Texting / SMS

Read time: 8 minutes | Boost your student engagement with text messaging.

Jonny Richardson avatar
Written by Jonny Richardson
Updated over a week ago

Gecko supports one and two-way texting to domestic and international telephone numbers. We also fully support (and encourage!) the use of emojis ❀️😎⭐️🦎

Learn everything there is to know about texting in Gecko.


Before you can send texts from Gecko, you'll need to do two things: create an SMS template and secure a VoIP number.

Templates represent the content you'll text students and can be created, edited or deleted by going to Settings > Email & SMS Templates.

All links sent to students via SMS templates are automatically shortened to help keep your texts concise and easy to read. All texting in Engage is one-way unless you have access to a Gecko Chat account.

Depending on the region of the student you're messaging, please be aware that Gecko has pre-defined rate limits. Mass texts to students in the US/CA region can be sent at a speed of 1 text per second, whilst for students in the UK/Rest of the world, this increases to 5 texts per second. Potential options exist to increase this limit, though they incur an additional cost. Contact support@geckoengage.com to learn more.

SMS Templates

You can start building your first text template by heading to Settings > Email & SMS Templates and clicking + New Template in the top-right corner. Select the message type as SMS.

Give your template an internal Name and click Next.

Go ahead and compose your message to students. Remember, Gecko fully supports using emojis and template tags to personalize any aspect of your message.

The maximum text message length is 1,600 characters (though we recommend going nowhere near this limit! Texts work best when short and to the point!).

Every 160-character "block" will be considered an individual text message, though long gone are the days of students receiving longer texts 160-characters at a time. Any messages sent through Gecko will display as a single text message when viewed on the student's phone.

Gecko supports automatic opting out. Suppose a student replies to your text message with STOP, STOPALL, UNSUBSCRIBE, CANCEL, END, or QUIT. In that case, Gecko will automatically stop the student from receiving future text messages from the VoIP number that sent the text (or until the student responds with GO or START!).

If you want to include a URL in a text message, don't worry - Gecko will automatically apply a link shortener to make your link look more presentable.

Sending texts

Ready to start sending texts? Super! Before you go any further, be sure you have at least one VoIP number set up and that you've built the template you'd like to send.

You're able to send text messages to students in a vast number of ways:

A screenshot showing multiple contacts being selected for texting.
  • Manual (1 - 50 students at a time) - students can be messaged from the Contacts page. Click the checkbox to the left of the student's name and pick Actions on selected > SMS contact(s). Individual contacts can also be texted from within the contact record.

  • Automated - Workflows can automate sending the right SMS template at the right time. SMS workflows can be set on forms, events, broadcasts, call scripts, and call campaigns. Broadcasts can also be configured to run as campaigns that will pull in and send an SMS when contacts meet certain, pre-defined conditions.

  • Bulk/Mass - Gecko supports bulk texting to any number of students. This can be done via an SMS broadcast.

Sending text messages using an Engage VoIP Number is purely one-way only (students cannot reply, save for opting out). If you're looking to use two-way texting (where students can reply to your text, and you can have a back-and-forth conversation), be sure to set up a Chat SMS channel.

Getting an error when you try to send your text? Only users in a user group with the Send messages permission can email or text!


Here are some of the more common issues people run into when sending texts:

πŸ”Ž Issue: Understanding Message statuses

Messages sent from Gecko can have a range of different statuses. The following list should help you decipher their various meanings!

  • Clicked - the recipient of your email has clicked a link in your message template.

  • Delivered - Gecko has received confirmation from the recipients' email client/ telephone provider that the message has been successfully delivered.

  • Dropped - your email hasn't been sent, as we have dropped it due to the email address having a hard bounce within the last few months.

  • Duplicate - multiple identical messages have been sent to this contact in too short a time (24 hours), and Gecko has flagged this message as a duplicate. The recipient will not receive messages with this status. If testing a workflow, this status can be avoided by toggling on Test Mode.

  • Failed - the message has failed to deliver. This may be due to an invalid telephone number, network outages, recipient account suspension, account overflow, etc.

  • Hard Bounce - your email hasn't been delivered and has been permanently rejected by the mail server. This could be due to the mailbox not existing, for example.

  • No Consent - your message has not been sent because the contact hasn't consented to receive this message. This status can be avoided in several ways, including toggling to Ignore Consent Reasons when sending your message.

  • Opened - the recipient has opened your email. (note: some email clients send a false-positive status back to Gecko. As a result, a small percentage of messages with this message may not be accurate.)

  • Processing - your email/SMS is being processed by Gecko and will be sent shortly.

  • Sender not verified - your message has failed as the sender (the email address you're using to send your message) is yet to be verified.

  • Sending - your email/SMS message is being processed by AWS/ Twilio and will be sent shortly.

  • Sent - Twilio has had a request for the SMS to be sent by the nearest 'upstream carrier' accepted.

  • Soft Bounce - this is a temporary status. Your email has been rejected for many reasons, e.g., the recipient inbox may be full.

πŸ”Ž Issue: How do I send 2-way texts that students can respond to?

πŸ’‘ Note: two-way texting in Engage is only available to clients with Gecko Chat. Interested in learning more? Contact your Sales or Account Manager here.

It's easy to send text messages from Engage that students can reply to. If students reply, their message can create a brand new conversation in Chat that teams can pick up, individual agents or bots.

First, ensure you have an integration between your Chat x Engage accounts. On Chat, head to Settings > Integrations > Engage. Next, create an SMS channel in Chat.

Now hop over to Engage. Any SMS you send will now have the option to use your Chat SMS number. If the student replies to your text, their response will be visible in Chat.

πŸ”Ž Issue: Why aren't my template tags showing?

Template tags only work when sent to a contact with a value in the field you're trying to pull into your template. The template tags will render a blank space where no value can be found.

Message templates using tags beginning with {{contact}} can be successfully sent from anywhere in Gecko. Message templates using tags beginning with {{event}} or {{response}}, however, will only work when sent from events or forms. Read more here.

πŸ”Ž Issue: Why is my message taking so long to send?

Depending on the region of the student you're messaging, please be aware that Gecko has pre-defined rate limits. Mass texts to students in the US/CA region can be sent at a speed of 1 text per second, whilst for students in the UK/Rest of the world, this increases to 5 texts per second.

This may mean that in a mass text to 4k students in Europe, student number 1 in the queue would receive their text around 13 minutes before student number 4,000 in the queue.

Potential options exist to increase this limit, though they incur an additional cost. Contact support@geckoengage.com to learn more.


To send text messages from Chat, you'll need an SMS channel. There's no cap related to the number of SMS channels you can create.

All texting in Chat is two-way.

SMS Channel

Users can only create SMS Channels with Supervisor or Admin privileges. Before creating your channel, head to Agents and click on your user. Click Edit Agent Details, and add your phone number to the Telephone field. Having this number in place means we can send you a text message from your channel post-creation to make testing as simple as hitting reply! You can, of course, remove your telephone number from your profile immediately afterward.

Go to Settings > Channels to create your channel and click + Add New. Find the SMS card and click Add New Channel. Give your SMS channel an internal title and pick the country/number you'd like to use for back-and-forth texting.

Once saved, your channel can be used for messaging immediately. Check your phone for a message to say the setup was successful. Reply to this message; when sent, your message should start a new conversation in your Chat account!

Chat SMS channels can be used to send messages in Engage. Ensure your Engage and Chat accounts are integrated to have your channel pull through to your Engage account. On Chat, head to Settings > Integrations and find the GeckoEngage card to set this up. Once done, you should see all Chat SMS channels listed on the Engage Settings > VoIP Numbers page.

Sending texts

First, to start sending texts from Chat, have at least one SMS channel set up.

Contacts can be texted in several ways:

  • From a conversation (1 student) - Open an active conversation with the student you'd like to text. Click the channel selector and pick the SMS channel you'd like to use to message the student. Note: SMS channels will only be visible on the channel selector if the contact has a value in their Telephone field.

  • Contacts (1 student) - Navigate to Contacts and find the student you'd like to text. Click into their contact record and click Compose.

  • New Conversation (1 - 20 students) - Head to the Conversations view and click New Conversation in the top-right corner. Enter up to 20 telephone numbers (comma separated) that you'd like to text in bulk, pick your SMS channel, compose your message and click send!

  • Engage (1 - unlimited students) - Once your Chat SMS channel has been created, on Chat, head to Settings > Integrations and look for the GeckoEngage card. Set up your integration with your Engage account. Once created, your SMS channels can be used in your Engage account wherever you send texts. If students reply to any messages, their response will land in Chat.

Any questions? Start a live chat with our support team, or feel free to explore the rest of our Academy. Spotted an error or want to suggest a future article for the Academy? Let us know here.

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