2-Way SMS

Kathryn Hamilton
Kathryn Hamilton
  • Updated

Overview: What are we talking about?

In Gingr, you can have 2-way SMS conversations with your customers right from with your app. This allows you to efficiently coordinate all of the information you need about the customer, their pets, and their reservations while also having a personal conversation with them — all within one app. You can even book the customer a new reservation right from the 2-way SMS page.

In our ever-connected mobile age, customers expect clear communication from the facilities caring for their pets. Gingr's 2-way texting feature allows your business to maintain clear lines of communication and to more efficiently and effectively communicate with your customers. 

This article will describe how to set up 2-Way SMS functionality and how to use 2-Way SMS to communicate with customers. With 2-Way SMS, your customers can reply to text messages sent from Gingr and you can respond with a custom message. You can select any customer at any time to send them a custom text message. Incoming text notifications are visible from anywhere in the app, and you can type up a custom response to send immediately.

Multimedia messaging (MMS) can also be enabled for your 2-way texting conversations through our All-in-One Multimedia Messaging Bundle. This is an additional subscription that allows your business to send a variety of media, including pictures, videos, PDFs, and much more, to customers via the 2-way SMS window. 

 

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Helpful Hints: Before you begin

  • You must configure your permissions to allow users in your app to send SMS:
    • Navigate to Left-hand Navigation Menu: Reports & More » Groups.
    • For users to send 2-way or at-will SMS, the "Can Send SMS" user permission must be turned on for the user group they are in. 
    • For users to receive in-app notifications for incoming text messages, the user must have the "Notification: Incoming SMS" user permission turned on.

  • Gingr will send SMS to your customers from a custom, toll-free number. This phone number for your SMS can be found under Left-hand Navigation: Admin » System SMS.

  • SMS Messages are limited to 320 characters per message.

  • This feature is only available in the US and Canada at this time.

  • Important! Our messaging provider, Twilio, enforces strict guidelines for SMS content. Twilio prohibits sending messages related to illegal substances, including terms like CBD, Cannabis, or Kratom. Messages containing prohibited words will be automatically censored with asterisks (*), both within your app and for the message recipient. Violating these guidelines may lead to the immediate blocking of all messages from your SMS number. Refer to Twilio's Acceptable Use Policy and Forbidden Message Categories for more details.

Video Tutorial: An Overview of 2-Way SMS


Pricing for SMS Functionality:

There are additional SMS Features available on Gingr that are an add-on to the system SMS functionality. These include 2-Way SMS, Marketing SMS, and a bundle that also includes Multi-media Messaging, Canned SMS, and SMS Auto-Replies. Please see our articles on SMS Marketing Campaigns, SMS Canned Responses, and SMS Auto-Replies for more information. 

Navigate to Left-hand Navigation: Admin » Manage Gingr Subscription and click Enable on the add-on you would like to subscribe to. Your billing period begins on the day that you enable this feature. 

The following is the pricing structure for these additional features:

2-Way SMS:

Includes 2-way SMS capability. There is an annual charge as well as metered usage charges. Metered usage is per incoming text. For metered charges (see tiers below), a “SMS” is up to 160 characters. A SMS longer than 160 characters will count as multiple messages. This number resets each monthly billing cycle.

  • $165/subdomain/year
  • $0.00/incoming SMS for 0-500 messages received per month
  • $0.04/incoming SMS received over 500 per month
     

Marketing SMS:

Includes Marketing SMS capability. There is an annual charge as well as metered usage charges. Metered usage is per outgoing text. For metered charges (see tiers below), a “SMS” is up to 160 characters. A SMS longer than 160 characters will count as multiple messages.  This number resets each monthly billing cycle.

  • $135/location/year
  • $0.00/outgoing SMS for 0-500 messages sent per month
  • $0.04/outgoing SMS sent over 500 per month
     

All-in-One Multimedia Messaging Bundle:

Includes:

  • 2-Way SMS
  • SMS Marketing
  • Multi-Media Messaging
  • Canned SMS Templates
  • Auto-Reply SMS

There is an annual charge as well as metered usage charges. 2-Way SMS is per incoming text. Marketing SMS is per outgoing text. For metered charges (see tiers below), a “SMS” is up to 160 characters. A SMS longer than 160 characters will count as multiple messages. This number resets each monthly billing cycle. The following pricing structure is for 2-Way and Marketing SMS COMBINED:

  • $225/subdomain/year
  • $0.00/SMS for 0-1000 sent or received per month
  • $0.04/SMS for 1001-2000 sent or received per month
  • $0.03/SMS for 2001-3000 sent or received per month
  • $0.02/SMS for 3000+ sent or received per month

If you were previously signed up for 2-way SMS and/or Marketing SMS, upon signing up for the All-in-One Bundle our system will provide a pro-rated credit to your next invoice (regular subscription or messaging bundle, whichever comes first). Metered usage numbers will reset with the upgrade, but usage costs will not get reimbursed if you upgrade mid-month. Please reach out to our support team if you have questions. 

 

Set it Up: Let's get started  

  1. Navigate to Left-hand Navigation: Admin » Manage Gingr Subscription.

  2. Find the Two-Way Texting (SMS) subscription add-on and click Enable Now.

  3. Optionally, you can choose to subscribe to All-in-One Multimedia Messaging (MMS) instead. This allows for files to be sent and received, including pictures, videos, and more!

  4. Configure your permissions to allow users in your app to send SMS:
    • Navigate to the Left-hand Navigation Menu: Book Icon » Groups.
    • For users to send Custom SMS, the "Can Send SMS" user permission must be turned on for the group they are in. It is turned on for all groups by default.
    • For users to receive in-app notifications for incoming text messages, they must have the "Notification: Incoming SMS" user permission turned on. It is turned off for all groups by default.

 

How to: Send SMS Messages

To send an SMS, you will access the 'Conversations' area from the Top Right Chat Bubble Icon. The number displayed here is the number of unread messages for your location. You must have 2-way SMS set up in order to see this feature.

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Alternatively, navigate to the Owner's profile Communications tab and click New SMS

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On the 2-Way SMS chat window, you will see the entire SMS history log for Sent and Received text messages, as well as any unread messages.

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On the top right you will see a search bar and a + New message blue bubble.

  • The '+ New' blue bubble is what you will click to compose and send a new message.
  • If you would like to search for an existing number or owner name you've already been in contact with, you will use the search tool.

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Once you select an owner, to send a new message click the blue '+ Start Conversation' button:

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At the bottom of the SMS window, enter up to 320 characters. Optionally, if you are subscribed to the All-in-One Multimedia bundle then you can add photos or files at this time, and can also use Canned SMS templates to pre-fill a message which can then be customized as needed. 

 

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Once you click send, the SMS will be sent immediately and the new message will appear in the history of the Read tab for all owners and the Conversations page for the particular owner. Additionally, the conversation will be logged on the Owner Communications tab

 

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Click on the conversation with the owner to view the complete Conversation

 

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While on a certain owner's conversations, you will see a Details Tab as well. From this tab, you can edit the customer's account, view their profile, book a reservation or appointment, and view owner information at a glance.

The Owner Contact section will pull from the System Fields on your Owner Form. The bottom Details section can be customized. From Left-hand Navigation: Admin » Owner Form, hover over the field you would like to add or remove and click the pencil edit button. In the side window, near the bottom is the Tags section. Tagging something to the Details section controls what shows here. 

 

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How to: Read Unread Messages

If you have an unread message it will appear in the Unread tab. Click on the message to be re-directed to the owner's Conversations tab. 

Note: it is not possible to mark a message as unread. Please be mindful that staff should wait to view messages until they are ready to address the customer's message. 

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If there are no unread messages, there will be a blue banner indicating as such. 

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How to: Use Multimedia Messaging

If you are subscribed to the All-in-One Multimedia Messaging bundle, you can add photos or files to your messages.

 

Adding Media to a Message

After selecting a customer to message, you can type your message at the bottom. From here, you can then click the 3-bar icon to the left of the text input. Clicking this button opens the option to upload files or take a photo directly on your device. You can also drag and drop files onto the text input to add them to the message. 

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Supported File Types for Multi-media Messaging

Gingr is limited to the file types supported and accepted by Twilio, our messaging service provider. Some file types can be displayed in line with the messages. Other file types can be sent and received but must be downloaded to access the content. 

 

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How to: View SMS History 

There are several ways in which you can view SMS history. From the Owner Profile, you can access a tab with all the customer email and SMS communications in one place. If you are signed up for 2-Way texting you will also have access to a complete SMS conversation history. Finally, some but not all outgoing System SMS show in the "Outgoing Email Log." 

Owner Communications Tab

In order to see a record of all communications with a customer, navigate to the Owner's profile and then click the Communications Tab. You will see a list of outgoing and incoming messages. Outgoing text messages and call records are listed on this tab. From this tab, you can also send SMS (if you have 2-Way texting enabled), send emails, create call records, add the customer to marketing campaigns, and more. Click each row to view details of the communication.  

For more information please see our article on the Owner Communications Tab

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2-Way SMS

With 2-Way SMS enabled, all System, Marketing, and custom SMS will be listed in the SMS conversations section. 

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Outgoing Email Log (Includes some SMS)

From Left-hand Navigation: Admin » Reports & More » History, you will see a button for the Outgoing Email Log. Out of the System SMS Templates, only Reminder SMS are recorded here. If you need to access any other records please do so from the Owner Communications Tab or the 2-Way SMS chat window. 

Note: Reservation Reminder SMS and Marketing SMS will also show in the main History list. 

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FAQ: Check this out!

Why is there a character limit for text messages?

The Gingr texting features are all powered by our phone provider, Twilio. Prior to a release in the summer of 2022, we did not have a character limit for 2-way SMS, however, there has always been a limit that is set by Twilio - we just didn’t have a tool in place to abide by that limit until this release. Due to this, we have received a lot of feedback from Gingr users in the past regarding deliverability issues with SMS, and a lot of those stemmed from sending messages over the recommended character count.
We implemented a character limit of 320 characters as this is the recommended maximum character count to optimize the receivers (Pet Parent) experience and reduce any chance of sending errors. This recommendation is made by Twilio to ensure the best deliverability and user experience with these texting features.
In the past, as you have sent longer SMS messages through Gingr’s 2-way texting feature, your Pet Parents have probably had mixed results with how these messages appear on their end based on their provider and device type. Some may have received the message perfectly, but others may have only received part of the message, never received the message at all, or received them in multiple messages where they are sometimes out of order - which isn’t a great experience for them! At the end of the day, we want to make sure that we are setting you up to provide the best experience possible for your Pet Parents.

 

What guidelines must I follow to avoid message filtering?

Our messaging service provider, Twilio, enforces an Acceptable Use Policy and Messaging Policy that explicitly disallow the transmission of any content that is unlawful, harmful, unwelcome, inappropriate, objectionable, confirmed to be criminal, misinformation, or that poses a potential risk to the public, even if such content may be legally permissible. Additionally, any usage that violates local laws in the recipient’s jurisdiction is also not allowed.

Referencing Cannabis, CBD, or Kratom is not allowed due to federal laws that prohibit their sale. Twilio defines a cannabis message as any communication pertaining to the marketing or sale of cannabis products.If you fail to comply with Twilio’s Acceptable Use Policy or Messaging Policy your messages may be blocked and your account may be suspended or terminated.

For more information about preventing your messages from being filtered and how to remain compliant, see this article: How do I prevent my Twilio messages from being filtered (blocked)?, and reach out to our support team if you have additional questions.

 

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