SMS Surveys allow you to send your AskNicely survey via a text message, providing an opportunity to get feedback from customers where you don’t have an email address, or where text is your primary method of communicating. 

In this article, we’ll talk about:

  • What the SMS survey looks like
  • How to implement SMS surveys
  • The process to send email & SMS surveys at the same time

Important notes: 

  • The number of SMS that you purchase is an estimate based on cost per message, not the number of surveys you can send. Initial message, SMS Workflow messages, and SMS Workflow responses all count towards the message limit. If an SMS is more than 153 characters including the survey URL, it will be split out and count as more than one SMS. The same goes for any reply you may receive or any workflows. (see FAQ's below for URL length)
  • Test your character limit by clicking here. Using special characters can drastically change the total character count. Select the "auto" option below the text box when checking total message count. If you leave it on the default of "gsm" it will highlight in red the characters that would cause a message to break into 2 automatically. 
  • You get $10/USD worth of free SMS messages when you initially sign up, allowing you the opportunity to test and check for validity. 
  • Please contact your Customer Success Manager or your Account Executive for SMS pricing. Plans vary based on location and survey limits.
  • When using the API, SMS messages do not follow the "delayminutes" rule

The SMS Survey: 

The invitation to answer the survey will be sent from a US telephone number as a simple text message with a link. When the user clicks on the link, it will open their default web browser to start the survey. 

After setting the score, Feedback Topics or Conversations will be displayed (if they’re enabled). 

And there you have it! That’s how it works. Pretty simple, right?

How to set it up:

To get SMS Surveys, the first step is to reach out to your Customer Success Manager or your Account Executive to have it turned on. It takes roughly 24 hours to get the account set up on our back end. 

The second step is importing your customers’ phone numbers. For this, you have two options.

  • Option 1 (Recommended if you want to import SMS and email for your customer): When importing your contacts, bring in the customer’s SMS number as a new column, titled whatever you like (ex: SMS or mobile_number) with the phone number in that column, using numbers only, and including the country code. During the import, you'd select for this field to be imported as "Custom Data > Import as: "field_name". If you use this option, AskNicely will send out SMS by default and will switch to email if SMS fails. 
  • Option 2 (For use if you ONLY want to use SMS to survey this contact): During CSV import, as you are matching fields, select "AskNicely > Mobile Number (Primary Survey Method)". This is if you ONLY want to do SMS, perhaps because you don't have the customer’s email. Note: If you don’t see the “Mobile Number (Primary Survey Method)” option, confirm with your CSM or AE that you do have SMS already enabled.

Note: If you are using API to bring in contact information, the phone number needs to be formatted as “{number}”

Important: Please make sure all numbers include country and area codes. 

If you choose Option 1, please let your CSM or AE know which field you used; we'll have to make a quick adjustment on the back end to ensure that anyone with an SMS number in that field will get an SMS survey and not an email survey. As a bonus, with this option, if the SMS message fails (for example, if it’s an incomplete number or a landline) then we'll send out an email survey! 

Setting up the SMS Template:

On the Survey page,  select a template from the list, and click the SMS tab.

Here’s where you’ll set the message that is sent out with the link to your survey.  You’ll adjust this on each template that you plan to use with SMS. 


Why am I being asked to top off my SMS quantity when I haven’t sent my maximum number of surveys?

SMS is paid for not by number of surveys, but by number of messages. Your initial message, SMS Workflow messages, and SMS Workflow responses all count towards the message limit. Long messages may be split into more than one SMS. 

OK, so how do I know if my messages will get split? 

SMS messages split at 153 characters. When we're talking about your initial survey message, that includes both the text asking recipients to complete the survey and the link to the survey. The message includes your URL automatically. The length of that can vary depending on your AskNicely domain name  (the part between “https://” and “” - ex: If your domain is longer, your message will need to be shorter. 

If you like numbers: The link is 32+[length of your domain] characters. So our Jarvis Suites account with domain jarvissuites (12 characters) will have a link with 32+[12]=44 characters. So I'll need to make sure my greeting is less than 116 characters. 

Remember that call fields are variable, too, so if my message contains {firstname}, I should plan for long names, which will increase my character count. 

Remember, short messages are your friend in SMS!

What if I want to send both email and SMS surveys? 

Great news: You can! To do this, we recommend you add a custom data field to your People, and include the phone number—with proper formatting including country code—of anyone you would prefer to send an SMS survey tor in that custom field. We'll make sure that anyone with a phone number in that field gets an SMS survey instead of an email. Note: If you're using a custom data field to send out SMS surveys, the send button on the people page still says "email" but an SMS survey will be sent

Will someone be double-surveyed, once by SMS and once by email? 

Not if you use a custom field with phone number instead of putting the phone number in place of the email address. Because we use email address as a unique ID, if you add the same user but put their phone number in place of their email address, it would be considered a new user that's unaffiliated with the first. If that happens, someone may get double-surveyed. 

What if the phone number is incorrect and is actually a  landline? 

In that situation, we’ll get a failure to deliver notice and we'll send an email survey as a backup, if you have an email address on file for the person. To avoid this, please double check the phone numbers you are importing.

What has the better response rate, email or SMS? 

So far, we've noticed fairly similar response rates, but email surveys tend have a greater comment length. 

Do SMS surveys count toward our monthly/annual survey limits?  

Yes, they do. 

Are there workflows for SMS? 

Yes, you can read the SMS Workflows and Alerts help document for more information on these.

Can I change the phone number the text comes from? 

Unfortunately you are unable to change this. 

Is there a character limit in SMS? 

We limit a single message to 160 characters. If a user responds with over 160 characters then it would count as 2 text messages. We cap all SMS feedback at 320 characters. 

Where can I go if I have more questions?

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact our Support team by clicking the chat button in the bottom right hand corner of your screen.

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