History Of SMS

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December 18, 2014

Texting: A Life Beyond Marketing

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Many businesses send mass text messages as part of their marketing plan. And why not? It’s a low-cost, highly effective way to offer special deals directly to customers. But direct marketing is just one way to leverage the power of SMS messaging.

Increasingly, companies are finding more innovative uses for text messages. For some, it’s about customer relationship management. For others, it’s merely the most easily accessed form of communication for remote employees. A growing number of businesses are no longer just using text messages to offer something of value – they’re using it to take payments from clients.

Let’s take a look at some common, non-marketing uses of text messaging:

News Updates

SMS is ideal for issuing operational information such as store opening and closing times, locations etc. It’s a brilliant way to engage customers and keep them aware of your brand without trying to sell anything.

Urgent Notices

Circumstances sometimes conspire to prevent entrepreneurs getting on with their plans. Let’s say you’re running an event and your keynote speaker drops out. What if that speaker was the only reason some of your attendees were planning to go? Letting them know of the schedule change by SMS may disappoint them – but not nearly as much as showing up and finding out on the day. For instant contact with an extremely high chance of being viewed, SMS is unrivalled. 

Competitions & Surveys

It’s true that your business will go nowhere if it doesn’t offer something people will pay money for. But that doesn’t mean your relationship with customers has to start and end with a financial transaction. Give them something fun to pass the time on the bus and they are already that bit closer to purchasing something. Offer a prize and they’re even more likely to play along. Create a quiz that’s relevant – even tangentially – to your company. Send it to opted in customers via text message and get the responses back in the same way. You can learn a lot about customer preferences this way!

Appointment Reminders

With hectic schedules and multiple distractions, missed appointments are a fact of business. SMS is a fantastic tool for issuing reminders to customers. Do it within 24 hours of the appointment to allow them to re-organize without risking them forgetting for a second time. Although not a marketing tip, this approach will ultimately help you grow your bottom line by minimizing lossess incurred by no-shows.

December 10, 2014

Why Are Mobile Marketing Budgets Increasing?

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We see a lot in these pages about the growth of mobile marketing. But just how fast is that growth happening? And are the same trends expected in future? 

The more the industry swells its ranks and revenues, the more data we have to go on. A recent Tatango survey looked at mobile budget trends and forecasts and compared the results with previous mobile marketing metrics. So, are budgets going up in accordance with the mobile explosion? 

The answer is yes. Very much so. Some 44% of marketers said they were increasing their mobile budgets during 2014 – up from a little over 42% in 2013. Mobile is proving particularly popular with startups, who can devise creative mobile marketing campaigns on relatively few dollars.

Other surveys report similar upward trends. According to Gartner, digital marketing budgets are expected to increase by 8% in 2015. Exactly half of all respondents stated an intention to increase digital spending next year.

The message from businesses remains remarkably consistent. Gartner’s research was conducted with the participation of 315 companies located in the United States, Canada and the UK. They represent organizations with more than $500 million in annual revenue, working in six disparate industries: hospitality, tech, manufacturing, financial services, retail and media. The bigger the firm, the greater the marketing budget as a percentage of revenue; companies with revenues in excess of $5 billion report spending, on average, 11% of revenue on marketing. For companies generating between $500 million and $1 billion, marketing spend was 9.2%. 

And really, those dollars are what it all comes down to. Understanding how to exploit capital to it’s fullest potential is the primary challenge for cash-strapped startups. That’s why having an effective CFO is so important, and it goes a long way towards explaining the huge popularity of mobile marketing tactics like coupons and time-limited discounts, which are easily and affordably disseminated via text message.

The modern marketer is performing a delicate balancing act. Each strand of their campaign must be woven together into a satisfying whole. Integration is everything. The resultant consumer experience is nudging users towards a more self-service buying model, which means businesses can reduce traditional sales-led budgets without sacrificing quality. Marketing budgets in general – and mobile marketing budgets in particular – are the primary beneficiaries of this new model. If you’re yet to move ad spend into a coherent mobile marketing strategy, it might be time to start…

December 03, 2014

SMS Do-Over: The App That Lets You Delete Sent Messages

 

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You know the feeling. You’ve just hit ‘send’ on an incendiary/embarrassing/meaningless/meaningful (delete as appropriate) SMS and really wish you hadn’t. You’d give anything to delete it from the recipient’s phone.

Well now you can do just that – and you don’t have to give anything at all. Free text messaging app Wiper is generating ripples of excitement amongst online privacy advocates – but does it really work?

In short, yes. It may not be the smoothest messaging interface out there, but it does what it promises by allowing users to make calls, send texts and – most importantly – wipe messages that have already been sent. A pleasingly retro eraser animation scrubs the erroneous message and sends a notification to the recipient letting them know what’s happened.

The Wiper team are still working on solving the problem of screenshots; thus far, a recipient can still grab an image of the conversation, effectively nullifying the app’s primary function. However, Wiper will send you a notification to let you know a screenshot has been taken. At least you can prepare yourself for whatever shades of hellfire you imagine will rain down on you for your SMS slip-up. 

Wiper’s kill-switch takes the idea of text messaging as an ephemeral form of communication one stage further. The ex you ill-advisedly texted after a few beers may not be able to ‘unsee’ what you wrote, but at least they can’t show their friends or humiliate you by uploading it to social media. One tap, all gone.

But Wiper’s raison d’etre is about much more than destroying embarrassing tittle-tattle. CEO Manlio Carrelli sees privacy as one of the ‘big issues of our time’ and wants to bring the ideals of data protection to the general public.

Which is all well and good, providing we can trust yet another promising tech start up with our personal data. The app is not open source. We can only take the developers’ word that they will decisively destroy information from their servers once the erase command is given. With data protection such a high-profile, sensitive issue, a little cynicism has to be expected.

That said, the app makes a decent fist of allowing users to have freewheeling conversations just as if they were talking one-on-one, in person, with no fear of their words coming back to haunt them. You can also share YouTube videos instantly, simply by clicking on them from within the app. For the data deletion skeptics, this feature is probably more attractive than Wiper’s headline function. 

November 27, 2014

3 Ways to Get More Punters with Mobile Marketing

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Punter (noun) British, informal : customer

SMS messaging is the most effective marketing method for bars. It lets you target specific customers with bespoke promotions, maximize your ROI and grow that all-important contact list.

The beauty of using mobile marketing tactics for bar promotion is the receptiveness of a willing audience, primed to engage with businesses via their smartphone. According to a recent YouGov survey, 75% of smartphone users prefer to receive promotional material in a text message. It’s a flexible medium capable of sending short, succinct information containing links to rich content. SMS is the perfect gateway to the meatier elements of your marketing strategy.

Here are five reasons why text message marketing is a good way to grow your business:

Immediacy

More than 90% of text messages are opened and read within a few minutes. That includes commercial SMS which, unlike email, requires opt-in consent from users. For that reason, texts are trusted sources of information. Let’s say you run a promotion via email. You need to announce your latest drinks special at least a few days ahead of time. What if your bar ends up packed with punters who did not receive the email? There was no need to run the offer and you’ve failed to maximize your profits. With SMS marketing, you can turn a slow Monday night into a busy one by issuing a last-minute deal. Now, you’re only reducing prices when it makes sound financial sense to do so.

Entertainment Promotions

If you run a live music program, you’ll know how effective it can be at drawing in a crowd. But bands are notoriously unreliable, and schedules can change with only a few hours notice. SMS messaging keeps your punters abreast of all the latest changes to the lineup, so even if someone pulls out, you can minimize the negative impact of disappointed customers.

Geo-Targeted Promos

One of the most powerful weapons in the mobile marketers arsenal, geo-targeting is a highly effective strategy for attracting nearby business. For bars and restaurants, geo-targeting is particularly useful, as you can quickly identify which opt-in customers are in the area, devise a promotion that will appeal to them, and get them through the door. This technique is especially useful on weekend nights; people are already out (often in large groups) bar-hopping with no real destination in mind. Geo-targeting allows you to attract passing trade during busy nights by offering an unbeatable drinks promotion. Again, make the offer time limited and punters are more likely to make a snap decision. With your nearby promotion, they’ll do the math and realize that spending the next couple of hours in your bar will save them a bundle.

SMS message marketing is highly effective for a fraction of the cost of other forms of advertising. A strategy can be devised and implemented within minutes. Reaching an audience in such a short space of time simply isn’t possible with more traditional ad mediums like radio and print. If your bar still doesn’t have a mobile marketing strategy, get one going in time for the festive season and your business will have a very merry Christmas indeed…

November 06, 2014

Gif-ify Your Texts with Popkey

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For millennials, it’s no longer enough to simply send a text message. There has to be some other ingredient. A video. A photo. A song. Look at any SMS thread from an under 30 and you’ll likely see a string of weird and wonderful emojis. 

Now it’s GIFs. The resurgence of GIFs is something few would have predicted ten years ago. In the mid-noughties, GIFs were outdated, a relic from Web 1.0. As soon as the internet had been around long enough to start witnessing retro fads, the GIF was back with a vengeance.

A new iPhone app is helping users easily find and share animated GIFs in order to express their emotions via SMS. PopKey takes advantage of Apple’s GIF-supporting Messages app in true style. 

It’s not the first GIF app, per se. Ultratext and others have come before it, but PopKey is the first to successfully integrate GIFs into a text messaging keyboard, without having to open a separate app. Here’s how it works: 

Users switch to the PopKey keyboard and search for an appropriate keyword. The results returned will be a list of static images which, once clicked on, will preview the GIF as a thumbnail. Simultaneously, PopKey copies the animation to the phone’s clipboard for easy pasting. Even if you like a particular GIF but opt not to use it, the app saves it in a favorites folder for easy future access.

There are a few drawbacks. PopKey’s GIFs aren’t particularly high-res. The app chooses speedy transmission over quality. And although you can upload new GIFs to the app, it requires you to grant access to your contacts and invite them to the service – something not everyone is willing to do. It also brands every GIF with the PopKey logo. Understandable, but slightly annoying.

But compared to emojis, PopKey’s GIFs get the job of conveying emotion done with a little more style, and a cool retro flourish.

October 28, 2014

Send a Spooky SMS for Halloween

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As the Halloween marketing machine moves into fifth gear, the usual glut of ghostly products and services have hit consumers like a ton of pumpkins. This year, everyone’s talking about paranormal text messages.

SMS is the perfect medium for mediums. But while this very modern iteration of the spine-chilling prank is new, it has its roots in much older technology. Spooky calls from the dead have been cited as proof of an afterlife since the advent of the telephone.

The first phantom caller was reported in 1886, a mere decade after Alexander Graham Bell invented the phone. In 1915, an S.O.S. was apparently received by a Norwegian ship. The troubled vessel? It was, the story goes, the Titanic – which famously sank three years earlier. The incident was the first ghostly Morse code – but it was far from the last. 

In the 80s, fax machines got in on the act, with supernatural warnings blipping and honking their way into offices and homes – usually around this time of year. Everyone with an email account has received some kind of ‘pass this on or terrible deed x will befall you and your family’ message. No doubt there have been tweets purporting to be from the Other Side. Wherever there’s a new technology, the dead are using it to reach out to their loved ones.

Whether or not you believe these fanciful tales, sending a spooky text message around Halloween is tremendous fun. If you’re looking for ideas, there are plenty of scary suggestions online. Many of them suggest that the long-dead are remarkably tuned in to youth slang. Even better, with this app you can send screams along with your message to heighten the atmosphere of dread.

If creeping your friends out isn’t really your scene, but you still want to get into the Halloween spirit, there is a veritable encyclopedia of poems and epitaphs out there, all relating in some way to the scary season. For a classier Halloween text message, throw out some lines from Shakespeare’s doom-laden Macbeth – ‘The Witches Spell’ is the obvious choice here. Or there’s John Donne’s 17th Century classic, ‘The Apparition’ – perfect for summoning that Halloween spirit. For Scots, what better than the Robert Burns epic, simply titled ‘Halloween’?

October 21, 2014

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. 

September 17, 2014

(More Than) Texting From Your Computer

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As many iPhone users know, it can be a breeze to respond to iMessages whether you have your phone or not. Due to the fact that Apple has designed the iMessage platform to run on Mac, tablet, and smartphones alike, users have the benefit of sending and receiving messages from a computer if they want to. But what if you don’t have this luxury? Perhaps you are using another type of smartphone or you prefer PCs. Well, now you have an answer.

A new platform called Pushbullet serves to mirror all of the content on your android device, sending it to the computer of your choice. And yes, this includes text messages.

Many will argue that they don’t need to send or receive texts from their computer, but note all of the powerful benefits. First of all, mobile phones have much smaller interfaces with tiny on-screen keyboards that can be difficult to navigate. When you attempt to type on them, they autocorrect your every word. Were you to type the text message from your computer, you could type the whole text message on your regular keyboard – some without even looking at the screen.

When you work on a computer all day long (as most people do these days), isn’t it easier to send and receive text messages without having to look down at your phone every few seconds. Sending and receiving SMS messages from your computer is easier on the eyes and the neck. Also, you can turn off the loud text alert in the office without worrying about missing texts due to silent mode.

The Pushbullet platform also provides messaging history. If you have more than one mobile device, you can review all of your messages at once, along with any documents currently on the mobile device.

Pushbullet technology allows users to send a variety of items from their computers to their phones, save SMS attachments on a computer’s hard drive, and seamlessly transfer links between computer and phone. Essentially, Pushbullet has a variety of options for Android/PC users that can increase productivity immensely, which is arguably even more significant than sending a text messages from a computer.

September 10, 2014

How Americans Use Text Messaging

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According to the most recent Pew research, 90% of adults have a cell phone of some kind, and 58% have a smartphone. Nearly a third of all cell phone owners describe their device as ‘something they can’t imagine living without.’

And the thing they can’t live without most of all is SMS. Texting is the most commonly used non-voice application of American mobile phones. Previous Pew research indicated that 73% of adult cell phone owners use the text messaging feature on their phone regularly. For under 30s, that percentage is closer to 100, with twentysomethings sending or receiving an average of 87.7 text messages per day. 

Go younger still – to the under-24 category – and you start to wonder how the ‘youth of today’ gets anything done. According to the research, 97% of 18-24 year olds use text messaging, and the number of daily SMS messages send or received by individuals in this group is, on average, 109.5 – twenty-three times that of the baby boomers. The median texter in the 18-24 demographic sends or receives 50 texts per day. A quarter of them report sending or receiving more than 100 texts per day, and 12% claim to send or receive more than 200 messages on an average day. 

Using the Data

Having a clearer understanding of texting habits will help you devise a more complete, rounded mobile marketing strategy. It’s essential to integrate your mobile and email campaigns so they benefit from one another. An email/text one-two punch can really drive home your message, and both channels provide users with a way to engage directly with your business. How can you achieve this?

Well, SMS is ideal for short, time-sensitive communications. We know most recipients read texts within minutes of receiving them, so there’s no better way to issue a limited time special offer, or notify people of last minute alteration to schedules. Email, on the other hand, is perfect for sending denser content with more detailed information.

Remember too that 43% of consumers access their emails via a mobile device, so both channels are easily cross-referenced. This single point of access promises to be a major driver of consumer engagement as smartphone penetration continues unabated. Don’t let your next mobile marketing campaign do without it.

 

September 09, 2014

Texting at the Movies

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Smartphones may have made our lives easier, but for screenwriters, the proliferation of mobile devices has made compelling, modern-day storytelling that little bit harder. Look around most public places in 2014 and a fair percentage of the ‘characters’ are completely immersed in their phone, heads bowed, the faint glow of the screen barely illuminating their frowning concentration. They’re getting a lot of work done, but it’s not exactly the stuff of nail-biting drama for anyone watching. 

This mass migration of human interaction from lips to touchscreens has thrown up some significant challenges for Hollywood. To gauge the impact this has on our daily lives, one only has to think about how many movies set before the 21st Century would be ruined by modern technology. It’s for precisely this reason that many filmmakers have turned their attentions to historical dramas, in which characters have to carry parchments on long, arduous journeys in order to get a message through. The dramatic possibilities are inherent. Will the letter make it? Will it be intercepted? Is it really from whom it purports to be from? None of these questions are an issue with SMS messaging.

Not that Hollywood hasn’t done it’s best to meet the challenge head on. For much of the noughties, movies took a literal approach to depicting SMS, opting for close ups of phone screens, often with comically large text, and cut with equally laughable reaction shots.

More recently, the modern revamp of Sherlock made some improvements to the depiction of SMS, with the content of text messages hovering around the senders and/or recipients. The typography bears no relation to any smartphone font we know of. By using this technique, the film has future-proofed itself, and will not date as badly as those mid-noughties, pre-smartphone movies filled with antiquated cell phones that tend to compromise the suspension of disbelief. 

Certainly, it's a lot better than most ceulloloid depictions of the internet. Copyright issues mean few movies can use Google (The Internship excepted), which leads to absurd inventions like 'Finder'Spyder', a made-up search engine used in lots of tv and big screen production.