The SMS Marketing Blog

[ By Ez Texting ]

Text Ban Lifted by Joint Commission

 

Shutterstock_115683136

The Joint Commission - the largest healthcare accreditation body in the United States - announced last month that it will start allowing physicians to make patient orders by text message. The move is a huge victory for MHealth advocates. 

The news was happily received by healthcare providers, who see text messaging as the most efficient and reliable method of communication, and mobile technology developers who can access a potentially huge new market. For both groups, this feels like a long-overdue update to regulations that have hobbled natural progress towards emergent technologies that will ultimately benefit patients.

The changes were made in response to a 2011 FAQ document issued by the Joint Commission, which stated that text message orders were prohibited due to security concerns. In a dramatic reversal of that position, it now says text messaging is permissible within certain parameters.

 

What are the Parameters?

Changes to the regulations reflect a shifting culture in which SMS is the communication platform that most people feel comfortable using. But it’s not open season; the new guidelines don’t simply allow clinicians to send text messages to anyone as part of their job. The Joint Commission has provided a number of specific requirements for organizations using SMS:

 

  • Encrypted messaging
  • A secure registration process
  • Delivery and read receipts
  • Date and time stamps
  • A specified contact list of people authorized to receive and record orders
  • Customized policies and procedures

 

The Joint Commission also recommends that healthcare providers closely track and document the capabilities, limitations and uptake of their SMS platform, and develop a risk-management strategy. 

 

Why Now?

Doctors - like everyone else - have come to rely on smartphones as a tool for optimizing their time and improving communication. Unlike everyone else, the information they need to share is sensitive and highly personal; security is paramount. The healthcare industry is subject to strict regulations, and any new legislation takes a long time to draft, pass and enact. The legal process moves - necessarily - as slowly as it ever has, but technology changes at an ever-increasing rate (subject only to Moore’s Law). This developmental dissonance means there is a significant lag between technology becoming available to consumers, and being ready for use by industries dealing with their private data.

Thankfully, mobile communication legislation is beginning to reflect the realities of the modern world - and this can only be a positive thing for the healthcare industry and all who rely on it.

Why Millennials Are So Keen on Text

 

Shutterstock_325396040

Today’s young adults aren’t letting go of their phones so much as letting go of the idea of talking on their phones. That’s the growing takeaway from many recent reports that suggest millennials believe texting is more efficient than talking.

 

Multiple Studies Show Gen Y Prefers Texts

New data from the OpenMarket revealed that 76 percent of millennials would rather lose calling options than texting, and that texts are “more convenient” to their lifestyles. 

When it comes to business purposes, most millennials find that receiving texted reminder for payments, appointments, and special promotions is “helpful.”

A poll by Gallup also confirmed that text messaging outranks phone calls as the dominant form of communication among millennials, with 68 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds saying they texted “a lot” the previous day. In the last couple of years, monthly texting among this age group has more than doubled.

 

Why Millennials Are Choosing Texts

So, why are millennials so keen on text messaging? Here are six reasons why millennials won’t pick up the phone.

 

Call Are Presumptuous

One reason is that many see phone calls as overly intrusive or even presumptuous. Phone calls presume that a person needs to drop everything to adhere to another’s agenda. Texting, like email, is a passive form of communication that doesn’t require real-time interaction.

 

Situation Dictates Communication Style

Young adults choose texting as their everyday form of communication. If something exciting happens, such as a wedding or vacation, millennials decide to share that special occasion via Snap Chat or Instagram. But if the subject is serious enough, they will surely pick up the phone.

 

Text Threads Are Like Conversation

Today’s smartphones utilize a system of texts that plays out like normal face-to-face conversations. The folks who talk a lot also text in longer threads. The people who are succinct don’t. If you’re a chatterbox in real life, your phone doesn’t have to slow you down.

 

No Need for Privacy

With social media being such a huge aspect of their world, millennials don’t really care about privacy. In fact, many of them will take part in large group texts to get more input, so even the idea of 1:1 privacy has become an archaic concept. 

 

Planning

While on the topic of group texts, note that millennials use group texting to make plans with friends. It’s convenient and also quick.

 

Superfluous

Phone calls require a lot of airtime and beating around the bush to get to the point of the message. Texting requires individuals to put thoughts into words, enabling them to share only the essential details and get straight to the point.

 

Reaching Millennials With Text Marketing

If you want to tap into the major market of millennials, you’re going to have to utilize text marketing. Thankfully, our professional marketing team at EZ Texting can provide you with the necessary tools and tips to properly engage these young consumers.

Contact us today by calling (800) 753-5732 to learn more.

The Mobile Wallet Is More Critical to the Future of Retail Than Apps

 

Shutterstock_159873362

In recent years and months, mobile payment systems such as Android Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay, have been ramping up, giving merchants ample choices. The consumer demand for mobile wallets is on the rise, and for good reason.

For merchants of all types, from small mom-and-pop stores to Fortune 500 companies, mobile wallets can boost revenue and reduce operating costs substantially. 

Here are five reasons why the mobile wallet is more crucial to the future of retail than apps.

Ability to Reduce Costs

Retailers and food service operators can enjoy the benefit of reduced costs by using mobile wallets. This is because they can drastically lower fraud loss and/or payment processing fees, the latter of which merchants often cite as one of the largest expenses after labor.

With apps, there is still a huge risk to hackers getting into the system and obtaining critical customer info, such as their addresses, bank accounts, and credit card numbers.

More Sales and Increased Revenues

Mobile wallets have the ability to move more consumers through the line quicker, driving up revenues for merchants. If a business has the ability to leverage a mobile wallet to engage and connect with costumers, it can sell more products and services during slower periods by enabling customers to check out anywhere at anytime, or enticing them with exclusive discounts and coupons.

While apps allow retailers to connect with consumers and offer them promos, buyers do not have the ability to purchase items as easily as they would if they were using a mobile wallet.

Catering to the Anywhere, Anytime Customer

More people are performing their daily errands online, creating significant opportunities for retailers to be invited into a consumer’s mobile world. If a retailer creates a rich interactive experience for the mobile-enabled consumer, it allows customers to purchase items both in store and via internet-based mobile purchasing opportunities.

Simplification

With mobile wallets, users enter their information once and then receive PIN numbers through text messages, which are used to complete the purchase. Shoppers only need to enter their PINs to complete the transaction, saving them the time and hassle of re-entering all of their information again for future transactions, as some apps require.

Rich Marketing Platforms

A report recently released by Forrester Research suggested that mobile wallets are set to become an essential marketing platform within the next five years. Mobile loyalty is important for connecting with consumers, and brands should mobilize their loyalty programs and branded content to offer promos to consumers in real time.

Mobile wallets are imperative for brands hoping to use mobile technology to reach consumers. If your retail business wants to enjoy the many benefits of mobile wallets and text messages, contact EZ Texting today. We look forward to hearing from you.

How Mobile Technology Is Boosting Productivity

Shutterstock_237519862

We live in a fast-paced, mobile-centric world. This is why many big-name brands are turning their attention to mobile technology to reach consumers. But as customer preferences and behavior spill over into the business workforce, businesses are now utilizing the benefits of these technologies to their advantages. One study in the UK shows that providing mobile apps to workers can boost productivity by 34 percent. The drive in mobility is a key player in the business tech agenda, as more companies are recognizing its value.

Here are a few ways mobile technology is boosting productivity. 

Communication is Key

Like every good business professional knows, communication is a critical part of the success of a company. The integration of mobile devices, such as smartphones and laptops, makes it easier for workers to collaborate and for companies to communicate and connect with staff, vendors and consumers. 

Real-time communication has huge customer service benefits. Responding to consumers in a prompt fashion, offering a greater range of products and services, making product information available to customers, and improving turnaround and service all equate to better business profits, as Air Canada found when it replaced paper processes with interactive mobile devices for ground staff.

Workers benefit, too. From interacting with colleagues while traveling to attending an office meeting from 1,000 miles away, mobile business keeps the lines of communication constantly open. 

Mobile Marketing

Customers now have 24/7 access to their favorite brands via mobile technology. Companies are realizing the value of advertising to on-the-go consumers and now offer advertising and marketing through SMS (text) messaging, banner ads, mobile apps, mobile websites, QR codes, and more. 

Not only can these campaigns be customized to reach a more targeted audience due to software that “reads” the websites and sees what people are seeking on their mobile devices, but it is also helping businesses reach customers from anywhere at any time.

Cloud Commuting

This technology lets companies store data or applications on a remote server that can be accessed by authorized personnel. Employees can then create, view, and share this information to facilitate a variety of tasks, such as banking, virtual meetings, and file sharing. If a company has telecommuting workers, such as employees on maternity leave or vacation, these individuals can have quick and easy access to info that allows them to work from anywhere.

Cost Reductions

The infrastructure to support a mobile workforce is more affordable than equipping a physical office with desktops, servers, printers, and faxes. Allowing workers to have access to training materials, company info, and more can save them (and your business) money on travel, instructors, accommodations, rented office space, and more.

Mobile technology is proven to boost business productivity through connection, cost reduction, and creative mobile marketing. If you want to take advantage of mobile marketing and technology, contact our company today to learn more. 

How mHealth Tech Is Helping Stroke Recovery

 

Shutterstock_313849841

Each year, nearly 800,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke—an attack on the brain caused by a loss of blood flow, which can result in disabilities such as memory loss, speech impairment, and limited mobility.  

During a stroke, brain cells lose the blood flow they need to stay alive. When brain cells die, it can cause permanent disability, depending on how serious the stoke was and in what area of the brain blood loss occurred. 

More than two-thirds of stroke survivors will experience some type of disability. For patients recovering from a stroke, therapy is one way to improve the cognitive functions that are often disabled after a serious attack. 

 

Mobile Tech Improves Stroke Recovery 

In a recent study conducted by Constant Therapy, researchers found that stroke survivors who engaged in at-home therapy featuring customized brain rehabilitation software, like an app, increased their cognitive, speech accuracy, and processing speed during recovery. 

Each stroke is different, and each survivor will need different therapy to reconstruct or reconfigure the areas of the brain that suffered damage during the stroke. Constant Therapy has designed an app that allows doctors and caregivers to customize the treatment plan to focus on the different brain areas that control specific brain functions. 

The company analyzed 20 million therapy exercises, as well as 100 million data points. Combining this big data with a mobile platform will continue to improve the customization capabilities of the mHealth program. 

“The more data we collect, the better our algorithms become,” said Keith Cooper, CEO of Constant Therapy.

Plus, having the therapy available in an app, and for various mobile devices, allows patients to maintain therapy programs at home, not just while they’re in the hospital. 

Stoke survivors that incorporated at-home therapies, like Constant Therapy’s app, received 5 times more therapy than those only receiving therapy at a clinic. 

The more survivors engage with the app, the faster and more thorough their recovery. Processing speed in language and cognitive exercise increased more than 80 percent for patients who completed more than 500 experiences on the mHealth app. 

 

mHealth to the Recue 

Commonly referred to as mHealth, mobile technology affords both providers and patients more control over their wellness plans, before and after a catastrophic event like a stroke, heart attack, or other serious medical emergency. 

In fact, it’s estimated that the mHealth solutions market will be worth nearly $60 billion by 2020. This includes an explosion of growth in a number of mobile services focused on monitoring, managing, diagnosing, and recovery therapies for patients and providers. 

The risk of stroke can be reduced by regular exercise, eating well, not smoking, and monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol. Unfortunately, stokes can happen to just about anyone without warning. 

The good news is that we’re getting better at helping survivors get back to normalcy. And with mHealth solutions, you can engage in these treatments from the comfort of home. 

Mobile and Microfinancing

 

Shutterstock_366256340

Mobile’s role in microfinancing appears to be growing, which isn’t particularly shocking. Mobile finance solutions are increasing in popularity due to the ability to perform banking actions with the mere touch or swipe of a smartphone, and many microfinance institutions have implemented m-banking platforms to reduce costs, improve customer service, and extend their reach in rural areas. 

 

M-Banking Financial Service Options

Microfinance institutions offering m-banking provide services such as loan repayment, account balance checks, and voluntary savings deposits. Countries that already feature mobile money networks find m-banking provides microfinance clients with the flexibility they want to manage deposits and payments, resulting in money saved and improved financial security. 

M-banking has also proved helpful to women in the developing world, as they frequently do not have formal bank accounts, and yet are often responsible for overseeing their families’ finances. 

 

Inexpensive and Efficient

Limited capacity and costly operational expenses are among the issues plaguing many microfinance institutions. Mobile finance solves these issues by allowing for microfinance service offerings on a cheaper, more efficient scale. Additionally, MFIs act as agents for mobile network operators and banks. This subsequently allows microfinance institutions to educate themselves on mobile finance options, minus the outrageous investment costs. 

Another benefit is the ability to take advantage of mobile phone penetration in the absence of an m-banking network. MFI clients can use their phones for non-cash purposes.

MFIs interested in using mobile banking options also do so with the intention of drastically improving operations by reducing service delivery costs and cross-selling their other products. This is designed to substantially increase efficiency. 

 

The Future of African Economics

Financial technology, or ‘FinTech,’ could potentially revolutionize economic situations in many African countries. More than two-thirds of the population of sub-Saharan Africa owns cellphones, but only one-third has bank accounts. Cash is still the main currency, yet more and more startup companies are putting their marks on the financial landscape. 

African FinTech companies include M-Pesa, the Kenyan money transfer system used all over Africa, as well as 22Seven, the Cape Town-based mobile app that links to user bank accounts and makes it easy to track spending, make investments, and create customized budget plans. 

Nomanini is another option. The wireless device looks like a game console and links cloud service software so informal vendors can process transactions easily from any location. Zoona is yet another African financial service that transfers money via cell phones. Other financial tools and services include Cellulant and GetBucks. 

 

The Bitcoin Element

Bitcoin is a form of mobile money featuring no tradable or inherent value and is therefore a welcome addition to Africa’s financial options. Currently BitX is more popular in Southeast Asia than Africa, but it’s entirely possible that it will catch on among African nations, especially given its African bank origins. 

What does it all mean? Mobile money is a viable option applicable the world over. As long as mobile banking and financing options are safe and secure, their popularity is highly likely to increase. 

 

SMS: King of Digital Marketing

 

Shutterstock_402346663

SMS is increasingly an essential part of any mobile marketing campaign, as it offers an inexpensive and highly effective way to engage with target audiences. It also provides real-time marketing messages that most people read quickly, especially compared to email. Let’s look at why SMS is such an excellent option for reaching customers and how to ensure you’re getting the results you want: 

 

Permission-Based

The mobile marketing strategy is wholly permission-based, as the user must opt in to receive messages. This establishes and fosters trust between the consumer and the business. It also allows businesses to assume consumers really want to read their messages. 

 

High Open Rate

As previously mentioned, SMS has a high open rate, as more than 90 percent of text messages are read within three minutes. Email campaigns average about 22 percent, while Twitter and Facebook post rates are at about 29 percent and 12 percent, respectively. Text messages are short and to the point, unlike lengthy emails, and are also relatively infrequent.

 

Mobile-Native

More and more businesses are optimizing their websites and emails for the mobile realm, something text messages don’t require. They’re already mobile friendly! There’s no interface or training problems with SMS marketing campaigns, as most people already know how to send a text message. 

 

More Willing

Most customers are willing to share their phone numbers with businesses so they can receive promotional alerts. Even more people are happy to provide their phone numbers and receive promotional messages if they include a discount or other incentive. 

 

Here to Stay

Yet another reason SMS is such a marketing gold mine is that it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Most people prefer texting to getting phone calls. Additionally, despite the plethora of messaging apps and related platforms, people still gravitate toward text messages. 

 

SMS Mobile Marketing Tips

Get Permission

Whatever else, it’s important to ensure permission is granted before sending promotional text messages. Unsolicited messages and emails are never welcome, and only annoy one target demographic after another. Permission is essential and prevents promotional text messages from landing in the customer’s “spam” folder or just being deleted.

Know When It’s Appropriate

Understand when it’s best to send promotional text messages and when to remain silent. SMS doesn’t apply to every single marketing campaign, and it’s more personal than email. Follow email marketing practices for best results and avoid sending messages too often. Additionally, you should think about consumer location and the best time of day to send messages, and steer clear of overly wordy language. 

Make It Valuable

Provide consumers with something of value when sending text messages, such as an alert about an upcoming sale or event or a promo code for an exclusive discount. Messages should add to consumer experiences with the brand and not fall into the ‘self-serving’ category. 

SMS: cost effective...and just plain effective. 

How Mobile Technology Can Save Taxpayers Billions

 

Shutterstock_313474802

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MDOT) and other “next generation” government agencies are leveraging mobile technology to save taxpayers serious sums of money. Government agencies are notorious for wasteful spending, but various departments of transportation are taking cues from the Jefferson City, MO, location, as it’s become the model and standard for saving taxpayers millions via new technologies. 

 

Mobile Maps

Mike Miller, the assistant information systems director for MDOT, told Forbes magazine all the way back in 2012 about his department’s clever use of mobile maps. MDOT had to close two major interstate highways that year, and instead of shutting them down for “eight years” while keeping two lanes open and endangering workers, the department opted to provide residents with mobile maps and apps so they could drive around the freeways. That one decision saved MDOT more than $100 million in taxpayer funds.

 

Five-Year Plan

MDOT’s former head Peter Rahn suggested an ambitious plan to save taxpayers $500 million over five years. According to Miller, the department is ahead of schedule with plan implementation, as it began work in 2010 and has already met 70 percent of its goal. Among the efforts to make the five-year plan a success are using vans equipped with video cameras that film road roughness and allowing residents to rate them. MDOT subsequently fixes the affected road as soon as possible. 

Other actions in the five-year plan include having every MDOT building and roadside access point feature wireless capabilities for employees, so no one wastes time trying to find information. The department utilizes its social media channels to provide people with updates and news, cutting communication costs. MDOT uses SharePoint to manage its records and maintain 33,000 miles of road and thousands of bridges. SharePoint use has saved the department a great deal in oversight and project management costs. 

These are only a few examples of how MDOT is reducing costs with mobile technology. 

 

e-Construction Tools

Another tech innovation saving DOT organizations and taxpayers big money is e-Construction tools. These tools are defined as processes and technology that eliminate paper use, with examples including the digitization of construction documents for distribution to stakeholders through mobile devices. e-Construction was named as a standout tool in a recent Pavia System survey, with 53 percent of DOT respondents saying they adopted e-Construction and 71 percent of respondents noting that they use such tools “widely.”  e-Construction has helped build roads, bridges, and highways, and makes for much more timely deliveries. DOT respondents also said e-Construction tools contributed to at least 76 percent of on budget construction project completions. 

Representatives for the Idaho, Pennsylvania, and Texas Departments of Transportation all applaud e-Construction tools for their ability to save money and time while increasing productivity and resulting in fewer mistakes. 

 

Challenges

With so many benefits stemming from government agencies “going paperless,” why haven’t more departments of transportation made these helpful changes? One theory is that such agencies are responsible for long-term obligations unlike private industries, which simply move on to the next project once one is completed. A lack of tools customized for project owners’ specific needs is another possible reason. Regardless, going the “pilot” route and slowly using more and more e-Construction tools will hopefully alleviate these issues. 

mHealth is Set to Explode by 2021

 

Shutterstock_189071633

According to a recent study, worldwide shipments of healthcare wearables will nudge 100 million by 2021, increasing the market’s value to $17.6 billion. If the forecast proves accurate, it will represent a staggering 135% annual growth rate.

Wearable technology is finding the perfect home in hospitals, clinics and doctor’s surgeries the world over. It’s a relatively recent shift in emphasis for healthcare providers, and many are still finding their feet within the digital landscape. But those who have grasped the potential of wearables, mobile technology and other digital health solutions have found it’s helped them make care more efficient, expansive and affordable.

The most penetrating breakthrough has been in the form of monitoring and controlling patient outcomes - often with technology as simple as mobile messaging. Diabetes, heart problems, asthma - countless common medical conditions can be managed with the help of mobile messaging.

Despite the promising growth forecast, the wearable device market still faces a number of challenges. Many cash-strapped healthcare providers are reluctant to invest until they can be more certain of the long term benefits - an understandable misgiving in an age when so much ‘new’ technology is rendered obsolete within a couple of years of being launched. Some healthcare providers are also concerned about the task of aggregating and analyzing huge volumes of data in a way that will give them valuable insights into patient behavior. Mobile healthcare analysts believe this attitude will change as platforms become more widespread and user friendly. 

Then there are the patients themselves. The report found that there were issues regarding the cultivation of consumer trust in wearable technology, with a significant number of respondents saying they didn’t believe in the accuracy of the sensors, or that a device could truly deliver medically relevant information. There are concerns too about elderly patients’ reticence to use smartphone technology, or to get behind the concept of ‘remote treatment’ at all.

Nevertheless, as the market grows, so too will the competition. The more developers get into mHealth, the better it will become, and as more data is gathered, public confidence in wearable technology will grow.

Most Brands Not Ready to Meet Mobile Challenges

 

Shutterstock_416189593

These days, everyone is talking about mobile strategy. However, according to a new survey published by Sitecore and Vanson Bourne, most brands don’t think they’re prepared to effectively market via mobile. So what, then, is everyone really talking about? 

 

Missing the Mobile Mark

The mobile conversation lit up back when mobile usage surpassed that of desktop computers. Suddenly, everyone was paying attention to what people were doing on their phones. 

For some businesses, this meant making sure their website was mobile responsive, at the very least. And if they were really thinking ahead, marketers reimagined the mobile experience with branded apps. Unfortunately, too many apps weigh down users’ smartphones, and today chat and social apps seem to get the largest slice of the mobile pie. 

In hindsight, people have been talking about mobile for a long time; marketers saw this shift coming early, and yet now, in 2016, of the 450 brand marketers that participated in this global survey, 41 percent of the respondents said they have no mobile strategy in place, or have yet to execute the one they have. 

To drive this point home, in the same survey, 97 percent of respondents said, “they believe a good mobile experience impacts customer loyalty.” In other words, most marketers know mobile is important, but more than half aren’t ready to mobilize their brand experiences.  

To be fair, the mobile landscape is somewhat uncharted territory. For executive level marketers unfamiliar with the terrain, the refocus on mobile can be a bit intimidating, if not altogether outside comfort zones.

Plus, mobile today is different from mobile five minutes ago. Take those branded apps for instance. Having an app for every store proved to be a misstep. Instead, we’re seeing more collaboration between third-party apps that unify products and services into a single experience. 

So, what are these marketers to do? Forbes says they need to define objectives carefully

At the very least, you have to know what you want your mobile plan to do, or it won’t be effective. You should also look for ways to integrate it with social media, one of the best places to find new or current consumers online. 

And finally, marketers should be proactive about the mobile experience. According to the PEW Research Center, 67 percent of people check their phone for messages, alerts, and calls. Be proactive about understanding this behavior and send relevant information to users who are already looking for new messages. 

It’s time for marketers to start realizing their mobile goals and not just talking about mobile strategy in a nebulous cloud of buzzwords and phrases. 

For small businesses looking for an edge, mastering mobile is a good place to beat out the bigger competition. According to the new survey, lots of brands are still twiddling their thumbs over mobile, so you have a great opportunity to get ahead.