Maryland launching 911 texting service

As technology advances, a number of services are evolving to take advantage. Historically, 911 has served as an service for individuals to call in the event of an emergency. However, due to the decline of phone calls and rise of modern communication techniques such as SMS text messaging, dispatchers are being trained to receive emergency reports via new methods.

In an effort to provide more convenience to its residents, the state of Maryland is implementing a $50 million upgrade to its emergency communications system, which includes its 911 services, according to a report in the Baltimore Sun. Soon, individuals in an emergency situation will be able to communicate with dispatchers via their smartphones. This includes sending pictures, videos and SMS messages describing or showcasing the status of an emergency.

This is part of a national effort to utilize the increasingly advanced functions of today's mobile devices. Other states have already begun testing various services that mitigate the risks associated with having to make a phone call in the event of an emergency.

According to the Sun, Vermont has experienced success with its 911 text message service. David Tucker, executive director of the state's Enhanced 911 Board, told the news source the ability to relay an emergency message without talking can be beneficial in many instances. If an individual is unable to talk or if they are in a situation where talking would increase their level of danger, texting is a valuable service.

"In one situation, we were able to get a medical responder to a person's house and they saved the person's life," Tucker said. "[In the other] we were able to intervene in a domestic situation. That person was able to contact us without making a voice call and being heard by the other party."

This service can also benefit emergency responders, who can use it to send out bulk emergency messages and help protect the safety of recipients. Swift SMS Gateway provides the tools needed to launch services just like this one.


New York public schools implements text alert service

As public schools opened in New York City this week, mayor Michael Bloomberg launched a new text message service to assist students' parents.

As part of his efforts to improve public education under his watch, Bloomberg is allowing parents to receive text alerts displaying calendar alerts, reminders and tips on how to access school resources.

The mayor spoke with the Wall Street Journal about the service and stressed the importance capitalizing on the new school year.

"The new school year is a new opportunity to build on the important progress we have made over the last several years, and working with schools, students and their families, we will do better this year than ever before," Bloomberg said. "That work starts by doing more to make sure parents have the information they need to help their children succeed – even when they are on the go."

In today's fast-paced environment, it's imperative for parents to know what their children are doing, how they are performing in school and if any changes are made that will affect their schedules. However, acquiring this information just isn't feasible using traditional methods. Adults on the go can't afford the time to search for information on their computers. Some even lack the ability to take phone calls. With text messaging, recipients can read a message and put their phone back in their pocket in a matter of seconds.

This is why sending text alerts is becoming so popular. It is the most effective way to relay pertinent information while taking up the least amount of time. Organizations considering implementing this kind of service should contact a text messaging service provider. Swift SMS Gateway offers the tools needed to coordinate an effective and efficient text alerts service.


As texting grows, voicemail is on the decline

Every sales and marketing professional has, at one point or another, been frustrated by voicemails. They are rarely returned, due to being hard for the recipient to understand, or there just isn't enough time to listen to them. However, text messaging may be providing professionals with an easier way to communicate with customers and prospects.

According to a report from USA TODAY, voicemail is on the decline, and text messaging is a primary reason for the trend. The internet voice provider Vonage reported an 8 percent year-over-year decline in voice messages left in July. The company also said messages retrieved by Vonage users fell by 14 percent in the month.

Michael Tempora, senior vice president of product management at Vonage, told the news source users simply lack the time to listen to all of their voice messages.

"They hate the whole voicemail introduction, prompts, having to listen to them in chronological order," Tempora said.

Sales and marketing professionals cannot afford to have their voice messages go unheard. Business opportunities can be lost if messages are completely dismissed, but they can also be lost if recipients don't listen to his or her message until a later date. Moreover, if prospects or customers lack the time to listen to voicemails, they may not get an important message and not respond.

By texting, the message can be read quickly and clearly. The nature of SMS messaging means communication will be concise and to the point. It's much easier for recipients to read and respond to a text than listen to a voicemail, understand it and call back.

Companies that market themselves via text messaging may find greater success than making calls and leaving voicemails. Swift SMS Gateway offers the tools businesses need to launch effective SMS campaigns.

Canada finds success with SMS AMBER alert program

As mentioned in yesterday's blog, texting is becoming increasingly popular in Canada, as more citizens are adopting mobile devices and understanding the benefits of SMS communication. In addition to sending P2P messages and receiving marketing and promotional texts, Canadians are also using SMS messaging to receive alerts designed to promote safety in the community.

According to a press release from the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA), a service which allows users to receive AMBER alerts via SMS messaging is becoming increasingly adopted among Canadian citizens. While traditional mediums such as electronic road signs and the emergency broadcasting system are still used to make AMBER alerts, this service is believed to be more effective because it reaches a large number of people scattered in various areas.

The incredible growth of this service has been fueled by a number of factors, including massive participation from Canada's premier wireless carriers. Bernard Lord, CEO of the CWTA, used the release to express a tremendous amount of gratitude towards everyone who has registered for the service – a number that exceeded 25,000 last year.

"The wireless industry extends its sincere appreciation to the thousands of Canadians and our industry partners and ambassadors that have joined together to ensure that our most precious citizens can count on us when they need us most," Lord said. "I encourage all Canadians to invest the few short minutes it takes to register, because when a child is abducted, everyone feels the loss."

This is just another way that SMS messaging can make a significant positive impact on the community. Organizations that embrace this technology can make a difference by implementing bulk SMS messaging to a large group of people. Swift SMS Gateway provides the tools needed to launch SMS marketing or emergency alert campaigns.

Texting is becoming increasingly popular in Canada

The mobile explosion certainly isn't confined to one country. Increasing mobile adoption and the growth of SMS text messaging is widespread across the globe, including Canada.

According to a recent study conducted by Canadian consumer electronics provider Future Shop, roughly 76 percent of the country's residents own cell phones. This number is up from 74 percent in 2007, 59 percent in 2004 and only 22 percent in 1997. The transition to mobile has happened at such an extreme rate, it rivals that of the United States over a similar period of time.

"Attached to our hips and charged at all times, we can hardly go an hour without checking our wireless devices and fear the day we forget them at home," the report said.

Additionally, more Canadians are texting today than ever before. According to statistics posted on the site, 23 billion SMS messages were sent in the first quarter of 2012 by Canadians. This is well on pace to topple the mark set in 2011 of 78 billion, which had already shattered the previous high of 56.4 billion texts sent in 2010. This year, March was a particularly busy month, as an average of 254 million text messages were sent by Canadian users each day.

The astounding growth in Canada opens up a number of new opportunities for marketers sending SMS marketing messages. The United States contains a tremendous amount of prospects and customers who rely on mobile communication, but efforts cannot be constrained to one general area.

Of course, marketers must be cognizant of various factors when sending international text messages, including rates and regulations. It is important to talk to an SMS marketing firm before embarking on such a project. Swift SMS Gateway provides the tools required to conduct effective text marketing campaigns as well as the knowledge and resources needed to expand across national borders.


As the landline era ends, mobile marketing is even more important

In a time before smartphones, texting and social media, the landline reigned supreme. All communication – if it didn't happen in face-to-face conversation – would be conducted on a landline telephone. Sales and marketing relied on plugged-in phones and the system worked for a number of years. But as technology evolves and communication shifts to a mobile atmosphere, the landline is becoming less and less popular.

The National Health Interview Study recently released the results of its bi-annual survey conducted to determine how people call for emergency services. The results showed that landline telephones are one of the least used tools and exemplified why landline conversation is a dying practice and why modern methods such as SMS messaging are growing.

The survey asked respondents to indicate if they used a landline as their primary communication service, if they used a combination of a mobile and landline phone or if they only used a cell phone. In key demographics, over half of the respondents said that they only use mobile.

According to the results, 59.6 percent of respondents aged 25 through 29 don't use a landline and 50.9 percent of those between the ages of 30 and 34 had the same policy. The older the demographic, the less likely respondents were to completely ditch their traditional phones, as only 8.5 percent of senior citizens are only mobile users. However, it should be noted that in every single age group, the number of those getting rid of their landline completely rose from the first half of 2011.

"Not surprisingly, it's younger folks who have made the major transition to no landline abodes," says an article in the online publication Tech Goes Strong.

As previously mentioned in this blog, it's crucial to target younger demographics for mobile marketing campaigns because they are the most active users. Companies that send SMS marketing messages to teens can increase their chances of obtaining a lifelong customer. Swift SMS Gateway offers the tools businesses need to launch successful SMS marketing campaigns.


What to avoid when sending text messages

Broadcasting messages via the SMS application is a valuable practice, but it must be conducted with a tremendous amount of care and attention to detail. As recently mentioned in this blog, sending an excessive amount of text alerts or promotional messages can anger the recipient, but so can a number of other texting-related practices.

Texts sent for promotional or marketing purposes are representing an organization. Any negative connotations associated with a company's text messages could reflect on that organization as well. It's important to steer clear of pitfalls that could tarnish a brand and hinder the chances of winning business.

Auto-corrected errors, while sometimes humorous when sent between friends and family, should be avoided at all costs when sending business texts. Senders should double check all messages, especially if they are going to a mass audience, to ensure that the message being displayed is accurate and says exactly what is intended.

It's also important to be cognizant of what time messages are being sent out. Most mobile devices will play a sound or, if the ringer is off, will vibrate once a message is received. This can be distracting and irritable if sent at the wrong time.

"Texting is not email," writes Mashable contributor Joe McCelland in a recent article titled "Texting Faux Pas to Avoid at all Costs." "Just because you get a thought at one in the morning doesn't mean you can text it. Not everyone turns off their phone when they go to bed, and your text message notification could wake them. Assume recipients have left their phones on and be respectful. If it's too late to call, it's too late to text."

Those who avoid these incidents will be able to launch successful texting programs, but Swift SMS Gateway offers tools that businesses need to get the most out of their text messaging campaigns.


Supporters can text donations to presidential candidates

President Obama certainly has a knack for capitalizing on popular social and technological trends.

In the 2008 presidential election, Obama used a combination of technological advancements and an understanding of the benefits of small donations to collect a tremendous amount of money. His prowess in the field of technology allowed him to defeat Senator John McCain in the election and become the 44th president of the United States.

Obama's camp is following a similar strategy this year as the president prepares for the final months of his reelection campaign. According to a report from Reuters, Obama's campaign managers announced late last week that they are finalizing agreements with the major U.S. carriers, which would allow supporters to text dollar amounts as a donation to Obama's campaign.

The article says that Obama's campaign ads will likely start to add a message asking viewers to text the code GIVE to 62262. This number was chosen by the campaign because the numbers spell out "Obama." By following these instructions and making this text, users will donate $10.00 to the campaign.

This is another example of Obama's commitment to utilizing available resources to offer convenience to their contributors and get the most out of their donations, an Obama campaign official told Reuters.

"Every avenue of fundraising that we have costs us money," the official said. "We pay the most competitive rates available in the marketplace to ensure our supporters have the greatest impact with their contribution."

Governor Romney is said to be implementing a similar service into his campaign efforts, and many analysts say this will be the future of fundraising. Businesses looking to set up similar programs to send and receive donations should work with a provider such as Swift SMS Gateway to gain the tools needed to launch a successful text message fundraiser.


The dangers of sending too many texts

Just like every form of communication between businesses and their customers, too much  texting can be a bad thing. When implementing SMS marketing campaigns, it's important for senders to understand the appropriate number of texts to send in a given amount of time. In some cases, this can be just as crucial as the actual content of the message.

Earlier this summer, Fred Weiss, a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team, sued the organization because, as he stated, they sent him too many texts. Weiss initially signed up to receive promotional texts as well as alerts regarding trades, game time changes and other bits of breaking news from the team. According to Weiss, the program he signed up for stated that no more than three texts would be sent per week.

However, after he registered, Weiss says that the team repeatedly exceeded the promised limit. He says he received five texts in the first week and four the second. Claiming that the limitations of his carrier's SMS plan was in jeopardy, Weiss filed a lawsuit.

The official complaint reads as follows:

"Defended as caused Plaintiff and the other members of the Class actual harm, not only because they were subjected to the aggravation that necessarily accompanies the invasion of privacy caused by unsolicited text message calls, but also because consumers frequently have to pay their cell phone service providers for the receipts of such wireless calls."

While information similar to what the Penguins relayed to their fans may be valuable, this incident goes to show that sending too much information can be detrimental to any business texting. Companies should be cognizant of the agreements they have with their recipients and ensure that they are not exceeding any agreed upon limits. Working with a provider such as Swift SMS Gateway can give businesses the tools and the acumen they need to launch successful texting programs.

Mobile phone adoption continues to grow

The increasing level of mobile adoption among both consumers and businesses is no secret. While technological advancements have spurred more communication options on mobile devices, text messaging and the SMS app continue to increase in popularity. These numbers are even more stunning considering the astounding growth in the mobile device market in recent years.

Recently, a number of reports came out that revealed some jaw-dropping numbers. According to information from the Cisco Visual Networking Index, global media traffic more than doubled in 2011, much of it made up by SMS text messaging. If that wasn't impressive enough, the research suggests that by the end of 2012, there will be more mobile-connected devices in the world than people!

Most of this growth is fueled by explosive smartphone revolution. In fact, the research firm Flurry suggests that smartphones running the iOS and Android operating systems are being activated at twice the rate of online activations in the 1990s, and that phones are being sold ten times as fast as the personal computer in the 1980s.

"The rate of adoption of devices running Apple's iOS and Google's Android has surpassed that of any consumer technology in history," says a recent article in AppleInsider.

As mobile usage grows and smartphone adoption continues, text messages are becoming a vital portion of every marketing campaign. While studies suggest that both email and social media is slowing, mobile adoption is only accelerating. But to take advantage of this opportunity, marketing professionals must ensure that they are delivering quality, engaging messages to recipients who are apt to respond or follow a call to action.

Working with a text messaging consultant can help companies implement SMS strategies into their marketing efforts. Swift SMS Gateway provides the tools users need to launch effective text marketing campaigns.