Ultimate Guides Guide to Automated Text Messages
Guide to Automated Text Messages
Nov 21, 2020 - 12 min. read
Everything you need to know about automated text messages including autoresponders, auto reply texts, scheduled messages and more.

Everything You Need to Know About Setting up and Sending Automated Text Messages

Liberty through automation! That ought to be the mantra of every smart and savvy business owner and organization leader. Why? Because time-savings and efficiency start with automation.

But automating your business messaging isn’t exactly… easy.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide to automated text messages.

If you want to:

  • Learn how to send automated text messages
  • Save time and engage more contacts
  • Improve your conversational experiences
  • See examples of the best auto response campaigns
  • Get access to proven automatic text reply templates

Then you’ll love the detailed strategies in this guide.

Why Automate?

Why Automate?

Automation saves time. You increase efficiency when you hand off a repetitive task like data entry or message responses to software or a service.

However: (aside from time savings) automation also makes it easier to create more personalized, conversational experiences for your message recipients.

Yes, we all want to be more efficient and more productive. But automation should ultimately create a better overall experience for your customers and contacts.

When your contact or customer gets an instant response (in their own time), then they’re more likely to continue engaging. [Here’s the proof]https://messagedesk.com/blog/text-messaging-statistics-facts-stats-insights/).

But: automation isn’t a cure-all.

Consider the experience you’re creating for your message recipients. You’ll want to think about how automation fits into your overall engagement strategy.

What Are Automated Text Messages?

Automated text messages are scheduled text messages. They’re pre-written messages that get automatically scheduled and sent to a recipient at a specific date and time. They result in a more timely, personalized connection with your contacts.

Automated text messaging may also refer to scheduling, dripping, or triggering auto reply text messages in mass texting campaigns. Many business text messaging platforms provide various ways to automate text messaging.

How Are Businesses and Organizations Using Text Message Automation?

1. To keep top of mind with smarter, more personalized SMS marketing campaigns

Many businesses and organizations begin automating their text message marketing with scheduled campaigns. Campaigns are sequences of auto response texts that send messages automatically based on pre-defined triggers.

Here are a few examples of automated text message marketing campaigns:

  • Scheduling a new product announcement
  • Automatically sharing a new blog post or piece of content once it’s published
  • “Text Keyword To” automatic reply promo messages
  • Texting a link for text to give and text to donate campaigns for nonprofits and other organizations.
  • Automatic “Happy Birthday” promotional rewards

Suggested Article: 5 Ways to Use SMS for Sales

2. To automate sales outreach over new channels

Automated text messages also give salespeople new ways to connect with leads and prospects. Text messages can be a great tool to keep deals moving forward. Consider that 76% of people don’t like talking to businesses on the phone.

Here are a few examples of automated sales text messages:

  • Schedule meeting or Zoom conference follow-ups
  • Share product information or promotions and special offers
  • Send automated shopping cart reminders for e-commerce sales
  • Automatic sales receipt messages

3. To improve customer service and build brand loyalty

Automated text messages also work well for transactional messages. These messages aren’t promotional, they’re informational. They’re designed to deliver relevant information to customers and contacts at the right time.

Here are a few examples of transactional automatic customer service messages:

Suggested Article:7 Ways to Use Text Messaging to Improve Customer Service

Chapter 2

Part II: How to Set Up a Text Message Auto Responder

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Part II: How to Set Up a Text Message Auto Responder

What is an Autoresponder?

Autoresponders are "auto-replies". They’re the simplest, most common form of SMS automation. When someone texts a unique keyword to a phone number, they instantly get a text message back.

Autoresponders work great for opting people into messaging. When someone texts a keyword, they get added to a segmented group.

The more specific the group, the easier it is to provide more relevant follow-up information. Offers become more relevant when they’re based on a contact's interests.

How to Set Up Autoresponders and Send Automatic Text Messages

1. Sign Up For an Automated Texting Service

MessageDesk is our obvious first choice, but there are other business text messaging platforms that offer similar features. What it really comes down to is which platform is right for you.

Suggested Article: How to Choose the Best Business Texting App.

2. Upload Your Contact List

You’ll need a contact list regardless of the text messaging app you choose to use. You’ll want your data into organized columns labeled “Mobile Phone”, “First Name” and “Last Name”. As a best practice, you’ll also want to save this file as a .csv.

Note: Every text messaging platform requires that you get consent from your contacts before you text them. In some circumstances, consent may be “implied”. Regardless, TCPA compliance is mandatory under the law for most businesses and organizations. Read our guide to TCPA compliance and opt-in/opt-out best practices for more information.

3. Create Segmented and Personalized Groups

Segmented and personalized messages will always produce more engagement and yield more responses. The best way to segment contacts is to group them based on their goals or similarities.

The more segmented the group, the more direct and personalized you can make your messages.

4. Set Up an Autoresponder Keyword

Most autoresponders get triggered when a message recipient texts a keyword to a phone number. Texting the keyword automatically opts the contact into receiving text messages. They then receive instant information about special offers, sales, or even updated office hours.

As a best practice, you’ll want to keep your autoresponder keyword short, sweet, and memorable.

5. Encourage Contacts and Customers to Text Your Keyword and Opt-in

Start by making your autoresponder keyword visible. Then couple it with an enticing offer that gets customers to check out your business or organization.

Deals, freebies, and rewards can all encourage new users to subscribe and start receiving SMS messages from your business or organization. Consider displaying your keyword on your website or social media pages.

6. Compose Text Templates with Personalization Tags

Templated text messages are the number-one time-saving tool in every text messaging platform. These are pre-saved messages that keep you from having to type the same message repeatedly.

There is nothing sweeter to a person than the sound of their own name. Personalization tags are what allow you to insert contact information like {{ FirstName }} into every pre-saved templated text message you send.

7. Schedule and Send

Once you’ve imported your contacts, set up your keyword, and composed and personalized your text message templates it’s time to schedule and send.

Most text messaging platforms offer three flavors of time-based messaging:

  • Immediate auto reply texts
  • One-time scheduled text messages
  • Recurring scheduled text messages

Every text messaging tool will have a different interface but almost all allow you to schedule text messages.

Most platforms also let you chain messages into campaigns. These campaigns deliver messages repeatedly over a period of time or send messages as one-time autoresponses.

Chapter 3

Part III: Automated Text Response Templates and Examples

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Text Message Templates

Below is a list of various autoresponse text message templates. For more, check out these free personalized text message templates.

Special Offer

Thanks for opt-ing in. We’ve got cool stuff headed your way. Here’s 10% off your next order to get you started. Use code 10PERCENT at checkout.

Thanks for Joining

Thanks for joining {{ OrganizationName }}’s VIP text list! Get $5 off your next purchase when you show this text to your server at checkout! Expires 3/25.

Thanks for Your Interest

Thanks for your interest in {{ OrganizationName }}! We’ve got more info on our website at {{ OrganizationWebsite }}. In the meantime, check out this explainer video on YouTube: [URL]

Event Updates

Hi, {{ FirstName }}! You’ve joined the event update text group. As a reminder, doors open at 3pm on Friday. For more info visit [LINK]. We can’t wait to see you!


Hey {{ FirstName }}! Please respond YES or NO to RSVP for this week’s live webinar. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Volunteer Opportunity

Hi, volunteers! Who’s interested in volunteering for our event? We’ll be helping {{ OrganizationName }} on 3/25 from 12-3pm. Respond back to RSVP and let us know if you’ll be joining us!

Reservation Confirmed

Your Reservation at {{ OrganizationName }} is confirmed for [TIME]. Call or text {{ OrganizationPhone }} for updates and more information.

Order Received

Thank you {{ FirstName }}, your order has been received! We will alert you when your order is ready for pick-up. Call or text {{ OrganizationPhone }} for updates and more information.

Abandoned Cart

Hey {{ FirstName }}, you’ve got good taste. Just don’t forget the items in your shopping cart. Order within the next 2 hours to guarantee delivery by Wednesday!

Automated Birthday Rewards

Happy birthday {{ FirstName }}! To make you feel just a little more special we’ve got you for 30% off your next purchase. Just use code ITSMYBIRTHDAY at checkout and we’ll get things squared!

Out of Office

Hello, {{ FirstName }}. We’re currently out of the office but we’ll be back during normal business hours. Our current business hours are: Monday through Friday, 9am – 5pm.

Office Closed

Hi there, {{ FirstName }}. We’re currently closed. For order information please visit our website at {{ OrganizationWebsite }}.

Office Hours Holiday Update

Hey {{ FirstName }}. Thanks for reaching out. Just an FYI we’ll be closed on Monday. For emergencies please call {{ OrganizationPhoneNumber }}.

Schedule a Meeting

Hi {{ FirstName }}. Pick a time that works best for you to schedule a meeting: [LINK]

Appointment Reminder

Hi {{ FirstName }}, this is {{ OrganizationName }} confirming you have an appointment on 3/25 at 3pm. Thanks for scheduling your appointment with us, and if you have any questions, reply via email or text. We’ll see you then!

Payment Reminder

Hi {{ FirstName }}. Thanks again for your business. Here is a link to your invoice for {{ InvoiceBalance }} due on {{ InvoiceDueDate }}: {{ InvoicePaymentLink }}. If you have any questions feel free to call or text us back at {{ OrganizationPhone }}.

Review Collection

Hey {{ FirstName }}, how was your experience shopping with us today? We pride ourselves on great service and it’s your feedback that makes that possible! Take a minute and let us know what you thought! [LINK] - {{ OrganizationName }}

Automated Marketing Campaigns

Automated SMS marketing campaigns are great for creating demand and generating leads. The objective here is to interest or entice someone to text your keyword and opt-in to messaging. Once they’ve opted in, you can focus on delivering them relevant content.

Automated marketing campaign best practices

  1. Be courteous in your messaging and be upfront regarding ways to opt-out of further communications.
  2. Start with a memorable keyword and a compelling content offer.
  3. Send a person relevant content once they text your keyword and opt-in.
  4. Insert visual media like images, videos, and gifs to show vs. tell a story
  5. Include a single call to action (CTA).
  6. Your CTA should drive a person to a webpage or other resource.
  7. Good CTAs will clearly prompt a person to learn more, complete a transaction, or something else.
  8. After the person has opted-in, send them personalized follow-up messages based on their interactions with your business or organization.

Automated Sales Campaigns

Sales campaigns can take many forms depending on your business or organization. Strategies for selling a B2B product will differ from B2C. But in all instances, SMS works well for following up with prospects and closing deals.

Automated sales campaign best practices

  1. Schedule automated messages to send at relevant times like during business hours.
  2. Include links that allow recipients to schedule a meeting with you.
  3. Be persistent and consistent in your messaging to establish a rapport with your recipients.
  4. Keep messages short and to the point
  5. Provide a clear call to action (CTA).

Automated Appointment Reminders

If you use multiple communications methods to remind people, then you’ll also want to consider staggering reminders. In this way, you’re treating appointment reminders like a campaign.

For example, you may send an email reminder five days prior to an appointment. This could be followed by a text message three days in advance. Then, finally, a phone call the day before an appointment.

Automated appointment reminder best practices

  1. Make sure you have consent from your contacts to send them reminders.
  2. Make your no-show and cancelation policies clear and transparent.
  3. Only send reminders at the right times, like during normal business hours.
  4. Personalize text messages with media and tags like {{ FirstName }} whenever possible.
  5. Make your texts actionable with calls to action (CTAs) for rescheduling or canceling.
  6. Give your message recipients a way to call you by using a business text messaging service that supports call forwarding.
  7. Treat text message appointment reminders like a campaign with multiple reminders days before and on the day of.

Suggested Article: Guide to Text Message Appointment Reminders

Automated Invoice and Payment Reminders

The keys to these campaigns are automation and instructive calls to action (CTAs). Both help you automate your messaging and make your invoice collection process more agile.

Calls to action in your automated messages tell a customer how to pay and eliminate confusion. Every time you send an invoice reminder, you want to include a link and clear text.

Phrases like “Pay Now” can help eliminate confusion. The easier it is for a customer to pay an invoice, the more likely it will get paid on time.

Sample invoice collection campaign

  • Day 1: email and text link to the invoice
  • Day 2: text invoice reminder
  • Day 3: text invoice reminder
  • Day 5: text invoice reminder
  • Day 7: email and text link to the invoice
  • Day 9: call customer

Suggested Article: Guide to Small Business Invoicing

Automated Review Campaigns

Texting works great for sending a link to your Google Reviews. All you need is to include your Google Review short link in the message.

Automated review campaign best practices

  1. Save your Google Review messages a template with the shortlink preformatted and ready to go.
  2. Add personalization tags like {{ First Name }} and {{ Last Name }} to the message.
  3. Schedule Google Review text message templates to send to customers you know are pleased with your service.
  4. Create groups of customers based on their actions and send them all a review message.
  5. When a customer pays a bill, that’s a good time to send an automated review text message.

Suggested Article: The Ultimate Guide to Google Reviews

Chapter 5

Part V: What to Look For in An Automated Text Message App

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The best texting apps have these features:

If you're interested in text messaging, you have a myriad of options (including MessageDesk. But what you really need is a way to know which texting app will work best for your business or organization.

The following is a list of twelve features and capabilities you should look for in a good text messaging service.

  1. Easy to use and get started with
  2. Accessible on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices
  3. Supports adding multiple users
  4. Uses a local 10-digit phone number
  5. Has call forwarding features
  6. Saves text messages as templates
  7. Creates groups and lists of contacts and customers
  8. Sends texts to multiple recipients without reply all
  9. Schedules messages for sending later at any time
  10. Manages opt-in, opt-out, and consent
  11. Integrates with other apps
  12. Provides good customer service and support

Suggested Article: How to Choose the Best Business Texting App