Guide to SMS conversations

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You will learn

Learn what you will see in the SMS Conversations tab, how to use two-way messaging, and best practices.

Why use SMS conversations

With SMS conversations, you can:

  • Communicate with your customers on a one-on-one basis, answering questions as well as having in-depth conversations
  • Provide details about your business, a product, or an order
  • Send a coupon or picture of a receipt
  • Follow up with customers

This can enhance your customer support and is an opportunity for you to connect with your audience on a whole new level.

Before you begin

Please note the following:

  • Only owners, admins, and managers can use SMS conversations
  • You must set up SMS before using SMS conversations
  • Individuals must text you first (i.e., you can't initiate an SMS conversation, you can only reply)
  • You can only reply when someone is an SMS subscriber
  • SMS conversations are not available for branded sender IDs 
  • Your outbound SMS messages use credits in your billing plan
More info on SMS conversations

SMS conversations in Klaviyo are available when a subscriber texts one of your sending numbers and does not use a keyword. You cannot initiate a conversation; only reply after a customer texts you first. 

You will be able to view texts from non-subscribers; however, to adhere to laws pertaining to SMS consent, you will not be able to reply to anyone who has not opted in to your SMS marketing efforts. When non-subscribers text you, it does not count as consent for SMS marketing unless they subscribe (e.g., by sending a subscribe keyword).

The SMS Conversations tab 

In the SMS Conversations tab, you’ll see two screens side-by-side:

  1. A list of who has texted you on the left
  2. The text thread on the right


On the left, you can navigate between your inbox, which shows the last 10 people who texted you without a keyword, and your archived messages. If there’s a name for the profile, it will be displayed. If there’s no name, Klaviyo will show their phone number. This list is ordered based on when the person texted in, with the most recent text messages appearing at the top, and will update in real time.

Further, you can filter conversations by All or Unread

On the right-hand side of the screen, you’ll see the text thread between you and the selected profile as well as that profile’s consent status. You will not see MMS messages sent from subscribers; if someone sends you an MMS, only the text will show, not the images or GIFs. 

You can block, archive, or unarchive SMS conversations.

How to reply to subscribers

Click the conversation that you want to respond to.

The text thread will show the last 50 messages between the two of you, including any flow and campaign messages that you sent. This includes messages from your auto-responder.

If the profile is subscribed to SMS marketing, you will be able to respond in the space below the message history. 

An example of a text thread in the SMS Conversations tab.

If the person has not yet consented, this response field is grayed out and you will not be able to respond until they opt into SMS marketing.

In your message, you can include images, GIFs, emojis, and coupons just like you can in any other SMS. You can also send multiple messages in a row.

Review your settings

To view your settings: 

  1. Go to SMS Conversations
  2. Click the gear icon in the sidebar

The settings for your SMS conversations, where you can adjust your auto-responder settings.

Here, you'll be update the following: 

  • Automatically shorten links
  • Set your email notifications
  • Update your auto-responder

We recommend leaving the first setting as-is. However, review the email notification and auto-responder.



Turn on your auto-responder.

As a best practice, enable this feature for Only non-consented profiles if you want to use two-way messaging. If you do not currently want to use SMS conversations, set the auto-responder to send to All profiles.

Next, input your auto-response message. It’s important to let non-subscribers know that you cannot respond via text and how to reach you. For instance: "{{Organization prefix}}: We are unable to respond as you have not consented to receive SMS. For help, reach us at {{email}}."

When you’re done, click Save.

Best practices for two-way messaging

2 important things to remember when using two-way messaging are:

  • The time of day for the recipient
  • How quickly you respond

Below, we discuss each in more detail.

Be mindful of what time you respond

It’s important to avoid texting too early or late in the day, as SMS messages actively ping a recipient’s phone.

Be mindful that what’s early or late for you may not be the exact same as for your customers. For instance, say you’re based on the east coast of the U.S. and get a text from someone from the west coast. Replying at 8 am EST means they get the message at 5 am PST. For this recipient, getting a text that early in the morning may be seen as intrusive and may cause them to unsubscribe. 

If a profile’s location is available, it will appear in the header. This can help you determine someone’s timezone.

The text thread shows the profile's location when it is available.

Respond to messages quickly

People expect a quick response when they text, much faster than when they send you an email or fill out a customer support form. Thus, ensure that you have the resources to reply quickly and meet demand.

When it comes to SMS support, quicker response times are key. Aim to text back within the hour, and make sure that you are responding to all incoming messages. 

Additional resources

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