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To send bulk SMS you need to create a Group, then Import your list of recipients into that Group, then compose & send your message to the Group. Easily done:
Note: you can also get replies cc'd to your email for free. Set this up in Account Settings and scroll down to Incoming Messages Forwarding Settings to add your email address then click Update defaults.
This video walks you through how to create your Groups and import your contacts into SMS Express, then send a bulk SMS broadcast.
Concise 14-page Getting Started User Guide in PDF format. View onscreen or print.
You'll find a how-to version video here:
Your Account Current Time defaults to Eastern STANDARD Time (QLD time) and does not auto-adjust for Daylight Savings or for other States' time zones or New Zealand local times.
This will be an issue if you schedule SMS to go out at a later time. The Current Time is also shown in Bulk Message and Single Message pages so check before your broadcast to ensure the time is correct for your time zone. If the time is not correct, you can easily change this in your Account Settings.
The Current Time is normally set to Server Time + 8 hours (480 minutes) and during Eastern Daylight Savings it's Server Time + 9 hours (540 minutes) and does not automatically adjust to Daylight Savings times.
If you are in Western Australia please change this to server time + 5hrs which is 360 minutes.
Below are some "before and after" screen shots. As our office is in Melbourne, my account time is 480 (server time +8 hrs)
Here's my account's default time:
Now I will change it to eastern Daylight Saving by adding 1 hour (540 minutes ahead of Current Server Time = 9 hours):
Now here's how it appears in Bulk Message screen:
If you need us to do this for you please call 1300 668 287 or email email@example.com
While Maintain Groups is to create your individual Group or groups of people/numbers to import into, the MAINTAIN NUMBERS section is your address book where you can view your numbers and other details within your Groups.
There are many things you can do, such as:
A PDF User Guide on how to setup the BDAY Module to automatically send birthday SMS, or reminder or anniversary SMS. It's very quick and easy to do. NOTE: If you want to send a TEST message to your phone, set it to send at least 24 hours from now.
Login to your account, and in the left side menu, third from the top you'll see Online Payments. Click that to view payment screen. We use PayPal merchant facilities, which also takes VISA & Mastercard (no PP account needed). Credits go straight into your account.
If you don't want to use PayPal then please call us on 1300 668 287 to buy over the phone. We accept VISA, MC, Amex. Or we can send you a tax invoice for EFT payments. The choice is all yours :)
Here's a video on how to cancel a scheduled sms broadcast (or see screen shots below this video):
Need urgent help? Call 1300 668 287
We have a separate page for this. Click here to go there
To stay compliant with the Spam Act, first you must have CONSENT to send people a commercial text message (ads, promotions).
The commercial texts must contain WHO you are (eg your business name), an opt-out or unsubscribe facility so recipients can stop getting your messages.
The SMS Express platform keeps you compliant with the Spam Act by automatically managing optouts for you via these 2 options:
1. Auto blacklisting replies like STOP or REMOVE or UNSUBSCRIBE. For example:
Dear Olivia, see you at the VIP launch. Raffles Fashionz. 25 Chappie St Winsdor. 2optout rply STOP .
2. OptOut placeholder which inserts a clickable link in your message (uses 20 characters), and recipients can click to easily opt-out. This is the best option to use if you have customised a SenderID so people can still optout automatically even if they cannot reply to your SMS..see screen shot example:
Opt outs go into your Blacklist section which you can view at anytime. Remember if you use a Custom SenderID, we highly recommend using the OptOut placeholderabove.
The SMS Express system is pretty good at picking up optouts, but we recommend using standard terms like STOP or REMOVE and discourage "flowery language" replies...and it happens!
If you do get a rude reply, quickly check Replies and Blacklist them right on the screen...or view the Blacklist page to see who has opted out.
The OptOut placeholder with the link should be used at all times if you send a commercial text using a SENDER ID.
The SMS Express system has Placeholders (also called merge fields or dynamic fields), which gives you up to 6 fields to insert personalised data into each SMS.
You'll see these in the Bulk Message screen as Placeholders Value 1~6 buttons.
A common way to personalise is simply with a Firstname using the Value 1 button, which inserts some code that the system will replace with the relevant first name. For example:
'Hi Chris, your bill is overdue. Please pay asap. Thank you. Acme Power'
Or use more Placeholder fields to include more info for the recipient (I have used 5 Placeholder fields):
'Hi Chris, your gas bill for $100 is overdue. Please pay by 5pm Monday. Thank you. Acme Power
To get started, you'll need to prepare your spreadsheet with your fields, and Import Data to the Group you've created.
You can view replies in the Replies inbox section by logging in to your SMS Express account.
Also you can elect to have any Replies received in your online account forwarded to an email address free. These are kept for several years in our system.
You'll need to set this up in Account Settings and scroll down to Incoming Messages Forwarding Settings. It's simple to do...see the below screenshot:
You can also tweak the layout of these forwarded emails to only display the info you need. Please ask us to help you do this as it's not straighforward.
Please note if you change the Sender ID, replies will NOT come back into your online account. There is more info on Sender IDs..see links below.
You've done your bulk SMS, so what happens now? This video covers Replies, Blacklist-Optouts, Delivery Reports:
When you sign up for an account with us, by default the system will email your Sent reports Daily and/or Weekly. You can change this frequency in your Account Settings in your cloud account.
Also you can login to your cloud account and view numerous reports at any time.
The quickest and easiest report is Sent/Queued which covers broadcasts over the past 6 months.
NOTE if you search a future date it will show any queued/scheduled broadcasts (it won't show BDay..to view BDay see Bday Maintain Numbers for broadcast dates)
The Sent/Queued contains a few layers of reporting, and it's easy to miss them, so here's a quick snapshot.
Note: The Sent/Queued reports are online for 6 months, so we advise checking these regularly. Our server simply cannot hold everyone's' reports forever..we'd need a server the size of the moon to do this!
So what does it all mean?....
You also have access to other reports such as:
Reply Routing is a little more complex than your standard Replies, but don't let that scare you.
Routing allows you to setup RULES telling the system what to do when certain “keyword” replies are received back from your SMS.
Say you want to send out an event invite and want the YES and the NO replies to go to different mobile numbers and/or email addresses of people in your business… you can even add a custom reply to the replies.
For example, for those who reply YES, you can tell the system to forward these messages to your mobile and email address and send people back a thank you SMS.
You could run a survey or poll, or have a product to sell. People who respond RED get forwarded to Jack, and the BLUE responses go to Jill, etc.
Remember that forwarding to a mobile number from SMS Express system will cost a credit, but emails are free.
The SMS Express platform handles optouts automatically, so when it "sees" the words: STOP, REMOVE, UNSUBSCRIBE, these people will be added to the Blacklist without you lifting a finger..it's all automated and you don't need to think about it.
However if you want to get fancy, Reply Routing can also allow you to customise Optouts received and forward these to another mobile or email. Maybe people who reply REMOVE can be automatically emailed to your Sales Manager, and they can call the customer to see if there's an issue or perhaps they have moved and you need to update their details. Or they are unhappy with your company.
An optout request is certainly a flag in your client database that something has changed with that client.
Once you have setup your Rule, the next step is to go to Bulk Message to setup your broadcast and include the Rule. In the Replies Routing section below your Message box, your Custom Rule will be there. Select the Rule, then Preview, then send.
IMPORTANT: make sure you DO NOT use a Custom Sender ID. The Options Sender ID must be set to Repliable or the replies will not work
Here's a video showing you how to set this up.
The SMS Express platform has 2 "shared numbers" which allows you to send texts out and get replies back into your account. The number that your SMS' come from is called the Sender ID, and this shows on your recipient's phone. You've probably received a text from a company with no number, but instead the name of the company. You have the option to also do this by creating a custom SENDER ID. This allows 11 characters including spaces. For example you can have the SENDER ID as ACME CO, and this will show up on the recipient’s phone as ACME CO instead of our system’s mobile number. Here's a screen shot of some example Sender IDs I have created..you can set 1 as the default, but you can also change this on the fly in the Single or Bulk Message screens.
Beware though..if you change your Sender ID to a word, people CANNOT REPLY to you. If you change to your own handset number, all replies go back to your phone and bypass the SMS Platform. If you are sending commercial SMS messages (eg advertising), you will need to include an opt-out to be compliant with the Spam Act and of course not annoy customers if they choose to stop getting your messages. This is easy to do by inserting the OptOut Placeholder Link. The OptOut placeholder with the link should be used at all times if you send a commercial text using a SENDER ID.
REPLIABLE is the default setting for all SMS Express accounts and means you're using our shared numbers, so all replies come back into your online SMS Express account where you can view in your Replies inbox. But as we discussed earlier, if you set your own Sender ID as the Default (see example in the first image) this overrides the system's Repliable default and you cannot get replies.
Important Notes To Consider:
A Sender ID allows for 11 characters including spaces. This will easily accommodate a number, but you may have to abbreviate a company name or word so it doesn't get chopped off on the recipient's phone.
By using a Custom Sender ID NUMBER (eg 0411111111) to send SMS, people will reply directly to that number and bypass the SMS Express platform.
If you legally require your SMS messages to have an opt-out mechanism, make sure you use our Opt Out Placeholder (see screen shot image below) which adds an optout link into your SMS.
Recipients simply click the link and are taken to our Opt Out page to unsubscribe. These numbers are then added to the Blacklist and are suppressed from receiving any further Bulk Messages from your account. You can view the Blacklist at anytime.
If you use a WORD Sender ID (eg ACME CO) people cannot reply at all as there's no "return address". So if you need to include an opt-out mechanism, simply use the same Opt Out Placeholder.
You can see Reports of your Sent text messages plus any optouts from the Placeholder link. But you cannot see any replies in your online account if you customise a Sender ID. Again, if you don't need replies then this won't be an issue.
Call us if you need any clarification on this as understanding what's spam can be tricky: 1300 668 287
Any SMS Express account holder can create Sub Accounts where others can have their own SMS accounts with their password and username under a Master (Primary) Account.
These are free of charge and you can create as many as you need.
A Sub Account has all its own functions, including its own Server Time (important if scheduling messages) . The only thing a Sub Account holder cannot do is buy and allocate credits..that has to be done by the Master account.
You can enable the Auto Top Up function so a Sub Account doesn’t run short. Note auto-topup for sub-accounts must be minimum 100 credits.
1. Create a Sub Account by adding in Username, Password and Full name. Click Create Sub Account.
2.To EDIT the Sub Account click EDIT on the relevant account. Here you can transfer credits to the Sub Accounts from the Master account.
NOTE RE: Maintain Groups: When creating a group, the option exists to make the group available to a Sub-Account holder as “Read Only” or “Write”. The Sub Account holder is also able to create groups and allocate “Read Only” or “Write” status to the Master.
Require Authorisation: Apply this function to ensure messages composed by a Sub Account holder are authorised/approved by the Master account before being released. These messages can be viewed in Sub-Accounts (Holding) on the menu, and action taken to “Release” or “Decline” SMS’s.
Regarding Optouts/Blocklist:If you have optouts (people who unsubscribe), the system will automatically suppress Blacklisted numbers for Bulk SMS in the Master and Sub Accounts.
If you use the same or similar message every time you send an SMS, you can create templates and save time. You can also edit these on the fly within your Single or Bulk Message boxes. See our video:
You'll be relieved to know it does not matter. Zero begone!
As long as the mobile number is there in Column A, it does not matter if the 0 is chopped off.
Once your list is imported, the system automatically converts the numbers to an international 61 anyway, so the zeros are superfluous.
So the numbers can be, for example 61444444444 or 0444444444 or 444444444.
If you're having issues with excel, Save As as CSV and reimport...or send it to us and we'll do it for you.
If your numbers are a dog's breakfast we have tools to tidy them up for you, so send them on over!
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 668 287
Excel has many little tricks up its sleeve, and this is a handy tip if you want to split out First Names and Last Names into separate columns. Let's see how easy it is (video has nice, low key background music for your viewing pleasure):
If you want to send a personalised SMS but your customer names are a mess in your spreadsheet..some are in CAPITALS, some in lower case... you need to tidy them up.
But how to do this quickly?
This video will show you how to change from UPPER CASE or lower case or mIXED CAse to Proper Case which is the appropriate case for any personalised communication (video has nice quiet piano background music):
Occasionally Excel has a mind of its own. If you use dates in your SMS messages (eg a birth date or subscription date), you may have seen something like this while Previewing your SMS before broadcast:
Example: Hi Geoff don't forget our meeting on 12 Jan 2016 00:00:00
...these weird zeros have appeared in your message after the date. It's called a Time Stamp and is an annoying quirk of Excel.
If you have a Date column in your Excel spreadsheet, Excel may add this Time Stamp to each cell next to the date, but you cannot see it on the spreadsheet...but if you IMPORT your spreadsheet into a group, these 00:00:00 may be imported too...and you want to get rid of them.
Here's a short video on how to get rid of the Time Stamp. You will need to open your Excel file with the Dates, and open up a Notepad file (usually found in Accessories in Windows).
After you have cleaned out the 00:00:00 you will need to re-upload your spreadsheet...(call us on 1300 668 287 if you need help as it can be fiddly)...