TXT for (Increased) Success

Submitted by Brett on Thu, 03/26/2009 - 8:48am

Matt Wilson, Mobile Commons

We spent a lot of time at the end of 2008 working with one of our clients, the Humane Society of the United States, and our friends at the Watershed Company to come up with a nice mobile test for end of year fundraising.

After plenty of brainstorming, we decided we wanted to give mobile subscribers an option to donate over the phone through an inbound call center after they received a text message promoting the call.

HSUS worked with Watershed throughout the month of December to make sure they had sound fundraising strategies in place -- but we also felt we had to try some new tactics to boost their response even further in uncertain economic times.


HSUS had already built a mobile subscriber list of about 12,000 activists through Mobile Commons by December of 2008. Those subscribers have consistently received messages such as insider updates, breaking news alerts, and advocacy outreach. The mobile list was built primarily from sign-ups through online advocacy campaigns, such as ending the Canadian seal hunt and stopping puppy mills.

Our strategy was simple: send HSUS' mobile subscribers a text message on December 30th asking them to reply to call or directly call a 1-800 number to make their year-end gift. (We partnered with telemarketing firms FineLine and Share Group to manage the toll-free line.)

Here's how it worked:

    Step 1: Develop script for inbound call center representatives; compile a list of frequently asked questions; and create an online form through GetActive to take donor information.

    Step 2: Suppress donors who had already given to year-end fundraising emails from the 12k mobile subscriber list.

    Step 3: Create a control group of 3,814 mobile subscribers who would NOT receive the December 30th text message.

    Step 4: Send the following message to 7,628 mobile subscribers on December 30th:

    "HUMANE: 24 hrs to make your tax-deductible gift for animals. Call 800-680-8313 from 11-8 EST or reply "CALL" now to give to the Humane Society. ReplySTOPtoquit"

    Step 5: Wait for eager donors to call to complete their gift.


To be great, sometimes you can't be afraid to fail. And in terms of the original intent of this program, we definitely failed!

While the call center received about 12 inbound calls, none were to make gifts (with the exception of a few of us running the test). Those who did call primarily called to ask questions or have themselves removed from the list.

Were we disappointed? You bet. But there was a very significant and important silver lining.

Remember that control group we set up before launching the text message? Well, HSUS and Watershed sent one final "Last Chance" year-end email to go out December 31st. This email went to anyone who had not yet donated to a year-end fundraising appeal -- including both the 3,814 mobile subscribers who did not get a text message and the 7,628 mobile subscribers who had received the text the previous day. That's where we saw results worth shouting about:

The mobile activists who were suppressed from the text message responded to the final fundraising appeal at a rate of .31%. The mobile activists who received the text message on the 30th responded to the final email ask at a rate of .55% — a (statistically significant) 77% increase in response to the appeal!


All of us involved in this project were incredibly excited about the lift in response we saw at year-end with the introduction of a text message. And we learned some important lessons about what we would change in order to improve the results of our original test concept of "text-to-call."

Moving forward, HSUS, Watershed ,and Mobile Commons will be working even more closely together to integrate mobile communications and strategy into our ongoing online engagement efforts. (To see what we're doing, text HUMANE to 30644 and sign up for e-mails at www.humanesociety.org.) In addition, we'd like to conduct similar tests with HSUS and other shared clients interested in leveraging their mobile file to support their online advocacy and fundraising response.

Finally, we'd like to thank our partners in this project, specifically Joe White with Share Group, Tracy Lea and Jocelyn Chipman with FineLine, and Geoff Handy and Grace Markarian with The Humane Society of the United States.

To read to full case study, go here: http://mcommons.com/integrating-text-messaging-during-year-end-fundraising-more-dough