Most people carry their cell phones or have them within arm’s reach at all times. 81 percent of American cell phone owners use their phone for texting, and Canadians sent 23 billion person-to-person texts in Q3 of 2013 — so a text message marketing campaign can make a lot of sense for your nonprofit. An SMS campaign can promote events, solicit volunteers for your organization, raise awareness of your cause, and can be a way to garner donations.

When deciding to implement an SMS marketing campaign, look at your audience demographics — younger people are most likely to respond to a text campaign and donate via mobile. There are pros and cons to using text message marketing, as there are for any type of marketing campaign, and you should assess them to see what’s best for your nonprofit. Even with the massive popularity of smartphones, SMS has not gone away: a major benefit of this type of marketing is that the open rate of text message promotions is 98 percent, compared to about a 22-percent open rate for promotional emails.


Be prepared to accept mobile payments

For effective mobile marketing, set up to receive mobile payments so that you can accept donations when your supporters are ready to give. Getting set up for mobile payment processing includes deciding which devices you want to target, and how each can be used to accept and secure payment. Your payment processing company will offer services to protect your transactions and customer data in compliance with Payment Card Industry standards.


Make sure your site is mobile friendly

Encourage your donor base to either send a text message for participation in a promotion, or provide a QR Code (in your promotional materials, at events) that, when scanned, sends them to your mobile-friendly website. This will help you build your community. The U.S. Forest Service came up with a creative text message promotion to educate the public about wildfires — it made a quiz and gave out a free mobile wallpaper for participating.


Choose a recognizable name

Once people sign up, you can reach out to donors and volunteers that have expressed an interest in getting updates. When they opt in, they won’t be too surprised to hear from you via text message — but make sure they know it’s you. Not all SMS providers will display the sender’s name, so make sure you fit your name into the message.


Timing is everything

To avoid people getting annoyed with your text message marketing, don’t send messages too early in the morning or too late at night. Likewise, you should not bombard your customers with marketing too frequently (once a week at most). There is no time of day that is “perfect for everyone,” but mid to late afternoon is often best for people with day jobs — most folks will have gotten some work done and will feel OK about checking personal messages by then.


Grab attention immediately

This part isn’t much different from any other marketing you do. Grab the reader’s attention immediately so that he/she doesn’t just delete your message. One difference, though, is that you have very little space to say what you want to say. There is no room for long introductions or narratives in a 160-character text message. Get to the point and provide a link where your audience can learn more or take action. Check out these examples from Entrepreneur magazine of good vs. bad promotional texts.


Avoid txt language

Wud u rite 2 ur donors like ths? Probably not. Even though it’s a text message, it’s still a professional communication that represents your organization. Plus, if you want people to follow a link in your message, it will look a bit untrustworthy if you use all abbreviated words.


Test over and over

You wouldn’t submit a term paper without proofreading it, right? Don’t move forward with your SMS campaign without testing it first, either. Send it to your own phone and see how it displays. Do the links work? Would it make sense to a first-time recipient? It’s best if text alert campaigns include links to a mobile website instead of a traditional desktop website, because people on their phones can’t read those pages without doing a lot of zooming in and out — and you risk losing donations. Once you have smoothed the rough edges, you will be on your way to a successful text message marketing campaign. 


Kristen Gramigna

Kristen Gramigna

Chief Marketing Officer at BluePay
Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, offering non-profit credit card processing solutions. The brings more than 15 years of experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management, and marketing to the company and also serves on its Board of Directors.
Kristen Gramigna
Kristen Gramigna

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