SMS for Marketo - The Definitive Guide [Part 1]

SMS is a no-brainer channel for any Marketo marketer, whether you're B2C or B2B. According to Forbes, SMS has:

  • 98% open rate
  • is x4 times more likely to be opened than an e-mail
  • is read within 3 minutes of receipt (90%)

In this 2-part article we cover every way you can use SMS as a channel in Marketo, from basic one-way SMS to hacking 2-way using forms to full enterprise-level SMS solutions.

SMS Basics

Firstly, you'll need to understand some basic technical terminology:

  • Carrier - this is your phone company (e.g. AT&T, Telstra)
  • SMS Gateway - a paid service which does the actual sending of the SMS via a carrier (e.g. Twilio, Oxygen 8, Burst SMS)

Marketo has no default SMS gateway, so you'll need to to find one and create an account for it. To help you, we'll recommend some compatible gateways later in this article.

One Way SMS - Overview

One-way SMS is supported out-of-the-box in Marketo using Webhooks.A webhooks is a simple way for Marketo to connect to an external system, in this case your SMS Gateway.

Limitations of Webhook SMS in Marketo

  • No tracked links - Marketo cannot automatically track links in SMS like it does in emails, so you can't track program success or ROI
  • Technical knowledge needed - webhooks require some technical knowledge to create
  • No opt-out - your recipients cannot reply via SMS to opt-out, which is mandatory in most countries
  • Not high volume - Cannot handle high-volume SMS sends (e.g. 100K in a few minutes)
  • Error prone - SMS unsubscribes must be manually handled in every SMS campaign in Marketo, which is easy to forget
  • Requires Manual Data Cleaning - SMS gateways usually require require numbers in international format (e.g. +61437194480), however most of your data will be in local format (e.g. 0437194480). You'll need to manually clean data

One Way SMS - How To

Sending an SMS in Marketo is done by creating and using a webhook. This requires some technical knowledge and Marketo admin access.

Step 1: Go to Admin->Webhooks

Step 2: Click 'New Webhook'

Step 3: Name & Configure your webhook

Sample Webhook Configuration (Twilio)

Firstly, you would need to create a free Twilio account to get your account id and authentication token. Webhook Settings:

  • Name: Send SMS
  • URL: https://<your account id>:<your authentication token><your account id>/SMS/Messages
  • Request Type: POST
  • Request Token Encoding: Form/Url
  • Template: Body=Hello this is a test SMS&To=%2B{{lead.Mobile Phone}}&From=%2B<your twilio number>

For full step-by-step Twilio tutorial see this great video by Peter Obradovic​:

Recommended SMS Gateways

These are the gateways we've used and recommend for basic one-way SMS in Marketo:

  • Oxygen 8 - enterprise-grade international SMS gateway
  • Twilio - enterprise-grade, US-centric, SMS gateway (offers free trial)
  • BurstSMS - cost effective, APAC-centric, SMS Gateway (offers free trial)

Keep in mind, you can use any SMS gateway as long as it has a HTTP API but they vary vastly in coverage, price, reliability & ability to handle high volume. Also, each SMS gateway will have different regional capabilities (which is dependent on relationships with carriers in different countries), and this is critical for not getting blocked by the carriers in that country.

2 Way SMS for Marketo - Overview

There are several ways to do 2-way SMS in Marketo. Since most use webhooks for outbound SMS, we will concentrate on how to enable inbound SMS, i.e. how to receive and process SMS sent to us by leads.There are 4 ways to do this:

  • Custom Gateway integration - this is where your developer builds code to integrate Marketo to a particular gateway such as Twilio
  • Marketo Form Hack - this is a simple hack where you can configure a an SMS gateway to submit SMS messages to a Marketo form
  • Basic SMS Solutions - these are Marketo Launchpoint solutions which enable simple inbound SMS
  • Enterprise SMS Solutions - these are Marketo Launchpoint solutions which provide complete SMS control in Marketo

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what your options are for SMS in Marketo. Stay tuned for part 2 of this series, where we cover in detail the four ways to do 2-way SMS in Marketo.

PS. Have you used any SMS gateways for Marketo you would recommend? Let me know and I'll add it to this article.seg?add=3882852&t=2

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