How (and why) to use SMS for your awards communications

by | Aug 25, 2021 | Articles, Blog

Communication with your awards program participants is an important part of any program. From open entry announcements to program news and winner announcements, there is a lot of information to share with your community.

Email is a great medium to share this information. But it doesn’t have to be the only way. SMS, or text messaging, can be even more effective when you want to share pertinent program news quickly. 

According to Twilio’s recent Global Messaging Engagement Report, people across generations and borders prefer email and SMS for their communications. Gartner reports that the average open rate for emails is only about 20%. But for SMS or text messages? It’s a staggering 98%! 

It’s easier than you think to utilise text messaging for your awards programs. Let’s take a look at why and how to incorporate SMS into your awards communications toolbox.

The benefits of text messaging

SMS, or Short Message Service, is text messaging used by most telephone, internet and mobile device systems. 

Text messaging has become the preferred system of communication by businesses and organisations across the globe—especially as an additional communication channel to email—to engage clients more effectively. 

The use of SMS in awards programs has much utility in communicating with entrants and judges. Here are just a few of the benefits.

  • You can better engage younger participants. Let’s face it—texting has become a daily part of life for younger generations. If your awards community includes millennials or “Gen Z” youth, it’s a good idea to meet them where they are, which is on mobile.
  • It’s more immediate than email. A text message is much quicker to send and receive than an e-mail; it happens in real-time. For urgent and important communications, an SMS can be especially helpful for business professionals who are out of the office or traveling.
  • You can drive more engagement. SMS communications provide a channel to interact more intimately with your awards community, giving them a chance to reply or complete the desired action (like submitting or judging an entry) more ––and they are more likely to read the text message than an email stacked up in a crowded inbox.
  • Better open and response rates. According to Gartner, various sources report SMS open and response rates as high as 98% and 45%, respectively — in contrast to corresponding figures of 20% and 6% for email.
  • It forces concise communications. Because text messages are usually shorter in length than emails, they can be a convenient way of sharing important information in a succinct manner. 

SMS use cases for awards communication 

Now that we’ve talked about the benefits, let’s go over actual use cases for awards programs. What are some ways you can incorporate text messaging into your awards communications? Here are some ideas to get you started.

Program marketing

If you have mobile numbers from previous season entrants or judges, you can easily send awards program updates and news to let your community know of upcoming entry or judging periods. You could send them to your awards website or the entry form itself, making it quick and easy to enter or read the latest news on your program.

Automated notifications

There are numerous automated notifications that can occur during an awards submission, judging and announcements, based on a trigger or action that occurs during the submission process. Here are just a few notification examples that are often sent from the Award Force platform:

  • Invite participants to program 
  • Send account creation confirmation 
  • Notify entrant of successful entry submission
  • Advise judges they have entries to judge
  • Confirm payment was received for entry
  • Notify people of awards nominations
  • Announce shortlisted or program winners
  • And more!

By asking for a phone number in the registration process, these quick notifications can be sent via SMS in the Award Force platform, which is a great opportunity to communicate quick, short announcements with ease. 

Submission nudges

For those awards participants who start their entry but have not yet submitted, you can easily send a reminder nudge through a text message to remind entrants to complete their entry before the closing date. 

This can increase the submission rate and make it easy for entrants to pick up where they left off, especially if you include a link directly to their in-progress entry. 

Judging reminders

When you need to remind your judges that entries are reading for scoring, you can send an SMS communication as a quick reminder.
Like a submission nudge, you can include a link for the judge, who can immediately log in and see which entries are ready for judging. 

Winner announcements

You can also create quick SMS communications to let your winners or shortlisted candidates know the results––that notification of winning can’t come fast enough! 

Your community will love the speedy results, and a text message with a link to the awards will make it easy for them to share online in their own communities—putting your program in the spotlight. 

SMS in Award Force

How to implement SMS communications for your awards

As you can see, there are a lot of benefits and use cases for incorporating text messages into your awards communications. But, let’s get technical. How can you actually implement SMS communications into your awards program? 

SMS: A built-in Award Force feature

With Award Force, you have two choices when communicating with your participants: email or SMS. To use SMS as your primary method of communication, simply require users to register to your program using their mobile number instead of their email. That’s easy to do from your registration page settings. From then on, you’ll be able to communicate by text message––with just a few clicks! 

Please note:

You cannot use both email and SMS to communicate with participants in Award Force.
If both email and mobile are provided during user registration, email will always hold precedence over SMS text messaging. To ensure SMS texts are sent to program participants instead of email, ensure email is disabled during user registration. 

For programs which already have participants registered with email, but would like to use SMS to communicate instead, you would need to request your existing users to update their profile with their mobile number and remove their email address (you can also do this on their behalf). If you would prefer not to take that path – you can use Zapier or our API to get the job done!

A Zapier integration

Looking to do more with your SMS communications? Award Force boasts a native Zapier integration, which enables you to connect to text message services to help you customise your awards communications. Check out this list from Zapier of recommended SMS apps for small businesses! Or, use a ready-to-go template to connect Award Force to TextMagic, where you can provide automatic confirmation to users who have submitted new entries. 

Awards program connection to SMS service

API and webhooks

Award programs can use our comprehensive API and webhooks to leverage the power of Award Force with other programs. The API allows you to create, update, get and delete and a wide variety of objects.

You could set up an integration using a trigger like “entry submitted” to send an SMS to that user. You can also set up a trigger to tag an entry and then send an SMS. For example, incomplete entries could be tagged and then triggered to send an SMS message to that user as a reminder to complete their submission. 

Awards communications for today’s world

There’s more than one way to share the good news of your awards program. Don’t forget to include SMS messaging as part of your communications toolbox. Text messaging is easy and engaging and will keep your awards program top of mind for your awards community. 


To learn how you can use Award Force to easily manage your program and communicate with awards participants via SMS communications, watch our demo videos, take a self-guided tour or book a call to learn more.

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