Haiti Relief Text Campaign from Red Cross Emphasizes Convenience and Immediacy of SMS

According to the Mashable blog, by 5:30pm EST Jan 14, only two days after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the Red Cross has raised an impressive $5 million dollars from their Text campaign. If you were on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media sites this week, you may have seen the outcries to donate $10 by texting "Haiti" to the shortcode 90999. If you do the quick math, that's 500,000 mobile subscribers that have used text messaging to donate to the Haitian relief efforts led by the Red Cross. The blog post also shows an SMS message flow explaining how easy it is for a mobile subscriber to text in "Haiti" and then "Yes" to confirm their donation. In two short SMS messages, a single person is able to contribute to the larger cause from anywhere!

As the product marketing manager for the SMS portfolio at ExactTarget, I'm very impressed, but not surprised by the results of this SMS campaign. When I meet with customers who are strategizing about their 1 to 1 Marketing campaigns that include email, SMS, web, and social media, we discuss the reasons that SMS messaging to communicate with your subscribers are effective. 

We are in an era when people are more likely to have a mobile phone rather than a traditional land line. And mobile phones are something that people do not leave home without. Whether you have a smart phone or standard mobile phone, SMS text plans is now considered basic communication. How many times have you ditched leaving a person you were calling a voicemail to send them a simple text message? Many people outside of the business world forgo the expensive data plans to receive email and web from their phone, but gladly pay for their SMS messaging plans.

Including text messaging in your 1 to 1 marketing strategy is a powerful way to reach your audience can have huge rewards:
  • SMS messaging is immediate and direct: by nature of the US standard of 160 characters, text messages are short and concise. They reach the person that needs the quick information. And responding to or reading a text message takes only seconds and it doesn't require you to shift your focus too much. You can even do it in a meeting! *Wink*
  • Text messaging campaigns are always available when a person is interested: savvy marketers know that it takes massive effort to get a prospect engaged in their brand. Having a text campaign that a mobile subscriber can respond to a call-to-action at the emotional high of the interest, can be the difference if they ever participate or not. Let's face it, when they get back to their computer, even a geniunely interested person is likely to forget that they wanted to sign up for your program.
  • SMS can augment email marketing efforts: the best example of this approach is from our customer, Pier 1 Imports, who follows up with email drip marketing from new subscribers they captured from their text sweepstakes at college bookstores. Leveraging both email and text messaging for marketing campaigns can empower you to send relevant information using both messaging channels
The recent example of a non-profit organization raising donations and enabling the general public to act is proof that SMS messaging when combined with social media and email can have incredible impact and rewards. For more thoughts about getting started with Text Messaging check out our recent webinar.
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