Nicole Vaughan, Bang the Table’s Melbourne-based Engagement Manager, steps through how SMS can power your next engagement conversation.
Bang the Table’s partnership with Message Media unlocks a whole new conversation channel, enabling you to tap into and reach a new cohort of community members and keep the community informed on your consultation updates. Integrating short message service (SMS) with your EngagementHQ platform is powerful in a variety of different use cases. Did you know you don’t need to start with an established pool of mobile numbers? Read on to find out how you can use SMS to power your next engagement conversation.
Expand Your Consultation Reach
Email and direct mail have historically been the go-to-channels for engagement managers to send project updates, open feedback channels, and share outcomes with community members. However, we know that it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain traction.
SMS provides an option to engage with stakeholders who may have poor or no internet access – resulting in them often feeling isolated and excluded in consultation processes. Mail delivery timeframes may not meet the immediacy needed to align with the consultation deadlines and also rely heavily on participant involvement.
With roughly 45% of the world population owning a smartphone, SMS presents an opportunity to communicate with community members in a way that fits their daily lives. Many of us live busy on-the-go lifestyles and non-work emails or mailbox drops are often absorbed at the end of a long day. SMS is a widely accepted and critical mode of communication in daily life outside of public engagement – appointment reminders, delivery alerts, and booking confirmations alongside social and work interactions. We are also now acutely familiar with emergency and health response via SMS in recent times with governments and agencies bulk SMS in dealing with bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic.
SMS is fast, breaking through the daily clutter – with 90% of text messages read within 90 seconds of arrival and an overall open rate of 98% you are missing an effective communication channel without it. Engaging via SMS goes beyond plain text messages with short trackable links, the ability to incorporate polls, and link your audience to your EngagementHQ site for increased awareness and deeper engagement.
Getting Started With SMS In Your Organization
Rarely does an organization have each of their community members mobile numbers and consent to engage at their fingertips. Community and stakeholder engagement databases have long been established on the foundation of providing email addresses to stay up-to-date and, before that, postal addresses. So how can you engage via SMS without mobile numbers?
Message Media offers packages that include a dedicated mobile number for your organization. Akin to a generic email address such as firstname.lastname@example.org, this mobile number becomes an inbox for two-way conversations with your stakeholders over SMS. As an organization you can then leverage this SMS channel by advertising the dedicated SMS number on your website, printed materials and in public meetings.
Building an SMS Strategy
Firstly, establish if you already use SMS in other parts of your organization and what the current use cases are. Is there an opportunity to ask those who currently engage via SMS for other purposes if they’d also like to find out or stay up-to-date on projects, consultations or engagement opportunities via SMS?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your existing email database to introduce the SMS concept and allow them to opt-in to future engagement communications via SMS. Include SMS opt-in within your newsletter using EngagementHQ’s platform and add a question to surveys and forms using conditional logic to allow participants to enter their mobile number. Utilize any other regular engagement communication touchpoints to let your audience know about SMS – social media, mail drops, posters, and web all offer opportunities.
Allow new site registrants on your EngagementHQ platform to provide their mobile for engagement via SMS by adding a question into your site sign up form as seen on Your Say Maroondah. If you’re considering using SMS in the future, it is timely to start collating mobile numbers now. Alternately, if you’re seeking to use SMS in a public meeting setting you should consider asking for mobile into your meeting RSVP form.
Wherever you are requesting mobile numbers and consent to engage, it should always be made clear to participants what the purpose and value of providing a mobile number are and how you will communicate via SMS. Participants need to understand the value of staying up-to-date via SMS and you also need to follow through on this premise. It is important to highlight the use and security of data to participants in order to establish trust and consent in providing a mobile number.
Message Received: I Want to Use SMS – Where to Next?
Imagine what SMS collaboration could bring about for the future of your community and stakeholders. Develop your own strategies and utilize this channel in combination with EngagementHQ’s online engagement tools across various phases of consultation.
Whether you have an existing Message Media account or are brand new to the whole SMS world, Bang the Table’s expert team will ensure the SMS channel is a seamless addition to your engagement toolkit. Let us know about your next consultation and we can work with you to develop an SMS solution to broaden your reach. Get in touch with us to get started with SMS to enhance your next engagement.