Opinions on SMS chatbots?

Curious to know everyone’s opinion on SMS chatbots and what you think the future of that will be.

From everything I’ve been reading and learning is that globally, it’s going to have the largest penetration of bots, because with weak, slow or limited internet, SMS is the method most of the world’s population will be able to access bots. Plus I’ve seen developers reminded of this untapped market.


Yeah. I’m gearing my own bot to that in hopes that it makes user interactions as quick and seamless as possible. Glad to know there is a market for sms bots!

What are the most compelling use cases you can think of for SMS? We want to be all in on SMS because of the ubiquity, but we’re seeing that most bot use cases aren’t conversational, they’re actually all UI based inside of messengers. We’ve (www.lifecycle.io) just not found customers create a ton of compelling text based bot experiences yet.

Curious to see how everyone else is thinking about SMS bots, or even just text-only bots!

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Well one of the things I’m currently working on is an SMS bot that drives accountability when it comes to health and fitness (www.thehabitapp.us). I’m still in the early stages of getting it to work but so far my users really like the concept and they have been using it on a daily basis so far.

I’m really curious to see how the future of SMS bots develop as well. I think there’s a definite future with them!

We were going to launch with SMS support but we decided not to because of four key reasons.

  1. After lots of customer development we found 99 percent of people used Facebook Messenger or some other messaging app WAY more then SMS.
  2. Doing SMS is expensive! Twilio is by far the most expensive but most stable, the rest are cheaper but not as great.
  3. SMS is hard to develop for because it’s slightly different on certain phones and not very good at sending media quickly over the line.
  4. User experience is not nearly as great as other messaging apps, hard to make a richer experience with such basic tech.

But really it all comes down to what you are making… Our company is making gaming chat bots so they are complex and requires a lot from the user so having them type everything in all the time not fun!

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I remember seeing a bunch of tweets about SMS from the Talkabot conference.

The obvious reason: If you want to reach those that can’t afford a computer or smartphone then you need SMS https://twitter.com/tbadaczewski/status/781515074330427392

Foursquare’s Marsbot enjoys incredible retention from being built on SMS. https://twitter.com/thinkmariya/status/781515937493155840

Financial assistant, Abe bot is providing SMS support because they realized “people don’t want to put personal finance info into a workplace slack.” https://twitter.com/adelynzhou/status/781520558349389824


I wish I could have attended talkabot :frowning: It’s just SMS is so dang expensive! If your bot takes off it gets costly quick! Foursquare has the capital to burn but most startups don’t. I think SMS still important but I think it also really depends on the type of chatbot you are making.

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Yes I’m actually starting to see that myself haha. Twilio is definitely the best service by far. It’s expensive but I’m going to hold on a little longer and see what kind of response I get from my users. I’m hoping that what my team is making is suitable for SMS but I guess time will tell.

Good luck on your chatbot as well!

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You should just ask your users what they like to use :wink:

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Twilio does volume discounts if you just ask. So if your chatbot takes off, expensive twilio fees are like champaign problems. :slight_smile:


Didn’t know that at all. Thanks for the advice!

is it more suitable for doctors to use or for the patients to address the health concerns instead of google help or self medication…just curious

So if I’m getting it correct, other people would be diagnosing others who submit a picture or brief synopsis of their health concerns?

thats a concern…how can other people diagonose other people’ problem through a pic?..even docs find it difficult to diagnose this way…this may mislead…what do u say?

I agree. I think the concept is an overall brilliant one and if it could be done with accuracy then that would be a fantastic service that I would love to use. On the other hand, I don’t think it would be the best idea for users to diagnose other users and I would leave it up to doctors to do the diagnosing.

But with disclaimers and all, and because there are things like webMD I think it’s definitely possible to be able to have something that can give you a possible diagnosis given the warning that the service isn’t a complete replacement for a real doctor.

We just built a bulk SMS sending Bot for a customer, which auto replies to user responses. We learnt that any SMSBOT has to be point solution and not a generic conversation never ending Bot. Customer found it extremely productive when they did not have to look at reply messages from the users because the Bot auto replied accurately.

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That’s exactly what I’ve been realizing. It’s to expensive to have a constant conversation regardless haha. I did add conversation features to my bot however in the case that a user wanted to have a conversation with it.

Like @akhanukov said, SMS chatbots will naturally have the most reach. In some countries, majority of people use messaging channels that don’t have bots available yet (e.g. Whatsapp is mostly used in Singapore).

An interesting SMS bot I used recently was at a bank, where you can text the bot to join the queue, see the number of people ahead of you in the queue, etc. The bot texts you when it’s a few minutes away from your turn so that you don’t physically have to wait in line, which I thought was handy.

SMS is underrated I think - it may be an old fashioned channel but has the potential to be well used.

It’s underrated for sure but I think unless you have serious capital to handle scale not worth the investment. There is volume pricing as some mentioned before but still gets very expensive, especially if your bot does well.

Was thinking of launching with SMS but just didn’t make sense from a financial stand point when the other messaging platforms had such a broad reach already with zero cost to actually use the service.

Then again my focus is on games which is very different need wise for the many other type of bots out there were it would also work pretty well. Healthcare, business, etc. So like with all things comes down to who your audience is.

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