Text Message Campaigns for Health
SMS 101
• What are text message campaigns?
• Why use them as an ACA outreach tool?
• 7 tips for running a successful text message
The Situation
51% of
Americans ages
18-29 are
unaware that the
ACA is the law of
the land and
going into effect
this year
Health Tracking Poll, April 2013
Open enrollment began October 1,
and consumer outreach and education
must start NOW
“Now it is crunch time for health insurance
exchanges. The Obama administration and
state governments must have a robust plan
to reach Americans — especially young
people — through every media available”
- Wall Street Journal, May 9, 2013
CDC Health Communicator Social Media
Toolkit 2011
Short Message Services (SMS) or Text Messages
• SMS stands for short
message service
• SMS are a way to
communicate via text
messages from cell
phone/computer to cell
• Limited to 160 characters,
numbers, or symbols
Picture source: Erin Hemlin
How to Create a Text Campaign
• Step 1: Contact an outside
• Step 2: Lease a 5-6 digit code
from mobile service provider
or Neustar
▫ You can create a “vanity
code,” a code that ties in
directly with your campaign
• Step 3: Use keywords to create
a short text that will motivate
potential subscribers to sign
Planned Parenthood NY Text Campaign
How a Text Campaign Works
• When someone subscribes,
you can send texts through
a the subscriber’s mobile
• Messages then go through
a mobile aggregator, which
▫ You can go to one place
to connect to all of the
wireless carriers.
▫ The mobile carriers then
distribute the message to
your subscribers.
Picture Source: http://www.mobilesmsmarketing.com
7 tips that lead to a successful campaign
1. Customize your
message to fit your
• Decide which demographic
you’re targeting. Ways to
▫ Who will benefit the most
from your campaign
▫ Which groups are targets
for your organization
• Craft messages that your
audience will relate and
respond to
Picture source: http://www.textually.org/textually/archives/2010/02/025418.htm
7 tips to make your text campaign successful
2. Think about your target
subscribers and what’s in it
for them
• Make sure it’s worth their while
to open and read your messages
• Make the content engaging and
beneficial to catch their attention
• If you want a response, there
must be something for the
subscribers to respond to
Texas Department of State Health Services, HIV
and STD Program
Text Campaign
Picture Source: http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/hivstd/
7 tips to make your text campaign successful
3. Don’t forget to include
your contact information
• A marketing campaign won’t be
effective if the consumer doesn’t
know who is sending them the
message, so be sure to
include your contact
information in the
• Contact info could include your
phone number, website address,
but most importantly, include
7 tips to make your text campaign successful
4. Consider your ask. What
do you want people to do?
• Getting your subscriber to
respond to your message is
essential, which includes a
strong call to action
• Make it clear what you
want subscribers to do,
and give them a reason
and a way to do it!
Picture Source: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/178103360233799878/
7 tips to make your text campaign successful
5. Be mindful of mobile
carriers’ compatibility
• Before you hit send, make
sure your message can be
accepted by different types
of mobile devices
▫ Otherwise you could be
wasting both time and money,
and miss out on reaching a
percentage of your subscribers
Picture Source: http://gizmaestro.com/24/08/2011/technology/u-s-phone-carriers-buckles-after-earthquake/
7 tips to make your text campaign successful
6. Don’t over do it!
• Do not flood your subscribers
with messages
• Subscribers can become
annoyed and remove
themselves from your list
▫ Remember, 85% of text
messages are read within 15
minutes of being received
Picture Source: http://thespiritseekers.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/unsubscribe-button1.png
7 tips to make your text campaign successful
7. Track and trace your
• Once your message is out there,
the work has only just begun!
To make sure it’s effective, you
need to track your responses.
By measuring your results
you can adapt and improve
future campaigns to make
them more effective.
• Outreach is much more
powerful when you have the
numbers to refine your methods
Picture Source: http://www.tatango.com/tour/sms-delivery-reports
What to remember!
• Contact an outside vendor to lease a 5-6 digit code
• Use keywords to create a short text that will motivate
potential subscribers to sign up
• Pick your target audience and customize a message that
will appeal to them
• Be mindful of mobile carriers’ compatibility
• Track your results and learn