Introducing AI for SMS Automations

AI has been dubbed the biggest tech advancement in decades. For campaigns and advocacy, it has prompted many SMS programs to ask how AI can help with their base building and engagement.

Movements need dynamic outreach that can grow with their base. They need to recognize how subscribers want to get involved and when they need help – all in real time. With Strive, campaigns can leverage the power of AI in their messages using intents. Campaigns can launch evolving outreach tactics by training AI intents with messages from their members.

What are intents? How are they different from keywords?

Intents are words and phrases that direct members to resources, trigger follow up questions, or connect supporters with organizers. New and existing members can text-in intents to start a conversation.

In this example, the campaign has set up an intent to connect subscribers with tenant advocates by either replying CHAT or expressing that they would like to speak with a specialist.

Unlike keywords that search for exact matches, intents use artificial intelligence and machine learning to find similar expressions in incoming messages. Intents recognize root words in a member’s message and scan your set of intents for terms of similar meaning. A comprehensive texting program will incorporate both keywords and intents.

An intent will search for similar words and phrases in incoming messages, while a keywoord will search for an exact match. In this example, the intent is TENANT ADVOCATE and the keyword is CLIMATE.

Intents are a great way to rapidly route members to custom flows, based on their expressed needs or goals.

Intents can...
  • Opt-in new members
  • Trigger flows
  • Recognize misspelled words and tenses of words, i.e. match the misspelled word “Acess" with the intent “Access"
  • Parse for root words in a larger phrase, i.e. match “I want to take action" with the intent “Act"
  • Identify words and phrases of similar meaning, i.e. match “I want to donate used clothes" with the intent “clothing drive"

If built and trained correctly, intents can scale your outreach and drive action. Follow these 3 important steps to get started using AI in your SMS program:

First, identify the intent:

Is your intent going to flag member conversations for someone on your team, route supporters to a messaging preferences questionnaire, or give your subscribers a path to quickly donate?

Once you’ve decided what your intent will do, draft a list of synonyms for your intent. Intents require at least 10 synonyms so AI has a sufficient subset of terms to compare incoming messages to. In addition to your intent, Strive will recognize if a member replies with a synonym or with a similar phrase to a synonym.

Note: Intents and Intent synonyms are not case sensitive.
Important tip: Make sure your intents are distinct from one another. If you have separate intents that are too similar (for example Vote vs. Ballot ) it may result in inaccurate matching.
Will your intent be an interrupting intent?

Interrupting intents trigger an automation at any time, even if members are interacting with a different automation. An interrupting intent is a powerful way to quickly connect members to what they are looking for, but can be disruptive if the intent is not distinct enough from general incoming messages from supporters.

Tip: Before making an intent interruptible, use the SMS simulator to see how often the intent would be triggered by incoming messages.

Interrupting keywords and Intents will never interrupt a Send and Hold simple message OR first name Collect Info bot action. Strive will check first for potential matches with your flow's Response to Capture in Ask a Question bot actions, before checking if it matches with an interruptible keyword or intent.

Step-by-step directions for building an intent can be found here.

Once you’ve built an intent, it is time to train it :

Training your intents will make AI recognition smarter. With the SMS simulator, you can see if messages will match with an intent or keyword. If a simulated message doesn't yield the match you wanted, add it as a synonym to redirect the intent. As you train intents, a more comprehensive set of synonyms will emerge.

The more you train the AI, the more comprehensive your intents will be. More on training intents can be found here.

Click the +Add to synonyms button to improve AI matching

Use intents to trigger messages

Building an Automation is a critical last step in creating a responsive intent. Automations bring together your intent and flow, so that members can trigger a message when they text in an intent. Chatbots on Strive are known as “flows” and do things like share links, collect data, ask questions, patch calls to elected officials, and connect members with organizers on your team. Flows can be multi-part message sequences or a single message.

Automations are custom for new members and existing members, or universal for any member. This flexibility allows you to tailor your messaging to their level of engagement.

Want to learn more about automations? Check out our resources!

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