The Ultimate Guide to Drafting Messages and Replies

What’s one thing every SMS-based program must have? An interactive messaging flow, of course! It’s like a call-and-response conversation with your audience. In this post, we share our expert tips so you can create messaging flows that captivate and drive engagement. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Every topic in your SMS-based program is made up of at least one, if not many, messages and replies. Think of this as a “messaging sequence” made up of:

  1. The First Message
  2. Reply
  3. Response

The First Message: 

We’re not going to over complicate this, – the first message kicks off your participant’s day. Keep it snappy (100-200 chars), dish out a greeting, context on the theme of the day and the first word to reply back with. All right, let’s pretend we’re teaching a program called “How To Train Your Dog”!

Here’s an example of the first message: 

Hi! It’s Sarah from TrainingTips again. It’s day 1 of our program, How To Train Your Dog, and today we’re going to talk about rewards and why they’re important for your pup. Text back TREAT when you’re ready.


Replies refer to the specific words that participants are expected to respond with to keep the convo flowing. The most important thing to keep in mind when thinking of participant replies is that they should be made loud and clear in your messages. For example, in our previous message, we said “Text us back with TREAT when you’re ready.” Trust us, being clear makes all the difference in the world. When drafting replies, keep them brief, simple, and relevant to the content of your messaging sequence. 

Here are some examples: 

  • HOW
  • WHY

There are also a few reply words that cannot be used and will lead your program to be rejected during your program’s review due to SMS carrier regulations. These include: 

  • STOP
  • END
  • QUIT
  • HELP


The responses are like magic, appearing right after a participant sends the expected reply.  They give you the chance to provide actionable tasks, fun activities, and share media that lets participants dive deep into your program. This is where you can send longer messages and share cool insights to educate and entertain your participants.

Here’s an example: 

  • Awesome, let’s dive in! Here’s the deal with dogs- they only understand short-term cause and effect. This means you need to reward your furry friend within 2 seconds of a desired behavior to reinforce it. If you wait too long, your pup won’t associate the reward with the action you asked them to perform.
    Want to try your first behavior/reward sequence? When you’re ready, I have a video to share demonstrating our first lesson. Just text me back VIDEO.

When creating your messages, think of them as conversations between you and your participants. Picture yourself chatting with a good friend. Keep your words brief, fun, and friendly, just like you would in any text conversation. 

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