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Sending youth group announcements as mass text messages

TextSignal.comChris Day of SerialYouthPastor.com responded to one of my ideas in 130 Youth Ministry Tips & Ideas ebook about using a Skype-in phone number as an information hotline for parents and students to call. During our discussion I mentioned that I’m also thinking about using Skype as a mass text messaging service for sending quick updates and cancellation notices to my students, but at $0.12 per message, that’s too pricey for me. Chris referred me to TxtSignal.com, which is just what I was looking for!

Txt Signal lets me have multiple groups of cell phone contacts. So, I have one group for Jr. High, one for Sr. High and another for cancellation notices for a weekly event we’re doing this summer. The best part is that I don’t have to manually enter all the kids cell phone numbers and accidentally risk accumulating text charges for those who don’t have text messaging plans. The service provides me a link I can easily post on our youth group’s website or send out via email for people to click and sign themselves up. Plus, they can also easily unsubscribe from the service later if they want, so there’s little maintenance on my part.

The downside to the service is that I can’t personalize the callback number as my own cell number. Messages come from [pickaname]@txtsig.us, which cannot be replied to by recipients.

Service plans start $7/month, but I’m using the $14/month plan with 100 contacts and 60 group messages. That’s 6,000 text messages for $14 as opposed to 116 messages for the same price if I used Skype’s SMS service.

Of course, if you have a smaller group you can follow Matt‘s instructions for sending mass text messages for free, but it requires a lot more footwork and I’ve found it isn’t as clean or reliable.

Thanks, Chris, for pointing me to this resource. It’s gonna be a life saver!

[UPDATE: Matt, from TxtSignal, informed me of a promo code they have for ministries or any organization that works toward ministry efforts. The promo code is good for a minimum of 10% off and even slightly more depending on the plan (for example, the $14/month plan becomes $12/month, or, 14% off). When signing up for service, use this promotional code: —–]

[UPDATE: The promo code is no longer available, but if you set up an account, email support@txtsignal.com and they’ll setup a 10% discount for ministries.]


Posted on May 23, 2007

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  • hey tim.
    were you going to try and use twitter for an sms announcement service? that would be free wouldn’t it?
    i’ve looked into it a bit.
    i’m interested hear why you haven’t pursued twitter (if that’s the case)

    peaceout
    dave

  • Tim

    I thought about using Twitter, but wouldn’t that require that everyone has a Twitter account and enables their account to receive text messages? That might be an intimidating amount of configuration for low-tech parents.

    Plus, some people like me already use Twitter but have text message updates disabled. If I were to sign up to a text message update service through Twitter, I’d either have to create a new account just for those text updates (is that possible if I’ve already linked my cell number to a different account?) or turn on text updates for all my friends. I don’t want to do either.

    Also, I won’t be the only person sending out these text message updates. A volunteer of mine who heads up our on-going event this summer will be sending text updates, too. With TxtSignal.com, we can both have our own logins to send messages and manage users.

    We can also manually sign up user’s cell numbers for our updates with TxtSignal, something we can’t do with Twitter. And we can create multiple groups under one account and even separate teams under each group.

    So, it seemed to me that the cost of TxtSignal.com is worth the simplicity and easy of use. I really don’t like it that recipients can’t reply, though. That just doesn’t make sense to me.

  • Tim no problem. I am looking forward to using TxtSignal in our student ministry this upcoming school year. I will have to wait to get it into our new budget to start it though…however I think it is going to be a VERY valuable resource to have. I am glad I could help you out.

  • Tim

    Just make sure that they support all the cell phone services carriers in your area. They don’t currently support Unicell, which accounts for several of my kids. I wrote them asking them to add it. Dunno how easy that is for them. Guess I’ll find out.

  • Tim

    Matt, from TxtSignal, just replied to my email and said they added Unicell support. Woo hoo! That was fast.

  • have you used pinger or jott? i’ve heard good things about those. (and i’m pretty sure they’re both free).

  • Tim

    I haven’t actually used Pinger or Jott, but I’ve heard about them. The downside to Pinger is that everyone else needs to be a Pinger user, too, and I would have to say everyone’s name I want to send the voicemail to. With 100 students or so on a list, that doesn’t work too well. Plus, what if I forget someone? Jott is cool, but I’m not sure how well it’s voice-to-text recognition works. Has anyone tried it? Does everyone else have to be Jott users, too?

  • Tim

    Matt, from TxtSignal, informed me of a promo code they have for ministries or any organization that works toward ministry efforts. Check my original post for the promo code.

  • Hey Tim,

    I just started using broadtexter.com — This was designed for bands to promote their concerts and stuff but it works with church activities as well.

  • Jason…just checked out broadtexter and it seems pretty cool. Signed myself up and sent a message to my phone. Works pretty quick and simple. So I sent the link to our students and we will see how well it works for us.

  • Tim

    I haven’t heard of broadtexter.com. I’ll have to check it out. Someone planning to post a review on it related to youth ministry?

  • Tim I just posted on it on my blog. I’m going to wait a week or so before I make an official judgment on it but honestly it seems pretty sweet. The recipient cannot text you back from the message unless they text straight to your phone. It is pretty quick though. We will see if the students sign up for it and how it works.

  • Tim

    Thanks, Chris. Are you planning to post an “official judgment” next week?

  • yeah as long as our kids sign up for it.

  • TXTLaunchPad is ideally suited for this as well, especially if you are doing large volumes of messages.

  • I was looking for this for a while and I found Zemble.com It is amazing and free. You can add all the numbers manually into groups or you can create a community and only send it out to people who register and want to be a part of that community. Check it out.

  • Tim

    Thanks for the resource, Phil. I’ll have to check it out. Have you written a review about it anywhere from a youth ministry perspective?

  • no, it is pretty self explanatory on thier website. I was looking for this exact thing for awhile and could only find expensive options… until I came across Zemble. They are really trying to be a “myspace” of cell phones. You will have to check it out to see what I mean, but it has done the job for me. A little work imputing all the numbers, but now I can communicate with staff and students instantly! I love it.

  • Josh

    Has anyone taken a look at Club Texting for this kind of service? They provide text messaging solutions to many churches.

  • Tim

    No, I haven’t seen that one, Josh. Thanks for the heads up on it. I’ll check it out.

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  • Here’s another website that caters to Youth Group text messages: http://www.jabbertext.com.
    matt

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  • Tony

    Hi Tim! I just wanted to say that my group uses broadtexter.com. It works really well and is absolutely free! Also, I am really glad to have stumbled upon your website. I have been looking for an evangelism series and was instantly granted a freebie from your site. Thanks so much!

  • Steve markerson

    Hi Everyone, just noticed this interesting thread and noticed there where some issues with your bulk sms provider not letting you select the from number. I have used a company: http://www.roibc.co.uk, they allow you to send bulk sms and voice message very cheaply and provide fantastic functionality including caller number and a full real time information system (global). No complaints from me!!

  • stephentrainer

    We have used both Simply Txt and Duffled.com, details on both at http://wp.me/p1iF9w-1C

  • Gomez

    Hi guys, i am using OnlineNOTEZ to send notes and text messages online. Here is the site: websendsms.com
    Hope you will enjoy it!

  • Regan Philstrom

    I recently started using the SMS service from http://globalcallenterprises.com for my church. Not only do they handle SMS text blasts, but I have used their voice blast service to communicate with my group with my own voice. My son’s little league coach gave me their contact info 3 years ago. info@globalcallenterprises.com They handle the whole process for you – full service. I say that because I’ve used another service and I was confused with the setup and maintenance process. This company made it easy.

    • Barry

      The link to the discounted pricing is here:
      http://onecalltellall.com/church, with the discount, the cost for not only text, but voice, text, and email is very low.
      Our church uses them.

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