The summer holidays are almost upon us and if you are running a summer kids club while school’s out, now is the time to be making sure parents know what’s on offer and when. Social media is a great way to be getting the message out there, with Facebook particularly suited to the role. But there is another powerful way to reach out and connect with parents that many clubs are overlooking – SMS Messaging. With 93% of the population having a mobile phone and most people responding to an SMS text message within 3 minutes, it has proven to be one of the most effective forms of marketing available. Read on to see how you can make the most of SMS text messaging to kick off your summer kids club.
The What, where, & when
When it comes to generating interest in the activities you are planning to provide through your holiday club, there are three key pieces of information that parents will be most interested in – the what, the where and the when. Let’s look at these in more detail.
The what – what is the activity that is being planned?
The where – where is the activity taking place? (and what are the transport, dining arrangements etc)
The when – what dates and times are the activities?
Armed with these key pieces of information, parents can quickly decide if they agree for their children to attend. The question is, how do you ensure that parents and carers get this information in good time and don’t overlook it?
Emails are often left unread and with many people under additional pressure as they cover holiday leave for colleagues, they are even more likely to be missed. Facebook updates are also a great way to share all the information parents and carers need – but with anyone and everyone sharing their latest beach-side holiday snaps, there is also a good chance of the message getting drowned in the feed.
With SMS messaging, however, you have the unique ability to literally place a message directly into a parent’s hand. Evidence indicates that people will rarely ignore a text message that they have received – even if they are engaged in other more important activities at the time.
If you are reluctant to use SMS text messaging for fear of being perceived as pushy, fear not. Provided you stay compliant, adopt an appropriate tone and choose the times you send with care, it is more likely that your customers will see your text message updates as something of value.
Although there are several aspects to remaining compliant, the most important one is to ensure that you have the recipients explicit permission for you to communicate with them in this way – so whatever method you use for parents to register on your scheme, be sure that they agree to receive SMS messages during sign-up.
How long is an SMS?
The first question many people have prior to using text message marketing for the first time is how many characters can be used. A quick Google search will soon show you that there are conflicting opinions out there and anything but a consensus. Add to this the 160 character limit that many would be familiar from the good old days of Nokia and Motorola handsets and the confusion only grows.
So let’s do some quick mythbusting now to put your mind to rest – with the text messaging service offered by Fastsms, a total of 456 characters is available. Any message that is longer than the basic 160 character limit of a standard SMS is simply broken down into chunks of 153 characters, then automatically joined back together without the recipient even noticing. This means that it is actually far easier than many people think to get all the information they need into a message.
SMS Messaging – some practical examples
So with any myths you may have heard now dispelled, let’s look at some example messages a kids club organiser may wish to use.
1. Thanks for registering
“Dear Mrs Jones, thanks for registering Chloe and Jake at the Sunny Smiles holiday club starting Tues 25th July. Club hours are Tuesday & Thursday 8:30am – 15:30pm. See you soon – Linda. Reply STOP if you do not wish to receive these messages.”
It may not seem important, but establishing SMS messaging as a communication channel right from the outset helps to make sure that parents and carers are prompted to look out for further communications. Note that the opt-out should be included in every message, however we’ve omitted it from the following examples to avoid repetition.
2. What’s on
“On Tuesday 1st August we are going to Oldtown theme park. Bus departs 8:30 promptly, please arrive early. Spare clothes and rain wear essential, pack lunches are included. For full details visit oururl.ly. Please confirm your places by Friday 21st July. Thanks, Linda.”
This simple SMS message does far more than just providing the what, where and when; it tells parents essential information about transport, lunches and what to wear, as well as offering a url for further information.
By providing parents with all the information they need, the only question is whether or not they wish for their children to attend – and the message even reminds them to confirm – proof if it was ever needed that 456 characters is more than enough.
Where this message really succeeds is by predicting the usual questions parents will have and saving them the worry – little things that help to reduce stress in a busy and demanding world.
There are many different reminders that a holiday club might need to share. Here are some examples:
“Dear Mr Willis, we note that we haven’t had your consent to share pictures of your child(ren) on our Facebook page. If you’d like to be able to see and share what we’ve been up to, please pop your completed form back to Linda, or ask for a replacement if required. Thanks, Linda.”
“We are looking for a missing bag. If you’ve seen a red Paw Patrol backpack with Jack on the label, please drop it into reception. Thanks for your assistance, Linda.”
“We now have several items of lost property. Please check the table at the main entrance for anything that belongs to your child(ren). Any items unclaimed by 5th September will be donated to charity. Thanks, Linda.”
In this article, we’ve presented just a handful of examples of how summer holiday clubs could find SMS messaging to be an indispensable communications channel. We’re sure you can think of many other messages that you might need to send through the course of the season.
To put SMS messaging to the test now, sign up for free and receive 100 free messages instantly – no credit card or subscription required. Just click on the link at the top right of your window.
If you would like to know more about how SMS messaging can work for your business, feel free to give our expert customer services team a call on 0800 954 5305.