If there’s one thing this pandemic is teaching us, it’s the importance of getting the word out in the middle of an emergency.
The right time and resources to communicate an important message could potentially save someone’s life. But at the same time, it’s important to think – is the communication channel readily available to everyone and cost effective enough for the sender?
That’s what makes emergency text messages the perfect solution.
Platforms like ExpressText allow you to set up an account and upload your contact list to it so that you can send out a text message to hundreds and thousands of people all at once.
Why text messaging over other mediums?
In a world where we have all sorts of free, online platforms like WhatsApp and Messenger, you might think – why text messages?
There are a few basic reasons for this. One, every phone manufactured anywhere in the world supports SMS. It’s in-built into every software which gives it an edge over all other platforms.
Someone who may not own a smartphone (rare, but still happens!) may not not have access to online messaging platforms but SMS is a given.
Secondly, the cost of sending out a text is minimal, if any. You’d be charged a maximum of 10 cents per text but SMS platforms allow you to send texts in bulk at a much lower fee.
Usually, the bigger package you opt for, the lesser cost per text. That’s another reason why businesses, freelancers and other organisations opt for SMS.
Another important factor is speed. Text messages take seconds to deliver.
Think WhatsApp is faster?
Take into account internet connectivity. If someone is out and about without 4G/5G, they won’t receive the message until they get home or to a place with active internet connection.
Similarly, if you switch to maximum power saving mode on Android phones, your internet connectivity automatically shuts off to save power and the only apps you can access are SMS and phone.
Last but not least, SMS is a mode of communication that everyone is comfortable with.
The fact that it is a consumer’s choice is backed by research and the best part is that this involves all individuals.
WhatsApp and Instagram are popular among millennials, Facebook is the go-to communication channel for Generation Y but SMS is for everybody.
Even our oldest generation is familiar and comfortable with using SMS. It’s easy for them to comprehend as they don’t find it too tech-savvy and complicated.
So to sum it up, speed, availability and cost are what make emergency text messages one of the most effective ways of getting the message across.
Why you need emergency text messages
Whether you run a business, a non-profit organisation or work for a government sector, here are some emergency situations in which text messages would be the ideal solution for conveying information timely:
A lot of businesses handle sensitive information that potentially affects their customers and employees.
For example, a security company installs CCTV footage and a security system in your home.
Any sudden movements or potential breach through windows and doorways will be detected by the company.
If you fail to respond to calls, the company will text you right away to inform and warn you. Infact, in some situations, texts are even preferred over calls as they are more discreet.
Similarly, SMS is integrated with other apps to offer higher security.
If you want a secure Google account, you can simply turn on SMS verification and it will require you to enter a code that you receive via SMS every time you log in:
This ensures that only the owner of the mobile device can sign in.
Anyone else who wishes to do so would need permission from the owner and the possibility of hacking is lowered; thus, protecting sensitive information.
Other businesses that use alerts as part of emergency text messages are banks, firms that offer car security, courier services, B2B businesses for tracking shipments and many more.
If you feel like your business deals with sensitive information that needs to be conveyed to employees and customers promptly, you should definitely sign up with an SMS marketing platform!
Awareness is a pretty broad topic which can include just about anything.
Unions within organisations use SMS groups to convey important information to all members.
Suppose the directors or higher authority takes a decision the union is not on board with and one person hears about it through a grapevine.
He/she can use SMS as a channel to communicate the information so that all union members can share their opinion in order to take prompt action before the decision is made final or in an attempt to reverse it.
Similarly, businesses can create awareness of discounts which is only successful if they create a sense of urgency. Have you ever taken a close look at promotional texts sent to you?
By making it sound like an emergency, this business is evoking an artificial need within customers that makes them feel like they have to grab all the best items before they run out because they’ll be saving money so it’s a win-win situation.
Another great example is a last-minute discount to improve sales.
Suppose you’re a small cafe owner who’s been having a slow couple of days and you want to spruce things up a bit.
You just met with a friend of a friend who is willing to do a gig at your cafe but is only free tonight. That’s not a problem because you can draft a text and send it instantly.
And that’s not even the best part. 90% of your recipients will read that text in under 3 minutes. That’s how effective SMS is.
The bottomline is, businesses that use texts for marketing purposes need to make an urgent appeal to attract customers.
Make a regular gig sound like a lifetime experience; make a sale sound like an opportunity not to be missed – phrase your texts such that customers believe they cannot miss the chance to avail it.
Secondly, timing is crucial in determining the effectiveness of your urgent appeal.
Since most people read texts instantly, sending out a last minute SMS can bring in much more ROI as compared to a text sent even a day before – because most of your customers will have forgotten about it by the time your sale or gig goes live!
If it’s for a good cause, investing a little money in spreading the word is absolutely worth it.
Like I said at the start of the article, COVID-19 is rendering the families of affected persons helpless.
They run around helpless in search of plasma and blood donors, medicines, injections and what not.
The sheer increase in the disease has created a steep difference in supply and demand that even the most developed countries are not equipped to handle.
Thus, in a situation like this, they can contact NGOs and other organisations that have dedicated some of their resources to connecting people in need to the right people.
A lot of hospitals and clinics have a list of volunteers that often come in to donate blood.
Sending out a text message to all the donors with the same blood group as the person in need can save a life because time is of the essence.
Similarly, a lot of NGOs in developing and third world countries have used SMS as a platform to collect donations for daily wage workers ever since lockdowns were imposed due to COVID-19 and millions were rendered jobless.
SMS is a great way to connect those who are willing to help with the needy by providing food packages or cash donations.
A simple text with account details, drop-off locations and phone numbers can attract a number of willing donors who want to make a difference out of the good of their heart.
#4. Missing persons
I hope you haven’t gone through this scare in life because it is the worst.
Caring for elders with diseases like Alzheimer’s or having young children is a round-the-clock job and many parents are faced with the dilemma of losing their child in the grocery store, the park or even from home.
If you cannot locate a person for at least 24 hours or more, they are officially declared missing and platforms like SMS can help speed up the process of finding the person or any information related to them:
By notifying relevant parties such as neighbours, colleagues, relatives etc. you may be able to find out more about their latest whereabouts or maybe someone who has recently been in touch with the missing person.
#5. Weather alerts
The weather department of the US government has a very important job of forecasting and notifying citizens about the weather to avoid damages to property, belongings and even loss of life in extreme cases:
What makes text messaging the perfect medium to get the message across is that despite televised warnings of severe weather, there are millennials who are working individuals.
They are out and about most of the day with little to no TV screen time.
However, wherever they may be, their phones are with them the entire time – making text the perfect way to reach them.
Calling each individual is too costly and even if automated calls are made it’s just not feasible. If someone misses the call, they’ll miss the message!
Crafting the right emergency text message
This is a make or break factor that will determine the effectiveness of your text message campaign. Here’s how to draft up the perfect text:
- Phrase it right
The way you phrase your text message makes all the difference.
If you write ‘Sale goes live at 10 AM PST’ instead of ‘Hurry and get your favourite items at the best prices before they run out!’, you’re not prompting a call to action.
You have to make sure you create a NEED for your offering. Make customers feel like it is crucial to get a hold of this opportunity.
To do this, you can also take advantage of punctuation such as exclamation marks, caps lock etc. to create excitement – or in the case of an emergency, a sense of urgency about the situation.
- Keep it relevant
Another great advantage that SMS has over other platforms is that it is short and to the point.
Most SMS platforms will allow you up to 165 characters per text, but it’s best to keep it under 100 characters, otherwise many of your customers will get bored of reading.
- Take advantage of advanced features
You might think, in a text so short, how in the world would you add all the relevant details?
You only want to write the gist of the message in your text, no added details.
In fact, your first line of the text should be as compelling as possible with a clear picture of what your text is about because that’s what recipients will see in their notification bar and they won’t open it if it doesn’t sound important!
To create a call to action and provide details, add a hyperlink. This could be a website where people can donate, know more about the weather forecast, give or find helpful information about a cause etc.
Other great features include link shortening which allows you to see how many recipients are clicking on the hyperlink so that you can measure the percentage of recipients that are interested in your cause.
Conclusion to emergency text messages
If you’re in a position to help the masses for the greater good, then text messages are the best way to go. Emergency text messages are widely used by all sorts of organisations to spread messages quickly and efficiently.
Even business owners and marketers can take advantage of text messages since they already have accounts on SMS platforms and a contact list of potential customers.
In times of need, they can use this list to help out people in need which is a part of their Corporate Social Responsibility.