Introduction to SMS

Applies to V7 and V8

Learn what SMS is, the role of the SMS service provider, and how Adobe Campaign connects to the service provider. Understand which information is passed through the service provider and which tech notes are available.

Hello everyone, I am Jean-Matthieu and I will present you the first course of a series about setting up SMS on Adobe Campaign. Together, we will discover what is SMS and how Campaign handles SMS. The first part will describe briefly what is SMS. Then we will see the role of the SMS service provider. The third part will explain how Campaign connects to a provider. Then, we will see the information carried by an SMS. The last part will be about the SMS tech notes provided by Adobe. So, let’s see what is SMS? As you may already know, SMS stands for Short Message Service. The word SMS designates both the whole system and individual messages. SMS is an ubiquitous way to send messages across mobile phones. As of today, it is still the only universal way to target any mobile phone without requiring a kind of opt-in or a subscription. That’s why SMS is still a channel of choice for many marketing use cases. Sending SMS greatly differs from sending email or mobile push events, because the GSM or CDMA networks used to send SMS to mobile phones are not directly reachable from the internet. For that, you need a specialized SMS service provider to transfer messages from the internet, to which Adobe Campaign is connected, to the mobile network of your recipient’s carrier. There are thousands of SMS providers around the globe offering a wide variety of services and protocols to send SMS in various ways to many different countries. The biggest providers are able to send SMS on any mobile phone around the world. In order to send SMS’, a Campaign customer needs to have a contract with the compatible SMS service provider. Adobe Campaign Consulting may give advice to find the best provider for the customer, but at the end of the day, the contract will be between the provider and the customer.
This may sound like a detail, but this is very important to know who you need to contact to get support. Normally, the provider should handle support for sending and receiving issues, whereas Adobe Support is involved for message authoring, targeting, or reporting issues. Because SMS are not designed to work over the internet, they need to be encapsulated in an internet compatible protocol. SMS providers support web services like SOAP or REST, but each provider uses a different web protocol, making them incompatible with each other. Fortunately, most but not all providers support the SMPP protocol, a standard protocol specifically designed to send and receive SMS. Adobe Campaign supports SMPP only. So, the provider has to support this protocol too. SMPP means Short Message Peer to Peer. Unfortunately, SMPP is an old protocol with a lot of issues and imprecise specifications. To mitigate this, Adobe Campaign provides many settings to adapt to the many subtle differences between different SMPP implementations. SMPP is a binary protocol working in a very different way from usual web-based protocols. It makes issues more difficult to troubleshoot. That’s why connecting Campaign to a new SMPP provider requires to fully understand the SMPP protocol and how SMS works. Connections to SMPP providers are represented by an external account in Campaign. You can access most SMPP settings through this screen. Determining the correct settings on this page should be done with the help of the provider. These settings will be covered in more details in a dedicated training. You can have multiple external accounts active at the same time. However, you will have to make sure that they connect to different accounts on the provider, or that they connect to different providers. You cannot have multiple external accounts connecting to the same account of the same provider. Be especially careful with conflicts when moving a configuration between stage and product. Now, let’s get more into the details of what’s inside an SMS. Sending SMS from a business application, such as Campaign, through a provider, does not work exactly like it does between two normal mobile phones. When connecting an application such as Campaign to SMS provider, there are three different kinds of SMS. MT, meaning mobile terminated, is a message going from the application, in this case Campaign, to a mobile phone. SR, meaning status reports, it’s also named DR or DLR for delivery reports. This message acknowledges that MT has been received by the mobile phone. In case of error, SR usually contains an error code to describe what happened. SR are usually sent by the user’s mobile phone, so it may not be sent right away. For example, if the phone is turned off or momentarily unable to receive the message. And there’s MO, meaning mobile originated. It’s a message going from a mobile phone to Adobe Campaign. Very often, this contained mandatory key words, such as contact or stop. Here’s what you can expect to find in an SMS. The text which is limited to 140 bytes, which translates to between 70 and 160 characters, depending on the encoding. Longer messages are bid from multiple SMS that are assembled by the mobile phone. A recipient address, sometimes called ADC or MSISDN, is the technical name for phone number. That’s the number of the mobile that will receive the SMS. A sender address that can be called oADC or sometimes Sender ID. That can be a phone number in day-to-day use, a short code, or a brand name. A flag to indicate whether SR is required or not. It’s very rare to send SMS without requiring SR. A validity date. After this date has passed, no retry is allowed. A data coding field that indicates the text and coding. It can have extra optional fields called TLV, for Tag Length Value. The exact meaning of this fields will be explained in more details in other trainings.
Whether you need more information about the SMPP protocol, details about the external account settings, things to check before finalizing a setup, or hints to troubleshoot the most common issues, you will find the most up-to-date information in the tech note named SMS Connector Protocol and Settings. Reading this tech note is necessary for anyone attempting to set up an external account for the first time or trying to troubleshoot any SMS-related issue. So, to sum up what we learned, SMS is still relevant today because it is universal. You need a provider to send SMS. The provider offers help and support. SMS can be tricky to set up and troubleshoot. And finally, the SMS tech note centralizes knowledge. Thank you for attending this course. More information will be available in future trainings. In the meantime, feel free to read the documentation or read the tech note to learn more about SMS. This was Jean-Matthieu and I will see you in the next video. -

See SMS connector protocol and settings for more information on the SMPP protocol, details about external account settings, or troubleshooting of the most common issues.