How to create a link that sends an SMS text message?

Chase Buckner | Director of Product Marketing at HighLevel

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Did you know you can create SMS links that automatically open your texting app with a pre-written message? Just click a link on your phone, and your messaging app pops up with the recipient’s number and a ready-to-send text. It’s that easy!

Try it out yourself by clicking here!

This feature opens up huge market opportunities, enabling easy lead generation and creative uses on Android and iPhone.

But how does all of this actually go down? Up next, we’ll take a deep dive into the subject while giving you pointers to create HTML SMS links as well as some key SMS automation tips you can use within HighLevel.

How To Build An HTML Link That Opens An SMS App With a Message Already Written

First, let’s take a look at the anatomy of a normal HTML link. To make a link like this, you would use the following HTML:

<a href="">like this</a>

The content within the first set of <> symbols determines what link should open when you click the link text, and the text between the first set of <> symbols and the closing </a> becomes the link text.

creating a text sms link

To make an HTML link that creates a default SMS message like this, you would use the following HTML:

<a href="sms:2155555555&body=Sign me up for a free teeth whitening session!">Like this</a>

The content within the first set of <> symbols determines what number the SMS message should send to and the SMS body text. And then again, the text between the first set of <> symbols and the closing </a> becomes the link text.

It’s as easy as that!

Why Would You Want To Populate An SMS Message?

Now that we know how to do it, let’s talk about why it’s a good idea to fill in SMS messages with default text.

The main reason is to make things easier for people and boost conversions. When a marketing agency runs a lead generation campaign, making it simple for users usually leads to better results. With pre-written messages, you’re:

  • Removing the need for users to copy/paste or remember the phone number
  • Taking away the stress of figuring out what to write
  • Saving time by skipping the hassle of typing a message (no more frustrating auto-correct battles – just hit send with one hand)

Traditional marketing campaigns direct people to a webpage where they’re asked to fill out forms.

Imagine seeing a Facebook ad for free teeth whitening. You click the ad and land on a page that says “Let’s brighten up that smile!” followed by a form asking for First Name, Last Name, Email, and Phone number. In today’s fast-paced world, filling out a form can feel like a chore.

But what if instead of a form, there’s a button saying “Claim My Free Teeth Whitening”? You tap the button and instantly switch to your texting app where a phone number is already entered and the message says “Sign me up for a free teeth whitening session!” All you have to do is hit send. It’s quick and easy.

Pre-populating SMS messages not only reduces hassle but also allows for automation. When you know what’s in incoming SMS messages, you can use tools like HighLevel to automate responses based on specific words or phrases.

Powerful Automation That Is Possible When You Pre-Populate The SMS Body

In an app like HighLevel, you could build workflow automation with a trigger set to fire whenever an incoming SMS message contains a specific word or phrase, such as “free teeth whitening” from our previous example.

With that trigger set, you could then add whatever you like to the automation, such as an auto-reply SMS with instructions on how to redeem, an action that creates a new contact for the incoming phone number and then tags the contact to a specific list, etc.

Building An Easy Auto-Reply For Messages From SMS Links

Let’s explore how you can automate sending an SMS response based on specific incoming messages using the Workflow automation builder in HighLevel.

1. Setting up the Trigger: Create a new workflow. Use the “Customer Replied” trigger and set up two filters: one for “Reply Channel” (select “SMS”) and another for “Contains Phrase” (type “free teeth whitening”). This means the workflow will activate whenever you receive an SMS containing the phrase “free teeth whitening.”

Automation trigger for pre-populated SMS message

2. Creating the Auto-Responder: Add an SMS event to automatically send a reply to the user’s mobile device. Customize the message to something like: “Thanks for claiming our Free Teeth Whitening offer! Your voucher is redeemable with any cleaning. Here’s the link to book a cleaning. – Dr. Bob’s Dentistry”.

3. Adding Reminders: Include a “wait” step to pause the contact for, let’s say, 24 hours before sending another reminder SMS. This way, you can continue to send reminders until needed.

It’s important to note that you should also create a separate workflow to remove contacts from this reminder sequence once they’ve booked an appointment. This ensures you don’t keep sending reminders to someone who has already scheduled a visit.

By using these automation tools, you can streamline communication and engage potential customers more effectively!

Next Level Tip – Pre Populate Your Auto Reply With A Question

To take your automation to the next level and boost booking rates, consider asking a question in the SMS you send back to the person who initiated the text using an HTML link.

The goal is to make your message sound more personal and start a conversation. The exciting part is that we can use AI to create different automated paths based on the response to the question.

Let’s refine our auto-reply SMS. Instead of just sending the booking link, try something like this:

“Thanks for claiming our Free Teeth Whitening offer! Your voucher is valid with any cleaning. Is now a good time to schedule your appointment? – Dr. Bob’s Dentistry”.

SMS auto-reply with condition step

Because we’re asking a question in our message, we can now incorporate an “If/Else” step into our workflow. This step will determine the next action based on whether the reply is positive or negative.

For example, if the potential customer responds with “Yes, Yeah, Sure, Sounds Good, etc.”, we can automatically send another SMS with the booking link. If the response is not positive, we can route the conversation to a team member at Dr. Bob’s Dentistry for a manual follow-up.

Things To Consider…

Now that we’ve explored the ins and outs of leveraging SMS marketing with HTML links, let’s take a closer look at some important things you should think about. These considerations will help you make the most of SMS in your marketing efforts. 

  • Using a click-to-text link might not work on all devices, but it definitely works on both iPhone and Android devices.
  • When you pre-populate the SMS body text using an HTML link, it uses the device’s native texting feature, allowing the user to edit the message if they want.
  • While most users won’t change the pre-filled text to avoid extra effort, keep in mind that they could. If they do change the message, it might disrupt any automation set to recognize specific phrases in the text.
  • To prevent users from editing the text, consider adding something like “Promo Code: 21556” within the pre-filled message. This makes it clear to users that the content is important and shouldn’t be altered. Here’s how the HTML link would look:
<a href="sms:2155555555&body=Sign me up for a free teeth whitening session! (Promo Code: 21556)">Like this</a>
  • Regarding desktop usage, even though most people use smartphones for browsing, some still use computers. Depending on the device, operating system, version, and browser, the automated SMS link may or may not function.
  • Keep in mind that the phone number you use in the SMS hyperlink must be text-enabled. In certain countries, text-enabled numbers may not be readily available through services like Twilio.
  • Sending SMS messages incurs costs that vary by carrier or service provider like Twilio. Before automating SMS texts, be sure to review the associated fees.
  • Lastly, depending on the platform used to create the HTML link, you may or may not be able to include an SMS phone number in the link’s construction.
opening an sms link on desktop
Opening an SMS link on desktop

The Case for SMS Marketing

Even though SMS marketing might not be the trendiest thing right now, recent studies show it’s making a strong comeback and proving to be more effective than email marketing in engaging customers.

For instance, Gartner reports that text messages have an incredible open rate of 98%, compared to just 19.8% for emails! 

So, why isn’t SMS marketing more widely used? Many businesses struggle with SMS communications because they don’t have systems to properly manage them,, until now…

With SMS-enabled phone numbers, you’ll select a phone number that redirects to your main business number and that allows you to manage SMS conversations directly on HighLevel’s platform. Not only that, but it also enables you to create contacts and manage your lead’s information all in one place. 

Interested in trying out HighLevel’s SMS marketing features? Try it out for FREE with our 14-day trial by clicking this link.

14 Day Free Trial Of HIghLevel

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