Tens of thousands of businesses, community groups, educational institutions, and faith-based organizations use group texting to communicate with large groups of people simultaneously.
This outreach strategy is a proven success because it is:
Simple - You do not have to have advanced technical or design skills to send group texts. The software used to communicate with large numbers of people is easy to use and can be accessed from any Internet-connected device.
Inexpensive - Group messaging costs just pennies per contact. With the high level of response that it generates, this channel of communication yields a strong ROI for businesses who use it as part of their overall mobile marketing strategy.
Effective - Because mobile phones are always kept in-hand or otherwise close by, it has grown to become one of the most reliable outreach tool for companies. But just how effective a tool is texting? Texts have a 98% open rate and on average, are read within 5 seconds of being received.
Most People Have Already Used Group Texts
Realize it or not, you have probably been exposed to group texting in one way or another. The most common use of group text messaging is by retailers inviting you to take advantage of a special offer by texting a keyword to a dedicated number - for example, text “pizza” to 313131. However the retail industry is not the only one in which group text messaging is used.
If you belong to a community group, you may have subscribed to a group text message service in order to keep up-to-date with group activities. Political parties often use group texting to communicate policies, organize volunteers, and solicit contributions. Practically all political parties use group texting to encourage citizens to get out and vote.
Whether or not you realize it, you have probably been exposed to group. The most common use of it is by retailers inviting you to take advantage of a special offer by texting a keyword to a dedicated number; for example, “Text PIZZA to 313131.” However, a wide variety of industries can leverage it for great success.
If you belong to a community group, you may have subscribed to a group text message service to keep up-to-date with group activities. Nonprofits often use it to communicate policies, organize volunteers, and solicit contributions. Practically all political parties roll it out to raise awareness of issues and encourage citizens to get out and vote.
Higher education texting often has the support of staff and administrators because of the immediacy it provides in spreading awareness to students of school events. It can also be used to advise parents of school closures or synchronize campus personnel in the event of an emergency. Many learning institutions have been advocates for group messaging during these times, as texting still works even when data networks become overloaded.
Many faith-based organizations have adopted group text messaging to communicate with their congregations. This solution is used to send reminders about church services, Bible study classes, and community events, all with a proven history of attendance increases. It also builds relationships with the next generation of congregants by communicating with them in a way that is relevant to their lifestyle.
How to Send Group Text Messages
In order to send group texts to large groups of people, you’ll first have to subscribe to a solutions provider like EZ Texting. Setting up an account is usually free and easy, and you can also choose your username and password. Once you’re logged in, you simply compose your message, upload your list of recipients, and click send.
Within minutes, your group of opted-in recipients will receive your message wherever they are, whatever they are doing. You can access customers’ replies from any Internet-connected device; you don’t need to remain in front of your computer.
EZ Texting will track your sent messages and report back on any items that weren't delivered. It will show you when the majority of your customers, members, colleagues, employees, voters, or parishioners opened your text and how long it took for them to reply. Using these analytics, you will be able to fine-tune your messages to create a greater impact in the future.
Most group texting software, like EZ Texting, includes features that will allow you to save sent messages as templates and schedule messages in advance. These features can be used to save you time and money when you have recurring messages to send out, or when you want to congratulate each of your opted-in recipients on their birthdays. This best practice is used by nearly every business and organization to strengthen their relationships with contacts.
Sending Group Texts to Different Groups
Group texting also saves you time and money by enabling you to send messages to different groups. Not every contact will care about every special offer, event, or volunteer opportunity, so by dividing your database into various groups, you can send ensure each message you send is relevant to every contact. A good example of this is a large department store that has customers with different interests. By dividing them into groups based on interest levels or purchase history, you can avoid the scenario of sending health-focused contacts a special discount on cake frosting.
The budget-saving aspect of this feature is two-fold:
- You reduce the number of messages you send out
- You avoid engaging contacts who aren’t interested in a message
Subscribing to a messaging service is free, but you still pay for what you send out under most plans. While the cost per text is just pennies, no company or budget can afford to send a message out if there is no chance of seeing an ROI.
Group text messaging is suitable for all sizes of organizations, from small community groups to large multinational corporations. For example, Coca-Cola spends 70% of its mobile marketing budget on texting. For cost-conscious smaller businesses, one company found that 17% of its texts were shared by customers, which led to an additional 7,500 customers opting in; their minimal investment led to big dividends!
Tools for Creating a Group Messaging Database
Before you subscribe to a group text messaging service, it is important to understand that this is a permission-based activity. Past purchases or simply having a contact’s information does not count as having their permission. To create your database, you have to do three things:
- Invite new contacts to join your mailing list
- Provide confirmation they’ve joined (and next steps, if applicable)
- Give them instructions on how they can opt out and inform them how often they’ll be texted
As a best practice, consider using different strategies to create different groups. Keep reading to discover how easy this is to accomplish.
Keywords and Short Codes
There are various tools available to help you create a group messaging database, but none are simpler and more effective than keywords and short codes. Keywords are the words that you ask your potential contacts to text to a short code number in order to opt into the group message service. The example we gave above of this process was text “PIZZA” to 313131.
Keywords and short code numbers are provided by your service provider and can be or included free in a subscription package. Most organizations tend to need just one keyword to create their group messaging database, but you can use multiple keywords to market multiple offers simultaneously, pre-sort your database into sub-groups, or distinguish the geographical location from which your members originate.
Other tools for creating a group messaging database include signup forms (widgets) provided by EZ Texting that can be placed on your website or social media channels. These are a great way to add customers to your database. To get the most bang for your buck, consider offering a promotion or secret discount to entice people to sign up. Further, each signup widget can be assigned its own keyword so customers who sign up are automatically funneled into different groups based on their interests.
The Difference between Group Texting Software and a Group Text App
Some people may look at group texting software and think it performs the same function as a group text app. However, there are two significant differences. The first is that apps such as Skype and WhatsApp limit the number of members you can have in a group. The second is that these apps can only be used to contact other smartphone users (cell phones are a ‘similar but different’ product and rarely can run apps).
While mobile phone-based apps like the ones above come with a wealth of limitations, there are significant business and organizational advantages to using a bulk texting service like EZ Texting:
- Texting has a higher customer satisfaction rating (90%) than any other communications channel
- It can lower the cost of a $20 customer service call to just pennies
- 44% of customers prefer receiving a message via text over any other medium
Generating Feedback and Encouraging Engagement
Group texting isn’t just a way to break through the marketing clutter. It can also be a valuable tool to learn more about what your contacts like and want from you. By adding polls and surveys to your group texts, you can invite your database to express their opinions on everything from finance and politics to their favorite pizza toppings.
Polls are easy to build on the group texting platform. You simply text a question - i.e. “What is your favorite pizza topping?” - and ask your customers to reply using keywords that express their preferences (for example, text “pepperoni” to 313131). This information can help shape future marketing campaigns, guide product development, and assist with stocking decisions. As an added value,
EZ Texting auto-sorts responses into groups so you can easily market your new “meat lover’s pizza” to pepperoni fans, not contacts who’ve said they prefer vegan options.
Want your database to grow more organically? Ask a provocative question! Friends and colleagues are inclined to share media they find interesting; if the question you ask in your survey sparks a discussion, your question (and company info) can go viral in much the same way as a popular video posted on Facebook or YouTube.
Other tools you can use to encourage feedback and engagement include adding photos or gifs to files to your messages via MMS. MMS group texting allows you to attach a picture, audio, or video file either to compliment your plain text message or replace it completely. You can also attach coupons to your group texts, add scannable QR codes, or integrate tiny URLs linking to web pages that provide further information.
Legal Requirements for Group Text Messaging
The legal requirements for group text messaging are contained within the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991. A lot of things have changed in the past 25+ years, so the Act has frequently been updated - most noticeably following the passage of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Compliance with the Act is overseen by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Organizations are also expected to adhere to the Mobile Marketing Association´s Code of Conduct – even for noncommercial purposes. The “Code” includes best practices to protect the mobile channel from abuse, limit consumer backlash, and avoid the need for additional regulations.
In addition to the TCPA and Code of Conduct, phone carriers (the telephone companies that carry and deliver text messages) impose their own restrictions on what can be included in a group text. Most carriers will block messages endorsing any of the following:
- Illegal drug use
- Adult material
- Hate speech
- Content deemed inappropriate
These restrictions apply to both SMS and MMS messages.
Although it is best to be aware of all legal requirements, compliant use of a group text message service is also common sense. If you send text messages to your database containing material they do not want to receive - or send them so frequently they become annoying - your members will start opting out.
Free Advice about Starting a Group Text Message Service
If the above article has increased your interest in group texting, and you’d like to know more, please do not hesitate to contact us. Whether you are a Fortune 500 company, a mom-and-pop store, an educational institution or a faith-based organization, our Client Success Managers have more than a decade of experience providing assistance to groups of all sizes and can help you.
Call them today at (866) 676-2180!