Reversed billed SMS for small business

The majority of people associate the term “reverse billed SMS” with premium SMS services, where more often than not consumers pay a fairly hefty price to receive alerts about the weather, football, other sports results or general informational updates.

This type of application is really useful if you want to promote easy- to- access services to your customer base but, unfortunately, the principle of reversed billed SMS has been widely abused over the years, with consumers being charged for messages they didn’t want to receive in the first place.

We want to tell you about our version of the application. We have turned the basic concept reverse billed SMS on its head because, with our version of the service, it is the original message sender who is charged for any replies they receive and not the receiver.

Why would the sender be willing to pay to receive these messages? Well, if we take the example of text notifications for emails (when you are out of the office) you don’t really want your customer to have to pay for replying to your message because it is not their fault you are not at your desk.

By combining our reversed billed SMS application with Microsoft Outlook email forwarding rules, you can be sure that you will always receive certain types of messages– a particularly useful feature if you need to monitor stock control or support messages, for example.

How does it work? Well, our bespoke messaging software will deduct the cost of each received message from your account (which is the same cost as for sending a message), even if the sender’s details are not logged on our database.

This neat application will complement a number of other email –to-SMS based services, appointment reminders, marketing promotions or job interviews for example, where you want to encourage consumers to reply but without necessarily incurring any costs.

If your customer is unable to keep their appointment, they can quickly reply to your message (at no charge to them) to rearrange or cancel.

If you are running a mobile-based marketing campaign (Christmas promotions, for example), SMS is a great response mechanism, but again, you might not want your customers to pay. If you combine our reversed billed SMS application with your marketing campaign, they won’t have to because you will be charged for each received reply.

Our reversed billed SMS service can also be used in conjunction with our personalised SMS application, which means that all message replies will be delivered directly to the original sender and not to an email inbox or central holding number, allowing you to build up a rapport with
your customer.

Follow this link to find out more about the different products and services we offer.

Use SMS to streamline cash flow and credit control

Ensuring a steady cash flow is at the heart of any commercial organisation. But when times are hard and buzz words like “austerity measures” and “cutbacks” continually make the headlines, businesses and consumers alike tend to tighten their financial belts, which often results in payment delays.

While larger organisations can usually to “ride the wave” of tougher economic climates, an irregular cash flow can be the make or break of smaller companies.

These unpaid invoices are usually not for large sums of money and administration staff find themselves spending a disproportionate amount of time either on the phone or writing letters to chase payments, because the time spent doing this can often outweigh the value of the invoice
itself.

In these instances SMS is the ideal solution. Message reminders can be quickly sent to large groups of people simultaneously. What’s more, individual messages can be customised so that they are relevant to the recipient by including key information such as the due date and the outstanding
balance.

Writing and sending out reminder messages is simple and straightforward. All you have to do is create your message(s) and distribution lists in a spreadsheet, save the document as a CSV file, upload it, review the information and press the send button.

This is much more cost effective than spending hours on the phone and leaving endless messages that are never even listened to.

SMS can also be used by councils and housing associations, and private landlords to remind tenants that their rent is overdue.

SMS will give you the desired results because, unlike other forms of communication, people do tend to read their texts. Reminders are easy to set up and because email is normally the delivery mechanism, your admin staff can manage their emails and texts from a single centralised point.  By embedding a link to a secure online payment mechanism within the message itself, you can give your clients the option to settle their debt immediately.

What else does SMS have to offer?

• It is cheap

• It is direct

• It has enormous marketing reach

• It allows for easy interaction

• It complements other communications channels

• It is targeted

A number of organisations in the UK are already using our service to better manage their credit control processes. They are also using our personalised replies facility to build rapports with their clients at no extra cost.

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

SMS is here to stay – part 2

Following on from our last blog where we looked at Smartphone apps versus SMS, we are pleased to see that ITV has re-introduced SMS voting on the X Factor for the first time since the infamous phone-in debacle of 2007.

We will certainly be voting for our favorite acts via SMS and not making any complaints to the regulators!

We are also pleased to see that SMS is also playing an increasingly important role in major TV fund raisers. This year’s Comic Relief raised over £15million via SMS donations, representing more than 20% of the total amount raised.

Even in our digital age, donating via SMS remains the most popular choice because it provides consumers with the simplest, most spontaneous donation experience. They are not required to download an app, neither are they required to register their contact details or input any credit card information on a website – a process susceptible to fraud if not managed properly.

The re-introduction of SMS for reality TV and its widespread adoption by the charity sector further highlights its importance as a viable communications medium.

Below are just some of the reasons why SMS remains a popular choice for businesses and individuals:

  • It is cheap – Campaign executors can purchase SMS messages in bulk and consumers can
  • send and receive predefined numbers of messages as part of their contracts
  • It’s quick – text messages are delivered almost instantaneously over all networks
  • It has a wide marketing reach – all phones support SMS
  • It is widely understood – which results in a positive user experience
  • It provides an easy response mechanism – allowing for spontaneous decisions
  • SMS is direct – SMS pushes itself directly into the site of the consumer
  • SMS integrates seamlessly with other e/marketing activities
  • SMS works – unlike other forms of communications people do read text messages when they get them and it is easy to unsubscribe to a service – you simply text stop

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

Why SMS is here to stay

New Ofcom research reveals we are a nation that has become addicted to Smartphones, with people professing to using them everywhere; from the dining table to the bathroom and bedroom.

According to Ofcom’s latest Communications market report, over a quarter of adults and almost half of teenagers now own a Smartphone.

With such revelations we are often asked our opinion on mobile advertising versus SMS-based promotions and whether we think that Smatphones will result in the demise of SMS-based services. Well the simple answer is No.

There is still a place for SMS in our multi channel world. Indeed after the latest RIM debacle, Blackberry users around the world would tell you SMS and voice are the only reliable means of mobile communications available.

We may well be going Smartphone crazy but we’ve along way to go before the infrastructure is in place to truly support Smartphone applications.

In many areas of the UK consumers struggle to get a 2G signal, never mind 3G. In Europe there are already plans to start implementing 4G services!

It has also been revealed that the auctions for selling the next generation mobile phone spectrum in the UK have been postponed from the first half to the last quarter of 2012 which means we are way behind many European nations.

Granted, SMS is not as “pretty” or “flashy” as internet-based applications but at least it works.

The growth of SMS over the last 10 years (over 2000%) confirms it is still a viable communications channel and is still used as an important marketing tool by businesses worldwide and when we hear about issues such as these it is easy to understand why.

  • SMS is cheap – both for campaign executors, who can purchase SMS messages in bulk and for consumers, who can send and receive predefined numbers of messages as part of their contractsSMS is quick – messages are delivered almost instantaneously over all networks
  • SMS has a wide marketing reach – all mobile devices support SMS
  • SMS is widely understood by everyone which results in a positive user experience
  • SMS provides an Easy response mechanism – allowing for spontaneous decisions
  • SMS is direct – unlike mobile apps or mobile web pages, which require users to pro-actively access them, SMS pushes itself directly into the site of the consumer
  • SMS integrates seamlessly with e/marketing activities
  • SMS works – unlike other forms of communications people do read text messages when
  • they get them and it is easy to unsubscribe to a service – you simply text stop
  • SMS provides a great support mechanism to other forms of advertising such as TV or radio based campaigns.

We’re not planning on retiring just yet! Visit www.toText.net to find out more about who we are and what we do.

Eight reasons for incorporating bulk SMS into your direct marketing activities

While social media and web-based projects are all the rage with regards to current-day marketing activities, the whole process can be very “hit and miss” because you have no control over who will follow you on Twitter (or similar) or visit your website.

Direct marketing campaigns allow you to be much more targeted.  Having said that; email, once the most popular medium for carrying out direct marketing campaigns, has also been used to excess, so much so that the majority of us tend to delete emails we do not recognise without even bothering to read the message.

SMS on the other hand, another mechanism for carrying out direct marketing campaigns and for generating sales leads, is not always used as widely as it could be. SMS-based marketing campaigns are by far the most cost-effective and reliable way to send targeted messages to your customers and prospects, particularly if you want to target large demographic areas. Furthermore, if you regularly send out more than 100 messages per day, you will also benefit from wholesale pricing.

Unlike other forms of mobile-based advertising, SMS does not rely on the user having to click on a link to activate the service or access the message. It is very direct and pushes itself in front of your customers, who can respond if they are interested, or text “stop” (or something similar) if they want their details removed from the database.

What are the other advantages of SMS?

  1. Well for starters, it’s got a wider marketing reach than any other marketing medium. With more handsets than people in many western countries, cost effective direct marketing campaigns can be carried out on an international scale.
  2. It is extremely cost effective. It is much more economical, both in terms of time and money, to send text messages to a large group of people than to make a phone call.
  3. It’s easy. SMS-based marketing campaigns can be carried out online via a password-protected interface, or they can be integrated with your email system. This means that your staff can manage all their contacts from a single, centralised point.
  4. SMS is not dependant on 3G and messages are delivered almost instantaneously. What’s more, unlike other forms of communication, the majority of your messages will be read by your customers.
  5. SMS is unobtrusive because it provides users with a subtle way of making an enquiry without needing to enter into dialogue with a pushy sales person.
  6. Bulk SMS services include comprehensive reporting facilities, allowing you to analyse the success of different campaigns and your ROI.
  7. SMS is a great way to improve your after sales service – why not send a quick text messages to customers informing them when their order will be delivered, or to remind them of an appointment or meeting?
  8. Finally, SMS provides users with an easy response mechanism and it can be used to complement other forms of marketing, such TV or radio- based advertising.

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

Cambridge-based Slepe Communications acquires SMS gateway provider Liquid Drop

Slepe Communications Ltd, a Cambridge-based company that specialises in providing bespoke online SMS applications is pleased to announce its acquisition of Liquid Drop, one of the UK’s original SMS gateways. Slepe Communications launched the toText.net service in 2007 and works with business start-ups, SMEs, large corporate and public sector organisations.

Liquid Drop began trading in 2001 and provides an extensive range of bulk SMS services to Blue Chip companies across the globe. Its customers include Oracle and MasterCard and it also provides a number of online SMS services to public sector organisations.

The acquisition involved expanding the capacity of Slepe Communications existing infrastructure to accommodate Liquid Drop’s SMS gateway into its overall SMS management platform.

The process was seamlessly completed with no disruption to customers or services and, as a result, Slepe Communications is now able to add bulk SMS services to its portfolio of applications at highly-competitive rates.

Bulk SMS is by far the most reliable and cost-effective way of sending out routine text messages, such as appointment reminders, direct marketing campaigns and job notifications in large volumes.

SMS can be used by large corporates to issue immediate alerts to employees about emergencies and/or critical situations. It can be used to send important information to key customers or suppliers (ensuring the information is received by the right person at the right time) as well as to send routine information to support engineers, field staff or technicians.

Says Robert Jagger, Managing Director of Slepe Communications: “We are really pleased to be in a position to acquire such an established organisation after only three years of trading. The acquisition has taken the business to the next level. We are in a position to grow the company by investing our cash reserves as well as by relying on organic growth.”

Slepe Communications is currently looking at acquiring other SMS providers.

Ends

About Slepe Communications

Slepe Communications is a dynamic, growing company based in Cambridge UK. Its staff has many years’ experience in the Internet and telecommunications industries, and are experts in designing, building and operating mobile Internet applications based on text messaging, web and Wi-Fi technologies.

Use totext.net online SMS applications to streamline order management and delivery processes

More and more of us are using online shopping facilities because we lead such busy lives. The weekly shop can be delivered to our front door – or even the kitchen if we’re really lucky! We can try on new outfits with appropriate shoes and accessories, we can even buy expensive items such as audio visual equipment or cars online.

However, our changing retail habits are presenting courier and delivery companies with a whole host of new challenges with regards to job allocation and informing consumers of their expected deliveries.

Email has traditionally been used to advise customers of their order status (i.e. that goods have been despatched, when delivery will be etc.), but if your customer does not have access to their email they might not be at home to accept the delivery. This results in a wasted journey for your driver, which can be expensive in terms of time and resource, and disappointment for your customer.
Incorporating SMS functionality into order management and delivery processes can result in huge cost savings for courier companies and improved customer service for consumers.

Unlike email, you know that your SMS messages will be delivered and read as soon as they are received, so advising your customer of expected delivery times via SMS is far less likely to result in a wasted journey.
Not only that, it is possible to incorporate additional facilities into SMS notifications –the ability to reschedule deliveries, for example, which further enhances your customer service.
Our online SMS service can detect if a PDF document is attached to an email and if so extract relevant information (such as delivery location or time) from the data file and forward it to the recipient as an SMS.

If job information is included in the email itself, our software simply converts the message into a text format, giving you the option to send information via SMS as well as email.
SMS can also be used to complement other marketing activities; it is perfect for alerting consumers of:

  • Promotional offers
  • For issuing vouchers which can be redeemed in store or online
  • To inform customers of a new season’s collection
  • To build brand loyalty

If you want to streamline your logistical processes, cut your communications costs and offer better customer service to your customers, then sign up to our no obligation trial and see how our SMS applications will benefit you.
NB. In addition if you send in excess of 50 messages per day, on average, you will also benefit from wholesale SMS prices.

Don’t limit mobile payments to an online environment

Mobile giant, Orange, in partnership with Barclaycard, is due to launch what it claims to be the UK’s first true mobile payment service that will allow you to purchase items like your lunchtime sandwiches, your newspaper, a cup of coffee, or anything at all, so long as the value is £15 or less, simply by waving your mobile phone at a locally installed scanning machine.

This type of contactless payment could have a significant impact on our shopping habits in the not so distant future, but do mobile payments really need to be limited to sophisticated handsets? They may well be growing in popularity, but by enlarge, their penetration is still low in relative terms, so you could potentially be alienating a large portion of the population. Retailers want to take full advantage of mobile phones as a payment mechanism for the forthcoming Olympics – which are only 12 months away. Will everyone have a Smartphone in time?

According to recent research, SMS still forms a major part of mobile advertising campaigns because, unlike other e-campaigns, you dependant on a reliable 3G signal or interaction from the user. SMS messages are delivered as soon as they are sent and push themselves directly at consumers, who are not required to do anything, other than read the message.

Retailers wanting to embrace mobile technology and contactless payments should perhaps take this into account when they are introducing new marketing initiatives in order to boost sales.

Vodafone and London Taxis have certainly recognised an immediate opportunity by allowing customers who have run out of cash to send a text with the vehicle’s license number to a central code and the amount owed is charged to their phone account.

SMS-based wallets have certainly come into their own in Kenya, where almost half of the adult population uses an SMS-based payment and transfer mechanism (known as M-Pesa) to transfer money to relatives, to pay for their shopping or simply to pay their utility bills. Users don’t even need to have a bank account – which is very costly in Kenya. All they need is normal mobile phone and an M-Pesa account.

SMS also plays an important part in mobile advertising campaigns because it can be used for sending vouchers or promotional codes that consumers can redeem while they are shopping.

What does SMS have to offer?

  • It is cheap
  • It is direct
  • It has enormous marketing reach
  • It allows for easy interaction
  • It complements many other marketing campaigns
  • It allows you to be targeted

At toText.net we have been providing online SMS applications to a variety of different industries in the UK for the last 5 years. Our online SMS gateway can be seamlessly integrated with many back- office infrastructures via a developers API, allowing you to take advantage of this new trend.

We pride ourselves in developing applications for niche requirements, so if our standard services are not what you’re looking for, please get in touch so we can work with you to develop a solution that meets your exact needs.

Case study online automotive

Running an e/commerce site for automotive spares is a highly competitive business. Companies operating in this sector receive thousands of enquiries on a daily basis and if they want to be successful, they must have the facilities in place to be able to respond to customer requirements quickly and provide good customer care.
Online Automotive, a leading supplier of standard and specialist components, understands the importance of good customer service and has taken the decision to incorporate SMS into its overall enquiry management process to further improve their customers’ overall purchasing experience.

After carrying out some initial market research, Online Automotive decided to integrate the toText.net email to SMS service into the company’s order management system and Terry Dorney, Managing director of the company explains the reasons why:

“First and foremost it offers value for money, an important factor if you are involved in the automotive industry.

In addition, the service is really easy to use and by following simple guidelines on maximum message length we have been able to incorporate SMS as an alternative communications method without creating additional work for our busy customer services department.”

The toText.net email to SMS service integrates seamlessly with Online Automotive’s email system and all messages are sent and received using Microsoft Outlook.
Providing information to customers via SMS as well as email has greatly improved the company’s order conversion rates because they are no longer reliant on their customers having access to email to receive information about their enquiry.

Terry continues “Most people carry a mobile phone at all times so they get our messages straight away, even if they are out and about. If the customer is happy with our quote, they can place an order simply by replying to the message or calling telephone number embedded in the message if they require additional information.”

All messages are created in Microsoft Outlook. By including the customer’s mobile number followed by @toText.net in the “To” field of the email as well as their normal email address, the message can be sent via email and SMS simultaneously. The toText.net software converts the email into an SMS format and forwards the message to the mobile number provided in the message.
Not only has the email to SMS service improved the customer’s overall purchasing experience, it has also given customer services staff the ability to manage email and text messages from a single application.

In addition, all SMS replies are delivered directly to the original sender and not a centralised email inbox, so orders can be processed straight away and staff can begin to build a rapport with customers.

The toText.net email to SMS service supports multiple users at no extra cost, making it an ideal tool for busy customer service departments.
In the future Online Automotive is planning to fully automate its order processing system and SMS will form an integral part of the new order management process.

Ends

Slepe Communications Ltd is a dynamic, growing company based in Cambridge UK. Its staff have many years’ experience in the Internet and telecommunications industries, and are experts in designing, building and operating mobile Internet applications based on text messaging, web and Wi-Fi technologies.
The company is a member of the Mobile Data Association.

toText.net SMS gateway fully integrates with iSchools online management and financial software

Teachers and support staff are increasingly under pressure to keep parents and carers regularly informed of their pupils’ academic progress as well as well as the school’s calendar of events without compromising teaching standards.

The Government has stipulated that by the end of 2012, all schools and colleges will be required to communicate with parents electronically.

Email, however, is not necessarily the most effective way of communicate routine messages to parents and carers, as iSchools, a company that provides online Management and Financial Control Systems to public schools and colleges, is all too aware. In order to add value to its existing system and to offer greater flexibility to schools with regards to communications methods, the company has recently integrated the toText.net online SMS gateway into its overall online management system.

Robert Owen, of iSchools explains the reasons why: “Research has demonstrated that SMS is by far the most popular way of conveying routine information such as school trips, open days, forthcoming events because messages are delivered and read straight away. If parents are out and about or there is no 3G signal they might not pick up their emails until much later. If we need to contact parents, child minders, nannies etc urgently, to inform them that school will be closed due to adverse weather conditions, for example, SMS is the quickest and most effective way to do this”.

The iSchools online management system is modular in design and provides schools with a comprehensive range of services including timetabling, registration and financial management facilities. It is based on the latest Microsoft products and includes a centralised database for managing pupil, staff and supplier information.

In order to make the SMS module completely transparent to system users, toText.net has developed a bespoke interface that connects the iSchools system directly to its SMS gateway. This means that teacher and administration staff can create and send messages directly from the iSchools system, which they are already familiar with.

To send a SMS message users log into the iSchools system as normal via a password-protected interface. They open the message dialogue box, write their message and select a relevant distribution list, the whole school, a particular year group or all, boys in year 7, for example, and press the send button.
The toText.net interface then forwards all messages to its centralised servers where mobile numbers are verified and the messages are converted into appropriate SMS formats for delivery.

System users can quickly see how many messages they have sent and, more importantly, when messages were delivered, using the toText.net system management software.

“When we approached toText .net about integrating their online SMS gateway they were very helpful, continued Owen. All development and testing work was completed within 8 weeks. What’s more, schools are not obliged to commit to a minimum number of messages per month and they are only billed for the messages they send”.

Schools are responsible for their own payments and they can manage their accounts using the toText.net software system, which allows them to top up their account as and when they need to.

Comments Rob Jagger, Managing Director of Totext.net. “We are really pleased to be given the opportunity to work on this project. We pride ourselves in developing services to meet specific applications and we are really pleased with the positive feedback we’ve received so far.”

The online SMS service is currently being piloted by 5 schools including Gemini College in Milton Keynes and Hopelands Prep School in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire.

The online SMS module will be available to all iSchool customers from September.

Ends

Pagination

Please select the page you would like to view: