Articles on: Getting Started

Message Content Basics

Learn the basics to ensure a high completion rate:

Message Length

When entering your content into a Send Message action, keep in mind that messages exceeding 160 characters will be sent as two messages. We provide a character counter beneath the message input of each message action to help you keep track:

If you hover over the character counter, you will see a pop up noting how many characters and messages we estimate the text will use:

Educating your contacts on your service's intended purpose lessens the amount of content you'll need to fit into each message. This can be accomplished through marketing efforts, demonstrations, and training sessions.

Flow Length

Indicating the length of flow in the initial message is a small but crucial step towards increasing a flow's completion rate. This allows you to immediately communicate the commitment required to complete a flow, which serves as subtle reminder that the interaction is automated and decreases the likelihood of receiving uncategorized responses:

Adhere to Industry Standards

Provide an opt-out (STOP) and assistance (HELP) keyword in your initial message to satisfy regulatory requirements. Twilio handles these keywords themselves, so the important thing is having those words present somewhere in the message. Refer to this article for more information about managing opt-ins and opt-outs.

Establish 2-way messaging. An easy way to immediately establish 2-way messaging is to have your contacts start your flows using keyword triggers. Once a contact has entered your flow, contacts will respond asynchronously with varying answers.

Vary message content. If you’re sending out a large broadcast, consider the amount of unique words in each message, as large amounts of identical messages may irritate a carrier. An easy way to ensure message variation is to reference variables within each message. The simplest way to do so is to reference each recipient’s first name (@contact.first_name), but you can create and reference other variables as you see fit.


Try to be clear with your contacts regarding the types of responses you're looking for and what to expect from your flow. We advise including possible responses in each question whenever possible to increase response accuracy. In the example below, we're showing our target end users - health care professionals - the expected date format. In this case, our explanation is short and discrete; in others, you may need to provide a more descriptive explanation.

Use response rules to define acceptable answers and minimize the possibility of receiving responses in an undesired format. The more precise the response, the more accessible and better organized your data will be.

In the example pictured below, we ask our contacts to tell us how they get their water. We've used multiple choice response rules to define the acceptable range of answers. These answers will be stored as values in a flow result called "**Water Source**".

The response rule has all of the words indicates that any answers that don't have only the designated words "Well", "Tap", "Stream", and "Water Point" will be categorized as "Other."

Redirect Errant Responses

In rare instances, a contact may misinterpret a question or command and respond with a value that doesn't match the response rules you've created. To redirect responses, you may create a connection from the "Other" category to a node that reiterates the correct response format and then create a connection back to the initial node:


Make sure your content is appropriate to your target audience. This can be accomplished by:

Designing messages that are appropriate for all ages.

Using local terminology.

Using popular local abbreviations.

While engaging Liberian youth, UNICEF translated the following questions using local, abbreviated language:

“Are you aware of the Ebola disease” became “do pple no abt Ebola.”

“What information source do you trust” became “which 1 will pple take on d info abt Ebola.”

“What has changed the most in your community because of Ebola” became “wat bother U d most abt Ebola.”

Be sure to also read our article on message content best practices!

Questions? Send us a message via the support widget in the bottom right corner of your browser.

Updated on: 13/12/2021

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