What is a mass text?

Learn about bulk texting (also known as mass texting) and how it can be used in both the right and wrong ways for customer communication.

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Mass text messaging

Bulk texting and mass texting are terms used interchangeably to describe a service that businesses use to send a single text to a large group of people. Bulk texting can be used for announcements, reminders, discount offers and more. It’s a widely used tool because companies can deliver messages to up to thousands of people at once or over time, saving employees from manually sending messages to individual recipients.

But why are companies today texting in the first place? Companies use texting to reach their customers because it’s a much more effective tool than phone calls or emails for consumer engagement. Nearly 98% of texts are read, usually in as little as 90 seconds. In comparison, emails only have a 20% open rate and phone calls are ignored more every day thanks to the ever-growing influx of robocalls. The power of texting’s visibility is clear, so when you amplify the medium with mass texting, a company can exponentially expand its reach in a matter of seconds.

High-volume texting can be an effective tool for businesses, but it may not always be the best option to reach customers. As we explain below, mass text messages can often be perceived as spam by the recipient, which can put your business at risk with compliance laws. However, there are business-texting tools that can be adopted to minimize legal risk.

Rethinking mass texting for business: Short codes vs. 10-digit numbers

Businesses usually send bulk messages through a short code, a five or six-digit number used only for texting instead of the business’ 10-digit phone number. Using short codes and 10-digit numbers each come with their own set of pros and cons.  

Short codes. Short codes are leased through the CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association) and can be expensive to use. As mentioned above, a major upside to short codes is that they offer high throughput, which easily allow businesses to communicate at a large volume with their audience. Short codes are a great option for businesses that need a basic alert for marketing purposes, such as sending customers a link to your web page, or automated notifications for instances like delivery confirmations. When businesses just need to get a message out, short codes are the way to go.  

However, a downside to bulk text messaging with a short code number is that the recipient can’t reply to the text. If keywords are being used, such as “Text SAVE20 to 577-65,” the recipient’s texting options are limited to only that keyword, so if they have a question or need help, they’ll have to call the business or email. This exchange is considered one-way texting and it’s not recommended as best practice by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which regulates unwanted calls and text messages. Businesses that have their messages flagged as spam can get their short code shut down. This is not only frustrating to the business, but it interrupts the user experience.  

10-digit numbers. Instead, the TCPA recommends enabling conversational messaging, also known as two-way texting, when communicating with consumers. This can be done by text-enabling a business’ 10-digit phone number, such as a landline number or toll-free number. 

Conversational text messaging with a 10-digit number allows the recipient to engage in a back-and-forth conversation with the sender. The exchange is more natural (with personalization and human language) and less likely to be seen as an unwanted message by the consumer. Take the bulk texting examples below.  

Business text example

On the left, we see common language used in traditional bulk texting with short code numbers. The text isn’t personalized, looks like it was sent to a large list of people and the recipient may dismiss it as spam because the language looks automated.  

On the right, you’ll see a message from the same business sent with their 10-digit phone number. The message is personalized and uses natural language, signaling to the recipient that the message probably isn’t spam and is coming from a real person. This also indicates to the recipient that they can reply to the message and have a conversation with the sender.  

Take a peek at this detailed blog post for more information on the pros and cons of bulk texting with a short code or a 10-digit number.

The advantage of group messaging

Group messaging is an alternative to bulk text messaging that can keep your texts from looking like spam and being dismissed by your customers. Group messaging allows businesses to send texts to a smaller amount of people at a time to prevent messages from being flagged, helping you avoid compliance issues. But group texting is only as powerful as the texting-for-business tool used to send them.

How Zipwhip takes Group Messages to the next level

Zipwhip helps improve compliance for businesses by enabling two-way texting with smaller groups, compared to the potential thousands of recipients who can receive a bulk text message from a short code. Instead of mass texting, Zipwhip lets you send unlimited messages to up to 50 contacts at a time. More importantly, recipients have the option to reply to the text if they need help.  

Being able to reply to a text is preferred by consumers and not having that option can irritate them – in a Zipwhip study, three out of four participants said they feel frustrated when they can’t reply to a company’s text message. While businesses may have the right idea with improving their customer communication via short code texting, sending texts through a 10-digit number is the better option.  

With Zipwhip, you can send a blind carbon copy (BCC) to a designated group at the same time. Using our Dynamic Fields feature, it’s easy to personalize each message with information such as the contact’s first name. Recipients of the message can’t see or reply to others in the group message. When a recipient replies to your message, the conversation is automatically moved to an individual conversation. There are many applications for group messaging, but among a few examples, it’s perfect for sending:  

  • Alerts to customers or internally to team membersWhen a disaster occurs, it’s critical to keep staff and customers abreast of what’s going on. Group texting allows your business to answer questions and send updates instantly so that customers and your teams feel safe and stay in the know. 
  • Promotions to increase engagement. Text customers mobile coupons to redeem online or in store. This is a great option to drive traffic to your website or increase foot traffic to your brick and mortar store.  
  • Appointments and meeting reminders. Texting works wonderfully for appointments and reminders. In fact, a Zipwhip survey reveals that 67% of consumers would prefer that businesses text them about appointment reminders or scheduling instead of receiving a call or email.  
  • Notifications such as shipping or delivery confirmations. Our inboxes are so stuffed with promotions, spam, newsletters, etc., that it’s difficult to stand out. Instead of sending shipping or delivery confirmations via email, text your customers so they stay on top of the shipping process every step of the way.  
  • Follow ups to prospects during the sales cycle. Stay organized and keep in touch with prospects without experiencing more dreaded ignored phone calls. After you’ve received permission to text a prospect, it’s easy to add them to a group message. You can reach out to multiple prospects at a time to keep them engaged throughout the sales cycle.   

Additionally, Zipwhip software helps keep your business compliant by keeping track of customer opt-out requests. When a customer replies “STOP” to a group message, the Zipwhip user is blocked from contacting the customer until the customer texts back the word “UNSTOP” to receive messages again. This automated feature is indispensable for mass texting because it can be difficult (and unrealistic) for employees to manually keep track of whom they can and can’t text.  

Want peace of mind for your business when texting large groups? Sign up for a free trial of Zipwhip, and start texting customers today with two-way texting.  

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