FCC ruling is big news for mobile marketing industry

When a customer chooses to opt out of a text message marketing program, the company providing the service has the right to try and win back their business. Savvy marketers can provide incentives to keep their recipients registered and oftentimes, these methods work. A ruling made late last month by the Federal Communications Commission ensures that those tasked with winning back business are still given the opportunity to do so.

In recent years, a number of class action lawsuits have been filed against companies offering SMS services. Many individuals stated that they would receive one final message after they opted out of their respective service which they claimed was in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

However, while the act is designed to protect recipient privacy, it was designed for voice communication. In fact, the bill went into effect in 1991, one year before the first text message was even sent.

So on November 30, the FCC ruled that the act does not refer to SMS marketing and businesses are legally able to follow industry best practices and send a final text message before breaking off communication with their customers.

FCC commissioner Ajit Pai said in a statement that it was an easy decision for the organization.

"Today's common-sense order ends the legal lacuna and the courtroom arbitrage it has inspired," Pai said. "Hopefully, by making clear that the act does not prohibit confirmation texts, we will end the litigation that has punished some companies for doing the right thing."

This is a big win for text message marketers as it allows them to use their skills to either win back businesses or end a marketing relationship on good terms, thus improving the likelihood that the customer will in fact return. However, these messages must be constructed following best practices, and Swift SMS Gateway offers the tools needed to generate appropriate text messages for all marketing purposes.

Northern Illinois set to test emergency text service

Northern Illinois University is preparing to test a program that will send text message alerts to students, faculty and staff in the event of an emergency. These emergency texts will provide basic information concerning the incident at hand and will provide instructions as to how to safely proceed and are part of a growing trend seen on college campuses across the country. 

According to an article in NIU Today, the tests will be conducted by the university's Department of Police and Public Safety and will commence at 1:55 p.m. on Thursday, December 6. Emergency texts will go out to all individuals that have registered their mobile numbers with the department and recipients are encouraged to provide feedback pertaining to the timeliness and effectiveness of the message's content.

Darren Mitchell, acting chief of police and director of NIU's Office of Emergency Management and Planning, spoke with the news source about the importance of a successful test.

"This is an important test in order to make sure the new emergency notification system is working properly," Mitchell said. "We encourage people to verify their contact information in MyNIU before the test takes place and also to report if they have a mobile phone number listed but did not receive a text alert during the test."

If testing is successful and the service is rolled out to the masses, it should go a long way in preserving the safety of all those who teach, learn and work on campus. An emergency text service can help alleviate any safety risks surrounding campus life and can allow officials in the police, fire and emergency medical departments to use their resources – in this case, text message recipients – to help resolve any potentially dangerous incidents.

Swift SMS Gataeway offers the tools organizations need to implement effective emergency SMS services.


Media pundits support text messaging’s future

As we celebrate the 20th birthday of the text message, the future of the communication service remains a hot topic for debate. What will be the state of the SMS application 20 years from now? How will we use our devices to communicate by then? Will social media rule, or will we come full circle and initiate vocal conversations again with innovative new technology?

Time will ultimately tell, but for the foreseeable future we don't see the text message dipping in popularity. Yesterday, this blog refuted a point made against the future of SMS services, but that doesn't mean the tech pundits are all projecting the decline of texting. In fact, a number of publications such as PC World suggest the text message is alive and well.

Jared Newman, the author of a recent article, lists the tired talking points consistently made by SMS detractors – the proliferation of social media and the increased functionality of smartphones –  but indicates neither are strong enough factors to affect the future of the text message.

"But does all of this spell certain doom for the SMS? Not really," Newman writes. "For one thing, technologies rarely die despite the proclamations of pundits. They simply become less relevant over time. If you've ever sent or received an e-mail, Facebook message or Twitter mention where in the past a text message alone would have sufficed, you're already experiencing the shift away from SMS. Still, chances are you continue to rely on text messages on a regular basis."

Essentially, Newman's assessment is that even the more active users of social media and email will still rely on text messaging for simple communication. This is why the service's longevity appears imminent. Facebook and email marketing might reach a decent number of recipients, but most of those individuals will still turn toward their SMS application multiple times a day, so text message marketing will consistently be a more effective method.

Swift SMS Gateway offers the tools needed to launch successful SMS marketing campaigns.


Happy birthday SMS: The text message turns 20

Neil Papworth was, at the time, a 22-year-old engineer who wanted to share a holiday greeting with his colleague. The date was December 3, 1992, and Papworth wished Richard Jarvis, an executive at British telecom provider Vodafone, a "Merry Christmas." Instead of writing a note or sending an email – which was in its primitive stages at the time – he used a phone and sent the first text message in recorded history.

Today, the text message celebrates its 20th birthday. While virtually everything that surrounds the basic communication technique has changed, texting is still very much the same at the end of 2012 as it was when Papworth wished his friend season's greetings. Sure, he didn't have a sleek iPhone, but the mechanics we see today were all there. And that's part of the reason behind its prolonged popularity. Mobile technology can change, but the SMS application is still the most used app on any device because it functions the same way regardless of model, carrier or age of a phone.

There are some, of course, who suggest it may have peaked. New messaging and mobile communication solutions are constantly flooding the market. Social networks give more people the opportunity to connect from a number of devices. As a result, many are projecting the downfall of text messaging in the coming years. 

"This may also be the year the text message peaks," writes Heather Kelly, a contributor with CNN Money. "After two decades of constant growth, text messaging is finally slowing down as people move to smartphones and use third-party messaging tools to circumvent wireless carriers' costly per-text charges."

However, this sentiment doesn't account for the fact that unlimited text plans are more prevalent than ever. Many individuals still rely on older phones that lack social networking capabilities or they simply stay away from sites such as Facebook and Twitter altogether. Non-SMS digital communication requires a tremendous amount of additional factors such as account registration and online access. Texting only requires a connection to the carrier's network.

Because of this, text message marketing will remain one of the more effective methods companies can use to reach out to customers. Swift SMS Gateway offers the tools needed to launch strong SMS campaigns.



SMS services fuel a number of business initiatives, including mobile payments

Mobile technology is changing the way we do business. Virtually every task and every interaction can be done on a mobile device. More and more software providers are releasing new applications to improve communication and daily operations, but the core of mobile interactivity starts and ends with SMS.

As previously reported in this blog, the SMS application is still the most popular app on any smartphone, despite the fact that Google, Apple and Microsoft are releasing new products in droves. Many businesses prefer text messaging and SMS services to communicate and collaborate because of its simplicity. And while a simple text about a memo or an upcoming meeting can be helpful, work-related texting can accomplish much more.

Frost & Sullivan recently released its 2013 enterprise mobile outlook and lists the number of ways companies will be using smartphones and tablets to conduct business going forward. Mobile payments is a rapidly-evolving feature and while many new technologies such as near field communication are growing in prevalence, SMS is still fueling the mobile payment trend.

"With the prevalence of smartphone uptake in Asia, mobile payment is poised to takeoff and the transactions will increase to more than $171.5 billion in 2012," says an S&P press release. "The volume of transaction is expected to hit $878 billion in 2017. NFC-based payment will account for 21 percent of the mobile payment transaction value or an estimated $180 million in 2017. SMS-based transaction will continue to be the dominant payment mode till 2015."

Sending payments via the SMS application allows businesses to pay for products and services via their mobile devices in a quick, easy and efficient manner. Implementing the right tools can make this process seamless. Swift SMS Gateway offers the tools companies need to orchestrate text message payments, among other business-specific tasks.



If people are addicted to their cell phones, why not send them a text message?

There used to be a time when retailers relied on the popularity of credit cards to assist with their business. Card swiping was addictive. Consumers would reach into their wallets without hesitation and buy whatever it is they were looking at. That still happens to some degree, but in today's economic climate many people are more careful about how they spend money than they once were, which has slowed growth in many sectors of the retail industry.

However, we still have addictive personalities. It's part of human nature. And while many people no longer automatically reach for their wallets, we still like to put our hands in our pockets and pull out the next best thing for retailers – the mobile phone. Walk down any mall and you'll see hundreds of people staring at the screens of their smartphones rather than the people they are with or their surrounding environment.

Individuals have become so reliant on their devices that communicating to them via their smartphones can sometimes be a more successful venture than conducting a face-to-face conversation. While there are plenty of people with qualms regarding the mobile device's impact on social interactivity, there is no denying that our attraction to them is a powerful force.

"Cell phones are a part of our consumer culture," said Dr. James Roberts, professor of marketing at Baylor's Hankamer School of Business, to the online publication Red Orbit. "They are not just a consumer tool, but are used as a status symbol."

As for retailers, the mobile device craze is an advantage. Text message marketing is becoming increasingly valuable as a business practice because more people are using cell phones.

The fact is, people still want to reach into their pockets and they still want to spend money. As long as they are reaching for their phones, companies might as well send them an incentive to spend their money. Swift SMS Gateway offers tools needed to launch successful SMS marketing campaigns.


Don’t be left out in the cold: Text message alerts can help schools this winter

You can sense it every time you step outside. There's a nip in the air, the wind is slightly colder, your lips become chapped and you can see your breath. Winter is right around the corner. In many places of the country, winter means snow and ice. For students and parents of students, that means checking the news every morning and calling school hotlines every time it snows. In today's technological age, it should be easier for families to find out all the information they need about school closings and delays, but it isn't always the case.

Schools don't always contact their local news outlets right away. Sometimes, students won't find out about a closing until it's too late. Calling the hotline can work, but if everyone does that at once, getting through can be a nightmare. That's why schools should implement a text message alert system as a way to quickly inform individuals of all relevant information pertaining to its schedule on snow days.

By implementing this SMS solution, schools can reach out to everyone that needs closing information quickly without tying up phone lines or entrusting news stations to report their closing in a timely manner. Imagine being a parent, waking up and instantly receiving a text message stating that their child's school will be closed. That saves a tremendous amount of time and allows individuals to better plan their schedules accordingly.

For schools, this can also save both time and money because there won't be the need to set up a hotline to answer any inquiring calls. The superintendent's secretary won't be bombarded with calls asking if she knows whether or not the school will be closed. One text message is all it will take to pass along this important information from the school to those that need it.

Swift SMS Gateway offers the tools needed to orchestrate this sort of text message alert service. By using these tools to design effective text messages, schools will be prepared for every winter storm.

Text alerts FOREwarn golfers prior to their tee times

You wait all week for this. You survive the rigors of your 9-to-5 job, get to the weekend and start to get excited. You wake up Saturday morning, call up your group, throw on your polo shirt and khakis and grab your clubs. For the next four hours, nothing else matters because you are going golfing. Only once you get to the club, you find out there is an event being held on the course, or that a maintenance issue is affecting the 8th fairway. the course is shut down to the public. All that anticipation for nothing. If only you had known ahead of time.

This is a frustrating experience to say the least, but there may be some assistance in the near future. Bowling Green, Kentucky, is launching a service that will send text message alerts to registered golfers offering important information about the city's municipal golf courses. This service includes information about open tee times, changes made to the day's schedule and can even include special promotional text messages.

Kim Lancaster, the city's public information officer, spoke with the Bowling Green Daily News about her department's efforts to reach out to golfers and the city's commitment to extend this service to other local areas.

"The whole point was to bring to them new ways to get information and stop misinformation," Lancaster said. "So we're going to roll that out and see how much of a broad reach it has, and then we will slowly add some other categories."

Golf isn't alone. In industries across the country, consumers expect accurate, relevant and timely messaging pertaining to whatever is associated with the company sending them. Implementing SMS services can ensure that individuals are always equipped with the best information, as to not damage a business' relationship with its customers. Swift SMS Gateway offers the tools needed to launch successful text message campaigns.

Promotional text messages bring sports teams closer to their fans

While college football is slowly winding down and the NFL only has a month left in its regular season, basketball is underway and baseball will be back before we know it. Point is, sports are around all year long, which means teams are constantly tasked with reaching out and engaging fans. Today, many squads are turning toward text message marketing to help their efforts.

Promotional text messages have proven to be effective in many industries. Sports are no different. People who go to sporting events are the same as those who shop at the mall, so why would a successful text message campaign that worked for a clothing retailer not work for an NBA team?

An article in Business 2 Community examines the number of ways sporting teams can reach out to their fans via text messaging. Brent Messenger, the author of the article, suggests that giveaways and deals are universally accepted by consumers in every industry, including sports.

"There are a variety of ways sports teams can get fans more involved through SMS messaging including providing the latest schedule, scores, team information, player stats and something most fans extremely enjoy: contests and giveaways," Messenger writes. "Everyone loves free stuff and sports fans are no exception. Who doesn't want a football autographed by their favorite football player without having to pay a dime?"

However, teams must be careful when sending texts to users. As this blog reported earlier this year, the Pittsburgh Penguins came under fire after they sent too many messages to one user, resulting in a lawsuit. But, teams that carefully craft SMS campaigns will find their efforts yield impressive results. Swift SMS Gateway offers the tools a team needs to send any kind of promotional message.


Delayed emergency text shows the importance of timely messaging

The timing of text messages is of the utmost importance. While all kinds of SMS services must be sent in a timely manner, some are more important than others. Emergency texts have to be sent on time, particularly when human life is at stake.

In Vancouver, an Amber Alert regarding a three-year-old boy was supposed to launch a text message to 30,000 subscribers giving them pertinent information regarding the missing child. While the message was eventually received, it wasn't until an hour after the alert was made.

The child was eventually found and is back home, but this kind of delay could have had disastrous consequences. There is no excuse for a message of this magnitude to be delayed for any period of time, nevermind an hour.

Marc Choma, a representative with the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, spoke with the online publication News 1130 about the incident. He told the news source that he believed everything was working properly and that there should not have been a messaging delay.

"The authorization is given by the law enforcement agency. The messages should be received instantly. I haven't heard of any problem with the system last evening," Choma said. "They control when, how and the content in which the wireless alert is sent out."

This incident shows why having a proper text alert service is so important. Ultimately, the delay of a marketing message or any kind of promotional text message won't hurt anyone. But, in the event of an emergency like the aforementioned situation, any delay is inexcusable.

Part of the problem with the delay is that in events like this, information can change at any time. A text message based on hour-old intelligence may no longer be helpful to those that receive it.

Swift SMS Gateway offers the tools to construct effective emergency text messages, as well as the solutions needed to ensure they are sent and received on time without compromising the purpose of the communication.