4 Ways to Generate SMS: API, QR Code + More

November 23, 2022 | By Sam Pelton
Asian woman texting

75% of young adults prefer texting to calling.

And even middle-aged and older adults send 16 or more texts per day on average.

In other words, SMS (aka “short message service” aka text messaging) is now used everywhere.

Among friends and family (as it always has been), between coworkers, with customers and prospects…

There are a million reasons to send texts.

And did you know that there are several other ways to generate SMS, aside from using your phone?

Let’s go over a few of those ways that you can create and send texts.

Generate SMS via API

One way to create and send out text messages is via API.

API stands for “application programming interface” and refers to a “code” of sorts that programmers can use to accomplish tasks. And APIs are widely used - 65% of businesses rely on APIs to help collaborate with their partner programs.

One of the tasks programmers can accomplish via API is to generate text messages.

How Does Using API to Send Texts Work?

With API, programmers can plug in certain commands into a programming environment such as Ruby or PHP, to automatically create and send text messages.

This requires access to an SMS API service such as Mobile Text Alerts.

Whatever SMS API service you choose, it will come with some documentation that will detail for you how to use the API to send out texts.

For example, with the Mobile Text Alerts API, you’ll receive a unique API “key.” The API documentation then provides a value of send_message in order to send a message.

All you have to do is take your unique “key” and plug it into your preferred programming environment. You’ll also need to include the send_message value, as well as the content of the message you want to send and the phone number of the recipient.

In doing all of this, you’ll be able to program your SMS automatically, through your programming environment.

Why Do People Generate SMS via API?

There are endless uses for sending out SMS using an API service.

Imagine a few scenarios…

  • You want a sales lead to receive a welcome text upon getting added into your CRM
  • You want to beef up your site security by offering 2-factor authentication, so you add a 2FA text when people try to log in
  • You want to send an “abandoned cart” follow-up when someone exits their cart without purchasing.

Since API is customizable, the possibilities are almost limitless.

What Else Can You Do with an SMS API?

There are a lot of other actions you can do with an SMS API.

Some of those things include…

  • Sending a text message that contains an image
  • Sending out a phone call that automatically reads some text content you input
  • Seeing replies people have sent in response to a text sent by your SMS API service
  • Adding contacts to an SMS platform database
  • Removing contacts from an SMS platform database
  • Sending a two-factor authentication message

This can all be programmed on your end, so that you can set things up to act automatically.

Convenient, right?

All you need on your end is a developer who can plug all of this in.

Black woman texting

Generate SMS via Computer Web Portal

In addition to being able to create and send text messages via API, you can also generate texts through online web portals offered by SMS platforms (like Mobile Text Alerts).

These services offer an interface from which you can type out and send your messages.

The benefit of using a web portal as opposed to API is that these solutions are “out of the box” and thus don’t require any programming.

All you need to do is log in, add your contacts into the database (or use one of several opt-in methods to get subscribers), and then you’re ready to send a message.

It’s an easy process - and the good news is that most online SMS platforms come with access to both an API and an “out of the box” platform, so you can use whatever method works for you.

Generate SMS via “Click-to-Text”

One interesting way to generate SMS is by creating a link that initiates a text message when clicked. Or you could call it “click-to-text.”

How Does It Work?

This is in some ways the opposite of the 2 aforementioned options - With this concept, you can create a link that others will be able to click. And when they click, they’ll send a pre-filled text message to a phone number that you specify.

All that you need to do in order to create this link is to use the following format for a hyperlink:

sms:[phone number]?&body=[content of text message]

You can use a link like that on your website, in email content, or wherever else you want to display this so that your audience can easily click-to-text.

A few notes…

  • The phone number must have the country code, including a + sign
  • The content of the text message must be URL-encoded - which just means you need to run the content through a URL encoder before you input it into the link

So, as an example, your link may end up looking like the following:


If somebody clicks on this link from their phone or a text-enabled computer, it will open up a new text message that will send the message “Hello, can I get some help?” to the US phone number 402-718-8843.

How Can You Use It?

So a “click-to-text” link is interesting as a way to generate SMS - but what’s the point, really?

What uses could come out of allowing somebody to click a link in order to initiate a text message?

Here are a few examples…

  • A retail business may use it in order to give customers an easy way to send a text message into customer support
  • A real estate agent may use it to allow prospective clients an easy way to contact them
  • A church may use it to give new members an easy way to get in touch with a pastor
Person scanning QR code

Generate SMS via QR Codes

Similar to the “click-to-text” option is creating text messages via QR codes.

According to Business Insider, “The number of US smartphone users scanning a QR code will increase from 83.4 million in 2022 to 99.5 million in 2025.”

Due to the ever-increasing popularity of this tool, it’s helpful to consider taking advantage of that popularity for the good of your business.

How Does It Work?

With this option, you can set up a QR code connected to a particular phone number, and you can “pre-fill” the QR code with specific message content.

When people scan the QR code on their mobile phone, their phone’s text message app will automatically fill with the designated phone number and message content. Then all they have to do is hit “Send” to send the pre-filled text message.

You can set up QR codes like this for free using a QR code generator.

All you have to do is…

    1. Select the “SMS” option
Screenshot of QR code generator
    1. Type out the desired phone number you’d like people to send a text message to

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Screenshot of QR code generator step1
    1. Type out the desired message content you’d like to pre-fill on people’s phone when they scan the code
Screenshot of QR Code generator step3
    1. Download or copy the QR code
Screenshot of downloading QR code

Then you’ll be able to share the QR code whenever and wherever you’d like.

How Can You Use It?

You could use this QR code option in most of the same ways you would use the “click-to-text” option.

A few other examples would be…

  • A lecturer may use it to give his or her audience an easy way to text in a question for a Q&A
  • A restaurant may use it to give customers an easy way to submit feedback on their experience
  • A local vendor may use it as a way to build their marketing list, by offering some kind of incentive if customers scan the code and text in

Generate Your Own SMS Today

You can create your own texts in 5 minutes or less by getting set up with an SMS platform - this will allow you to send texts via both API and a web portal, in addition to a mobile app.

Along the way, you can use “click-to-text” and QR codes to help give your audience easy ways to generate texts that they can send to you as well.

That way, you can keep the lines of communication open on all fronts and stay in touch with people in the place they’re really looking: their phones.

Get a free trial (with 50 free messages) today (no credit card required).

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Start sending mass text alerts to your entire list today!