Mailchimp’s SMS Marketing is a powerful service that helps you create and manage a text messaging program. Grow your SMS audience, purchase SMS credits, send SMS marketing messages, and reach your subscribed contacts with a new marketing channel.
In this article, you'll learn about SMS Marketing with Mailchimp.
Things to know
Here are some things to know before you begin this process.
- SMS Marketing is available as an add-on feature for customers in the United States with an Essentials plan or higher, a Legacy Monthly plan, or Mailchimp Pro. To change your plan type, visit the plans page in your account.
- You must be an account Owner, Admin, or Manager to work with SMS Marketing. Learn more about the different user levels in Mailchimp.
- Before you can send SMS marketing messages, you need to submit an application and be approved.
- You need credits to send SMS and MMS messages. To learn more, check out About SMS Marketing Credits.
- SMS Marketing allows you to set up your program with a single Mailchimp audience.
- At this time, you can only send SMS marketing messages to mobile numbers based in the US.
- If you pause your pricing plan, you won’t be able to work with SMS Marketing until you unpause.
Here are some terms you’ll come across as you use SMS Marketing with Mailchimp.
A required Mailchimp administrative process that you must successfully complete to set up your SMS Marketing program with Mailchimp.
SMS marketing message
A marketing text message sent to a subscribed SMS contact.
MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service)
Multimedia content that is included in an SMS message and sent to a SMS subscribed contact (e.g. images or GIF files.)
The title you assign to your SMS marketing with Mailchimp. This is often the name of your business, but it can be anything that clearly identifies you to your current and prospective contacts. Your program name is visible in the SMS messages you send and in a ‘help’ or ‘stop’ auto-response.
The title of your business that you want to associate with your SMS Marketing program. This is how your business represents itself to the public.
A unit of payment that determines the number of SMS or MMS messages you can send to your subscribed SMS contacts.
The number of individual text messages you can send per minute or per day based on carrier requirements.
The act of controlling rate limits and the cadence of SMS sends.
The hours outside of a certain time range that limit SMS Marketing messages from being delivered to your audience.
A 10-digit mobile number that can only be used in the US.
A process in which businesses register their brand and messaging program with carriers in order to send marketing SMS messages in the US. Automatic vetting is given to every customer. Standard vetting may increase the rate and speed of sent messages.
How it works
Short Message Service (SMS) is used to send text messages to mobile phones. With Mailchimp’s SMS Marketing, you can set up a text messaging program for your business, purchase SMS credits, collect SMS opt-ins from contacts, and send SMS messages to your subscribed SMS contacts. SMS Marketing also includes MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service). Use MMS messages to add an image or GIF to to your SMS messages.
Like email contacts, SMS contacts are stored in your Mailchimp audience. The SMS Marketing column on the contact table displays the subscribed or unsubscribed status of your SMS contacts. Subscribed SMS contacts can request help or opt out of SMS marketing at any time with keyword auto-responses.
To begin the setup process, submit an application.
Part of the application allows you to select a phone number for your SMS Marketing program. This phone number isn’t associated with a specific carrier like a personal phone number.
Once your application is approved, you can:
- Import existing contacts who have already opted in to your SMS marketing.
- Create an email to promote your SMS Marketing program and gather SMS consent from current email subscribers.
- Use a signup form to acquire new SMS contacts.
- Use your SMS credits to send SMS or MMS messages to your subscribed SMS contacts. Send immediately outside of quiet hours, or schedule your SMS message to send at a later time.
Each billing cycle, your monthly SMS credit subscription renews at the same time as your pricing plan. Any unused SMS credits will be forfeited when the new billing cycle begins. The number of SMS credits required depends on the message type and recipient count. View or manage your SMS credits on the SMS overview page and the SMS settings page.
SMS Marketing requires consent from a contact before you can send any SMS marketing message to them. You’re responsible for obtaining this consent in compliance with applicable laws.
Carrier rate limits and throttling
There are 2 factors that impact your sending capabilities with Mailchimp’s SMS Marketing: carrier rate limits and the Russell 3000 Index.
T-Mobile’s rate limits are on a per day basis, and AT&T’s rate limits are on a per minute basis. This means that you can send a certain number of SMS or MMS messages per day or per minute based on the carrier rate limits of your subscribed contacts. MMS messages are also subject to carrier rate limits and may be slower to deliver.
The Russell 3000 Index is a stock market database that tracks the shares of the 3,000 largest publicly traded companies in the US. Your SMS sends are impacted by whether or not you're on the Index.
Here’s a breakdown of what this means for your SMS Marketing program.
Public US businesses listed on the Russell 3000 Index can send:
- 2,400 SMS or MMS messages per minute to AT&T recipients
- 200,000 SMS or MMS messages per day to T-Mobile recipients
Public or private US businesses not listed on the Russell 3000 Index can send:
- Up to 4,500 SMS and 2,400 MMS messages per minute to AT&T recipients
- Up to 200,000 SMS or MMS messages per day to T-Mobile recipients
SMS sending for public or private US businesses not listed on the Russell 3000 Index is based on brand score.
|Brand score||SMS per minute (AT&T recipients)||MMS per minute (AT&T recipients)||SMS or MMS per day (T-Mobile recipients)|
If you exceed the limits, your SMS and MMS messages will enter a queue and send at the next available time. This means of managing carrier rate limits and the cadence of SMS and MMS sends is called throttling. We use throttling to keep your SMS Marketing program compliant.
You can view your program's SMS rate limits on your SMS settings page.
At this time, AT&T and T-Mobile are the only carriers that require throttling. Other carriers, like Verizon, have rate limits that exceed the throttling threshold which means they won’t impact your sending.
Character limits and message counts
The number of characters in an SMS message determines the number of individual messages required to complete a send. The type of content you send also impacts the message count. SMS messages that exceed the character limit for a single message are split into separate, or multipart messages, and they require individual SMS credits.
You can send 2 types of SMS messages with Mailchimp’s SMS Marketing: standard message (GSM) and Unicode (non-GSM).
Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) is a standard character set that uses the letters A-Z and numbers 0-9 with some special characters. Unicode includes a larger range of characters. SMS messages sent with GSM can contain more characters than messages sent with Unicode.
- 160 characters per 1 SMS message
- 153 characters for multipart sends (2+ SMS messages)
- 70 characters per 1 SMS message
- 67 characters for multipart sends (2+ SMS messages)
If your SMS message requires more than 1 message to send, it'll automatically send as a multipart message with a different character limit. Modern smartphones reassemble multipart messages so that it appears to be 1 message for your recipients.
If you send multipart messages, you’ll need to account for additional SMS credits to complete your send. To learn how to calculate credits for your SMS messages, check out About SMS Marketing Credits.
If you want to add multimedia content to your SMS message, use MMS. MMS messages have a different character limit to consider.
- 1,600 characters per 1 MMS message
View character limits and message counts for your SMS and MMS messages in the SMS builder.
Spaces, emojis, and opt-out instructions count towards character limits.
Your subscribed SMS contacts can reply to any SMS message with ‘help’ for more information. To unsubscribe from future SMS marketing, your subscribed SMS contacts can reply with ‘stop,’ ‘cancel,’ ‘end,’ ‘quit,’ or ‘unsubscribe.’ Credits aren’t required to send keyword auto-responses since they are considered compliance messages.
Mailchimp allows you to send SMS messages between 8 am-9 pm in your selected time zone. The hours outside of this time frame are called quiet hours. Mailchimp's designated quiet hours ensure that you send SMS messages in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
Mailchimp’s default quiet hours are the hours outside of 11 am-9 pm ET. If you don't make changes, you can send SMS marketing messages within this time frame. If you want to set custom quiet hours between 8 am-9 pm in your selected time zone during which your SMS program sends messages, update your quiet hours on the SMS settings page. Note that changing your quiet hour settings while you have scheduled or sending messages may impact when your messages are delivered.
In order to set up your SMS Marketing program, you must agree to comply with certain standards. SMS guidelines and regulations prohibit the sending of content related to sex, hate, alcohol, firearms, and tobacco (S.H.A.F.T.). Content related to cannabis, vaping, and CBD is also prohibited.
These guidelines are in place to prevent this type of content from reaching inappropriate audiences. Any SMS marketing message that you send with Mailchimp should be free from this type of content.
If your SMS Marketing program doesn’t comply with S.H.A.F.T. guidelines, your account may be suspended or terminated.
Now that you know more about Mailchimp’s SMS Marketing, check out these resources to get started.
Set Up Your SMS Marketing Program
About SMS Marketing Credits
Learn how SMS credits work and how to calculate the right amount for your marketing.
Import SMS Marketing Contacts to Mailchimp
If you have contacts who have already opted in to your SMS marketing, import them to your Mailchimp audience with a CSV or TXT file.
Create and Send an SMS Marketing Message
Learn how to create and send SMS marketing messages to your subscribed contacts.