User Guide

Creating SMS Polls

Last Updated: Feb 02, 2017 08:35PM PST

In order to set up a new SMS poll with Telerivet, go to your Services page, click Add New Service, then click Poll.

Initially, Telerivet will show an example multiple-choice question:

Replace the example question text with the question you want to ask.

If your question is multiple choice, replace the example response choices with your own choices. The response choices are not case-sensitive, so you can use either uppercase or lowercase.

Each question in your poll must have a unique identifier (ID) which is used when viewing and exporting poll responses. The ID may contain letters, numbers, or underscores.

You can change the ID to something that helps you identify the question, or just use the default ID (e.g. "q1"). Note that after your poll starts getting responses, changing the question ID will reset the statistics for the question.


To create synonyms for any response choice -- for example, “yes” and “y” -- simply click the “+” icon next to each choice and enter all the words you want to accept:

Comparison Types

You can also change how Telerivet matches SMS messages to your multiple choice options. By default, Telerivet will match a response if the message contains the word you specify anywhere in the message. However, you can change this behavior to force the SMS response to match exactly, or choose another comparison type such as "starts with", by clicking the comparison type as shown below:

If you're asking questions with numeric responses, this also makes it possible sort your numeric data into ranges by using comparisons like “less than” or “greater than.”

Response Codes

Each multiple choice option has a section with the label "record as:". This value is called the "response code", which determines how the response is categorized in your poll results and statistics.

Different synonyms all share the same response code. For example, you could have the options yes and y both have the response code yes; and no and n both have the response code no. Then, when Telerivet displays the results of your survey, it will combine all the different forms of yes and no when calculating counts and percentages.

Adding Behavior to Response Choices

Next to each response choice, the Add action link next to each response choice allows you to configure extra actions to happen when somebody responds with that choice.

Clicking this link opens the Add Action dialog shown below. By default, Telerivet just shows the 4 most common actions for an SMS poll: sending an SMS reply, skipping to another question, repeating the question, or ending the survey.

If you want to do another action, click More actions... to see the full list of available actions:

If you add an action that sends an SMS reply, and your poll has another question, then the SMS reply action and the next question will be combined in the same SMS message if they can both fit within a single SMS message.

Adding Multiple Questions

If you want your poll to contain more than one question, click Add another question after the last poll question to add a new one. If your poll has multiple questions, Telerivet will send an SMS with the next question immediately after receiving the response to the previous one.

Normally, Telerivet asks questions in the order they are shown on the page, from top to bottom. However, you can change the order depending on the response by clicking Add action next to a response choice, and skipping to a different question.

To change the order of questions, just click the up or down arrows on the top right of the question.

Skipping and Repeating Questions

If you have a poll with multiple questions, you can ask different questions depending on the response. Normally Telerivet will automatically ask the next question in the poll, but you can use the "Add action..." link to change that behavior by repeating the current question, skipping to another question, or ending the survey.

In order to skip to another question, add a "Skip to question" action, then select the question ID from the dropdown list:

Handling Invalid/Unknown Choices

By default, Telerivet will ignore messages that don't match any of your choices – they won't show up in your statistics, and the sender won't receive a SMS reply to indicate that anything was wrong.

However, you might want to do something different – for example, you might want to reply to tell the user that their response was invalid, or you might want to accept their response and manually assign the appropriate response code later.

In order to do this, simply add a "None of the above" choice and define what happens if you receive a message that doesn't match any of the choices you defined.

To accept their response and manually assign the appropriate response code later:

  1. Click Add none of the above
  2. Leave the "record as: " field blank, since you'll assign that later

To tell the user that their response was invalid and ask the question again:

  1. Click Add none of the above
  2. Click the Add action... link next to "none of the above"
  3. Add a "Send SMS reply" action, and enter an appropriate reply, such as "Invalid response."
  4. Cick the Add action... link next to "none of the above" again
  5. Add a "Repeat question" action

See the Coding responses and correcting errors section for more on how to assign response codes to these responses.

Poll Settings

Telerivet provides several settings to configure how your poll works:

Sending a Reply when Poll Completed

If you want to send a SMS reply when someone finishes your poll/survey, you can enter it under Reply when poll completed.

However, if your survey only has one question, the respondent may not expect a reply. In this case, it is common to leave this blank to avoid having to pay to send another SMS message.

Limiting Number of Responses Per Phone Number

The Multiple Responses setting lets you choose whether to allow each phone number to submit your poll multiple times, or limit contacts to one response each.

Limiting Responses to Particular Phone Numbers

The Response Mode setting lets you decide whether to make your poll available to anyone, or only to the phone numbers that you send the poll to. If your poll is available to anyone, you can choose whether to interpret the first incoming message from a contact as a response to the first question, or to provide a keyword that the contact must send in order to start the poll.

Labels and Groups

Telerivet automatically adds a label to each message in the poll, which lets you easily view all messages in that poll on the Messages page. In addition, each contact you send the poll to is automatically added to the Recipients Group, and each contact who responds to the poll is added to the Respondents Group, which are visible on the Contacts page.

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