SMS and Zapier: A virtual event solution
Like many other companies across the globe, Participate Technologies, a South African-based audience engagement company, has had to adapt its business solutions to suit the current COVID-19 requirements.
Before the pandemic hit South Africa, its use of SMS was quite simple: it sent SMS messages out to each delegate of the event it was managing, prompting them to download a custom-made event app.
But as soon as lockdown came into effect, the company had to change its strategies. No-one was attending events. And, as a leader in audience engagement, it had to find different ways to help clients engage with their respective audiences.
According to Media Manager Sven Leisegang: “Since the COVID-19 lockdown, we’ve needed to pivot to fully digital solutions. We have branched out to offer virtual events and AGMs to our clients, which has come with its own set of challenges.”
Access to virtual events using SMS OTPs
“Our clients want to ensure that the right people are attending their online events, which means that we cannot let anybody just download and access our event app.”
Enter One Time Pins (OTPs). Leisegang explained: “We’re still sending out the initial SMS, with the link for the event app, but now we’re validating the user prior to accessing it as well. When someone clicks on the link to load and access the app, an automated trigger sends an OTP message to each event participant as they download our app.”
Voting in AGMs using SMS OTPs
Leisegang went on to say: “A few of our clients are responsible for facilitating annual general meetings for their members. Because AGMs have strict membership and attendance requirements, we needed to come up with a solution where they could validate any votes coming out of each AGM”. Again, Sven chose to send a one-time pin (OTP) via SMS to authenticate each member’s vote.
“We set up a trigger for SMS, again using Zapier, this time connected to Gravity Forms. When it comes time to cast the vote, the member fills in the relevant field on the form. This triggers the Zapier automation and an SMS is sent directly to the relevant member, who then enters their OTP. In this way, the votes are accurately counted and attributed to the relevant AGM member and meeting,” says Leisegang.
When asked why SMS was chosen as part of the engagement strategy, Leisegang said SMS is a logical, quick and cost-effective solution.
“We first started using SMS because we found that delegates were more likely to download our event app through a link sent via SMS, as opposed to e-mail. Afterwards, when we had to move our solutions to be completely virtual, the Zapier integrations made it easy to create the correct triggers and test the processes without the need for external developers,” says Leisegang.