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6 Reasons You Should Be Using SMS Marketing

If you look around the room right now you can probably see your phone within reaching distance. That’s if you’re not holding it. Are you holding it? We thought so. 

Your phone is your wallet, camera, calculator, map, entertainment and even our vaccination passport. It connects you with friends, family, work and pretty much every transaction you make. 

It’s no wonder you can’t go anywhere without it. It’s also no surprise that the average person checks their phone roughly 110 times a day!

With such a powerful communication tool sitting in almost every Australian’s hands, you’d be silly not to consider SMS marketing as part of your overall fundraising strategy.  

The benefits of SMS

1. Simple and Seamless For Your Donor

Donors and supporters are time poor, they want to help but they don’t know how. A simple SMS with a truly mobile first donation form makes it easy to give on the go. With safe and secure ways to store credit card details (like PayPal), it’s never been easier or more secure.  

2. Easy For You

There is an incredible amount of technology out there for those who seek it. For many under-resourced busy fundraisers and marketers – you just want to know what works, and implement quickly. SMS is simple, well tested and when you use GiveEasy, we do all the technical work for you.

All you need to do is:

  1. Compose your message
  2. Decide on your send time and date
  3. Decide if you wish to send from a number OR your charity name
  4. Send us the above details as well as your contact data

We will then:

  1. Upload your customer data 
  2. Set your message, adding in any personalisation
  3. Add in the required opt out e.g. ‘Reply STOP to Opt-Out’
  4. Test
  5. Schedule your message

Then all you have to do is watch your results come in! No learning new systems or technical processes. 

3. Instant and Urgent

SMS is incredibly fast. It’s quick to set up, it delivers in record speed. Almost all text messages are delivered in 15 seconds or less and 95% of them are read within 3 minutes of being sent. Making SMS an instant way to communicate with your donors. Last minute Tax donation? Crisis appeal for Ukraine? SMS has you covered.

4. Personalisation, Personalisation, Personalisation

We’ll keep saying it. Personalisation is KEY. SMS is no exception. 

Personalisation can reduce opt-outs, increase donations as well as boost supporter loyalty and advocacy. To find out why you should be using personalisation read our article ‘How Personalisation Can Increase Donations, Supporter Loyalty and Advocacy’.

5. High Open Rates

SMS open rates sit at over 98% (taking into consideration hard bounces and wrong numbers). If you SMS someone, they WILL see it. 

More importantly they will read it. With a 125 character limit (or 300 if you want to pay for two SMS’) people are much more likely to read your text message as you are forced to keep it short and sweet. Unlike email, where you can go on and on as much as you like, for your SMS you will need to carefully consider your message – taking into account how many characters your opt out, call to action and personalisation (how long someone’s name is) will take up.

6. It’s Affordable with a High ROI

Now we didn’t say ‘cheap’, we said ‘affordable’. There is no getting around the fact that costs for SMS are higher than email. At an average of $0.09 (+GST) per sms, you likely won’t be sending your entire based 6+ sms’ at tax time like you might with email. 

In saying that, SMS is still affordable and cost effective as it’s rare not to make your money back in SMS. Rather, it’s more common to see 400% + ROI. 

If used effectively SMS can improve conversion rates, reactivate a lapsed donor (whose email is going to junk). And, above all, a well written and orchestrated SMS can provide a great brand experience and create new brand advocates. 

We don’t tout the ‘magic bullet’ effect too often, but SMS used well is an incredibly strong tool in any fundraisers toolbox. 

Want to know more about SMS Marketing and how it works with GiveEasy? 

Now you may be saying: “well that all sounds great… but what if I annoy my donors and they opt-out?”

Myth Debunked: High Opt-outs and Frustrated Donors

Opt-outs from GiveEasy SMS’ average well under 3%. With charity clients highlighting reactivation rates over six times that figure. Having said that, no one likes getting overloaded with unnecessary messages on any platform!

Here are a few recommendations to help keep opt-outs low:

1. Make sure your text is meaningful, or helpful, or both!

Just like email, sending too many ‘hard sell’ messages or SMS’ with boring content will result in annoyed donors and high opt outs. 

Make sure SMS’ are timed to support your donor. If you have a donor who always gives at tax time, a short to the point SMS and easy donation page in June will be very well received. 

And don’t forget to mix it up! If all you ever do with SMS is ask for money, donors will quickly get the hint. Like any other platform or tool, mix up your SMS with personalised video messages, thank you texts and bite sized updates showing how their donation made an impact. 

2. Don’t SMS too frequently

Even with the right content it’s important not to overdo it when it comes to how often you are texting your supporters. Too many texts from an organisation is one of the main reasons people opt out of SMS marketing.

For many, texting your donors more than once a fortnight can be heading towards being too frequent. Obviously, there are exceptions to this with giving days and leading up to fundraising events where it is relevant and meaningful to SMS several times in a day or week. 

3. Watch those timezones!

What’s worse than waking up at 2am to the sound of your phone? You look down only to find it’s not an emergency msg about a beloved family member, but a marketing message from a charity you donated to once 2yrs ago. Argh! 

Unless it’s a specific campaign or a telethon, keep your SMS’ to business hours and be sure to split your donors by postcode to allow for each states timezones or send at a time that’s respectable for most people. 

When discussing SMS, we can’t avoid the topic of the recent increased scam/ spam SMS’s that have received news headline attention all over Australia. 

SMS in the headlines: Scam SMS’ and what you can do

It’s highly likely that you have recently received at least one (or 20) scam or spam text messages. This year alone the ACCC scamwatch department has seen an 106% increase in SMS scan reports. 

Unfortunately for everyone there isn’t much users can do about it – smartphone SMS security just hasn’t advanced like email spam filters.  

For now, the scams seem mostly limited to postal services and online shopping, but no one is immune. The good news is that there are some things you can do to reduce the risk and increase trust amongst your supporters.

So what can you do as a charity?

1. Send a MMS video from the founder or key member of the organisation

Sending recognisable multimedia that not anyone could get a hold of is a great way to show you are who you say you are. A video message from the founder is not only a great way to personalise the experience and add value, but also a great way to build trust with your contacts. 

2. Use a consistent number and send multiple texts

By using the same number/name your contact will be able to see all the messages you have previously sent them. Scammy texts often come from different numbers every time, so seeing multiple messages with a consistent brand voice together helps build trust.

3. Gamify your marketing communication across all channels, linking them together with code words or elements

A fun way to build trust is to gamify the security process. Use your more trusted communication channels such as email and direct mail to “look out for a secret code word” or add a special element across all your campaign messaging. This will help your supporters determine the SMSs they receive can be trusted as well as act as an exciting game as your donors play detective. 

Final Comments

Even with the recent controversy around SMS, the momentum behind SMS marketing doesn’t seem like it will change anytime soon. Younger generations now prefer to interact with brands via their mobile device. 

61% of businesses are expected to increase their SMS marketing budgets due to the pandemic. 

With online payment details now being stored in your phone, and personalisation technology allowing forms to be pre-filled, SMS is the final piece of the puzzle in making your donation process quick and painless. Getting your message in front of your supporters instantly and driving them to make on-the-go decisions to donate.

Laws and Australian Legislation

SMS legislation is a bit of a grey area. However, the main things to note are that Australian registered charities are exempt from the SPAM act and it’s possible to send an SMS without an express opt-in. 

In saying that, it’s still best practice to follow the SPAM act as much as possible. This means adding an opt-out option as well as a sender name. This makes it easier for donors to identify you as the sender as well as have the option to stop receiving texts if they would prefer to not have this form of communication. 

In the end, what’s most important is that you listen to your donors, and follow their wishes.

For further information and advice, we recommend the following authorities:

https://www.acma.gov.au/avoid-sending-spam

https://fia.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/SMS-Practice-Note.pdf 

At the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre we have seen a trend towards online giving, particularly via email and increasingly SMS. Donors want a quick and easy way to make a donation and sending an SMS that clicks through to a pre-populated donation form has delivered great results for us both during our Telethon and EOFY appeals.

This channel now forms an integral part of our overall digital strategy and we continue to test copy and our dollar asks to ensure its continued success.”

Amanda Schofield   |   Individual Giving Manager

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

Want to know more about SMS Marketing and how it works with GiveEasy? 

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