Myth: People Don't Like Getting Text MessagesBy Eric Bryant,
There are a lot of misunderstandings around text messages and marketing. One common refrain you hear is, “Ew! Text message marketing is terrible! Sending me an unsolicited text message is a surefire way to get me to never do business with your organization again.”
This statement makes sense. I personally hate it when I get an unsolicited text message from some unknown business, too. I didn’t sign up for your newsletter, nor have I purchased your product. I’ve never even been in your store. Yet you’re sending me a text message? How uncouth!
But that’s for an unsolicited text message. And it’s important to understand the difference between that and what we do at GMG.
What Is an Unsolicited Text Message?
An unsolicited text message is when you receive a text on your phone from a company or organization you’ve never heard of or transacted any business with. Basically, the organization got your phone number somehow, probably off of some list they purchased or scraped it off the Internet.
Maybe your contact info was sold to the organization (it happens), and the company decided it would send a text blast to every phone number they’ve harvested.
Either way, you did not give permission to be texted. It’s important to note that this is a violation of law. It is against the law for a company to send you a marketing text message without first gaining your explicit, written consent. (Read more on legal compliance in SMS marketing).
Using a Text-to-Donate Service
What we do at GMG is very, very different. First of all, we don’t send anyone text messages who hasn’t first given permission to do so. Never.
What we do is provide you with a keyword (a 4-12 character word to trigger a text message reply) and use of our short code (a shortened phone number used only for sending and receiving text messages). When a prospective donor texts your keyword to your short code, they get a message that says,
“You opted in to get text messages from this organization. Up to 2 messages per month from this organization. Standard message & data rates may apply. Text STOP to cancel.”
This is telling the donor that, “Hey, when you texted the keyword to the short code, you gave us permission to send you future text messages.” This is perfectly legal, and perfectly ethical.
As long a the donor gives explicit consent — i.e., by sending your keyword to your short code — that counts as permission to send them future messages. The subscriber can stop receiving future messages at any time, just by texting STOP to the number. This is also a legal requirement.
Also, the law requires that you tell the subscriber how many messages she can expect to receive from your organization. Hence, “2 messages per month.” If the subscriber disagrees with this policy, she can unsubscribe at any time just by texting STOP.
The law also states that you must disclose the name of the organization that is texting the subscriber. We always include your nonprofit’s name in the second text message so that the donor knows who is texting her. e.g., “Thanks for supporting the Hanley campaign for Iowa county commissioner.”
Thus, our service is always compliant with law, never violates the user’s privacy, and never sends them any unwanted messages.
With our service, the subscriber always knows
Who is texting her
How many messages she can expect to receive
How she opted in
How she can opt out
A text blast is like an email blast; it is a mass text message sent to all your opted-in subscribers at one time. Like email blasts, text blasts are perfectly legal — when done correctly.
(Read more on tips for sending SMS blasts such as frequency and timing.)
Free and Basic Plan members do not get to send subsequent text blasts to their subscriber lists. That means a person can only opt in by texting the keyword to the short code, and then you may send them no more messages after the initial opt in messages. So, with these plans, there is never any risk of unsolicited text messages.
Smart and Pro Plan customers get to send out text blasts to their subscribers after the initial opt ins. But there is always a limit on this. Smart Plan members get 3 subsequent text blasts per month. And Pro Plan users get 6 text blasts per month.
Therefore, the opt in messages for Smart Plan customers are a little different than for Free and Basic customers. For Smart Plan customers, we tell their subscribers “up to 3 messages per month.”
And for Pro Plan customers, we tell them “up to 6 messages per month.” This way, the subscribers know that possibly more messages are coming to them in the future, but there is a limit.
What If I Already Have a List of Phone Numbers?
With text blasts, we cannot simply upload a list of phone numbers and start blasting them. Again, that is against the law. The sender must have written permission before you are permitted to send SMS blasts to your subscribers.
And, no, just because the subscribers signed up for your email newsletter does not mean they have consented to receiving text blasts.
So, Do People Really Hate Getting Text Messages?
No. In fact, in 10 years of being in business, we’ve not had a single complaint from any donor about receiving too many texts or receiving unwanted texts. Not one. And we’ve served hundreds, if not thousands, of customers over the years.
Here are some recent statistics of texting habits in the U.S.:
Over 15MM texts are sent every minute (Source: Domo)
More than 80MM households used their phones for texting in 2018 (Source: Statista)
The average person spends 55 minutes per day texting (Source: eMarketer)
More than half of US adults (59%) say that they have used their cellphone to call or text someone while inside a store to discuss purchases they are thinking of making. (Source: Pew Research)
Only 30% of consumers report actually receiving texts from the companies they patronize, despite stating that they would be open to receiving them. (Source: CustomerThink)
When asked why they message businesses, over 64% of people surveyed across 4 markets say it's because they’re “always messaging anyway.” (Source: Facebook)
According to a Nielson study, 56% of people surveyed would rather message a business than call customer service. (Source: Nielsen)
75% of consumers want offers delivered to them via text (source: SMS Comparison)
In 2019, 48% of U.S. and U.K. residents say they use SMS to share content with peers 64% said they use some type of messaging app. (Source: eMarketer)
The average person sends 15 text messages per day (Source: Zipwhip State of Texting Report 2019)
Unsolicited text messages? Bad. Very bad. Our mobile phones are considered by many to be the last bastions of privacy.
Solicited text messages, however? Good. Very good. People like them. They’re OK. Nothing to be afraid of.
Follow the rules, use common sense, and get permission — and SMS marketing can amplify your fundraising results exponentially.