After your text message allotment has been purchased, Blu Sky staff will update your site to allow for text messaging. Updates to your site will include
- An additional item on the Organization menu for tracking text message totals.
- Added ‘Structured’ participant properties used for participant cell phone # and ‘opt-in’ status.
- A new type of Message Template used for text messaging
- A new option within Actions (survey, class, and organization) used to send the text messages.
New Organization menu item
You can review how many text messages have been sent as well as how many are available to send. To view this information go to the Organization menu and click on ‘show’ under the heading “SMS Message Details” (see screenshot below). Note the soft and hard limit items will be explained later in the message template section.
Opt in / Opt out
Due to privacy concerns, it is very important to ensure that your students have agreed to receive text messages. Therefore it is our strong recommendation that when using this feature the first step is to have participants complete a short survey asking them if they agree to receive text messages. Additionally, the participant would be asked to provide the cell phone number where they would like to receive the messages. Responses to this survey question would be automatically recorded/updated on their ‘edit participant’ page as Structured Participant Properties (Structured Participant Properties will be discussed below). Blu Sky has created this two question ‘opt-in’ survey and will copy it to your site for this purpose.
The first text message sent to participants will include instructions on how to stop receiving text messages. Currently the message they receive is: BASICS Feedback notifications: Message and data rates apply. Message frequency vary by university. For help, text HELP to 62346. To cancel, text STOP to 62346.
Participants that text ‘STOP’ will automatically have their Structured Participant Properties ‘opt-in’ item updated so as to prevent the delivery of subsequent text messages.
Structured Participant Properties:
Two items (cell phone # and opt-in status) must be added to the add/edit participant page in order for text messaging to function. The system must have the participant cell phone number and an indication that they have opted-in (consented) to receive text messages. These are accomplished via Structured Participant Properties and can be added from the Organization page. Due to the specifics of these two items, Blu Sky staff will add these to your site. Once added they will appear just below the Flags on the Add/Edit participant page where they can be updated. Please see screenshot below for an example of the display of these items:
Note that the Structured Participant Properties can be manually updated. However, it is our strong recommendation to have participants complete the opt-in survey in order to have a record of their consent to receive text messages. As indicated above, completion of the opt-in survey will result in the automatic update of cell phone number and opt-in status. This update is completed via Survey Actions that are built into the opt-in survey. If you create your own opt in Survey, check in with Blu Sky staff to ensure your Survey Actions are set up accordingly.
New Message Templates used for text messages:
The delivery of text messages within the BASICS Feedback platform requires the use of a Message Template designed specifically for their use. These Message Templates can be added from the Message Template menu by clicking on the ‘add message template’ button. Next, in Message Type drop-down item (see screenshot below), be sure to select ‘SMS Text Message’. The Activity type should be selected to correspond with the event that will be used to trigger the text message. Please see below for an overview of the Activity types. Note that the name of the Message Template must also be added and is for your internal reference.
- Class Activity: Message is triggered by any activity involved in the Class Scheduling system. This includes when the participant attends or fails to attend, reminders for upcoming sessions, etc.
- Organization: Triggered by creation of the participant record, or by special query.
- Survey Event: Triggered by the participant completing a survey.
- Survey Invitation: Sent to participants to invite them to complete a survey (includes survey link).
Note in the screenshot above that there is a warning message about the number of characters that can be used in a text message. There is a 160 character limit for sending a text message. Once over the limit a 2nd text message (a 2nd page) is sent. Organizations will be charged per text message sent so it’s best to keep your text messages brief. The Message Template feature will provide you with a running count of how many characters are contained within the message.
Additionally, to assist you in limiting the number of texts/pages sent at a time, we’ve implemented soft and hard limits. Soft limits are used when creating message templates to help keep message templates within a certain number of pages. When creating a message template for text messages, the number of characters (160) per page and the max number of pages are displayed above the text box (see screenshot below)
However, because of the use of tokens message templates (ie: participant first name), the exact number of characters is not determined. Consequently, it is not known how many pages will be sent. The hard limit is checked when sending the message, after token values have been replaced and verifies the number of pages in the message is under the hard limit.
These limits can be updated from the Organization menu under the ‘SMS Message Details’ header. Blu Sky recommends settings of 2 pages for soft limit and 4 pages for hard limit as seen in the screenshot below.
Note: Basics Feedback will allow tokens to be inserted even after the max. character count has been reached. However, these tokens will not be processed depending on your hard/soft message limits.
Setting up automated SMS text messaging via Survey actions, Organization Actions, Class template actions.
First, decide what triggering event you would like to use to send the text message. In the example below, a Class Template action is used to send a reminder to attend their BASICS Session. In this case, the reminder is triggered by the participant being registered for the class/session. The notification can then be set up for delivery xx hours before the start of the session. The screenshot below demonstrates the first step which is to select the desired ‘on event’ and ‘do’ from the drop-down menus.
After clicking the ‘Add Action’ button, the resulting pop-up window below will be displayed. In this step, use the two drop-down menus at the top to select the message type (SMS Text Message), and then the Message Template that you wish to send. You may also wish to schedule the delivery of the notification as outlined below rather than having the notification delivered immediately. If you have questions about this step or any other questions about the text messaging feature, please submit a ticket to the support site.