The SMS Marketing Blog

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Here’s What Your Digital Marketing Campaign Should Look Like

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SMBs are constantly looking out for convenient, affordable and effective marketing methods. But in order to make digital marketing work, you need to understand how each  marketing strategy operates. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the main strands of an effective digital marketing campaign:

 

SEO

The digital marketplace is crowded, so visibility is one of the first - and toughest - challenges a business faces. Creating a strong SEO strategy requires detailed research of your industry and target market, and a thorough knowledge not just of your products, but how the majority of people will search for them. Establishing which keywords you will target is the first step. Next, your onsite strategy (that is, for your own website) should incorporate enough keywords that the search-engine bots know what you’re all about, but not so many that it affects the fluency and style of your content. Your offsite strategy pertains to how external web spaces refer to your site. That means accruing inbound links and promoting your brand via guest posts on other industry websites. A diverse SEO strategy is the most effective in terms of boosting your rankings in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS).

 

Mobile

Mobile marketing is the process of reaching an audience through smartphones and tablets. It could be in the form of native technologies like SMS messaging and voicemail, or amending existing web content to make it more ‘mobile friendly’, or, if you have the budget, via apps and other types of software. There are many ways to reach people using mobile marketing. A solid mobile marketing campaign encourages users to visit your site and social media pages.

 

Social Media

Social Media has been a huge boon for SMBs. Even on a very tight or non-existing marketing budget, entrepreneurs can use social media to good effect. Most of the big social media players - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn - are free and easy to use. 

 

Blogging

Regular blogging is a good way to establish authority in your industry. It constantly increases the size of your website by adding fresh, relevant content, adding value even if you don’t command a huge readership. But a truly compelling, well-written blog containing original expert opinion will give your brand credibility with competitors and customers.

 

Email

It’s not the first port of call for marketers any longer, but email should still form part of a multi-channel marketing strategy. For getting rich content out to large numbers of people, it’s hard to beat. Be sure to use it to full effect, offering something of value with every email. As with SMS marketing, email marketing demands a lightness of touch, so avoid sending emails much more than once a month.

 

Apple Dodges 'Lost Messages' Lawsuit

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Earlier this month, Apple escaped what could have become a major headache: a lawsuit that threatened to open the floodgates to many more. Had it moved forward, Apple stood to lose millions of dollars in damages.

The class action related to the widely-publicized iMessage glitch that saw millions of messages go undelivered. The gremlin affected a specific subset of mobile users who had switched from iOS devices to Androids within their existing contracts. 

According to the plaintiffs, Apple willfully kept SMS messages sent from iMessage to non-Apple devices, failing to notify either the sender or receiver that they had not been delivered. Furthermore, the company was accused of taking insufficient action to remedy the problem, leaving Android users to find solutions of their own. 

What nobody disputes is that Apple knew about the bug. When it first emerged last year, they unceremoniously introduced a microsite where users could deregister their iMessage accounts. Although this went some way towards alleviating the problem, the solution was poorly advertised, leaving many Android ‘defectors’ in the dark. Apple also faced criticism for offering a solution that required users to fix the problem themselves. 

Savvy Android users with their ears to the digital-ground did find their own solutions, such as requesting their iPhone contacts to sever the iMessage connection between phone numbers.  

Despite the widespread inconvenience caused by Apple’s inaction, US District Judge Lucy Koh ruled that the class action lawsuit couldn’t move forward. Judge Koh said that the plaintiffs could not prove they were inconvenienced by any ‘contractual breach or interference’ owing to the iMessage glitch. She went on to say, however, that individual claims could still be filed against Apple, offering some hope to other parties affected by the issue. 

Judge Koh stated:

“[The] Plaintiff does not have to allege an absolute right to receive every text message in order to allege that Apple’s intentional acts have caused an ‘actual breach or disruption’ of the contractual relationship.”

Though the ruling offers a legal opportunity for further lawsuits, the reality of mounting a case against one of the biggest corporations in the world is likely to prove prohibitively expensive. Whether they acted, or failed to act, out of malice - as some cynics have suggested - or whether it was an honest oversight with an inadequate response, it looks like Apple has had a lucky escape from a potentially disastrous slew of lawsuits.

BYOD Has Taken Off in Our Schools

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If you had asked me ten years ago if I thought it was a good idea to allow students access to personal mobile devices during class time, I would have shuddered at the thought. I belong to one of the last generations that can remember what life was like before iPhones, tablets and Google. My younger sister, born only four years later, can hardly remember a time before AOL.  

For those of us who can make the distinction, I think it’s healthy to fear the unknown ramifications of our tech advancements, particularly on the youth. However, not everyone agrees with this view. 

Despite how many of us might feel about technology in the classroom, nobody wants to be the one stuck harping on the past. Today’s young learners have become so accustomed to mobile, tablets, and desktop computers that it would seem regressive to deny them access to these tools during a formal education—tools that may help students to learn smarter, faster, and more efficiently. 

Instead of resisting what comes naturally to these students, wouldn’t it be better to change the way we teach

According to a report by Sophic Capital, mobile education is the platform of choice for current students and teachers. The popularity and accessibility of mobile devices has made them as common among students as pens and paper. Many school districts are taking advantage of this and adopting Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) polices. 

 

What Is BYOD?

The BYOD policy provides educational institutions with a way to implement technology in the classroom and manage budgets by putting most of the cost on students. Instead of spending money on a uniform platform or device, students can use the device they already have or are most comfortable using. 

The benefits are unique and largely new to the landscape of public education. First, students will take ownership of the learning process by having more control over the ways in which some information is received. Further, they will have more flexibility outside of the classroom to review material during times most suitable to their schedule. 

Teachers will also gain significant insight into their students’ progress, gaining valuable analytical tools. Teachers can also communicate with students more regularly and gather real-time information from students to ensure material is being absorbed properly; if not, the teacher will have more time to adjust the lesson plan.  

If it all sounds too good to be true, that’s because there are some serious drawbacks that must be addressed. For most of the educational tools to function within the BYOD policy, students will also need access to the Internet. Parents and administrators alike agree that open access to the web is dangerous. From social media, inappropriate content, and predatory concerns, the list of issues and dangers grows with every passing year.  Formal safeguards among school districts have included comprehensive network security, limited access, and monitoring. Time will tell if these safeguards are enough to proliferate BYOD polices across the country. 

Do “Dumbphones” Still Have a Place?

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Wondering if “dumbphones” still play a role in today’s tech-savvy universe? The answer, which may surprise you, is a resounding yes. Such phones offer a variety of helpful features and perks, and an increasing number of people are opting for them over smartphones. In fact, Microsoft recently released a phone under the Nokia brand that’s free of apps, Wi-Fi, 3G, LTE, and a touchscreen and costs just $20 before tax. The only accessory is an extra battery, and yet experts predict huge success.  

So who wants to purchase “dumbphones”? Plenty of people—about 590 million this year, actually. Such people include children obtaining their first phones, consumers who require a second phone, and those who are simply uninterested in using smartphones. 

Let’s look at some of the benefits of using not-smart phones, as well as some of the highest-quality options currently on the market: 

 

Durable

Smartphones feature glass screens, and once they crack…well, either replacement or a lot of tape is in order. Phone cases are therefore imperative to preserving the safety of a smartphone, whereas regular phones are virtually indestructible. 

 

Easy Texting 

Texting using standard cell phones is quite simple compared to smartphones, as it doesn’t take long to memorize the keypad and text with your eyes shut. And as we know, SMS messaging remains the central component of any successful mobile marketing campaign - precisely because it reaches the parts other messaging services cannot.

 

Fantastic Battery Life 

Forgetting your smartphone charger means scrambling to ask friends and co-workers if they have theirs—otherwise you’ll be looking at 19 percent battery life before the day is over. Leaving your regular phone charger at home? Not a big deal. 

 

Inexpensive 

Highly affordable and easy to replace, “dumbphones” don’t set you back by the $800+ price tag associated with smartphones.

 

Fewer Distractions

Facebook, Instagram, assorted app games—all the features make smartphones seriously distracting. “Dumbphones,” on the other hand, make calls and texts, and that’s it. This meant you’d actually engage in the moment and remain aware of your surroundings as opposed to looking down at your phone incessantly. It also means you won’t be looking up anything and everything on your phone and taking pictures of your food. Or taking selfies. 

 

It Always Worked 

With “dumbphones,” it usually didn’t matter where in the world you were—they always worked. There was no freezing or rebooting involved. The simplicity of the technology is key to its endurance in the age of increasingly high-powered smartphones.

 

“Dumbphone” Options

Some of today’s most coveted “dumbphones” include: 

 

  • Kyocera Rally ($29.99): The Kyocera Rally is a simple, sleek phone from T-Mobile that includes Bluetooth connectivity, a VGA camera capable of recording video, and a speakerphone.
  • Nokia 106 ($24): The aforementioned Nokia 106 is a basic phone that lasts up to 35 days on standby mode with only a single charge. 
  • Pantech Vybe ($29.99 with two-year contract): Pantech’s new phone is available to AT&T customers and features a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. It also includes a camera and the ability to connect with Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.
  • Samsung Jitterbug5 ($99): This phone is an uncomplicated flip option designed for seniors. It comes with sizable backlit keys, an emergency response button, a simple interface, and a powerful speaker for those who have trouble hearing. 

 

The “dumbphone”...there’s definitely still a market for it.

Textbooks Vs. Tablets

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In 2013, the Los Angeles Unified School District made headlines for spending $30 million on iPads for nearly 640,000 students. Currently, the K-12 publishing market is an $8 billion industry, dominated by just three publishes: McGraw, Pearson, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The debate as to whether more school districts should make the digital leap is met with fierce opposition from publishers as well as other tech naysayers, who see the value of printed textbooks unrivaled by tablets.  

Why should school districts replace textbooks? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right? Textbooks aren’t broken, but students today learn and engage differently with technology than previous generations. Tablets allow students to feel empowered by the learning process by playing to their strengths. Moreover, most K-12 teachers believe technology benefits students’ learning goals. 

Some of the more practical reasons tablets are working well in places like Los Angeles involve the hardware itself. For starters, one tablet has the ability to store more books than a student will ever need for the entire duration of his or her public education. Plus, in addition to textbooks, tablets can store homework, quizzes, and tests, eliminating heavy loads from students’ backpacks and desks. 

Additionally, tablets allow teachers to give their students the most accurate and up-to-date information possible. Publishers have been criticized for making minor amendments to text volumes and charging schools top dollar for new editions. Once textbooks go digital, the print costs will be eliminated, which will result in textbook savings of as much as 60% for school districts. 

But aren’t iPads expensive? Yes, they are. One of the strongest arguments against a paperless system is that technology doesn’t come cheap. The trouble isn’t so much with the tablet cost as all the software and infrastructure school districts would have to develop to support these devices. To put things into perspective, the average battery life of a tablet is less than the length of a school day. Imagine 640,000 iPads plugged in: that’s a lot of juice.

Additionally, wear and tear on a textbook can go much further than on an iPad. And a forgotten textbook on a picnic table doesn’t have the same appeal as a state-of-the-art tablet. Some paperless opponents believe students will be targeted for theft if tablets become a common student item. 

There are more obvious problems facing the paperless fight. Open access to the Internet is like opening Pandora’s box; students are notoriously distracted by social media, gaming, and texting. 

Whatever stance a school district takes, the omnipresence of mobile in student life will remain. Will we choose to adapt to student preferences, or are the risks too high?

 

SMS Concierge GoButler Wins $8m in Funding

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Wouldn’t it be great to have a personal assistant? Apple’s digital concierge called Siri was supposed to set your appointments, make it easy to access information, and recommend places to eat nearby. But that’s not exactly how most of use Siri. Instead, we ask her for bedtime stories and other ridiculous queries—our dreams of virtual assistance took a few giant leaps back. 

GoButler is looking to make up some lost ground. Using basic SMS messaging, GoButler connects users with “heroes,” or trained employees of GoButler that assist with fulfilling just about any request. The service is free and claims to be able to handle even the tallest order, so long as it’s legal.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because this isn’t a novel idea. Similar products already exist like Magic, an app used primarily on the West Coast with the same general SMS-based premise. So what makes GoButler different?

 

How GoBulter Stands Out from the Pack

To start, the originally Berlin-based startup has just locked down $8 million in series A funding; this corresponds with the app’s recent release from beta and introduction to several new markets including the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. 

GoButler also just moved its headquarters to New York City, where the company plans to develop technology to improve the automation aspects of the service. Moreover, the move was not coincidental. The GoButler team is prospectively looking to take over the East Coast, a current gap in the virtual assistant market, with the hopes of beating out its competitors as it improves the software and grows the user base.  

The startup’s founder and CEO Navid Hadzaad acknowledged that virtual assistants are already available in the app store but rejects any notions that GoButler is a specific clone; Magic and GoButler were launched just 3 weeks apart from each other.  

All three founders of GoButler—Navid Hadzaad, Jens Urbaniak and Maximilian Deilmann—were previously employed by the successful German tech company Rocket Internet; however, upon completing the app, each quickly left his job. 

Ironically, Rocket Internet’s Global Founders Capital was one of the key contributors in the series A funding that took place just a few weeks ago.  

Since launching earlier this year, GoButler reports 100,000 users with nearly 1 million requests made so far. There are currently more than 120 operators working around the clock, assisting with a variety of requests from pizza delivery to purchasing plane tickets. 

Navid maintains the company will remain free to users as it grows in the US and abroad, with some discussion of affiliate programs circulating in the near future.

The emphasis on SMS messaging in several recently developed apps is not surprising. Multiple reports indicate that texting is the number one feature used on all smartphone devices across nearly every age demographic. Texting, for many people, is more comfortable and convenient than using multiple apps. If this remains true and apps like GoButler and Magic proliferate, texting may finally become the personal assistants we wanted but never thought we would have.  

How to Create a 'Joined Up' Marketing Campaign

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According to a report released by Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) online retail purchases accounted for 24% of all retail sales in 2014. This number is up 14% from 2013, as well as the average basket value, which increased by 4%. 

Consumers are making more purchases online than ever before, and retailers are looking for ways to capitalize on this growing trend—in particular, how to link digital marketing with a customer’s physical experience in retail locations around the world.

Also noted in the report, customer experience ranks highest among retailers looking for positive growth in 2015. By focusing on improving a customer’s experience both online and off, retailers expect to see continued growth in online purchases—uniting digital efforts with the real retail world.  

One way retailers are able to this is with beacon technology, a Bluetooth device that connects with a customer’s smartphone based on proximity. Retailers can place these beacons in store entryways, on shelves or near checkout to offer instant rewards, promote special campaigns, or favorable discounts to loyal customers.  

Another example, and perhaps one of the easiest to implement, is the use of marketing hashtags to push consumers into a digital conversation. This is particularly effective with physical advertisements (billboards, TV commercial or radio ads). A hashtag used in the right place at the right time can be tremendously effective at provoking curious consumers to venture online, particularly on mobile where most social interaction takes place.  

SMS messaging or texting is another positive rout many retailers are taking to engage more intimately with their consumers. The upside to texting is that it’s immediate, highly effective at gaining responses and allows consumers to feel more directly connected with a retail company. 

Most importantly, proponents seeking a unification of the digital gap believe respect for the end user (thoughtful and relevant communications) will be significant in the process of developing a lucrative online sales funnel. Some marketing companies strictly focus on the mobile devices; its capacities and limits, which doesn’t align with improving a customer’s experience. 

Finally, 61% of retails agree that cross-channel marketing will be a focus in 2015. This means managing an integrated and thoughtful campaign that carries across several marketing mediums. By developing a cohesive message that points in a singular direction (towards more sales) the link between digital and reality will likely grow smaller.

10 Mobile Marketing Case Studies to Pay Attention To

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Whether you’re looking for hard facts on mobile marketing or creative inspiration to help launch your next campaign, these ten businesses showcase the very best mobile marketing has to offer. 

 

TAO Nightclub

This Las Vegas dance club seized the night with a VIP text message that went out to 2,000 subscribers on a slow evening. That same night, the club had 220 more attendees who, in addition to the cover charge, each spent $20 on drinks. The club made a cool $6,170 extra dollars that night, proving that impromptu campaigns can be incredibly effective.

 

RedBox

Using multiple forms of marketing including kiosk advertising, email, and social media, RedBox was able to increase its pool of mobile subscribers in just ten days. The campaign was called “10 Days of Deal” and encouraged customers to opt in via text for a chance to win a discount on their next rental. The customers saved some money and RedBox generated more than 1.5 million text messages to users in ten days. 

 

PETA2

PETA2 is a youth-based subgroup of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). During Warped Tour, PETA2 solicited concertgoers to text “BUTT” to a short code that subscribed users to PETA2’s “Animals Don’t Smoke” initiative, which is aimed to stop cigarette testing on animals. Participants were rewarded with shirts and hats for opting in. Once subscribed, new users were texted information urging them to send their support for a ban on cigarette testing to the FDA. More than 25,000 people joined this mobile initiative. 

 

Texas Roadhouse 

This popular western restaurant began a six-month mobile marketing pilot at 20 locations in an effort to boost their mobile subscriptions. The “TextUs Loyalty Club” offered patrons a free appetizer in exchange for the opt-in. Forty-four percent of customers were willing to provide personal information in exchange for the reward. Roadhouse’s campaign was largely successful, generating an average 17% redemption rate during the test period. 

 

Dunkin’ Donuts 

Dunkin’ Donuts is popular throughout the U.S., but a regional campaign in Boston proved successful for this quick-service restaurant. Using radio and Internet advertising, the company was able to capture 7,500 new mobile subscribers—17% of those new subscribers forwarded the messages and promotions to a friend, increasing the Boston area’s store traffic by 21%.  

 

Papa John’s Pizza 

A U.K. branch of the widely popular pizza chain Papa John’s pushed a campaign to its current mobile subscribers offering discounts on pizza. In the three weeks the franchise ran the campaign, overall sales increased by 33%.

 

Red Cross

Even nonprofits are getting in on the mobile marketing action these days. The Red Cross, collected donations after Hurricane Sandy, which was reported to have caused an upwards of $50 billion dollars in damage. By linking the donations directly to a user’s phone bill, the donation process was streamlined and easier for the average person to complete. Twenty percent of all the donations raised by the Red Cross’ effort were from text messages. 

 

Pizza Hut 

Geofenceing is a digital perimeter that sends text messages to subscribers based on a user’s proximity to the geofence. Pizza Hut in the U.K. set up geofences within a half-mile of each of its 340 store locations. On average, these stores were 142% more efficient at increasing incremental sales, 4.4 times more effective than TV ads, and 2.6 times more effective than online ads. 

 

Blumish Irish Cider

Blumish Irish Cider also elected to use a geofence to target males between the ages of 18 and 34. The campaign shot out a text message when a target was within a half mile of a pub that served the company’s cider. More than 1,000 pubs were used in this geofence project. When activated, the text message would text a map with the location of the pub and point the user in the right direction. During a month-long period, 77,00 text messages were sent out, and the user engaged these messages nearly 50% of the time. What’s more, 25% of those who received the text message actually went out and bought a cider from one of the locations. 

 

Six Flags

In Maryland, Six Flags used text-to-win contests and mobile alerts among its target demographic of teens to boost attendance. They advertised the contests with social media, in park advertisements and radio promotions and received 5,000 new mobile subscribers. These subscribers were sent VIP ticket sales info, park information, and weather updates. The park saw a direct increase in attendance from teens as a result of this campaign. 

Social Media Advertising Is More Effective Than It Appears

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Social media channels are excellent avenues to reach out to a variety of consumers, start relevant conversations, raise awareness of your brand, and of course, seek out new leads. The latest studies reveal that 70% of businesses generate leads on social media, and 58% of marketers claim that social media channels have helped them boost sales over the years. Here are some ways in which social media marketing can be a dynamic method of advertising for your business – it’s easier than you think!

  • Social media advertising can play a key role in a content marketing campaign.

Ideally, you’ve already got a website with a landing page, resources, and a high-quality, content-driven blog. To maximize the effectiveness of this content, you must create active profiles on the appropriate social media websites. Your online campaign will not function properly without both components, and they must constantly refer back to one another. For example, a Facebook post should lead a prospect to your content-driven blog; similarly, the resources page of your website should lead to the Pinterest board for your company. 

  • The three E’s of social media advertising: Engagement, Expertise, and Entertainment.

Consumers visit social media sites to socialize, so your advertising efforts must work in tandem with a “cocktail party” mentality. Be personal and human in your posts, comments, and replies. People are looking for expertise; show them that you can deliver on the services they require, and consumers are much more likely to return in the future. (As a caveat, don’t be too technical or complex in your level of expertise. Content should be simple enough for a beginner to understand.) Make your business the go-to company for these types of services and watch your customer base grow. Finally, you have to entertain clients. The info you provide should be relevant, informative, and interesting. And remember: content marketing is not about pitching or direct sales—you want to increase engagement and brand awareness in this process.

  • Swim through social media channels that suit your business.

Obviously, the most popular social media channels are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, and SlideShare. Consider the types of people who visit these sites, and whether or not you should advertise your product there. For example, if you have a terrific article for people in your industry, join a few groups on LinkedIn and share your article with them. If your business has a lot of products best showcased through images, then post photos on Instagram or pins on Pinterest to provide more engagement with your brand. All in all, it’s about getting to know your audience and meeting them in the social media environment of their choosing.

  • Join the conversation to amplify your social media advertising efforts.

Eliminate pitches from any post you decide to share on social media for your business. Provide value with expertise in the content you post, driving the conversation with ways you can help (rather than just what you can sell). Answering questions in online forums is a good start. If you don’t know the answer, be honest, as this will help to establish your credibility. Continue to help the people you meet on these social platforms and, before you know it, you will be converting leads. 

Finally, it is important to highlight how necessary it is to respond to comments on social media channels. If you find negative comments, nip them in the bud; respond carefully and inoffensively, and offer help to these individuals. Others will see how helpful you are in handling these negative comments, and they will appreciate your attitude. 

Yes, the comments section is truly where the online conversation takes place, and if you are taking the time to respond to every tweet and reply to every comment, customers will definitely appreciate it.

Can Supportive Text Messages Act as Pain Relievers?

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An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? But can a text message do the same thing? Can the use of mobile technology actually reduce perceptions of pain and suffering? That’s exactly what Jamie Guillory, a scientist at the research institute RTI International, set out to discover. 

Guillory and her team designed a study to determine if the use of text messaging throughout the day could impact patient’s chronic pain levels. During a four-week period, participants from various pain clinics were divided into two groups. One group received its regular pain treatment in addition to encouraging messages sent throughout the day for a total of three weeks. The other group received regular pain treatment but did not receive uplifting text messages. The first week was the study’s control—during this time, neither group received text messages.

In addition to receiving texts, the first group was asked to download an app that allowed members to record their pain management, and relate their feelings to images. 

 

What the Study Said 

The results were fascinating. The group that received regular encouraging text messages recorded a clear reduction in pain during the three-week period following the control week compared to participants who did not receive text messages.  

This study offers valuable insight into the effects of mobile devices on patients’ mindsets. In addition to the positive impact this may have on those who suffer from chronic pain, it’s a useful tool for doctors to learn more about their patients’ behaviors and feelings throughout the process of treatment.  

While this is amazing news for people with chronic pain, the study also considers other factors that may have contributed to a reduction of pain during the three-week period. For example, patients who were married or in a relationship saw more significant pain reduction than patients who were single. The tangible support system maintained by married patients was notably more developed than that of single participants. It was suggested by Guillory that the encouraging text messages only worked well in collaboration with a tangible support system already in place. 

Text messages can only contribute to reducing chronic pain so much. Few things can replace or imitate the genuine love and compassion we feel for those in our family or close circle of friends. People who experience chronic pain are more susceptible to perceiving this pain when their immediate support system is weak, something no amount of mobile interaction can change—yet. 

But the study does highlight hope for a future in which mobile texting and app recording can have a positive role in patient pain management.