Written by Michael Keenan

July 30, 2020

ManyChatters have been asking how they can run an excellent SMS operation. One of the most frequently asked questions is regarding how they can continue talking to their people via text

One great way is a seven (or three or five) day SMS mini-challenge. No matter the industry, customers want to learn — how to get abs, how to improve their social media marketing, how to build a Messenger bot, etc. 

When you use SMS to run your challenge, you continually refresh the 24-hour Messenger window so you can sprinkle in a promotion here or there, get feedback on your content, and build closer ties with your subscribers. 

Because you can build multi-channel flows inside ManyChat, you can easily set up and run an SMS challenge all from one place. If you want to start mastering SMS marketing for your online business, here’s how to set up a high-converting, seven-day SMS challenge.

Note: Some of ManyChat’s interface and information has changed. We’re working hard at updating this content. Please stay tuned!

It starts with getting people excited about your challenge

Every business should start by creating challenge content that helps your ideal client solve a problem. Whether you call it a challenge or mini-course, helping participants overcome a common problem in seven days creates trust between you both.

For example, a gym can run a seven-day abs fitness challenge. An agency can run a bot building or SEO challenge. This serves as a way to educate potential clients and customers who are looking into your product or service. It’s a nice freebie that guides them towards what they need and come out on the other side on top. 

By creating a challenge people get excited about, you can drive traffic from a Growth Tool. Once they enter the challenge, you can gather their phone number, get SMS opt-in, and get started on engaging with your audience. 

What are the best Growth Tools for the challenge?

While you should experiment with what works best for your business, there are a few Growth Tools we recommend testing to drive people into your bot:

  • Messenger Ref URL: Create a lead magnet for your challenge on any channel, such as YouTube, email marketing, Facebook Live, or Twitter, and then link your Messenger Ref URL to the call to action button. People will drop right into your bot and automatically become a Messenger subscriber if they aren’t already.
  • Comments Growth Tool: Create an enticing Facebook post and have people comment with a keyword on the post. This will bring them right into your challenge sequence. 
  • Widgets: If you want to get new challenge participants from your website or landing page, use a widget. You can choose different overlay widgets such as a floating bar, page takeover, and slide-in. Or use widgets that embed on your site as a button or a box element. 
  • QR Code: For marketers promoting out in the physical world, drive people into your bot with a QR Code. People can easily scan your code and start the challenge! Learn how to use QR codes in your Messenger bot

Overall, creating your free challenge sequence will be just like making any other sequence. The difference is making sure you get permission to text and driving people back into Messenger so they engage with your content.

Setting up your SMS opt-in

After someone enters your online challenge through a Growth Tool, you want to get their phone number and opt-in. 

Your SMS opt-in will take place inside Messenger. Here’s what that flow looks like:

SMS Opt-In Flow in ManyChat

Step 1: Create a welcome message

In this case, a marketing agency is running a seven-day SEO challenge through SMS. They start the flow with a welcome message and set expectations for when the user should expect a text from them. You can use this sample text below, or adjust depending on where participants enter the bot from; the goal is to make it relevant and contextual. 

Welcome Message for 7-Day SMS Challenge

Step 2: Get phone number and opt-in

The next step is to collect the phone number and opt-in. It’s important to include three things in this message:

  1. A benefit to giving you their phone number.
  2. A request for their full number with country code.
  3. An example of a phone number including “+” and country code
Opt-In Flow for Getting Phone Numbers in 7-Day SMS Challenge

On the back end, make sure “Save Phone to System Field” is toggled on to save the phone number to your bot. 

Saving Phone Numbers to System Field Inside ManyChat

After a user confirms their opt-in, you want to create two action blocks to send subscribers to your seven-day challenge sequence successfully:

  1. Set SMS Opt-In.
  2. Subscribe to Sequence.
Subscribing user to new sequence inside ManyChat

After, send a follow-up message indicating they’ve subscribed to the challenge, in this case by saying, “We’ll see you tomorrow,” and continue the challenge.

Want to create your first SMS challenge? Go Pro with ManyChat today.

Creating your daily challenge flow

When it comes to creating the day-by-day flow for your challenge, it’s good to practice collecting information you might use to improve your content. This way, more people will engage with your challenge and become better quality leads. 

You can use this same flow for each day. Just adjust the text and content accordingly. 

Creating a daily challenge flow

Step 1: Set your condition block to send the first text.

To stay safe, you want to set a condition that the only people who can enter the flow have given permission for you to text them. You can do this by starting the flow with an “Opted-in for SMS” condition block.

First message in daily free challenge

Make your text brief and state who you are in the message. Then include your Messenger link to bring people into your Messenger bot to watch the day’s content. 

In the example above, we chose to engage participants with a video series. However, you can also use downloadable content, online course, a branded app, or whatever works best for your audience. 

Step 2: Add a Smart Delay to follow-up

Regardless, you want to follow up with your subscribers to see if they enjoyed the content. To do this, set a Smart Delay for however long your task will take, and send a short message asking for feedback. This shows you actually care about the subscriber,  and you can get feedback for improving future challenges. 

Using Smart Delay in Your Daily Challenge Flow

Now, this is a very general example. You may or may not want to use more relevant text depending on your audience. But what’s important to remember is how you’ll collect feedback. 

Step 3: Set Custom Fields to determine content success 

In this case, we set a custom field to update a content score based on how people respond. If they click A+, we assign 3 points. For a B -, we only add one point. And if a user unsubscribes, we decrease the count by 1 (and now know we have some work to do to make our content better). 

You can collect as much or as little information as you want. A great example would be to add a lead score for each day a person finishes the challenge and gives feedback. This can help you get a better idea of who could be a high-value customer based on their engagement with your company. 

As always, don’t forget to follow-up with a message thanking users for their feedback. Or if they unsubscribe, send a warm reminder that they can always message you if they want to restart the challenge. 

A few considerations for your SMS challenge

Now you’ve got a repeatable model you can use to create SMS challenges as a lead generation strategy for your company. A few pointers to keep in mind:

  1. On the final day of your challenge, indicate that the challenge is over. Some people may forget it’s the last day. You want to be clear that this challenge is ending, but there are still a ton of ways to engage with your brand: take another challenge, sign up for your email list, check out your YouTube Channel, or continue to get emails with promotional messages and discounts. The challenge might end, but don’t let the interactions stop there.
  2. Don’t be afraid to send promotions during the challenge. There’s a fine line between spam and genuine promotion, so be careful when and how you decide to send an offer. For example, if you’re a gym and doing a fitness challenge, you could offer those who complete Day 3 a discount on protein powder or a workout supplement inside Messenger. You have an open 24-hour window that keeps refreshing, but use it wisely. 
  3. Make your flows fun and inviting. It seems obvious, but remember, your audience needs to feel the excitement each day to keep them motivated. You can use a mix of GIF’s, images, or emojis to liven up your bot copy and create an exciting experience for people taking your SMS challenge.

Final thoughts

With ManyChat, it’s easy to set up and run your own challenge through SMS and improve list building in your business. You can create engaging flows that span across SMS, Messenger, and even email if you want to get a little crazy. 

Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please always consult your own attorney before engaging in text marketing.

From the messages you create to the challenges you run and the promotions you offer — and everything in between — ManyChat’s platform can help you build closer ties with your audience through the power of chat.