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9 posts from July 2012

July 31, 2012

Political Apps: Obama For America & Mitt's VP

Back in 2008, the Obama campaign sent one of the most famous text messages of all time, announcing Joe Biden as his VP to millions of supporters; this year Mitt Romney is also taking a mobile approach:

The Romney app, which is available on both iOS and Android, is called “Mitt’s VP.” Users can sign in with their Facebook or “MyMitt” accounts. The app asks users to enter in personal info and activate push notifications. Once the campaign makes a VP choice, it’ll blast the message to all users who have done so.

While they're clearly doing this to gather more data (The information collected by the app, such as users’ location, could potentially be used by the Romney campaign in the future for targeted messaging, particularly in crucial swing states.), this doesn't strike us as the most intelligent move. Obama already proved that the fast, succinct text message was the ideal medium to deliver a tiny bit of information to millions of people. And, given that the Romney Campaign already has a general app 'With Mitt,' this is somewhat of a head-scratcher.

Romney-app

As for the mobile-savvy Obama campaign, they aren't resting on the laurels of their 2008 success. They announced a new app today as well:

Obama’s app, named “Obama for America,” is a full-fledged political organizing tool that lives on a user’s phone. The app delivers news about the Obama campaign, lets supporters locate and sign up for nearby campaign events (such as voter registration drives), allows users an easy way to donate to the campaign and includes a “Get Out the Vote” section featuring information about each state’s voter registration policies and the location of nearby polling places.

Obama-app

Read more @ Mashable or read our previous mobile politics coverage.

July 30, 2012

Check Out Our New Signup Widgets!

Horizontal-300We recently updated our web widget creator with great new features that we’re excited to let you know about. Before we get to that, we want to assure you that any widgets you generated and still use will continue to work! The new web widget creator allows you to create three types of widgets: Hosted, Embeddable & Facebook.

The Hosted widget is similar to the old pop-up widget, but we’ve updated it with great features like:

  • Connecting to multiple Groups
  • Allowing you or your visitors to choose which Group(s) they join.
  • Automatic resizing for mobile phones and tablets
  • Automatic Short Links for Twitter and other social sharing.
  • Automatic QR Code generation

Every hosted widget you create will be listed on the widget page, so you can quickly grab a link to it or a QR code linking to it whenever you need it. The hosted widgets are stored on Amazon’s speedy cloud servers.

The embeddable widget is similar to the hosted widget expect we give you a copy of the HTML, CSS and Javascript for you to place on your website/blog. If you want to customize the appearance of the widget you’ll have a lot more freedom than in the past – though you will need a bit of basic web design knowledge to change our (sleek and improved) default styling.

The Facebook widget has been updated to use a much simpler app for your business’s or group’s page.  Learn how setup the new Facebook widget @ http://www.eztexting.com/getting-started/facebook/

July 26, 2012

Time Management Tips for Entrepreneurs

Entry By Jason Brick

We get it -- you're busy. Among entrepreneurs, time is the scarcest and most valuable resource. It often feels like you have to make a choice between serving the manifold needs of your business or attending to your family or yourself. 

Time-slipping

If you're one of the countless small business owners suffering from what Four Hour Work Week author Tim Ferriss calls "Time Famine", consider using one of these simple fixes to add more useful hours to your day. 

  • Take Personal Time in the Morning
    Schedule time for your pet projects and personal enrichment before the work day starts. If something goes wrong during working hours, you'll be tempted to skip your "you time" and catch up. 
  • Close Your Office Door
    Interruptions from well-intentioned and loyal employees ruin your productivity. Statistics suggest it takes anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes to get back on track. A closed door presents a physical reminder that you're hard at work, too. Better yet, it makes your team more self-sufficient as they work to answer questions on their own. 
  • Schedule Email Time
    Don't answer email as a constant, incoming stream. Instead, schedule a few time a day to go through whatever has hit your inbox. Otherwise, you risk having 10 exchanges over the day when just two would have done the trick. 
  • Get Enough Sleep (and Exercise)
    These both take time out of your workday, but make up for it with better productivity. The improved focus and energy you get from 7 to 8 hours sleep and 20 to 30 minutes of cardio pay off at two-to-three times the time you invested. You'd jump at a financial investment with that kind of return.
  • Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
    If somebody else can do something, have them do it. If nobody else can, teach somebody how. This frees your time and energy for the tasks you enjoy, and those that truly grow your business. 
  • Know When to Say "No"
    Whether it's an employee asking for help, a community group looking for a volunteer, or a new potential project, extra hands on your time can mean skimping on the tasks and events that matter most. Get in the practice of saying "no" to requests that don't serve you and your business directly. Steve Jobs -- a successful entrepreneur who you might have heard of -- said "Focus is about saying no." It means saying "yes" to the important things, because your schedule has room to make them happen. 

July 23, 2012

The Text Message Marketing Toolbox: Twenty Techniques

Entry By Jason Brick

Text message marketing is as much an art as it is a science. While nobody may know every trick to a successful campaign, there are some things we know that will set you up for the results you want. If you're looking for new ideas, consider some of these techniques to take your texting to a terrific tier.

Text-message-marketing-toolbox

  1. Get the most out of one idea by cross-posting your message on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
  2. Include a value option (like a coupon or contest entry) with every message.
  3. Advertise your mobile subscription on everything you print. 
  4. Develop a "take-away concept" for every message before you write and send it.
  5. Use events within your business to inspire messages that give an "insider" feel. 
  6. Tap your employees and most enthusiastic customers for SMS message ideas. 
  7. Keep a whiteboard for scrawling text promotion ideas as they come to you. 
  8. Create a content calendar with message ideas to draw from—planning ahead can help you hold your schedule.. 
  9. Read bumper stickers, t-shirts and greeting cards for examples of great short-form messaging. 
  10. Note the most successful SMS messages in terms of response. Recycle the ideas for powerful content. 
  11. Write messages to serve a compelling "call to action" that spurs response business. 
  12. Use text messages as appointment reminders to keep customers coming in. 
  13. Ask customers what they read and watch, to better understand what grabs and holds their attention. 
  14. Offer exclusive discounts or insider access as a benefit of subscribing to your SMS list. 
  15. Enlist guest posters -- owners of other local businesses, industry experts, and celebrities for example -- to spice up some of your posts. 
  16. Reference your company blog in some SMS messages, and SMS broadcasts in some blog posts. 
  17. Hold quizzes, Q&A sessions and contests via mobile for intense response rates. 
  18. Use holidays and local events for inspiration -- and to create special events in your shop to draw subscribers in. 
  19. Ask for advice. For example, send a 10AM broadcast asking customers what they'd like to see on special for lunch. 
  20. Scan each message to confirm every sentence includes at least one action word.

Whether you use all of these tricks or just one -- or you just use these as inspiration for even better techniques -- you'll be ahead of your competition with a dynamic, powerful and profitable SMS marketing campaign.

July 20, 2012

The Tao Of Setting Goals

Entry By Jason Brick

Goals may be the single most important difference between successful entrepreneurs and struggling businessmen. Without clearly set goals, and a plan for reaching them, it's easy -- even unavoidable -- to muddle on, day by day, with no real growth in your business.

People feel like they understand goal-setting, but in most cases they set themselves up to fail. When launching your next big push for your business, consider whether your goals are professional grade, or really just pipe dreams in disguise. 

Tao-goals

  • Strong goals are measurable. They're attached to some kind of number, or clearly defined condition. "Get rich" is not a strong goal. "Make $100,000 this quarter" is more obtainable. 
  • Weak goals lack a time limit. If you don't set a deadline for your goal, it's likely to fall victim to procrastination and mission creep. "Fix the creak in the front door" won't work nearly as well as, "Fix that creak before Memorial Day."
  • Strong goals include benchmarks: Interim goals keep you on track. If you aim to increase revenue by 24 percent this year, check in at the end of each month to make sure each provides 2 percent growth, this will keep you on track. Anybody who stayed up too late finishing a term paper on night before it's due knows why benchmarks are valuable. 
  • Weak goals are too aggressive in the short term. This happens because people tend to get excited while setting goals. The result is lofty short-term resolutions that fail, because they're unrealistically aggressive. 
  • Strong goals accumulate small steps over time. If you write a page a day for a year, you've written a sizable novel. Allowing a longer work period for your goals will often surprise you with the results you make possible. 
  • Weak goals aren't written down. Some say a goal is just a dream until you write it down someplace. In business, incorporating your goals into a formal plan helps keep everybody on mission, on focus and prepared for assessment.
  • Strong goals push your limits. It's okay to throw yourself or your team an occasional softball to help build morale -- but never stop there. The best goals make you work smarter, think harder and expand your competencies in order to succeed. The end result isn't just meeting your goal. It's a stronger team, ready to reach even more challenging goals in the next cycle. 

July 18, 2012

New Feature: Recurring Text Message Campaigns

This morning we rolled out a new feature to Ez Texting - Recurring Text Message Campaigns. So what are they all about?

Recurring Texts allow you to compose a text message that will be sent out on a regular basis – daily, weekly or monthly, with all sorts of scheduling options. You can create a new Recurring Text on the Send Text Message page, under Advanced Features. You can edit and/or cancel your Recurring Texts on this page.

Recurring text messages are great for messages you need to send out on a regular basis - like meeting reminders or weekly sales. For campaigns where you want to send different messages over a period of multiple days (a drip campaign), we've got that in the works too...so stay tuned!

We know that many of you have been waiting for this feature, so we're excited to hear your feedback.

Recurring-texts

July 16, 2012

Your Niche: Reaching Your Most Effective Audience

Entry By Angela Stringfellow

It's Marketing 101: deliver the right message to the right people at the right time. With today’s advances in technology, there are more ways than ever to disperse that message to exactly the right people.

Your-niche2012 looks to be the year of the mobile campaign. Location-based marketing (LBM), SMS campaigns and mobile websites are all growing quickly, making it easier than ever to reach vast numbers of people. However, it’s reaching specific, predetermined customer segments that can make or break a business.

It would be easy to say that it’s just a numbers game. Ping enough people and it’s inevitable that the right audience will be reached as well. But, are there ways to isolate and target a niche audience when utilizing text messaging campaigns?

Of course it is. Why? Because in order for a consumer to receive a promotional text, they first must opt-in to receive the message. It stands to reason that standard marketing tactics can be used to solicit target consumers to opt-in. It can be as simple as adding a call-to-action to a website or traditional media asking customers to sign up to receive text messages and promotions.

“OMG, It’s on Sale!”

That’s where the right message comes into play. While most mobile SMS campaigns are bulk by nature, it is possible to reach a very specific market. For example, if the goal is to reach a teen or young adult population, be sure to use the lingo that fits the market complete with text-speech like “OMG” or “lol.” However, if the target market is professionals, keep the messages concise but use proper grammar and abbreviations. Be conscious of who is receiving the message and always provide a reason for a response.

It's important to make the campaign promotions relevant to the appropriate target market. Consider whether or not the offer will draw in the right crowd. For example, a free soda with the purchase of chicken tenders may appeal to the younger generation, but it probably won’t bring in a 30-year-old woman. But, a ten percent discount on a Vera Bradley exclusive handbag may attract precisely that demographic.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

In addition to bulk messaging, LBM can be used to geographically target consumers. Imagine being able to send those very coupons to someone just minutes away or as they walk pass the store front. They are more likely to act on the offer if it’s not an inconvenience and relevant to their precise location. LBM may capture more than your defined demo, but this strategy takes advantage of one of the fundamentals of marketing: Location, Location, Location!

Setting mobile marketing campaigns to reach a targeted audience is definitely doable, but the question becomes is it always the best decision. There are times that reaching a broader audience can have unintended benefits and lead to new customers. And who doesn’t like new customers?

July 09, 2012

ON HOLD: Text-2-Donate For Political Campaigns In US

Text-2-donate-fecAbout a month ago word came down from the Federal Election Committee that popular text-2-donate campaigns could be used for Federal and State elections - a potential fund-raising gamechanger for the 2012 Presidential & Congressional races. The FEC decision seemed to some of us at Ez Texting as coming out of nowhere - and it turns out that was the case for the carriers too. Why? Text-2-Donate seems simple to consumers. You text a keyword to a short code and 5 or 10 dollars are added to your phone bill. In reality, there's a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes. When you add in Federal election laws, well, it gets a lot more complicated:

But the wireless carriers who would oversee the donations-by-text service - including the four U.S. giants Sprint Nextel Corp, Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile USA - have yet to get on board with the plan.

The carriers - who account for about 90 percent of the more than 330 million wireless subscriptions in the United States - are worried about an array of liability and regulatory issues they could face in handling contributions to presidential and congressional candidates.

The carriers are asking the FEC for more guidance on how they should implement a donations-by-text program, according to four industry sources.

One sticking point is that the carriers want to make sure they will not be held liable for determining donors' eligibility to contribute to a campaign, industry sources said.

But wait, there's even more:

Text donations, capped at $10 per text and $50 a month, according to the FEC ruling, would allow givers to remain anonymous, although campaigns would have access to the donors' phone numbers. Donations by text messages also would be limited to a total of $200 per phone number to avoid triggering a federal requirement for disclosure of that donor's identity and address.

Donating to political campaigns by text would be similar to giving to charity: A donor would send a message to a text code and then confirm his or her intention and eligibility. But in this case, carriers and aggregators processing the payment would take a significant cut from each transaction as they do with other non-charitable transactions, such as purchases of ring tones.

That cut appears to be part of the reason for tension that carriers are feeling over text donations to campaigns. The fee could reach 30 percent to 50 percent of each donation, according to FEC documents, putting wireless carriers in a potentially uncomfortable position of doing business with campaigns and their fundraising efforts.

Discounts on fees for a political campaign risk qualifying as an in-kind donation to the campaign from the wireless carrier, analysts said, a scenario that carriers want to avoid.

Head over to Reuters for the full exclusive. However this plays out, fundraising in 2012 with Super PACs, the Internet (social too!), and possibly text-2-donate will certainly make for unique races.

Crushing The Second Half Of The Year: 6 Ways To Keep Your Energy And Results Up

Entry By Jason Brick

We’re now half way through the year, so it’s as good a time as any to reflect, assess and plan. Is this the year your business explodes? The year you finally ditch the yellow pages and go web-and-mobile only? The year you hire that manager so you can work on your business instead of in it? Well, you’ve had six months to start that process. If you’re still stuck in first gear, now’s the time to really push the gas pedal.

Energy-smb-owner

A strong SMS marketing strategy can help make those goals a reality, but only if you stay focused on and excited about your message. This can mean struggling to come up with compelling content week after week. Your subscribers will know when your text plan starts to feel like a chore, and numbers will reflect your indifference. Consider these strategies for keeping content dynamic and exciting over the entire year. 

  1. Set Goals If you play video games, you know that you can spend hours on Xbox Live accumulating achievements without complaint. You can make your SMS campaign feel more like a video game by tracking your numbers carefully. Set goals for performance, and adjust your plan to make sure you reach them.
  2. Work in Chunks Because writing and sending an SMS message takes just seconds, many business owners relegate it to a "spare time" task. This often means writing them in a panic because you've ignored it until deadline. Instead, set aside an hour once a week to write out several SMS messages. Broadcast them on schedule, but prepare them when you can give it your attention and excitement.
  3. Springboard One good idea can lead you to another, and another, and yet another. When something excites your imagination, follow it. There's no better way to stay enthused about your SMS than to make it feature topics about which you're already passionate. 
  4. Reuse and Recycle Nothing succeeds like success. If a message or format gets results, use it again. Depending on the format, you might rebroadcast it a few months later -- or tailor a basic idea to better suit a second application. Either way, you spend less effort on the idea and see better results with the proven message.
  5. Read More The more you put into your brain, the more will come out. Reading trade publications, books and newspapers will stimulate your imagination and keep the ideas flowing. You can get the same results from podcasts, blogs and other forms of 21st-century media. 
  6. Delegate If you're just not loving SMS, give yourself permission to pass the job off to somebody who does. You can hire a text marketing firm, or find somebody in the office who’s interested in mobile marketing. Either way, you keep the message exciting by giving responsible to somebody who's excited about it.