Ready to implement SMS and MMS marketing notifications? Because of the high read-rate and the always-present nature of mobile devices, marketing through SMS is an excellent choice. Today we'll build notifications with PHP and Laravel.
Here's how it'll work at a high level:
- A potential customer sends an SMS to a Twilio phone number you've advertised somewhere
- Your application confirms that the user wants to receive SMS and MMS notifications from you
- An administrator crafts a message in a web form to send to all subscribers
For this tutorial we'll be working with the following tools:
- TwiML and the <Message> Verb: We'll use TwiML, the Twilio Markup Lamguage to manage interactions initiated by the user via SMS.
- Messages Resource: We will use the Twilio REST API to send marketing messages out to all subscribers.
Let's get started! Click the button below to move on to the next step of the tutorial.
In order to track who wants our marketing messages, let's start at the beginning and provide the right model:
phone_numberstores where to send the marketing messages.
subscribedis a boolean which tracks if a
Subscriberis opted in. Unsubscribed users will not receive messages.
We can use the command line to create the scaffolding for this model with a command similar to:
php artisan make:model Subscriber -m
Now that we have a model, let's create the migration.
To create the table where we’ll store subscriber info, we’ll create a migration and then execute it. First, create a basic migration file by running the command:
php artisan make:migration subscribers
Next, open the new file and add info on the fields we need this table to have. It will be located in the
database/migrations directory and named with the current timestamp and the table name we provide. For example, it might look something like
Inside the file we’ll find the class CreateSubscribersTable which contains two methods:
down() for creating or destroying our table. We just need to edit the
up() method to add the
subscribed fields we need for our model.
Here's how the migration should look:
Next, run the command:
php artisan migrate
... and the migration should be successful.
Simple, right? Next let's look at how to handle incoming messages from people opting into the service.
Here we create the endpoint that Twilio calls every time our number receives an incoming message from a new subscriber.
It relies on a
createMessage method that produces the message that will be returned, resulting in a warm and fuzzy welcome message.
Twilio can send your web application an HTTP request when certain events happen, such as an incoming text message to one of your Twilio phone numbers. These requests are called webhooks, or status callbacks. For more, check out our guide to Getting Started with Twilio Webhooks. Find other webhook pages, such as a security guide and an FAQ in the Webhooks section of the docs.
Next we'll show how the
createMessage method works.
We begin by getting the user's phone number from the incoming Twilio request. Then we try to find a
Subscriber with that phone number.
If there's no subscriber with this phone number, we create one, save it, and respond with a message asking them to text the word "add". By default, users won't be subscribed; users will need to confirm the subscription with an additional text.
To recap: we've created a
Subscriber model to keep track of the people that want our messages, and need to implement subscribing and opting-out.
Let's look at the subscribe/unsubscribe logic on the next pane.
We want to provide the user with two SMS commands to manage their subscription status:
These commands will toggle a boolean flag for a
Subscriber record in the database and will control that customer's marketing message preference.
To make this happen, the controller logic handles incoming messages from known
Subscribers like this:
- If it is a
removecommand, create/update their subscription with the right status in the database.
- If it is a command we don't recognize, send them a message explaining available commands.
We'll visit the message creation form next.
From the site's frontend, we retrieve the message text (and/or image URL) first. Next we loop through all subscribers and call the
sendMessage method to send the message out.
When the messages are on their way, we redirect the submitter back to the
notifications.create route with a Flash Data message containing feedback about the messaging attempt.
Ready to see how we send SMS and MMS messages themselves?
The client requires your Twilio account credentials (an Account SID and Auth Token), which can be found in the Twilio Console:
You'll want to set those in the .env file. (Additionally, you'll need to add a SMS-capable number there from the Phone Number console.) Once the app is running, then all we need to do is call
create on the
client->messages object in order to send our message.
The Twilio Message API call requires a
to parameter and an array containing a
from number, the message
body and an optional
And with that, the application is completely wired. Next up, we'll look at what other features we can easily add with Twilio and a little guidance from our tutorials.
That's it! We've just implemented a an opt-in process and an administrative interface to run an SMS and MMS marketing campaign.
Now all you need is some killer content to share with your users via text or MMS (That's for you to find!).
PHP and Twilio are a great mix. Here are just a couple of other features we think you'll enjoy:
Easily route callers to the right people and information with an IVR (interactive voice response) system.
Instantly collect structured data from your users with a survey conducted over a voice call or SMS text messages.
If you have any feedback to share with us please tweet to us @twilio. We love to hear what you've built and what you're building!