Is outstanding debt having an impact on your business in terms of overall profitability?

Do you spend a disproportionate of time on the phone chasing payment for low-value invoices? According to our own market research, small company business owners spend at least one day per month chasing outstanding debt – a hugely time-consuming process. But if it is left unchecked, it will have a knock-on effect on their bottom line profitability.

It makes much more commercial sense for these business owners to spend their time chasing new business, so finding a way to automate their entire invoice chasing process would not only save them time and money, it would ultimately eliminate the problems caused by poor cash flow. At Slepe communications we’ve done exactly that. Our team have devised a service, called GentleReminder.net that allows us to contact those customers who owe us money at pre-determined times reminding them that payment is now due or overdue.

The service is based on standard customer and debtor lists, information that can be easily generated by most accountancy software packages. Our software cross-refers these lists and uses the due date as a trigger for sending the messages. We’ve built in SMS reminders for some of our customers because this has even more impact.

Most customers don’t deliberately forget to pay their invoices and a gentle reminder usually results in prompt payment.

We upload new lists on a monthly basis (though this can be done more frequently) and if an invoice from a previous list is not included on the new list, our software does not send any further reminder messages to that customer.

The service has been so successful for our own brands, in terms of improving our overall cash flow, we’ve decided to turn it into a commercial product.

We are hoping to launch a beta version of the service in early October. We’ve decided to go down this route because, rather than develop a fully blown service we think will be of benefit, we want to receive feedback from potential users in order to understand what they would expect from an automated invoice chasing service.

We will then review feedback and incorporate suggestions into our development plan so that the finished service is of real value to anyone using it.

If chasing invoices is a time consuming exercise for your organisation and you think you would benefit from a service like this, please get in touch. We’ll then contact you prior to the public launch, so you can help us develop a service that meets your specific needs.

SMS – the driving force behind mobile banking services

Mobile phones have fundamentally changed the way we communicate with one another and the days when phones were used for their original purpose, i.e. talking, are long gone. Why call someone when you can use Facebook or text?

Nowhere are our changing habits more apparent than in the way we manage money. We bank online, we receive updates via text and as Smartphone technology continues to prevail, it won’t be that long before we do away with our bank cards altogether, as our phones become the equivalent of chip and pin machines.

Mobile technology is revolutionizing the African continent, where more than half of its 1 billion population owns a mobile phone. These devices are not just for talking, they are fostering an entrepreneurial culture, they are improving quality of life and to a large extent, SMS is the reason
why.

The best example of this is in mobile banking. Four years ago, Safaricom (a Kenyan operator) introduced M-Pesa, a service that allows people to store money on their mobiles. If they want to pay a utility bill or send money to family or friends, they simply confirm the amount by SMS and
the recipient converts the text message into cash at their local M-Pesa office. This mobile banking service has since spread into other African countries because it’s cheap, it’s easy to use and it provides a lifeline to the millions of Africans who do not have or cannot afford a conventional bank account.

Closer to home, even the most sophisticated banking apps used by high flyers in the City rely on SMS as a secondary means of communication, as the recently launched Co-operative banking app demonstrates.

Their new app allows Smartphone users to check their bank balances, access mini statements and locate the nearest cash points. For account holders that do not have a Smartphone, or if coverage is weak, they can opt to receive this information via SMS.

The above two applications demonstrate the importance of SMS in the banking world, even in our Smartphone age and the reasons for this are as follows:

  • Universal –all phones (including landlines) support SMS and there are no network or latency-related issues
  • Speed – messages are delivered as soon as they are sent
  • Economical – banks can negotiate highly competitive rates for bulk SMS
  • Wide marketing reach – SMS is understood by everyone
  • Easy response mechanism – SMS provides users with an easy response mechanism at the push of a button
  • Accessibility – SMS is not dependent on 3G coverage

We have been involved in online SMS services for more than five years. We specialise in developing bespoke applications to meet niche requirements. Our software integrates seamlessly with third party technologies via a developers API and unlike our competitors, we offer personalised SMS facilities as standard.

SMS notification – a perfect call to action for iPhone and Android Apps

eBay made £8 billion in revenue from mobile transactions in 2011 and it is predicted that it will make £15 billion next year.

There are over half a million apps available on iTunes and, according to industry experts, there will be 1 billion Smartphones in circulation by 2016. Not only that, they will become the predominant means for connecting to the Internet.

It is apparent that Smartphone technology is taking our online activities to a whole new dimension and pushing the boundaries of ecommerce to the limits, so much so that unless those companies with customer-facing websites make them user-friendly for smaller screens, they could quickly find themselves losing out to their competitors.

As an SMS aggregator and a provider of different online SMS services, we are reassured by the fact that most developers are incorporating SMS functionality into their iPhone or Android Apps and using it as a trigger mechanism for consumer interaction.

Virgin Australia’s SMS-based mobile boarding pass trial is a perfect example of SMS being used in harmony with Smartphones to help provide a positive customer experience. This new app allows passengers to check-in on any domestic service at any domestic airport via their mobile handset, thus eliminating the need to stand in line at check-in.

Passengers flying between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane can generate their boarding passes simply by holding their smartphones over the scanning device at the check-in gate.

It works as follows; passengers visit the airline’s mobile website and tap on the “check-in” button, which takes them to a mobile check-in page. When they get here they have to enter their 6 digit PNR number and their surname in order to obtain their itinerary. They then have to confirm where they want to sit (by viewing the seating plan and tapping on their preferred seat) and answer a series of security questions.  They can request to have their boarding pass sent to their phone, either as an electronic 2D square or as a QR code via SMS, or they can collect their boarding pass at the terminal.

Even in our Smartphone era, SMS is used as a trigger mechanism or call to action for the majority of APPs.

SMS is still an important communications mechanism for the following reasons:

  • Speed: Messages are delivered almost instantaneously; all mobile phones support SMS and there are no network or latency-related issues
  • Economical:  businesses can negotiate highly competitive rates for bulk SMS
  • Convenient: Most contracts allow consumers to send and receive a certain number of texts for free as part of their SMS bundles
  • Wide marketing reach: SMS is understood by everyone and unlike email, people do tend to read their texts as soon as they receive them
  • Easy response mechanism: SMS provides consumers with an easy yet unobtrusive response mechanism at the push of a button
  • Accessibility: SMS is not dependent 3G coverage

We have been providing online and bulk SMS services for the last six years. We specialise in developing bespoke applications to meet niche requirements. Our software integrates seamlessly with third party technologies via a developers API and unlike our competitors, we offer personalised SMS facilities as standard.

If you are looking to incorporate SMS into your APP development, then contact us today so we can discuss possibilities.

Use SMS alerts to complement seasonal marketing activities

It’s the time of year when your customers have a plethora of seasonal-related activities at their disposal. For the shoppers, the summer sales are in full swing, for music lovers, it’s festival season, Wimbledon fortnight has just started and we’re almost at the end of the the European championships.

The well-known brands are always keen to capitalise on events such as these to boost their own revenues and as such they run seasonal-based promotional campaigns to coincide with them.

Shopping

The summer sales are of major importance to the high-street brands. In recent years, the retail market, more than any other, has had to adapt its marketing strategy to keep abreast of our changing habits, as we make more and more purchases online, more often than not using our Smartphones.

SMS is a perfect marketing tool in these circumstances; so long as the message is deemed useful, it is the perfect way to engage with loyal customers and to encourage them to visit relevant websites. Unlike email, most people do read their text messages as soon as they receive them. By incorporating embedded URLs and/or promotional codes into the SMS, it is even easier for shoppers to make those impulse buys.

Holidays and festivals

This summer, more than any other, the majority of us would be interested in the possibility of finding a cheap holiday in the sun because the weather has been so atrocious. SMS provides travel agents with the perfect opportunity to increase their online sales by alerting their customers to the latest deals and promotions. It also gives them the opportunity to deliver other revenue-generating services such as flight/hotel information services, weather updates and boarding information. In addition, including an embedded link to their online customer services department or the ability to request a call-back provides a positive experience to consumers.

Sports

With Wimbledon upon us and the Olympics due to start next month, there is a great opportunity for the major brands and service providers to deliver an extensive range of innovative services to their end users. SMS is perfect for match updates and final scores and what’s more, most sports enthusiasts are willing to pay a premium to receive such information.

Why add SMS to your online marketing activities?

  • Direct – SMS pushes itself directly in front of your consumers and isn’t reliant on them pushing buttons or downloading apps.
  • Concise – SMS messages are to the point. Any message that includes clearly visible information of what is on offer will encourage potential customers to respond if they are interested
  • Cost effective – Organisations sending SMS messages in bulk can benefit from wholesale SMS pricing
  • Wide marketing reach – SMS is understood by everyone
  • Personalised – Mobile phones are very personal. By asking some intricate questions, it is possible to build up detailed profiles of your customers which results in more effective marketing campaigns
  • Quick – You can send appropriate messages to pre-defined groups with a single mouse click
  • Easy to manage – Because the majority of online SMS campaigns use email as the delivery mechanism, your sales staff can manage all correspondence from a single, centralised point
  • Easy response mechanism – Offering your consumers a positive experience

How to make the most from your SMS marketing campaigns

With over 2 billion mobile phones in circulation globally, with over 230 million subscribers in the US alone, and with online purchases made via the mobile web significantly overtaking those made via a PC, it is hardly surprising that mobile marketing strategies are featuring high on the business plans of all corporate brands.

Even though the mobile web is becoming increasingly popular, SMS still plays important roles in mobile marketing. Its revenues may not be quite as lucrative as they once were, but in spite of this, SMS still remains a key revenue generator for the operators, so SMS technology will not be consigned to the museums just yet.

So why does SMS-based marketing remain popular with the corporates? Smartphone penetration may well be growing, but in the UK alone, at least 50% of mobile phone owners do not possess a Smartphone. When you take into account that there are more mobile phones than people in the UK, that equates to a lot of phones.

According to industry research, over 90% of people read their text messages, which is good news from a marketing perspective. What’s more, the conversion rate is 400% higher than that of email marketing, which is even better news.

In addition to a high open rate, SMS also provides the perfect link between your online and offline marketing activities. By embedding promotional codes or URLs into your SMS messages, you are motivating consumers to follow these links and to make spontaneous purchases they might not otherwise have made.

Like all direct marketing activities, however, if you want your SMS-based campaigns to be successful, you’ll need to follow some basic marketing principles. We’ve listed below some tips and suggestions to help you maximise your SMS marketing:

• Incorporate your branding into your message – this will enable your customers to quickly identify who you are and not consider your message to be spam

• Encourage your customers and prospects to “opt in” to your marketing database – if they are “willing” to receive information from you, your campaigns are more likely to be successful. This can be done by incorporating mobile phone capture details in your other marketing activities

• Build up a detailed database that includes information about demographics, gender, age etc. – this will enable you to send targeted messages to specific groups, resulting in high conversions.

• Make sure your messages are informative and useful – SMS has a high open rate so if your target audience perceive your messages to be spam, they are highly likely to request to be removed from your database

• Use SMS in conjunction with other marketing activities – SMS is a great way to engage your consumer in a non-obtrusive way

• Provide consumers with easy “opt out” facilities
If you want to see how SMS-based marketing campaigns could increase your overall sales why not sign up to our no-obligation trial today?

A new automated invoice reminder service from Slepe Communications

One of the main reasons why many organisations go out of business is due to poor cash flow and the reason for this is because they don’t regularly chase overdue invoices.

In most cases – even when times are hard – your customers won’t deliberately forget to pay your
invoice.

More often than not, late payments are the result of an oversight or an administration error – an invoice being sent to the wrong person, not including correct purchase order information, being misfiled, or simply slipping through the net.

While larger organisations can usually ride the wave of delayed bill payments, a non-steady cash flow can make or break start-ups and SMEs.

Small company business owners are all too aware of this, but even so, their key priority is to secure new business. They rarely have the time to make routine phone calls at the end of each month, reminding clients that their invoice is due for payment or overdue, especially if the outstanding amount is not that significant.

In these circumstances, SMS is the perfect solution because it allows you to quickly and cost-effectively send reminder messages to large groups simultaneously. Messages can be written in just a few minutes, leaving you free to secure new business or deal with more challenging customers.

A number of our clients already use SMS for credit control, saving them valuable time and money. Their feedback has been so positive that we have decided to develop a new automated invoice reminder service to help organisations regain control of their cash flow.

Our new service, known as GentleReminder.net ensures your unpaid invoices are never forgotten about. It automates your entire routine reminder process and sends messages to your customers by email and SMS, informing them that their invoice is due for payment or overdue.

No special software or plug-ins are needed. Once you’ve set up your account, you just need to upload your customer and debtor lists. Our software will compare the two and automatically send out reminder messages to your customers until you tell it to stop.

Who will benefit?

Sole traders, small businesses and professionals as well as larger organisations where spending time on the phone chasing payment is both time-consuming and expensive.

If you find you are spending a disproportionate amount of time on the phone chasing routine invoices then sign up for this innovative service today.

GentleReminder.net will be available from mid July and we are offering attractive rates to early adopters. Complete the contact form if you would like to find out more.

Delays to airways auctions means good news for SMS service providers

According to an article published in the Sunday Times on the 29th January, Apple sold more than 37 million iPhones and 15 million iPads between October and December 2011, resulting in a 73% sales increase in its quarterly revenues.

While our love affair with Smartphone technology continues to grow, Ofcom, paradoxically have seen fit to delay the auctioning of the UK’s airwaves yet again. The first phase, which was due to take place in early 2012, has now been delayed until the last quarter.

The Government has stated that it wants the UK to have the most powerful mobile network in Europe by 2015 but rivalries between the four main providers means we are falling further and further behind our European counterparts when it comes to 4G technology.

While this rivalry continues and Ofcom continues to move the goal posts, SMS will continue to play an important role in overall mobile marketing strategies because we simply cannot rely on the existing network to deliver the download speeds needed for innovative new services. Poor coverage and latency issues result in consumers becoming bored and not bothering to press buttons to get more information because the delays are too long.

SMS on the other hand does not present these types of problems because it pushes itself directly in front of consumers. It has its limitations and is not as pretty or flashy as Internet-based services, but if companies get their messaging right, they can quickly communicate information to their customers without them needing to do anything other than read the text.

At least with SMS you know your message will reach your target audience.

Below are other reasons why SMS still continues to play an important part in overall marcomms
strategies:

  • It’s cheap – both for the provider, who can purchase SMS messages in bulk and for the consumer, who can send and receive a predefined numbers of messages as part of their contract
  • It’s quick –messages are delivered almost instantaneously
  • It has a wide marketing reach – all phones support SMS
  • Is not reliant on 3G networks so marketers are not reliant on good network coverage
  • It provides an easy response mechanism – for spontaneous decisions and impulse purchases
  • It is easy to monitor – so campaigns can be targeted
  • It integrates seamlessly – with e/marketing activities
  • It’s widely understood – by everyone
  • It provides a positive experience because messages can always be delivered

Mobile online shopping statistics up 275%

According to a recent article in the Times the British public downloaded over 4 million apps on Christmas Day after unwrapping more than 500,000 Smartphones or Tablets. The same article also stated also that this Christmas’ sales surge is expected to push the number of active Smartphones and Tablets in the UK over the 18 million marker – making us the third highest in the world behind the US and China.

Our enthusiasm for apps and Smartphone technology is changing the online retail landscape beyond all recognition; 16% of all online purchases made this Boxing Day were placed via Smartphones – a 275% increase on the previous year.

The general public no longer regards the mobile internet with scepticism; they now see it as a huge convenience because it allows them to make those planned or impulse purchases irrespective of where they are. Well known high street brands need to make sure that mobile advertising is in their promotional remit if they want to take advantage of this changing culture.

SMS is an ideal marketing medium for retailers wanting to target these new style Smartphone shoppers because it allows them to quickly and cost effectively inform their customers of different promotions and reductions. All phones support SMS so it also allows them to target traditional online shoppers that have not yet caught on to the Smartphone phenomenon.

Unlike other forms of digital advertising, people do tend to read their text messages as soon as they receive them, so if retailers incorporate an embedded URL in their messages, they are giving those Smartphone shoppers the opportunity to make those impulse purchases, thus increasing their overall sales as a result.

Below are seven other reasons why we believe retailers should incorporate SMS into their overall marketing strategies:

• Concise -SMS messages are to the point. Any message that includes clearly visible information of what is on offer will encourage potential customers to respond if they are interested
• Cost effective – retailers sending SMS messages in bulk can benefit from wholesale pricing
• Wide marketing reach – SMS is used and understood by everyone
• Personalized – mobile phones are very personal so by asking some intricate questions, you can build up detailed profiles of your customers which will enable you to carry out very targeted campaigns
• Quick – you can send appropriate messages to pre-defined groups with a single mouse-click
• Easy to manage – because the majority of online SMS campaigns use email as the delivery mechanism, your customer service staff can manage all correspondence from a single, centralised point
• Easy response mechanism – thus providing your consumers a positive experience

If you want to see how SMS-based marketing campaigns could increase your overall sales why not sign up to our no-obligation trial today?

Bulk SMS Services For Small Businesses

When the majority of people hear the phrase “bulk SMS” they think of a wholesale service provided by SMS aggregators who sell millions of text messages in bulk to service providers and other large organisations. They subsequently provide promotional messages or notifications en masse to their customers or subscribers. Such services are typically used by retail, entertainment and leisure companies to alert consumers of seasonal special offers, weather information or traffic updates, for example.

We also provide bulk SMS facilities. However, our interpretation of bulk SMS is slightly different to the norm because our application has been designed specifically for smaller organisations, allowing them to benefit from a carrier-grade service at an affordable price.

Bulk SMS is the quickest, easiest and most cost effective way to reach your entire customer base in one hit. Services are easy to set up and configurations can be saved for future campaigns.

You can send your messages online, via a secure web interface or by email using your existing email application, depending on what suits you best. Our service can also be integrated with existing back- office systems via a Developer’s API.

Our Bulk SMS service supports prepaid users (very popular with SME’s and start-up companies), or monthly invoiced accounts for larger organisations that regularly send in excess of 100 text messages on a daily basis.

Your messages are delivered almost immediately and your customers will respond because, unlike other forms of communication, people do tend to read their text messages.

We have listed below our top ten bulk SMS services that we believe can benefit smaller organisations:

1. Promotional activities – Mobile phones are very personal. By using some subtle info- gathering techniques you can quickly build up accurate profiles of your customers. You can then use this information to carry out targeted campaigns such as a special promotion on party dresses or the best ski deals
2. Payment reminders –Free up your admin staff by reducing the number of phone calls you make to customers reminding them an invoice is overdue or that their rent is in arrears
3. Delivery information – SMS is a great way of informing customers of an expected delivery time. By including a “reply” facility (allowing customers to request an alternative delivery time, for example) you will cut back on the number of wasted journeys
4. Notifications – SMS is an effective way to remind people of appointments or team briefings
5. Time-sensitive alerts – SMS is the quickest and easiest way to inform parents that school will be closed due to bad weather
6. SMS broadcast – This is the quickest way to communicate general information to a particular group of people – sports teams, for example, telling them a match has been cancelled or rescheduled
7. Calendar reminders –Sending employees SMS reminders of their daily meetings or appointments will improve your organisation’s efficiency
8. M2M monitoring – SMS is a highly efficient way of alerting support engineers of a server or storage problem
9. Business continuity – SMS can be used to facilitate your business continuity procedures, thus helping minimise downtime and loss of revenue

10. Voicemail notifications – Integrating SMS into your into your telephone system means you will never miss out on a business opportunity

Our Bulk SMS service can also be used in conjunction with our personalised replies facility, which means that all your replies are delivered to the original sender and not a central holding number or email account, allowing you to build up a relationship with your customers.

Why not sign up for a FREE trial today and see for yourself how bulk SMS could benefit your company.

Cyber Monday – How SMS can encourage shoppers to spend more money

There have always been differences of opinion with regards to the exact date of Cyber Monday – the last Monday in November, or the first Monday in December. The date itself is not really that important. The more interesting factor is that advances in mobile technology are having such a significant impact on how we actually spend our money that our shopping habits are changing beyond all recognition.

According to a recent survey carried out by KPMG, UK shoppers are embracing technology at a faster pace than many other countries, with 77% of us preferring to buy goods like CDs, DVDs, books and video games online.

Not only that, we are increasingly using Smartphone or Tablets to make these online purchases.  With more than a quarter of the UK adult population and over a half of all teenagers owning a Smartphone, retailers are having to quickly modify their promotional campaigns to capitalise on these changes.

At totext.net we believe that SMS-based applications can complement these changes because if retailers are offering amazing online promotions, they need to make consumers aware, and one of the most cost effective ways to do this is via SMS.

All phones support SMS, so you can target traditional shoppers as well as the new-style “Smartphone shoppers”. SMS pushes itself directly in front of your consumers and isn’t reliant on them pushing buttons or downloading apps. Unlike other forms of advertising, most people do read their text messages as soon as they receive them, and if you incorporate an embedded URL in your message, you are giving your Smartphone customers the opportunity to make those impulse purchases.

Below are a number of other reasons why we believe retailers should incorporate SMS into their overall promotional campaigns:

  • Concise -SMS messages are to the point. Any message that includes clearly visible information of what is on offer will encourage potential customers to respond if they are interested
  • Cost effective – Retailers sending SMS messages in bulk can benefit from wholesale SMS pricing
  • Wide marketing reach – SMS is understood by everyone
  • Personalised – Unlike other devices, mobile phones are very personal. By asking some intricate questions, it is possible to build up detailed profiles of your customers which results in more effective marketing campaigns
  • Quick – you can send appropriate messages to pre-defined groups with a single mouse click
  • Easy to manage – Because the majority of online SMS campaigns use email as the delivery mechanism, your sales staff can manage all correspondence from a single, centralised point
  • Easy response mechanism – offering your consumers a positive experience

Click here to find out more about who we are and what we do.

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