How to Pre-Populate SMS Body Text From A Text Link

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How Do I Create A Link That Sends An SMS Text Message?

It’s often a surprise to even experienced marketers that you can create SMS links. An SMS links are HTML links that, when clicked, open the default Messages app on iPhone, the Android messaging app, the Messages Samsung app, etc. and actually pre-populates the body of the text message with a default message of your choosing.

Think about that for a second. You click a link on your mobile device, your Messages app opens right to the “create a message” screen of your native texting app, the ‘to’ phone number is already entered, and there’s a pre-written message sitting there in the SMS body. Assuming you’re cool with the message text, all you have to do is hit send.

Try it out for yourself by clicking here!

The ability to auto-populate the sms body text on both Android and iPhone with an html link creates massive opportunity for agencies when it comes to lead generation as well as other creative use cases.

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="https://google.com">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.

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 you’d want to populate the sms body with a default message.

The main reason is to reduce friction. If a marketing agency is running a lead generation campaign for a client and the goal is to capture phone numbers, removing as much friction as possible for the end user always results in increased conversions. With pre-written messages, you’re:

  • Eliminating the need for the lead to copy/paste or try to remember the phone number
  • Eliminating the need for the lead to think about what to write
  • Saving the time of actually typing out a message (no frustrating auto-correct battles – they can just hit send with one hand)

Typical marketing campaigns drive people to a landing page with a call-to-action encouraging a potential customer to enter their information into a form.

Imagine you see an ad on Facebook for a free teeth whitening, you click it, and now you’re on a page that says something like “Let’s brighten up that smile!” followed by a form that requires you to enter your First Name, Last Name, Email, and Phone number. In a world where people can’t sit through a ten second Tik Tok video, the idea of entering all that information into a form is not exciting – it’s friction.

But imaging if instead of the form, there was a simple button that said “Claim My Free Teeth Whitening”? You tap the button and instantly you’re switched into your native sms app where you see a phone number has already been entered and sms body text already reads “Sign me up for a free teeth whitening session!”. All you have to do is hit send. Frictionless.

In addition to reducing friction, it’s a great idea to pre populate the sms because it opens the door for automation. When you know what an sms text message is going to contain, you can use marketing tools like HighLevel to build automations that kick off by “listening” for particular words or phrases within sms messages.

Powerful Automations That Are Possible When You Pre Populate The SMS Body

In an app like HighLevel, you could build a 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 specific list, etc.

Building An Easy Auto-Reply For Messages From SMS Links

Let’s take a look at how we would automate an sms message back to text that came in with a pre-populated body message using the Workflow automations builder in HighLevel.

After creating a new workflow, the first step is to create the input trigger. Because we want to build an automation that triggers based on what’s in the body of an incoming text message, we’ll choose the workflow trigger called “Customer Replied” and then create two filters: one for “Reply Channel” > “SMS” and one for “Contains Phrase” > “free teeth whitening”.

Automation trigger for pre-populated SMS message

So what we’re saying is, any time an incoming SMS contains the phrase “free teeth whitening” in the text body, execute the steps below. So now let’s build some steps below.

Because we want to build an auto-responder that goes back as an SMS to the users’ mobile devices, we’ll add an SMS event and populate the sms body text with whatever we want to go back to the potential customer’s mobile device.

Continuing with our free teeth whitening example, we might want the sms text message we send back to read 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”.

We could then add a wait step that holds the contact for, say, 24 hours and then sends another reminder SMS and continue to build reminders for as long as we like. Note that you’d also want to build a second workflow that pulls someone out of this workflow when an appointment is made by this contact so that you’re not annoying them with reminders once they’ve already booked.

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

If we wanted to go next level with this automation and increase the rate of people who end up booking a cleaning, you’ll want to ask a question in the SMS you automate back to the person who sent the initial text via an html link.

The reason being you want your message to sound human and to initiate a conversation. And what’s really cool is that we can leverage Artificial Intelligence to create different paths of automations based on whether or not the response to the question is positive or negative.

First let’s look at how we’d change our auto-reply SMS. Instead of sending them the booking link, we might want the SMS body text to read like this:

“Thanks for claiming our Free Teeth Whitening offer! Your voucher is redeemable with any cleaning. Is now a good time to get you booked? – Dr. Bob’s Dentistry”.

Because we’re sending a message back that’s asking them a question, we can now add an “If/Else” step to our workflow and set the condition to be based on whether the intent of the reply message is positive or negative.

SMS auto-reply with condition step

This means that if the potential customer replies with anything like “Yes, Yeah, Sure, Sounds Good, etc.”, we can send them down an automated path that sends another SMS containing the link to book. And if they reply with anything not positive, we can send them down an automated path that notifies someone at Dr. Bob’s Dentistry to manually reply.

GoHighLevel leverages Google’s artificial intelligence platform Dialog Flow to make this magic possible. Pretty cool right?

Things To Consider…

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 via an HTML link, the message uses a mobile devices native texting functionality, which means the user can edit the message.

Most of the time they won’t as most people don’t want to create friction for themselves, but it’s important to remember that they could and that if they do change the message, it could break any automations you have set up to look for a specific phrase in the body copy element.

One way to reduce the possibility of users changing the pre filled body text is to include something like “Promo Code: 21556”. The number can be anything you like but the idea is that if a user sees something about a promo code in the pre filled body text, they’ll likely realize it’s important and not edit it. The HTML link for that would look like:

<a href="sms:2155555555&body=Sign me up for a free teeth whitening session! (Promo Code: 21556)">Like this</a>

The desktop scenario – while most people browse social media and the internet on smartphones like iOS devices these days, people will always also use computers. Depending on what device/operating system/OS version/browser they are using, the automated sms link may or may not work for them.

opening an sms link on desktop
Opening an SMS link on desktop

This may seem like a given, but the number you want the sms hyperlink message to go to needs to be a text enabled number. Using Twilio, for example, some countries don’t yet give you the option to purchase a text enabled number.

Sending SMS texts incurs fees that vary based on the carrier and/or applications like Twilio. Be sure to review the rates before you begin automating sms texts.

Depending on what publishing platform you’re using to create the HTML link, it may or may not permit you to add an href sms phone number when building your link.

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