How to Use SMS With Marketo

BY: David Desrosiers

PUBLISHED: 1/7/2015

In 2008, UK Doctor David Nott performed surgery by following instructions provided by a colleague via text message. The operation lasted 24 hours and saved the life of a 16-year-old boy.

Few of us have such an important message to deliver, but I bet if you bring up the idea of adding text messages to your marketing mix with your peers, it will start a vigorous debate resulting in innovative ways to engage your leads, customers…or patients.

In this post, I will guide you on how to integrate SMS/Text with your marketing communications, using Marketo and Twilio as your tools. More precisely you will learn:


  • What systems and what configuration is required to send out SMS messages
  • How to store your text messages
  • How to leverage webhooks to trigger text messages
  • How to capture text response and SMS unsubscribes


For context, let’s pretend that you own a popular health club. You want to send out a series of SMS messages to your customers, educating them about healthy life habits, and reminding them to come to your facility more often.

Systems Required


In order to build the programs, we’ll be using:

  • Marketo: Marketing automation platform
  • Twilio: SMS messaging solution


Step 1: Twilio Setup


Open a Twilio Account. Twilio is a Marketo Launchpoint Partner and it’s free to try.

Step 2: Add Fields to Marketo


Create new Marketo fields to manage SMS subscription. For example, SMS_Opt-In. If you want these fields to be visible in your coordinating CRM system, you’ll need to create it there first and allow the Marketo User to ‘see’ it.

Step 3: Build your Marketo SMS Program Structure


Use a standard Marketo program to host your SMS campaigns and tokens. You will need one program for each outgoing communication.

For example, your club communication plan might look like this:

Send each checked-in customer a series of texts

  • Welcome them
  • Remind them to stretch before training
  • Send them a discount at the juice bar after their training session
  • After their training, congratulate them, remind them to rehydrate


If a member has not checked in in the past week, invite them to come back.

Each of these messages will require its own program.

💡 Did you know? According to Nielsen, the average American teenager will send 10 text messages per hour. That is more than 3,000 text messages per month!


Step 4: Store SMS messages in My Tokens


Unlike Email programs, there is no SMS asset where you can post your message. Fortunately, MyTokens are perfectly suited to store your SMS message. For our health club example, we will use six text tokens:

  • SMS From Number: Use it to store your Twilio number (Required)
  • SMS Communication Name: Will be needed to inform other systems like Twilio
  • SMS Message: Used to store your main message.
  • SMS Closing: Used to store generic signature or common footer messages.
  • SMS Unmonitored Reply: Message to return if someone sends a text message to your number.
  • SMS STOP Reply: SMS unsubscribe confirmation message.


Make sure to leverage the structure of your programs so that you can take full advantage of Marketo Tokens to customize your messages. “Inherited Tokens” can be very helpful to centralize SMS copy that you plan on using across multiple messages into a centralized parent folder, making it easier to update and maintain.

Step 5: Connect Marketo and Twilio Using Webhooks

Webhooks are very useful tools to connect Marketo with external web services. Here is what you’ll need in order to connect Marketo to Twilio and gain the ability to send out SMS messages from your Marketo instance:  

#1: Go to your Marketo Admin/Webhook on the left-hand navigation, and create a new webhook.


#2: Name: Chose a name for your webhook


#3: Description: Put a description


#4: URL: When the webhook is triggered, Marketo will make an HTTP POST to this URL to send the message. Grab your Twilio Account SID and Auth Token, and populate the URL value with follow this structure: https://{AccountSid}:{AuthToken}{AccountSid}/SMS/Messages


#5: Request Type: Use POST


#6: Template: This is the message you will be sending out. You must provide the following elements:


  • From: A Twilio phone number enabled for the type of message you wish to send. Only phone numbers or shortcodes purchased from Twilio work here; you cannot send messages from your own cell phone number or anyone else’s mobile number.
  • To: The destination phone number. Use the Token for your lead’s mobile phone number in here. It might look like {{lead.Mobile Number}}
  • Message: Use the Marketo Token created earlier to parse your message.


#7: Request Token Encoding: Chose Form/Url


#8: Response Type: Select XML


Step 6: Igor…pull the switch!


If you’re like me, that’s the part where you get all excited and feel like you’re about to launch a rocket to space. A few more steps and you’ll be reaching the “SMS sphere,” Within each Marketo SMS Program, create a smart campaign.


In the Smartlist tab, select if your campaign is a one-off blast (using a filter) or to send out an SMS each time the leads meet your conditions (using a trigger) from the options on the right-hand side. From the flow tab, select Call Webhook. Activate or Run your campaign, wait a few seconds and…tadaaaa!  

How would you use SMS in your marketing mix?

Need Marketo help? Talk to us now.