The Nonprofit Hero Factory

Episode 8: Is Your Nonprofit Making the Most of Messaging?

In this Episode:

Michale Sabat, founder of @Mssg joins us to talk about the power and the potential of messaging for nonprofits.

Mobile messaging is the fastest-growing communications channel, with click-through rates far above email. How are nonprofits using it successfully today and how can you incorporate it into your successful engagement and fundraising strategies?

Listen to this Episode

Introduction 0:08
Welcome to the nonprofit Hero Factory, a weekly live video broadcast and Podcast, where we’ll be helping nonprofit leaders and innovators create more Heroes for their cause and a better world for all.

Boris Kievsky 0:19
Hi, everybody. Welcome to episode eight of the nonprofit Hero Factory. Today we’re going to be talking to my friend Michael Sabet, about mobile messaging for nonprofits, and how to maximize and how to even get started with using mobile messaging. Thank you all once again for joining us. Last week was a special episode where I did a solo show, talking about the power of digital advocacy and the tools that nonprofits can and should be using for whatever their cause is. And this week, we’re going to kind of build on that because one of the main tools that is being used really right now is mobile technology, right? messaging is just a small part of that, or Well, it’s a very important part of that. But most nonprofits don’t necessarily know where to begin when it comes to those things. So I’m really excited to have Michael on the show today. He is an expert that’s been working in nonprofit technology for over 12 years, he’s helped hundreds of organizations launch thousands of digital campaigns. His expertise is on messaging, including SMS and Facebook Messenger, and advocacy. Currently, he also works with online donations, email and PDP as part of a bigger role that he now holds. But I’ll let him tell you guys all about that as we bring him on. Mike, come on. Hi, Mike.

Mike Sabat 1:47
Thanks for having me.

Boris Kievsky 1:48
Awesome to have you here, my friend. So yeah, I gave a little brief intro. But as I like to start off, can you share your story with us and how you got to this point today?

Mike Sabat 1:57
Yeah, absolutely. Thanks. I started Working in the space in 2008, for a company called mobile Commons, which was a very small company at the time, I think there were five, maybe six of us and about 20 customers. And we did text messaging campaigns for nonprofits. So we were a platform that powered SMS campaigns for organizations, including, you know, driving advocacy actions, and I was with mobile Commons till 2016. Through an acquisition, where the company was acquired. I left there and started my own company that powered automated conversations on Facebook Messenger. So similar model but new channel instead of SMS. It was Facebook Messenger. That didn’t work out great learning experience, great product, not a good business. And since then, I had a quick stop at a company called hustle which does peer to peer messaging. But about a year ago, I started working for this company called engaging networks. And we are a digital platform for nonprofits. So we power SMS campaign. But also all other digital channels meaning email campaigns, online donation forums, online advocacy events, peer to peer, really anything that an organization does digitally engaging networks powers it from one kind of integrated system. So yeah, so that’s where that kind of like SMS background current, all digital fits in.

Boris Kievsky 3:23
Cool. And like I asked everybody ahead of time what your nonprofit superpower is. Do you remember what you told me?

Mike Sabat 3:30
I have no idea.

Boris Kievsky 3:32
He said it’s using messaging chat messaging channels for marketing campaigns. Right? How does that I guess in broad strokes, how does that help nonprofits? The goal of this show and really my career at this point is help them activate More Heroes for their cause. So what I guess, can you give me an example of how it can work and what is currently working out there?

Mike Sabat 3:56
Well, well, real quickly, so. messaging is this weird channel that every single person does personally, right everybody text messages or uses Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, literally everybody, more people use messaging than use a web browser, right? But when you bring messaging into an organization, there’s, it’s, there’s a disconnect. And I’ve been thinking for 12 years, like, why is there disconnected what that disconnect is? Because it’s tricky to kind of everybody knows how to do email in an organization. But for some reason, messaging hasn’t gotten to the ubiquity of email within organizations. And that’s weird. So so that’s like a major problem I think about we’ll talk about it in a second. But you know, results How does messaging help? This goes a long way back, right. But um, in I think 2009 2010, strictly built on their messaging list. So SMS subscribers, I was working with an organization focused on immigration reform, CIR comprehensive immigration reform. And from starting at zero in 2009, they probably had maybe a quarter million SMS opt ins in 2010. And when the bill was on house, the floor, they were driving hundred thousand calls to Congress every day. Right? So when you want to activate your supporters and get them to take action, it’s not a view. SMS is not about eyeballs, it’s about taking action, right? When you want to activate your supporters to do something, there’s just no better channel than SMS. And in this case, it was, you know, call Congress talk about, you know, why kind of why they support comprehensive immigration reform.

Boris Kievsky 5:42
That’s, you know, so onpoint

Mike Sabat 5:45
Real quick, sorry to interrupt, but there’s a modern example. I don’t know how public it is. And I heard it through rumors and I think it’s, I’m 90% sure it’s true. I just don’t know. There’s an organization we’ve all heard of. When Facebook messenger came out, they said, Hey, we should focus on Facebook Messenger. This is an old organization with an extremely large email list. They were raising more money from their Facebook Messenger list after a year of focusing on Facebook Messenger than they were for their email from their email list, which is, you know, probably 20 or 30 years old. So when you do it, right, and there’s just nothing like, you know, the the activation, the results you get from a messaging campaign

Boris Kievsky 6:28
That’s incredible. And I want to talk more about Facebook Messenger in a minute because things have been changing on their fluid platform. But you know, the point about getting so many people to call their Congress people you know, right now where we’re always living through certain times of a right now we’re living in particular times, let’s let’s call it that where advocacy is huge, and we’re talking about all sorts of issues, not just the ones that are most prevalent in the headlines like COVID and the protests going on right now. But also Universal universal pay systems what’s called the one universal payment initiative. I’m sorry, UBI. And universal basic income. Thank you that that’s exactly it. And healthcare and so many other things that are topical right now in terms of elections for this coming election, that to be able to mobilize a base that large and get them to take action that way is just seems like incredible power.

Mike Sabat 7:32
Yeah, and this was one of the discoveries or, you know, probably the smartest one of mobile comments. One of them was, hey, we’re messaging people on this phone, right. But the text message, what, what does that the fact that we’re on a phone directly give us the unique ability to do versus email or versus any other channel? And one of the clear ones was make a phone call, right, obviously. And so then you think like, what phone call do organizations find most important and you know, In a very important action of support can take is to call their congressperson. And so mobile Commons, you know, built that call routing and tracking so that we could connect each individual with their congressperson. And that was a big deal, right? It was the only place you could get it done. still works better today from a text message, then click to call right even though everybody has click to call, fill out a webform get a call. But but that text to call is even a step above that. And that is for some organizations, right? That is the most important thing they can do is get their supporters to take action. Now a struggle and something that’s continuously in my mind, no one solved it yet is okay. Companies have figured out how to get SMS messaging people write SMS opt ins, or Facebook Messenger opt ins for that matter to make a call and take an advocacy action. The trickier part is how do we get the SMS list to make a donation directly from the SMS. And so that’s an interesting problem that hasn’t fully been solved yet.

Boris Kievsky 9:04
Yeah, and I know there are a few platforms out there that will do it in one way or another. Some, I think, work through your mobile carrier. Some work through just a web based platform, essentially, that’s mobile optimized for donations. different ones have different approaches. But yeah, there’s no ubiquitous or even even universally available, system that that is inexpensive enough and open enough to everybody in the nonprofit space to take advantage of. But I do think that that in part if nonprofit’s can’t figure that out, and those that do are at an advantage over others that haven’t gotten there yet, and will take a little time to catch up.

Mike Sabat 9:46
Yeah, I think you know that. What I was getting at here is, there’s no reply with the amount you want to donate and we’ll add it to the credit card we have on file, right, which is sort of the killer app or the the superpower in that in that sense. Linking people to the donation forums. Yes, sure. That’s been around forever. And this might take us into the Facebook Messenger conversation if you want. But I have a theory. I guess it’s a theory. I have a thought that I think mobile web forms are horrible, right? I think the form is not the web form is not the right medium for mobile. I think we basically took what works on the web, on your, you know, 21 inch, 22 inch, you know, Mac display or your 15 inch MacBook. And we said, Hey, since the phone is only five inches, why don’t we smash this webform into five inches, and we’ll call it mobile optimized, which is all good. And you have to do it right. But it’s just not the right form factor for the mobile phone. It’s just not ideal period. conversation. messaging is the ideal form factor for the mobile phone. And so you know, as you start doing messaging campaigns and get a little better at them, and you know, figure out what works What doesn’t the the the killer app or the superpower of messaging is actually response? And if you think about what a message response is, it’s sort of like someone filling out a form. Right? So if I go to your website, and I said, You know, I get a pop up that says, enter your emailed email address to join our mailing list. That’s exactly the same as me texting in and getting a message back that says, respond with your email address to to join our email list. And the response rate for that response, sorry to use the double word but you know, the conversion rate on asking for an email and a conversation is so much better, like four or five, maybe 10 times better in certain situations than sending someone to a mobile form and looking to get the conversion rate in that form.

Boris Kievsky 11:50
I think honestly, my brain is spinning right now with ideas that this is sparking, and I think you’re absolutely right. It would be amazing. If nonprofit CRMs or donor donation platforms would have that credit card on file kind of thing. Once you’ve opted in, we can text you and say, Hey, this is happening right now text back with the amount you want to give. And we’ll just add it to your to your donation for the year or whatever it might be talking about, like powerful emergency response, or, you know, hot topic, issue response, there was a little while back, I think, leading up to the previous election. There were ways where you could do that with Twitter, even if you included a certain hashtag, he would automatically, you know, get you into a donation system. So something like that, that would work with SMS, or with Facebook Messenger would be I think, phenomenal with WhatsApp, of course, even maybe more broadly applicable. So if if anyone’s a developer out there and ready to get to work, Mike’s got great ideas, and this needs to happen.

Mike Sabat 12:59
So I’m really close. You know, Obama did it right. So the presidential campaigns have done it, Obama did it. I believe Hillary did it, although I don’t have any stats. But you know, for the Obama campaign, and again, you know, when a campaign ends, everybody goes their separate ways. And I heard this like from somebody was there was there but might not have been the primary person. So with a grain of salt, it’s also an unfair comparison. But if you were on the email list and never made a donation, and you know, they emailed you and said, please click here to make a donation and you had to click the email and fill out your credit card and everything. So that’s case a, case B is you’re on the messaging list, and you’ve already saved your credit card. Right? When they emailed you, case, a converted at one rate, case B. So reply with the amount you want to donate will charge the credit card we have saved that converted at times better, so 8,000% better than the first case, and obviously very unfair comparison. But that’s sort of the whole point. It’s like so much better if you can get that SMS Often and syncing that credit card. It’s just not it’s just a different world.

Boris Kievsky 14:03
Because we’re reducing so much friction. And I talked about this all the time, just yesterday, I was on a call with a client, and we were getting their storytelling strategy set up. And I’m introducing this idea that it’s not about carrot and stick anymore in terms of rewards. behavioral economics has taught us, you know, thanks to the work of Torski and Conamen and Richard Thaler that the best way to get people to take action, the actions you want him to take is to really just remove the friction between where they are now and where you want them to be, the easier you could make it. So make it an opt out instead of an opt in which of course, in some cases has other concerns around it, and we don’t want to go violating any laws. But if, for example, they talk about the retirement savings plans, you know, they used to all be opt in Now, a lot of companies are making the default. And so people just go with the default and it benefits them in the long run. So the more you can make it easy for your current and potential supporters to take the actions you want them to take the much more likely they’re going to take them. And you know, 8,000% sounds high, but it wouldn’t shock me that that was actually the case. So it’s it’s incredibly powerful.

Mike Sabat 15:17
Yeah, totally. And you know, when talking about friction, when I see hey, you get an SMS and you click this link, and it opens our webpage will drive you to our web page where you can take an action and just okay, we’ve introduced a ton of friction at that point, right.

Boris Kievsky 15:30
So you’re relying on a good internet connection at the time, you’re relying on the mobile browser rendering rendering properly. And someone wanting to take the time because now it’s a different mindset of now I’ve got to go through a process rather than Oh, yeah, here it is. Here.

Mike Sabat 15:44
It is. Just four clicks versus you know, 400 clicks. Yeah. Yeah. Well, that Yeah. And a lot of ways.

Boris Kievsky 15:49
It’s, this is fantastic stuff like, so. What are you know, are there some other ways besides what we’re talking about right now that nonprofits are successful using messaging today.

Mike Sabat 16:00
Yeah, you know, there’s a bunch I guess I’d start with if your nonprofit thinking about messaging, sort of be comforted to know that nonprofits do extremely well in the messaging space, compared to all other types of entities. I say that nonprofits sort of own the messaging space. Meaning, you know, Obama again in 2008, not to use all these super liberal references, but you know, he announced his vice presidential pick in August in 2008. And that was a story in the New York Times Obama is planning to announce his vice presidential pick, I think they got millions of people texting in but it was like the first big, you know, campaign, SMS campaign for nonprofits. Two years later, the Haiti earthquake happened. And as that you probably referenced, you know, at the beginning, I think you were talking about the text to donate, right? And nonprofits just jumped in. A lot of them more successful as texted donate, but but for the past 12 years since then, there’s just you know, hundreds of nonprofits building these very strong, big, large Active SMS lists and where for profit companies just haven’t done that. Why do nonprofits do so? Well with messaging? Well, number one ideas are core to what nonprofits do. Right? And so the message what the story you tell the nonprofit, sorry, the story you tell your supporters is core to that nonprofit. And and the channels by which you tell that story is core, meaning the nonprofit doesn’t have a product they need to sell. They can concentrate on good communications and relaying their message. It’s just at the center where Uber does a lot of SMS or they did a lot of SMS a you know, at one time, but Uber wasn’t about, you know, the message coming in the SMS. It was about the car, right, the A to B so that’s one reason nonprofits are not transactional, right? When they capture somebody they want you know, when somebody is opted into nonprofits, communications, that nonprofit wants the person to leave them $50,000 in their will, right. It’s not like they’re burning through lists, or they shouldn’t be So, you know, getting connecting with a supporter on their strongest channel is important in the nonprofit and they know how to maximize that long term. It’s worth it. Third, last but not least, you know, why do nonprofits own this messaging space is that their supporters actually give a shit about the causes. It’s personal to them. So where I might shop at TJ Maxx, and when TJ Maxx says wants to text you I know they’re just going to send me like coupons to get me back in the store. It’s not personal to me. It’s not something I really want to hear about. But when it says like, Hey, you made a donation. You know, you saved a life you helped with whatever, you support our cause. Do you want to stay up to date on this? Cause it’s something personal and yes, I will connect on the most personal channel there. But yeah, what so it’s like the background. Why is it so important? Why are nonprofits so good at messaging, you know, what’s happening currently is there’s a few different options with messaging, and a few different directions that the space is heading. One is peer to peer messaging versus opt in broadcast messaging. So peer to peer messaging is just a few years old. It’s more like advertising than it is like email, like building an opt in list. Because with peer to peer messaging, you just need the phone number, you can send a message to anybody, but you need volunteers or employees to do it. And the people aren’t opted in, they haven’t chosen to receive your messages. So it’s a little more transactional, a little more like, Hey, we’re going to send an ad to people over text messaging, we’re broadcast messaging is you’re building an asset over time, which is your OPT in list. I’m a little more I’ve done both I lean a little more towards the broadcast opt in messaging.

Boris Kievsky 19:39
That model is that almost like a phone tree, but but in text version, the messenger version,

Mike Sabat 19:44
I guess, but nobody’s doing it? Well, sort of, you know, the peer to peer messaging is, there’s a law that says, in order to send an automated text message to somebody they have to have explicitly opted in. And the idea behind peer to peer is well, what if It’s not an automated message does that mean people don’t have to explicitly opt in. And so peer to peer messaging is an organization can buy or you know, have a list of phone numbers, they upload them to a system. Hustle is a big one, there’s one called get through. And there’s a few more out there. And then the software powers individuals to click Send on the phone every time a message is sent. So they’re like approximating this idea of a broadcast message getting, you know this message to 1000 people quickly, but it’s people actually sending it.

Boris Kievsky 20:36
I’ve been seeing through friends and through even ads on Facebook, for example, that they’re trying to mobilize people for this upcoming election cycle, or this current election cycle, I should say, the upcoming elections. And they’re actually advertising things similar to what you’re talking about now, where, hey, you can make phone calls or you can send text messages on behalf of the candidates

Mike Sabat 20:59
That’s exactly it. Yep. Got it got interesting, effective. A lot of problems long term but interesting and effective, especially for politics. You know, nonprofits are trying. I think it works. It’s just a question of like, hey, are we going to burn out the channel? Number one? Are we going to piss our donors off? If they don’t want to receive texts from us? And then, you know, is it worth it to staff up? Wouldn’t? Would we rather build a list of people that want to hear from us and press one button to reach all of them? Or do we want to just, you know, kind of expedite that process in a way where we’ll never actually like, have this opt in, but we can, you know, do it manually, right. Again, advertising versus building, like, you know, buying ads versus building your email list sort of,

Boris Kievsky 21:50
there ought to be some sort of a crossover in there where it’s almost like when someone makes a donation, hopefully your website says, Hey, now go share this on Facebook with your friends. Or send an email to your friends. Maybe there’s a crossover where the peer to peer leads to an actual opt in so that you’re not burning out and you’re not just blasting people that you don’t have the the explicit permission to do so because I coming back to what you were saying earlier, I think that is a great differentiator where you know, TJ Maxx, as you said, we’re not the single them out whatever the for profit company is that sending me messages, for example, I’ll often say stop, because frankly, I don’t want to know that you have a sale. I’m not interested in trying to come right back to your site to buy more stuff. The nonprofit if I’ve opted in, it’s because I believe in the mission, we are aligned, right? So it’s almost a friend telling me Hey, this thing that you care about is happening now, or we need your help with this thing that’s currently happening so I am much more likely to welcome the message and respond as as requested.

Mike Sabat 22:51
Yeah, so the peer to peer it’s confusing jargon. But yes, peer to peer isn’t like your friends reaching out to other friends. It’s volunteers kind of powering it but I Yeah, you know, obviously the the personal connection make sense. There is a company called I believe they’re called outreach circle that is doing friends texting friends from their app, which is an interesting way to do it. That might be what they’re doing. I think that’s kind of the story.

Boris Kievsky 23:15
We’ll check them out. And I’ll try to add all these to the show notes. as you’re going along. I’m just taking notes like, Oh, this is great. I kind of want to share this with organizations that are eating this. So, um, what then assuming someone a nonprofit gets into the space, what should they be looking for to start? And what are some of the things that should be measuring along the way to see if it’s working for them?

Mike Sabat 23:37
Yeah. So when you start, there’s this little I sort of mentioned it before, but messaging is weird. It hasn’t been as widely distributed in all organizations, because there’s this little learning curve at the beginning. And it’s in a weird space. Like there’s a lot of questions at the beginning, peer to peer versus opt in versus, you know, what’s the legal ease? What does this mean? Can I how do I help people in how do I do it? All of this so there’s this little learning curve at the beginning, which is simpler than everybody thinks to get over. And and so one of the reasons I built @message.com is to help people with that, you know, little learning curve at the beginning, because they need help at the beginning. But you don’t need to hire. Most organizations don’t hire a full agency to run their messaging campaigns, because it’s like, wait, we’re paying you to write, you know, 160 characters, there are some of the very large ones and the very strategic ones that do need to hire agencies, but most kind of dumped. It’s just the messages are so simple. Anyways, you know, at the beginning, you really want to focus on a list growth. Organizations, when they think about text messaging, they either think, one, I want to send this message to people, right? I want to tell them to vote, right. I want to remind them to vote. I want them to get to call my Congressman, or they think you know what our executive director is going on a book tour. I want him to be able to tell people to text in from the book tour, and they want to build that list, organizations need both to make their messaging campaigns work, they need a way to grow that campaign. And then they also need like actions for people to take once they’re on the SMS opt in list. But the Paramount number one concern is how are we going to grow our list? Because if you don’t have people on that list, taking the actions you’re texting them about, nothing else really matters. And so that’s where to start focusing.

Boris Kievsky 25:30
Okay, so the number one metric then is just the size of the list. How do you measure engagement? For example, is it are we talking about measuring response rates to messages, or what is there a point at which you want to like I know with emails, I always advise clients, you know, if anyone doesn’t open your emails for six months or something, you send them a message saying do you still want to hear from us and then you take them off the list? Okay.

Mike Sabat 25:55
That might happen with SMS but uh, yeah, you measure SMS with, you know, the activation Right. So a lot of times the activation is an action. Like I said, it’s not just clicking a link, although so you do want to track you know, are people clicking links, but really the the superpower of messaging is response. And so you want to you want to build campaigns that drive response, and then make something valuable from that response. Right? So for instance, what I would be sending right now if I was a progressive Non-Profit, and it just to give an example is, Hey, are you registered to vote? Please respond yes or no? Right? Because number one, it’s much easier to respond. And that’s going to be the highest like conversion action you can ask for. And when someone responds yes or no, you’re getting valuable data, and then you can take them down a different path, right? versus so so you want to track that response. And then you want that to align, you know, core value. So if someone says no, then obviously the next message is like, Hey, can we help you You register to vote, reply with your address or you know, are you over 18 or whatever it is. So you want to drive response, make response valuable. You want to stay away from, hey, click this link to fill out our voter register for right that is, again, introducing friction. We talked about it before. But that’s something you know a lot of people think about, you want to avoid that. I would also think at the beginning, and this is kind of a bigger part. The industry is being you know, kind of like there’s a tug of war going on between peer to peer and opt in messaging. There’s another little bit of a tug of war between omni channel So hey, we manage your text message, your email, your Twitter, your Facebook versus going deep, right? Hey, we do you know, your donation pages and your advocacy pages. And and now we’re adding email and SMS. And I think that long term, the companies that are going to win and the organizations that are going to win are going to drive connecting SMS to deeper actions, like advocacy, like donations, like volunteering, like voting, right, and so I would be thinking about, once you get over the basics, how does the SMS list drive bigger actions with a simple response versus sending people to a web form?

Boris Kievsky 28:18
Right on right on.

Mike Sabat 28:20
And just to get a quick plug in, it’s a little about it’s where I’m trying to get and where it gives you network. So the company I work for is trying to get a little because it does, the donations, the email, the advocacy events, all of that digitally, like, Okay, how can an SMS trigger donation? How can an SMS conversation in real human peer to peer, peer to peer fundraising campaign? How can I RSVP to an event with a message and then get reminded about it, right, take out that friction of the web form and have the conversation instead is sort of like the holy grail of the channel.

Boris Kievsky 28:52
So I do want to touch and we’re coming up on 30 minutes here and I don’t want to be take too much advantage of Your time, Mike, I really appreciate it. But I do want to touch on a couple of things. So Facebook Messenger, specifically, I know has evolved over the last couple of years. And it’s gotten a lot more powerful. But it’s also become a pay to play platform, essentially, right? Initially, they released it, and oh, it’s free, and anybody can message anybody in any way. And then they started putting more and more restrictions on it, partly due to, you know, concerns from the audience. But partly also, of course, Facebook needs to make money and has implemented gates to make sure that people don’t overuse it without paying for things. Where do you stand on the longevity of Facebook Messenger when it comes to campaigns like this?

Mike Sabat 29:39
I think that Facebook Messenger is very good as a conversion channel from ads. I’ll explain what that means. It’s not a good place to build your list to build an opt in list, um, Facebook, sort of like they did with the apps 10 years ago, like they did with a lot of organizations. You know, building the likes and follows, just basically pulled the rug out from everybody. I think this is the last time they’ll be able to do it. I think the developer community is going to wise up with this. And interesting enough, I heard that snap is now sort of playing on that. So you can sort of build apps in Snapchat. And their their idea is like, Hey, we’re not gonna “F” you over like Facebook did right? When Facebook launched, you could build your list and you can send broadcast messages to anybody that subscribed on that list. It’s kind of obvious, they were always going to pull that back. But organizations that built their list on Facebook Messenger, now have to pay to send messages to that list. Just the playbook again. It’s still valuable, right? If you have a list on Facebook Messenger, it’s probably still valuable to send messages there. The the rate is a penny per open, I think, which you’re not going to beat anywhere, but it’s clearly going in a direction where I wouldn’t build a new asset on Facebook anywhere but especially messenger What is very valuable right now with Facebook Messenger is a little bit what we touched on before, which is web forums versus conversations. You can now for free build into Facebook ads create a conversation after the user clicks your ad. So if if you’re targeting mobile Facebook users 93% of the people clicking ads on Facebook or mobile, if when someone clicks that ad, they go to your landing page, and they fill out their name, email address, address all of that whatever your landing page webform says there’s a huge fall off and conversion rate between the mobile landing page and the desktop. So if you’re getting good results on the desktop, great, the mobile page is going to convert one third to one fifth as well. Right? Again, the webform is just not the right format for the phone. Instead, if you send that user into a conversation, so the user sees your Facebook ad when they click in routes to messenger. And it says, Hey, thanks for supporting our cause, please reply with your email address. User replies with their email address you now have it. Great Now tell us your zip code, user replies in their zip code, you now have it. The response rates are, you know, five times better, maybe more than if you send them to that landing page. So and that’s all free and built into the Facebook ad tool. So you still have to pay for the ad. But the conversation is essentially free. There’s a lot of advantages to doing it. And that’s what I mean when I say Facebook Messenger seems like a really good conversion platform to collect that data. If you’re already buying Facebook ads.

Boris Kievsky 32:37
Yeah, I’ve built a few of these bots for organizations in the past and the I think you’re absolutely right, the usage of it to get people to opt in to convert to actual subscribers in other platforms is key, so that you’re not constantly having to have to pay to do a blast to them for any specific reason. And you also want to maybe have them in the same database just so that you’re not hitting them on too many platforms. At the same time. I know some people wouldn’t enjoy getting a text or Facebook message or an email and a phone call or something all at once about one thing unless it’s critical to their lives. Mike, this has been fantastic. When I asked you if there are any tools that you would like to share with nonprofits that you think they shouldn’t be, or resources that you think they should be considering. We’ve already mentioned a few as we’ve been talking, and I’ll add them to the show notes. But you did talk about a book “The hard thing about hard things”. What do you Why is that something you recommend?

Mike Sabat 33:35
Yeah, so first off, it’s it’s a great book, great story in terms of it’s a business book write about somebody that started a company, but a great story about, you know, the ups and downs in the first half. The second half of the book, is all of these very specific examples where the author talks about how to think through just incredibly hard problems where you know, any move you make is tough. gonna hurt somebody or something. And you know, when you’re locked up, I guess like, there’s nowhere to go, how to think about, you know, getting out of those problems, the hard thing about hard things. And so I’ve read it twice. And just the, the pattern of thinking that kind of comes out in that work is super interesting, especially, you know, in a time where now where there’s just so many like, hard things to think about, I guess.

Boris Kievsky 34:22
Well, I really appreciate that suggestion. I know, I’m gonna go check it out. It’s not a book that I’ve read yet. So it’s now on my audible list, and I’m going to get into my feed. Mike, how should people follow up with you? And we’re going to have it as well in the show notes. But how do you prefer people to follow up with you if they’ve got questions? Or what would you like them to do after they’ve seen or heard this show?

Mike Sabat 34:43
Yeah, so two things. One, I work for a company called engaging networks, the site is

Mike Sabat 34:47
engagingnetworks.net. And if you want to talk about digital tools, how messaging fits into your overall digital tools, or how just you know digital strategy, right how to, you know, connect email to donation pages, And drive advocacy and stuff like that. That’s the best place to with a ton of resources. It’s a 20 year old company, work with huge nonprofits and all over the world. And it’s just like, really strong company product and resource for everything. If you want to just investigate messaging stuff, I have a site at @Mssg.com there’s a newsletter there. So sign up for that. We talked about messaging, specifically. And we’re expanding that to talk about you know, how messaging works with digital strategy and just some other, you know, digital strategy, best practices.

Boris Kievsky 35:36
Awesome stuff. Thank you so much again, Mike. This has been fantastic, better than I could have expected. And I’m sure anybody watching or listening is going to get a whole lot of awesome information just from this, what 35 minutes now that we’ve been on, which is, I think my longest episode so far, thank you everybody at home for joining us for listening wherever you are right now and watching wherever you are right now. This is the power of digital technologies that it can reach you anytime anyplace you want to consume it. And so I appreciate you devoting some of your time to us today. I wish you a great weekend. And as always, thank you for everything you do to make this world a better place

Mike Sabat 36:15
Boris I had a great time. Thank you.

Exit 36:19
Thank you all for watching and listening to the nonprofit Hero Factory. We hope this episode has given you some ideas and strategies for creating more Heroes for your cause and a better world for all of us. Please be sure to subscribe to this show on Youtube, Facebook, iTunes, Spotify, or your favorite podcast platform and let us know what you think by leaving a review

Concepts and Takeaways:

  • Nonprofits are much more successful than for-profit organizations in the messaging space.
  • The initial hurdle to adopt mobile messaging and incorporate it into your communications strategy is not as high as most nonprofits think it will be.
  • Mobile response rates are significantly higher than most other campaign media.
  • Mobile messaging is incredibly effective at driving action, especially when that action is achievable on the mobile device (phone).
  • Keep your mobile audience mobile as much as possible.
  • Conversation-style campaigns work best. As much as possible, try not to drive SMS traffic to web forms.
  • Facebook Messenger is now pay-to-play, but still a great tool for driving ad responses into mobile conversations.

Action Steps: What Now?

  • Resource Spotlight

    In this episode, the following resources were mentioned:

    • Engaging Networks – Digital engagement and fundraising tools, where Mike is currently the director of business development
    • Hustle – Peer-to-peer messaging
    • Get Thru – Peer-to-peer texting and calling tools
    • Outreach Circle – Peer-to-peer hub for supporters to boost your campaigns and grow your base
    • M+R Benchmarks – Stats on mobile device use in 2019

About this week’s guest

Michael Sabat

Michael Sabat

Founder, @Mssg

DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, ENGAGING NETWORKS
Michael has been working in non-profit technology for over 12 years. Over that time he’s helped hundreds of organizations launch thousands of messaging campaigns – SMS, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

Michael is a Director of Business Development at Engaging Networks, a digital platform that powers fundraising, advocacy and communications (including SMS) campaigns for non-profit organizations worldwide.

Michael also runs atmssg.com a site that is dedicated to teaching digital marketers how to be successful with messaging campaigns. Finally, Michael is the host of The Chat Bubble podcast, a long running show about using messaging for marketing.