SMS notifications help you reach a wide audience quickly, without an app or development work. You can send SMS (text) or MMS (image) messages to your audience of opted-in MSISDNs (phone numbers).

SMS uses the SMMP protocol to send to devices that have opted in for a specific sender ID (long or short code). SMS benefits include:

  • Immediacy: Send time-sensitive notifications.

  • Reach: Contact customers who don’t have your app, or re-engage customers who are inactive on other channels or at-risk.

  • Personalization: Send transactional messages triggered by a backend system, e.g., order confirmation and shipment tracking updates.

  • Mobile wallet integration: Deliver personalized passes, tickets, coupons, and more.

  • Integrated platform: Centralize all your engagement channels; manage personalization, scheduling, and deployment for all message types; and measure SMS alongside all your other channels, all in the Airship platform.

  • No app required. If you do have an app, however, SMS notifications are an additional channel that you can use to engage your audience. You can decide which channel (app, SMS, etc.) is more important for different types of messaging, adjust your messaging for different channels, set priority per channel, and much more. See Channel Coordination for details about priority channel and other cross-channel engagement strategies.

Use Cases

Sports Events

  • Before the event: Last-minute ticket offers, seat upgrades, parking coupons.
  • During the event: Coupons, promotions of venue facilities, promotion of sponsor experiences to increase partner activations.
  • Mobile wallet pass delivery: Coupons, tickets.


  • Campaigns: Location-aware promotions, promotions to drive in-store traffic, lifecycle marketing.
  • Transactional: Offer confirmations, order status updates.
  • Mobile wallet pass delivery: Loyalty card updates, coupons.


  • Day-of-travel: Flight reminders, promotions, loyalty benefits.
  • Mobile wallet pass delivery: Boarding passes, loyalty card updates, coupons.


  • Campaigns: Re-engage inactive or at-risk readers.
  • News: Preferred new categories.

SMS Notifications and Sending Methods

SMS notifications are text-based messages. They are viewed in the recipient device's native SMS client. If your message exceeds the character limitation, it will appear as successive messages to the user.

You can send SMS notifications either individually or combined with other channels. You can also send SMS notifications via Automation A set of conditions that your audience must meet before they receive a message. . Both methods are available from the dashboard and API.

MMS Notifications

You can send multi-media messages (MMS) to your SMS audience. MMS messages include a fallback, ensuring that users who can't view the original MMS message still receive a message that makes sense.

MMS messages must be:

  • .gif, .jpeg, .jpg, or .png format.
  • Hosted over HTTP or HTTPS.
  • Smaller than 2 MB (or 1 MB for .gif) — though you should use the smallest media possible to ensure that your audience receives messages quickly, regardless of connection quality.


You can also use SMS notifications with push templates. See: SMS: Personalization Templates.

Data & Analytics

Opt in/out counts are included in the Devices report and individual message reports. Message reports also include send counts and custom events for delivery events and errors.

These counts are also included in Performance Analytics, and you can open a Real-Time Data Streaming event stream to observe SMS-related events in real time.

Configuration & Requirements

Contact Airship Support or Sales to provision your project for SMS notifications.

Your SMS channel requires a Sender ID — the long or short code your notifications are sent from. Each individual user is represented by their msisdn (phone number) registered to a particular Sender ID.

Opt-In/Out Handling

Users must opt in to receive SMS messages from your Sender ID and can opt out at any time. There are two ways users can opt in or opt out of your SMS audience:

  • Mobile-Originated (MO) Message: A message originating from the mobile handset can contain a keyword that triggers an opt-in. The opt-in keyword can trigger a single or double opt-in flow.
  • External Opt In: Users can opt in to SMS messages through your app, website, or other channel. You must register these users through the API as opted_in.

Mobile Originated Keywords

A Mobile Originated message (MO) is a message you receive from an audience member, i.e., it originates from a mobile device. A Keyword is a word that you define to perform an action, like opt-in or audience attribution, when used in a mobile-originated message. You can apply tags to your audience based on the keywords they use, segmenting your audience to send relevant messages based on your audience's keyword-indicated interests.

Contact Airship Sales to provision keywords and associated tag operations. Airship stores your keywords and associated tag operations. Custom keywords and tag operations for keywords are not available through the dashboard or API.

By default, users can text you any of these words to opt out of notifications: STOP, STOPALL, UNSUBSCRIBE, CANCEL, END, QUIT, ARRET. You can also add additional opt-out keywords; like opt-in keywords, specialized keywords can provide additional data about opt-out behaviors.

Mobile originated messages are represented as events. Each event records the keywords that your audience uses and additional identifying information. You can use these events to observe opt-in and opt-out trends in Performance Analytics, or to get events directly from Real-Time Data Streaming.

Mobile-Originated Single Opt-In

Single opt-in is the process of registering users and considering them opted in when they send you a single message containing a keyword. This method does not require users to confirm that they want to opt in through a second mobile-originated (MO) message.

While a single opt-in is a simple way to register users, it may not always be an optimal opt-in method. Airship mobile-originated opt-in handling defaults to a double opt-in process. Contact Airship if you want to take advantage of a single opt-in workflow.

The response to the keyword is a confirmation text message that provides information about the text program. The message usually:

  • Confirms that the user has subscribed to an on-going text program.
  • Provides the number of messages the subscriber can expect to receive.
  • Informs the subscriber where they can obtain more information and how they can opt-out.
BrandX: Welcome! You will receive 5 msg/mo. No purchase required. Msg&DataRatesMayApply. To end, reply STOP. For help, reply HELP. For more info,

Mobile-Originated Double Opt-In

Double opt-in requires a user to send you a keyword indicating that they want to receive mobile messages, and a second keyword confirming their choice:

  1. Your audience texts a keyword to trigger the opt-in process.
  2. Airship sends your audience a message requesting confirmation using a keyword.
  3. Your audience texts the confirmation keyword, opting in to your audience.

Because each message in the opt-in workflow supports unique keywords, the double opt-in method provides multiple indices to categorize users as they opt in to your audience; you can add, remove, or replace tags for any of the opt-in messages, ensuring that you precisely segment your audiences and target future messages to the right users.

External Opt-In

Users can also opt in to or opt out of your SMS audience through other channels. For example, users may provide their phone number and agree to receive text messages when logged in to your website or app — through user preferences, an account profile, etc.

In these cases, it is your responsibility to ensure that your users understand when they opt in to SMS messages and provide written consent to receive SMS messages from you. You must register users who opt in outside of an SMS channel through the Airship API.

SMS Data Protection and Compliance

Requests to opt in or out of SMS notifications are handled by Airship. Our opt-in and opt-out database:

  • Is segregated from campaign content.
  • Is encrypted.
  • For opt-ins and opt-outs that occurred via mobile originated messages on Airship SMS, Airship stores date/time data for those opt-ins and opt-outs for rolling 4 years.

SMS Resources