Action - Send SMS

This action sends an SMS to any contact with a valid phone number.

Do I need to connect to Twilio?

No. By default, all messages are sent from Autopilot's Twilio account. This means you can send SMS messages immediately without any setup. However, please note that a monthly limit applies (see below). 

How many SMS messages are included?

All plans include 250 SMS messages per month. A "message" is based on what Twilio considers a single message (i.e. 160 characters). If you exceed the monthly limit, and a contact enters this action, the message will not be sent and it will be noted in the Activity Feed that it was not sent. 

To send higher volumes, you can connect your own Twilio account and use a custom phone number instead of Autopilot's (see below). Autopilot also supports connecting to Twilio's Copilot Messaging Services (also covered below).

How can I personalize my messages?

To add personalization variables to your SMS messages, click on the personalization button:

In this case I'm using both the name and company that a contact enters on a tracked form to personalize the SMS they receive upon completing the form:

You can also add fallback variables to handle situations where you don't have data in a contact field for a particular contact. Just put =insertyourfallbackhere after the variable. So it comes out looking like the below (which will say "your company" if the company field is empty):

How do I connect a custom Twilio account?

If you'd like to use your own Twilio account, you can connect it here:

The benefits of connecting a custom Twilio account are that you can:

  • control the phone number that your messages come from;
  • receive replies to your messages (see below); and
  • directly access Twilio's delivery logs, as well as their support team.

If you don't yet have a Twilio account, you can create one here

When you connect a Twilio account, you'll be asked to provide your AccountSID and AuthToken:

You can find these in your Twilio Account Settings here under "Console" then "Dashboard":

Once you've connected your account, you need to select from the phone numbers you have purchased or ported to Twilio on each Send SMS action and publish the Journey:

If you haven't yet purchased a phone number but wish to do so, you can do so here. Twilio also allows people in the US to port a number that they already own.

Which phone number field does Autopilot send the SMS to?

Autopilot has two phone fields: 'Phone' and 'Mobile Phone'. If the contact has a number in both fields, we'll give preference to the 'Mobile Phone' field. If the 'Mobile Phone' field is empty, then we'll send the SMS to the number in the 'Phone' field.

How do I know if an SMS was sent?

The Activity Feed will let you know when an SMS could, or couldn't, be sent. Here's an example of when an SMS was sent:

The most common reasons for SMS messages not being sent are:

  • the contact didn't have a phone number;
  • the contact has opted out of receiving your texts;
  • the contact had an invalid phone number; or
  • your country code settings are not set to your country (see below). 

What outcomes does the action provide?

There are three outcomes: "Sent", "Not Sent" and "On Continue":


  • Sent means that the number was valid and the message was sent.
  • Not Sent can occur for several reasons (see above).
  • Use On Continue if you want all contacts to simply flow through the step regardless of whether or not they were sent the SMS. 

How do I set a default country code?

To send an SMS, Twilio requires a country code. In Settings you can set a default country code, which means that you don't need to worry about all of your contacts having country codes in their phone numbers: 

To make your life even easier, if one of your contacts does have a country code, we’ll honor it.

So let’s say you have your default set to United States, but one of your contacts is in Australia, if their number is correctly formatted with the Australian country code of +61 in front of it, then the SMS will be delivered.

If a contact replies to an SMS, will I receive it?

If you use Autopilot's Twilio account, you will not receive replies. Please keep this in mind when composing your SMS; for example, you may wish to include a number in the SMS that the recipient can call or SMS if they'd like to contact you.

However, if you connect to a custom account (see above for details) you can have replies forwarded to another phone number by doing the following in your Twilio account. 

First, go to Messaging Services, which is under "Programmable SMS":

If you don't see the same menu options above, you may need to click the "..." icon:

Then click "Create new Messaging Service":

After you've entered a name (this can be anything you like), you need to complete the "Request URL". The Request URL is:

For example, if your phone number was a United States number, you would enter the following:

Please ensure that:

  • your forwarding number is different to your sending number (to ensure you don't end up in a loop);
  • your forwarding number needs to include country code (the "%2B" acts as the "+" so please ensure you keep it); and
  • you have "HTTP GET" selected next to the Request URL:

Click "Save" at the bottom of the page. That's it! 

When you receive a reply, it will come from your sending number, but the message will specify the sender’s number, so you can easily copy it and send them a reply, or call them:

What requirements apply to SMS sent via Autopilot?

You are solely responsible for your communications and their legality under all laws and regulations.

The Send SMS action is intended to send personalized messages to individuals. You should only send SMS messages to individuals who have opted in to your service and are expecting communication from you. 

You must include the following at the end of your messages:

"Reply STOP to unsubscribe. Msg&data rates may apply."

Twilio will handle the following messages in accordance with industry standards:

  • STOP, UNSUBSCRIBE, CANCEL, END, and QUIT will stop contacts from receiving messages.
  • START and YES will opt contacts back in to the messages.
  • HELP and INFO will return a message informing the contact how they can unsubscribe.

Can a contact be sent the same SMS more than once?

Yes. Given this is the case, please ensure that you consider the structure of your Journeys carefully. 

If you don't want a contact to ever receive the same SMS, one way of achieving this is to use the Update Field action when it occurs the first time. You can then check that field with the Check Contact Field condition before the action is performed.

For example, let's say you only want to send an SMS to someone the first time they submit your contact form, but on any subsequent form submits by that contact you don't want to send another SMS. You could achieve this using the below Journey:

An alternative to the above would be to use the Add to List action, and the Is On List or Segment condition (i.e. add them to the list the first time they submit the form, and then check if they're on the list before performing the action). 

Please note, however, that the same phone number can't be sent the same message in a one hour window; this is done to prevent accidental duplicate messages.

Is there a limit to how many SMS messages I can send while on a trial?

Yes. You can only send 50 messages while on a trial account. To send more you need to upgrade to a paid account.

However, if you connect to your own Twilio account (see above for instructions) there is no limit to the amount of messages you can send while on a trial. 

How do I connect a Copilot Messaging Service?

Once you have connected a custom Twilio Account (see above), you can connect a Copilot Messaging Service.  You can learn about the benefits of using a Messaging Service here, however highlights include:

  • Scaler: distribute messages across a group of phone numbers to reach large audiences in a short amount of time (great for high volume senders). 
  • Sticky sender: send messages with the same recognizable phone number to create a consistent experience.
  • Geo-match: use local phone numbers when sending messages globally to automatically create a local experience for your contacts.

You can connect to a Messaging Service by clicking the link shown below:

You'll be asked to provide the name and SID:

You can find these in Twilio's Messaging Services settings. You can also create a new Messaging Service under these settings if you don't already have one.

Once you have connected, you need to select the Messaging Service on each Send SMS action and publish the Journey:

In Twilio, don't forget to select the numbers that the Messaging Service will use:

You can also select which features you would like to enable for the Messaging Service under "Configure":

Autopilot supports connecting multiple Messaging Services. To add another just follow the steps above. 

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