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.


Texting allows businesses to be transparent

Transparency is an important business practice for many organizations, especially those in the private sector. Taxpayers are always cautious of misappropriation risks, so providing the public with a way to view daily operations and communication is vital because it can give taxpayers peace of mind in knowing that their money is being managed properly. As communication continues to become mobile, sending text messages can allow an organization to record important conversations.

The city of Jacksonville, Florida, is implementing a policy that requires all business-related text messages between public offices to be captured and stored. This will allow citizens the access to view communication records, should the need arise. For city offices, capturing SMS messages is the easiest and most efficient way to record communication.

Cole Cartledge, the director of Intra-Governmental Services for the city of Jacksonville, said to the online publication The Daily Record that his organization plans to work with various groups to determine the best practices of storing text messages.

"I've directed our staff to start holding those indefinitely and we are going to coordinate with the Office of General Counsel to see how long we need to hold those," Cartledge said.

It is unknown at this time how long these messages will have to be held for, as various legal factors will have to be considered before the policy goes live. However, the fact that this city office is planning such a policy shows how important text messaging can be in both public and private business settings.

All organizations must display ethical conduct if they are to remain viable, and recording SMS communication can easily show taxpayers in the public sector and investors in the private sector that operations are on the up and up. As such, businesses should consider using SMS technology to perform all work-related communications such as marketing and customer service. Swift SMS Gateway can provide organizations with the tools needed to implement a text messaging business strategy.


Kentucky neighborhood prevents crime by sending text message alerts

This blog has talked a lot about the advantages of using SMS services to conduct business and send marketing messages. SMS can also keep individuals safe, as many users can receive messages quickly and efficiently in the event of danger.

Police in Louisville, Kentucky, are now sending and receiving messages to and from residents via text and email to keep the people notified in the event of an emergency or to inform them of any suspicious criminal activity.

Regency Woods is one one of the neighborhoods in the area. Typically a quiet neighborhood, there has been an increase in car break-ins, according to a news report on To combat the rise in crime, a system has been implemented that allows residents to text or email the police, who can in turn send out a mass alert to a number of citizens.

Sgt. Clayton Elliott with the Metro Police Department's 6th Division told the news source that while the system has been used as a way to prevent crime, residents can also report any crimes that happen to occur, which allows the department to alert the public of an incident.

"We notify them on burglaries, thefts from autos, thefts, robberies," Elliot said. "If one of the neighbors happened to have seen that individual they can give information to the detectives."

While the system allows for both SMS and email communication, the nature of the two applications makes sending these messages via text a better solution. Even though most smartphones have email, it is much easier to take out a phone and send and receive an SMS message than it is to do so via email.

Any organizations and communities looking to improve the communication between safety officials and citizens should consider implementing an emergency text service. Swift SMS Gateway can provide the tools needed to create a service designed to reduce crime and improve the safety of a community.


Tips for marketing via SMS

The rise in mobile usage and the fact that the SMS app remains the most popular application on smartphones means that more businesses are turning to text message marketing. However, those in the field can't simply dive into text messaging without formulating a proper strategy. The online publication Business2Community released a list of tips for effective SMS marketing.

The number one tip is one that this blog happens to agree with: Relevancy and timing are crucial. SMS recipients are more likely to act upon the messaging they receive if they are prompted to do so right away. The longer a recipient waits to act or respond to a certain message, the less likely they are to do so.

For example, a business hosting an event could send promotional messages to the phones of all the attendees. Perhaps there is an incentive to buy a product at the function sold by the host. Naturally, it would be best to send this information during the event so the recipients can capitalize on it. Sending a message with relevant information and a call to action will only be effective if it is sent at the appropriate time.

The blog also mentions that it's important to be conversational with the recipient. Users don't get excited by generic canned text. Messages should be engaging and should prompt some form of response from the customer receiving the message.

"Having a conversation with customers via sms is probably easier than you think too," says the article.

Implementing the right tools for SMS marketing can allow professionals to store any responses into a database and analyze them for business purposes. These tools can also allow businesses to schedule messages so they are sent at a relevant time. Swift SMS Gateway provides the tools marketers need to follow these helpful tips.


Texting can help preserve mobile phone battery life

The increased number of functions in smartphones give users a plethora of modern communication methods. Some have expressed a belief that the growing number of functions may eventually limit the popularity of SMS, which is still the dominant app on today's mobile devices. But, most of these new applications can be far more detrimental to battery life than sending and receiving SMS messages.

According to a number of news sources, the iPhone 4S is one of the more egregious offenders of poor battery performance.

"Not surprisingly, owners of the iPhone 4S complained about poor battery life, a much-discussed and somwhat controversial issue that was mentioned in 45 percent of the complaints about Apple's newest smartphone," writes Bill Snyder in a blog.

Studies show that many users will attempt to use various communication applications that will eat up bandwidth and, in turn, drain battery life. In the case of the iPhone 4S and its iOS 5 operating system, the use of iMessage, Apple's text communication system run on the SMS application, can hurt the battery more than traditional texting.

An article in USA Today suggests that turning off mobile data and relying on text messaging to communicate may be the best way to preserve battery life. Since most SMS text messages take up only 140 bytes, texting will not have as severe an effect on bandwidth as any other communication method.

With the amount of time people spend on their smartphones these days, especially out of the house and in social situations, battery life is of the utmost importance. Users may be more willing to stick with texting if it means having a longer lasting battery. Marketers should take advantage of the immense number of texters by implementing an SMS marketing strategy. Swift SMS Gateway provides the tools needed to reach the massive number of users relying on text messaging.