Sending SMS messages through Textlocal
You can send and receive text messages directly from ChurchSuite by adding an integration with Textlocal. One advantage of an SMS integration is the ability to bulk-send text messages to multiple people, perhaps a group or even everyone in your Address Book!
In this article
Textlocal SMS costs
It's free to open a Textlocal account and there is no minimum spend or ongoing monthly subscription – you will purchase bundles of credits on a pay-as-you-go basis. Textlocal credits are available in bundles from 100 to 10,000 credits. Textlocal will alert you when your credits are getting low. Top up is online through your account control panel.
Textlocal's standard pricing (correct as at 1st July 2019) is 4.9p + VAT per SMS (5.88p inc VAT)
For registered charities, Textlocal offer a significant discount to 2.8p + VAT per SMS (3.36p inc VAT). We recommend you request the charity pricing be applied to your account before purchasing your first bundle of credits.
A single SMS is 160 characters, so messages exceeding that length will use more than 1 credit.
When you open a free account with Textlocal they will assign you with a free Keyword. However, for an additional monthly cost, Textlocal can provide you with a "custom" Keyword; perhaps something that better represents your church name e.g. "KHC" for "Kings Hope Church". Further details can be found on the Textlocal website.
An SMS message is 160 characters in length, however longer messages can be sent, resulting in multiple messages being strung together to create a single long SMS message. Seven hidden characters are used to join each messages together so that it arrives and can be read as one long SMS. This can make calculating long message costs complicated, as a single message can be up to 160 characters but multiple conjoined messages are calculated in multiples of 153, 160 characters minus the 7 hidden characters to merge the messages together.
|<= 160||1 credit|
|> 160||2 credits|
|> 306||3 credits|
|> 459||4 credits|
|> 612||5 credits|
|> 766||The message will be truncated to 765 characters.|
Note: Message lengths are a restriction of SMS and are imposed by the networks, not Textlocal. The above credit costs are based upon sending to local numbers.
Setting up Textlocal integration
In order to start sending text messages through ChurchSuite, you need to first complete the Textlocal integration wizard. Navigate to the Administrator area and into Integrations section. Click on Textlocal.
Next you will need to enter your Textlocal account details. Begin this process by clicking the Add Account button.
On the Add account pop up, enter a Name by which this Textlocal account is to be known as within your ChurchSuite account (e.g. General SMS, Church SMS, etc). You also have the option to set the Default From for this account (i.e. the default name which an SMS sent out from this account will appear as having come from) and select the Users who will be able to send out SMS from this account. Note that only authorised Users selected will be able to send SMSs.
Next, proceed with entering the API Key – see next section...
Setting the "API Key" for your integration
The Textlocal API Key is what allows ChurchSuite to connect to your Textlocal account. Each Textlocal API Key is unique, and saving the API Key as part of the Textlocal integration allows ChurchSuite to identify the Textlocal account from which the SMS you've composed needs to be sent .
To obtain your church's API Key, begin by logging into your Textlocal account in a separate browser tab.
Hover your cursor over the Settings menu and select API Keys from the drop-down menu.
Here you will see a list of all the API Key that you have set on your Textlocal account (although the likelihood is that you will only have one). If there are no API Keys listed click to Create New Key.
Obtaining your API Key within Textlocal
When generating a new API key, or editing an existing one, if prompted, do not assign any IP addresses to your API key for the ChurchSuite integration – this will result in "Invalid username or password" errors, as ChurchSuite will not be sending SMSs from the IP address you specify – leave the "IP Addresses" and "Notes" fields empty - and click Save New Key.
Copy the API Key (all the numbers and letters) from the API Key List in Textlocal...
...and paste it into the API Key field of the Textlocal integration and click Save.
If the integration is successful you will then be able to Add Another account, or click elsewhere on the page to close the success window.
You can return to the Textlocal integration at any time, perhaps to add more accounts or to make changes to the list of authorised Users.
Once all that is done and Textlocal is integrated with your ChurchSuite account you will be ready to send SMS messages through ChurchSuite!
Sending text messages through ChurchSuite
Important - Authorising Users to send SMSs
Since sending an SMS incurs a cost to your organisation, only authorised users are able to send SMS messages through ChurchSuite. Head to Administrator > Integrations > Textlocal and select to Edit your Textlocal account from the list of Accounts - shown below. On the Edit pop up that opens, select the Users authorised to send SMSs.
Go to any of the Communication pages, for instance "Address Book" > "Communication" (most modules have a Communication page). At the top of the page, select who you want to send the text message to – for example, you could select a Tag group that you wanted to send the text message to.
Scroll to the bottom of the page and locate the SMS option.
Click Compose SMS. The Send SMS form is pre-populated with the default SMS From settings from your Textlocal integration but this can be substituted for any actual mobile telephone number (which will also receive replies to that number).
Note that Merge Fields can be used for SMS personalisation and you can select a Preset SMS message. You can also Save an SMS as a Preset and Schedule an SMS if you wish. Next, type your message. In this example we're sending an SMS to a single contact originated from the person's profile page in the Address Book.
If the message character count exceeds 160 characters, you are alerted to the fact that the message will use more than 1 message credit.
When you have done all this, click the Preview SMS button to preview your message and review the distribution. Note that you can add or remove recipients at this stage or go back to further edit the message. Click Send SMS to send or schedule the message.
FAQs and common resolving issues
Q: Can I see a log of sent SMS communications?
A: Yes. You can see sent communications listed in the Communication report in the corresponding Address Book, Children or Giving module reports section. You can also see further, more detailed logging in your Textlocal control panel.
Q: Textlocal's Terms of Service say that failure to include a STOP "opt out" message in all outbound SMSs is a breach of their terms of service. How does ChurchSuite handle this?
Since ChurchSuite already includes comprehensive communication preferences to enable people to easily opt in/out of receiving SMS messages, Textlocal have agreed with ChurchSuite that they will not enforce that term from their terms of service. It's therefore not necessary to include a STOP "opt out" option in your outbound SMS message.