Text messaging has become a staple of business communication. It’s personable and people view texts far more than they read emails, especially marketing emails. So mass texting makes sense for companies that conduct large-scale communications and deal with large volumes of phone numbers.
But mass texting requires a list of phone numbers. Before you mass blast a phone list, you must ensure that you know which phone numbers are landlines and which ones are cell phones. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting text messages on phone numbers that can’t receive them.
So, you’ll need separate lists for landlines and cell phone numbers. Depending on your needs, you can keep or discard the landlines on your list.
You’ll need two things to separate landlines and cell phones:
- A batch phone validator.
- A list cleaning and aggregating tool.
Once you’ve got your lists separated, you can send mass texts in one of two ways. The texting method you use depends on what information you know about the phone numbers on your list.
We’ll cover both methods later on. First, here’s how you get your phone lists in shape for mass texting.
The most important part of this process is a batch phone validator. Without it, you’ll lose more time validating numbers one by one than you gain by mass texting.
At the very least, your batch processing tool needs to deliver information about the line type. The line type is what you’ll use to create separate lists of landlines and cell phone numbers.
You may want to use a batch processing service that also delivers the SMS email address for each phone number. However, you only need this if you want to send texts via email, which we’ll talk about later on.
Preparing Your List for Upload
Some batch phone validators are lenient about certain aspects of your uploaded list. But, there are a couple things to check before you upload your list to ensure that you get the results you want.
First, your list of numbers needs to be in a .txt, .csv, or Excel file. The file can contain up to 20 columns in any order. And the columns can be separated by tab, comma, or pipe. A header row with column titles is fine, but not necessary.
A good phone validator will accept numbers in any format.
For example, these should all be acceptable formats: 7604547301, 760-454-7301, (760) 454-7301, 17604547301, etc.
Additionally, make sure that your phone numbers have enough digits. This is the most common mistake that creates invalid phone numbers.
Phone validators might be nonchalant when it comes to number formats. But there are two things you need to clean up before you upload your list:
- Remove duplicate rows.
- Remove invalid records.
Both of these can be done in Excel.
You can remove duplicates by selecting all the rows in your list and using the remove duplicates data tool.
Just click “Data,” select “Data Tools,” then click “Remove Duplicates.”
Next, use the data validation tool to remove invalid phone numbers. Excel data validation is also in the “Data Tools” menu. Click on “Data Validation” to bring up the data validation dialogue.
Lastly, specify the minimum number of digits each entry should have. For phone numbers the minimum should be ten. And fifteen is a safe number for the maximum digits if your phone numbers have no standardized formatting.
The same process can be completed in Google Sheets. The interface just looks different.
Once your list is cleaned up and uploaded, you’ll usually get your results back in a comma separated .csv file. You can open and manipulate this file in Excel or Google Sheets.
Splitting Your Results
Creating separate lists for landlines and cell phones can’t be done with Searchbug alone. However, the file that Searchbug delivers is very easy to manipulate in Excel.
There are tools for Excel, such as Kutools², that make the process of splitting your list based on the content of a cell very easy.
But, it can be done for free. It’s just a little more complex.
First, open the .csv file from Searchbug in Excel. Then, navigate to the developer tab and click “Insert.” Select “Module” from the insert menu.
Paste this code into the module window:
Dim lr As Long
Dim ws As Worksheet
Dim vcol, i As Integer
Dim icol As Long
Dim myarr As Variant
Dim title As String
Dim titlerow As Integer
vcol = 1
Set ws = Sheets(“Master sheet”)
lr = ws.Cells(ws.Rows.Count, vcol).End(xlUp).Row
title = “A1:C1”
titlerow = ws.Range(title).Cells(1).Row
icol = ws.Columns.Count
ws.Cells(1, icol) = “Unique”
For i = 2 To lr
On Error Resume Next
If ws.Cells(i, vcol) <> “” And Application.WorksheetFunction.Match(ws.Cells(i, vcol), ws.Columns(icol), 0) = 0 Then
ws.Cells(ws.Rows.Count, icol).End(xlUp).Offset(1) = ws.Cells(i, vcol)
myarr = Application.WorksheetFunction.Transpose(ws.Columns(icol).SpecialCells(xlCellTypeConstants))
For i = 2 To UBound(myarr)
ws.Range(title).AutoFilter field:=vcol, Criteria1:=myarr(i) & “”
If Not Evaluate(“=ISREF(‘” & myarr(i) & “‘!A1)”) Then
Sheets.Add(after:=Worksheets(Worksheets.Count)).Name = myarr(i) & “”
Sheets(myarr(i) & “”).Move after:=Worksheets(Worksheets.Count)
ws.Range(“A” & titlerow & “:A” & lr).EntireRow.Copy Sheets(myarr(i) & “”).Range(“A1”)
Sheets(myarr(i) & “”).Columns.AutoFit
ws.AutoFilterMode = False
Now, modify just a couple of variables to get it to work for your purposes.
vcol=1 is the column that you’re splitting the data based on. You’ll need to change “1” to correspond with the column that has the information about whether the number is a cell phone or landline.
For example, in the data below, the column that has the information we want is the “D” column.
Set ws = Sheets(‘Master Sheet”) defines which sheet you’re splitting. So you’ll need to change this to match the name of the sheet where the Searchbug data is.
Title = A1:C1 defines the range of the title.
Set these variables how you need them.
Once that’s done. Press F5 to run the script and split your list into multiple sheets based on the content of the LineType field. This will create separate lists of landlines and cell phones.
If you want to split your lists without using any code, create two copies of your list. Then, open one list and create a filter that removes all the landlines. In the other list, create a filter that removes all the cell phones.
This method works best if you don’t need your cell phones and landlines on the same list.
Once the lists are separated into sheets, you can export them to separate Excel files or Google Sheets docs, or organize them however you need for your marketing.
Sending Mass Texts and Mass Texting for Free
The hard work is done. Sending mass texts is just a matter of feeding your list of cell phone numbers into your mass texting software.
But mass texting can be a time consuming process if you use the wrong tools. The best way to save time and standardize the end-user experience in your mass texts is to create templates.
SMS marketing is similar to email marketing. You need to segment your list so that your SMS messages are relevant and timely. Otherwise you’ll get poor results from your mass texting efforts.
You can use your email client to create templates and segment your list if your batch service provider delivered the SMS email addresses associated with your phone numbers. It’s a simple way to create your own free mass texting service.
If you want to use this method, check out our blog on sending text messages via email.
Mass text messaging is one of the most reliable customer outreach tools, so long as you’re doing it the right way. Batch processing is a quick, easy way to filter your phone numbers so that you can safely send mass text messages without hitting landlines, and get the most return on your mass texting investment.
If you’d like to get started with mass texting, check out our batch phone validator to identify cell phones and landlines, see which numbers are on the DNC list, and get SMS emails.