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SMS messages

Overview: SMS and MMS

Cordial's SMS (short message service) channel allows you to send personalized promotional campaigns and transactional messages to your contacts using SMS text messages or MMS messages. SMS messages are delivered to your contact's mobile devices via their default or preferred messaging app.

Our MMS (multi-media message service) channel supports text messages with media such as images, animated GIFs, audio, and video. If you have SMS enabled in your account and have also purchased MMS from Cordial, you can send MMS messages. The same short code will be used for both SMS and MMS.

To enable the SMS or MMS channel in your Cordial account, please contact your Client Success Manager.

Create a new SMS message

Once the SMS channel is enabled in your account, you can begin sending batch and automated text messages.

1. To get started, log in to Cordial and navigate to Messages > Create New Message and select SMS from the Channels dropdown.

2. Fill in the required fields and select Continue.

  • Message name: Give your message a name. This is an internal message title and not visible to your contacts.
  • Message key: Unique identifier used to reference this SMS message in API calls. The key will auto-populate, but the value can be edited. Not available for batch SMS messages.
  • Tag this message: Tags are useful for grouping messages together (similar to folders). This field accepts new and existing tag names.
  • Classification: SMS messages can be classified as promotional or transactional. Promotional SMS messages can be sent to contacts who have given prior written consent by explicitly opting in to your promotional SMS program. Transactional messages are sent based on behavior, such as browsing your website or completing an order.
  • Short code: Select the account short code to be used for sending the SMS message. If there's only one short code in your account, it will auto-populate.

Cordial supports multiple short codes within a single account. To submit a request for multiple short codes, contact your CSM.

Message classification

Promotional messages

Promotional messages contain relevant information about upcoming sales, product announcements, references to other products, or any other general marketing communications. These messages are sent to contacts who've given prior written consent.

Transactional messages

Transactional SMS messages provide customers with helpful information about their transaction. A contact opts in to receiving transactional messages on a website, typically at checkout. These messages can include order confirmations, shipping and delivery notifications, password reset information, and other information specific to an individual contact.

1.) Transactional SMS must not include promotional content of any kind. This includes discount codes, upselling, references to other products, or any other type of promotional content. 2.) Transactional SMS doesn't require double opt-in but does require explicit opt-in by the user. 3.) Transactional SMS messages don't need to adhere to Quiet Hours.

Edit SMS content

You can create SMS messages quickly and easily using the SMS message editor. The message editor supports plain text and Smarty template language for dynamic personalization. Learn more about using Smarty in message content here.

1. Select Edit in the Message Content pane to start creating your message.

2. The Message Content editor will appear.

Character limit

  • SMS message character limit: A single SMS message is restricted to 160 characters. If the character limit is exceeded, the message will be divided and sent as multiple messages. This could result in additional wireless carrier messaging and data charges. Messages that exceed the character limit can be delivered to the contact's device as one message; however, the wireless carrier will likely count each message separately.

    When a special character (or non GSM-7 character) is used, the remaining number of characters in an SMS message is reduced to 70 characters. Special characters include emojis. You can learn more about GSM-7 characters here.

  • Using Smarty: Personalized content generated by Smarty could cause some of your messages to exceed 160 characters. For example, when using {$contact.first} to display a contact's first name, the length of a rendered message will be different for each contact depending on the length of their first name combined with the rest of your SMS message content.
  • Shorten your web links: The SMS link shortener can be used to reduce the length of your web links and give you the most value out of the 160 character limit.

For best results, use the Preview and Test tools to check the appearance of your SMS message before sending the campaign to your contacts. You can see how many characters you've used with the Preview tool.

AI-generated content

You can utilize AI-generated content in your SMS and MMS messages to enhance and streamline the message creation process. Generative AI content is available in batch messages, automated messages, and message experiments.

1. Create a new message or edit an existing draft and click Edit in the Message Header pane. 

2. Enter a prompt and select Generate AI Content

3. From within the generative AI pane, enter a prompt and click Generate AI Content. Multiple variations of usable content will appear.

4. To customize the text, select one or multiple of the buttons: Shorten, Lengthen, Urgent, Casual, Funny.

To minimize your character limit, AI suggestions often suppress emojis.

5. Click Use Content under the AI-generated text you wish to use, and it will appear in your message content.

Insert images into a message

Once uploaded to Cordial, you can insert images into messages by with a single click. 

SMS schedule and audience

1. To edit the schedule for your message, select Edit in the Schedule pane.

2. To edit the audience for your message, select Edit in the Audience pane.

The steps for scheduling and choosing your audience are similar for batch and automated SMS messages. However, there are several noteworthy differences—mainly due to automated messages supporting three sending methods, with additional settings for each method.

Time zone sending

You can schedule SMS messages to send at a specific time based on your contact's time zone. Since SMS messages are a personal mode of communication, we recommend that you avoid sending messages early in the morning or late at night. You can also use time zone sending to tell people about limited promotions, such as those that occur at a specific time of day.

  • Prerequisite: Sending messages according to time zone becomes available when one of the contact attributes is set as the primary time zone. This is typically the address attribute. Once the primary time zone attribute is set, you have the option to send based on the contact's time zone across all messaging channels.

If sending according to contact's time zone is not enabled, your message will be sent based on your Cordial account default time zone.

Set Quiet Hours in SMS batch messages

You can set Quiet Hours for your promotional SMS batch messages to ensure that you're communicating with people at the optimal time and adhering to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) guidelines.

To be compliant with TCPA, we recommend that you only send SMS messages between the hours of 11 am and 8 pm.

1. Navigate to Messages > Create New Message and select SMS from the Channels dropdown.

2. Give your message a name, add any desired tags, and click Continue

3. Click Edit in the Schedule pane.

4. Configure Quiet Hours for your message under the Quiet Hours section.

By default, SMS Quiet Hours are set to comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. You can further configure Quiet Hours for your SMS message by setting a Quiet Hours time frame.

If an SMS message delayed by Quiet Hours is scheduled to send within an hour of Quiet Hours ending, it will experience a slight additional delay. Example: A message is scheduled to send at 2:30 pm. Your Quiet Hours window ends at 2:45. The message will send at 4:00 pm.

Preview and test

Use the Preview as and Send Test tools to visualize your SMS message before sending the campaign to your contacts. We recommend using these features extensively to help you compose deliberate and impactful SMS messages.

All test profiles must exist as valid and subscribed contacts in your account.


You can preview your SMS message without leaving the message creation page. Select a contact profile from the Preview as menu and click Preview. This is a great way to quickly check that your personalization rules are curating content as you envisioned. 

Your shortened links will also render in Preview if the SMS link shortener utility is used in the message.

Send test

To see how your message will display on a real device, send a live test to your deviceor to more than one contact, preferably profiles you created for testing purposes only. To do this, select the Send Test button on the left side of the message creation page.

The Send Test modal allows you to search for test contact profiles in two ways:

  • Enter contacts: Type or paste one or more contact identifiers separated by commas. This is convenient for sending test messages to frequently-used test profiles.
  • Search and select contacts: Search for contacts by contact identifier (partial or whole). This is useful for retrieving a list of contacts that match your search criteria, such as those that use a specific domain for their email address ( Select one or more contacts as they come up in your search, and they will be added as SMS message test recipients.

When searching by the Cordial-generated Contact ID (cID), the ID value must be entered as an exact match.

SMS and MMS experiments

Experiments provide a simple yet powerful way to create and test multiple SMS or MMS messages against one another—with the ability to select the best-performing message for a specific KPI.

For the SMS and MMS channels, experiments are only available for batch messages, not automations.

1. Click Edit in the Message Content pane.

2. Select either SMS or MMS as the Message type.

3. Turn the Experiments button to On.

4. In the Optimize dropdown, select the KPI you want to optimize. This is the metric that will be used to determine which variant performs better.

5. Choose an Experiment strategy.

  • Split test: Choose whether to split your audience evenly per variant or set the variant sample size (in percentage or number).
  • Split test with champion: Set sample size per variant (in percentage or number) and automatically send a champion. The remainder of the audience will be sent the best performing variant after a specified delay.

6. Choose how to Split audience in the dropdown.

  • Split audience evenly per variant: Divide your audience evenly across the number of variants you have created. For example, if you split the variant evenly across four variants, 25% will receive variant A, 25% will receive variant B, 25% will receive variant C, and 25% will receive variant D.
  • Allow a control variant: Divide your audience either by Percentage of total audience or a specified Number of contacts.

7. Create or fill in the content for each variant. If you're creating an MMS experiment, choose the relevant Media for each variant.

8. When finished, Preview and then Save your experiment.

Performance summary

The Summary Performance report provides the following key performance indicators:

  • Sent: Total SMS messages sent from Cordial to the mobile operator
  • Clicked
    • Unique: Unique contacts that have clicked on a link within the SMS message
    • Total: Total number of contacts who clicked on a link
    • Click Rate: percentage of contact who clicked a link in your SMS out of the total people who received your SMS
  • Total Revenue: Total revenue attributed to the message
    • Average Order Value: (Total Revenue / Purchases)
    • Number of purchases: Total number of purchases attributed to the message(s)

The SMS Stats Filters pane provides additional KPIs:

  • Delivered: Total SMS messages delivered by the carriers
  • Delivery Rate:Percentage of messages sent over delivered
  • Delivery Failures: Total SMS messages that failed to be delivered to the mobile device
  • Delivery Failure Rate: Percentage of SMS messages that failed to reach the device

Occasionally, there's a discrepancy with the number of SMS messages sent, delivered, or failed. This is because we did not receive the delivery receipt from the carrier. Carriers will sometimes provide a reason for a failed delivery, but this is not always the case. This is common and does not necessarily mean that the message was not delivered successfully.

Link performance

The Link Performance section allows you to visualize SMS link performance for:

  • Revenue
  • CTOR
  • Total Clicks
  • Unique Clicks
  • Average Clicks/Clicker

Tracked links will display as URLs unless they're named using Smarty within the message content.

Link performance results can be exported into a CSV file. Click Export to download the results locally.

All event activity is stored in Cordial for 18 months. Message open and link click events are tracked for 30 days from the time the message is sent. Links will continue to work after 30 days but tracking will be disabled. Attribution is not tracked for purchases made via links after the 30 day period.



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