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The Ultimate Guide To Help You Send Text Blasts Effectively

author-shiksha-sharma
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Published: Apr 13, 2023

On March 31st, 2020, Chicago was hit with the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. 

On the one hand, they struggled to find enough healthcare workers to meet the threat. On the other, they also found it challenging to keep their citizens updated about the crisis. 

Text blasts came to their rescue.

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With the help of text messages, the government was able to ramp up the presence of medical personnel in hospitals to deal with the need arising from the pandemic.

They were also used to inform the general public about the crisis and send critical information on social distancing to help shorten the curve.

The reasoning for choosing to send text blasts for choosing texts over any other channel is obvious: 

  • They needed a quick and easy way of reaching many people at once.
  • They also wanted their messages to be seen.

Text messaging meant getting both advantages rolled into one.

Clearly, text blasts are a lifesaver during times of crisis (with a 98% open rate within 5 minutes). While text blasts have indeed found their place in emergency response, they are also extensively used in appointment reminders, event updates, and school notifications.

In this post, we will look at how to send text blasts for your organization.

What is a text blast?

Text/SMS blast sends text messages to many mobile users simultaneously at the click of a button. This is done with the help of mass texting software

Please note that text blasts, SMS blasts, text broadcasts, and mass texting are synonyms, and we will use the terms interchangeably throughout this article.

Organizations use text blasts for everything, from emergency communications to important updates and promotions. It is a great tool for marketing, sales, and customer retention. According to a report by Gartner, SMS marketing campaigns boast an average response rate of 45%, far surpassing the response rate of email marketing campaigns, which typically hover around 6%. This indicates that SMS marketing is significantly more effective in eliciting responses from recipients compared to email marketing.

Group texts vs. text blasts – What’s the difference?

Applications that allow group texting, like iMessage and WhatsApp, limit the number of people you can contact and are often limited to those contacts who are using the same application. These applications also enable broadcasting messages, where you can send a message to several people as a personal message. However, this capability, too, is limited to people using a standard application. 

Text blasts, on the other hand, are application-to-person (A2P) messaging where organizations, campaigns, and businesses use tools and services—like CallHub—to reach many people at once. According to a survey conducted by Twilio, 90% of text messages are read within the first 3 minutes of being received, indicating the high level of engagement associated with text blasts. The contacts do not use this blast software and must only have a text messaging application on their phone. 

The definition of “large” varies from organization to organization and can be between 100 to 100,000 (there’s no defined upper or lower limit). Some primary reasons organizations go for text blasts include the tools’ capabilities to:

  • Personalize texts (e.g., with merge tags, by list segmentation, etc.)
  • Schedule them
  • Set up workflow automation
  • Draft and save responses 
  • Sync data from and to their CRM databases
  • Privacy of replies (only campaign managers and dedicated agents can see inbound responses)

How to send a text blast

In this section, we take you through the steps you need to take to create a text blast campaign. To make it easier, we will take you through CallHub’s platform to show you exactly how it is done.

Let’s take a look at the steps.

Select your contact list.

To begin with, determine and select the contact list to whom you want to send a text blast. If you are a school, you might have different lists for your staff, parents, or high school students. Depending on your messaging, you will choose the appropriate list of contacts.

A contact list is your target audience list with their names, mobile numbers, and other information mapped on a .csv, excel, spreadsheet, or database file. On CallHub, your contact list must be a .csv file with numbers in a column labeled “Mobile Number.” The other fields are optional. 

Your CallHub dashboard when you upload a contact list.

Create a campaign

To send text blasts, you must set up a mass texting campaign. Here’s how to do that on CallHub.

To begin with, log onto the CallHub dashboard and select ‘Text Broadcast.’

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Next, under the first section labeled ‘Targeting,’ you can select your desired contact list and choose whether you want to filter out litigators from your message list (recommended). You can also set the number you wish to send the text – whether an existing number, a rented number, 10DLC, or a shortcode.

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Read Also: What is A2P 10DLC? Your Complete Guide

If you haven’t uploaded a contact list on CallHub already, you can click on the ‘Add a contact list’ text in blue, and you will be redirected to a page on which you can add your contact list. You can now resume building your text blast campaign.

Step 2 involves entering your texting script. You can also add media, a URL tracker, and personalize your message in this section. Determine if you want to enable an automated reply. Add text for the autoreply.

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You can view a preview of your text message on the right-hand side of the dashboard.

On the ‘Settings’ tab in Step 3, you can enter an email address if you want email notifications for replies. Here, you can choose 

  • To retry sending messages if delivery fails
  • How many times do you want to retry, and 
  • The duration between each retry.
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Next, in Step 4, you can preview your entire campaign before you are ready to schedule it. Ensure everything is correct since the message will reach many people when it goes live.

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On the 5th and final step, you can schedule your campaign. This is a crucial step because you need to comply with texting regulations. The timing of your text blast is vital (unless it is an emergency alert). 

Read Also: Staying Compliant with Your Texting Campaigns 

If you are reaching people in a timezone different than yours, you can schedule the operational hours to follow their hours.

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In 5 quick steps, your text blast is ready to go live. Explore CallHub’s text blast messaging software.

The American Red Cross initiated the Missing Types campaign to address the critical shortage of blood donors, with only 3% of people in the U.S. donating blood annually. GroundTruth collaborated by employing location data to guide potential donors to nearby blood banks.

Through proximity targeting in top DMAs and cities, audience targeting based on demographics and location behavior, and engaging rich media ads, the campaign successfully drove over 600 visitors to blood banks. This resulted in potentially impacting over 1,800 lives, with Mondays and Thursdays showing peak visitation times.

The campaign saw high engagement rates, particularly with the ‘Schedule Now’ feature, surpassing benchmarks for the Health vertical.

Best practices for sending text blasts

Before you send your text blast campaign, there are a few best practices that you can implement to optimize results. They are:

  • Get opted-in consent
  • Keep messaging concise and relevant
  • Make it easy to opt out
  • Set up automatic replies
  • Personalize your message
  • Include a Call-to-Action
  • Test your best times
  • Test your message
  • Track results regularly

We explore these best practices in detail so that you can boost your chances of success.

In most cases, you must get an opt-in from your contacts before sending them text blasts.

Not only is this required by TCPA guidelines, but getting consent means a higher chance of your texts being read.

You can do that by

  • Getting written permission on paper or through a website form
  • Consent on a recorded verbal interaction
  • Selecting a key on a dialer when prompted
  • Texting in a keyword such as ‘JOIN’ to a number through SMS opt-in

The climate advocacy group 350.org used SMS opt-ins to significant effect, getting 3000 people to opt into their text messages at a climate rally.

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You can read about how they managed this by reading our case study – 350 case study text messages for climate justice. 

Keep messaging concise and relevant.

According to research conducted by Microsoft, the average human attention span has decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8 seconds in 2021.

A message that takes too long to get to the point can be tiresome. It will also cost more if the message spills over to multiple texts. (For GSM/ASCII texts, your character limit is 160 per message, and the Unicode character limit is 70).

Thankfully, texting as a medium makes it necessary to be frugal with your words when composing your message.

Make sure you are getting the point across within the text and sending it to people to whom it’s relevant to avoid any annoyance.

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Make it easy to opt out

TCPA guidelines require that any consumer can quickly and easily opt out of your text blasts when they wish. 

Popular opt-out methods include contacts sending keywords (e.g., STOP) or clicking on a link.

Take the example of the 2020 presidential campaign. They had clear opt-out instructions in their initial text message upon opt-in.

send-text-blasts-opt-out

CallHub recognizes STOP, REMOVE, UNSUBSCRIBE, CANCEL, END, and QUIT as opt-out keywords by default. We have recently added the capability to recognize punctuations following the keywords as opt-out requests. The tool adds these numbers to your personal DNC list and skips them in future campaigns. 

These opt-outs, while possibly disheartening, keep your list clean and high-quality. Automatic opt-outs prevent spam labels on your campaigns.

Set up automatic replies.

Sending individual replies to every response to your text blast will be a hassle. The solution is to set up a text autoresponder to send out replies based on the response you receive.

This:

  • Saves time for your volunteers/agents.
  • Sends messages automatically to trigger words, avoiding delays that manual responses risk.
  • Allows you to send tailored messages based on trigger replies.

For example, you can use automatic replies when confirming Event RSVPs.

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Personalize your message

Your message needs to be uniquely tailored to the person you are targeting for it to have maximum impact. Adding merge tags is one of the easiest ways to personalize your text message.

What are merge tags?
Merge tags customize messages by adding dynamic fields like the first name, email address, phone number, address, or any details collected and added to the contacts for your campaign. With merge tags, a text message script that looks like this: Hello {first_name}. This is {agent_name} here. We have sent your subscription details to your email ID {email_ID}. Will go out to your audience with filled-in information like this–

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Read Also: Personalized Text Messages: The Only Guide You Need 

Include a Call-to-action

If you want your readers to respond to your message, add a call-to-action so that they know what to do next. 

Call-To-Actions (CTAs) such as “Click here to get 15% off your next order” are great ways to direct your audience to the next step in engagement. Here are a few CTAs you can use-

  • Link clicks – Ask your audience to click on a link that redirects to your website, etc.
  • Respond to the message – Allows your audience to share their opinion or answer a close-ended question or a survey.
  • Contact us – Encourage the audience to give you a missed call or call for details.
  • Opt-in – Ask your audience to opt-in to, let’s say, a newsletter by replying with a keyword like ‘JOIN,’ ‘SUBSCRIBE,’ etc.
  • Social media – You can share a CTA such as “Follow us on Instagram for the latest updates” to encourage them to engage with your organization.
  • Purchase CTA – Motivate your audience to buy when you use CTAs such as “Buy now to avail 20% off your order”.
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Test your best times

Early mornings when people rush to get their kids to school so they can finally have a cup of coffee and run to work themselves, is a terrible time to send out a text blast (Unless there’s a metaphorical or actual fire, please hit send).

Experimenting with the best times suited to your organization is imperative for the success of your text blast campaign. For example, Mondays are known to be the worst days to send a text blast campaign. But your audience could behave differently, so test test test!

If you are a political organization, we have mapped out The Best and Worst Times to Send a Political Text Blast.  

Test your message

You know what CallHub claims when we promote our mass texting software? We say that you can reach thousands of contacts at once.

You do not want to risk sending out the wrong link or a glaring typo when the stakes are high. You can instead test out your text message beforehand.

At CallHub, we have a ‘test your message’ option that you can use to send the text to your phone number (free of cost) before you send out your campaign. 

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Track results regularly.

If you send text blasts regularly, you can monitor your analytics to see what works for your campaign.

When you track your results, you will know:

  • Delivery rates for your texts – how many are delivered and pending and the number of DNC contacts.
  • The number of responses you received. 
  • The best time to send your mass text.
  • Which day works best for you?
  • Which CTA is enticing to your audience?
  • The type of messages they engage with most.

With these best practices in mind, you can send text blasts. In the next section, we have chalked out some use cases and scenarios in which you can send text broadcasts.

SMS/text blast Use cases + examples

Emergency response

We saw an example above of how text blasts were being used to send emergency messages to contacts during the COVID-19 pandemic to recruit healthcare workers.

You can also use text alerts to:

  • Send safety guidelines,
  • Share evacuation procedures,
  • Send urgent updates,
  • Collect donations for urgent aid.
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Event updates.

Keep your attendees informed and allow them to plan their schedules around your event. For example, you can send text message reminders to those who have RSVPed to your event.

This works for promoting live events too.

In the 2020 Democratic presidential race, candidates like Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar used text blasts to invite their contacts to campaign live streams.

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In the texts, they added a link to quickly access the event from their phone with a single click. 

Allowing for quick access in the updates helps improve conversion.

Sale promotions

Studies indicate that SMS messaging yields significantly higher conversion rates, ranging from 10 to 15 times more than email campaigns. For advertisements that may be time-sensitive, for example, limited-time sales, a text blast is the best option. 

Even when time isn’t a constraint, text messages are an excellent option to augment your email campaigns. They help reinforce your message and make it more likely for your contacts to take action.

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School notifications for parents and students

Schools and Universities have recognized that text blasts are the best way to connect with parents and students.

Gasaymeh and Aldalalah (2013) conducted a study to assess the impact of using SMS as a learning tool on student learning. The study involved 52 undergraduate students enrolled in a visual basic course, with 23 in the control group and 29 in the experimental group. The experimental group received 36 messages throughout the semester.

Results indicated that SMS significantly improved student learning in the experimental group compared to the control. Students perceived more advantages than disadvantages in using SMS for learning. The study concluded that text messaging positively correlates with student learning and satisfaction, which are crucial for student success.

Use text alerts to keep them informed whenever there are school delays, closures due to weather, PTA meetings, or tuition payments due.

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Payment reminders

Remind your clients about payments and send follow-ups if they haven’t paid on time. You could link to a page where they can pay on mobile. Sending personalized SMS payment reminders 24 hours before the due date is regarded as the optimal timing for such communications.

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Appointment reminders

SMS appointment reminders have proven to be highly effective in improving appointment attendance within healthcare settings. The effectiveness of this method has been continuously improving over time.

Send text blasts for appointment reminders a day before and then on the day of the appointment to ensure timely attendance. You can even ask them to confirm by replying to your text. 

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Fundraising and donations

The average amount of money donated through text messages is $135 – significantly higher than other channels.

Raise funds through text messages by sharing donation links or redirecting them to your website’s payment gateway. Text messages often complement events, emails, or other ways to promote your fundraiser. Please ensure you have set up the context for fundraisers before soliciting donations via text blasts. Some ways to establish this trust are:

  • Identify yourself in the text broadcast
  • Identify the last touchpoint for your fundraiser
  • Share something about their last interaction with you (e.g., you attended XYZ event last week)

Maintain a dedicated shortcode of 10DLC that people identify as yours.

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GOTV – Get Out The Vote

Get out the vote reminder to increase the chances of voter turnout by 1-8%! Those are margins enough to slide the results in one way or the other. 

Send GOTV reminders to voters that are:

  • Targeted and personalized,
  • Timely,
  • Informative, and
  • Persuasive.
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Surveys and feedback

Surveys through text messages are a cost-effective way to gather thousands of responses promptly. Share links to your survey or feedback form, or engage in conversation to collect more detailed responses. 

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With this extensive list of use cases, you know the multiple instances in which you can rely on text blast services. But before you begin your text blast, we’ve listed legal requirements you might need to look at.

There are several laws and regulations governing text blasts by the TCPA (Telecom Consumer Protection Act) and the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) in the United States. 

Here are some fundamental legal considerations to remember:

Opt-in and Opt-outs:

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) mandates that all organizations obtain explicit consent before sending out text blasts. You can get permission through SMS opt-ins, website forms, written opt-ins, etc.

TCPA also mandates that an opt-out option such as “Reply STOP to stop receiving messages” should be included in your first message to your audience.

Identification requirements

When using text blast services, you need to express explicitly-

  • Your business name,
  • Contact information,
  • Sender’s name (if applicable).

According to TCPA, this is mandated to ensure the audience knows who is sending them a text message and how to contact them. 

Do Not Call (DNC) Registry 

The National Do Not Call Registry consists of contacts of those consumers who have opted out of receiving telemarketing calls. You cannot send text messages to contacts on this list and must ensure that your contact lists are scrubbed against the registry.

10DLC Registrations

10DLC (10-digit long code) is used for sending out mass text messages. If you are not using a shortcode and want to register your number for compliance quickly, you need to go for 10DLC. It ensures-

  • Higher throughput post registration.
  • Less filtering
  • You will not be marked as spam.

To learn more about what 10DLC is and how it can help your sms blast, you can also read What is A2P 10DLC? Your Complete Guide

Special considerations for political campaigns

Owing to the sensitivity and seriousness of political messages, campaigns must follow a few additional regulations, such as–

  • Disclosing who paid for the message.
  • Including a disclaimer with a particular language.

However, the campaign also receives a few exemptions from the TCPA

  • Calls to landline numbers do not require consent.
  • They do not have to scrub their list against the National Do Not Call (DNC) Registry.

Overall, anyone using text blast service should consider these legal considerations to avoid potential penalties and maintain compliance with regulations. 

What to look for in the best text blast software

The typical criteria for selecting the software is the pricing and ease of use. While these are important, you must look for a few more features to help you adopt texting to your communication mix.

These features should allow for better usability, as well as allow you to execute the best practices mentioned above.

We explore these features in detail below. We list some common features to look for in a texting tool and some advanced features you might want to consider.

Standard features in a text blast tool:

Contact management

Contact management combines processes and best practices that help you leverage your contact lists.

Some features a good texting tool would offer for contact management are-

  • Contact lists: Upload your contacts in bulk using a CSV file, Google Sheets or Excel, or your CRM system. You will also be able to create custom fields to add all the information of your choice.
  • Segmentation: Depending on several factors such as location, gender, age, income levels, interests, etc., you can bucket your contacts into segments for improved targeting. 
  • Filtering: A good texting tool will allow you to filter your contacts based on their status, call disposition, and other parameters. You will know which contacts have engaged with your campaigns and which can be further engaged.
  • Tags: Tags are labels that you can put on your contacts based on your interactions or their interests. With tags, you can easily find the right contacts when needed.

Contact management features are essential to–

  1. Organize, 
  2. Filter, and 
  3. Track your contacts.

Ability to automate responses

By setting up automatic replies for a text message broadcast, you can individually respond to every contact who texts you with the least manual effort. 

The automated text can be used for sharing more information, sending links, and collecting RSVPs without manually typing out a response.

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Text scheduling

You shouldn’t have to wait to hit send on your text blast. Let your software send it when you want by allowing you to schedule your texts.

On CallHub, you can schedule the time to send out your text blast. You can also determine the time frame (operational hours) you want your text sent.

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Text Personalization

Yes, having the contact’s name is a good start. However, personalization also means referring to the contact’s interests, past behavior, etc.

For instance, in CallHub, you can personalize content based on contacts’ interests, political affiliation, volunteering experience, purchasing habits, etc. This information can be synced from your CRM, allowing seamless data transfer.

send-text-blasts-text-personalization

Response management

Not all conversations can be automatically handled. For instance, if a contact has a query to the text you have sent, it would need a one-to-one conversation. 

Ensure the software you use can highlight the replies you receive and allow for one-to-one messaging.

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Keyword management

Keywords are texts or phrases you can add to your text messages to collect responses easily. 

For example, if you want a contact to subscribe to your newsletter, you can encourage them to use keywords such as ‘JOIN,’ ‘SUBSCRIBE,’ etc.

Opt-Out Management

CallHub makes the opt-out process simple. Your lists are kept clean by unsubscribing people who reply with QUIT, END, UNSUBSCRIBE, CANCEL, and STOP.

CallHub can detect the most common opt-out keywords and automatically remove people from your list.

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Integration with other tools

Let’s be honest: we do not use only one tool to manage all our operations completely. But, with multiple tools, there is a real possibility that you lose essential data in transition.

The best solution to this problem is opting for a texting tool that easily integrates with other tools, such as your CRM.

CallHub integrates with NationBuilder, NGP VAN, Salesforce, and Blackbaud. If your list of CRMs is not on the list, then you can also use Zapier to connect CallHub with your tool of choice.

Two-way communication

When you send text blasts, you do not want to feel like you’ve sent out communication into a void. Encouraging your audience to interact with you is a big part of any nurturing funnel.

Opt for a texting tool that enables two-way communication with your audience.

Begin your text blast campaign with CallHub today.

At CallHub, it’s been a decade of working with organizations and businesses to send text blasts. And so, we know precisely how to help you create text blast campaigns to ensure success.

If you would love features such as:

  • Two-way conversations
  • Integrations with different platforms
  • Multi-channel communications,
  • Personalization,
  • Time-zone based scheduling
  • TCPA compliance
  • DNC scrubbing, and more,

Then CallHub is the platform for you.

Ready to start sending text blasts to your contacts? Sign-up to CallHub and enjoy a free 14-day trial.

Featured Image Source: Roman Pohorecki

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