Migrating from another SMS provider to Klaviyo

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You will learn

Learn the basics of using SMS in Klaviyo, including the steps to get set up and start sending as well as best practices. 

Read this article if you already use Klaviyo for email and have used SMS with another provider. If you are not already using Klaviyo for email, read Getting Started with Klaviyo. If you have not used SMS previously, check out Getting Started with Klaviyo SMS and MMS.

Why use Klaviyo for SMS?

There are a few key benefits of using Klaviyo for SMS compared to other platforms.

The first is that Klaviyo is an all-in-one platform to communicate with customers. Since both email and text messages are available in Klaviyo, you can send customers messages via the channel they prefer without over-messaging them. This is particularly true for flows, as they show SMS and email in the same view, making it easy to avoid sending a text and email at the same time. 

Klaviyo’s segmentation capabilities also allow you to be more granular in grouping your SMS subscribers. This helps you build a personal connection with each individual, making your interactions feel like a conversation. Since data from your ecommerce platform syncs to Klaviyo, you can create segments based on any event passed to us as well as profile properties you collect. 

Before you begin

Klaviyo SMS best practices

Dos

Don’ts

Provide value in every message

Text anyone who has not opted into SMS

Keep SMS messages short and concise 

Use abbreviations or text-speak unless you know your audience will understand and appreciate them

Send only between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. in the recipient’s local timezone

Send too frequently (i.e., more than six times per month)

Let recipients know who the messages are coming from (e.g., mention your brand name)

Send an SMS for everything — be strategic and intentional

Include opt-out instructions in your messages

Include any spam-like content or phrases related to sex, hate, alcohol, firearms, or tobacco (SHAFT) or CBD

Include a link and use the Klaviyo link shortener

Neglect other channels, such as email, as it’s important to use SMS and email together for the best results

US and Canada: do not collect consent or message anyone until you have a short code or verified toll-free number

 
*Use double opt-in for your lists  
Cap your SMS messages to 157 characters (dynamic content and shortened links don't have a solid character count, so it's important to have extra characters so that you don't accidentally exceed the 160 character limit)  

*Double opt-in is skipped for subscribers in the UK and Australia. This is because branded sending IDs, which are used for Klaviyo SMS in these countries, don’t allow recipients to text back. 

Klaviyo SMS checklist

  1. Enable SMS (2 minutes)
  2. Port phone number (optional) (2 minutes)
  3. Export data from previous SMS provider (11 minutes)
  4. Import SMS contacts (6 minutes)
  5. Choose your Klaviyo SMS plan (4 minutes)
  6. Create SMS subscribers segment (2 minutes)
  7. Send an SMS campaign (4 minutes)
  8. Improve your welcome series (9 minutes)
  9. Collect SMS subscribers (18 minutes)
    • Update old form
    • Collect SMS consent at checkout (if applicable)
  10. Update your abandoned cart flow (5 minutes)

Enable SMS

Before doing anything else, you must enable SMS in Klaviyo. Otherwise, you won’t be able to collect SMS subscribers — and thus not be able to send any messages. 

For those sending to the US and Canada and using the complementary toll-free number, please allow time for your number to be verified, around 7–10 days. As of May 15, 2022, wireless carriers do not allow you to send any SMS from unverified toll-free numbers. 

How to enable SMS

  1. Click on the name of your organization in the upper right-hand corner 
  2. Select Account from the dropdown
  3. Navigate to Settings > SMS 
  4. Click Set up SMS for free
  5. Click Continue

Set up your sending numbers for the UK and Australia

If you plan to send in the UK or Australia, you must pick a sending number that works in those countries. 

  Plan required Available countries Throughput
Branded sender ID (i.e., alphanumeric) All (free and paid)

UK and AUS 

(the same ID is used for both)

10 mps (base speed)
Long code Paid UK and AUS 10 mps (base speed)
Short code Paid UK 100 mps

Branded sender ID

You'll need to edit your branded sender ID to indicate your organization's name. Setting this up is key, as you will not be able to collect SMS consent from people in these countries until you have an active branded sender ID.

Branded sender IDs must:

  • Be under 11 characters 
  • Contain at least 1 letter
  • Not have any special characters (e.g., ~, &, etc.)

How to customize your branded sender ID

  1. Navigate to Account > Settings > SMS
  2. Click either: 
    • Confirm Sender ID
    • The dropdown menu on the right-hand side of the brand number and then choose Edit
  3. Add your branded sender ID in the modal
  4. Click Save 

Long code 

If you are on a paid plan, you can use a long code instead of a branded sender ID in the UK and Australia. Branded sender IDs and long codes are similar in terms of sending speeds, but they offer different advantages. If you're unsure which to choose, read our doc on comparing SMS sending numbers for the UK and AUS

Update your forms/website with your new number 

Change any mentions of your previous SMS sending number to your new one. Places where this might be listed include:

  • Signup forms
  • Terms of service/privacy forms
  • “Contact Us” pages

Port phone number (optional) 

When switching SMS providers, keeping the same number makes for a smoother transition for your subscribers. They’ll recognize the number as being from your brand, so you’ll be able to pick up exactly where you left off.

You can port toll-free numbers and short codes; however, porting is not available for shared short codes or branded sender IDs. 

The porting process takes time to complete; allow up to four weeks for the number to port into Klaviyo. 

How to Port a Phone Number

  1. Navigate to Account > Settings > SMS
  2. Click the Additional Numbers dropdown
  3. Select Port an Existing Number
  4. Click Submit Port Request
  5. Check your email for a message from the SMS team at Klaviyo
  6. Fill out the relevant application for your number type
  7. Allow up to four weeks processing time

Export data from previous SMS provider 

The steps for migrating vary depending on your previous SMS provider. In general, though, you will need to: 

  1. Export SMS contacts
  2. Export any additional data you want

If possible, when exporting contacts, we recommend separating subscribers by:

  • Country (if you send to more than one country)
  • Opt-in status 

The first makes it easier when you’re importing consent, while the second ensures that you don’t accidentally send to non-consented subscribers and risk breaching compliance. 

For specific guidance on how to migrate, check out the available guides:

In certain cases, you will need to send a final message from your previous provider. This is true when you: 

  • Change to a different toll-free number or short code 
  • Port a short code into Klaviyo 

If neither of these cases apply to you, skip to the section on importing SMS contacts.

Sending a Final Message from Your Previous Provider

A week before changing numbers or porting your short code, send a final message from your previous SMS provider. Some carriers require this, and failure to comply may result in an audit or deliverability issues.

Include the following in the message: 

  • Your organization’s/brand’s name
  • Your new phone number
  • Key details about the transition, like support/contact care information (e.g., “Reply HELP for help”)
  • Opt-out language (e.g., “Text STOP to unsubscribe”)

Import SMS contacts (7 minutes)

Format your CSV

It’s time to import your contacts into Klaviyo. Before uploading the data, check that it’s formatted correctly; otherwise, the import won’t work. 

In your CSV, you must include:

  • Phone number 
  • Country (either through the country code or as a separate column)

For more information on including a country, read How to indicate the country for an SMS import

Indicating the country via a country code Indicating the country via a column with the country's name
Recommended information

The following columns are recommended but not required: 

  • Email
  • First name and last name
  • Consent timestamp

If email is available, make this the first column in your CSV. If email is not available, make phone number the first column. 

If you don’t have the consent timestamp, make sure you have explicit consent for all phone numbers in the list. When importing, you’ll need to verify that you have consent; if this isn’t true, you risk falling out of compliance. 

Remove opted-out contacts

Before importing your SMS contacts, remove anyone who is no longer subscribed. 

To do so, you'll need to filter your CSV to show only those who are opted out, copy them to a new spreadsheet, and then delete them from the original CSV. For more detailed instructions, see How to filter out unsubscribed contacts from your SMS CSVs.

How to upload a CSV of SMS contacts

1. Format and check your CSV

2. Turn any list-triggered flows (e.g., your welcome series) to manual 

3. Navigate to the Lists & Segments tab

4. Choose the list to import to (e.g., your main subscriber list)

5. Click the Manage List dropdown

6. Choose Import Contacts

7. Select your CSV

8. Map your data to fields within Klaviyo

  • If you have the consent timestamp, map this to SMS Consent Timestamp
  • If you don’t have the consent timestamp, click Update SMS Consent, check the box acknowledging all phone numbers have given you their consent, and then click Update SMS Consent

9. Click Import Review

10. Click Start Import

11. Wait at least four hours before you turn your list-triggered flow live again

Tip: Formatting phone numbers

Your phone number must be in one of the following formats: 

  • E.164
    • +12345678900
    • +12-345-678-900
    • +12 345 678 900
  • RFC3966
    •  tel: 12345678900
  • E.123 national notation 
    • (1234) 567 8900
    • 12345678900
  • E.123 international notation
    • +12 345 678 900
    • +1 234 567 8900
Tip: Including the country

The best way to include the country varies depending on how many countries your SMS subscribers live in. Below are instructions for the most common use cases.

For more details, see How to indicate the country for an SMS import

One country

1. Make the first column in the CSV email (if available) or phone number 

2. Add in a column named Country

3. Input the name of the country in the first cell in this column

4. Copy and paste the country’s name into the rest of that column’s cells

Only the US and Canada

1. Make the first column in the CSV email (if available) or phone number 

2. Add a column to the left of your phone number column

3. Insert ‘+1 in the first cell of the new column

4. Copy the cell with ‘+1

5. Highlight all blank cells in this column

6. Paste the copied cell; this will populate the ‘+1 in every highlighted cell

7. Add a column to the right of the phone number column 

8. Name the new column Phone Numbers

9. Add the following in the first cell of the new column: 

  • =Concat(first cell with ‘+1,first cell with phone numbers)

OR 

  • =Concatenate(first cell with ‘+1,first cell with phone numbers)

10. Click either the bottom right corner or the bottom middle of the cell and hold

11. Drag straight down that column to apply the formula to all cells

12. Delete the name of the original phone numbers column so that only the column with the joined cells is labeled Phone Numbers

Multiple countries

In this instance, the simplest approach depends on your previous SMS provider. Ideally, they will include the country or country code as part of the export, in which case you can follow the steps for US and Canada, but use a '+ rather than a '+1. 

If that’s not the case, the next best thing is to segment by country in your previous SMS provider, and then export the segment. If this is the case, follow the steps listed under One Country

For other cases, you may need to manually identify the country and input it into your CSV before uploading. 

Tip: Formatting the consent timestamp (optional)

If you have the consent timestamp, it must be in one of the accepted date/time formats. The following are examples of accepted formats for September 30, 2014 at 1:34:08 pm: 

  • 2014-09-30 13:34:08
  • 2014-09-30 13:34:08+00:00
  • 09/30/2014 13:34:08
  • 09/30/14 13:34:08
  • 09/30/2014 13:34
  • 09/30/14 13:34
  • 2014-09-30T13:34:08
  • 2014-09-30 13:34:08.000001
  • 2014-09-30T13:34:08.000001
  • 2014-09-30 13:34:08.000001-04:00
  • 1412098448 (Unix)

Import opted-out contacts

If you want to add in the information for opted-out contacts, you can upload them into Klaviyo and mark them as unsubscribed. This way, you'll have the data you've already collected but won't risk texting them. 

The first step is creating a list of opted-out contacts. You can do this by filtering your unsubscribed contacts from your CSV and adding them to a new list, as discussed above. Note that you'll need to have the phone number and country in order to upload opted-out contacts. 

Once that's done, follow these steps:

  1. Format and check your CSV

  2.  

    Turn any list-triggered flows (e.g., your welcome series) to manual 

  3. Navigate to the Lists & Segments tab

  4. Choose the list to import to (e.g., your main subscriber list)

  5. Click the Manage List dropdown

  6. Choose Import Contacts

    1. Manage List dropdown where you can select Import Contacts
  7. Select your CSV

  8. Map your data to fields

  9. Important: Do not apply SMS consent

  10. Click Import Review

  11. Click Start Import

    1. Review screen for the SMS import
  12. Wait at least 10 minutes for the profiles to import
  13. Open the dropdown under your account name 
  14. Click Account > Settings > SMS
  15. Scroll to the Import SMS Unsubscribes section 
  16. Click Browse Files and upload your CSV file of SMS contacts to unsubscribe 
    In Klaviyo's SMS settings page, a cursor hovers over the Browse Files button
  17. Click Unsubscribe Phone Numbers
  18. Confirm your selection in the modal that appears

The import process may take a few minutes to complete.

Choose your SMS plan

Now, it’s time to choose a plan. When picking a plan, consider the following: 

  • How many SMS subscribers do you have? 
  • Where are your SMS recipients located?
  • How many text campaigns do you plan to send per month? Are any of them MMS campaigns?
  • How many text messages are in your flows? Are the messages SMS or MMS? 
  • Are you planning any lead generation events soon?

MMS messages typically count as more credits than SMS messages. The number of credits also varies by country, so it’s important to have a good idea of where your subscribers are located. 

How to choose an SMS plan

  1. Navigate to Account 
  2. Click Billing > SMS Plans
  3. Review the number of profiles and amount of messages for a potential plan
  4. Click Change to switch to that plan

Your plan’s sending numbers and credits per message 

Every plan includes an branded sending ID and either a toll-free number, ensuring you can send to every country where Klaviyo SMS is available. 

Phone Number Comparison

 

US

Canada

UK

Australia

Sending number types

- Toll-free number

- Short code

- Vanity short code

- Toll-free number

- Short code

- Vanity short code

- Branded sender ID

- Long code

- Short code

- Branded sender ID

- Long code

Credit per message

1 for SMS

3 for MMS

3 for SMS

5 for MMS

5 for SMS

N/A for MMS

4 for SMS

N/A for MMS

Opt-in and opt-out keywords

Available 

Available

Branded sender ID: unavailable

Long and short codes: available

Branded sender ID: unavailable

Long codes: available

MMS

Available

Toll-free = available


Short codes = unavailable

Unavailable

Unavailable

SMS conversations (two-way messaging)

Available 

Available

Branded sender ID: unavailable

Long and short codes: available

Branded sender ID: unavailable

Long codes: available

Create an SMS subscribers segment

Segments update automatically — profiles will enter or leave the segment when they meet or fail to meet the segment’s conditions. This is different from lists, which are static. 

Without a segment, it can also be difficult to know how many SMS subscribers you have, as subscribers may be spread throughout different lists or you may have a list that shows both your email and SMS subscribers together. An SMS segment will show you everyone who is consented to your SMS marketing, letting you see all of your subscribers at once. 

Keep a list titled “SMS Subscribers” in your account, as it’s beneficial to have in certain use cases (e.g., consent at checkout and signup forms). However, we recommend only sending to your SMS segment.

How to create an SMS subscribers segment

  1. Go to Lists & Segments > Create List/Segment > Segment 
  2. Name your segment 
  3. Add the condition: If someone is or is not consented to receive SMS 
  4. Keep the condition as: Person is consented to receive SMS
  5. Click Save 

Send an SMS campaign

What you want to send depends on your audience as well as if you kept the same number when you migrated to Klaviyo. 

Journey Check: Click the link that best fits your situation: 

If you switched numbers or ported a short code

If you ported a short code or switched SMS sending numbers, your first campaign from your new number should act as a follow-up to your last message from your old number — informing subscribers about the change and how you’ll be texting them going forward. 

In the text, you’ll want to let subscribers know certain information, including:

  • Your brand’s name
  • The recurring-SMS program’s name or product description
  • Support/customer care information (e.g., “Reply HELP for help”)
  • Opt-out instructions (e.g., “Text END to unsubscribe”)
  • Disclosure that message and data rates may apply
  • Disclosure for message frequency

How to send an SMS campaign (number change)

  1. Navigate to the Campaigns tab
  2. Click Create Campaign
  3. Select SMS in the modal
  4. Click Create Campaign in the modal
  5. Name the campaign
  6. Choose which list(s) or segment(s) to send to
  7. Click Save & Continue to Content
  8. Write out your text in the Message Content box
  9. Click Save & Continue to Review
  10. Review the settings for the campaign, confirming that the message will send to the right audience and tracking is enabled
  11. Click Schedule or Send
  12. Choose Schedule to send the campaign at a later date, or Send Now to send the campaign immediately

If you kept the same number

If you kept the same number (and it’s not a short code) or previously only used a branded sender ID, you’ll want to continue your previous SMS strategy. Were you sending out text alerts every Thursday? If so, keep the same cadence and content. In the first message, though, we recommend including a reminder about who you are and how to opt out. 

For future sends, think about how you can use your data in Klaviyo to better target your audience, such as personalizing your messages and creating segments around location, purchase history, gender, etc. 

How to send an SMS campaign (same number)

  1. Navigate to the Campaigns tab
  2. Click Create Campaign
  3. Select SMS in the modal
  4. Click Create Campaign in the modal
  5. Name the campaign
  6. Choose which list(s) or segment(s) to send to
  7. Click Save & Continue to Content
  8. Write out your text in the Message Content box
  9. Add in any emojis, images, or GIFs 
  10. Click Save & Continue to Review
  11. Review the settings for the campaign, confirming that the message will send to the right audience and tracking is enabled
  12. Click Schedule or Send
  13. Choose Schedule to send the campaign at a later date, or Send Now to send the campaign immediately
Tips: Message content

Keep these best practices in mind when creating an SMS or MMS campaign: 

  • Reference your brand name
  • Make the message as short as possible 
  • Only send between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. in the recipient’s local timezone
  • Include a link and use the Klaviyo link shortener
  • Cap messages to 157 characters to leave room for dynamic content 

Note that images and GIFs won’t show when sent from branded sender ID (e.g., in Australia). 

 

Tips: Message count

When creating messages, keep in mind how long the message is. While MMS messages can be up to 1,600 characters, SMS messages are limited to 160 characters. If you include an emoji, it will shorten the character count from 160 to 70 characters for an SMS. 

The message type and number is shown on the left-hand side so that you can know how this message will affect your plan. Further, consider who will receive this message. For the example below, this message equals two SMS. For recipients in the US, this will count as two credits; however, it will count as six credits for anyone in the UK. 

Note that even if a message counts as multiple messages, due to the way text messages are displayed, it will show as a single message both in the Klaviyo preview and on the recipient’s phone. 

Improve your welcome series

Next, set up a flow to welcome your SMS subscribers to your brand community. This will be the first time someone receives an SMS from you, so it’s important to make a good impression. You’ll also want to make sure your SMS and email welcome series don’t compete with each other. 

Create an SMS-only welcome flow 

Because most SMS subscribers don’t want to receive messages too frequently, we suggest including only one message in your welcome series. 

In Klaviyo, it’s important to create a new SMS flow for your welcome series, rather than including an SMS in your email welcome series. This separates the two channels and ensures that anyone who went through the email flow can still receive the SMS welcome message.

How to create an SMS welcome series

  1. Navigate to Flows > Create Flow > Create from Scratch
  2. Choose Metric as the flow type
  3. Select Consented to receive SMS from the dropdown for the flow trigger
  4. Add a flow filter for Has not been in this flow at any time
  5. Click Save > Done
  6. Drag in an SMS directly after the trigger
  7. Create the content for the SMS or MMS
  8. Click Save Content
  9. Change the status to Live
  10. Click Save & Exit 

Tips: Message content

For the message itself, include the following key parts:

  • *Your brand/organization name 
  • A line thanking subscribers for signing up
    • Welcome to the club!
    • Thanks for joining [your brand] texts!
  • Any incentive you offer for signing up
    • Here’s your 15%: [insert coupon]
    • Take 10% off any time with [insert coupon]
    • See exclusive products here [add link]
  • A link to your site using the Klaviyo link shortener
  • *Opt-out instructions
    • Text OUT to opt out
    • Unsubscribe via this link: [add link]
  • *Contact information [for Canadian recipients] 

Any parts marked by the asterisk (*) are added by default. While you can toggle off these options, this is not recommended for compliance reasons. If you do remove these, insert your version after consulting with your legal counsel. 

Update your email welcome series

Think about the experience you want a new subscriber to have when they first sign up, particularly if they sign up for both SMS and email. 

We recommend sending the SMS first. Wait at least 10 minutes before sending out the email so that the messages don’t compete with each other. 

How to update Your email welcome series

  1. Add a conditional split with the condition: Is not consented to SMS
  2. Drag in a time delay — that’s, at minimum, 10 minutes — onto the No path; here, the time delay is set to four hours
  3. Clone the first email in the flow
  4. Drag the cloned email to be after the time delay in the No path
  5. Review and edit the email 
  6. Click Save Content > Done
  7. Change the message status to Live
  8. Rejoin the Yes and No paths

Collect SMS subscribers

Now that you have your welcome series set up and ready to send, it’s time to gather SMS subscribers. This is the keystone of your SMS strategy; without subscribers, you’ll have no one to send to. 

There are two basic steps to collect SMS subscribers with Klaviyo: 

  • Update your existing signup form(s)
  • Collect SMS consent at checkout

When gathering SMS consent, there are several important aspects to keep in mind:

  • Express consent is required for all SMS messages (including transactional), meaning subscribers must:
    • Tell you directly that they want to receive marketing text messages from your brand 
    • Know that they are opting into SMS marketing
  • Consent for email (or any other channel) does not count as consent for SMS
  • It’s important to tell customers how and when you’ll text them and to include links to your terms of service and privacy policy

Update your existing signup forms

Change any live forms you use to collect email subscribers to also gather SMS subscribers. The best way to do this is by making your one-step forms into multi-step forms. The first page of the form will stay exactly the same; you’ll simply add another page for SMS consent. This way, you can collect SMS consent from new subscribers without slowing down your email list growth.

Further if you have any third-party forms, make sure they’re updated with your new number (if applicable). Further, check that you can send SMS consent via API

How to change existing forms to collect SMS consent 

  1. Navigate to the form you want to update
  2. Click Edit Form in the upper right
  3. Click Add Step 
  4. Choose SMS Opt-in
  5. Select your list (we recommend using one main SMS list where double opt-in is enabled)
  6. Click Add Step
  7. Edit the disclosure text to include links to your terms of service and privacy policy
  8. Click Publish to update the form 

Collect SMS consent at checkout (if Available)

Getting people to sign up at checkout is one of the best ways to grow your SMS subscriber list. It’s a way to ask for SMS consent from all customers (and potential customers) without intruding on their shopping experience.

SMS consent at checkout is only available for certain integrations, and each treats it a little differently. Click on the name of your integration from the list below to see how to set up SMS consent at checkout: 

Update your abandoned cart flow to include SMS

SMS is a great tool for sending text reminders about abandoned items. Note that you can only send these reminders to opted-in subscribers. 

Only use one SMS message in any abandoned cart flow (or browse abandonment flow). Further, the SMS should be sent within 24 hours of a subscriber abandoning their cart. Carriers may see you as a suspicious sender and filter your messages if they detect that you send too many SMS messages in this flow, or if you send the messages too late. 

How to add SMS to your abandoned cart flow

  1. Navigate to your abandoned cart flow
  2. Add a conditional split after the first time delay with the condition:
    Is not consented to SMS
  3. Add a time delay onto the No path and set it to delay until a specific time of day (i.e., between 9 am and 8 pm in the recipient's local time)
  4. Drag an SMS action after the time delay
  5. Create the content for the SMS or MMS
  6. Click Save Content
  7. Change the message status to Live
  8. Rejoin the No and Yes paths directly after the message
  9. Click Save & Exit
Tips

Similar to your SMS welcome message, the following are all important to include in your SMS abandoned cart message:

  • *Your brand/organization name 
  • A line telling subscribers they left something behind
    • Uh-oh, you left something behind
  • Indicate a product the customer left behind via a dynamic event variable (e.g., the product name) or a dynamic image 
    • Note: the dynamic image won't send to those in the UK and Australia, as MMS is not available in these countries
  • Any incentive you want to offer for someone to purchase
    • Buy now and get 15% off: [insert coupon]
    • Get free shipping when you purchase with code [insert coupon]
  • A link to your site (or cart, if available) using the Klaviyo link shortener
  • *Opt-out instructions
    • Text OUT to opt out
    • Unsubscribe via this link: [add link]
  • *Contact information [for certain jurisdictions]

Any parts marked by the asterisk (*) are added by default. While you can toggle off these options, this is not recommended for compliance reasons. If you do remove these, insert your version after consulting with your legal counsel.

Additional resources

Congratulations, you’ve learned the basics of Klaviyo SMS.

Below we’ve included resources that can help you as you grow your SMS marketing efforts. 

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