Mass Text Messaging for Municipalities
What's the best way to get an important message to a large group of people in a matter of seconds? Mass text messaging. When controlling community based communication, spread a quick alert with one simple SMS.
In the past, most municipalities and government based institutions relied on direct mailers for the majority of their communication. Some have used "robocalls" which people never answer. But times have changed, and this shift calls for a new communication solution. That's where mass text messaging comes into play. It presents itself as the perfect solution for modern day alerts and notifications.
How Mass Texting Works for Municipalities
Every text messaging program starts with a simple keyword. Community members can opt in on their own terms by texting this word to a short code like 31996 or 69922.
For example, let's say you control all customer communication for the Fredericksburg water plant. You want to send out important bill pay reminders and seasonal usage updates. You might reserve the keyword FREDWATER, and allow customers to text this keyword into a shortcode for these regular SMS updates.
The Auto Reply
Your auto reply simply confirms the opt in. It lets subscribers know they've joined the right list, and how many messages to expect per month. It's an automated text that is sent to the subscriber immediately after they opt in.
When using mass text messaging for your community based communications, choose your messages wisely. Because you're more than likely to have a large, diverse list, make sure messages apply to most, if not all community members involved. Some great examples that fit the bill are emergency alerts, leaf pickup reminders, and community event invites; just to name a few.
The Fredericksburg utilities plant serves over 10,000 residents. Beyond bill pay, they're looking for an easy and effective way to spread usage tips. If just 30% of their residents can cut their electric activity on high usage days, this would reduce everyones monthly bill by at least 10%.
Mark, their Director of Communications, has tirelessly tried to keep customers in the know, but unfortunately, his messages are usually a day late and a dollar short. Sure, you can print up usage reminders at the bottom of each paper bill, but some people have opted for paperless billing. Beyond that, this bill only comes out once a month, and the chance of a customer glancing at that note, while simultaneously remembering to execute these usage tips weeks later is highly unlikely.
Here's where mass texting comes in. Pending the customer actually opt ins, Mark can fire out a message on high usage days, explaining the importance of lowering activity during peak hours.
He can't quite fit every single detailed tip into a text message, so to make the most efficient use of this alert, Mark links to a blog post on their site that runs through easy to follow tips. Something as simple as running a small load of laundry at 8PM instead of 5PM makes a huge difference.
How Mass Text Messaging Streamlines Communication
We've run through the what, now let's talk about the how and why. We're not saying nix email reminders and direct mail communication all together. We simply want you to add SMS to the mix. It helps you unify your global message and pushes your announcement to every set of qualified eyes. From local election updates to utility reminders, text messaging encompasses a variety of community based communication.
Why Choose Text?
Out of all other communication solutions, what makes texting perfect for communication?
- Mass texting is a widespread communication medium.
- Over 90% of all SMS messages are opened within the first five minutes.
- The average American looks at their phone 150+ times a day.
- It's affordable. At just pennies per message, it's cost effective.
What does this all mean? This is the best way to keep residents abreast of important and sometimes urgent community information.
How to Get Started
1. Choose a Unique Keyword
Should your keyword be unique to you? Yes, absolutely. But, should this keyword be complicated, hard to spell, and borderline unidentifiable? Absolutely not.
For example, Mark, the head of communications at the Fredericksburg water plant, might reserve the keyword FREDWATER. Easy to remember, but also not overcomplicated. On the flip side, something like FREDERICKSBURGWATER might be a bit much. This makes joining the list unappealing to customers. You want to make the opt in process as easy as possible.
2. Compose Your Auto Reply
Your auto reply serves one simple task; and that's to confirm the list subscription. This lets subscribers know how many messages to expect per month, and offers a link to important terms and conditions.
Here's an example.
You've opted in to usage alerts and reminders! We'll only message you when there's an emergency or an opportunity for you to save money, so thanks for staying engaged.
3. Promote the Text to Join Info
You can put together an awesome texting plan, but if no one knows about your new program, you're missing out on a huge opportunity.
- Include opt in details at the bottom of a paper bill.
- Share text to join info in your monthly email newsletter.
- Post flyers in municipal locations.
4. Regularly Send Updates
You never want to fire out alerts for the heck of it, but make sure you're regularly providing your community members with timely, applicable information. Every text should provide value. In some cases, when you're using text messaging for reminders, you can even automate the process by scheduling recurring text messages on specific days of the week or month. This allows you to be hands off in certain scenarios while still delivering that value.
Sample Text Alerts
For municipalities, this is one of the most important functions mass texting serves. If you can cut usage, you lower your cost as a organization, as well as reduce monthly charges.
Today is a high usage day! To reduce your next bill by up to 30%, please avoid activity during the hours of 5 and 8PM.
From a community perspective, you want residents to be involved in local elections. The more involvement, the more progress you can make.
Voting for the East Ward takes place tonight at the 6th St. Fire Hall from 5-9PM.
Testimonials from Customers
We knew texting was the way to go, but picking a provider was definitely overwhelming. We wanted to work with a team who didn't mind walking us through the basics. SlickText was definitely the most supportive!
Helpful Mass Texting Resources
Browse these helpful mass text messaging resources, and get to know the ins and outs of SMS.
What makes mass texting the go to option for municipalities? The open rate combined with the immediacy of this medium makes it nearly impossible to fail.
Keep your texts simple, all while making sure high priority alerts are received by all residents who participate.
P.S. Not ready to sign up? Give us a call at 1.800.688.6290 or shoot us an email. We'll walk you through the entire process, and give you personalized recommendations.