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SMS Contact Management Best Practices

You've got a lot of contacts to connect with. Check out the highlights from our webinar on managing your SMS contacts.

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Your contacts are the backbone of your texting strategy. 

After all, even the best texts won’t do you much good if no one sees them. 

That’s why we hosted a webinar on why it pays to manage your SMS contacts, including an in-depth look at the strategies one branch of the YMCA uses to maximize engagement and personalization within its community.

We spoke to Brittney Dennis, the Association Director of Direct Marketing for the YMCA of Bucks and Hunterdon Counties, to get the inside scoop on how a major nonprofit interacts with the people it serves. 

In this article, we’re going to focus on why personalizing your text matters in the first place, how the YMCA engages with its members, and the SimpleTexting tools and tips you can use for the same results. 

Why Personalizing Your Texts Matters

Make no mistake, personalization in brand messaging absolutely does matter. Let’s break it down by the numbers:

  • 77% of consumers choose brands that personalized their materials.
  • 72% of consumers interact only with personalized messages.
  • 48% of people give their purchase history to receive personalized offers. 
  • 88% of US marketers saw measurable improvements from personalization.

What all these statistics add up to is that consumers not only like receiving personalized communication services, they’re actually much less likely to turn to brands who don’t provide them. 

How a Nationwide Nonprofit Manages Its Contact Network 

For the YMCA of Bucks and Hunterdon Counties, member surveys are crucial. 

The number one piece of feedback the YMCA heard from its summer camp families was that they needed updates sent directly to their phones. 

“How can we serve this population of our camp families? And then more? So how can we take what we do with our camp families? And then put that on a broader scale? How can we help our membership base?

– Brittney Dennis

That feedback started a conversation that eventually led the YMCA’s team to SimpleTexting. Now, they use SMS to communicate important updates, events, and program changes instantly. 

Custom Fields

First up in the YMCA’s contact management strategy is Custom Fields. These are simply fields of information you’ll create to collect specific pieces of data from your contacts down the line. 

The Y uses these fields for multiple purposes. For camp updates, they use custom fields geared towards the individual week of camp each family registered for, as well as the location. 

The team also created custom fields for any branch-specific alerts like facility closures and changes to the group exercise schedule. 

Screenshot of contact management tools

That way, the Y can segment which audience they’re sending updates to and when. 

Beyond simple strategy, when you’re texting a community like the one the YMCA serves, you don’t want to send overly generalized texts. If somebody is opting in, you want to make sure you cultivate a strong relationship with your contacts, which means sending them only the information they need. 

For example, if a family opts into alerts for the Y’s Doylestown location, they don’t need to receive alerts from other locations – otherwise, they may opt out of texts altogether.

Data Collection

Once you’ve created your custom fields, Data Collection is essential for getting to know your contacts and personalizing your messages. 

You can set up a Data Collection series on your keyword so that it sends to anyone who texts in that specific keyword, and you can set up specific questions based on your custom fields to collect that information.

This gives you flexibility and customization in collecting important information about your contacts, like emails and birthdays. 

Segments

Segments are the natural next step in your contact management strategy. 

Basically, segments are groups of contacts that have something in common. In the case of the YMCA, that means contacts in specific programs, classes, or locations. 

The Y uses its segments to send out important updates to the contacts that those updates apply to. 

For example, if a camp pickup location changes, the team can log into their SimpleTexting account and choose the segment of families registered for that week of camp. 

Segments to help manage SMS contacts

That allows the team in charge of sending campaigns to craft specific messages for families and members. 

For extra help getting started with segments, check out this demo:

The SMS Impact

Last summer, the YMCA launched text messaging to a broad scale through SimpleTexting. Since then, the feedback they’ve received has been, in Brittany’s words, “phenomenal.” 

According to Brittany, the parents have absolutely loved receiving texts. 

In response to a survey question on how families feel about the new communication, 86% of families agreed and strongly agreed that they received enough information. The team credits this feedback to the new texting strategy. 

Ahead of the summer camp rush, the Y has been launching text campaigns to families when camp registration opens. 

Being able to provide that information and receiving positive data and feedback from families, says Brittney, has really validated the team’s decision to move forward with texting for members and families.

How to Use SimpleTexting’s Contact Management Tools

With the YMCA’s example in mind, let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about some of the tools that you can take and use in your own contact management strategy.

We’ve gone over how important it is to personalize your texts, but it’s also necessary to keep your contacts organized within your SimpleTexting account to make that personalization easier.

Importing and Exporting

Our import processes are simple, as are our export processes.

When adding contacts, you have the option of importing a spreadsheet file (like an CSV, XLS, or XLSX). 

Importing and managing SMS contacts

Be sure to map your header row so you can easily make custom fields, then add your new contacts to an existing list or create a new one. 

You can also manually add each contact yourself. This is best if you’re only adding a few contacts at a time.

Bulk Actions

You can also manage multiple contacts or lists at once with our bulk actions. 

This means you can easily: 

  • Merge multiple contact lists into one
  • Delete one or more contacts lists 
  • Export lists into a file

With just a few clicks.

Contact management from the Lists page

Contact Details in the Inbox

We know it’s tough to keep your contacts and conversations straight if you’ve got a lot of them. That’s why we include each contact’s information in the sidebar of your one-on-one conversations in the Inbox. 

Here you can easily and quickly find details, like:

  • Contact name 
  • Phone number 
  • Contact email address 
  • Birthday
  • Custom fields that apply to the contact 
  • Which list that contact is a part of
  • Any notes you or your team members have added pertaining to that contact. 
Contact management details in the Inbox

We’ve gone over how crucial personalization is, but the part of personalizing that we didn’t mention means avoiding getting your conversations crossed. 

Obviously, nobody wants to be called by their own name or sent the wrong text, and having this information on hand makes it easy to avoid that.

The Final Word on Contact Management 

Now that you’re an expert on managing your contacts, managing your SimpleTexting account, and personalizing your messages, we can’t wait to see what you’ll create with these tools and strategies. 


Ready to get started? Try out SimpleTexting for 14 days, totally free.

Lily Norton
Lily Norton

Lily Norton is a copywriter at SimpleTexting. She is focused on helping you connect and communicate with your audience with more ease and efficiency than ever through text messaging.

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