The importance of personalising SMS replies

Our digital era is having a huge impact on the way young people communicate. They have a whole variety of different technologies (Smartphones, games consoles, computers) at their disposal that allow them to interact with each other in many different ways. With more than 80% of 11 – 25 year olds actively using at least one social network site on a daily basis, anyone involved in youth work must embrace these changes if they want to engage with this generation.

The majority of teenagers prefer “hanging out” virtually from their bedrooms rather than going to a physical location. As this becomes increasingly the norm, unless those people who engage with young people are accessible via Facebook, they stand little chance of being able to reach their targeted audiences to promote local events, provide information about sporting events or simply keep in contact with their squad.

Promoting events and activities via social networks is one thing but getting people to turn up is another. Many sports clubs and other organisations, however, have found that SMS reminders about forthcoming activities can complement such online campaigns because it SMS is an easy, yet unobtrusive way to engage with young people.

SMS alerts are also an effective way of providing advice and guidance on wide range of youth-related issues such as health, crime, and drugs.

These types of services work very well because SMS is an easy way to reach a large audience, it is cost effective, messages are delivered straight away and are generally read as soon as they are received. But what happens if a young person sends a reply to one of these received messages?

In the majority of cases, replies to bulk SMS notifications are forwarded to a centralised mailbox or holding number, so the young person may not receive a reply until much later on, once the messages have been sorted.

Our SMS notification service allows organisations to send out bulk messages, but unlike many of our competitors, we also offer a personalised replies facility at no extra cost. This means that all replies are delivered directly to the original sender, allowing them to immediately begin private conversations with these young people, thus developing a rapport and obtaining their trust.  Not only that, message senders only receive replies intended for them.

The service works using a pool of shared sequential numbers that are accurately mapped to a sender ID (youth worker or football coach, for example) and a receiver ID (a young person’s mobile phone) by our SMS data management software.

If our SMS software is unable to deliver a reply (due to poor network coverage or incorrect number details, for example), it automatically sends a message to the sender, advising them to use an alternative means of communication.

Our personalised replies service is also beneficial to other industry sectors – temping agencies or estate agents, for example. In both these cases office staff are in regular contact with the same groups of people on a regular basis and two-way dialogue is commonplace.

As with all SMS applications, our personalised replies service can be integrated with existing communications infrastructures via a developers API.

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