The SMS Marketing Blog

[ By Ez Texting ]

Smalltown America: The Tech Industry’s New Home?

 

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The internet revolution has worked wonders for entrepreneurs with big ideas and small wallets. And while the tech giants are still keen to project a certain cache by basing themselves in huge economic centers like Tokyo and California, start ups are finding fewer financial impediments to realizing their dreams in less illustrious surroundings.

One of the tech industry’s new suburban outposts lies to the far west of Chicago, in and around the Fox Valley. Towns like Naperville, Aurora and Elgin are fostering the new bright young things of software development, web marketing and business.

These places have a centralized support network designed specifically for tech workers, mimicking the ‘all in it together’ mentality of their Silicon Valley counterparts.

If the spirit of technological collaboration is alive and well in Illinois, it’s positively thriving in Colorado. The state’s tech industry employed 162,600 people in 2012 (according to a TechAmerica Foundation report). That’s 8.7% of the private sector workforce, making Colorado the third biggest contributor to the national tech economy. In 2012, Colorado’s tech payroll amounted to $15.8 billion.

Tech wages are 98% higher than the average private sector wage, and the industry is the 7th-best paid in the United States. This skilled workforce is generating solutions to everything from the energy deficit to space travel. The further out of the big industrial centers tech companies base themselves, the lower the overheads - and the higher the potential wages. No wonder talented tech workers are eschewing the glamor of Silicon Valley in favor of better paid jobs in surroundings that are perhaps less illustrious - but also less cut-throat.

This tech diaspora has been facilitated in part by SEO campaigns that are increasingly targeting niche markets for highly specialized - and regionalized - products and services. Most tech companies are no longer aiming for world domination; they simply want to maximise their ROI by advertising only to those people with a high likelihood of purchasing their product.

Industry analysts are convinced that towns like Naperville have the capacity to become key tech hubs. Tech workers are starting to see the benefits of working in smaller towns, where they can commute quickly to and from work - without sacrificing their resume or salary. And why not? After all, their products and services are opening up a global village in which everybody can be a major player, irrespective of geographical location. To sell this new reality without believing in it is a contradiction too big for the bright young things of tomorrow’s technology industry.

 

Five Telltale Signs of a Text Scam

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Email and snail mail scammers have added a new, very personal communication medium to their fraud arsenal: SMS. Text messaging scams are unfortunately becoming more commonplace, and as such it’s important to know what the indicators of such scams are. Check out five surefire signs of a text scam and know what to look out for should you receive strange messages: 

 

1) 11-Digit Numbers

Text messages from legitimate businesses are actually sent from the company’s number and do not come from unidentified mobile numbers. This is true even if the text body includes the name of the company, so don’t be fooled if a strange number claims to be a particular company.

 

2) “Winning” Raffle Prizes

Plenty of text scams begin by saying the user has “won” a raffle and includes steps on how to claim the supposed prize. Designed to trick users into handing over money or load credits in exchange for the prize, these fake winnings certainly spell scam. Remember that unless you entered into a specific contest, there’s no real prize at the end of the text message tunnel. Never, ever offer bank or similar information to “raffles” you did not enter.

 

3) “Share-A-Load”

Another way text scams extort user money or load credits is via “Share-A-Load” transactions. This scam accuses the subscriber of racking up additional charges. It gives the victim a message format to send to a mobile number for a “refund.” The message often looks as follows: [Company Name] LTE Advisory: Your postpaid account has been charged P500 for LTE use. Is this a wrong charge? Text 500 send to 2936XXXXXXX for REFUND.” Additionally, adding the ‘2’ in front of the 10-digit cell number turns the message into a “Share-A-Load” transaction.

 

4) Problems With Relatives 

Text messages claiming trouble with relatives who live abroad is one of the most common text messaging scams in existence. The “relative” has an issue while living or traveling abroad and requests monetary assistance through load credits or money transfer services using a “new” prepaid number. This new number is another way to trick users into Share-A-Load transactions.

 

5) Government “Messages”

Government agencies do not, repeat, DO NOT perform transactions through text messages. Any text message claiming to be from any government agency is a definite scam, including those that note raffle prize wins. The “agency” may not even exist.

Instead of responding to text message scams, inform your service provider of suspicious activity. Report all mobile numbers used, and never provide bank information or send money. The more informed you are, the better off you’ll be should you encounter a text message scam. 

Baltimore Maps Addiction with Text Messaging

SMS Messaging has had a major impact on healthcare processes. Everything from appointment reminders to internal communications in hospitals are being achieved more effectively than ever, and it’s all down to the humble text message.

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In recent years, one of the most powerful applications of this technology has taken place in Baltimore, where it’s being used to help addicts in recovery. A National Institutes of Health lab located in East Baltimore provides methadone and testing to the addicts who attend. Unlike many other rehab programs, addicts don’t get thrown out if they relapse. Why? Because the data they can provide is far too valuable to researchers investigating the causes of relapses.

This data is being gathered via smartphones specifically programmed to help struggling drug users track their cravings and relapse episodes. The phones beep randomly throughout the course of the day with a text message asking questions like: Where are you? How are you feeling? What are you doing? Who are you with?

The scheme aims to identify the events and situations surrounding relapses. What are the events, places and people that trigger drug use? What happens in the precise moment an addict decides to use? 

In addition to cell phones, addicts carry GPS loggers to track their movements. Researchers can see the whereabouts of participants, identifying particular blocks or parts of town that precipitate a relapse. Knowing the location of an addict when they use – or think about reusing – is helping the team better understand the patterns of behavior that lead to a relapse.

The scheme is not the first SMS-based solution to treating addiction. Problem drinkers have been helped by a text message program that monitors their alcohol intake. Participants took weekly surveys and, depending on their responses, received automated text messages containing words of encouragement or recommendations for limiting alcohol consumption. The results showed that, on average, heavy drinkers can cut their intake by up to half by using such a scheme.

The nature of the platform is well-suited to self-monitoring and the setting of short term goals. People generally carry their phones everywhere, making them the perfect tool for reminding people to stay aware of unhealthy behaviors. Even just being told to ‘hang in there’ can work wonders for problem drinkers who are trying to keep on top of their alcohol intake. Mobile technology gives addicts a pocket clinician-cum-counselor that won’t let them down.

Perks That Work: Getting the Most out of Your Employees

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Running a small business requires a lot more creativity than running a major corporation. Throwing money at every single problem is not an option. When your resources are limited, you have to think smarter and work harder. 

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but the adage is scant consolation for cash-hobbled entrepreneurs with grand ideas which simply can't be executed without a few hefty checks being written. All too often, budgetary constraints lead to a frustrating number of creative ideas being nixed at the proposal stage.

One of the ways in which SMBs feel financially strangled is their inability to offer the perks-of-the-job absorbed so easily by Fortune 500 companies. Competition for the best employees is fierce, but even if you can’t offer the same salary as the biggest brands in your industry, you can attract bright minds by offering the right perks.

It’s not all about free meals and X-Boxes. If potential staff members can see real world benefits as part of the package, and they have faith in your company culture, they may well take a smaller salary. After all, if they believe in your brand, they will understand that it’s only a matter of time before their wages will rise in line with the company’s fortunes. With that in mind, we’ve trawled the employee packages offered by a variety of small and medium-sized businesses to give you a few ideas for perks that really work.

 

Cycle to Work

D.C. company Summit LLC hit on an innovative way to keep younger employees excited about going to work. They saw that more than 50% of their workforce did not drive and responded by purchasing annual memberships to the Capital Bikeshare program. Of Summit’s 75 employees, more than half opted to sign up for the program, which costs $75 per membership. Like all good benefits, the advantages of the scheme were felt equally by management and staff: avoiding traffic and public transportation delays increased productivity by ensuring staff showed up earlier. The positive effect of exercise on cognitive function is well-documented. For the future health of staff and revenues, that’s a few thousand dollars well spent.

 

Free Laundry

Venice-based JibJab Media offer a free laundry service to all staff-members who arrive to work by 10am on Mondays. The contents of one laundry bag gets washed, folded and returned to employees the following day. Crossing such a simple chore off the daily lives of staff does wonders for loyalty, and it’s a relatively low-cost endeavor.

 

Mandatory Out of Office Hours

In this smartphone age, so many workers are expected to be constantly ‘on’ – and it’s a major cause of anxiety among those who feel they can’t switch ‘off’. One CEO has boldly coined the phrase ‘Zmail’ to describe his no-email policy between the hours of 10pm and 6am. Dan Calista, head of healthcare management consultancy firm Vynamic, asks employees with the urge to email at 11pm to write a draft and send it the next morning. The policy was implemented in response to an internal survey that showed 40% of employees were stressed out at work. Now, Vynamic reports a lower-than-average staff turnover rate, and they send regular reminders about the policy – before 10pm, of course.

How to Improve Text Message Security

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Mobile phone security risks are abundant with standard, unencrypted text messages among other elements of mobile use. Accordingly, more and more users are looking to encrypted phone call and text message options for privacy protection. A number of apps available for iOS and Android are designed to improve text message security, encrypting both text messages and phone calls. Let’s take a look at some of these apps, but remember no app can protect mobile devices from physical access. Unless a phone features a passcode, anyone handling the device can read messages, view pictures, check out call history, etc.

 

TextSecure and Signal

Created by former Twitter security researcher Moxie Marlinspike’s Open Whisper Systems, TextSecure allows users to message everyone on their phone list. End-to-end encryption is only available when talking to other TextSecure users; however, notifications are sent if the conversation isn’t secure. Available for free on Android, TextSecure utilizes independently developed algorithms, including those that create a new security key with each message.

 

Telegram

Described by its creators as the encrypted, cloud-based, quicker version of WhatsApp, Telegram makes it easy to share messages and media with up to 200 people at once. Choices include ephemeral chats, which are never saved, and cloud-accessible messages for users wanting to return to conversations. The “secret” chats leave “no trace” on the Telegram server.

 

Wickr 

Offering “military-grade security,” Wickr is for those who want to know their messages and photos aren’t readable past a certain time. Metadata is stripped from photos before they’re sent, and messages automatically disappear following a set amount of time after being read. The app makes customization simple and allows users to decide how many people they want to find them, create group chats, and “shred” remains of deleted files.

 

Surespot

Surespot features tools for independently managing different identities on a single device to distinguish personal and professional communications. Voice chat is also integrated, as is flexible photo control for locking, unlocking, and deleting photos from recipients’ phones. The app requires a password that cannot be recovered or reset. Users may look at one another’s public keys offline to ensure no “man-in-the-middle” attacks.

 

CoverMe

CoverMe securely stores a variety of media data, including passwords, photos and documents, and makes it possible to hide identities and phone numbers. Calling and texting with non-users is possible via the CoverMe phone plan, but only phone calls and texts with other users feature end-to-end encryption.

These and other security apps offer the text message security that businesses often require to communicate with employees and clients. And of course, they’re useful for the everyday user as well.

 

Mobile Marketing Mushroom in Ireland

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Mobile marketing campaign managers in Ireland are flush with success right now. The country is undergoing a mobile device boom, as consumers increasingly turn their attentions away from desktop and towards smartphones and tablets.

A study compiled by marketing company ZinMobi looked at some of the country’s leading retail, restaurant and fast food brands and found mobile marketing tactics were the most effective way of delivering the biggest ROI. ZinMobi’s boss, Brian Stephenson, said the results were indicative of a growing awareness of mobile marketing tactics, and a concurrent drop off in use of conventional methods. Says Stephenson:

“What excites me about these results is the way that brands have recognised mobile as the instant marketing channel with campaigns quicker to deploy, and delivering instant results.

“We believe that every business knows enough about its customers... to deliver highly-targeted and trackable campaigns,” he added.

The study also found that mobile marketing tactics were regarded as the quickest to set-up, and 61% of respondents said they delivered the fastest results. The research found only 10% of companies did not plan to be using some form of mobile marketing campaign by this time next year; right now, 26% of Irish companies do not use some kind of mobile marketing strategy. These figures clearly show a growing awareness of mobile marketing among firms who are late to the party.

Companies with a well-established mobile marketing strategy are expanding their current campaigns in order to better engage with consumers. Mobile coupons and special offers are proving highly effective methods of retaining and nurturing existing customers.

These trends reflect an overall swing towards mobile in Ireland. Mobile web access is up 59% on last year according to a report from StatCounter. The more consumers move towards mobile devices, the more we’re likely to see marketers follow suit and creating mobile-specific campaigns. Ireland, like the rest of the world, knows which way the wind is blowing.

 

4 Effective Geo-Targeting Techniques

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More and more advertisers are implementing geo-targeting in their marketing campaigns, but challenges form when limiting location, specifically in regards to volume. Cookies and private browsing also limit ad number, yet a few creative location-targeting techniques are helping advertisers improve ROI. Geo-targeting focuses on city, state, region, country, zip code, designated market area (DMA), radius around a point or location extension targeting, or some combination of these. Let’s take a look at four effective geo-targeting techniques for advertisers wanting to fine-tune campaigns without losing volume:

 

1) Exclusion is Okay

AdWorks makes it possible for advertisers to exclude certain locations so ads don’t appear there, such as a convenience store chain excluding locations free of their stores. Running reports indicating where locations clicks are coming from, sorting by low-quality clickers and excluding these areas or using bid adjustment all contribute to improved ROI. Bid adjustments refer to increasing or decreasing bids in specific locations for performance optimization.

 

2) Use Keywords Only

Another geo-targeting technique is using keywords rather than locations to limit targeting. For example, a car dealership could create a separate campaign targeting people searching for “car dealerships Philadelphia” as opposed to relying on geo-targeting only. Because car dealerships serve specific areas or regions, people looking for dealerships are more likely to use geo-modifiers when searching. Using keywords therefore functions as a competitive strategy and a way to drive traffic.

 

3) A Mobile Focus

Mobile-only AdWord campaigns are important when looking to geo-target mobile audiences. This is especially essential if targeting on-the-go professionals, such as real estate agents, as well as consumers looking for specific services when “out and about,” such as towing help if stranded.

 

4) Implement Weather-Related Bid Adjustments

Google Scripts makes it possible to make bid adjustments based on weather. For example, marketers can send ads for indoor activities on cold and/or rainy days, and those for outdoor fun on warm and sunny days. A simple spreadsheet is all that’s required to create this bid, and advertisers are excited about the possibilities that weather-related geo-targeting offers. The weather affects purchase and activity decisions, so ads based on how warm it is or not on a certain day is a powerful marketing tool.

A little creativity is all that’s necessary to make geo-targeting work for your business! The potential of precise, location-specific marketing cannot be underestimated, and is set to revolutionize the way people do business. 

How Geo-Targeting Has Become a Precision Marketing Tool

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Recent geo-targeting improvements has this marketing tool poised to become the “next big thing” in mobile advertising.

Once upon a time, advertisers sent ads into universe, not knowing if they would be viewed or attractive to the user. Geo-targeting provided advertisers the ability to leverage smartphone GPS data and subsequently create ads relevant to the user’s location, and track user proximity to competitor businesses. This serious increase in ad relevancy has resulted in marketers looking to further develop geo-marketing practices. 

Two Techniques

Geo-tracking also offers targeted messages to consumers who patronize various businesses more than once. Two popular techniques that go beyond standard geo-targeting involve creating targeted ads based on either the user’s “passion points,” i.e. favorite businesses/establishments, or favored brands. Monica Ho, the vice president of marketing at xAd in New York, notes about one-third of the company’s brand campaigns are utilizing sophisticated geo-targeting techniques, a significant increase compared to previous campaigns. Indeed, the company’s location platform has grown an astounding 300 percent in 2014.

New Strategies

New strategies regarding geo-targeting include addressing the issue of delivering mobile ads “at scale with location-based targeting,” since most consumers don’t share their location unless engaging in specific activities. Another problem is ad placement at the “expense of reach.” However, Michael Boland, senior analyst and vice president of content at BIA/Kelsey in Chantilly, Virginia, notes “...using location instead to profile and target audience segments broadens the locus of targeting beyond impression-depleting locales.”

The Challenge

The problem with geo-targeting is frightening off users when marketers make it obvious they know where they are and what they’re looking for. This is also the most effective way to engage with customers, however.

“If someone in Atlanta mentions getting engaged on Facebook and starts asking brides where they got their dress, a local bridal shop could combine that interest with geo-location data and reach out with information about a sample sale," said Kam Desai, cofounder of newBrandAnalytics.

"Combining location with interest for a targeted promotion that’s very relevant to that particular consumer," he said. "If you’re sharing authentic, relevant information, consumers will value that. Knowing location is just another tool to be able to customize campaigns more effectively."

Additionally, marketers are looking to user location history for ad creation. This is thanks to the combination of mobile and big data. 

“Signals being captured by smartphones and processed through apps and cloud platforms are unlocking all kinds of valuable data by which to target ads not just by location but location-oriented factors like weather and demographic patterns,” Boland noted.

Marketers will no doubt continue their work with geo-targeting, resulting in even more sophisticated ad campaigns.