctuation) are 8 bits each. Inserting an emoji into an SMS message removes ASCII formatting and causes all characters to use more bits (roughly 16).
If your message is
Flash sale today only!!your message will equal 8 bits x 23 characters for a total of 184 bits. If your message is
🎉 Flash sale today only!!each character now requires roughly 16 bits; 16 bits x 23 characters equals a total of 368 bits. Adding a single emoji roughly doubles the size of every character in the message, additional emojis after the first take up the same amount of space as any other character. The message
🎉🎉🎉 Flash sale today only!!is 16 bits x 25 characters for a total of 400 bits.
TL;DR, adding even a single emoji greatly increases the size of your message, so take care when deciding which messages really need them.
The SMS Campaign builder will automatically alert you if you include a word that is considered a spam indicator by carriers and will not let the SMS Campaign go out until the potential spam keyword is removed.
To track engagement (clicks), you must insert a tracking link. Tracking links must lead back to your brand's website.
Click the Create Link icon of the Text Message section and insert your link, starting with
If you’d like to assign a Tag to all Contacts who click your tracking link, select a Tag to apply from the Tag dropdown.
Click Create to save your tracking link!
Ensure the tracking link is highlighted in green in the Text Message box. If you paste a URL directly into the Text Message box or edit a URL after inserting it via the link icon, the link will not track clicks.
🚨 Do not copy tracking links from previous messages into new messages
Tracking links are permanently tied to the message they were created in. If you create a tracking link for Campaign A, then copy and paste the tracking link from Campaign A into Campaign B, click and revenue data from Campaign B will be attached to Campaign A where the tracking link originated.
Remaining Characters | Estimated Credits Usedcounter in the bottom left of the Message screen to estimate how many credits your SMS Campaign will cost per Contact.
The actual cost of your SMS Campaign may not be reflected in the counter because:
- Your business name will be appended to all SMS messages to identify you as the sender
- Emojis change your message's encoding and increase the number of credits used
- Contacts receive an opt-in confirmation when they receive their first SMS message from you
To add an image or .GIF to your SMS Campaign, click the Add Image icon in the bottom right of the Text Message section, then drag and drop or browse to select your file. MMS Messages are limited to .JPG, .JPEG, .PNG, or .GIF files of 500KB or less.
MMS Messages have a flat cost of 3 credits and a 1,000 character limit.
SMS Campaign Content
Send a test of your SMS campaign by clicking Send Test SMS. Enter phone numbers separated by commas and click Send to send your test. Test messages will use SMS sending credits to send.
Try sending a test message to different devices and operating systems to ensure your content displays properly for all of your Contacts!
Click Next: Schedule to save your message’s Content and continue!
Send a Test Message
Select one of the following options for your SMS Campaign:
- Save as Draft Save your Campaign in your Sendlane account to send later
- Send Immediately Send your Campaign right away
- Schedule Select a date and time for your Campaign to be sent
When your Campaign sends, you’ll see its progress on your SMS Campaigns page! Once it’s out, come back in 24 hours to dive into your Campaign’s reporting.
🚨 SMS Daily Limit
SMS messages will not send to Contacts without consent recorded. Contacts who have not opted in will not receive the message, and Contacts will not be included in report numbers. Contacts will not receive more than one SMS message during a 24 hour period, and messages will not be queued.
What if someone responds to your SMS Campaign message? Check out our guide to the Sendlane Reply Center to engage directly with your Contacts!
Set SMS Campaign Schedule
Why does my SMS Campaign say "Stopped" on the SMS Campaigns page?
SMS Campaigns are generally stopped due to being blocked by wireless carriers. If you have questions about a stopped Campaign, please contact your Customer Success Manager or our 24/7 Product Support team!
Why didn't my SMS Campaign go out?
Your SMS Campaign may not have gone out if:
- Your account didn't have enough SMS credits to complete the send. Upgrade your SMS account to send your Campaign!
- You attempted to send a Campaign earlier than 8 AM or later than 8 PM EST. If SMS messages are scheduled or attempted to send immediately after 8 PM EST, the Campaign will be sent the following morning at 8 AM due to quiet hour legal restrictions.
Please contact your Customer Success Manager or our 24/7 support team if none of the above situations apply so we can get your SMS Campaign out as soon as possible!
Additional SMS Resources
Check out the Sendlane Marketing Journal for tips, tricks, and best practices for SMS Marketing: