Although most people are inclined to associate bulk SMS messaging with retail marketing, there are many other organizations that frequently send bulk text messages. Businesses, educational institutions, political parties and faith-based organizations have identified that sending bulk SMS from PC to mobile is a quick and effective way to communicate with large groups of employees, students, voters and parishioners.
The popularity of bulk texting as a communications vehicle can be attributed to three primary factors - cost, reach and simplicity. Bulk SMS pricing is only pennies per contact and reaches older-model cellphones as well as the latest Internet-enabled smartphones. Sending a bulk SMS from a PC to a mobile requires no technical or design skills and, in addition to conveying important messages, bulk texting can also be used to generate engagement and build relationships.
How Does Bulk SMS Work?
To send bulk SMS messages, you need to subscribe to a bulk SMS service. The bulk SMS service provider assigns you a username and password that gives you online access to a bulk SMS gateway. Once you have logged into the bulk SMS gateway software, you simply upload your list of contacts, compose your message, and click send. Within minutes, your contacts will be receiving and reading your SMS message wherever they are, whatever they are doing.
The effectiveness of the bulk SMS software is due to the fact that 91% of people keep their mobile phones within reach twenty-four hours a day. Studies have shown that 98% of all SMS messages are read within three minutes of delivery - a statistic partially attributable to SMS texting being considered an intimate channel of communication. People tend to reach for their mobile phones as soon as they hear the ringtone of an incoming message.
Once a message has been sent, the SMS bulk texting software reports on delivery rates, open rates and spikes in engagement. With these analytics, the bulk SMS sender can fine-tune the content and timing of their messages in order to create a greater impact when they next send bulk SMS messages. Sent messages can be saved as templates and adjusted as necessary to save time when sending out future messages.
Any replies to the bulk SMS sender are received by the bulk SMS gateway software. However, when sending bulk SMS from a PC to a mobile, it is not necessary to sit in front of the PC waiting for the replies to come. The SMS bulk texting software can be accessed from any Internet-connected device - laptop, tablet or smartphone - or you have the option of having your replies forwarded to your mobile phone by SMS.
Bulk SMS Tools for Creating a Database of Contacts
In addition to access to SMS bulk texting software, you also need a database of customers, employees, students, voters or parishioners to send bulk SMS messages to. Due to the regulations governing how to send bulk text messages, you cannot simply buy a list of cellphone numbers and start sending bulk SMS online. You have to create your database by inviting people to join your bulk SMS service.
The quickest way of creating a database of contacts is with bulk SMS tools such as keywords and short codes. Keywords are simply individual words that you ask your potential contacts to text to dedicated number - the bulk SMS short code. For example, if you were a pizza restaurant trying to create a database of contacts, you would ask your potential customers to text the word “pizza” to a bulk SMS short code such as 313131.
Keywords and a bulk SMS short code can be obtained from your bulk SMS service provider. They are typically rented by the month, although some service providers include keywords and a bulk SMS short code in their subscription packages. Most organizations usually need just one keyword and short code to create their database of contacts, but you can use more to develop a database of contacts with different interests or to market multiple products at the same time.
Other bulk SMS tools for creating a database of contacts include “click-to-join” widgets. These can be placed on your website or on your social media channels to encourage people to join your bulk SMS service. One effective way you can encourage potential customers to join your service is by promising they will be the first to know of special offers or promotional events. This strategy works equally well for keywords and short codes as it does for “click-to-join” widgets.
How to Send Bulk Text Messages to Different Groups
There are many scenarios in which you might wish to send bulk text messages to different groups within your database. For example, if yours is a faith-based organization, you might have meetings for different ministries within your congregation each week, and wish to remind each group of parishioners of the next meeting in a message that is unique to each group. Employers might want to message different departments individually, or schools may message students studying different subjects.
In order to send bulk text messages to different groups, you simply divide your database of contacts into sub-groups according to their roles, their interests, or whichever categories you choose. The job of sorting your database into sub-groups does not have to be done manually. You can use different keywords as you create your database or integrate the bulk SMS gateway software in an existing management solution.
Whenever you next use the SMS bulk texting software to send a bulk text messages, you simply upload the sub-group of your database that is relevant to the text message. If you need to send everyone within your database the same message, safeguards exist to prevent an individual who may appear in two or three groups from receiving the same message multiple times.
Sending bulk text messages by group rather than en masse has two benefits. It prevents the scenario in which contacts opt out of the bulk SMS service because they are receiving too many irrelevant messages and it saves you money. Although registering with a bulk SMS service provider to send bulk SMS is free, you still have to pay a small amount for each text message you send. By limiting your bulk texting to groups within your database to whom your message is relevant, you will not be wasting your money when you send bulk SMS messages.
The Differences between SMS Bulk Texting Software and a Bulk SMS App
A bulk SMS app is an app that you download onto a smartphone or PC and then use to communicate with your groups of contacts. Although performing similar functions to SMS bulk texting software, there are some significant differences - most importantly with respect to the number of individuals you can contact with bulk texting from a smartphone app.
Typically, the best bulk SMS app will limit you to 256 recipients per message, whereas with SMS bulk texting software there is no limit. Furthermore, when you use a bulk SMS app to send bulk text messages, all of your contacts have to have the same app installed on their smartphone or PC to receive your text message. Even then, unless the bulk SMS app has a push notification feature, your contacts may not even know that they have a message to read until the next time they log into the app.
A further significant difference is that only 68% of the population owns a smartphone that can receive messages sent by a bulk SMS app, whereas 98% of the population has access to a cellphone capable of receiving SMS messages. In terms of bulk SMS for business, it does not make commercial sense to dedicate resources to a channel of communication that excludes 30% of your potential market. In addition, there are the relative “labor costs”.
With SMS bulk texting software, your contact lists are automatically created for you when you use keywords and short codes, and automatically sorted into groups when you integrate the bulk SMS software with a management solution. It takes just minutes to upload your sub-group of contacts, write your text, and click send. By comparison, the “labor costs” of manually adding each contact to the bulk SMS app and sending multiple messages in order to reach your entire database are potentially very high.
How Different Organizations Send Bulk SMS from a PC to a Mobile
Having elaborated on how bulk SMS works, the bulk SMS tools you can use to create a database of contacts, and how to sort your database into groups to facilitate easy management and save money, now might be a good time to expand on how different organizations send bulk SMS from a PC to a mobile. The examples below are not exhaustive, and we continue to be surprised at some of the applications found for bulk texting.
Bulk SMS for Business
Bulk texting customers has proven to be especially successful when retailers attach discount coupons to their SMS messages. Redemption rates for discount coupons attached to SMS messages are typically eight times higher than is normally achieved via email marketing. Bulk SMS for business can also be used to inform customers of tailored promotions and new store openings.
Bulk SMS for Companies
As sending bulk SMS from a PC to a mobile often continues to work when data networks are overloaded, employers´ organizations advocate bulk texting to contact employees in the event of an emergency. As described in the “different groups” section above, bulk SMS for companies can be used to contact employees by department, or to keep in touch with field employees who are out of range of Internet service.
Bulk SMS for Political Parties
Bulk SMS for political parties is an intimate and effective way for candidates to communicate their political agendas to voters. Bulk texting for political parties can also be used to coordinate grass-roots supporters, issue media responses or request donations. Many political parties use bulk texting on Election Day to remind their supporters to “Get Out the Vote.”
Bulk SMS for Schools
In a similar way that employers´ organizations advocate bulk texting in the event of an emergency, bulk SMS for schools can be used to synchronize on-campus security personnel, keep students safe and ensure concerned parents are updated. Parents can also be advised of school closures due to inclement weather or of forthcoming school functions that they might like to attend.
Bulk SMS for Faith-Based Organizations
Bulk SMS for faith-based organizations has a variety of uses - both practical and spiritual. Churches can reach out to the community with bulk SMS for faith-based organizations and request volunteer assistance for those in need. Faith-based organizations can also send bulk text messages to members of their congregation who are unable to participate in church ministries - the sick, prisoners and those serving in the armed forces.
Generating Engagement with a Bulk SMS Sender Gateway
The bulk SMS sender gateway - or bulk texting platform - is capable of doing a lot more than just sending plain text messages. Indeed, many of the bulk SMS features have been designed to encourage feedback, generate engagement and develop relationships. One of the most effective ways of achieving these goals is to include polls or surveys in bulk SMS messages, asking your contacts to express their opinions.
Polls and surveys are easy to add to a bulk SMS message. You simply ask a question in the content of your message - i.e. “What is your favorite pizza topping?” - and request that your contacts reply using a keyword that represents their answer (for example, text “mushroom” to 313131). The feedback from your survey can help shape future mobile marketing campaigns and product development.
Sending fun or thought-provoking polls can help increase the size of your database. People love to share media they find interesting and - if a question you ask becomes the topic of discussion between families, friends and colleagues - your bulk texting messages can result in many more individuals opting in to your bulk SMS service and taking a deeper interest in your store, company, political party, school or church.
Other bulk SMS tools you can use to encourage feedback, generate engagement and develop relationships include multimedia (MMS) texting. With MMS bulk texting you can increase the impact of your plain text message with images, audio and video files - or you can replace the plain text message altogether. MMS bulk texting also allows you to integrate tiny URLs into your messages or add QR codes.
The Legal Requirements for Sending Bulk SMS Online
As mentioned above, you cannot simply buy a list of cellphone numbers and start sending bulk SMS messages online. There are rules and regulations in place to prevent organizations from sending spam text messages or sending bulk SMS from a PC to a mobile too frequently. Most of the legal requirements for sending bulk SMS online are contained within the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991; it is also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the Mobile Marketing Association´s Code of Conduct.
Even if you do not intend to send bulk text messages for the purpose of marketing, the Mobile Marketing Association´s Code of Conduct includes guidelines for bulk texting to protect consumer privacy standards. The “Code” has been prepared with the assistance of Microsoft, Yahoo and Verizon to prevent abuses by all organizations that send bulk SMS messages, and to avoid the introduction of additional regulations.
Organizations sending bulk SMS online are also subject to the terms and conditions of the telephone companies (“carriers”) who deliver the SMS text messages. Carriers will usually refuse to deliver bulk SMS messages that contain profanity, pornography or hate speech, or those that endorse illegal drug use or violence. The carriers´ terms and conditions apply equally to plain text bulk texting and to MMS bulk texting.
Complying with the legal requirements for sending bulk SMS online is generally a matter of common sense. If you send bulk SMS messages to your contacts containing material they are likely to find distasteful - or you send bulk text messages so often they become irritating - your contacts will quickly opt out of your bulk SMS service.
Find Out More about Bulk SMS Free Advice
If you would like to find out more about bulk SMS, free advice can be obtained from our team of Client Success Managers. Our team will be able to answer any questions about how bulk SMS works, how to best use the bulk SMS tools to create a database, and the legal requirements for sending bulk SMS online. We can even give you tips on how to maximize engagement with a bulk SMS sender gateway.
Our service will enable you to quickly relay important messages to groups of people and encourage feedback, generate engagement and develop relationships where appropriate. Thousands of organization are already using SMS bulk texting software to benefit their businesses and their communities. Find out how you can join them by contacting us today.