TextIt Updates: Week of April 17th

Each week we highlight new articles and changes to the platform, as well as tips intended to help you get the most out of TextIt:

Updates

  • Last week, Facebook launched the Messenger Platform (beta), a platform that allows developers to build interactive chat bots to communicate with over 900 million monthly Facebook Messenger users on behalf of any Facebook Page (the promotional kind). This week, we released a Facebook Messenger channel that will allow you to leverage TextIt’s visual, drag-and-drop interface to build and deploy your own Messenger bot. Each bot will map to a TextIt account. Build just one bot, and your experience is available on all platforms where Messenger exists, including iOS, Android, and the web. Use this guide to submit a Messenger app for review and connect it to your TextIt account (link). 
  • A single account may now contain channels in different countries. How this effects channel-contact behavior: If not yet contacted, TextIt will assign channels to contacts based on their country. Once a contact has responded to a channel, they'll continue to receive messages from that channel unless they send a message to a different channel, in which case they'll become tied to the new channel.

Tips

  • To link contact fields to flow results, simply add contact fields to your flow results export. If you'd like to display results via your own dashboard, checkout TextIt's API, which will allows you to externally display contact fields, flow results and more.  
  • Those interested in visualizing a certain type of response (like the categories through which each contact passes in a flow) should consider updating them to contact fields once they've been evaluated by a RuleSet, then executing a contact export. This allows you to (a) ensure the correct values are assigned to your contacts' fields, and (b) skip the process of pulling specific columns out of a flow results export. Note that response categories can be called using the '.category' extension, e.g. @flow.response_1.category. More on TextIt variables here
  • You can determine a contact's group membership within a flow using a 'Split by Contact Field' RuleSet that evaluates the 'Groups' contact field: 

  • If your application solicits and updates contact information to specific contact fields (like a registration form or the like), you may want to search for contacts missing a value in specific fields. You can do so via the search bar in the contacts tab: simply enter the query contact_field="", where 'contact_field' is the name of the field you're searching. For example, if we want to look for contacts who haven't yet provided their gender, we can use the query gender="". 

Follow us on Twitter to interact with a chat bot built with TextIt, or create a free account to build your own. You'll be sending messages in minutes! Get in touch anytime with any questions, comments, or suggestions. 

Feature Update: Reach your Contacts via Facebook Messenger

Last week, Facebook launched the Messenger Platform (beta), a platform that allows developers to build interactive chat bots to communicate with over 900 million monthly Facebook Messenger users on behalf of any Facebook Page (the promotional kind). This week, we released a Facebook Messenger channel that will allow you to leverage TextIt’s visual, drag-and-drop interface to build and deploy your own Messenger bot. Each bot will map to a single TextIt account. Build just one bot, and your experience is available on all platforms where Messenger exists, including iOS, Android, and the Web.

Bots on Messenger will have the same functionality as anything you’d normally build with TextIt, like weather and traffic updates, and receipts, shipping notifications, and live automated messages. Contextual, convenient, and delightful. 

Facebook is focused on facilitating business <> customer interactions that provide meaningful value to both participants—a cause that aligns with our own. 

We’ve always advocated for SMS and voice (IVR). They’re among the most effective communication channels in today's mobile centric world. That being said, bots are the next step in the evolution of mobile interaction and we’re bullish on their future. Use this guide to submit a Messenger app for review and connect it to your TextIt account. 

Getting Started

Login to your TextIt account to use the following links to access specific pages in your account. 

For this integration, you’ll need: 

  • a Facebook App: Your Facebook App will contain your bot’s Messenger settings. This is where you'll setup your Webhook, retrieve your page access token and submit your app for approval.
  • a Facebook Page: A Facebook Page will be act as your bot’s identity. When people chat with your bot, they’ll see the Page’s name and profile pic.
  • a WebHook URL: Facebook uses secure callbacks to send messaging events to your TextIt account. 

Creating your Facebook App

First, create an account on Facebook's Developer Platform. Once logged in, use the ‘My Apps’ menu in the top righthand corner to select ‘Add a New App’. 

An ‘Add a New App’ dialogue will appear, asking you to select a platform. Click the ‘basic setup’ link near the bottom; you can add your platform at a later step. 

Next, you’ll be prompted to create an App ID for your new app. 

Once you've registered your app, navigate to the ‘Messenger’ tab and click ‘Get Started’. 

At this point, you’ll need to generate a Page Access Token. If you already own a Page, you’ll be able to select it from a drop-down menu. If you don’t, a link will be provided to create a new one

Once you’ve received your Page Access Token, navigate to your TextIt account in a separate tab and claim a Facebook channel. Enter your Page Access Token to receive your callback URL.

Back in the 'Messenger' tab, click ‘Setup Webhooks’ to enter your callback URL and select all of the available fields. 

  • ‘messages’ allows your app receive text messages or messages with attachments (image, video, audio).
  • ‘message_deliveries’ subscribes your app to message delivery receipts. 
  • ‘messaging_postbacks’ subscribes to post back callbacks, in case your app incorporates buttons. 

Next, navigate to the ‘Settings’ tab and click ‘Add Platform’. 

Here, you can add the URL of your website as your platform. Once added, click ‘Save Changes’ to continue. 

Prior to submission, navigate to the ‘App Details’ tab and complete it. 

Submitting your App 

Now you’re ready to submit your app. Note that each new Messenger bot is subject to an internal review process; use the information in this link to ensure your content is acceptable per Facebook's approval criteria. 

Navigate to the ‘App Review’ tab and click ‘Start a Submission’. Select ‘pages_messaging’ from the list on the lefthand side of the dialog and continue. 

Once you've selected the 'items' you'd like to add, click the 'edit' links next to them to fill out their corresponding forms. 

Finally, click 'Submit for Review' to complete the submission process. 

Considerations

Note that the Messenger Platform is intended for customer-initiated interactions. As such, Facebook Messenger doesn't allow you to reach Facebook contacts without them contacting you first. Your contacts can reach you via your Page, or search for your bot via the Messenger app. 

Also note that until your app is approved by Facebook, only admins will be allowed to message your app (even if you've made it 'public' prior to approval). 

Next, head over to TextIt to start building your bot! Questions? Comments? Let us know; we love hearing from you. 

TextIt Updates: Week of March 27th

Updates

  • We're testing a new Zapier integration that allows you connect more than 500 apps to TextIt. It's currently private, but we're giving out an invite link to those who'd like to give it a try (link). 
  • Use this guide to learn about the 'Start Contact in a Flow' action we added to Zapier. Specifically, learn how to use information collected by a Typeform to start a flow (link). 
  • Use this guide to learn about the Webhook trigger we added to Zapier. Specifically, learn how to post information collected by a flow to a Slack channel (link).
  • 'Start Another Flow' actions in IVR (voice) flows now route to the new flow without forcing a hangup. 
  • We shipped a new version of the Nyaruka TextIt Android app, version 1.8.1, which makes TextIt more aggressive when retrying failed messages. This change is intended to offset lack of network reliability in developing cellular markets. 

Tips

+ You can use a 'Split by Contact Field' RuleSet containing an 'is not empty' response rule to check contact fields for missing values, e.g.: 

+ DYK that you can view and export flow results? Flow results exports contain three tabs: 

  • Runs: the runs tab displays all the times your contacts have gone through a flow, as contacts can pass through a flow more than once. 
  • Contacts: the contacts tab shows the values in the last run, as well as the last value for each flow step, which may have been visited more than once if the contact was was ever redirected to it.
  • Messages: the messages tab displays every message sent from the flow to your contacts and vice versa. It provides the message direction (IN/OUT), text, date and contact information. 

Follow us on Twitter to interact with a chat application built with TextIt, or create a free account to build your own. You'll be sending messages in minutes! Get in touch anytime with any questions, comments, or suggestions. 

Starting a Flow via Zapier

Use this guide to learn how to start a flow via one the 500+ apps available on Zapier. Specifically, this guide will show you how to use information collected by a Typeform to start a flow. Typeform is a service that helps you create beautiful, intuitive web forms. If you ever need to run a survey, questionnaire, form, contest, etc...Typeform will help you do so seamlessly across all devices, every time, using its unique platform. Don't have an invite link? Click here.

How it Works

  1. Someone completes a Typeform. 
  2. The fields created by the Typeform entry are sent to TextIt. 
  3. TextIt starts anyone who completes the Typeform in a flow. 

What You'll Need

Setting it Up

Zapier watches your apps for new data, and kicks off triggers and actions based on the rules you set. Each trigger and action pairing is called a 'zap', and each zap begins with a trigger. In this case, the trigger will be a new Typeform entry. Once you've created your Zapier and Typeform accounts, you'll need to create the Typeform itself. Ask anything you want, but you'll need to acquire the respondent's phone number (country code included, e.g. 17078888744) to start your flow. Here's an example. 

Next, navigate to your Zapier dashboard to start building your zap: 

Creating the Trigger

Follow the steps Zapier provides to select your Typeform and setup your trigger: 

Creating the Action

Next, setup your 'Start Contact in Flow' action. Use the search bar to find TextIt within Zapier's app directory:

You can find your API token by clicking on the Webhook icon in your account page

Once you've added your account, you'll be prompted to add: 

  • The flow you want to start.
  • The Typeform question that will populate the 'phone' field.
  • Whether or not you'd like to restart the flow for contacts who've already entered it. 

Lastly, you can add any extra fields you'd like to insert into the flow and the corresponding Typeform questions. You can reference these fields in a flow using @extra variables, which refer to values pulled from an external application or another flow. The fields you create should be lowercase. 

Building your Flow

Here's an example of a short, one message flow that thanks each contact who completes the survey: 

We want to save the information we've collected with the Typeform to each contact's profile, so we've added Update the Contact actions to beginning of the flow. In each action, we place the corresponding extra field that we created via our zap: 


Once the contact's Full Name field is updated, you can reference their first name using the variable @contact.first_name

To learn how to send information collected by your flows to other apps via Zapier, click here.  

Go with the Flow

TextIt is changing the way organizations communicate with customers, beneficiaries, constituents and stakeholders. Whether you're interested in adding an SMS messaging channel to your communication pipeline like WebHelp Groupe, or building chat bot like HigherMe, you're guaranteed to increase engagement and efficacy. 

For Example:

  1. An E-commerce company can use TextIt to improve funnel abandonment by texting discount codes to customers who put something in their cart but don't purchase.
  2. An on-demand company can push text notifications when their delivery is on the way or manage a fleet of workers who won't be on computers but will always have their phones.  
  3. Any company can measure Net Promotor Score or customer satisfaction by sending messages that are more likely to be read and responded to than any other form of communication.

Follow us on Twitter to interact with a chat application built with TextIt, or create a free account to build your own. You'll be sending messages in minutes! Get in touch anytime with any questions, comments, or suggestions. 

Sending Information Collected by a Flow to Zapier

Use this guide to learn how to send information collected by your flows to one the 500+ apps available on Zapier. Specifically, this guide will show you how to post information collected by a flow to a Slack channel. Slack is a platform for team communication: everything in one place, instantly searchable, available wherever you go. Offering instant messaging, document sharing and knowledge search for modern teams. Don't have an invite link? Click here.

How it Works

  1. A contact reaches a Webhook action in a flow.  
  2. The fields created by the flow are sent to Zapier. These include your contact's phone number and responses to your questions. 
  3. Zapier posts the information you choose to a Slack channel. 

What You'll Need

Setting it Up

Zapier watches your apps for new data, and kicks off triggers and actions based on the rules you set. Each trigger and action pairing is called a 'zap', and each zap begins with a trigger. In this case, the trigger will be a contact reaching a Webhook action in your flow. Once you've created your Zapier and Slack accounts, you'll need to create the flow itself. Ask anything you want; the flow automatically records the phone number of each contact who enters it. Here's an example flow:

Next, navigate to your Zapier dashboard to start building your zap: 

Creating the Trigger

Search the app directory for TextIt: 

You can find your API token by clicking on the Webhook icon in your account page

Once you've added your account, you'll be prompted to copy the URL provided: 

In your flow, create a new Webhook action ("Make a call to an external server") with a POST request and paste the URL provided. Once configured, run your flow in the simulator to verify the Webhook is being called appropriately:

Creating the Action

Next, setup your 'Send Channel Message' Slack action: 
Once you've added the 'Send Channel Message' action and your Slack account, you'll be prompted to setup the message. This will entail: 
  • Selecting the channel to which you'd like the message to be posted. 
  • Creating the message template. 
  • Creating your Zapier 'bot'. 

Once you've completed this step, test your zap and set it live. When your contacts reach the Webhook action your flow, the result will look something like this: 

To learn how to start a flow via Zapier, click here.  

Go with the Flow

TextIt is changing the way organizations communicate with customers, beneficiaries, constituents and stakeholders. Whether you're interested in adding an SMS messaging channel to your communication pipeline like WebHelp Groupe, or building chat bot like HigherMe, you're guaranteed to increase engagement and efficacy. 

For Example:

  1. An E-commerce company can use TextIt to improve funnel abandonment by texting discount codes to customers who put something in their cart but don't purchase.
  2. An on-demand company can push text notifications when their delivery is on the way or manage a fleet of workers who won't be on computers but will always have their phones.  
  3. Any company can measure Net Promotor Score or customer satisfaction by sending messages that are more likely to be read and responded to than any other form of communication.

Follow us on Twitter to interact with a chat application built with TextIt, or create a free account to build your own. You'll be sending messages in minutes! Get in touch anytime with any questions, comments, or suggestions. 

Connect TextIt to over 500 Apps with Zapier (Beta)

Want to connect TextIt with your favorite app? Don't have the experience, time or money to setup an integration yourself? No problem, we're testing a new Zapier integration that does all the work for you. It enables you to connect more than 500 apps to TextIt, freeing you to focus your attention elsewhere.

How it Works

Zapier watches your apps for new data, and kicks off triggers and actions based on the rules you set. Each trigger and action pairing is called a 'zap'; here are some examples: 

At this time, we offer one trigger and one action on Zapier:

Starting a Contact in a Flow

The 'Start a contact in a flow' action allows you to do just that using information collected by Typeform, Wufoo, Google Sheets and hundreds of other apps: 

Learn how to automatically start a flow using information collected by a new Typeform entry. 

Creating a Webhook Trigger

The 'Webhook' trigger allows you to generate a url that can be placed in a TextIt webhook action in a flow, which will post information collected by the flow to Zapier for use with other apps: 

Learn how to automatically post information collected by a flow to one of your team's Slack channels. 

Try it Out

The TextIt Zapier app is currently private, and will remain so while we test it out. If you're excited about this integration, we invite you to use this invite link to create your own TextIt Zaps. Specifically, it'll allow you to search for and use TextIt when creating a Zap. 

Check out Zapier to discover more use cases and sign up for a free account. Have a workflow you need to automate that you don't see here? Let us know, we'd love to get your feedback!

TextIt Updates: Week of March 20th

Each week we highlight new articles and changes to TextIt, as well as tips intended to help you get the most out of your app:

Update

  • We shipped some changes that will populate incoming MMS messages with the URL of the media sent via MMS. This may be particularly useful for those using Twilio channels. 

Tips

  • Those looking for a reliable aggregator in Indonesia may consider Dart Media or Text Magic. We're happy to facilitate integration; contact us to learn more about the process. 
  • Download the flow Time Conversion to learn how you can convert TextIt's default 24 hour time values to 12 hour time values.
  • You can delete contacts in bulk by placing the contacts whom you'd like to delete in a group via a flow, then using the API Explorer (specifically, the 'Delete Contacts' request) to delete all contacts in that group. This will delete each contact's history as well. 

Follow us on Twitter to interact with a chat application built with TextIt, or create a free account to build your own. You'll be sending messages in minutes! Get in touch anytime with any questions, comments, or suggestions.

TextIt Updates: Week of March 13th

Each week we highlight new articles and changes to the platform, as well as tips intended to help you get the most out of TextIt:

Updates

  • Twilio, our recommended SMS and voice channel in most countries, recently optimized its platform to accommodate programmatic SMS messaging at scale. Learn how you can take advantage of this exciting new feature (link). 
  • The Kapita Community Savings and Investment Promotion cooperative (COMSIP), a Malawi-based public works project funded by the World Bank Groupe, uses TextIt to registar prospective participants and accept monthly financial reports (link). 
  • Our friends at UNICEF are compiling a Flow Repository comprising flows for various aid and development use cases. Add them to your account to see what's possible (link). 

Tips 

  • Those sending messages via a Twilio channel should be aware of Twilio's keyword recognition system. Check out this article for suggestions on how to track opt-outs and segment them appropriately (link). 
  • If you're using Google Chrome, make sure to update your version before logging-in to your TextIt account (link). Current version is 49.0.2623.95 (Platform version: 7834.60.0). 
  • Our friends at UNICEF published an insightful tutorial on merging contact and flow exports (link). 

Follow us on Twitter to interact with a chat application built with TextIt, or create a free account to build your own. You'll be sending messages in minutes! Get in touch anytime with any questions, comments, or suggestions. 

Feature Update: Improve SMS Delivery with a Twilio Messaging Service

Twilio, our recommended SMS and voice channel in most countries, recently optimized its platform to accommodate programmatic SMS messaging at scale. This upgrade allows for the creation of a messaging service, which enables you to dedicate multiple local Twilio numbers to a single TextIt channel, and improve SMS delivery with phone number intelligence via the new Copilot features available in your Account Portal.  

Phone Number Intelligence

Twilio Copilot's phone number intelligence allows you to rely on Twilio backend logic to select the best phone number for every message. Whether it's using multiple numbers to send high volume messages or the same local recognizable number for each person to increase response rate, the aim is to remove the burden of carrier routing and regulations from the user through four dynamic features:

  • Scaler - distribute messages across a group of phone numbers to reach large audiences in a short amount of time.
  • Geo-Match - create a local experience by automatically using local phone numbers that match country and area codes to your end-user's personal number.
  • Sticky-Sender - send messages with the same recognizable phone number to create a consistent experience and maintain conversation history.
  • Reroute - if you're using a short code, you Twilio will automatically revert to standard long-code phone numbers when a carrier is unable to receive messages from short codes.

Channel Relationships

Twilio's Geo-Match and Sticky-Sender features ensure that the relationships between your phone numbers and contacts remain constant from your first broadcast. 

When multiple channels of the same type are connected to your TextIt account, the channel that the contact last messaged will be prioritized. Contacts can be locked-in to a relationship with a specific channel (they'll only received messages from this channel). Geo-Match and Sticky-Sender ensure that even if your contact sends a message to the wrong channel, they'll always receive a response from the same number. 

Content Intelligence

Messages with special characters or attachments can be lost in transmission due to ever-changing carrier specs. Copilot allows you to automatically format every message to ensure your content stays in tact. These are the features that allow you to do so: 

  • Dynamic Encoding - character encoding is dynamically adjusted per carrier so that double-byte characters and even Emoji are delivered as intended.
  • Outbound Message Concatenation - long outbound messages are automatically segmented and encoded for re-assembly to meet destination carrier requirements.

Adding a Twilio Messaging Service

Follow these instructions to setup your own messaging service and add it to your account: 

1. Login to your Twilio account's Programmable SMS tab and click "Messaging Service":

2. Create a new messaging service: 

3. Give it a name:  

4. In a separate tab, login to your TextIt account, navigate to the Add Channel page, and select "Twilio Messaging Service" option: 

5. Copy your Messaging Service SID from your Twilio portal: 

6. On the "Add Twilio Messaging Service" page, select your country and paste your Messaging Service SID in the appropriate box: 

7. On the next page, copy the the request URL that TextIt provides you: 

8. In your Twilio portal, paste the request URL underneath the "Inbound Settings" header: 

9. Scroll down to the "Copilot Features" header and select the features you'd like to enable for your messaging service: 

10. Scroll back to the top of the page, click the "Numbers" tab, and either add existing numbers or purchase numbers to add to your service. Click "Save" to finish configuring your messaging service: 

You're ready to start sending messages. Start a flow to test out your service. 

Go with the Flow

TextIt is changing the way organizations communicate with customers, beneficiaries, constituents and stakeholders. Whether you're interested in adding an SMS messaging channel to your communication pipeline like WebHelp Groupe, or building chat bot like HigherMe, you're guaranteed to increase engagement and efficacy. 

For Example:

  1. An E-commerce company can use TextIt to improve funnel abandonment by texting discount codes to customers who put something in their cart but don't purchase.
  2. An on-demand company can push text notifications when their delivery is on the way or manage a fleet of workers who won't be on computers but will always have their phones.  
  3. Any company can measure Net Promotor Score or Customer Satisfaction by sending messages that are more likely to be read and responded to than any other form of communication.

Follow us on Twitter to interact with a chat application built with TextIt, or create a free account to build your own. You'll be sending messages in minutes! Get in touch anytime with any questions, comments, or suggestions. 

COMSIP Uses TextIt to Encourage Savings and Promote Investment in Malawi

The Kapita Community Savings and Investment Promotion cooperative (COMSIP), a Malawi-based public works project funded by the World Bank Groupe, uses TextIt to build and maintain SMS applications designed to promote its mission: inculcate a culture of savings and investment in both rural and urban communities to ameliorate the following conditions: 

  • Poverty (those living on under $2/day).
  • Access to affordable business loans.
  • Low female participation in development decisions.
  • Low levels of female entrepreneurship.
  • Poor savings culture.
  • High financial illiteracy.
  • Low youth entrepreneurship.
  • Lack of collaboration for collective bargaining.
  • High levels of energy poverty.
  • High dependency on GMO seeds and inorganic fertilizers.

Until recently, the community of Kapita, Malawi, didn't have access to financial services within a 60km radius. COMSIP, a cooperative bank, was established to enable members of this community and others to purchase shares and take up to 3 times the value of their investment as a loan for agricultural or business purposes.

Using TextIt, COMSIP built a flow that allows prospective participants to both register for COMSIP and submit monthly financial reports via SMS.

Registration Flow

Once a respondent starts the registration flow, they're asked a series of questions that include:

  • the registrant's name.
  • the registrant's district.
  • the registrant's traditional authority.
  • the registrant's cooperative name.
  • the number of males and females in the registrant's cooperative.
  • the registrant's cooperative's share price. 

The flow then provides a password corresponding to the respondents language preference, Chichewa or English. The registrant's information is then sent to COMSIP coordinators via a Send Email action

Click here to learn more about registration flows, and here to learn how to use flows to provision and evaluate passwords.

Reporting Flow

Respondents can initiate the reporting flow with the keyword 'COMSIP'. Once the flow starrts, they're asked to enter the code they were provided by the registration flow. If they don't have one, they're routed to the registration flow by a Start Another Flow action

If they continue down the reporting flow, respondents are then given the option to submit a report, view their most recent report, or submit feedback for COMSIP

Submitting a Report

If the respondent elects to submit a report, they're asked a series of questions that include: 

  • mandatory savings for the reporting month.
  • voluntary savings for the reporting month.
  • total shares sold in the reporting month.
  • loans taken in the reporting month.
  • total investment in the reporting month, and where.
  • profit made during reporting month.
  • products produced during reporting month.

Each valid response is then saved to the contact's profile and, at the end of the flow, sent to COMSIP coordinators via a Send Email action

Viewing a Recent Report

Respondents who elect to view a recent report are sent a message containing all of their responses from their previous interaction with the app. As these responses are saved to the contact's profile, they can be placed in a message using contact variables: 

Submitting Feedback

Respondents who elect to submit feedback are asked to provide a qualitative response, which is then sent to COMSIP coordinators via a Send Email action. COMSIP coordinators receive the respondent's contact information and feedback. 

Impact to Date

To date, COMSIP has accomplished the following: 

  • the establishment of a democratically-run, registered cooperative.
  • the training and certification of over 180 people in business skills.
  • 200 households have gained access to solar home lighting, cutting costs on kerosene through energy loans that have high repayment rates.
  • over 25 enterprises have received a business loan.
  • the design and incorporation of a mobile credit system to expand COMSIP's capital base for loans.
  • over 40 shareholders and growing.

Go with the Flow

TextIt is changing the way organizations communicate with customers, beneficiaries, constituents and stakeholders. Whether you're interested in adding an SMS messaging channel to your communication pipeline like WebHelp Groupe, or building chat bot like HigherMe, you're guaranteed to increase engagement and efficacy. 

For Example:

  1. An E-commerce company can use TextIt to improve funnel abandonment by texting discount codes to customers who put something in their cart but don't purchase.
  2. An on-demand company can push text notifications when their delivery is on the way or manage a fleet of workers who won't be on computers but will always have their phones.  
  3. Any company can measure Net Promotor Score or Customer Satisfaction by sending messages that are more likely to be read and responded to than any other form of communication.

Follow us on Twitter to interact with a chat application built with TextIt, or create a free account to build your own. You'll be sending messages in minutes! Get in touch anytime with any questions, comments, or suggestions.