Resident Texts: Break on Through to the Other Side

4 minute read

Here’s why your text messages fail to reach your residents.

Historically, a flyer pinned to a board in the lobby was one of the most effective methods for mass communication to residents. Today, although many boards remain, owners and operators have a slew of additional communication tools at their disposal. While many remain loyal to emails, an increasing number of apartment communities have tapped into texting to connect with residents quickly and effectively.

Texts offer a fast, affordable and reliable communication channel. According to research from OpenMarket, 83 percent of Millennials open texts within 90 seconds of receipt. And older research from Gartner revealed 90 percent of all people read texts within three minutes of receipt, with a 98 percent total open rate. 

That said, there is one downside to texting that is becoming more prevalent: Not all text messages are reaching residents. 

Why the Disconnect?

Owners and operators intending to reach out to their entire list of residents often are using software that enables bulk text sends. This is convenient and affordable, allowing them to quickly reach hundreds or even thousands of people at a time. However, mobile carriers have a long history of blocking certain messages, and they are continually growing more stringent about the types of texts and the content within them. When carriers see the exact same messages going to hundreds or thousands of phone numbers, it gets there attention, and not in a positive way.

U.S. mobile carriers AT&T and T-Mobile are now requiring new fees and processes for any business looking to text groups of people. The rules, which went into effect this summer—called “10DLC” after the 10-digit long codes that businesses use to text people—may make message blocking an even more common occurrence.

Often, the person who scheduled the send doesn’t even realize the messages were blocked, because most software doesn’t automatically alert the sender (you can usually only see the message failed if you take the time to log into the software, which not everyone does). 

How to Break on Through to the Other Side

The good news is general advice for sending messages that will make it to their intended recipients enables apartment communities to keep residents in the loop about changes, events and more, without disruption.

  • Send personalized messages: Personalization is the key to messages that don’t get blocked; look for a texting software that will allow you to easily accomplish this. For property managers and owners, this can mean either including the person’s name within the text, or naming the property within the message. Mentioning a specific payment or date or other detail can also count as personalization. Not all messages that lack personalization get blocked (you’ve probably received many that didn’t), but that’s because carriers don’t catch everything, but make no mistake, they are paying closer attention than ever before.
  • Show full URLs: Because carriers want to avoid having their customers receive spam by any means necessary, revealing the URL’s domain name can help alleviate their concern. Avoid using website link shorteners, which may look largely promotional in nature (whether that was the intention or not). Use full URLs when links are required. 
  • Always include an opt-out option: Under Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) rules, it’s required to receive an opt-in before properties can start sending messages to their residents. Also required is the ability to opt-out at any time, so preserve that option in every single text. A message like “Reply STOP to unsubscribe” works well.
  • Send only relevant images: Most texts to residents shouldn’t require an image; however, if there is an image that needs to be sent, ensure it is truly relevant. If the image does not pertain to the text, it could be blocked.
  • Regularly update your resident texting list: If people regularly opt-out of your messages, it can be a red flag to carriers. Enough red flags, and a sender might become blacklisted from sending messages altogether. To combat this, make sure your lists are constantly updated when people move out or new residents move in.
  • Keep content clean: This is hopefully obvious, but keep texting content straight forward, informational in nature and clean. The acronym “SHAFT” describes content that is forbidden or subject to additional rules:
    • Sexually inappropriate
    • Hate speech or profanity
    • Alcohol
    • Firearms and depictions or endorsements of violence
    • Tobacco (including vaping), or endorsement of illegal or illicit drugs

Text messaging is a powerful tool for property managers, when it’s used well. Used too often or to promote irrelevant information, and apartment residents will unsubscribe. Used without personalization, relevant images and full URLs, and carriers will block the messages. When property managers and owners keep these tips in mind, they can continue to utilize text messages to keep residents informed and engaged within their home and community.

Tom Sheahan is the CEO of Red Oxygen.