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Auto-responders for SMS
Create a trigger word auto-responder
Create a trigger word auto-responder

Set up automated SMS responses that are activated by specified trigger words.

Gareth Burroughes avatar
Written by Gareth Burroughes
Updated over a week ago

SMS trigger words offer a personalised and speedy way for you to interact with your audience. Trigger words let your audience activate chosen functions by sending a text message containing a custom word to your virtual mobile number or short code.

By using trigger words, you create a more meaningful and interactive communication experience for your customers. Trigger words can be anything from a single letter to a short phrase.

Trigger words

Maybe you want to use Y for contacts to confirm attendance at an event, or SignMeUp to opt into a list or competition. There are lots of options for ways to use trigger words and auto-responders.

Trigger words:

  • must be one word (no spaces).

  • can contain both letters and numerals.

  • are not case-sensitive.

When you receive a message containing a trigger word, your account automatically sends back your pre-defined auto-response

Before you start

Things you need to know:

  • You should plan out any trigger words and auto-responses you're going to use in your auto-responder. Make sure they're ready to go before you start this process.

Ways to use a trigger word auto-responder

Here are a few examples of how you can use trigger word auto-responders:

  • Sign-ups
    Trigger word auto-responders are a perfect way to manage subscriptions to your lists. Use an auto-responder to automatically add contacts to lists in your account.

  • Customer surveys
    Use your trigger words to run quick and easy feedback surveys.

  • Competitions
    Why not set up a text-to-win competition for your audience? Use an SMS trigger word auto-responder to send entry responses and monitor competition entries.

1. Create an SMS auto-response

First, you must create your auto-response messages.

To do this:

  1. Go to Automation > Triggered SMS.

  2. Select NEW CAMPAIGN.

  3. Enter a campaign name and select SAVE.

  4. Select CAMPAIGN OPTIONS, and then select:

    • Send type: TRIGGERED

    • Split test: N/A - this option is not available for triggered campaigns.

      Enabling link shortening saves character counts and allows you to track SMS clicks.

  5. Select SAVE.

  6. In the SMS editor, expand the Sender drop-down menu and select the sender identity you want to use for the message.

  7. Enter your default auto-response message in the Message field. Triggered SMS campaigns for use as auto-responders don't support the use of personalisation.

  8. Select SAVE & CLOSE.

Repeat this process for as many auto-responses as you need for your trigger word auto-responder. Usually, this is one response for each trigger word.

2. Set up the auto-responder

  1. Expand the User menu and go to Settings > SMS > SMS Auto-responders.
    Here you see a list of all inbound numbers and shortcodes for your account.


  3. Enter a name for your auto-responder.
    You can change this later if you want to.

  4. Select SAVE.

Set up your trigger words

  1. Under Details, expand the Number drop-down menu and choose the mobile number you want to set up the auto-responder for.
    This is the number your audience send a message to, to trigger your auto-responses.

  2. Under Auto-responder rules, select NEW TRIGGER WORD.

  3. In the Trigger words side panel, for If a person sends, enter your chosen trigger word in the centre box.

  4. Expand the Respond with drop-down menu and select your auto-response message.
    Only your existing Triggered SMS campaigns display in the drop-down menu.

  5. If you want to create additional trigger words, select + NEW TRIGGER WORD at the bottom of the side panel and repeat the process.

  6. Select APPLY.

3. Set up your response frequency

The response frequency lets you limit the number of times a single user can send a message to your auto-responder and receive a particular response.

For example, in a text-to-enter competition, you might want to restrict entries to one entry per mobile number. In this case, you can set up your auto-response to be a Thanks for entering message, and use the Response frequency settings to send a You've already entered auto-response to any subsequent entries.

To set the response frequency:

  1. Under Response frequency, for If a person sends a trigger word more than once, select Send a different response.
    If you want to continue sending the same auto-response to any additional messages, select Keep responding with the relevant campaign and move on to step 4.

  2. Expand the On subsequent responses drop-down menu and select the auto-response message you want to send to any users messaging more than once.

4. Set up list actions

You can use actions to add any responding contacts automatically to a list. This works great for sign up campaigns.

To add list actions to your auto-responder:

  1. Under Actions, set Add people who respond to a list to YES.
    If you don't want to add responders to a list, select NO and move on to Step 5.

  2. Expand the Add responders' numbers to drop-down menu to select the list you want to add your contacts to.

5. Activate and save your auto-responder

  1. Under Activation, select Active to turn on your auto-responder.
    To turn the auto-responder off, select Inactive.

  2. Select CREATE.

That’s it! Your auto-responder is now set up and working.

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