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Mobile phone with a ‘new message received’ message with a cursor hovering over a ‘show’ button and thumb poised to select it.

Automating text messages can be extremely useful in business, and using SMS by Zapier is really powerful, easy – and free!

In this article we cover the following:

  • Why is SMS such a powerful business tool?
  • What is SMS by Zapier?
  • What could I use SMS by Zapier for?
  • What are the limitations of SMS by Zapier?
  • How do you use SMS by Zapier?
  • Tips for using SMS by Zapier for team notifications

 

Why is SMS such a powerful business tool?

There are many different ways of communicating with your team and clients, from email, Slack and MS Teams messaging to SMS – each one has its pros and cons.  SMS can be great for sending reminders for meetings and appointments, running quick surveys, promoting discounts, providing updates and much more. 

The beauty of SMS communication is that most of us rarely go anywhere without our phones.  It’s easy to miss emails sometimes, or other notifications, but a simple text message is often the quickest way to get someone’s attention.  We even link them to our smart watches, which means we don’t even need to use our phones to read a notification.  A discreet vibration on our wrist alerts us to a new message and we can even glance at them during a meeting!

There are many paid text messaging services such as Twilio, ClickSend, TextMagic and VoodooSMS.  These apps are great for sending bulk marketing messages, and can be integrated with Zapier to connect with your other business software.

If, however, you want to send simple text messages and don’t need to keep a history of the chats then SMS by Zapier is an extremely powerful built-in integration.  And the best part is, it’s FREE!

 

What is SMS by Zapier?

SMS by Zapier is one of the many inbuilt helper functions that come with Zapier and you can use most of them on their free plan.

Tip : Download our free cheatsheet which is a perfect quick reference for Zapier’s helper apps.

Businessman in a suit checking an SMS text while working at his desk

 

SMS by Zapier allows you to send text messages using the cellular phone network to UK or US phone numbers that you have verified.  You need to ‘own’ the numbers that you’re sending the messages to because each number has to be confirmed using a PIN code, so it’s ideal for sending messages to your team or yourself.

 

What could I use SMS by Zapier for?

The power of SMS by Zapier is that it can be connected with over 4,000 applications, all using Zapier’s easy no-code interface.  You don’t need to hire a developer to configure a simple automation which can be used for many different use cases.

Examples we’ve used it for include:

  • Sending a reminder when a Google Meeting is pending (never miss another Zoom call!)
  • Send a notification when a sale is made via Shopify or WooCommerce.
  • Send an alert when an invoice is paid in Xero or QuickBooks.

The dedicated Zapier page for SMS by Zapier lists many other popular workflows, including:

  • Send SMS messages for new Typeform entries.
  • Send SMS messages for new leads from Facebook Lead Ads.
  • Receive SMS messages for new updates to RSS feeds.

If you’d like to use any of these recommended integrations then Zapier provides a template for each one, making it super quick to set them up for yourself.

You can use SMS by Zapier for fun stuff too!  For example, are you caught up in the viral word game Wordle?  We love it here, and wish it could send us a notification every day to remind us to do today’s challenge.  Luckily Zapier can do that for us!  It’s super simple to set up a daily scheduled SMS text to remind us to do the daily Wordle with a link to their website.  You can set it to send at whatever time is convenient for you.  Here is a Zap template to the one we use, which triggers at 8am every morning.  You can exclude weekends if you like, but we have chosen to receive the text every day of the week.

 

What are the limitations of SMS by Zapier?

SMS by Zapier isn’t as fully-functional as the paid text messaging apps, but it’s still pretty powerful. 

As we’ve said before, you can only use SMS by Zapier to send messages to UK and US numbers that you’ve pre-confirmed, so it needs to be numbers that you own.

There is a limit of 153 characters for each message, and anything longer than this will be truncated. 

You can send up to 15 messages per hour.

Otherwise, the world is your oyster!

How do you use SMS by Zapier?

To use SMS by Zapier you must first pick the app which provides the trigger step.  The trigger is the event which fires the zap, so it could be WooCommerce’s ‘new order’ or Google Calendar’s ‘event start’ trigger.

Once you’ve picked the app for the trigger, you’ll then pick the app for the ‘action’.  This is where you choose SMS by Zapier, and its ‘send SMS’ action (see below).

Screenshot from Zapier showing trigger of Event Start in Google Calendar and action of Send SMS using SMS by Zapier.

Zapier will then walk you through setting up the trigger step, which includes logging into the trigger app and choosing exactly what criteria will be used to fire the zap.  For example, to get a notification before an event starts you can choose how many minutes, hours, days or weeks beforehand you’ll receive the SMS.

(There are some limitations on the free plan, for example a 16 minute minimum to receive the notification before the event starts.  You’ll need a paid plan if you want a notification 10 minutes before or less, for example.)

Once you’ve set up the trigger you can set up the action, the SMS itself.  For this you’ll need to specify the telephone number to send the message to.  You’ll enter the full number and can choose a method for verifying the number, either by receiving a PIN by SMS or a voice call.

Screenshot from Zapier showing how a telephone number is verified for the SMS by Zapier application.

Then you will select the number that the text is sent from.  You can choose a fixed number from a list or select ‘Random’ (which is what we usually recommend).

Finally, you can set up the message you’d like to send.  For this you can include fixed text and any data from the trigger step.  Don’t forget the 153 character limit, so use that space wisely!  One of Zapier’s other inbuilt helper apps is Formatter By Zapier and this could help trim characters if you need to shorten any text.  You can find out more in our guide to formatting text using Zapier, but it includes a ‘truncate’ function as well as ‘split text’ which allows you to extract the parts of the data that you need.

Tips for using SMS by Zapier for team notifications

If you want to send an SMS to more than one recipient then each one will need a separate action step.  If you have a paid plan then you can easily set up multi-step zaps, with one step per telephone number.  You’ll need to verify each team member’s phone number but that only needs to be done once per number.

If you are using the free Zapier plan then you can still send text messages to more than one person.  The workaround is to set up multiple zaps for this automation, one zap per telephone number, each with the same trigger.  Be aware that you can only configure a maximum of 5 zaps under the free plan.  This is a great zap to get started with though, as it’s very simple to set up and extremely powerful.

 

More no-code tips

If you’d like to find out more about Zapier’s no-code integrations, with detailed examples of how they can be used in different business scenarios, then we’d recommend our founder, Kelly Goss’ book, Automate It with Zapier, which is available on Amazon and from the publisher Packt.

The book is perfect for new Zapier users as well as seasoned pros. Buy your own copy today direct from publisher Packt using this link.  Or here are links to Amazon (.co.uk) and Amazon (.com) if you prefer.

 

Free e-books

We also offer two free resources if you want to find out more about the no-code revolution and other built-in functions offered by Zapier.

Our free Introduction To Zapier e-book explains the benefits of business process automation, how Zapier fits in and examples of automations for each department within your business.

Here is a reminder about the free cheat sheet which includes a checklist of Zapier’s inbuilt functions which can supercharge your automations.  

 

 

Read more about how our certified experts use Zapier workflow automations to simplify processes and increase efficiency.

Solvaa is a process and automation consultancy specialising in improving sales, operations and financial administration workflows. We help you to simplify and streamline existing processes, integrate your business tools to make data transfer more efficient and automate manual tasks to increase productivity. We are Zapier Certified Experts, Pipedrive Certified Experts and Xero Certified Advisors. 

Contact us today to discuss how Solvaa can help you simplify, improve and automate all aspects of your business with Zapier to save you time, reduce costs and keep you agile as you grow.

 

 

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