Thousands of businesses use mass text messaging as a mobile marketing solution, as mass text messages are considered to be the most intimate form of direct marketing. People respond to mass text messages in far greater volumes than other channels of direct marketing communication. Studies show that 98% of all mass text messages are read within three minutes of delivery compared to just 22% of direct marketing emails. Only 29% of Tweets and 12% of Facebook posts are ever read.
This inexpensive and effective solution for quickly contacting groups of people has been adopted by many types of organization. Now mass text messaging services are present in almost every area of day-to-day life. Employers, schools, churches and political parties send mass text messages to keep their contacts informed, generate engagement and develop relationships. Even football teams use mass text messaging to keep their fans up-to-date with the score.
How to Send Mass Text Messages
The easiest way to send mass text messages is through a mass text messaging service. Mass text messaging services have significant advantages over messaging apps and other forms of mass marketing in that they are simple to use and mass text messages are sent using SMS technology. This means that people with cellphones (98% of the population) are able to receive your text messages rather than just those who own smartphones (68% of the population), or those who happen to be in the right place at the right time in the case of TV, billboard and magazine advertising.
Furthermore, you do not need any technical or design skills to send an SMS text message. Once you have subscribed to a mass text messaging service, you simply log into your account, upload a list of contacts, compose your message and click send. Within minutes, your database of contacts will be receiving and reading your message wherever they are, whatever they are doing. In this respect, mass text messages are a more effective means of getting your message “heard above the noise” than TV commercials, billboards or magazine advertising.
Once your message has been sent, the mass text messaging software keeps you informed with respect to delivery rates, open rates and spikes in engagement. Using these analytics, you are able to fine-tune your mass text messages in order to create a greater impact when you send your next mass communication. Other software features enable you to save sent text messages as templates for use in the future, and to schedule mass text messages in advance so that you can prepare your message at a time when it is most convenient for you, and send it when it will receive the maximum attention.
Any replies to your mass text messages are received by the mass text messaging service, and can either be viewed via the online software or forwarded to your personal mobile device via SMS. For most organizations the former option is preferable as the mass text messaging software can be accessed from any Internet-connected device. However, if you are located in or are travelling to an area with a poor wireless service, it is handy to have the SMS-forwarding option - especially if you are engaging over an important issue with a group of contacts.
Tools for Creating a Mass Text Messaging Database
Before you start sending mass text messages, you have to create a mass text messaging database. This is because mass texting is a permission-based activity. You cannot simply buy a list of cellphone numbers and start sending people texts. You have to invite potential contacts to join your service, and the easiest way to do this is by using keywords and short codes - a practice you have probably seen a thousand times before without necessarily recognizing its motives.
Keywords are simple words (the simpler the better) that you ask potential contacts to text to a dedicated short code number. Typical uses of keywords and short code tools include:
- A diner asking potential customers to text “pizza” to 313131 in order to receive a 10% discount coupon to apply to their next order,
- A faith-based organization might request that its congregation join its community text messaging service by texting “church” to 313131, or
- A large employer offering details of the latest job vacancies to jobseekers who text “work” to 313131.
Your database of contacts is created automatically by the mass text messaging software as people text your keyword to the short code number. Keywords and short code numbers can be obtained from your mass text messaging service provider. Keywords are unique to each organization, so you cannot have three different diners using the same keyword for the same promotion. Typically keywords are rented by the month, although some service providers include keywords as part of their subscription packages.
Other tools for creating a database include “click-to-join” widgets that can be placed on your website or on your Facebook page, or tweeted to your followers. One effective way you can encourage website visitors and social media followers to “click and join” is by promising they will be the first to know of special offers or promotional events. Non-retail organizations usually do not have to offer incentives to encourage visitors to join a mass text messaging service.
Sending Mass Text Messages to Sub-Groups
Once your database develops, it is improbable that you will want to send mass text messages to your entire database every time. After a while your contacts will have different motives for joining your service and, if you send the same message to your entire database every time, you will likely have a lot of people opting out of your service because too many of your messages are irrelevant to them. You are also paying for all the irrelevant text messages you send!
Fortunately, the database of contacts can be divided into sub-groups so that you only send mass text messages to those for whom they are relevant. In order to do this, you simply create sub-groups and place your contacts into them according to their roles, their interests, or whichever category you choose. This is not a task that has to necessarily be performed manually. You can use different keywords as you develop your database to establish your contacts´ interests or - if you have an existing database management solution - integrate the mass text messaging software directly with the solution.
There are many scenarios in which you can use sub-groups to send relevant mass text messages to target sections of your database. Retail businesses can take advantage of the software´s versatility to send different sub-groups information about different types of promotions (electrical goods, sportswear, home and garden, etc.). Employers might want to send unique mass text messages to different organizations, churches send reminders about meetings for different ministries, or schools send subject-related messages to different sub-groups of students.
When you use the mass text messaging software to send mass text messages to subgroups, you simply upload or select the sub-group of your database for whom the message is relevant. If you need to send the same message to every contact in your database, you simply upload or select all groups. Safeguards exist to prevent an individual who may appear in multiple sub-groups (for example a church volunteer who also attends Bible study classes and sings in the choir) from receiving the same message two or three times.
Practical Applications for Mass Text Messaging
Once you have developed your database of contacts and divided it into sub-groups, there are multiple practical applications for mass text messaging. It was mentioned above that mass text messaging services are present in almost every area of day-to-day life, and the following is just a selection of how you may have already experienced mass text messaging - either consciously or subconsciously.
Mass Text Messaging for Retail Business
Quite a few practical applications for mass text messaging for retail businesses have already been discussed, but one application - that of sending discount coupons - deserves a second mention. This is because redemption rates for discount coupons attached to mass text messages are typically eight times higher than those normally achieved by retail businesses that engage in email mass marketing.
Mass Text Messaging for Employers
As well as using a mass text messaging service for advertising job opportunities, mass text messaging for employers is an effective way of maintaining contact with field workers who may be out of range of an Internet service. The service is also an effective communications channel in times of emergency when data networks have historically been overloaded.
Mass Text Messaging for Schools
Mass text messaging for schools can be used to keep parents informed of school closures, send reports and permission slips, or keep them up-to-date on the curriculum being taught to their children. Students can also subscribe to a school mass text messaging service to receive reminders for club meetings and sports practices, or to be advised about last-minute venue changes.
Mass Text Messaging for Political Parties
Mass text messaging for political parties is an effective way for those organizations and their candidates to communicate their policies to voters. A mass text messaging service can also be used to coordinate political rallies, issue media responses or solicit donations. Many political parties send mass text messages on Election Day in order to “Get Out the Vote.”
Mass Text Messaging for Churches
Faith-based organizations have identified many uses for mass text messaging - both practical and spiritual. Community leaders can take advantage of the intimacy of mass text messaging for churches to request prayers and assistance for those in need, share inspirational Bible passages, and communicate with youth members of their congregations in a manner that resonates with them.
How Mass Texting can Generate Engagement and Develop Relationships
Mass text messaging software can be used for far more than sending plain text messages. Many of the software features have been developed to generate engagement and encourage feedback. Once a level of engagement has been established, this develops into a relationship that can build brand loyalty and - in the case of mass text messaging for retail businesses - increase sales.
One of the simplest features to use is the “poll builder”. With this feature, you simply ask a question in your mass text messages, and ask your contacts to express their opinions by replying with a keyword - for example: “What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Text “chocolate”, strawberry” or “vanilla” to 313131”. The results of your poll are collated by the mass text messaging software and can be used to shape future mobile marketing campaigns or to assist with future product development and inventory stocking.
Asking entertaining or thought-provoking questions can often increase the size of your database. People tend to share media they consider to be of interest and - if your questions become the topic of discussions between families, friends and colleagues - your mass text messages can attract many more people to your mass text messaging service and your retail business, company, school, political party, or church.
Other software features you can take advantage of in order to generate engagement and develop relationships include multimedia (MMS) messaging. Mass MMS messaging allows you to increase the impact of your plain text message with the addition of images, audio and video files - you can even completely substitute MMS files in place of the plain text message altogether. With mass MMS messaging you can also integrate tiny URLs into your messages to direct contacts to your website or add QR codes to further generate engagement.
The Rules and Regulations for Mass Messaging
In addition to being a strictly permission-based activity, mass messaging is subject to the rules and regulations contained in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991. These rules and regulations for mass messaging are in place to prevent organizations from sending spam text messages or mass messaging too frequently.
It is also advisable to be familiar with the Mobile Marketing Association´s Code of Conduct - even if you have no intention of using mass messaging for marketing purposes. The “Code” has been prepared with assistance from companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo and Verizon to protect consumer privacy standards. It includes a best practices guide aimed at preventing abuses of the communication channel, and to avoid the introduction of more rules and regulations.
Organizations sending mass text messages should also be aware that their activities are monitored by their telephone company. Telephone companies have their own rules and regulations for mass messaging and will refuse to deliver any text messages that contain profanity, pornography or hate speech - in either plain text or MMS format - or those that endorse illegal drug use or violence.
Complying with the rules and regulations for mass messaging is basically a case of using your common sense. If you send mass text messages to your database that contain material they are likely to find distasteful - or if you send mass text messages so often that they become annoying - your database will quickly disintegrate as your contacts opt out of your mass messaging service.
Speak with Callfire about Mass Text Messaging
If you would know more about mass text messaging, you are invited to contact us and discuss your mass messaging requirements with one of our friendly and experienced team. Our team will be able to answer any questions you have about how to send mass text messages, how best to use the tools available to maximize the size of your database, and how you can generate engagement and build relationships with polls and mass MMS messaging
Thousands of businesses use mass text messaging as a mobile marketing solution. Thousands more use mass text messaging to streamline their communications and benefit their communities. Find out how you can join them by contacting us today.