Send and receive text messages

A lot of people are connected to their mobile phones 24/7. You can take advantage of this with text messaging. Text keywords allow people to take action from their phone without filling out forms. Text blasts can be sent to a group of supporters to keep them informed, provide details about an upcoming event, or otherwise move them to action. Texting can replace signup sheets at events and help grow your community.

Please note that texting is available to customers in the U.S. and Canada on the Organization plan and above. 350 texts per month are included for free and more can be purchased. 


Enable text messaging

To use text messaging, you will have to set up a phone number in your nation. Determine how many text messages to send and receive per month at Settings > Billing > Plan. 

settings_billing_plan_nav.jpg

Select your text messages limit from the drop-down menu within the plan description. 

Number of texts as an option within plan

Then click "Choose this Plan." 

The text limit you choose is a count of incoming as well as outgoing texts. So, if you were using a text blast to collect RSVPs, your text interaction would consist of the original blast, the RSVP, and a confirmation text. This interaction would count as 3 texts towards your total. If you exceed your text limit, you will be automatically upgraded to the next pricing tier.

Please note that 350 texts per month are included in the Organization plan and above. Sending and receiving more texts will incur an additional cost. Please take a moment to review text pricing before making your selection.


Broadcaster text message settings

Several aspects of the text message experience are defined in Communication > [Broadcaster name] > Settings > Texting. All of these settings are optional.

texting settings in broadcaster

1. Completing the supporter's profile

Each time a supporter uses a text keyword to contact your nation, the system will try to collect profile details before sending the supporter the autoresponse created with the keyword.

profile_complete.png

You can choose to ask for name, email, and physical address. By default, only name and email are requested when someone sends a text message.

address_precision.jpg

If you ask for address, then decide how precise the address needs to be. The precision requested can be:

  • City
  • Zip
  • Street address

How the contact information is requested is determined by the location of your nation. In Settings > Contact, if your nation is located in Canada, post code will be requested. In Settings > Defaults > Basics, if the default control panel language is French, these details will be requested in that language.

For Canadian nations, post code is requested rather than zip code. 

2. Assign a point person

assign_point_person.jpg

Point person assignment is only completed if the supporter does not already have a point person.

3. Tag people who send text messages

tag_texting.jpg

Use a comma to separate tags. Tags can include spaces. The tag(s) will be added the first time a person sends a text message to a broadcaster.

4. Add people who text message to a path step

When a person sends a text message, she will be added to the path step defined in these settings.

texting_path_step.jpg

An example texting path:

Path name: Text opt-in

Path steps: Prospective mobile supporter, Attended event with keyword push, Texted broadcaster

You could then abandon the path if the supporter opts out of texting. Automated path movement can move someone forward on a path; it can never move someone backward. So if a supporter is on an earlier step, she will be sent to the step indicated in broadcaster settings. If the supporter is not on the path, she will be added to the path at this step. If she is already on this step or if she is at a step farther along the path, no change will occur.

5. Click the save_text_settings_button.jpgbutton to save changes made.


Pre-assigned keywords to subscribe and unsubscribe

The following words are pre-assigned and cannot be added to a specific page.

A supporter can opt into receiving text messages by sending a text that begins with one of these words:

  • Subscribe
  • Signup
  • Add
  • Start
  • Join

Like email blasts, supporters must opt into receiving a text blast from your broadcaster.

An opt in checkbox is provided on every action page where you ask for a phone number.

Phone field

A supporter can opt out of texting by sending a text that begins with one of these words:

  • Unsubscribe
  • Remove
  • Stop
  • Quit
  • End

You can also manually unsubscribe a profile from text blasting. Go to the profile > Edit. Uncheck the box next to “Receive text messages.” Click Save person

Profile opt in


Create a text keyword

Keywords allow your supporters to take action from their cellphones. Action pages in NationBuilder let you set up text message keywords that users can text to take the action linked to the page.

The action page types available for text keywords are:

  • Endorsement
  • Event
  • Petition
  • Signup
  • Vote pledge

To set up a text keyword:

1. Go to your action page > [action] settings > Text keywords.

Settings text keywords

2. If you have more than one phone number, select the broadcaster you want to use.

Broadcaster

3. Enter a keyword. The keyword should be a single word without spaces. When a supporter uses the keyword, the system will accept both lower and uppercase letters, like “sign” or “SIGN.”

Keyword to sign

4. When someone uses the keyword you can send them an autoresponse text. The autoresponse must be less than 160 characters.

Autorespond

5. Click Add keyword

To adjust the settings for your keyword click Edit icon next to the keyword listing.

Keyword listing

This keyword will appear on the bottom of your action page. 

Keyword on action page

You can also distribute the keyword in the footer of your website, on outgoing emails, in your office, and on literature to grow your text subscribers list.


Supporter experience when texting a keyword to a broadcaster

When a supporter texts a keyword to a broadcaster, some automated messages will be sent out to gather profile information. Then, the broadcaster will send the autoresponse indicated when the keywords was created. Once the profile is complete, a supporter will only receive the autoresponse.

The exact supporter experience depends on the location of your nation and your default control panel language. If your nation is located in Canada (at Settings > Contact) and address information is requested, supporters will be asked for post code. If your default control panel language is French (at Settings > Defaults > Basics), the bot will request profile information in that language.

If the broadcaster text messaging settings indicate that a supporter should be asked for name, email, and street address the following will occur:

Supporter sends keyword.

Broadcaster responds: [Sentence related to type of action taken.] Please reply with your name.

Supporter responds.

Broadcaster responds: We got your txt, but don't have your email address yet. Please reply with your email.

Supporter responds.

Broadcaster responds: We got your txt, but don't have your address yet. Please reply with your address, city, state, zip.

In Canada, broadcaster responds: We got your txt, but don't have your address yet. Please reply with your address, city, post code.

Supporter responds.

Broadcaster responds with keyword autoresponse text.

For example:

keyword_interaction.jpg

Once the supporter's profile is complete, she will only receive the autoresponse written with each keyword. That means that if her profile has a name, email, and physical address (or whatever combination is indicated in the broadcaster's text settings), the interaction will be:

Supporter sends keyword.

Broadcaster responds with keyword autoresponse text.

For example, the next time Jane Doe sends in a keyword, this will happen:

keyword_autoresponse.jpg

Sentence related to type of action taken

When the bot tries to complete the supporter's profile, the first text sent will be in response to the type of page that holds the keyword.

Keywords can be added to five page types. A supporter can take action on a signup page or vote pledge page multiple times. Supporters are expected to RSVP for an event, sign a petition, or endorse once. So, if a supporter sends a second RSVP, signs a petition twice, or endorses twice, the system will note that they already took the action.

These page-specific sentences will only be sent if the bot is trying to complete a person's profile with name, email, and/or address.

Keywords on signup page:

Thank you for joining!

The keywords is added at Signup settings > Text keywords.

This is the same sentence sent if someone opts into receiving text messages using one of the pre-assigned keywords.

The other four action pages include the page headline in the page-specific sentence. The page headline can be edited at Settings > Headline. By default, the headline is the same word or phrase as the page name.

Keyword on vote pledge:

Pledged: [Page headline].

A keyword can be added to indicate a yes vote, at Vote pledge settings > Yes > Text keywords.

Keyword on an event:

RSVPd for [page headline] on [when].

If the person already RSVP's for the event:

Already RSVPed: [page headline] on [when].

A keyword can be added at Event settings > Text keywords. The event time can be edited at Event settings > Basics > When field.

Keyword on petition:

Signed: [page headline].

If the person already signed the petition:

Already signed: [page headline].

A keyword can be added at Petition settings > Text keywords.

Keyword on endorsement:

Endorsed: [page headline].

If the person already endorsed:

Already endorsed: [page headline].

A keyword can be added at Endorsement settings > Text keywords.


Send a text blast

Use text blasts to send nation updates to your supporters. Or, use them to coordinate small groups of people. For example, if you have a team working at an event, you can send text blasts to the team to give them updates as the day goes on.

To set up a text blast:

1. Go to your selected broadcaster.

2. Continue to Texting > New blast.

New text blast

3. Enter a slug. The slug will act as the name of your text. 

text slug

4. Enter the content for your blast. You have 160 characters for your text. We recommend including the default “txt STOP to leave” so your recipients know how to opt out of your text blasts. 

Text message content

Characters include letters, numerical values, spaces, and punctuation marks.

If you are sending a text with one or more non-GSM characters, limit your text to 70 characters or less. If your text goes over 70 characters, your text will still send, but it will automatically split into separate messages of 70 characters or less.

5. Click Preview and chose recipients

6. You will be taken to a new screen where you can select recipients based on a list, tag, or saved filter. Click Save recipients

Send to supporters matching

7. To send the text go to the Preview screen. Send the text by clicking “Send text now.” 

Preview screen text blasts

You may also preview the text blast by entering your phone number in the text box and clicking “Send Test Text.”

Send test text

Schedule the text by clicking Schedule text blast.

To review the results of text blasts go to Texting > Blasts. You can see the number of responses, unsubscribes, and failed sends. 

Text blast stats

Please note: If some of the numbers on your list are not mobile lines, the "Sent" stat will be lower. Only phones that receive text messages are reflected in the "Sent" and "Received" stats.


Receive texts

View incoming text keywords at your Broadcaster > Texting > Incoming.

Texting incoming

You can see the name, text, and time when the text was received. You can also see what action and page is associated with the text. 

Received texts


Texting replaces the signup sheet

Building text messaging conversation trees

Grow your community with text messaging

Create a phone number and access voicemails

How to create an email blast

Related partners

Hustle: peer-to-peer texting app 

Frontline SMS: text messaging integration for international customers


There are some issues related to text messaging that have come to our attention. We are monitoring their importance to the community on the product issues and suggestions page. You can follow each of the below issues to keep updated on their status.

Text blasts with non-GSM characters split into smaller, out-of-order texts

Text messaging variables

Donations by text message

If you’re unclear on how this feature works, please ask a question. If you would like to see changes to this feature, please submit a suggestion.