Uncategorized How local governments can better utilize text messages – American City & County

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For many people, text messaging is still thought of as a way to communicate with family and friends. But more and more, businesses are getting in on the short message service (SMS) action, using these quick messages to reach customers and prospects with meaningful marketing messages. There is no reason government agencies shouldn’t also be tapping into the benefits of texting.
Texting campaigns are largely extremely effective. Research from OpenMarket estimates 83 percent of millennials open SMS messages within 90 seconds of receiving them. Previous research from Gartner indicated 90 percent of all people read texts within three minutes of receiving them, and that SMS boasts a 98 percent open rate.
For government agencies, email is often the go-to method of communication. And its rates are decent, especially compared to other industries. According to a 2021 analysis by Campaign Monitor that broke down email open rates by industry, government agencies experienced a 26 percent open rate, notably higher than the cross-industry average of 18 percent. Nonetheless, that leaves almost three quarters of intended email recipients in the dark, not even opening the message they were meant to read.
Text messages are different. All a recipient must do is look at their phone to see and read the message in full (though links with more information can be included). With higher read rates and shorter, more digestible messages, text messages offer government agencies a quick, easy and efficient way to reach people in the communities they serve. But there are strategies and regulations agencies must follow in order to get the most out of this powerful tool.
In order to send messages that are truly relevant, government agencies should be strategic with their SMS sends. First, different entities will have their own opt-in lists, so that will naturally ensure the messages are relevant (for example: someone who signed up to receive parks and recreation updates would likely welcome a message about a new park opening, but wouldn’t necessarily find a trash pickup delay message helpful unless they separately signed up for the sanitation department list).
Now that we’ve taken a look at the benefits of text messages for state and local government agencies, let’s explore ways texts can be used.
Text messages offer many benefits. They are traceable, have backlist capabilities, can be managed via computer or phone, and can be sent in bulk or individually with just a few clicks. SMS is easy and efficient, and perfect for government agencies as long as everyone keeps in mind the stringent rules to ensure texts remain an effective means of communication and a benefit to both recipient and sender.
Tom Sheahan is the CEO of Red Oxygen, a leading business SMS solutions provider that is headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. Red Oxygen provides texting services to government agencies across the globe. Contact Sheahan at [email protected]
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