Texting Gone Wrong: How Not to Send Text Messages

Kevin D. Hendricks
Texting Gone Wrong: How Not to Send Text Messages

It’s great to see organizations embrace text messaging—but that doesn’t always mean they’re doing it right. Sometimes your text message marketing can go very wrong, and that’s not a look you want for your nonprofit.

At Rally, we want to help you get mobile marketing right. Check out these ways not to do short message service (SMS) text messaging, and then book a demo to learn how we can help you do SMS marketing right.

2 Ways Not to Do Text Messaging

Here are two different ways SMS text messaging just isn’t working the way it should:

1. Useless Texts

Text messages are supposed to be helpful. But sometimes the text messaging service is so cumbersome that the texts are less than helpful.

Perhaps the worst example of a useless text is one a school district sends out whenever they have new information to share with families. Unfortunately, the text itself is void of info, and instead tells families to check their email. That’s barely better than an interrupting voice call.

Screenshot of a text message asking you to check your email.

A slightly better approach, but still not great, is a bank’s low account balance notification. Getting a notice from your bank about a low account balance is super helpful. You want to avoid those overdraft fees, plus being out of money is bad and you want to know about that.

But that alert should be helpful. This one was less than helpful:

Screenshot of a text message where all they sent is an attachment.

The vague “attachment.html” has all the hallmarks of a scammer. The recognizable URL was the only saving grace. 

Even worse, that actual HTML file wasn’t much better:

Screenshot of the actual attachment text with no design and just plain text.

How to do better: Put actual information in the text message. We get it, sometimes the technology tool you’re using doesn’t give you a lot of options. But there has to be a better approach to improve the customer experience. Put something useful in the text message. At the very least, tell families what the update is about so they can understand the urgency or if it even applies to them. Better yet, send families a link to the actual update so they don’t have to go hunting for it. The bank has that link in the form of an attachment, which is pretty clunky, but even a generic “low balance” message that has more details in the attachment would be a big step up.

2. Not a Valid Reply

Text messaging is personal and it should be conversational. So when James received an interesting message he just didn’t have time for, he responded personally with, “Not interested, but thank you.”

Unfortunately, the texting service was automated and didn’t recognize that response. So they just sent the same message again. Oops. James had to use the recognized-by-law keyword STOP to get the correct action.

Animate GIF showing a clunky text reply.

Another example wanted people to take a survey. But a lot of people want to know what they’re getting into before they take a survey (or click on a link for that matter). But in this case, asking “Who is this?” prompted a “The keyword you specified was not recognized” follow up. And then they sent the original message again. Not a great way to get a response.

Screenshot of a text message exchange where the response isn't recognized.

How to do better: Texting is conversational, so you need to be able to respond to people. Not all text messaging platforms allow peer-to-peer texting (some stick to mass texting), but Rally does. We help with two-way texting on two fronts:

  1. You get an email and/or text alert of any and all replies so you can reach out personally (the way it should be).
  2. Our system analyzes what people intended so you can better respond. In the future, that can even be automated so instead of what happened above, you could send instructions on how to unsubscribe or more info about who is sending the survey.

Be Helpful

Texting is supposed to make life easier. Simply put, it should be helpful. You went to all the effort to get cell phone numbers on your contact list, imported them to your CRM, and even used segmentation—only to be foiled by poor functionality.

So make sure your texts are helpful by actually including useful information and then properly responding to people. It’s a conversational medium, so use it that way. If your texting platform doesn’t allow for those kind of conversations and only does bulk texts, you need a new messaging platform.

Here to Help

At Rally, we can help you do texting right so your supporters feel like you’re being helpful.

  • We can help you set up a marketing campaign with short codes, pre-written templates, and real-time replies.
  • Our text messaging platform allows for multimedia, whether you want emojis, GIFs, video, or more.
  • We’ve got FAQs, workflows, and social media follower conversion.
  • If you want to talk pricing, we can even get on a phone call to answer questions.

People have ditched landlines and embraced mobile, whether that’s Apple or Android, messaging apps like WhatsApp and iMessage, location services, or other mobile apps. Your nonprofit organization needs to embrace text messaging, but make sure you hit the mark.

Book a demo now so you can see Rally’s SMS service in action.

Book a demo