SMS can help stremline public spending

According to figures published by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, if the Government is to reach its borrowing target by 2015, it must cut overall public spending by £456 billion over the next 4 years. No wonder local authorities and supporting agencies are under such immense pressure to run their departments more efficiently, drastically reduce costs and streamline overall services.

Martha Fox, the UK Government’s digital champion believes that more than £2.2billion could be saved annually if routine public services (income support or tax benefits, for example) were digitalised and citizens were encouraged to answer their own queries online using “self-service” style applications.

Significant savings could indeed be made, but let us not forget that even in our digital age,  a third of low income UK households do not have access to the Internet at home and that one in four adults in the UK have never even been online.

In order for self-service applications to be feasible, other communications channels need to be brought into play.

SMS is currently used to deliver more than 50% of mobile marketing campaigns because even in our Smartphone age, SMS is still one of the most effective communications methods available.  Online SMS services and inbound SMS could help local authorities reduce costs because it is significantly more economical to send text messages to mobile phones than to call them.

Why is SMS such an effective communications method? Here are some of the reasons why:

  • There are more SIM cards than people in the UK so the potential communication reach is enormous.
  • Migrant residents are more likely to have a mobile phone than a landline.
  • SMS is not reliant on 3G networks – even the most basic handsets support SMS functionality
  • Text messages are delivered almost instantly
  • SMS is a technology that is well understood
  • SMS is very direct and does not rely on users having to follow links to access information

Furthermore, SMS is cheap. Local authorities for example could streamline information services by communicating routine information by SMS because messages can be bought in bulk. Not only that, the majority of mobile phone contracts incorporate free SMS bundles, so it essentially costs consumers nothing to send a reply or to request further information by text.

Online SMS services can be used as an effective communications tool by many different departments. All of them could use SMS to keep in contact with fellow colleagues. SMS is a cost effective and reliant way to make residents aware of changes to scheduled services (refuse collection, for example) due to bad weather. Social workers could save themselves time by confirming appointments by SMS. Housing departments could speed up housing applications by using SMS to contact prospective tenants.

SMS is the preferred communications channel for consumers because it is discrete and they can usually send SMS messages requesting a call back or further information as part of their inclusive texts. SMS could be the return channel for NHS awareness campaigns, to quit smoking, for example.

Equally, residents could use SMS to report incidents of graffiti or vandalism in the community and commuters could use SMS to inform the Highways Agency of accidents. Inbound SMS advice lines could also help deal with incidents relating to racism or bullying.

These types of services can be delivered quickly and cost effectively using our online SMS applications. No training is required, there is no software to download and there are no minimum contracts or hidden costs. In addition our SMS services can be integrated with other existing CRM systems and databases using our developers API.

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

Using SMS messaging in schools

The main challenges public sector organisations have had to face since the General Election have been how to reduce costs and operate more efficiently while still maintaining high levels of customer service.

Such pressures are taking their toll and nowhere is this more apparent that in education. Schools are obliged to keep parents/carers updated of their children’s progress during the academic year via reports, parent evenings etc. Failure to do so reflects badly on them and can effect funding.

In addition to this, schools are in contact with parents/carers more or less on a daily basis about routine information such as exam dates, school trips, after school clubs, teacher training days, parent/teacher meetings, school uniform, fund raising events and so forth. Administration staff are increasingly overstretched and keeping up with routine communication is becoming more and more challenging.

Many schools have been using electronic communication for some time and Government has stipulated that by the end of 2012, all schools will be required to communicate with parents electronically. Email, however, is not necessarily the most effective way to communicate routine messages, particularly time sensitive ones. Unless the recipients are online (assuming they have Internet access in the first place), or have a Smartphone, chances are they won’t receive the message until it’s too late.

The most effective way to deliver time sensitive information, both from an execution and a cost point of view, is via SMS. This was demonstrated by the findings of a BBC survey carried out in Scotland in December last year, which showed that after local radio, SMS was the second most popular way to receive information about school closures. 

SMS notifications could easily be much more widely adopted to deliver routine messages and to provide parents/carers with progress updates of pupils. They are currently updated via parents’ evenings, which happen two or three times a year.  Indeed, a recent survey carried out by Becta has shown that more than two-thirds of parents would like to receive regular SMS or email messages about their childrens’ progress in school. Only 8% of those surveyed benefitted from such a service.

No specialist software or equipment is needed and single or multiple messages can be sent to individuals or pre-define groups. Messages can be targeted (by year group about a school trip for example), written and delivered instantaneously using online SMS services. Unlike bulk emails, which can be affected by SPAM filters, you know your message will get through. Even in the unlikely event that a parent/carer does not have a mobile phone, text messages can be left on landlines.

SMS notifications are cost effective because messages can be bought in bulk. You can also see at a glance how many messages have been delivered and how many replies you have by looking at delivery reports. 

We are a provider of online SMS services and unlike most other SMS providers, we also provide a personalised replies facility at no extra charge. What this means is – if a parent responds to a message received from a teacher, that message is delivered directly to that teacher and not to a centralised holding account, as is usually the case with online SMS services. It is an effective, yet non- time consuming way for teachers to establish relationships with parents/carers about a pupil’s progress, so that help and support can be provided when it is needed.

All our online SMS solutions integrate seamlessly with electronic registration systems via a developer’s API, and this API can also be customised to meet specific requirements. Click here to find out more about who we are and what we do.

Why marketeers should use SMS for mobile advertising

Over the centuries the most successful inventions have been the most simple. The same goes for technology – the more straightforward the application, the more likely it is to succeed. You won’t find a better example of this than in the field of mobile communications.

The rise of the mobile Internet and Smartphone apps has had a profound impact on mobile marketing campaigns. They have become increasingly complex as the larger brands try to outdo each other in their efforts to provide rich mobile content.

But is there really any need to reinvent a proven wheel just for the sake of it? With regards to mobile advertising, some of the most successful campaigns have been executed using good old fashioned SMS – the best example there is of “less being more”

According to research carried out by comScore during the last quarter of 2010 by, there are more than 100 million subscribers to SMS marketing services in the top 5 EU countries (UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain). The research showed that SMS adverts reached almost 50% of the 230 million mobile users and that the most popular types of SMS adverts were product, service or brand-related.

SMS adverts for donations to charities reached almost 10 million consumers and more than 10% of subscribers responded at least once during a 3 month period. Coupons or discounts sent via SMS also received high response rates.

Why then, in the age of Smartphones and Tablets, is mobile messaging still a popular delivery medium?

  • It’s cheap – both for campaign executors, who can purchase SMS messages in bulk very cost effectively, and for consumers, who can send and receive predefined numbers of messages  as part of their contracts
  • It’s quick – SMS messages are delivered almost instantaneously
  • It has a wide marketing reach – all mobile devices support SMS
  • Is not reliant on 3G networks so campaigns are not reliant on good network coverage
  • It provides an easy response mechanism  – allowing for spontaneous decisions
  • It is easy to monitor the success of different campaigns
  • It’s 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
  • It integrates seamlessly with e/marketing activities
  • It’s widely understood by everyone
  • It provides a positive user experience because messages can always be delivered

Targeted mobile advertising campaigns can be carried out quickly, efficiently and cost effectively using our effective PC to SMS or email to SMS marketing tools.
Once you have set yourself up with an account you can be running successful campaigns within minutes and reaping the rewards as a result.

Our PC to SMS and email to SMS products can be easily integrated into your overall IT infrastructure or corporate website via a developer’s API, thus complementing your overall e-marketing strategy.

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

Facebook’s new Social Inbox incorporates SMS

Last month Facebook launched its new integrated messaging service. The service, known as Social Inbox, is designed to make spontaneous chat easier by integrating different communication methods – email Instant Messaging, SMS etc – and delivering them to a single centralised portal. Facebook users will not need to worry about which communication channel to use for different groups of friends because the service automatically works this out.

The exciting thing about Social inbox, as far as Slepe Communications is concerned, is that although we are living in an era dominated by the mobile Internet and Smartphones, SMS is playing a vital role in the service. Why would that be?  Well, iPhone penetration, for example, is still relatively low in global terms (around 6% in the UK), which means that there are still a lot of less sophisticated phones in use that are not 3G-compatible. All mobile phones, however, support SMS, so given that there are more SIM cards than people in the UK, it is easy to understand why SMS has been included in the service.

It has long been anticipated that social chat services will eventually eradicate SMS messaging. However this has not happened yet. If Facebook’s owners can see the importance of ensuring that SMS forms part of the new service, you can be confident in thinking that it’s going to be around for some time yet.

Why is SMS still popular? Well for starters, it’s unobtrusive. You can send a message from any public place without disturbing other people. It’s private because there is no danger of being overheard. It’s quick and last but not least, SMS is about as spontaneous as telecommunications can get.

Over the forthcoming months, Facebook’s 500+ million users will be given an email address. The service will filter your messages, so those received from your good friends, for example will be delivered to your social inbox and all other messages will be delivered to a different inbox. Because Facebook is based on “opt in” principals, you will only receive messages you want.

As far as commercial organisations are concerned, Facebook’s new service could offer some challenges, but it also offers some exciting opportunities. Although big brands will not be able to send messages to peoples’ inboxes en masse, it is likely to encourage them to increase their fan base. By increasing the number of “likers”, the social inbox is also expected to provide new opportunities for e-marketing campaigns
Brands will still be able to incorporate SMS in their overall marketing strategies, which is important, because it is a well known fact that SMS is the preferred response mechanism for many consumers. As far as we are concerned this is very good news. Consumers will be able to interact from their PCs using our email to SMS service, as well as from their phones, and businesses will be able to seamlessly integrate our email to SMS software into their internal web applications using our developers API.

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

Emergency SMS messaging service from Slepe Communications

Travelling in remote parts of the world used to make us feel isolated and vulnerable. However, thanks to mobile communications technology, such feelings are a thing of the past. Ever-expanding mobile coverage and affordable handsets means it is now possible to pick up a signal from almost anywhere in the world.

This fear of being completely isolated was experienced firsthand by Hugh Gibaud and his business partner, Jeremy Miles, when they decided to take part in this year’s Mongol rally in order to raise money for charity.
The rally, designed to be an exhilarating experience for participants, starts in Europe and ends in Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia. Unlike a normal rally, the overall aim is not to get there first but to get there safely – quite a challenge considering the countries that have to be crossed and the terrains involved.

For Gibaud it was imperative he could keep in contact with his family throughout the trip, not only for personal reasons but also for his own safety. Time was also of the essence and Gibaud wanted to be able to quickly contact different groups of people so he could get on with the rally. Sending SMS messages was the obvious answer but delivery is not always instantaneous, particularly when abroad. It depends on a number of factors such as network operators, roaming arrangements, signal strength and most importantly, the recipient’s phone being turned on so the message can be received.

Due to the potentially dangerous nature of the rally Gibaud did not want to leave the delivery of these messages to chance. He wanted to be able to quickly communicate with friends and family and needed a means of sending SMS messages that were guaranteed to be delivered in case he found himself in difficulties.

He carried out some basic research to see if such a service could be provided and came across Slepe Communications, an SMS service provider that specialises in the development of bespoke and niche SMS applications. He explained the situation and Slepe communications made a number of changes to its popular email to SMS service, turning it into an SMS to email service, in order to guarantee the delivery of all SMS messages.

Using a normal mobile phone and “Go-SIM” an international prepaid SIM card, Gibaud sent all messages to Slepe Communications’ centralised server. Here the company’s bespoke software converted all SMS messages to email formats so they could be delivered quickly to recipients. The servers are connected directly to the mobile network, thus eliminating the problem of delivery failure due to poor coverage or phones being turned off.
“I was very excited to be given the opportunity to become involved in the project”, explained Rob Jagger, Director of Slepe Communications.” Normally one associates email to SMS with commercial marketing campaigns but this application demonstrates how SMS can be used to enhance personal safety by giving you the ability to quickly send out emergency messages, should you find yourself in difficulty.

This niche SMS to email application was not only reliable but also extremely cost effective because with Go-SIM prices are fixed. Gibaud continues; “To be honest, I was very sceptical at first because I did not think it would be possible to get a signal in the middle of the Gobi desert, but you can and I was extremely glad.”

Using SMS for personal safety is a relatively new concept but Rob is very excited about future possibilities for the service, as he explains. This application has proved that so long as you have a mobile phone, it is possible to send SMS messages that are guaranteed to be delivered, irrespective of which country you are in. The potential use for email to SMS in this context is enormous; for example, as part of a company’s health and safety procedure. Similarly, providing Aid workers operating in countries where freedom of speech is restricted with this type of service would enable them to quickly but subtly inform colleagues if they were in danger.”

SMS used to help Africa’s AIDS war

Online SMS applications are usually associated with promotional campaigns. They are quick and easy to execute, their marketing reach is enormous due to the sheer number of phones in circulation and they provide consumers with an easy way to interact and respond.

However online SMS applications can also be used to help save lives, as an innovative trial carried out by WelTel Kenya1  has clearly demonstrated. The story was covered by the Independent and in this pilot, SMS technology has been used to help HIV-positive patients stick to their strict drugs regimes by sending them SMS reminders to take their daily doses of life saving medication.

Apart from receiving their usual dose of antiretroviral drugs, the 500 plus patients involved in the trial also received discrete text messages and they were instructed to reply “Sawa” (“fine”) or “Shida” (“problem”) to these SMS messages within 48 hours.

Those who confirmed they had a problem or failed to respond to the message within the timeframe were called by a nurse to find out what was wrong.
The number of patients that achieved 100% adherence to their regime was 12% higher in the SMS group. In addition, the number of patients who were able to achieve suppression of HIV to below detectable levels in their blood – a key benchmark of success – was 9% higher in the SMS group.

Less than 4% percent of patients texted the reply “problem” With such results, a single nurse could use SMS technology to help manage the welfare of a thousand plus patients spread over a wide geographical area and expect to make follow-up calls to only 33 patients per week.

The trial was easy to implement because it was based on existing mobile communications infrastructure. Nurses used a computer to write and send out the messages. According to industry estimates mobile penetration is practically 100% in Kenya so you can almost guarantee that patients had access to a mobile phone. Such a system is more economical than expecting nurses to make personal visits to individual patients.

Online SMS applications are benefitting millions of people in other ways too. Take banking, for example. Millions of people in Africa, and indeed in other third-world countries do not have bank accounts because they can’t afford one, but they do have mobile phones. Using SMS technology as a driving force, organisations like M-Peso are giving poorer people access to financial services they could have only dreamt about 10 years ago. All you need to set up an account is a standard mobile phone, an M-Peso SIM and an identity card. Money can be added to our mobile phone account at designated agencies and all financial transactions are carried out more or less straight away via SMS.

SMS technology is allowing even the poorest people to save money, transfer money and pay their bills safely and securely.

Online SMS applications are by far the easiest way to make contact with people dispersed over vast areas. No special equipment is needed and the majority of people have basic mobile phones capable of receiving texts.  Bulk SMS messages can be sent to thousands of people via email to SMS or PC to SMS applications.

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

38% of UK retailers use business SMS for promotional campaigns

According to recent research carried out by mobile transaction network, mBlox, more than two thirds of consumers in the UK would like to receive their shopping coupons in the form of a text message.  Not only that, almost a third of them are already familiar with this concept and have used mobile shopping coupons.

The research revealed that over 70% of UK consumers would be interested in receiving coupons via SMS while out shopping, to alert them of special offers or promotions and such like – could add a whole new dimension to Tesco Club points!

In addition, separate research carried out by the Mobile Marketing Association has shown that a quarter of  European consumers (based in France, Germany and the UK) would be more likely to respond to advertising  campaigns of any medium if they could do so using their mobile phones, with SMS being the preferred option.

With such astonishing figures, there is little wonder that over 38% of retailers in the UK have incorporated SMS marketing into their overall advertising and promotional strategies.

Why are the statistics so high for SMS compared to other marketing mediums?

  • Well for starters there are more mobile devices than any other technology gadgets in the UK, so the potential business reach is enormous
  • More and more businesses are turning to SMS for important communications because emails can easily get lost or overlooked
  • Bulk text messages are delivered within seconds and redeemed within minutes – no other communications method can reach consumers so quickly and in such a contextual way
  • SMS allows for easy interaction – consumers only have to text a key word to a mobile number or short code in order to receive further information
  • High response rates allow retailers to further tailor their advertising campaigns.
  • SMS marketing allows consumers to engage with big brands – bringing them to life
  • SMS is the preferred communications method for the younger generation
  • SMS can compliment overall marketing campaigns
  • And finally – Receiving tickets, coupons etc via mobile phones as text messages helps businesses to become greener in the way they operate. 

Click here to find out how our business SMS solution can add an extra dimension to your existing marketing campaigns.

Successful Business SMS campaigns

With the mobile Internet continuing to expand (thanks to the iPhone and other Smartphone devices) one would expect SMS messaging to be losing ground  against  mobile social networking social networking sites and other social media applications. But far from losing its foothold, SMS is growing in popularity as a preferred communications mechanism, according to Ofcom’s most recent market report  and SMS is still proving to be one of the most successful data revenue streams for operators and service providers.

According to industry statistics, more than 100 billion text messages were sent in the UK during 2009, which is equivalent to more than 1700 per person. Mobile penetration, particularly in developing countries, means that SMS is no longer just a peer-to peer communications mechanism. SMS is being increasingly used in business as an effective communications channel and for machine to machine communication to facilitate support.

In the financial industry, global mobile banking services will be generating approximately 90 billion text messages per annum by 2015 (according to Juniper Research) as banks and other financial institutions seek to utilise SMS as a means of enhancing customer communications.

Below is a list of some of the key reasons why SMS is increasingly being used for business marketing applications:

  • Improved conversion rates: -  Research has shown that while we tend to ignore emails and voicemail, the majority of us do read our text messages
  • Cost effective – Business SMS campaigns are much more cost effective than other e-marketing campaigns because companies can buy SMS messages in bilk from SMS gateway providers
  • Easy to manage – Carrying out Business SMS campaigns is simple and straightforward, particularly if you use text online facilities. Multiple messages can be prepared and delivered quickly and efficiently
  • Targeted – Mobile phones are very personal to the individual, so provided you understand your customers and your markets, SMS allows you to run very targeted campaigns with successful results
  • Time sensitive – Unlike other communications methods, SMS is the best way to promote time sensitive sales promotions because we always have our phone with us
  • Interaction – SMS provides your customers with a really easy response mechanism which in turn provides you with invaluable feedback and helps you prepare for future campaigns
  • Vast business reach – Global mobile penetration means the marketing potential for business SMS is enormous
  • Unobtrusive – SMS messages are more concise than emails and don’t rely on your customers having implement an image facility
  • Eco-friendly – Having train or cinema tickets delivered directly to your mobile phone as an SMS message will help you reduce your carbon footprint

Click here to find out more about our Business SMS service

Send Driver Jobs as SMS from ‘Coach Manager’

We have recently implemented an upgrade to our system so that we integrate with the popular ‘Coach Manager’ software from Distinctive Systems. Coach Manager is a very popular booking system used by operators throughout the UK and globally.

Usually the jobs are emailed to the drivers, with the job details within a PDF attachment. Our system can now detect when a PDF is attached, and pulls out the relevant job details, and sends them as an SMS to the driver. If no attachment was included, then our Email to SMS service works as normal, completely transparently to the customer.

This custom development was done free of charge for the customer, and we are now looking to offer it to other coach companies to expand our reach.

New ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ Page

We have spent quite some time recently making improvements to our Frequently Ask Question page. What we did was to go back though our support Inbox, and pulled out all the questions that are genuinely asked most often.

The new FAQ will hopefully allow people to find out much more easily the answers to the questions that they have, without having to wade through reams of other stuff that just gets in the way.

The most common question related to how long it takes for a text message to be delivered. Because of the investment that we’ve made in our system, and by selecting the highest quality suppliers to partner with, a typical SMS delivery time from sending to receiving is about 5 seconds! Any longer than this, and it usually means that the mobile phone is either switched off or out of coverage.

If there are any questions that you think are missing from the FAQ, then just let us know.


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