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How to Power Up Your Marketing With Member Text Messages: 5 Examples

Author: Sonia Urlando
July 26, 2023
🕑 9 min read

When it comes to connecting with your organization’s members, communication is everything. Email campaigns and paper mail are tried and true ways to reach out—but have you considered sending member text messages?

While a good open rate for emails is between 17-28%, the open rate for text messages is 99%. When you send text messages to members, it’s a near guarantee that you’ll get their eyes on it!

Being in close communication with members can help nonprofits, clubs, associations and other membership organizations:

  • Fundraise more effectively
  • Notify members of upcoming events
  • Put out a call for volunteers
  • Send renewal reminders
  • And more!

Here’s the when, why and how of member text message marketing, plus 5 examples of successful campaigns!

Benefits of Communicating With Members by Text

When it comes to connecting with members, all communication is good communication. But there are some special benefits that come from sending member text messages!

Text message marketing enables you to:

  • Reach members where they are. Did you know that people who receive texts read approximately 97% of messages within 15 minutes? Instead of waiting for people to open emails, check their mail or log onto a specific social media platform, your nonprofit can wave hello from right in members’ pockets!
  • Boost member engagement. No matter the campaign, every marketer has spent time scratching their head about how to boost engagement. Given that consumers are 134% more likely to respond to a text than an email, member text messaging is really a no-brainer.
  • Keep messages to the point. It’s easy to ramble on about the exciting things your organization has planned, but a clear and concise message goes a long way. The length limitations of text marketing are a great way to level up when it comes to getting to the point!

When you send text messages to members, you reach them in the same place where messages from loved ones arrive! Keep your texts brief, warm and personal, and you’re on your way to a great campaign.

Click through to claim your 60-day trial of WildApricot to create effective QR codes that will speed up event check-in.

When Should You Send Members a Text Message?

There are all sorts of opportunities to send member text messages! Here are 8 examples to get you inspired and excited.

1. Once they’ve opted in

When prospective members fill out your member application form, include an option to opt in to text messages from your organization.

According to American and Canadian laws, all text recipients must give their informed consent before receiving text messages from businesses. Part of that includes having a visible option to unsubscribe. It might stink to lose subscribers, but sending unwanted text messages is a quick way to lose members all together!

If you’ve got member management software with SMS, that first text message can be easily automated. We highly recommend going that route—sending out individual texts would take a whole lot of time and resources.

2. As part of the welcome package

Welcoming new members is how you establish a strong foundation with every new member of your organization.

Welcome packages can include components like:

  • Welcome emails or letters
  • Informational packets (paper or pdf)
  • A review of member benefits
  • Videos from the team
  • Introductions to mentors
  • New member spotlights

Each individual component gives you members a unique way to engage with your organization. Member text messages are one more friendly hello to add to the bunch!

3. As a marketing tool

Member text messages should absolutely be included in your nonprofit marketing plan. A huge part of successful marketing is utilizing a wide variety of channels. Multichannel marketing increases your visibility, and helps you reach a wider variety of audience segments.

Send a text message to members when you’re marketing:

  • Events
  • New programs
  • Fundraising campaigns
  • End-of-year giving

Even better, include a text-to-give option for your fundraising! This form of member text marketing makes your CTAs simple to engage with, and gives you immediate results.

4. To boost engagement

Engagement is step three of the member journey, and is crucial for long-term retention.

The personal nature of text messages encourages engagement with:

  • Invites to and reminders of upcoming events
  • Quick “how are we doing” messages
  • Polls on member opinions
  • Links to relevant information
  • Calls for volunteers

Engagement opportunities keep your organization at the front of members’ minds, and reminds them of the value of being a part of your organization.

5. When they’ve lapsed

Lapses happen! According to ASAE, 13% of association members lapse because they simply forgot to renew. Remember what we just said about engagement? Sending a member text is a quick way to invite members to reconnect with your organization.

However, forgetfulness isn’t the only factor in lapsing. Sometimes people feel like membership isn’t valuable, or that participating is a bit too costly. Member text messages are an opportunity to gather feedback on what happened, make changes and invite people to come back.

6. During renewal & dues payment time

Lapses can be avoided altogether by sending out messages leading up to your renewal period! If your dues are collected on a monthly rather than annual basis, we recommend automating that process to avoid lapses, but you can always send out regular texts if you’d prefer.

As you send out dues reminders, be sure to include other member text messages regarding events, programs and other valuable benefits. Don’t just ask people to renew—remind them why they want to!

7. When you have a special offer

Send out member text messages for special offers like:

  • Partner discounts
  • Referral programs
  • Exclusive events
  • Giveaways and prizes

Nonprofit marketing can be extra fun when it comes to special, limited-time offers! Use this opportunity to get extra creative with your text marketing—you might find some new strategies end up sticking for your more regular campaigns.

8. If this is a platform they use often

Considering that 81% of Americans use text messaging, it’s worth seeing what percentage of your membership base are opening and engaging with your text messages. Analytics are your friends here, and tracking member data can give you an idea of what your reach looks like with text marketing.

If you find that a certain segment of your members is more responsive to text message marketing, create a campaign just for them! The more personalized your messages are, the better.

6 Tips for Writing Great Member Text Messages

Like any other marketing channel, text messages have an art to them!

Here are 6 tips for writing a great member text:

  1. Keep it brief. SMS messages only go up to 160 characters, so your member text should go no longer than that! A solid at-a-glance message is more likely to get a positive response than one that takes a long time to read.
  2. Start with a hook. Give your members a reason to get excited about the message they’re receiving. Opening with a power word in the first ten words is a fast way to capture your reader’s attention.
  3. Have a clear call to action. Every member text you send should come with a goal. For example, if you’re sending a message about an upcoming event, finish your text with a call to “register now”.
  4. Include links. An included link makes it simple for members to respond to the call to action! The more steps you reduce, the more likely you are to see solid conversion. Remember to shorten your links with a tool like bitly so you don’t burn your character counts on links
  5. Make your web pages mobile friendly. If your members click through to your website and it isn’t mobile friendly, your text marketing won’t have gotten far! 61% of website visitors won’t return to a website that isn’t mobile friendly, so be sure to get that set before you kick off sending member text messages.
  6. Personalize and segment your communications when possible. As we already mentioned, text messages have the most personal feel of all marketing channels. Gather member data from your member directory to get an idea of what your segments look like, and send messages that respond to their interests and pain points.

5 Examples of Successful Text Message Campaigns 

Looking for some insight into what successful member text message campaigns look like?

Here are 5 examples of text marketing campaigns from universities, nonprofit organizations and more:

Humane Society

The Humane Society of the United States is one of the nation’s largest and most effective animal protection organizations. In 2022, they helped pass state laws that have protected 17 endangered species, rescued 300+ dogs from dogfighting groups and distributed 23 million dollars of pet food and supplies.

Their More Than a Pet campaign aims to support people and pets who do not have access to veterinary care and pet essentials. The goal of this campaign is to raise awareness and provide solutions to keep pets happy, healthy and in their loving homes

People can opt into text messages that include:

  • Information and resources
  • Calls to share photos of pets
  • Links to sign petitions

What we like:

  • Opt-in at the bottom of the page, with visible unsubscribe option
  • Visible partners and calls for partnership
  • Photo and video components to inspire donors

The American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is a nonprofit humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief and disaster preparedness education in the United States.

In 2010, its SMS-appeal for disaster relief following the major earthquake in Haiti set the precedent for what a nonprofit text campaign could look like. In 24 hours, it raised almost 1 million dollars by having people text the keyword HAITI to the short code 90999 in order to donate $10.

What we like:

  • Clear instructions and directions on each message
  • Option to get relief updates in future texts
  • Updates years later on the campaign

Hamilton Wentworth School Board

The Hamilton Wentworth School Board has set up a text messaging service through SchoolMessenger that simplifies communication within the community.

Designed for students, parents and teachers, this service sends text messages about:

  • Events
  • School closings
  • Safety alerts

What we like:

  • Simple QR code for opt-in
  • Compliance with Student Privacy Pledge
  • Options for US and Canada-based numbers
  • Terms and conditions, as well as opt-out instructions, clearly visible

Museum of Modern Art

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a modern and contemporary art museum located in San Francisco, California. A nonprofit organization, SFMOMA holds an internationally recognized collection of modern and contemporary art, and was the first museum on the West Coast devoted solely to 20th-century art.

The museum’s “Text Me Any Masterpiece” campaign is a stroke of genius. When members text something like “send me dogs” a bot searches the museum’s digitized collection of almost 35,000 works for a masterpiece related to the topic.

According to creative technologist Jay Mollica, “Send Me SFMOMA was conceived as a way to bring transparency to the collection while engendering further exploration and discussion among users. Send Me SFMOMA is an SMS service that provides an approachable, personal and creative method of sharing the breadth of SFMOMA’s collection with the public.”

This member text campaign inspired thousands of people to learn more about art in a modern and exciting way!

What we like:

  • Automated work done by a bot
  • Allows access to thousands of undisplayed paintings
  • Personalized for each user
  • Free

Kent State University

Kent State University’s “Alumni Alerts” text message program sends messages to students and alumni about the goings-on of the university. Members can subscribe either by texting ALUMNI or a special event keyword to 33733.

This member text message program sends alerts for:

  • Event notices
  • Kent State trivia facts
  • Contest notifications

The event keyword is an idea we love—it’s a relevant and well-branded way to motivate members to sign up for SMS messages!

What we like:

  • Visible terms and conditions
  • Opt-out instructions clearly visible
  • Supported carriers are named
  • Simplified privacy policy

Sending Member Texts Through Your Membership Management Software

We’ve briefly mentioned the power of member management software (MMS) with SMS a few times, and you might be wondering just how valuable it actually is.

To be frank: MMS solves your SMS problems before they have a chance to start!

WildApricot is a membership management system that has helped thousands of nonprofits manage contacts, process payments, send out emails, register event attendees, create custom websites and more. But did you know we also have software for member text messages? 

WildApricot’s text messaging can enhance the visibility and accessibility of the messages in your nonprofit membership program. Create a text campaign calendar and start leveraging the power of direct communication to increase engagement and retention.

With our software, you can send links to:

  • Registration forms you’ve built with WildApricot
  • Your custom member benefits page
  • Special member surveys
  • Embedded thank you videos for members, donors and volunteers
  • And more!

Better yet, you can seamlessly gather member data from your database to compile a list of your member text recipients. Here’s a step-by-step guide to setting up member text messaging with WildApricot.

Want to see our text message software in action? Sign up for our 60-day free trial today!

Mastering Member Text Marketing

We hope this has been a valuable look at the power of member text messages. There’s really no limit to your creativity when it comes to working with this marketing channel—so take those 160 characters, and have fun with it! Your members will be excited to see your organization’s name pop up on their phones.

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