Step 5 – Send a Bulk SMS to a Group of Contacts

As well as sending a message to a single Contact fmSMS allows you to send a bulk SMS to a found set of Contacts. To send a bulk SMS to a group of Contacts click on the CONTACTS button at the top of the screen to view any existing Contact records (if the Contacts you wish to send the bulk SMS to have not been entered create New Contact records for each recipient first).

To send a bulk SMS to a group of Contacts you first need to create a found set containing just the Contact records you wish to send the bulk SMS to. You can use the FileMaker Find and Omit Record commands to create your desired found set. For example if I wanted to send an SMS to all my Contact records flagged as “Customer” I would click the Find button on the FileMaker toolbar, enter “Customer” in the Category field and press Enter/Return.

Once you have generated your found set of Contact records click the Create Bulk SMS button on the toolbar to start the process of sending a bulk SMS. Your screen should look like this:

Bulk SMS Setup

Bulk SMS Setup

In order to send a Bulk SMS you must enter the following details:

Account ID: if you setup a default Account this will be pre-populated with the Account Name, otherwise you will need to select the Account you wish to use to send the bulk SMS.

Sender: select the Sender for this bulk SMS: you must select a Sender from this list even if you will be using a shared virtual number, dedicated virtual number or Alphanumeric Sender ID.  The Sender PhoneSender Country and Int Format fields should all be completed using the details from the selected Sender record.

Select Template: if you wish to set the Message Body using one of the Templates select the Template from the drop down list and the Message Body will be set to the contents of the selected Template. Any merge fields that were present in the Template will NOT be replaced with the actual value for each merge merge at this stage – this happens when each individual Message is sent. If you are using Merge Fields the final character/credits count might differ from the numbers dislpayed at this stage once the Merge Fields have been replaced with the actual values. For example the Merge Field <> could be replaced by “Tom” which would reduce the actual number of Characters.

Sender ID: this defaults to Sender ID for the selected Account. You can change this from Sender Mobile to Alphanumeric (fmSMS will alert you if the SMS Gateway for the selected Account does not support one of these options).

Delivery Delay (minutes): this feature allows you to submit a Message to the SMS Gateway immediately but delay the actual delivery to the recipient (N.B. not all SMS Gateways support this feature). To delay the delivery of the Message select the number of minutes you wish to delay the delivery by. For example if you wish to delay the delivery for 2 hours select 120 from the drop down list (you can also enter a number directly into this field).

Characters: this is set automatically as you modify the contents of the Message Body field

Credits: this is set automatically as you modify the contents of the Message Body field. N.B. fmSMS supports sending long messages greater than the standard 160 characters. In order to send a long message the SMS Gateway has to truncate the message into 153 character segments which is why a 320 character message will require 3 credits instead of 2.

Total Recipients: this counts the total Contacts that were in the found set selected to receive the bulk SMS. You can remove individual Contacts from the list of Recipients for this bulk SMS by clicking the trash icon to the right of their name under the Recipients for this Bulk SMS section in the bottom right hand corner. N.B. clicking the trash icon removes them from the list of Recipients – it does not delete their Contact record. If you wish to add additional recipients you will need start again by clicking the Contacts button and generating your found set of Recipients.

Sent Timestamp: this is set once you click the Send Bulk Message button.

Send Error: if there is an error sending the Bulk SMS when performed by FileMaker Server (e.g. you have not selected an Account) this will be displayed here. For more details on sending messages using FileMaker Server scripts visit the FileMaker Server Side Sending page.

Message Body: this is where you enter the actual text of the Message to be sent (or select a Template to populate this). N.B. you cannot send a blank SMS.

Once you have finished entering your Message Body you are ready to send the Message to the SMS Gateway – click the Send Bulk Message button to start sending the Messages to the SMS Gateway. fmSMS will first check to ensure all required details have been entered before attempting to send the Bulk SMS and will alert you to any issues. fmSMS will create a new Message for each Recipient and substitute any Merge Fields with values from the database and update the final Characters/Credits count.

You will receive a final confirmation that you wish to send the Bulk SMS to the selected number of Recipients. Once you click Yes to this dialog there is no way to stop the Bulk SMS:

Confirm Bulk SMS

Confirm Bulk SMS

When the Bulk SMS has finished sending a Message to reach Recipient you will receive a confirmation dialog box:

Bulk SMS Sent

Bulk SMS Sent

fmSMS will then display a summary containing the sent Messages:

Review Bulk Messages

Review Bulk Messages

You can click the green arrow button at the left to view the details for an individual Message.

We have also included an option for having Bulk SMS messages sent via a server side script running under FileMaker Server – fmSMS has to be hosted by FileMaker Server v12 for this to work (this is also how messages generated on the iPhone or iPad are sent). To flag a Bulk SMS to be sent by FileMaker Server click the Queue Bulk Message button – N.B. you must first setup a server side script and schedule this in order for the Messages to actually be sent. See Step 9 – FileMaker Server Side Sending for further details.