Overview

Text to win SMS contests are a fun and entertaining way to engage prospective customers. Often, people don’t want to pass up an opportunity to win something, especially when it is as easy as texting to win. SMS marketing can have an open rate as high as 98%, so it is the best channel to get your message out to a large group of people quickly . A strong incentive is one of the most crucial elements of planning a text to win contest. A campaign can often fail when there is an extremely low-value prize. Like any other contest, the incentive you choose should resonate with your target audience, and you can figure this out during your planning process.

SMS & Email Marketing

About 74% of marketers are using email, while 47% are not using SMS yet. Some marketers and consumers feel that SMS can be too invasive, which is why some marketers stay away from it and opt to use emailing services instead. Email and SMS generally work in the same way in the sense that they follow the same general steps.

  1. Build an audience
    1. For SMS you need opt-ins just like email
    2. Need to specifiy it is for SMS
    3. It must be easy for them to unsubscribe just like in email
  2. Compliance and delivery
    1. Very important to follow the rules and regulations just like for email
    2. Carriers regulation is also something to watch out for as it can stop your messages from being received
  3. Planning and workflows
    1. Generally, the planning involved is similar to email, aside from the SMS message design versus the email design

Types

SMS

Short message service is the most commonly used messaging service. With SMS, you can send a message of up to 160 characters to a device. If a message exceeds this limit, it is broken up into multiple segments of 160 characters each, depending on its length. Most carriers automatically chain these messages together to ensure they arrive in the order they are sent.

MMS

Multimedia messaging allows for images to be sent along with your text messages. Supported image types can include images, gifs, audio, video, and normally require MMS-enabled phone numbers to be sent. MMS messages are a bit more limited then SMS messaging. For example, Twilio only supports MMS messaging within the United States and Canada, however any international messages will be sent with a link to the media source.

Unlike SMS, MMS messages do not have a standard limit. While their maximum size depends on the carriers and the device receiving the message, 300 KB is often mentioned as the largest size most carriers will reliably handle.

Sending & Recieving

As mentioned previously, you can send SMS and MMS messages through different texting programs. After sending the initial message there are a couple of different routes you can take, like sending automated messages.

Automated messages can be created through:
Keywords - When a user texts a keyword to your number you can automatically generate a response (i.e. promotional code)
Scheduled Text messages - Such as appointment reminders, sales follow ups, rating or review requests beforehand
Triggers - Automatically respond to triggers (also known as sub-keywords)

Specifically, for MMS messaging, you can not only send them, but you can also receive MMS messages for your contact list. Retrieving this media is different to each texting program but an example is Twilio, it sends the “MediaUrl” parameter so you can retrieve media files easily. This way campaigns can be made to receive media from contacts as a way to enter a contest.

Vendors

Twilio seems to be at the top of the list, as it has a lot of features, includes SMS, MMS, the coverage area and the support. Some of the other vendors include good features and pricing but might not have the coverage area or lacks in features. Twilio on one hand is not a simple interface, EZ Texting and SimpleTexting are easier vendors to learn to use.

It is not a simple interface; you will need programming knowledge to create an SMS or MMS campaign

EZ Texting has a simpler and easier interface to use, with no programming knowledge required to utilize

Similar to EZ Texting and does not need much programming knowledge to create a texting campaign

Pricing

TIn Canada and the US, SMS and MMS carrier fees are small surcharges applied by mobile carriers on certain types of message traffic. Some carriers charge fees on long code SMS (messages sent from a 10-digit US/Canada number). Others only charge fees for SMS sent from a short code number. Click below to see the most up to date pricing from Twilio, EZ Texting & SimpleTexting.

WhatsApp

There are rules and restrictions on this platform about the type of use cases and business verticals that are allowed to use WhatsApp for business messaging. WhatsApp offers a versatile channel for any type of business messaging like alerts and notifications, customer support, and user verification. There are some APIs that are specifically used for WhatsApp, like Twilio’s API for WhatsApp. WhatsApp actually provides a business profile that you can create to send messages.

Like other SMS messaging, opt-in has to happen outside of WhatsApp, but once you do have it you can run your contest/sweepstakes. There are some specific programs that can deal with this, like Landbot.io that has specific WhatsApp integration.

Twillio

Landbot can run things like:

  • Share-to-Win
  • Guess the outcome
  • Product launch contest (name it)
  • "Caption-this" Game
  • Fill in the blank
  • Riddles and puzzles
  • Knowledge contest
Landbot
  • Using the Twilio API for WhatsApp you can send and receive media messages
  • You can also build a WhatsApp chatbot with the Twilio Autopilot
  • If a user cannot receive your message through WhatsApp Twilio Global SMS will ensure messages are delivered
  • There are real-time status webhooks that can check if your messages were delivered or opened by the user
  • WhatsApp is also a great platform to have people share contests and information

Allowed messaging cases:

  • Notifications
  • Customer Care
  • 2FA(two-factor authentification) or user verification

Forbidden messaging use cases:

  • Marketing/promotional messaging
  • Newsletter or subscription-type messaging
  • Content subscription

Analytics

Unlike email, it can be hard to track how your campaigns are performing once you’ve pressed send. Adding things like a link in your SMS means you can track your users somewhat through their clicks. Delivery status can also be important to keep track of how up to date your messaging list is.

When placing a link into your SMS message you want to ensure it is shortened so that you do not take up your 160-character limit. Instead of using a regular link shortener (such as bit.ly), you should be using a SMS URL shortner. The shortened links are tracked and look much sleeker in the message you send.

Delivery Status

An SMS tracker provides real-time information on when a message is queued, sent, delivered successfully, or not delivered by the carrier. It can also provide useful error information for delivery failures, such as when:

  • The receiving phone is turned off or otherwise unavailable
  • The phone number can’t receive the SMS, possibly because it is not a mobile number or is blocked
  • The content of the messages is in violation of the carrier’s rules
  • Too many messages are sent too quickly

Some services will allow you to view undelivered soft bounces, undelivered hard bounces, and opt-outs.

Conversion Tracking

You can also track SMS conversation between two specific phone numbers using HTTP cookies. An exchange is considered “opened” when the user starts the conversation or send a response back to your business. The exchange is considered “closed” when your business replies to the user. Tracking message conversions helps you measure the value of message extensions to your business and may help you refine your approach to this channel of communication.

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