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Peer-to-Peer SMS Tool

Relay is a peer to peer SMS tool that allows you to rapidly send lots of text messages.

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Tool type:Peer-To-Peer SMS Tool
Meant for: Volunteers, Organizers, Organizing Management 

Problem it tries to solve:

How do I increase contact rate by using text messaging at scale?

Use case:

A statewide campaign uses Relay to quickly invite a large number of people to a rally, with the hope of escalating those attendees at the rally.

Biggest drawback:

Relay only rents phone numbers for each list you want to text, but not at the account level. This means that people you text can’t continue to respond to that number for the whole campaign, and an organizer can’t have their own dedicated P2P number to use for confirms, reshifts, etc.

Does it sync to NGP VAN?

Yes, Relay lets you send lists from VAN to Relay via API, and you can record survey questions, activist codes, and events back into VAN via API.

Pricing

$$$$

Roughly 8 cents per outgoing message.

Bulk discounts and referral discounts are available.

Testimonials

I like this system more than Hustle. What I have not liked is the poor implementation of syncing with VAN. It doesn’t sync survey questions, but still cheaper and easier to train people on than Hustle.”

Relay Text: worked perfectly, only complaint is that the UI slows things down a bit with canned messages and surveys in different tabs. Highly recommended.

Relay Dialer: the dialer itself was fantastic, they have a new script editor which is good, main complaints are testing scripts with live data is hard/impossible, you have to wait until the next day for exports, loading lists takes some time, hoping they’ll improve all of these, the team is great. VAN sync works well. Highly recommended, even with flaws it was way better than other tools. Requires a lot of training for volunteers.”

Pros: customer support/response, customized product for our compliance like three-click sends vs one, UI refresh = great, we got to beta test the new UI = great, being able to assign out via batches and drop down menu for “unsent texts” = great.


Cons / pain points: data sync came in very late in the cycle & incomplete, differences in our committees, data we asked for but never received like providers and deliverability and cell phone number level, buggy/caps if campaigns are over 15,000 or 20,000 numbers which made us make duplicate campaigns with weird names and inconsistent surveys, better mobile-friendly interface (either mobile website or mobile app)”

The Basics: Relay is a peer-to-peer SMS tool that features robust analytics and admin controls.

User Flow:

  • A volunteer either requests a Relay account from an organization or the organization sends them an email to make one. From there, a volunteer waits until they are assigned to a campaign and given phone numbers to text. They can then begin texting. Once they are done sending the initial texts, they can see the responses and begin to respond and record survey answers. Admins can view inboxes and measure progress.

Pros:

  • Relay has a full read and write VAN integration. You can link your Relay account with VAN to choose which lists are created automatically in Relay, and survey results and contact results are synced back into VAN.

  • Relay has robust admin controls. Not only does Relay give at-a-glance analytics on response rates, opt out rates, and survey responses, but it also allows admins to go into users’ inboxes and respond to messages in a seamless experience for the contact.

  • Relay’s ‘Follow Up’ feature allows for easy confirmations and retargeting. Relay allows you to easily retarget any contact that has not responded to a text or marked a specific survey question — so you can reach out to them with a new pre-filled message without having to create a new list.

  • Relay is very customizable. From designating what times of day volunteers can send texts to being able to create any custom variable or survey question, Relay is open enough to accomodate most types of campaign.

Drawbacks:

  • Relay is expensive. Relay charges a flat rate of 8 cents per outgoing message to most organizations, although bulk discounts are available.

  • Phone numbers do not last longer than one list. You can’t assign phone numbers to a user account, so if you text the same person frequently it will feel more like spam to them.

  • The mobile interface is a little clunky. Responding to messages on a mobile device requires a user to click extremely small buttons on the side of their screen. Relay is aware that this is not ideal and is working on a fix.

Pricing:

  • 8 cents per outgoing message.

VAN Sync:

  • Relay can read out of VAN and change VAN lists into Relay groups.

  • Relay can write into VAN and record survey responses, activist codes, contact history, event RSVPs, and more.

Who we would recommend this tool to:

  • Distributed organizing programs. Any program that features a centralized admin with volunteer senders would be well served by Relay. It has unparalleled administrative controls and analytics, which allows for distributed work with a central safety net.

  • Rapid response programs. If you have an organization with a large membership that needs to quickly take one-time actions (call your congressperson, go to a town hall, etc.), Relay allows you to quickly get the word out to your members.

Who we wouldn’t recommend this tool to:

  • Long term or large scale organizing programs. The inability to retain a consistent phone number will decrease impact for long term organizing programs, and the cost can be prohibitive for bigger campaigns.