Why do you need the best youth ministry texting option? Because if you ask any teenager what the best way to communicate with them is, and almost across the board they’ll tell you: “Text me.” If you’re using email to reach teens, you’re missing the mark: because seriously, how often do teens check their email? But how often do they check their phone? Every time it buzzes (and even when it doesn’t)?
And that’s not just true for teens. Research shows that only about 22% of emails sent are ever even opened, but 98% of text messages are opened and most of them IMMEDIATELY.
Based on the numbers alone, it just makes sense to use text messaging as one of (if not your primary) communication tool: with teens, parents, volunteers…everyone!
So let’s say we’re on the same page now, the question then becomes: How do I do it? What is the best way to mass text teens? What’s the best way to mass text volunteers?
- If you’re texting them just via your phone’s address book, you’re doing way too much work.
- If you’re using a service they have to subscribe to from a website, you’re adding an unnecessary step.
- If you’re using an email to text option, you’re using the least reliable method (and it’s actually against the terms of service for pretty much every cell carrier).
You need to use a group texting service. (And yes you will have to pay for it.) But with so many of them out there, which one should you choose? After testing pretty much every option out, I rejected most of them.
[UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2013]
REJECTED: SimplyTXT uses email to text technology (or SMTP). Since email to text messages are the lowest priority on a cell network, during high traffic time your messages can be delayed minutes or hours. On top of that, mass-texting via email is actually against the terms of service for pretty much every cell carrier.
REJECTED: I love FlockNote. I love the company. I love the people that work there. And if you’re looking for an incredibly simple and streamlined group email tool, FlockNote is the solution. But FlockNote lacks the premium SMS features other providers offer, so in the search for the best group texting option, it doesn’t make the cut.
REJECTED: Uses a combination of SMS and email to text technology, and their pricing for SMS messages (or as they call them, “express messages”) is pretty high. Plus it lacks many of the features highlighted below.
REJECTED: Tatango has an amazing set of features (and an impressive client list), but the cost is way too high for most ministry budgets (starting at almost $500/month).
[ADDITIONAL REVIEWS COMING SOON: If you've got a site/service you'd like us to review, leave it in the comment section below.]
The Winner: ProTexting.com
We’ve tried several services and hands down ProTexting is our favorite!
Teens can subscribe to the TXT service on the spot, from their phones, simply by texting our KEYWORD to 82257. On top of that, the web interface is great, and there’s an awesome iPhone app.
Other features I love:
- Text-To-Win Contests – Teens text your keyword to enter into a drawing/contest. You randomly choose a winner and for the cost of a single prize (like a $25 iTunes card), you’ve not got all of your teens to sign up for text updates!
- Text Surveys – Poll your teens to find out what movie you should watch for movie night or what weekend is the best for a retreat next fall. Everyone who responds is added to your text group!
- Text-To-Screen – Trying to brainstorm with a large group, let everyone text in their answers, and they’ll appear on the screen! Or having an open forum night, teens can text in their questions (and you can approve them before they hit the big scrren. Everyone who responds is added to your text group!
- Organize Contacts into Groups – Group people together in an unlimited number of groups! College students, Freshman, Middle School Parents, Parents who LOVE you!
- Social Media Integration – Auto-post your outgoing text messages to Facebook or Twitter!
- QR Codes – Stick a QR code on every flier, postcard and business card…all teens have to do is scan the code to be added to your list!
- Archives Everything – Group messages, individual messages, incoming and outgoing: ProTexting archives everything. You can even have it send an email copy of messages automatically to your pastor or DRE for full accountability/protection.
Plus it has every other feature you could ever want, including:
- Free Unlimited Sign Ups
- Free Unlimited Incoming Text Messages
- Capture Names and Email Addresses
- Open Rate / Click Rate Analytics
- Automatically Sent Birthday Texts
- 2 Way Texting
- Change your Mobile Keywords at any time
- Text Messaging API to integrate with any website or mobile app
- No Contracts
- No Set up fees
- Online Widgets to collect mobile numbers
- iPhone and Android App
- And they just added video and picture messaging!
Special deal just for CatholicStudentMinistry.com fans: Use the coupon code REACH and save 25% off your first month!
(Yes, I do get an affiliate commission if you sign up, but I would recommend ProTexting.com even if I didn’t. In fact, if you’d rather not use my affiliate link, you can click here – but you will miss out on the 25% discount.)