Sending SMS in bulk

Your MessageBird Dashboard features two different options to send SMS messages to a large number of recipients: Group and Bulk Messaging. Below, we will explain the difference between using these functions, and give instructions on how to use each feature.

The difference between group and bulk messages

Group Messages

A Group Message is an SMS message sent from the dashboard, to a group of contacts saved in your account, using the same content for all recipients. Within this message, you can use custom fields to personalise the SMS per recipient.

Bulk Messaging

Bulk Messaging is a way to send out a large number of messages at the same time through the upload of a file. When sending a bulk message, you will enter the originator, recipient and content in a spreadsheet that you will upload in the Bulk Messaging tool in your MessageBird Dashboard. Because you create the file, you can send out SMS using completely different originators and content to your recipients, in one action.

When should I use Group or Bulk Messaging?

We suggest using Group Messaging when you are planning to send one message with limited personalisation to a large group of recipients at the same time. An example of two Group Messages sent out at the same time is:

  • Hi Anne, thanks for your order! Your order number is 1348 and we have scheduled your delivery for 23/8/2021. Have a great day!

  • Hi John, thanks for your order! Your order number is 5780 and we have scheduled your delivery for 12/9/2021. Have a great day!

If you are looking for to send a large amount of SMS messages with significant differences int he content, we recommend using Bulk Messaging. An example of two Bulk Messages sent out at the same time is:

  • Hi Anne, thanks for your order! Your order number is 1348 and we have scheduled your delivery for 23/8/2021. Have a great day!

  • Hi, we are reaching out because you have an outstanding payment with us. We have tried contacting you on several occasions. Please reach out to 0800-9876 to make your payment as soon as possible.

Sending Bulk Messages

Step 0: Create your file

Before you get started with the steps below, make sure you have your file ready for upload. The file can be uploaded in the following formats: xls, .xlsx, .csv or .txt 'contact file'. Your file should be stripped entirely from any data or formulas that are not needed for sending. Your file should contain the following columns:

  • Originator

  • Recipient

  • Content

  • Scheduled time for delivery (optional)

You can find an example file at the bottom of this page.

Step 1: Choose your file

In your MessageBird Dashboard, click SMS → Bulk Messages.

On the Bulk Messaging page, click on 'Choose file' to upload your prepared file. A few more steps before we can import the messages:

  • Choose the delimiter for your file: this can be 'automatic' unless you have used a specific delimited.

  • Indicate wether the SMS should be scheduled: if so, choose which schedule instructions to follow

  • Set a validity period: read more here about the validity period: Setting a Validity Period for your SMS

One you have set the options above, click on 'Next'.

Step 2: Choose columns

On the next page, you will be asked to categorise the columns in your file, so we know which column indicates the recipient, which the originator, and so on. In the image below, we illustrate what this may look like:

When you're done, hit 'Next' again.

Step 3: Import your data

In the last step of the process, we will verify that the Dashboard has uploaded your file correctly. You will see an overview showing you the costs for sending out these messages. You will also see the countries for your recipient numbers, so you can check that you are not sending to any unwanted destinations.

Once you're done, hit 'Send SMS' and the messages will be sent instantly or scheduled to be sent later!

Sending Group Messages

To send Group Messages, you can follow the steps to send an SMS via the Campaign Builder, as described here: How to send an SMS. Note that to send a Group Message, you should first have the group saved in your contacts. You can see steps for adding a group here: Create a Group

In step 2 of the Campaign Builder, when selecting a recipient, you will have several options. Choose the option 'Groups from phonebook' to see all your created groups. Select the group that should receive the SMS and hit 'Add'. Follow the remaining steps in the Flow Builder to send out your SMS to the whole group.

Local restrictions to messaging in bulk

The regulations regarding sending SMS, and more specifically on whether bulk SMS is permitted and under what conditions, vary from country to country. You can check the specific regulations regarding bulk sending for the following countries here.

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