Psst, we have a secret—18, actually—all about nonprofit SMS marketing. Through our 14 years and counting in the mobile marketing industry, we’ve learned the SMS ins and outs, the tricks of the MMS trade, and the unique ways to help you transform your campaign from one of many to one of a kind.
What Is SMS and MMS Text Messaging?
Before we share those secrets, let’s review some basics about SMS and MMS text message marketing.
SMS text message marketing is a relatively new form of nonprofit fundraising and marketing with significant advantages over traditional communication and promotion methods. The average open rate for email newsletters is only about 22.71%, and the average click-through rate of 2.91% is even more dismal. SMS and MMS text messages boast far more impressive numbers. For example, more than 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of being received, making it a powerful tool to add to your campaign and reach subscribers.
Technology and innovation allow for increased flexibility, efficiency, and effectiveness. You can now do (and earn) more in less time without sacrificing message quality. Text message marketing can effectively reach thousands or even millions of customers at once and is the perfect channel for marketers who share time-sensitive promotions or information. In fact, 78% of consumers say SMS is the fastest way to reach them.
18 Secrets You Didn’t Know About Nonprofit SMS Marketing
Now that we’ve covered some SMS and MMS basics, you’re ready for information that will transform your SMS marketing campaigns. Put the following secrets to use and you’ll strengthen your connection and engagement with supporters and increase your fundraising.
1. Personalization matters.
Text messaging is a very personal form of communication. Most people always have their phones with them or within arm’s reach, making it easy to contact them at all times. Personalize your messages with information you’ve collected about your subscribers by adding details such as a subscriber’s name and location.
2. No two subscribers are the same.
Segmentation further enhances personalization and increases engagement. Targeting promotions to match your subscribers’ interests ensures you’re sending the right messages to the right people.
3. Sometimes less is more.
A short, snappy text message with a strong call to action can be more effective than a lengthy message with too much information and no clear next step for the recipient. But you have to test what works with your audience to find out. Work with the Tatango Design Studio to add engaging media elements such as GIFs, videos, images, and audio files. When sending MMS messages, you can even send up to 5,000 characters of text for when you have an important message that needs context and clarification.
4. Reward long-term subscribers.
Some subscribers have been with you for a while. Send your loyal supporters an appreciation message in the form of a VIP offer or some behind-the-scenes insight exclusively for them!
5. Include questions and questionnaires.
Increase engagement while collecting valuable information about your subscribers—information you can use to further personalize your messaging in the future.
6. Send at the perfect time.
One of the benefits of text messaging is that you can send messages in real-time, before important fundraising deadlines, volunteer events, annual galas, press conferences, or other timely events. Tatango’s sophisticated timezone sending feature ensures your messages never interrupt your subscribers in the middle of the night, so you can always send at the perfect time no matter where your subscribers are located.
7. Find your ideal messaging frequency.
The sweet spot for how many messages to send per month depends on your audience. A good way to evaluate whether you’re sending too many messages is by tracking your open and click rates and your unsubscribes.
8. Tie in your fundraising with current events.
Think of current events as opportunities for free promotion. Piggyback your fundraising onto current events to target an audience already interested in a specific and timely subject.
9. Be a visual storyteller.
Text message marketing is not just text. Create interest with embedded GIFs or quality photographs. With the Tatango Design Studio, a free service available to our clients, you can work with our design experts to enhance your text messages with eye-catching media that supports your campaign’s goals.
10. Allow donors to opt-in.
Include your SMS campaign sign-up at all points of contact with supporters—your email newsletter, direct mail, your website, and anywhere else you make contact with them. Tatango recommends the double opt-in, which you can learn more about in this video:
11. Share the process.
Share how your supporters’ donations have helped your organization’s mission and cause from start to finish. People like to know their contributions have done good and that they’ve directly impacted a cause they champion.
12. Integrate SMS with your website.
Grow your SMS subscribers (and donations) quickly and easily with a simple line of code. By adding a simple line of code to your website, you can ensure that whenever someone fills out their phone number on a web form, they are synced to your SMS program. This process keeps donors in the loop for future updates and makes them more likely to donate when your cause needs help.
13. Connect to a fundraising collection tool.
If you aren’t using text message marketing to collect donations, you’re missing out. By coupling a text message platform like Tatango with a fundraising collection tool, you can fundraise easily, and supporters can donate straight from their phones!
14. Be strategic about opt-out messages.
It’s an SMS marketing best practice to include a straightforward way for subscribers to opt out if they no longer wish to receive your messages, but you don’t have to include the language in every message sent. Tell your subscribers how to opt out in the first message, then occasionally remind them in subsequent messages. They’ll remember how to do it, but you don’t need to encourage it.
15. Keep your call to action simple.
Don’t make people guess what they’re supposed to do. Short and snappy calls to action, such as “Donate,” “Volunteer,” and “Learn more,” encourage quick responses.
16. Avoid confusing abbreviations.
You might be tempted to abbreviate some words or phrases to keep your message short. But unless it’s a well-known abbreviation, you’ll confuse your subscribers. JKISATT! (Just keep it simple all the time.) See? Best to just avoid confusing or made-up abbreviations.
17. Drive subscribers to other resources.
Text messaging is a valuable tool that plays an integral part in any nonprofit marketing campaign. If you’ve shared more information on your website or Facebook page, drive your subscribers to it with a link in a text message. Once they click the link, you can track their engagement and share a more detailed message.
18. Use A/B testing.
In A/B testing, you’ll send one message to some subscribers on your list and a slightly different message to the remaining subscribers. Then you’ll monitor which message, call to action, or visual element gets the most engagement. You may discover that your audience prefers and engages more with images than with text—this is valuable insight you can use to help guide your future messaging.
The Tatango software makes A/B testing easy by sending the determined higher-performing text message to your remaining subscribers who weren’t included in the original test.
Add Tatango to Your Marketing Workflow
These 18 secrets about nonprofit SMS marketing can make a big difference in your success. To learn more about other ways Tatango can help elevate you and your SMS campaign, or if you have any questions about nonprofit SMS marketing, contact the experts at Tatango today.