SMS Alert System: Easy Setup Checklist
In the event of an emergency, you need to be able to alert your users as quickly as possible. Many people ignore phone calls from numbers they don’t recognize, and their email inboxes are so full of spam that new messages get lost in the crowd. Texting, on the other hand, is one of the fastest and most reliable methods of communication currently used today with 90% of text messages being read within the first three minutes.
That’s why an SMS alert system is one of the best options for getting urgent information out to the people who need it, as soon as possible. The primary purpose of SMS alerts is to notify people of emergencies, but they’re also used to inform customers of exciting last-minute events and sales.
Basically, SMS alert systems are useful for any urgent or time-sensitive messages that need to go out to a lot of people simultaneously—especially if you want your recipients to see them quickly.
What SMS Alerts Can Be Used For
SMS alerts can be used to update subscribers on a wide variety of topics, including:
- Weather-related schedule changes
- Natural disasters
- Power outages
- Flash sales or pop-up events
- IT outages
- Emergency drills
SMS alert systems allow organizations to manage subscriber lists, send time-sensitive messages to large groups of people simultaneously, and schedule automated messages in advance. SMS platforms are also quickly becoming a vital tool for marketing teams to reach new clients and maintain existing relationships.
SMS Alert System Easy Setup Checklist
Despite being such a powerful tool, an SMS alert system is fairly simple to set up, especially if you choose a platform with an API and enterprise-level support. Any organization can take advantage of SMS alerts by following this easy setup checklist.
Sign up with an SMS Alert Platform
When shopping around for an SMS alert platform, you’ll want to look for a service that allows you to schedule SMS alerts in advance, send urgent text messages instantly, and automate some or all of your alert messages. SMS systems should also empower you to take advantage of SMS marketing tactics such as flash sale discount codes and survey links, so you should choose a platform that integrates well with your CMS and provides all of the marketing tools you need.
The SMS alert platform you choose should allow you to segment your subscriber lists so you can send different types of alerts and text messages to different groups of people. This ensures that your users only receive the SMS messages that are relevant to their needs and interests, building trust with your brand and maintaining the health of your subscriber list over time. Another way to build trust is by restricting access to the SMS contact lists to a few select staff members.
Restrict Access to Necessary Personnel
Before you start signing users up for your SMS alerts, you should define who will be sending these alerts and how the alerts will be used. New subscribers should be aware of who is allowed to send these alerts as well, so they can provide informed consent. For instance, a subscriber may consent to receiving receipts or tracking information but not necessarily consent to marketing messages. Keeping things clear with your subscribers will help build trust.
Some examples of personnel who may need access to the SMS alert system include:
- Human Resources
- School administrators
- Facility managers
- IT managers
Once you’ve decided who will be sending SMS alerts for your organization, you’ll want to make sure they’re all thoroughly trained in how to use the SMS alert platform so you can minimize the risk of mistakes and the time it takes to craft and send important messages. When your staff is comfortable with SMS alerts, it’s time to start building your contact lists.
Import Existing Contacts
If you have an existing list of SMS subscribers who have opted-in to receive text alerts, you can import these contacts into your new SMS alert system. Legally, you must have written proof that all of your subscribers have consented to receive text alerts from you, so if you’ve lost that proof of consent or if you never kept it in the first place, you should ask your subscribers to opt-in again just to be on the safe side.
Create an Opt-in Policy
Before adding new subscribers to your SMS alert system, you must create and clearly define an opt-in policy. This written policy should include information such as how frequently the alerts will be sent, what they’ll be used for, and who is allowed to send them. It should also be made clear how users can unsubscribe from your text alerts. Your organization should familiarize itself with the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) guidelines about SMS marketing and alerts.
A clear opt-in policy for your SMS alerts not only protects your organization legally, but it builds trust with your users. Once you have well-defined policies in place for your SMS alert system, you can start trying to gain more subscribers.
Add More Subscribers
Text-to-join is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to opt-in new subscribers. This process involves creating unique keywords that users can text to your phone number to opt-in to specific segments. For example, users can text “weather” if they want to opt-in to inclement weather alerts, or “discounts” if they want to opt-in to sale alerts.
There are a few other ways to get people to opt-in to your SMS alerts, including web forms, email signups, and paper forms. As long as your users can read your opt-in policy and provide their consent, you can use whatever subscription method works best for your organization. Typically, a multi-pronged approach is best.
Send a Test SMS Alert System Message
Once you have your lists of subscribers who have opted-in to receive your alerts and you’ve set up access for the personnel who need it, you should send out at least one test alert to each of your subscriber segments. This message should be clearly labeled as a test so that users won’t be alarmed, but should otherwise be in the same format as your real alerts. This will ensure that your texts are going out successfully and that users are able to read and understand the information you’re planning to send in your SMS alerts.
After you’ve confirmed that your test alert was successful, you’re ready to go live with your SMS alert system. Before you jump in and start sending real alerts to your users, you should be aware of some guidelines and best practices for using your SMS alerts.
SMS Alert System Best Practices
In addition to following legal guidelines for SMS marketing and alerts, your organization should be aware of the best practices for sending text messages to your users. These vary depending on your industry, but the overall goal is to prioritize authentic relationships with your users, keep your communications short and to-the-point, and ensure that your messages are reaching all of your recipients promptly.
Remember that your users are counting on you to use their contact information ethically, and to provide them with the valuable, urgent, and time-sensitive information they need to stay safe and make informed decisions.
An SMS alert system provider should provide your organization with all of the support you need to set up your SMS alerts and use them effectively. That’s why it’s important to choose an SMS delivery service you can trust to guide your organization and provide you with industry expertise so you can focus on serving your users.