SMS messaging promotes student safety

Following the Virginia Tech tragedy in 2007, increasing the level of student safety became the number one priority for nearly every school across the country. Thankfully, these efforts were supported by advancements in technology that occurred around the same time. By the end of the 2000s, nearly every student had a mobile phone, most had smartphones and everyone was able to send and receive SMS text messages.

Earlier this month, a shooting at Texas A&M rocked the nation, as it was the latest in a disturbing series of gun-related incidents this summer. However, authorities say many lives were saved due to quick actions made by police officers and officials who sent out bulk SMS emergency texts to people in the area.

According to the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities (NCEF) many schools have implemented a service that allows students and faculty members to register their cell phone numbers so they can receive a text message in the event of an emergency. Texas A&M was one of these schools.

An NCEF spokesperson told Reuters that Texas A&M's service was designed with the understanding that students may use multiple devices, and alerts are intended to reach every one.

"Most school text alert systems, like the one used in the Texas A&M shooting, send simultaneous messages via multiple electronic means. This redundancy is essential in making sure everyone gets the message," the spokesman said.

While reaching out to a multitude of devices is essential, studies show that these warnings will most likely be read via text message on a mobile phone. Implementing SMS into any alert system is essential as it increases the likelihood of messages being read and goes a long way to promote safety. Swift SMS Gateway offers the tools needed to launch a similar program.


Smishing exemplifies the importance of proper text message marketing

Like all forms of business, SMS text marketing, when conducted by the wrong people, can be used for malicious activity. Such was the case with a group of online criminals who sent out texts that spammed users under the guise of Walmart and Target gift cards.

The practice, known as "smishing" – a combination of SMS messaging and phishing – allows the recipients to believe that they have received a gift card for a popular retail chain. When users respond, they are asked to enter sensitive personal data, which is then used to steal money or send additional spam.

Walmart and Target are two of the latest victims, although they have been reported to have no connection whatsoever to the messages. In fact, Walmart issued a statement detatching itself from the criminal activity and warned users to be wary of any kind of promotional message from the company.

The issue became so severe that Rhode Island state attorney general Peter Kilmartin released a statement warning all cellphone users.

"Consumers reported that they are being asked to provide credit card information to cover the cost of shipping and handling," Kilmartin said. "Consumers who give this sensitive information may find themselves fulfilling 'sponsor offers' like free trial offers with monthly fees or increased solicitations and junk mail."

Businesses looking to conduct SMS marketing campaigns must be on the lookout for any kind of activity that could smear their reputation. Walmart and Target's future legitimate SMS marketing efforts are now compromised because users may not trust any text message associated with their names.

This illustrates the importance of working with a trusted text messaging service provider. Swift SMS Gateway provides businesses with the tools they need to launch safe, legitimate and successful campaigns that enhance the public image of a company's brand.

Studies show more people are willing to accept offers via text

As previously mentioned in this blog, users are far more likely to open and respond to SMS messages than they are to emails. That's valuable information for marketers, but the question still remains – will recipients actually act upon opportunities sent via text message marketing? A new study suggests that the majority will.

According to UK-based text services provider Text Marketer, 49 percent of  respondents would be likely to opt into a service offered via text message. Additionally, 68 percent of respondents said that they would like to receive special offers via text, and would be willing to accept such a service if offered.

These statistics are growing and are shooting past more traditional methods such as email and phone calls. SMS marketing is a fast-growing business tactic because the SMS application is extremely popular. As previously mentioned in this blog, 98 percent of all text messages are received and recipients are more likely to open and respond to a text quickly than they are any other form of communication.

"Marketing via SMS provides a great way to get people involved in ways that they normally would not," Clark Herman, a contributor for the small business blog Get Busy Media, wrote in a recent article.

However, many businesses are not taking advantage of this opportunity, according to the survey. The results suggest that 61 percent of respondents receive three or fewer marketing messages per month on their phones, and 31 percent haven't received any.

This shows that while marketing via SMS is a successful practice, it is, for the most part, an untapped resource. This is a good time for businesses to take advantage of this service as they prepare their marketing strategies. Swift SMS Gateway provides the tools all businesses need to launch a profitable text marketing campaign.


Problems with calls and data increases value of SMS messaging services

Even as smartphones grow in popularity, users are becoming increasingly frustrated with a number of their standard features. The ability to make and receive calls is why mobile phones were created. Data usage is a staple of all smartphones. However, each have shortcomings that have evoked negative responses from users.

According to a survey from Pew Research, 35 percent of smartphone owners have experienced problems regarding dropped calls and weak voice connections on a weekly basis. Additionally, 49 percent say that they run into issues concerning slow data speeds. These were the two biggest complaints respondents had with their phones, and only further illustrates the value of text messaging services.

Marketers reaching out to prospects or customers via phone calls may find themselves unsuccessful if recipients continue to experience dropped calls. Sending emails or messages through various data-based applications may not be the best method if users are finding it difficult to load the sent information on their phones.

Jan Boyles, the Pew researcher who developed the report, said that users' frustrations have escalated because they have now come to expect instant information without hassle.

"As mobile owners become fond of just-in-time access to others and as their expectations about getting real-time information rise, they depend on the cell phone's technical reliability," Boyles said. "Any problems that snag, stall, or stop users from connecting to the material and people they seek is at least a hassle to them and sometimes is even more disturbing than that in this networked world."

With these issues continuing to crop up among smartphone owners, it's no wonder why SMS remains the most popular application on all mobile phones. Businesses can feel confident launching text message marketing campaigns because there is a far greater chance these messages will be received. Swift SMS Gateway provides the tools marketers need to send messages via SMS.


SMS text messaging allows citizens to keep their streets clean

Preserving the cleanliness of a community is of the utmost importance. As citizens walk the streets of their towns and cities, they need to know that their elected officials are doing all they can to maintain sanitary conditions. In one UK town, citizens can now do their part by reporting any public hazards found via SMS text messaging.

As previously reported in this blog, texting has expanded from a communication device between friends and family to a valuable tool used for marketing and emergency services. This latest SMS usage takes things one step further by allowing mobile phone users to be proactive by using their technology to inform officials about any potential threats to the cleanliness of their neighborhood.

The Town of Erewash has implemented a service for users to text town officials whenever they see unscoped dog waste on their sidewalk. Such occurrences have become a growing problem, according to the online publication "This Is Derbyshire," and residents asked for a way to take action against it.

"Residents asked us to provide a text service and we agreed it was a good idea," said Barbara Harrison, a city environmental representative. "There is an over-riding message that this has to be made to irresponsible dog owners who fail to clean up after their pets – bag it and bin it. Dog mess is an eyesore and a health hazard. If you are a dog owner, you have a legal duty to clean up every time your dog messes in a public place."

In the United States, various cities have begun implementing services that allow citizens to take control of their community with mobile phone technology. These services range from paying public utility bills to uploading pictures of public damage to a government application, but the most popular functions appear to be related to the SMS application. Swift SMS Gateway offers the tools city and town offices need to organize successful text messaging services.

Utility company sends text message alerts during blackouts

The massive blackouts in India last month resulted in over 600 million people losing power for as long as 48 hours. In the aftermath of the incident, analysts in the United States began questioning whether or not the country is equipped to handle similar events. While nationwide preparation remains to be seen, some utility companies are doing their part to alleviate some of the problems that could stem from such incidents. Illinois-based electric provider ComEd is doing its part by sending out text alerts during power outages.

According to the company's website, users can subscribe to the short code SMS service online, and by doing so they'll be able to keep up to date on the latest information concerning blackouts in their area.

"When an outage has been reported, you will receive a message notifying you of the outage affecting your service," says the outage alerts section of the ComEd site. "When an estimated restore time is determined, you will receive a message with that time. If the estimated restore time changes, a message will be sent with that new estimated restoration time. When your service is restored, you will receive a restore message."

This is a valuable service as it allows residents to remain constantly informed. According to the site, alerts are available 24 hours a day and seven days a week, with as many as seven alerts going out in a given day. An article in Popular Mechanics last week declared that the United States is "woefully unprepared" for a blackout of India's magnitude, but implementing services like these is a good start in changing that sentiment.

This is one of many benefits SMS messaging can offer. Swift SMS Gateway can supply the tools businesses need to launch text message alert services.

Turning potential texting pitfalls into positive gains

The popularity of the SMS application has made text messaging one of the more effective forms of marketing. Businesses are turning to the method to reach specific demographics and send out effective messages with a high potential for readership. However, some believe that text message marketing has its pitfalls, and these will need to be overcome to fulfill a truly successful text messaging campaign.

The online publication Adotas lists two cons associated with SMS text marketing. Kristi Carter, the author of the article, lists caution and shortened messages as two factors that may limit the success of text marketing.

Caution is a factor in every marketing campaign. Users tend to be skeptical of unknown sources. Spam and viruses are major concerns and, as a result, recipients may stray away from these messages, even if it means that they are missing out on valuable information.

"Although 99 percent of text messages are opened, people are leery of receiving them from unknown sources," Carter writes. "This is because hackers often send viruses through SMS messages."

All outbound marketing professionals encounter this hurdle. Part of every marketing strategy involves getting around the roadblock of unfamiliarity while still engaging new prospects and selling them on valuable ideas, products and services. Taking a personal approach with text messaging can increase a prospect's comfortability. A comfortable recipient should be more willing to open messages.

However, this must be done with messaging that is short and concise. Modern smartphone technology has eliminated the truncation of messages, but that doesn't mean that recipients want to read elongated paragraphs in one text message.

Carter lists this as another con of text message marketing, writing: "Although there aren't any real character limitations, it's still a good idea the create shorter text. This way, they'll be more likely to read and understand."

This can be a challenge with text message marketing. Typically, users won't want to receive a slew of consecutive messages, but they cannot be too long or recipients could be turned off and ignore some or all of the content. But, incorporating all of the content into one concise message can also be difficult, as marketers may need to flesh out their message to ensure that users understand what they are reading.

Finding a solution to overcome both of these challenges requires a tremendous amount of skill. Marketers need to develop simple and effective messages that come off as personal while displaying the advantages of a product or service containing a strong call to action.

The best way to incorporate all of these needs into one message is by sending special promotional text messages or incorporating SMS couponing into the messaging strategy. For example, a business with the phone number of a regular customer can send a coupon to let the recipient know that their business is valued. This is a nice personal touch that can entice recipients to open subsequent messages from the same company. It has a positive effect on businesses because that recipient will more than likely respond to new messages and may buy new products and services. They may also share such messages with their friends, which can help a company acquire new customers.

Additionally, the value of promotional texts can be expressed in a limited number of characters so recipients will receive important information without having to sift through excessive content. Users may also be more apt to read longer messages in the future if initial messaging offers a positive experience.

Incorporating these strategies can help businesses ensure that  their text message marketing is successful. Swift SMS Gateway provides the tools needed to launch a positive SMS marketing campaign.



Retail stores hit target demographic with text message marketing

In marketing, it is crucial for businesses to understand the various nuances of their current and potential customers, and adapt accordingly. Behaviors, preferences and trends all must be considered. A number of fashion retailers catered towards teenage girls and young women understand this, and are now marketing to their customers by sending promotional text messages.

According to the Wall Street Journal, businesses including Charlotte Russe, Claire's Boutique and Vans have started sending SMS messages to customers. These include information about in-store sales, promotional codes and coupons. Recently, Charlotte Russe sent out a coupon for $1 sunglasses per every $30 purchase, and the promotion was met with tremendous success.

Most of the retailers indulging in this practice say that they have turned from running such promotions via email marketing to SMS messaging. Studies have shown that the average recipient is five times more likely to open a text message than an email. The discrepancy is even greater when considering these particular companies' target demographic.

According to the website Ask the Judge, texting amongst teens rose from 50 texts per day in 2009 to 60 texts per day in 2012. Meanwhile, only 6 percent of teenage girls admitted to checking email every day. Paul Hollowell, the director of marketing at Charlotte Russe, explained to the news source that the texting campaign has been much more successful with teenage girls than previous email campaigns.

Moreover, the sentiment shared among teen girls barely changes as they transition into adulthood. Grace Abruzzo, a 22-year-old student in Arizona and recipient of Charlotte Russe's promotional texts, told the news source that she prefers receiving texts over emails.

"I get a lot of junk email," she said. "With text messages, I can be selective."

Swift SMS Gateway offers the tools that businesses need to successfully run SMS messaging campaigns.

Technological advancements spur communication policy amendments

The evolution of technology has changed the way people communicate. As such, traditional communication policies associated with various practices have adjusted to comply with modern standards. One such effect has taken place in the NCAA, where collegiate recruiting regulations have changed to accept modern communication methods such as SMS messaging.

In the past, regulations existed to prevent coaches from reaching out to recruits via text message. In fact, engaging in such recruiting methods carried major consequences, and NCAA athletic programs suffered severe penalties for doing so. However, officials with the NCAA have since laxed their position, stating that it is time for coaches to take advantage of modern technological resources.

In June, the NCAA officially deregulated text messaging as a recruitment tool in some sports including basketball, and now coaches and assistants can send unlimited texts to high schoolers after their sophomore year.

Tyus Jones, a star basketball prospect at Apple Valley High School in Minnesota, spoke with ESPN about the rule changes and agreed that it's a smart step towards the future of recruiting.

"I think a text message is probably easier just because kids, we're always on our phones and always texting," Jones said. "If they just text us real quick, it takes two seconds to text back. I know me personally, if you send out a lot of letters, it takes some time to open all those up. Sometimes talking on the phone takes a long time."

Despite a plethora of ever-increasing features on modern smartphones, SMS remains the most popular app on all mobile phones. That is why communicating important bits of information is so impactful when it is sent via text messaging. Businesses must consider this as they plan communication strategies with employees, business partners, customers and prospects. Swift SMS Gateway provides the tools needed to execute a successful SMS campaign.


Trends favor SMS over email marketing

The battle between text message and email marketing has raged for the better part of the 21st century. While email was once considered the best way to engage customers and prospects, a number of recent developments has swayed the trend in favor of SMS marketing.

According to an email marketing metrics report released by the online publication Mailer Mailer, the email open rate has declined significantly in recent years. While the percentage of recipients that responded or clicked on a call to action in a marketing email stood as high as 14 percent in 2007, that number has dropped to around 11 percent today. Studies show that several email recipients will delete said messages without opening them.

Meanwhile, SMS users continue to open and respond to text messages, and the number of recipients is growing due to the rapid adoption of mobile technology. As previously reported in this blog and supported in an article in the New York Times, text messages have an open rate of 97 percent.

Texting is becoming an increasingly reliable source for generating an instant response as well. According to an article in the Business 2 Community blog, 90 percent of text messages are read within the first three minutes of being received. This is in stark contrast to email, as a 2011 study conducted by customer management firm ICMI revealed that 39 percent of recipients read emails within the first 24 hours versus  9 percent that did so immediately.

While sending messages via SMS will increase the likelihood of it being read, it is vital for businesses to remember that content quality is still the most important factor. A 2011 article from the online publication Vibes suggests that regardless of which channel is used to distribute messages, it's vital to "create relevant, timely and engaging content."

Businesses sending messages via SMS will want to ensure that their content will engage recipients. Swift SMS Gateway can provide companies with the tools needed to develop and send messages that will be read and that will evoke a response.