Expanding Into SMS (for Those Who Don’t Code, Like Me)

June 03, 2021
Written by
Austin Whiting
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own

Expanding Into SMS (for Those Who Don’t Code, Like Me)

We know that email is essential. With 84% of consumers telling us they want to receive communications from companies in their inbox, it is at the core of customer communication and shows no sign of becoming any less important. 

However, we also know that customers expect to interact with companies over more than just email. 

As a marketer who understands this, but whose work has mostly remained within the email channel, I wanted to explore a way to expand outside of the inbox. Oh yeah, I also don’t write code outside of some HTML (re: email experience). 

I figured SMS would be the best next step as there are tons of use cases for SMS notifications that align quite well with email and are very straightforward. 

SMS allows for sending real-time updates, notifications, and alerts on a channel we know recipients constantly monitor. Adding SMS to an email program allows recipients to choose their preferred channel for each type of communication. 

In this article, I outline how you can get set up with SMS in 5 minutes with no code. If I can do it, you can do it too. Here’s how.   

How to get started with SMS

Enter Twilio’s Quick Deploy apps

Quick Deploy apps from Twilio are sample code examples for common use cases that you can deploy in just one click. Basically, Twilio wrote all the code needed for each use case, and you just have to release it. 

There are a few steps before and maybe after that are necessary (like creating a Twilio account, for example), but essentially, Quick Deploy will create and deploy your app within Twilio in a click. 

Among the SMS Quick Deploy apps, there’s an SMS Auto-response app available. This would return an SMS auto-response back to any number that texted it. Some use cases for this might be:
  • Texting a number to receive a specific promo code
  • Texting a business number to receive its store hours
  • Texting a number to receive event specific information

Setting up SMS Quick Deploy app

As it was easy to imagine how this could be used right off the bat, it seemed like the best option. Follow along as I send my first SMS notification in 6 steps. 

      1. Create your free Twilio trial account

Signing up for a free Twilio account just takes a minute and requires no credit card. Create your username and password and verify your email, plus a mobile number (you know the drill). Lastly, you’ll answer a few questions so that we can better serve you throughout your getting-started experience.

       2. Get a trial number

Within the homepage of your console, you can click “Get a trial number,” and we’ll recommend a free number to add to your account to use for testing. Once you select “Choose this number,” the number is yours.

     3. Head to CodeExchange

Again, from the homepage of your console, click “See app samples” from the banner that asks: “Hi there, want to get an app running with no code?” If you can’t find it, head to CodeExchange while still logged into your console.

     4. Find the “SMS Auto-response” app sample

On the second page, locate the “SMS Auto-response” sample and click it. Scroll down, in Step 1, do you see your project name? In Step 2, do you see your trial phone number you just chose within your account? 

     5. Deploy your app

Click “Deploy my application” on the sample code page. Text your Twilio trial number. You should see a response of: “Send from your Twilio trial account—Hello World!”

That’s it! You’ve deployed your first Twilio app!

     6. (Bonus) Customize your message

Twilio uses a tool called Functions to deploy your application. Within your account, on the left navigation, you can click Functions -> Services, then click the “Hello-messaging” service tab at the top.

Update the message within twiml.message (“Hello World”) to whatever you’d like and click “Save,” then “Deploy all” in the bottom left. Your auto-response will now return your customized message whenever the number receives a text.

We did it! 

As a note, your message will include the copy “Sent from your Twilio trial account” prior to your message. However, you can remove this when you easily upgrade your account within your console.

Ready to send SMS?

To prove my own use case, text our toll-free number 1(855)634-0100 to get a promo code for $10 in free Twilio credit when you sign up for a new Twilio account and make the upgrade.  

Want to set up a Voice auto-response? Recreate this process but with Programmable Voice Auto-response

Also, if you’re looking for more ways to put SMS to work with your email, check out our Email to SMS: Strategies and Tactics for Optimal Performance article, or explore more ways to Get Started With Twilio SMS.

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