The Ultimate Guide SMS Chatbots


By Joren Wouters Updated on

This is the ultimate guide to SMS chatbots in 2023.

In this guide, I will cover:

  • What SMS chatbots are
  • Why you should use them
  • What chatbot software to use
  • And how to create a SMS chatbot yourself

So if you're looking to create text message bots, you'll love this new guide.


Chapter 1: Intro to SMS Chatbots

In this first chapter, I will provide an intro to SMS Chatbots. So:

Let's start.


What is a SMS Bot?

A SMS chatbot or text bot is a computer program that can automatically reply to messages on SMS.

SMS bots work 24/7 and can have multiple conversations with several people at once. They are often used to send notifications, automatically answer questions and promote marketing campaigns.

Why use SMS Chatbots?

In my opinion, SMS is one of the most underestimated channels out there.

Over 5 billion people send and receive SMS messages globally.


That’s a lot. And you can reach all of them by using SMS.

But that’s not it.

SMS has a huge open rate of 98%.


And the best part: your competition is not using it.

About 61% of marketers still don’t use SMS. So if you start now, it’s very likely that you will be one of the first ones in your industry.

So, now I hear you thinking “Okay, SMS is an interesting channel. But why use chatbots?”

Good question.

Well, apart from the ten most important reasons why you should use chatbots, SMS has a huge advantage over other channels if it comes to chatbots.

Facebook has some strict policies if you want to use chatbots, and WhatsApp has even stricter rules.

But with text messages? There is no strict policy you must follow.

(Of course, the user must start the conversation or you must have consent to message them, otherwise, you can get intro trouble)

Want to broadcast a message to all your customers? No problem.

Is there a ’24-hour window’? No, there isn’t.

Must we be approved before we can use the channel? Absolutely not.

And this is a huge benefit.

So in short: You can reach anyone, at any time and your competition is not (yet) on this channel.

That’s why you need to use SMS chatbots.

NOTE: The SMS regulations can differ per country. But in general, you must have consent from the user or the user starts the conversation. For example, in the United States, there are certain rules written down in the TCPA.

How do SMS bots work?

A text message bot works really simple.

Just like you send a text message to a friend, you can send a text message to a chatbot (I will even show this later on in this guide).

When you are sending a text message to the chatbot, the chatbot will try to answer that message, just like any normal person would do.

So let’s say:

  1. A user starts a conversation with a SMS chatbot of an automotive company. The user asks “What Ford occasions do you have?”
  2. The chatbot understands this message and recognizes the words “Ford” and “occassions”
  3. Based on those recognized words, the chatbot will look in the car database for “Ford occasions”
  4. Finally, the chatbot will send a message back with all the Ford occasions in the car database.

Pretty simple, right?

Chapter 2: How to create a SMS chatbot with ManyChat and Twilio

Now, we know what a texting bot is and why we should use it.

So it's time to create one ourselves.

I will show you how you can create a SMS chatbot in just a matter of minutes, by using ManyChat and Twilio.

Let's dive in.


Create a SMS Chatbot with Manychat

The first thing you need to in order to make your SMS bot is create a free ManyChat account:

Create free ManyChat account

Click on Get started free:


And sign up with one of the signup methods (for example, your Facebook account):


Then, follow all the steps I explain in this video:

Chapter 3: What chatbot platforms for SMS?

Now we've seen how we can create our own SMS chatbot, it's time to look at the different chatbot builders that support SMS.

So, what chatbot platforms can you use to build your SMS bot?

And how much does a SMS chatbot cost?


How much does a SMS chatbot cost?

The pricing of your SMS chatbot depends on the chatbot platform that you use.

Some chatbot builders use a native SMS solution (like MobileMonkey) and others make integrations with services like Twilio (such as ManyChat).

Because we already covered Twilio, we will first go over their pricing. And then compare it with ManyChat’s and MobileMonkey’s pricing for SMS.

Twilio SMS pricing

The benefit of Twilio is that they serve the whole world.

With Twilio, you pay for two things: a phone number and the number of messages you send and receive per month.

But these rates differ per country.

So, here are the prices of some countries on Twilio:

Country Phone number per month Price per message
United States $1 $0.0075
India $1 $0.0175
Canada $1 $0.0075
Australia $6 $0.0550
United Kingdom $1 $0.04

MobileMonkey SMS pricing

MobileMonkey only serves two countries as it comes to SMS: United States and Canada.

If you want to activate a phone number, it will cost you $9 one-time.

Moreover, they don’t offer seperate pricing for SMS, but it is part of their pricing plans. With every plan, you get a certain number of credits. Sending a SMS is 10 send credits each and sending MMS is 20 send credits.

This comes down to $0.11 per text message and $0.22 per MMS message.

SMS chatbot platforms

Here is a complete comparison table with all the SMS chatbot platforms I’ve reviewed so far:

By the way, if you want to easily compare them all, here is complete chatbot platform comparison table with over 52 chatbot builders.

activechat-logo-whitespace ActiveChat botpress-logo-whitespace Botpress botsociety-logo-whitespace Botsociety chatmatic-logo-whitespace Chatmatic Chatrace logo with whitespace Chatrace clustaar-logo-whitespace Clustaar crisp-logo-whitespace Crisp dialogflow-logo-whitespace Dialogflow engati-logo-whitespace Engati flowxo-chatbot-software Flow XO flow-ai-whitespace manychat-logo-whitespace Manychat mobilemonkey-chatbot-software MobileMonkey octane-ai-logo-whitespace Octane AI pandorabots-logo-whitespace Pandorabots reamaze-logo-whitespace Reamaze SilFer Bots snatchbot-logo-whitespace SnatchBot trengo-logo-whitespace Trengo ubisend-logo-whitespace Ubisend uchat-logo-whitespace UChat Xenioo
Visual Flow Builder
Create chatbot dialogs with a visual flow builder.
Test chatbot
Is it possible to test the chatbot before putting your new flows or changes live?
Interface easy to use?
Is the chatbot platform easy-to-use?
Easy to setup a chatbot?
Is it easy to set up your chatbot with this chatbot platform?
Chatbot elements
Use delays between messages in your chatbot
Can you send images via your chatbot?
Can you send video via your chatbot?
Can you send audio via your chatbot?
Can you send attachments via your chatbot?
Gallery (Horizontal list)
Show a gallery of cards inside your chatbot. A card consists of an image, title, subtitle and button.
Vertical list
Show a vertical list of items inside your chatbot
Can you use emojis inside your chatbot?
Persistent menu
Can you add a persistent menu to your chatbot?
Quick replies
Can you add quick replies to your chatbot where users can click on?
Can you add buttons to your chatbot where users can click on?
Free text input
Can chatbot users freely type text to your chatbot whenever they want to?
Location sharing
Can users share their location inside the chatbot?
Email validation
When a chatbot user gives their email, can the platform validate it’s a correct email address?
Phone number validation
When a chatbot user gives their phone number, can the platform validate it’s a correct phone number?
Date validation
When a chatbot user gives a date, can the platform validate it’s a correct date?
Custom fields
Store information from your chatbot users inside fields. For example, you can ask for someone’s email and store it inside the “email” custom field.
Add tags to users in your chatbot flows to organize and categorize contacts.
User segments
Can you create user segments based on custom fields and tags?
Send a message to all or a part of your chatbot users at a specific date and time
Send messages on a pre-defined schedule with a certain time interval between those messages
Make checks in your chatbot flow based on if-then logic. For example, if the user has not given their email, ask for their email.
Multiple languages
Is it possible to create a chatbot in multiple languages?
Easy to translate
Can you translate text to other languages without using a third-party platform and without creating duplicate flows?
Trigger chatbot flow based on certain words or phrases a user says to the chatbot.
Trigger a chatbot flow by understanding the intent of the user.
Capture specific information from sentences. For example, if a user says “veggie pizza”, the chatbot can understand it’s not a regular pizza, but a veggie pizza.
DialogFlow integration
Does the chatbot platform provide a direct integration with Google’s AI Platform?
Can you publish your chatbot on your website?
Can you publish your chatbot on Facebook?
Can you publish your chatbot on Instagram?
Can you publish your chatbot on WhatsApp?
Can you publish your chatbot on Telegram?
Can you publish your chatbot on SMS?
Can you publish your chatbot on Slack?
Can you publish your chatbot on Skype?
Can you publish your chatbot on email?
Live chat
Direct integration with live chat, either via a built-in live chat functionality or a third-party live chat platform.
Direct integration with Zapier, one of the largest integration platforms in the world.
Make (formerly Integromat)
Direct integration with Make (formerly Integromat), one of the largest integration platforms in the world.
Google Sheets
Direct integration with Google Sheets, to store or retrieve data from sheets.
Can you call an API inside your chatbot flow to send or get data from other applications?
Facebook website widget
Embed your chatbot as a Facebook Widget on your website.
Native website widget
Embed your chatbot as a native widget (your own branding & colors) on your website.
Landing pages
Can you create a simple landing page to drive users to your chatbot?
Facebook Ads
Start a conversation with your chatbot when someone clicks on a Facebook Ad
One-Time Notification
Send one-time notifications via Facebook Messenger for a topic that a chatbot user has opted-in for
Facebook comments auto-reply
Automatically reply with your chatbot to users who comment on your Facebook Posts
Button creator
Add a button to your website to drive users to your chatbot
Custom URLs
Generate a simple URL that can be shared anywhere to send users to your chatbot
Free trial
Does the chatbot platform provide a free trial?
Free plan
Does the chatbot platform provide a free plan?
Price per month
What is the lowest price per month for creating a chatbot on this platform?
Monthly pricing
Is it possible to pay monthly?
Money back guarantee
Is there a money-back guarantee in case you are not satisfied with the platform?
Dashboard that provides general analytics of your chatbot.
User input
Get the input from users that your chatbot didn’t understand.
Sent messages
The number of messages that were sent by your chatbot.
Open rate
The percentage of chatbot users that opened a message inside your chatbot.
Click rate
The percentage of chatbot users that click on a button inside your chatbot.
Conversion rate
The percentage of users that converted through your chatbot. For example, the percentage of users that gave their email address
Fall back rate
The percentage of interactions where the chatbot did not know an answer to a question.
Custom dashboards/reports
Can you create your own dashboard or reports?
Collect payments inside your chatbot
Direct integration with Shopify to get products, order information and cart data.
Direct integration with WooCommerce to get products, order information and cart data.
Buy directly within chatbot
Ability for chatbot users to buy products or services directly from a chatbot
Cart abandonment
Trigger messages in the chatbot when a user abandons their cart on a website or inside the chatbot
Templates & Cloning
How many pre-built templates does the chatbot platform provide?
Make template
Can you make templates yourself?
Share template
Can you share self-created templates with others?
Duplicate chatbot flows
Is it possible to duplicate chatbot flows, so you can easily reuse them?
Duplicate chatbot elements
Is it possible to duplicate chatbot elements, so you can easily reuse them?
A/B Testing
Can you optimize your chatbot flows by performing A/B tests?
Does the chatbot platform provide tutorials on how to use its platform?
Does the chatbot platform provide documentation on how to use its platform?
Customer support
Does the chatbot platform provide customer support?

Now It's Your Turn

So that’s how you can create your own SMS chatbots.

Now I want to turn it over to you: Are you going to create a SMS chatbot?

Or did you already create one?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment below right now.

Leave a Reply