How to Engage Your Supporters with Text Messaging (3 Tips from a Nonprofit)
WRITTEN BY LINDSEY HIMPHILL
Does sending daily text messages to your audience give you pause? Does it feel like overkill or, in the least, far too frequent? Allow me to put your mind at ease. When done correctly, daily (yes, daily!) text messages can be an incredibly effective way to communicate with your supporters about an important campaign.
Every May, the Vasculitis Foundation celebrates Vasculitis Awareness Month. In 2020, they decided to do a month long, daily messaging campaign during the awareness month. Because they approached the campaign strategically, they were able to capture interested subscribers, draft engaging content, schedule messages ahead of time, and raise funds successfully as part of their campaign.
3 Tips to Engage Your Supporters with Text Messaging
The first step in their efforts was to capture subscribers. Rather than messaging their entire database daily, they allowed individuals to identify themselves by encouraging them to subscribe for the messages. They did this by creating a subscription keyword where individuals could text in a keyword and automatically add themselves to the list. They also created an online form, which they shared with their audiences via email, social media, and their website, to encourage more individuals to subscribe. They also sent 2 text messages to their entire list of contacts to see who from that list would want to opt-in for the daily messages.
The Vasculitis Foundation prepared for the campaign and used the weeks leading up into the campaign to narrow down their entire list of supporters to a smaller group of individuals who indicated they were interested in receiving daily text messages. By doing so, they had created a smaller but more qualified group of over 100 individuals for this communication effort. As a result, they had a very low unsubscribe rate of under 10% for a majority of the campaign.
Creating & Scheduling Messages
Their next step was to determine what content they would like to share with their audience. They developed a communication calendar which reflected their current communication plans for newsletters, emails, and social media. They then decided what the most important and engaging content was to share out via text as well. Because the awareness month was focused on educating their audience, spreading awareness, and sharing resources, they decided to share links to important webinars, resources, surveys, and studies that their organization worked on.
Examples of some of their texts:
Once their audience was identified and their content written, the VF was able to schedule their messages to be sent through MobileCause. This way, the organization would simply schedule all the messages at once and they would automatically be sent at the time of their choosing every day to existing subscribers, as well as any new subscribers who signed up.
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Making a Donation Ask
In addition to sharing important resources with their audience surrounding Vasculitis Awareness Month, another objective of the organization was to raise funds to support those affected by vasculitis. They strategically included donation asks within their text message plan to ask their audience to make a donation in support of the campaign. These donation asks were sent at the beginning, middle and end of the campaign and only consisted of 4 of their overall 34 text messages. By breaking them up and limiting the number of times they asked for donations, they were able to continue sharing the important content their subscribers opted-in to receive and also limit the number of people who unsubscribed during the campaign.
When they shared the donation asks, they included a link directly to their donation form so that donors could easily be connected to the opportunity to give. With the campaign, they had an average click-through rate of over 20% for their donation asks and through the combined efforts of their multi-channel communication, raised over $38,000 for their campaign.
The Vasculitis Foundation was able to do a very interesting, daily text messaging campaign to keep their audience engaged for Vasculitis Awareness Month and with very positive results. They were able to keep their supporters informed, raise awareness and funds, and the subscribers that signed up had positive feedback about their experience with daily text messages. The reason for their success was allowing people to subscribe themselves and opt-in to the daily messaging as well as the carefully thought out plan for types of communication throughout the month.
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