FAQ’s for CMD’s Texting/SMS Capabilities
How will text messaging work in CMD?
2 ways in 2016.1, with a third coming in 2016.2:
- On the Enter/Modify/Delete Names dialog, there’s a button you can click beside the Cell phone number that will bring up a small dialog that will allow you to type in a text message to the person currently selected. After typing in the message, you simply click the Send Message button and it’s sent immediately.
- SMS/Text Message is a new Output Form on the Print Control page of Print Names. That means you can select any grouping of people from your Print Names Selection page that you wish, and those with cell phone numbers will all receive the text message within a few seconds of each other. There is space there on the Print Control page for you to type in the message. When you click Begin Printing, the message will be sent to those names you’ve selected. It’s as easy as printing labels!
- Coming in 2016.2, we plan for a new Windows service that will run in the background that will automatically send specific people in your CMD data file a text message denoting items such as birthdays, anniversaries, etc, for that day. You will be able to select which dates you want included, and you will be able to select the time of day this message will be sent for each person.
Is this a free service?
No, but it’s very inexpensive! You can select either or both of two alternatives: twilio.com or plivo.com. Whichever provider you choose, you will need to go to their web site and create your own account for your church. It’s very simple to do. When you sign up, you’ll get an account code, an authorization code, and you’ll sign up for a phone number that will server as the number the texts come from.
Twilio.com charges $0.0075 for each text that is sent through their service, plus a $1/month fee for the phone number you get when you sign up that appears as the phone number the text message is from.
Plivo.com charges $0.0035 for each text that is sent through their service, plus a $0.80/month fee for the phone number you get when you sign up that appears as the phone number the text message is from.
To show you how inexpensive this service is, if you spaced out your text messages over the course of a whole year, you could send 4685 text messages for only $25 total!
Put another way, if you needed to send out a text reminder to you church board of, say, 30 people about the upcoming board meeting, it would cost $0.11, plus $0.80 for the phone number for that month for a total investment of $0.91! (91 cents)
Using text message reminders is much less expensive and MUCH faster than using postcards or letters to remind people. And text messages tend to get more immediate attention than e-mails these days.
Are there limits?
Yes. Texts are limited to 160 characters per text, and you can only send out up to 250 messages at one time (this is a limit that phone providers have, otherwise you are kicked into a different pricing strata because this then constitutes mass marketing in their thinking. You can actually send up to 200 characters per text and it will show up as only one text on a person’s cell phone, but you will be charged for two texts for each person in that case.
How does CMD know which account the text message is coming from when it hits Twilio.com or Plivo.com?
When you sign up for your own account, they will give you three items of information:
- AccountSID. This is your Twilio or Plivo account number. It will be about 38 characters long.
- Authorization Token. This is a second item required for authorization to make sure your account is used only by you. It can be 30 or more characters as well.
- Phone Number. This is the number that you purchase when you set up your account, for which you are charged either $1/month or $0.80 per month depending on the provider. This is the number that will display when the text messages are sent.
There are fields in a new data file in CMD into which you will enter this information. Once this information has been saved, you can immediately start texting from within CMD.
Why not just text from my cell phone?
You certainly can! And perhaps you have some groups already defined in your phone. But the beauty of CMD is that since you will work to keep your data information up-to-date anyway, you don’t have to fuss with keeping groups updated with new or leaving members. CMD handles that for you more quickly and easily, and any time you send out a group text from within CMD, it uses the latest information you have that’s already in your database. It’s simply more convenient and much faster.