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Getting started with SMS for Episerver Campaign

A person holding a mobile phone reading text messages

When using SMS in Episerver Campaign, there are some considerations to take, and some config that you'll need Campaign Support to setup for you.

Activating SMS capabilities

SMS sending is included in the Episerver Campaign package, but is not activated by default in a new customer setup. Currently, Campaign customers and developers can't activate it themselves, but SMS sending capabilites can be activated at a customer-level at any time by Episerver Campaign Support.

Once activated, SMS will be visible as one of the campaign type options under Smart Campaigns:

Sender Id

If you have decided to activate SMS campaigns, you'll want to decide on a sender identification. The sender ID is what the recipient will see as the "sender" of the SMS - so you'd be wise to choose something that ties closely into the brand and/or is perceived as authentic by the recipient. 

A Sender ID can either be alphanumeric (e.g the brand name), a phone number (mobile number with country code prefix), or a short code (reserved, country-specific numbers, e.g. "09090").

There are pros and cons for each one:

  • Alphanumeric:
    1-11 characters (3-11 recommended), consisting of a-z, A-Z or 0-9. Besides space, no special characters are allowed. This gives you the possibility to use a brand name (or a clever recognizable abbreviation). In most cases, alphanumeric sender IDs are not protected/exclusive, so you can basically pick whatever name you want (using allowed characters). The obvious main advantage of an alphanumeric sender ID is that the brand is instantly recognizable as the sender. The main disadvantage is that the recipient is unable to reply to SMS from an alphanumeric sender ID. 

    Note: There are a few countries where the use of aphanumeric sender ID must go through a special registration process, but Episerver Campaign Support will notify you in the rare case where you're planning to use sender ID for SMS in those countries.

  • Phone number:
    An operational mobile number with the country code prefix included. The main advantage of a phone number as sender ID is that recipients can reply to the SMS directly, and the number routing will work internationally. The main disadvantage is that a mobile number will be significantly less recognizable to the recipient, less tied to your brand and thus seem less authentic.

  • Short code:
    Some brands operate with reserved, recognizable short codes (e.g. "09090" for the Norwegian Yellow Pages) that function like a two-way phone number (able to both make/receive texts and calls). The main advantage of this is protected brand recognition and simplicity (compared to a long phone number. A significant disadvantage is the cost to establish such a short code.

Once you have decided on your sender ID, give it to Episerver Campaign Support and they will configure it for you. You can test how the sender ID looks by sending a test message of an SMS campaign.

SMS content length when using field functions

As you know, an SMS may contain up to 160 characters, which is also true in Episerver Campaign. If you compose an SMS campaign where the SMS content exceeds 160 characters, it will be sent as multiple SMS (or an MMS, depending on the recipient's operator). Keep this in mind when estimating your budget for SMS promotions, as the cost of sending will naturally increase if your content exceeds the char limit of 1 SMS.

Worth noting: If you're using field functions to dynamically insert personalised text into your SMS campaign, the actual rendered length of each individual SMS may vary by several characters, and may unintentionally cause some sendings to exceed 160 chars.

Tip: For static URLs, use URL shorteners (e.g. Bit.ly, Cutt.ly, Tinyurl) to reduce the char count.  

Editing SMS content in Episerver Campaign

Opt-in/Consent for SMS

A final tip if you're planning on using SMS: Be sure to get consent from your recipients! As with email consent, you'll need explicit consent to send out SMS promotions - only purely transactional SMS (password resets, order receipts, etc) are allowed without that consent.

During the onboarding process to Campaign, Episerver support will go through your existing recipient list that you're planning to import into Campaign. If you're planning to send SMS to those recipients, Episerver will do spot checks where you will have to prove you have valid consent for SMS from those recipients.

This means you'll need a separate checkbox for SMS in any signup forms on your site, and you should store that consent in Campaign so you can use it to segment your recipients for an SMS campaign (either via the Campaign MA connector, or via the Campaign API - more on that in a later post).