The Role of Human Relationship in Moving People to Action: The Messenger and the Medium Matter

“The Role of Personalization and Human Relationship in Moving People to Action,” explored how civic organizations can more effectively communicate via text messaging and email to engage people in dialogue and encourage them to get involved. Produced by 270 Strategies, the study partnered with San Francisco-based community development organization SPUR; it includes data from 2,405 SPUR members.

As part of the study, members were invited to a SPUR event via email and text messaging. Half of the group received personal, tailored emails and texts signed by a person, and the other half received more general messages signed by “The SPUR Team.” The two main findings include:

  • People are more likely to respond to text messages from a “real person”: People who received text messages from a person (“Noah”) were more than 3 times more likely to attend the event. This not only meant more event attendees, but also more text interactions and RSVPs leading up to the event. Among those who received an invite from “Noah,” 573 sent a reply text, whereas only 158 sent reply texts to “The SPUR Team.”
  • Text messaging combined with an email produces more engagement: Simply receiving an email followed by a text message invitation (personalized or not) increased the likelihood that people would attend an event by 2 percent.
  • Meet people where they are…on their smartphones: Text messages gave SPUR the ability to engage their members, because they can have open rates as high as 99 percent, and are becoming a more general form of communication among friends and family.

“As organizers and strategists, what we find most encouraging about this study is that it confirms what we know intuitively; that people are relational creatures, and that we should be incredibly intentional about how we engage and build personal relationships with them, even in the micro-interactions. Technology allows us to scale that engagement, but how we use the technology also matters,” said Kate Catherall, senior vice president at 270 strategies.