Blog/Best Practices

Tips For Sending SMS Alerts and Text Message Announcements

From emergency notices to can't miss messages, text alerts are a great way to send updates your audience will actually read.

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If you’ve found yourself on this blog then you probably already know that text messages are a highly effective way to reach your audience with important updates.

They’re quick, efficient, and straight to the point.

You may not know that SMS messages also excellent tools for two-way communication, automation, and data tracking.

Whether you need to send out an emergency text alert that delivers in seconds, or you’re looking for something a little more long-term to share important information. There are some best practices that apply to all text message announcements, no matter the need.

And the best part? It’s easy as 🥧 to set up. See for yourself!

11 Best Practices For Sending Text Message Announcements

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1. Keep It Short

Text messages are brief by nature. Even with MMS, which gives you 1600 characters, people don’t want to read lengthy updates on their phones. When you send a text message announcement, the best thing you can do is focus on the action you want the reader to take and let that be the core of your message. Any additional details can always be shared later, or included via a link to a document or web page.

For example, if you want to send out a school closure text announcement, you would want it to look a little like this:

Today 2:00 PM
Due to the COVID-19 virus, all CMS schools will be closed effective 3/10 – 3/31. For more info on what this means for you & your child please visit our website

2. Shorten URLs

While we’re on the topic of keeping things short, the URL in the text above is an example of a shortened link. Instead of including a full link, which comes off a little clunky, you can utilize a URL shortener to put your link into a tiny, neat package.

In addition to saving you character space, shortened URLs can also be used to track click behavior. In the case above, maybe you want to make sure everyone reads the text announcement. You could actually schedule a follow-up message to send to a new, segmented audience of people who did not click on the link and remind them to check the update.

3. Have an Intro

Similar to only texting out the most important information, you want your readers to know who is texting them, just from a glance. Even if you’ve sent out announcements before, it’s best practice to start your messages with a brief “intro” that shares who you are. It can be just as simple as [Company name][“Alert”].

Today 8:33 AM
Duke Energy Alert: Outages have been reported in your area. Is your power off? Please reply Y or N

4. Upload Emergency Contacts

With text marketing there are two kinds of messages: informational and promotional. You can also think of them as non-marketing and marketing. If the text announcement you need to send out is an emergency and informational, you may not need to secure express written consent. Meaning, if you have phone numbers for your audience you can text them without their verbal or written permission.

In the example above, you may have all parents’ cellphone numbers at the school, but they haven’t given you express permission to send them text messages. In the case of an emergency situation like the message above, you are allowed to upload your contacts and text them the information regardless.

💡SimpleTexting Tip: Please note that this advice is for informational purposes only and is neither intended as nor should be substituted for consultation with appropriate legal counsel and/or your organization’s regulatory compliance team.

5. Utilize Keywords

Another excellent way to get your audience subscribed to receive your text announcements is through the use of keywords. These should be short, easy to remember words or phrases that can be texted in to your number in order to join your contact list. For a text message announcement program, you’ll want a keyword that clearly indicates the purpose of your messages. To continue with our original example, the keyword CLOSINGS would be perfect for a school announcement system.

Today 2:15 PM
Thank you for subscribing to the CMS Emergency Alert notification system. Reply STOP to unsubscribe or HELP for help. 2 msgs per month, Msg&Data rates may apply.

6. Schedule Ahead

While some announcements may come at a moment’s notice, things like reminders can be easily scheduled ahead of time. The ability to schedule text announcements can save you time and help reduce the margin of error when you’re busier than usual.

For example, if you’re a therapist managing your clients during a time of crisis, you may let some communications fall through the cracks. Or, you could mindfully schedule follow-up messages to send a few hours or days after your scheduled sessions to ensure your patients feel supported without sacrificing your own sanity with mental gymnastics.

Today 12:00 PM
Hello Marissa, it’s Dr. Green. I wanted to follow up after our session yesterday. I know this is a scary time for us all, so please let me know if you need anything.

7. Utilize Templates

Another great time and sanity-saving tool is templates. After sending a text announcement you may be met with a flurry of follow-up messages asking a lot of the same questions. Write out your response once and save it as a template so you can reply in one single click.

In the example above, the reminder text could be a template complete with a custom field that automatically fills in the patient’s name!

8. Turn On Push Notifications

If you do plan to exchange messages with your subscribers, you’ll want to ensure you’re notified when they send a message. It’s a simple best practice to turn on push notifications so you won’t miss a message!

9. Keep Audiences Organized

If your text announcement relates to an emergency you may feel chaotic and rushed. That’s why it’s important to keep your subscribers (aka your contact list) well organized. This way, nobody falls through the cracks. We suggest setting up multiple keywords for all your different announcements so you can make sure the right information goes to the right people.

10. Keep Your HELP Option Up To Date

As you saw in one of the example messages above, when someone subscribes to your announcements they receive a confirmation message that reads something like: “Reply STOP to unsubscribe or HELP for help. 4 msgs per month, Msg&Data rates may apply.”

This confirmation is legally required, but it’s also a great way to help direct your audience to the right resources. You fill in the number that a user is directed to call when they respond to an alert with the word HELP. The message will read “Need help? Call ___. Msg&data rates may apply. No more than ___ msg/month. Reply STOP to cancel.”

It’s important to keep this auto-message updated with the most accurate and relevant contact number. The last thing you want is someone responding with HELP, receiving a helpline phone number, and that phone number resulting in a dead-end.

Today 6:46 PM
Thank you for reaching out to crisis assistance ministry. If this is an emergency, please call 911. For non-emergency assistance, please call 1-800-111-1111. You can also email [email protected].

11. Give Updates In Real-Time

In the midst of a crisis or developing situation, getting information into people’s hands as quickly as it becomes available can be essential. Unlike email or social media, text messages are often read by recipients within minutes. And they don’t require any sign-in or internet connection to receive.

Our final tip is not to shy away from sharing shorter, more frequent announcements with your audience. They’ll appreciate the real-time updates and it gives you the chance to control a developing narrative in a way that keeps everyone as safe and organized as possible.

Want to put these tips into action? You can try SimpleTexting for free and access each of these features on your test run.

We’re here for you seven days a week to ensure your most important communications are delivered when and how they need to be.

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