When you create an account with fastsms you’ll be subscribed to our Getting Started email series. Over the first couple of months we’ll send you some useful tips and advice to help you get up and running at a steady pace.
If you don’t want to receive these emails, it’s easy to opt out in Your Profile.
Equally, if you’d like to read ahead, you can do that too. Here you’ll find the entire Getting Started Series ready for you to read at your own pace.
Part 1: Logging in, how to get support, API's
Ready to get started?
If you ever forget your password you can reset it here.
We recommend that after you login for the first time you change your password here.
By default, when you login you’ll see the fastsms Dashboard. Here you’ll find your credit balance and your inbound numbers when you’ve purchased one. You can edit your contact information and email preferences in Your Profile. Other options and settings such as alerts can be found in your Preferences.
If you have any questions about configuring your settings or contact information you can visit our Support Centre. While you’re there you can search for help or browse our knowledge base for step by step guides and videos.
If you’re interested in learning how to integrate fastsms with your applications, we have a special section for developers with details on our API and sample code. You can access it from the Dashboard on the upper right (click to the tools icon) or from within the Support Centre.
Be sure to look out for the rest of the Getting Started Series over the coming weeks, you have access to so many features through fastsms it’s difficult to cover them all in one go.
And if you have any questions about getting started, we’re here to help you.
Part 2: Sending your first message
You’ve only had your account for one day, but you’ve probably already had a chance to log in and take a look at our SMS Messaging Platform. As you saw in Part 1, this platform is where you can manage your account details. It’s also the web interface you can use to send and receive text messages.
If you plan on using one of our other SMS solutions (like email to SMS), we recommend you follow this walkthrough of the platform too. This way you’ll understand all the options you have when it comes to both sending and receiving messages.
You may have already taken a look at our Support Centre (if not, it’s a good place to start) and sent a few messages to get a feel for the system. However this doesn’t do justice to the range of options you have when sending a message.
But it’s texting, you send and it gets received, right?
There are loads of options to customise when sending even a single SMS from fastsms to a mobile phone – but I imagine that’s partly why you wanted a system like this in the first place.
To create a new message, click on Send in the top menu (right next to the “house” or home icon). A blank message appears that is very similar to what you’ll find in an email client. It has a “To”, “From” and “Message text” fields. Yes, it’s that easy. But then there’s all those options we mentioned before too.
So let’s take a look at some of them…
While you can just input a mobile number, you aren’t limited to just numbers. You’ll find more options just to the right of the word “Number”. When you click on each you’ll see you can:
- Contact: choose someone from your address book
- Group: choose a group of contacts based on tags
- List: choose a mailing list
- Campaign: upload a one off campaign
You can find out more about what these different options offer you in our Support Centre. You’ll also find some more information in the next part in this series.
You want people to know who sent your message right? You have two options to do that:
- Text Label: input up to 11 characters (as this replaces an 11 digit phone number) to appear in the recipient’s inbox. Company names are a popular choice. But you can also use it for a “subject line” similar to emails. Just remember you won’t be able to type in more than 11 characters, and you won’t be able to receive a reply.
- Virtual Mobile Number: If you have a virtual mobile number you can select it from the drop down menu. Using this lets your recipients reply to you as well. You’ll find all your replies saved inside fastsms so you will always have a record. You can also set up forwarding to get your replies via email. If you choose to, you can also add a regular mobile number to this field, but any replies will go directly to that number. That means there will be no record in fastsms so you can’t take advantage of the many features available.
When composing your message you can insert a template from your library (once you’ve created some that is). And if you find that 160 characters simply isn’t enough, just keep typing – you can include up to 456 characters in a single message (note that this will use additional credits).
Send this message…
Finally, decide when you would like this message to be sent. If you choose immediately, you will find that it reaches its destination within a few seconds. The other options include sending it at a later date or setting up a schedule for a recurring message.
While this doesn’t cover everything, hopefully it’s given you a glimpse into what’s possible. You can find more information on all of this in our Support Centre, or if you have a specific question about fastsms’ capabilities grab us on Live Chat, send an email or call us on 0800 954 5305 and we’ll be able to help you there and then.
In part 3 we’ll take you through the process of importing mobile numbers into your contacts or lists.
Part 3: Uploading contact lists
You’ve had a few days to check out fastsms and your account Dashboard. If you’ve sent some test messages using your free credits, you’re probably wondering how easy it is to send to a whole bunch of people at once.
The good news is that it is easy, once you know how to do it. So let’s go through it.
Fastsms supports different kinds of lists depending on what you need. Generally Contacts and Groups are for small lists, and Distribution lists are for large, bulk lists. The Blacklist can hold any amount of numbers. The importing procedure is almost the same, but Distribution lists require an additional step – you need to create the list before importing. But that’s getting a little bit ahead. Let’s work on getting your list ready to import first as it’s the same format regardless.
Creating the import file
The first step you need to do is gather the mobile numbers and names from your existing database into a comma separated values (CSV) file. The format required by our system is:
There are three common issues that arise in creating the CSV file format:
- The Number needs to be in international format (include country code: e.g. 447789123456)
- The Number needs to be just a number and have no spaces or other characters
- Names are often separated into two columns with a first and last name rather than one column with a full name
If your CSV file has any of these issues the import won’t work correctly, or maybe not at all. To help you get your file into the proper format, we have a step by step guide in our Support Centre that walks you through the process of reformatting the CSV.
In addition to the required format, you can add columns to create custom lists. When you import the list, Fastsms automatically creates groups based on the names in that column. You can also use the extra columns for more information on your contacts like birthdays. Then later you can use that information to trigger a message.
That’s a lot to take in, but we wanted you to get an idea of the options available to you. You’ll find more detailed information in our Support Centre.
Importing the numbers
Once you have your CSV file formatted properly, here’s how to import into a list:
From your Dashboard, select “Contacts” then choose either “Individual”, “Group”, “Distribution Lists”, or “Blacklist”. Then for Contacts, Groups, or Blacklist simply choose the Import button.
To import into a Distribution list, you’ll first need to create it. When you add a distribution list you’ll be able to define those extra custom columns mentioned above. Once created, simply choose your list and then Import.
Now you’re good to send texts to individuals or larger groups without having to type in all those numbers.
Hopefully this email showed you how easy it can be to import lists into fastsms. The hardest part is actually creating the original CSV file. Remember you can always find step by step instructions and videos in the Support Centre. We’re also available via live chat, email and phone.
In Part 4, we’ll show you some of the more advanced features of fastsms. You don’t want to miss it!
Part 4: Advanced Features
If you’ve been following this series you’ve seen the basics of sending messages and creating lists. Even if you figured all that out on your own, you may not have noticed or used the more advanced features of fastsms. In this email you’ll find a quick review of some of the most powerful features of the system that can really save you time and money (time is money after all).
When you’re sending messages, the default setting is to send immediately which probably works much of the time. But if you’re planning to do any time based messaging such as schedule reminders, or even mobile marketing, you may want to create messages to be sent later.
After you’ve composed your message, but before you hit “Send message”, look just below “Send this message…”. Next to “immediately” you’ll see:
- on a later date
- by schedule
Choosing the first lets you set a single specific date and time to send the message.
The second allows you to setup recurring messages at various frequencies (e.g. weekly, monthly) for a range of dates.
When you receive a message, you can specify certain actions take place. For example:
- Automatically put the reply number on the blacklist if they respond with a certain keyword (e.g. STOP)
- Add the mobile number to a specific list
- Add tags to messages to help manage and categorise the responses based on keyword or number used
- Shortcode keywords: These are great for inbound campaigns, you’ve probably seen them all over the media (e.g. “Text WIN to 87007”). It’s quick and easy to add a shortcode to your account using the BUY button.
Those are a few examples of how this feature is used. Hopefully you can see the potential to save you time by having the system automatically perform these types of tasks.
Advanced user management
The User Module is what we call the group of features in fastsms that specifically enable the power users, marketing teams, enterprises, and anyone sharing the responsibility for managing their organisation’s SMS efforts. Here’s a look at what you can do with it:
- Create and manage sub users, including credit allocation and the ability to create their own sub users for multiple levels of management. Don’t worry though, the primary user still has control over everyone.
- Set usage limits for each sub user and review reports on their activity and usage.
- Use the built in bulletin board to communicate notifications with sub users within the system so you can be sure everyone gets the information.
These are just the highlights of our many advanced features. Check out the Support Centre or contact us via live chat, email or phone with any questions or feature suggestions you have.
In Part 5, we’ll share a list of resources to help you make the most of your SMS messaging.
Part 5: Helpful Resources
I hope you’re getting to know fastsms and everything it has to offer. But I also wanted to let you know about some resources we have on the fastsms website you might find useful.
SMS has so many different uses depending on what industry you are in that we’ve created specific guides to help you. Just a few of the sectors we cover are recruitment, transport, and take-away restaurants. We’re adding more industries all the time so check it now, and if you don’t see your industry make a note to check again later. Or you can let us know what you’d like to see and we’ll add it to our list.
If you’re just starting out with mobile marketing, or you’re interesting in knowing how to use SMS for marketing, our guide will help you sort it all out. We cover the basic terminology, different types of campaigns, legal requirements and best practices. And after all that, we offer some suggestions on how to pick an SMS provider (hint: you’ve already done that right!).
We love sharing the successes of our customers because it shows how great they are, and offers inspiration and ideas to others too. If the statistics don’t convince you SMS is a great tool for communicating, our case studies just might. We’re always in the process of adding and reviewing potential case studies to add to our website. If you’d like your future success to be featured, just let us know and we’ll get the conversation going.
Twice a week we publish blogs covering use cases, industry news, anecdotes, inspiration and loads of other topics related to SMS messaging. You can visit the blog from our website at any time, or you can follow us on Twitter to find out what the latest topics are as soon as they are posted. And we love to hear your thoughts too. We welcome your stories, ideas, and opinions in the comments.
All of these resources are available on our website free of charge – we don’t even ask for an email address. Just select whatever interests you and access it immediately.
I also wanted to remind you that we’re here to help whenever you need it. We’re available via Live Chat and email within office hours, and we can be reached via phone at 0800 954 5305.
Part 6: Free Consultation
Finally we just want to let you know that you can arrange a free consultation with one of our team to discuss any aspect of fastsms at any time. This could be about anything, including:
- One on one training on a particular feature
- Admin management tools
- Help importing contacts, lists or campaigns
- Advice on mobile marketing
We’re always happy to hear from you so if you would like to arrange a free no obligation consultation talk to us on Live Chat or call us on 0800 954 5305.