Alex heads up Customer Success at BrightGuest. She's passionate about helping nonprofits thrive, digital marketing, plus cats + ranch dressing.
7 MIN READ
48.7 million people will choose to have businesses send them text messages in 2020 (source business.com). To drill down even more, M+R Benchmarks reported in their 2020 study that nonprofit text messaging audiences grew by 26% in 2019 whereas email lists decreased by 2%.
What’s this telling us?
Texting works! Cutting through the noise and connecting with your audience in today’s world is hard, and it’s only getting more challenging. We’re all looking for ways to connect, and texting is one of the most meaningful ways to do this. It's one of the most effective communication channels an organization can use, and it can be powerful in building relationships and inspiring action if used right.
And the if used right piece is so important. Let’s talk about the mistakes to avoid so you can fully “tap” (pun intended) into the power of texting.
Mistake #1: Not sending the right frequency of text messages
Messaging frequency is not a one size fits all approach. It really depends on your audience and the objective of your campaign. You don’t want to send too many messages, especially through one of the most responsive channels, and you don’t want to send too few, going dark months in between messages.
So what’s the right frequency? 🤔
First determine the objective of your campaign. Is it an ongoing communications and engagement campaign like a text message newsletter? Then send at least 1 text per month. Is the campaign timely or seasonal? For example, you’re running a campaign around a national awareness month or a year-end fundraising campaign. Then people can expect to receive a higher volume of text messages during that time compared to year-round. If you’re sending text messages leading up to an event, weekly text messages would be relevant. Then if you’re sending text messages to attendees during an event, they would expect to receive multiple text messages in one day. Are you sending messages to people participating in a specific program? In that case, you could be sending multiple text messages a week to that audience segment.
Then the bigger question to think about before you press send—is this message providing value? You shouldn’t send an email just because, and the same goes for a text message. What’s the purpose of the text message? Is it providing value to the recipient?
Overall, we tell our customers that are new to texting to start with a minimum of 1-2 text messages per month. Don’t go dark for months on end. Always fall back to knowing your audience and understanding the context of the message.
Mistake #2: Not using segmentation
Another mistake to avoid is not using segmentation. What’s segmentation? Segmentation is the practice of dividing your audience into smaller, more approachable groups so you can create and deliver more meaningful messaging and content.
Every text message you send shouldn’t go out to your entire list of mobile numbers. If you’re sending a newsletter-related update or announcement, that may make sense to send to everyone. However, if you’re sending text messages during a virtual event, those messages should only go out to attendees.
You can use surveys delivered through text message to capture important info about your audience and even get feedback from them about what type of content they’d like to receive through text message. It’s important to make it a conversation and think about asking what your organization can do for them. With our tool, you can tag your people with unique identifiers for segmentation and make your content that much more impactful for the individual! 💯
Mistake #3: Not looking at the data
We’re big on data here at BrightGuest and recommend our customers #alwaysbetesting 👩🔬. You absolutely must be analyzing the data in your text message campaigns and optimizing.Before reading on! What's a tap-thru rate?
Email marketers are familiar with the term click-thru rate. It's the ratio of people that click on links in your email compared to all people that open your email. It's one metric of a campaign's success. Same for your text messages. And since texting involves taps instead of clicks, we say tap-thru rate. 🤳
So analyze the data and optimize.
For example, look at your tap-thru rate compared to send time and day. Are you seeing a trend on days and times that produce a higher tap-thru rate when sending a link in a text message? What's your opt-our rate? Have you increased the frequency and noticed that more people have been opting out? Then it might be time to look at segmenting your audience and determining who should be receiving what text messages.
More importantly look at your opt-in rate. Where is your text message audience coming from? If you’re giving people the option to sign up for your text messages by texting a keyword to your number, have you thought about using different keywords for each channel? This way you can determine how people are getting into your text message campaigns. Did they opt-in from a social media post vs. an email blast?
This leads us to A/B testing. As you dive into your data, are there aspects of your text campaign you can A/B test to really hone in on what’s working? For example, divide your audience in half and A/B test send times.
PRO tip! For A/B testing, make sure you’re only changing one element at a time to truly A/B test one element against the other.
Mistake #4: There shouldn’t be an ask in every message
It’s very important to bring value before ask. You shouldn’t be sending any kind of communication, especially a text message, with an ask every time. Build a relationship with your audience and make it a convo.
More authentic communication leads to a stronger connection to your brand—to your cause.
For example, if you’re a nonprofit, you’re most likely focusing your end-of-year text messages and calls to action around fundraising. But you should be sending text messages throughout the year leading up to the big ask. Focus on building the relationship with your audience leading up to year-end, and share meaningful stories that inspire action. Don’t reach out with an ask for donations when you haven't sent a text for months .
And most importantly, remember the THANK YOU 🙏. A simple thank you text can go a long way. For example, post-event, send a thank you to attendees with a link to view pictures from the event.
Mistake #5: Make content exclusive to your text message campaign
Someone signing up to receive your text messages is a big deal. Texting 📱 is intimate. You’re getting a direct connection into someone’s mobile phone, the most important screen in our lives.
You’re going to have a smaller list of mobile numbers to text than you do emails, but they should be treated as higher value. Where a person may have 5 email accounts and 3 are abandoned, we typically only have 1 mobile number.
Because of this, some of the content, offers and announcements you send through text message should be exclusive to your text message campaigns. Give people a reason to want to receive your text messages and stay engaged.
Mistake #6: Not continually growing your audience
With texting, it’s not an “if you build they will come” situation. If your audience doesn’t know they can sign up for your text messages, how will they ever sign up?
You should always be working to grow your audience 📣 and capture new text message subscribers. A person signing up for your text messages is highly valuable. You’re connecting with a validated audience in a more personal way, so it leads to more action: more donations; greater engagement; higher volunteerism; increased event registrations.
For a whole list of ideas on growing your text audience online and offline, check out this webinar here!
And finally, mistake #7: Not integrating texting into your other channels
Texting is 🔥🔥 powerful. You won’t hear us say that enough. But did you know you can use it to amplify results on your other channels.
Did you just send an important email out? Follow that up with a text to tell people to check their inbox. Did you send your year-end fundraising ask via direct mail? Time a text message to go out around when the mail should arrive to let people know to check their mailbox. Do you want to remind people to follow your organization on social media? Drive people from your text messages to your social media pages.
Leverage your 98% text message open rates to highlight your other channels. Simple but powerful!
Texting can be integrated into all aspects of your communication strategy. It shouldn’t be a one and done text. Make it a long-term convo and use it to tell your story.
Phew! And there you have it… 7 important texting mistakes to avoid.
Want to keep the learning going? 🖐️ Check out our free webinar on how to launch a successful text messaging campaign! It’s available to watch on-demand here, and we go over real-life examples of some winning text campaigns.