What Is Bulk SMS?
Bulk SMS messaging is when an automated text message is sent to many contacts. It's also known as Application-to-Person (A2P) or mass text messaging. Any texting that is a normal Person-to-Person (P2P) activity is considered bulk SMS. The Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) identifies regular P2P activity by specifying the following thresholds.
- Up to 15-60 messages per minute
- Up to 1,000 messages per day
- Up to 100 unique recipients
- 1:1 ratio of outgoing to incoming messages (with some latitude in either direction)
So, any text messaging which approaches or surpasses these thresholds is considered bulk SMS.
How Many Texts Can I Send for Free?
The cellular carrier in use when the text is deployed handles text messaging regulation. Carriers typically do not publicize how they define their limits like the CTIA does in the abovementioned thresholds. But carriers do monitor for what they consider A2P messaging using algorithms. If you don't use a bulk SMS service and your texting activity is too high, your account may be temporarily disabled or permanently canceled.
While there are upper limits at which you must use a bulk SMS service to avoid issues, there are no lower limits. You can enjoy the benefits of a text messaging service even if you only send to one contact. There are many benefits of using a bulk SMS platform for business or organizational use, no matter how many contacts are included.
How to Send Bulk SMS Messages
Bulk SMS is an intimate communication channel businesses use to increase promotional reach, create greater brand awareness, develop customer loyalty, and achieve phenomenal response rates. Companies have used mass text messaging to boost retail ROI in some of the following ways:
- Entice customers to return to the store with exclusive mobile coupons
- Notify customers about new products and services with text alerts
- Let customers know when their product is available with custom text notifications
- Announce sales events with SMS Blasts.
Bulk SMS has concrete applications in nearly every industry, as both customer service and communication channels. The following show a few examples of SMS applications across varied industries:
Text message marketing for restaurants, cafes, and food service is perhaps the most effective strategy for engaging customers and boosting sales. Texting lets you connect with customers about new dishes and restaurant news, leverage keywords to expand your contacts, and even confirm reservations.
Real estate agents are using text marketing in some very creative ways. To give potential home buyers a sneak peek into the homes they’re interested in learning more about, realtors can put a “text HOUSE16 to 99453 for more information” tag on their printed signs. When a prospective buyer sends a text with this tag, they can receive a reply SMS message that could feature a link (instead of an image) that directs them to photos of the specific house connected to the tag, nearby attractions, maps of the area, or any other relevant information.
Bulk SMS for schools takes advantage of a popular communication channel to quickly convey important messages to students, parents, faculty, and employees and can even be used to facilitate learning. Schools can use bulk SMS messaging to announce delayed openings, ensure that parents know permission slips have gone out, and keep faculty and staff on the same page. Educators can use bulk text messaging services to conduct remote Q&A sessions with their students before examinations.
Fitness Centers & Gyms
Fitness centers and gyms have done particularly well with text message marketing because working out and staying fit is incredibly personal, and so an intimate channel like texting is a perfect fit. Customers need motivation, inspiration, and gentle reminders to help them stay on the right track and in line with their fitness goals. Fitness centers, gyms, athletic institutions, and Yoga studios alike can use SMS messaging to keep customers in the know about things like:
- Personalized workouts
- Diet plans
- Class schedules
- Motivational messages
- Promotions and cross-marketing
Churches use bulk SMS over other communications channels partly because their members are devoted and want to hear from them personally. Text alerts have a broad range of applications that are useful for church groups, including:
- Spiritual encouragement
- Pertinent scripture verses
- Request to invite a friend to a service
- Weather-related cancellations
- Guest speaker notifications
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What Are the Benefits of Bulk SMS Texting
When considering bulk SMS for marketing, it is helpful to compare it to other marketing channels you may already be using. The comparison can help you determine how much effort and budget to devote to text message marketing and how to balance it all across marketing channels.
Business-to-consumer text messaging hit 2.7 trillion in 2020, up 10% from 2019, according to eMarketer and Juniper Network. SMS open and response rates are as high as 98% and 45%, respectively — in contrast to corresponding figures of 20% and 6% for email, Juniper said.
Since March 2020, the use of traditional channels has decreased 16% in 18 months, with in-person purchases alone seeing a decline of 30%. Digital sales are growing by 15% in 2021, with that trend set to continue, according to Forrester.
Spending has shifted to personal goods, and home purchases as more consumers work from home. According to Salesforce, this change includes embracing new technology, with 60% of consumers open to using new technology to improve experiences.
What to Look for in a Bulk SMS Service
Most marketers are surprised by the number of things you can do with mass text messaging beyond just delivering static messages. Here are some features and capabilities you should look for as you do your due diligence.
Short codes and Keywords work together to provide an easy way for contacts to subscribe or respond to a message list. Short codes are five or six-digit codes that can be dedicated to an organization or shared by several groups. Keywords are single words or short phrases which trigger a list subscription or other action in the messaging service.
Chat Via Text to Landline
Business text messaging app services offer a chat solution that can be used with the same phone number you use for voice calls through a text to landline service. The app segments customer support texts for simple notifications and real-time interaction.
Scheduled & Recurring Messages
Scheduled and recurring messages allow you to compose a message automatically sent out at whatever time you set them to deploy. You can also able to schedule recurring messages that you can schedule to send at whatever intervals you indicate. They're great for messages such as recurring meeting reminders or weekly sales calls.
Text to Vote SMS Polls
In addition to providing you with valuable insights into customer preferences, text to vote SMS polls is a great way to segment your contacts into lists so that you can make your messages more personalized and engaging in the future.
If your contact list is extensive, you will probably prefer to manage responses through a web browser interface. But for smaller lists, you may prefer monitoring replies using your cell phone or email address. Text forwarding automatically relays incoming texts to your email address or mobile phone.
The best bulk SMS software providers all have a common trait—fantastic support teams. Look for a software solution that delivers responsive, knowledgeable, and friendly customer support. The company should staff team members who know the software like the back of their hands and understand the text marketing best practices and the secrets that will help you get off to a strong start.
Reliability & Security
Advanced bulk SMS providers institute rigorous security protocols to safeguard sensitive user data. When evaluating a partner, ask specific questions like: Where is my data stored? How do you protect my data? Who owns my data? Is my list of contacts secure?
MMS Picture Messaging
Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) can be a great way to add some flavor and interest to your text campaigns. Typically an MMS marketing message can contain up to 500kb of data: enough for s 30-second audio or video file. Either images or videos can be used for text over 160 characters.
Dedicated Short Codes
Dedicated short codes are numbers used exclusively for your organization. With a dedicated short code, you can use any Keyword you like because it will only be sent to your short code. This service benefits marketing agencies that want to run texting campaigns for multiple clients.
Business text messaging drip campaigns can be a great way to create engagement, lead prospects through the buyer's journey, increase conversions, and boost after-purchase upsells. Text drips are preprogrammed to deliver personalized messages at specific intervals after a trigger, such as a subscription initiation, has occurred.
Sign-Up Forms & QR Codes
Sign-up forms and QR codes can be used in various places, including your website, social media page, or emails. Using sign-up forms on your website or Facebook page can substantially increase your subscription conversion rate. Another option is to use a link in an email or tweet which leads to a sign-up form.
Reminder campaigns can be used in several ways, including payment due dates, birthdays, customer anniversaries, and appointment reminders.
Simplicity & Ease of Use
Let's face it, we all sometimes suffer from the shiny-object syndrome. Some marketers search for the slickest-looking software but fail to consider a more important factor—ease of use.
Text messaging is a simple communication channel. There's no algorithm to optimize for like you have to do with Google and Facebook. You don't have to come up with catchy subject lines to get people to read the message as you do with email. You make a simple message, select the right group of contacts, and send.
The best business text messaging suppliers support both large and small businesses. The system's features should be scalable to meet the operational capacity of your organization. The right SMS and MMS provider will help your small company grow into a large-scale, multidimensional powerhouse.
Your software should make this process as easy and intuitive as possible. Take a potential software for a test drive before signing on, and don't forget to look for reviews that mention the ease of use. Here are a few of our G2 Crowd reviews, which mention how easy our platform is to use.
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