How to Use Text To Win as a Trigger For Contesting

How to Use Text To Win as a Trigger For Contesting

by Tracy Johnson

More and more stations are migrating to text messaging as a trigger for contesting, and for good reason. Text to win is becoming more and more popular as the vast majority of the population has access to text.

There’s no doubt that, given the choice, listeners would rather text than call. Plus, it is a lot easier to manage a text to win contest than a call-in to win promotion.

But is text to win right for your brand? Maybe.

Here’s some things to consider:

Why Text To Win

For decades, the common method of  giving away prizes is to ask for a specific caller to win. However, this approach is hopelessly dated. Listeners stopped participating this way years ago. The only ones that call are the frequent contest players (prize pigs), and many of them don’t even know why they’re calling.

Another popular method is online entry. This has great advantages, particularly if you’re building your database for future marketing purposes. And it attracts a much broader audience to play. The downside is that it’s an extra step to participate. As as result, it loses some of the urgency for entering.

Some PD’s don’t like this method because it doesn’t give them a winner to put on the air. Still, if you manage and promote it properly, there’s a lot of benefits to enter-to-win.

Best of Both Worlds?

Text to win has some of the benefits of both methods. It’s as immediate as calling in, but there are no busy signals! Every message gets through. This expands the audience that will participate.

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And, you get a winner on the air, because you can call and surprise them. This often generates an even better response than someone calling in.

Downside of Text to Win

There are a couple of things that may be a barrier to a texting strategy.

First, it’s more expensive than just taking phone calls, which is usually free. To do it right, you will want to use a texting provider with a strong back-end for user management. It’s important that each entrant receive a reply, even if it’s just the auto-responder.

While it’s easier for the entrant (a major advantage), it’s a bit more complicated to manage the process for the station. You have to set up each contest and customize the auto-reply messaging that goes back to entrants.

Third, the entries usually don’t result in a useful contact that can be used for marketing purposes. So again, if building a database is your goal, online entry may be better for you.

And the other downside is that you may get a bit of negative feedback from users who have to pay for each text they send, or that they have no access to texting. But don’t let this hold you back. Texting has become ubiquitous. It wasn’t that long ago that stations resisted enter-to-win contests because a handful of listeners didn’t have online access. Times change.

One more note: When a station does a text contest in the United States, it is required to offer an “alternate means of entry” because the Federal Trade Commission  (FTC, not FCC) views texting data rates as consideration. So when conducting a text contest, always point to a generic contest entry form as an alternate means of entry. On the air, it’s required to promote “For an alternate means of entry, go to (URL)”. This is acceptable to the FTC.  Thanks for the heads-up on this, Dave Shakes.

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It’s important that radio stations be in such with listener lifestyle and behavior, which includes how we engage our audience for promotion and contesting. It’s time to consider texting as a valid option for triggering listener response.

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