This article will help a member of a Lodge within the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Indiana assigned to the role of "Lodge Marketing & Communications Officer" through the steps of setting up Simple Texting to communicate with their lodge members. It is recommended that the lodge assigns this brother Assistant Secretary access to the Lodge Portal to enable him to access the personal information required to execute this program.
What is Simple Texting
Simple Texting provides scheduled bulk email messaging to your members. Via a mobile app or online portal, your lodge can both send, receive, and respond to messages from membership. Text messaging is considered one of the most effective ways of communicating concise information to your audiences.
Step 1: Secure funding and approval of your lodge to purchase and use this technology.
Review Simple Texting pricing at this link. For most Lodges, the basic package will be plenty of messages sent throughout the year (at the time of writing - 6,000 messages/year for $225.)
At a business meeting for your lodge during the new business, move to "Allow the Director of Marketing and Communications to use his personal credit card to purchase, be reimbursed for, and begin using Simple Texting to communicate with Lodge members. The amount will be (insert annual amount here.)"
Indiana Members - You will have to use your personal card and be reimbursed for your expense as lodges should not have credit/debit cards.
Step 2: Setup your Simple Texting Account at https://app2.simpletexting.com/sign-up
Create a new login or use one of the single sign-on buttons located at the bottom of the registration page
Enter your information for the account. This includes your name, your cell number, (note: this will NOT be the number they will message from - they just need to ID you) your lodge name and a website if you have one.
After you complete this form, you will receive a text message with a verification code that must be entered. Do this then continue.
You will then be presented with a brief questionnaire that tries to determine the size, the frequency, and the "why" for using Simple Texting. Nothing permanent happens on these screens and you can fix any outcome from a wrong answer later.
Finally, you will need to structure your billing. Click on the "Update" button toward the center top of your dashboard and select the billing plan that your lodge approved. Enter your personal credit card information and process the annual plan. Remember to take the receipt back to your Lodge Secretary for reimbursement.
Step 2: Export a Member List (This step is the same for any digital direct marketing tool regardless of which you pick.)
Note: You should re-run this export annually and add new or plural members throughout the year to the Simple Texting tool. Remember, some of the most important members to communicate with are those who just became a member of your Lodge. We must ensure these brothers get off to a good start within the Craft.
Step 3: Import your Member List / Individual Members
Once you have your user list exported, in Simple Texting on the left-hand navigation pane, select "Contacts"
Click on "Add Contacts"
NOTE: If you are using MailChimp - you can integrate the two products so you only have to maintain a single contact list. Follow the steps on the down chevron next to the "Add Contacts" button.
A series of pop-over windows will appear to walk you through the process.
In step 1 - you will choose the data file that you created from your export from the member database.
From the dropdown box under the "Upload a File" dialog, select "+ Create new list"
It is wise to have a structure to how you name your contact lists. A good method is "yyyy_mm_dd Description." For this example, this could be 2021_12_20 All Lodge Members." This will help you choose the latest and greatest member list.
NOTE: you may re-import members over and over again. This can be advantageous as you can create a new contact list for each import to allow you to message just your officers, individuals signed up for an event, or who are your ritualists. For each one of these, you would create a related list in Simple Texting for that group.
Press "Next" on the bottom right of the Step 1 pop-over
In step 2 - you will match (called mapping) relevant columns of data from the database export to their related field in Simple Texting. The only important fields for Simple Text are:
Last Name (use this field if there is only a "Full Name" field in the source data.
Cell Phone Number
Scroll down the list and find these fields from the "Import from your file" side and select the appropriate mapping from the "Map to Simple Texting" column and press "Next"
In step 3 - you will agree to the terms and press import
Step 4: Send a group text message (called a Campaign)
Smart Texting has a mobile app for iOS and Android. These steps can be performed from there and we recommend that app for general use. For this example, however, we will use the desktop version of the user interface.
Open the Campaigns interface by clicking on "Campaigns" in the left-hand navigation.
Click on the blue "New" button at the center top of the screen. This will open the Compose Campaign interface. Enter a campaign title that you will be able to find. As with the date starting with the year, month then day (yyyy_mm_dd) and a description.
Keep your text short. You have 142 characters to get your message out or you will be charged more credits.
SMS messages are simple messages - they charge 1 credit for each ~140 characters.
MMS is a newer standard for sending multimedia messages. These can be up to ~1580 characters but cost 3 credits per message
Enter your text message. Simple Texting will always add a message about how to unsubscribe from future messages. The software will automatically suspend people who message "stop" - no work is required on your part.
From the "Send To" list, you will select at least one of your lists (created in step 3) that the message should be sent to.
Finally set as an immediate send, scheduled send (future date / time) or a recurring message (which could be used as a reminder for stated meetings.)
Proof the message and hit "Next."
On the next screen, you will review the charge against your credits and click either "Edit" to go back and update, "Save as Draft" to save it and work on it later, or "Send now" to send now.
Step 5: Campaign Reporting
From the Campaigns Menu (left-hand navigation,) select the campaign you wish to review. Here you can see the delivery rate, number of opt-outs
, and credits used
Step 6: Ongoing Reporting
From the Analytics Menu (lower left-hand navigation,) you can select the date range, and other metadata.
Step 7: Responding to inbound messages
Individuals that you have messaged can respond to your message. At the time of writing, Simple Texting did not charge for these inbound messages, but you will be charged a credit (for SMS or three for MMS) for responding.
As mentioned earlier, this part of the management of Simple Texting is better from the mobile app where inbound messages behave more like any other messaging /email application. For the purposed of this article, we will continue to review the desktop app.
To see your inbound messages, click "Inbox" at the top of your left-hand navigation. Select the conversation from the list to the right of the left-hand navigation. Here you can read the message history with the individual and see their recorded contact info on the right.
To respond, type your message in the bar at the bottom of the screen and hit "Send SMS."
I hope this tool helps improve communications within your organization.