SMS-to-Email Gateway: Plivo + Mailgun API Integration

Jan 13, 2014
SMS-to-Email Gateway: Plivo + Mailgun API Integration

Let’s get 2014 started on the right track by keeping in touch with friends and family throughout the year using this nifty Plivo and Mailgun API project. Connect your Plivo phone number to your email via your Mailgun account and receive email notifications every time you get an SMS message. You can even reply to messages straight from your email inbox.

You can build this gateway for free using:

  • A free Heroku account. If you’re new to Heroku, visit the Getting Started page for guides on setting up your account. Create a new app and install the free RedisToGo add-on, which provides functionality for Redis, a key-value NoSQL database. In our example, we call our app your-heroku-app.

Push the application code to Heroku

Once you’ve created accounts on all three platforms, download the sample code for our plivomessenger application using Git. if you’re not familiar with Git, you can learn about it from Pro Git, a free online ebook.

$ git clone
$ cp -r apps/plivomessenger mailgunapp
$ cd mailgunapp

Then git push the application to Heroku.

$ git init
$ git add .
$ git commit -m "init"
$ heroku create
$ git push heroku master
$ heroku scale web=1

Configure your credentials in Heroku

This SMS-to-email gateway requires your Plivo authentication credentials and phone number, which you can find on the overview page of the Plivo console. Check out Heroku’s variable configuration tutorial if you need help.

$ heroku config:set PLIVO_AUTH_ID=your-plivo-auth-id
$ heroku config:set PLIVO_AUTH_TOKEN=your-plivo-auth-token
$ heroku config:set PLIVO_NUMBER=your-SMS-enabled-plivo-number</code>

Use any of your Plivo phone numbers from the Phone Numbers page of the Plivo console.

You also need to supply your Mailgun credentials, which you can get from the Mailgun Control Panel.

$ heroku config:set MAILGUN_ACCESS_KEY=your-mailgun-access-key
$ heroku config:set

Configure Plivo

With Heroku properly configured, it’s time to let Plivo know where to find your SMS-to-email gateway application.

Visit the Voice > Applications page of the Plivo console and click Add New Application. Give a name to your application — we called ours “SMS Forward.” Set the Primary Answer URL and Message URL to Then click Create Application.

Now assign your Plivo phone number to the application. Go to the Phone Numbers page and select the phone number you want to use. On the next screen, from the Application Type drop-down, select XML Application. From the Plivo Application drop-down, select the name of your application. Click Update Number to save your changes.

It’s not required, but it’s good practice to run the application locally to make sure everything is working properly. To do that, paste this link in your browser. Be sure to insert your own Heroku application URL and your email address:

The browser should display an empty <Response> XML document.

Configure your Plivo credentials in Mailgun

Now, time to do a little configuration for Mailgun. First, configure your DNS with a subdomain for incoming email. For this example, we set up as our email domain by adding DNS records on Amazon Route 53. Most domain registrars offer similar zone editing software.

Set up your DNS

Let Mailgun know where to send your email

Next, in your Mailgun account, set up a mail domain for

Setup your mail domain in Mailgun

Then add your route to Mailgun. Click on the Route tab in Mailgun and add a new route with the following parameters:

Filter Expression: match_recipient(“^(.*)@$”)
Actions: forward("")

Add your Route to Mailgun

That’s it! You can now try out your SMS-to-email gateway.

Test SMS to email

Try sending a text message to your SMS-enabled Plivo number. It should arrive in the inbox at, as configured. The email will have originated from

Test email to SMS

Now try replying to that email. The reply should go back to your phone. In our application, we only let email forward to numbers from which we received a request.

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