Monday, 21 November 2016
1-way SMS invitations, reminders & alerts
The key points researchers should know when it comes to using 1-way SMS invitations & other SMS messages.
SMS (commonly known as ‘texting’) is popular with mobile phone users around the world. That’s because SMS is fast, convenient, doesn’t require an internet connection, and works on even the most basic of phones.
Benefits of 1-way SMS messages.
When it comes to the research industry, the SMS channel has three specific benefits to offer:
- SMS messages are delivered direct to the participant’s phone in real-time
- Unlike email, SMS messages are not subject to spam filters or crowded in-boxes
- Although participants see the message straightaway, they have the ability to reply at their own convenience.
As a result of these benefits, 98% of SMS messages are typically read in less than 3 minutes and 80% of participants generally respond in under 2 hours. With results like that, it’s no wonder that there’s a continuing and growing demand by researchers to use SMS.
Ways to use 1-way SMS messages.
1-way SMS messages enable you to send any message you like but do not include the option to let the participant reply by SMS. They are simple to use and very effective for:
- invitations to take part in an SMS survey
- mobile web or online survey invitations – by including the web link to take part then and there
- general welcome messages & time critical study updates
- diary tracker invitations & reminders
- invitations to download a survey app
- panellist authentication
- reminders to people who did not open the email invitation, didn’t start the survey or who have yet to finish it
- invitations to participants without an email address or where their email address did not work
- ensuring your message is received on a mobile device (which is very important if your study requires mobile participation only)
How SMS messages work.
When writing your 1-way SMS invitations, reminders & alerts, it’s worth bearing these three points in mind, to ensure a good participant experience.
Firstly, take message length into consideration.
The size of an SMS message is normally 160 characters (70 characters for double-byte character languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, or Cyrillic alphabet languages – and this limit applies even if only one of the characters is in one of these languages and the rest is in say, English).
If the message length requires more than one SMS (i.e. it is over the 160 or 70 character limit), it will be ‘concatenated’, that is, shown as a single message comprised of multiple SMS. For concatenated messages, the maximum length of each single standard SMS is 153 characters or 67 for double byte character-SMS as the concatenation uses some of the character spaces. Concatenated SMS messages are billed by the number of individual SMS messages used, so if you send a 459 character SMS invitation, you will be charged for 3 SMS messages, for example.
Secondly, add web links in your SMS invitations.
Adding web links is a good way to enable participants to click on the link and take the survey straightaway. They work well in SMS invitations and reminders.
As web links cannot be split across 2 SMS messages, they need to fit within a single SMS message. To achieve this, you may need to shorten the web link using a ‘tiny url’ or you can adapt the wording in the message so that the web link fits within the character spacing for a single SMS.
Finally, show your participants who has sent the SMS message.
In many countries, it is possible to brand (or mask) the SMS message to show who has sent it, using a sender ID. A sender ID is normally up to 11 characters long (such as, CLIENT) and is a good way to build trust and engagement with participants. As Sender IDs are not available in certain markets, it’s worth checking with your SMS provider, if you need clarification.
If you enjoyed this article, why not download the full guide?
Part 1 – covers 1-way SMS messages, invitations & reminders
Part 2 – looks at when and how to use 2-way SMS surveys
* SMS stands for Short Message Service