Sunday, December 10, 2017

feature set and configuration of rcs implementation

"Vectramind's Synapse Mobile Communications"
Vectramind's Synapse Mobile Communications 

Here at Mobile World Congress 2016, the annual Barcelona-based flesh-pressing of the telco industry, Google and a bunch of carriers have put out a press release talking up how they are apparently ‘aligning’ to try to drive adoption of RCS.

Carriers’ aim with RCS (formerly called Joyn) was to try to evolve SMS with a new standard that baked in richer features, such as instant messaging, group chats, file sharing and so on; i.e. the sorts of features now routinely found in over-the-top messaging apps like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger. So really that ship has sailed, and the latter apps are continuing to pull users away from SMS, diminishing the old carrier cash-cow even further.

Instead of a new cash-cow carriers have only a lame duck alternative in RCS. And yet they’re still hoping it can turn into a golden goose — hence today’s trumpeting… By aligning on a universal RCS profile, mobile operators will be able to deploy a consistent RCS implementation, feature set, and configuration. The Android RCS client provided by Google will be based on the universal profile, enabling consumers to access RCS services on their devices.

Features such as group chat, high-res photo sharing, read receipts, and more, will now become part of the operator messaging experience, enhancing the experience of over 4 billion SMS users worldwide. GSMA RCS advanced calling features will also be supported in the future by Google.

The profile and client will enable a consistent and interoperable messaging experience between all Android devices and across all operators worldwide, as well as ease interoperability testing between networks and significantly reduce time to market. The universal profile can be implemented by other operating systems and will be supported by a formal GSMA accreditation process. Google will also provide an open source version of the client based on the universal profile specification and will provide developer APIs to enhance the RCS client experience.

Thing is, carriers have been trying and failing to get RCS to fly for years, but got bogged down in trying to agree standards for all the various features. And when OTT messaging platform Whatsapp, which is actually a bit younger than the RCS industry initiative, can boast of having one billion active users now it’s clear who’s stolen the messaging momentum — and it’s not the carriers. Apple has also managed to deliver a widely adopted SMS alternative (iMessage) which, while not perfect, is very usable and well used.

Meanwhile the carriers are now only talking about building “a path” to one billion users for RCS (and a target of four billion+ SMS users). Yet, as others have noted, they’re not breaking out any actual active user stats for RCS.
One billion is also an admission of failure if the original ambition was to build the next gen of SMS… Today’s RCS announcement is clearly aimed at giving the impression of some uplift — with Google cast as the limelight-bringer. After all it is MWC16 and carriers want to be able to dream of golden gooses at their annual Mediterranean confab.

In a statement, Google’s Nick Fox, VP of communications products at Google, adds: “Today marks an important step forward in bringing a better messaging experience for Android users everywhere, and we’re thrilled to collaborate with our partners across the industry to make this happen.” Why has Google been persuaded to lend its brand gloss to the carriers’ lame duck? We can but speculate that perhaps it wanted to keep the GSMA happy so it would sanction another Android-branded playground landing in the middle of MWC, as has been unveiled today — complete with a free smoothie bar and Android pin badges that delegates can fight over, as per the last time Google’s Android branding took over MWC back in 2011… More seriously, Google agreeing to provide an Android RCS client does follow on from it acquiring RCS specialist Jibe Mobile back in September, when it said it would adopt the RCS standard.

“SMS carrier messaging is used by billions of people every day and enables people to reach anyone around the world, regardless of their device, carrier, app or location. The features available in SMS haven’t kept up with modern messaging apps. Rich Communications Services (RCS) is a new standard for carrier messaging and brings many of the features that people now expect from mobile messaging, such as group chats, high res photos and more,” said Google at the time of buying Jibe.

Also at the time of the Jibe acquisition, telecoms analyst Dean Bubley suggested Mountain View’s move was actually aimed at building its own Android-to-Android iMessage competitor — a theory he’s still not ruling out, so perhaps Google still has some hopes on that front.

Albeit, Bubley couches Google’s latest RCS pronouncement as “very lukewarm”, noting it has not specified the client will be on all Android devices, for example, even if what is clearly carrier-written PR talks about reaching “all Android devices” — which would encompasses an awful lot of hardware these days, from phones to smart TVs, to smartwatches and more. (We’ve asked Google for some clarity here and will update this post with any response).

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

how retail businesses attract new customers with sms marketing

"Dynamically Send, Receive & Enhance Text Message Campaigns."

Dynamically Send, Receive & Enhance Text Message Campaigns.

Retailers are waking up to the huge potential that is SMS marketing. Retailers have been experiencing response rates that they could only ever dream of before, more responses leading to more sales, meaning very happy retailers.

SMS open rates 98% and response rates 45% – compared to email response rates of 6%.

However like any marketing channel, SMS marketing has it’s pitfalls and traps that can lead to your business making costly mistakes.

One of the biggest strengths for the mobile phone is that it’s a personal device, we are all in constant contact with it as we cannot leave our homes without it – we are all obsessed with it. However because of this, you need to be extra careful, sending out an SMS marketing message is not just like sending out a marketing email that will probably go in a spam folder or be ignored for a few weeks and then deleted… No this is SMS marketing!

95% of all text messages are read within 3 minutes (Forbes) and most on average being read in under 5 seconds.

So as you can see the timing of your SMS marketing message is going to be very important to the success of your campaign, no one is going to want receive your message at 5 o’clock in the morning.

Another mistake some retailers are making is writing too much in their messages. When they hear about the open rates and response rates of SMS, they try to cram everything in as they know it’s going to be read. I know it’s tempting to do, but you are better off keeping it short and sweet and to the point. Open with an attention grabbing line such as, ‘Sale now on’ ‘Amazing Flash Sale’ ‘Quick, hurry whilst stock last’.

But one of the most criminal mistakes I see, is businesses not telling their customers who they are, or not putting a link to their website within the message. You have to tell your customers exactly who the message is from and it’s imperative to include a link to your website within your message… These things will dramatically improve your response rates and click rates.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

how sms is becoming an essential omni channel marketing channel

"Dynamically Send, Receive & Enhance Text Message Campaigns."

Dynamically Send, Receive & Enhance Text Message Campaigns.

SMS is the fastest-growing marketing channel with mobile ownership at record levels and engagement with text messages booming.

Britain is increasingly becoming a mobile-first society. Around 93% of the UK population owns a mobile phone with many of us keeping them to hand for more than 16 hours a day. But even though modern smartphones give users a wealth of apps to communicate with, text messages still comes off on top with people using SMS for an expanding range of activities such as confirming appointments, delivering parcels and marketing promotions.

Indeed, 23.5 million people will respond to a business SMS in 2017. The State of SMS report also found that mobile users opened 98% of branded or business-related texts, with 90% read within three minutes of receiving them. Therefore text messaging offers SMEs an ideal platform to communicate directly with their audiences.

Market overview

There are 56.5 million mobile-phone users in the UK with around 80% of us owning smartphones. Apple’s iOS and Android dominate the operating platforms, with each respectively controlling 54% and 35% of the market. And while email and social media are popular on mobile devices, SMS messaging is the only service that reaches 100% of the mobile audience regardless of handset or operating system.

Consumers prefer their business communication via SMS, rather than social media or push notifications from apps. Around 41 million consumers currently opt into SMS communications as their preferred choice for receiving business notifications – 7 million people more than the audience for Facebook. This number will rise to 48.7 million by 2020, making SMS the fastest-growing marketing channel to communicate with a target audience.

This is a particularly exciting opportunity for Supermarkets, with the sector being the one consumers most want to hear from via SMS. Although, they are not alone; membership organisations and the health sector take the second and third places. Some 78% of mobile users claim they will read a text message from a company they know and have given their mobile number to. Messages based around delivery updates, appointment reminders and personalised vouchers are most welcome by consumers, respectively scoring 67%, 64% and 49% in the survey. The optimal period for brands and businesses to distribute text messages to their opt-in database is between noon and 3pm, according to the research.

New opportunities

Given the expected sharp rise in mobile marketing, SMS messaging could offer an affordable solution for startups and SMEs. For example, businesses can create and deliver SMS campaigns for as little as £1 to reach 25 key customers – based on a text costing 4p.

Of course, the success of a campaign depends on building long-term relationships with customers, based on trust and transparency. In short, companies must know who their audience is, what they want to receive and when to send it. This customer-centric approach creates an exchange of value between business and customer.

Furthermore, the new General Data Protection Regulations, introduced by the European Parliament and set to be enforced from May 2018, coupled with new ePrivacy legislation, means the growth in mobile and SMS marketing should mirror compliance with appropriate platforms and permissions.

Given that only 50% of the businesses surveyed used SMS as part of their marketing strategies, it certainly seems as the medium presents an untapped opportunity for entrepreneurs to quickly get the word out about their businesses.

Top 5 tips for developing an opted-in customer list

  • Firstly, transparency: when you’re asking for a customer’s mobile number, outline what you intend to send them. Better still, find out what they would like to hear from you.
  • Secondly, communicate when you have to and deliver relevant, timely information.
  • Thirdly, monitor and measure the performance of each SMS campaign.
  • Fourth, segment your customer database to identify the types of users.
  • Finally, use your communications to develop a greater understanding of your customer base by running surveys.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

why guests gravitate towards text messaging in the hospitality industry

"Deploy a mobile ready messaging strategy across your organization"

Deploy a mobile ready messaging strategy across your organization

When Two Roads Hospitality was born from last year’s merger of Commune Hotels & Resorts and Destination Hotels, the newly formed company inherited a relationship with real-time messaging specialist Checkmate, which has since been acquired by TrustYou.

The success of the program with former Commune Hotels led Two Roads to sign on for another guest messaging service –Zingle—in order to offer another option to the lifestyle hotel management company’s hotel owners.

Today, Two Roads is working towards 100% adoption of SMS technology at its more than 85 hotels by 2018.

Andrew Arthurs, CIO and SVP IT at Two Roads Hospitality says:

“We believe that SMS messaging is a critical technology solution that can enable the guest journey and we have seen a very high level of adaption of SMS messaging, enabling guests to communicate directly with the property on their terms, on their device and on their time.”

Arthurs goes on to detail how each of the technology solutions provide a different value to hotels’ in Two Roads’ portfolio of five brands: Destination Hotels; Thompson Hotels; Joie de Vivre Hotels; Alila Hotels & Resorts; and tommie Hotels.

TrustYou’s acquisition of Checkmate is elevating the service platform with better integration capabilities with other systems with which Two Roads is currently contracting or planning to do so.

Zingle enables service automation because it’s integrated with HotSOS, the cloud-based service optimization solution that’s part of Amadeus.

Both platforms are used to communicate directly with guests pre-arrival as well as during their stay and in-stay service requests like extra towels a more streamlined process for both guests as well as staff.

Arthurs says:

“From a staff standpoint, it’s more efficient to have someone respond to multiple text messages than to have someone respond to multiple phone calls.”

Direct contact with guests pre-arrival also allows the hotels to better prepare for a late check-in or a special occasion such as a birthday or anniversary that guests plan to celebrate during their stay.

But the technologies are only effective as long as guests are responsive and Arthurs attests that the hotels see high level of adoption rates among guests.

how much information guests are willing to share over text because it’s a one-on-one personal connection.Moreover, as long as guests know that they hold the means to receiving an instant response from the hotel in the palm of their hand, the hotels have a better chance of rectifying any issues that may arise during the stay before guests post them to review sites or social media.

The information captured via these exchanges with guests also has long-term value to the hotels, which store the data so that it can be accessed during guests’ subsequent visits to the property to accommodate various guest preferences that might have been expressed via a service request or special occasions that may be relevant during the repeat stay.

Retaining the conversations provides a level of detail can give staff context when servicing a guest request or that can create an opportunity to surprise a guest by remembering his or her birthday.

Notably, Arthurs also says that while SMS communications with guests are effective pre-arrival and in-stay, it is not the channel for post-stay communication, although Two Roads does see an opportunity to collect guest feedback after they check out.

He also expects chatbots to play more of a role in hotels’ text interactions with guests:

“There’s an opportunity with AI to inform responses to basic questions that don’t require a human answer, such as ‘what time does the pool open?’ or ‘what time does the bar close?’”


Saturday, November 11, 2017

the best mobile messaging interface to target users

"Deploy a mobile ready messaging strategy across your organization"

Deploy a mobile ready messaging strategy across your organization

How you reach your customers can make the difference between them reading your message and taking action, or ignoring your message and unsubscribing. Let’s unpack the strengths and advantages of each mobile interface, and highlight common use cases:

Text (SMS) and picture (MMS) messaging

As you look for interfaces where your messages are less likely to be missed or ignored, keep in mind that – according to ConnectMogul – 90% of SMS messages are read within three minutes of delivery.

SMS is its own experience; users leave other apps in order to read and respond to a text. In order to make this departure worthwhile, learn how to create a great customer experience through text messages. For example, SMS is an excellent option for retail businesses to assist customers at scale, or B2B businesses to communicate with leads.

Used for:

  • access security: e.g. two-factor authentication,
  • commerce notifications: e.g. appointment or bill reminders, ETA alerts, and
  • people coordination: e.g. dispatch notifications, instant lead alerts to sales teams.

In-app chat

Text messaging may be common, but there are times when your customers want more context from your business. With in-app chat functions, your team won’t waste time searching for a customer’s individual information, as their profile is accessible from the app’s backend.

Likewise, your customers won’t have to leave the app to talk to you. In-app conversations are continuous, with chat history and message-read status synchronising across mobile or web. Message activity can be stored in the cloud and updated in real-time for service analysis or product feedback.

The drawback with having the chat function built into an app is that the customer has to download and use the app in order for you to communicate with them.

Used for:

  • customer service: e.g. live chat with sales or support, live feedback, and
  • people coordination: e.g. team collaboration.

Push notifications

If your mobile app uses push notifications to communicate with users, those notifications will send customers right back to your app. People who opt in to an app’s push notifications more likely to open an app than those who opt out.

As an alternative to text messages – which carriers might charge customers for receiving – Apple and Google don’t charge an underlying cost for receiving push notifications on their iOS and Android operating systems. This makes push notifications a cost-friendly method of one-way communication. You’ll also know exactly when your notification has been delivered and read, thanks to receipts and real-time status updates.

The downside of push notifications is that you have to convince people to opt-in; push notifications are not enabled by default when a user installs an app. A customer will have to agree to them the first time they use the app, or go back and subscribe to them later.

Used for:

  • commerce notifications: e.g. delivery status, account activities, loyalty rewards, and
  • sales and marketing: e.g. promotions, coupons and sales.

Messaging apps

Facebook Messenger, Viber, Apple iMessage, WeChat, WhatsApp, and Kik are examples. Juniper predicts messaging app usage to triple to 100 trillion messages per year. Younger generations especially enjoy the social experiences these apps provide. Like in-app chat, your business can use all sorts of multimedia to communicate through messaging apps in a way that you can’t with SMS. Brands can create an experience that includes pictures, GIFs, videos, emojis, stickers, and location information.

Used for:

  • customer service: e.g. frictionless communications with sales,
  • commerce notifications: e.g. transactional and delivery notifications, and
  • sales and marketing: surveys and marketing promotions with a targeted audience.

Final thoughts

Each interface comes with its own strengths and drawbacks. To choose the best interface to invest in, your business needs to consider the size of your audience, the frequency of your communication, and the importance of the message.

Once you’ve selected your interface, you’ll want to make sure that your mobile communications are integrated smoothly into the natural flow of your business and your customer relationships. This could save your agents time gathering information, and help them route and prioritise your customers based on their needs. Remember, context is everything.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

making sms marketing campaigns customer centric

"Dynamically Send, Receive & Enhance Text Message Campaigns"

Dynamically Send, Receive & Enhance Text Message Campaigns

Any business, in any niche, that centers itself around customer interactions needs to continually examine – and often update – the way it interacts with both prospective customers and established buyers.

SMS marketing, also sometimes referred to as text message marketing, is a form of customer-centric marketing that is still, in many respects, not as well-known as some of the more traditional methods that a small business might turn to, such as TV , radio, newspapers or direct mail, or Internet marketing strategies like PPC campaigns.

However, businesses of all sizes, from Fortune 500 companies to Mom and Pop grocery stores and many. many others, are reaping the benefits of SMS marketing every day.

Here are ten great reasons why you should consider adding text marketing to your overall promotional strategy: 

1. These days most people check for three essentials things before they leave home – their wallet, their keys and their cell phone. People take their cell phones with them wherever they go, and many would be lost without them. This means that an SMS text message will get to them straight away, wherever they are and whatever they are doing. No other form of marketing has so much power to reach people so quickly or to reach them so effectively.

2. A traditional new ad campaign takes time to implement. For example, let’s imagine an Atlanta PEO company is launching a traditional marketing campaign. A text ad must be copy-written and proofed. A video must be shot, edited and then uploaded to an Internet site, a process that can take hours even with the fastest Internet connection. SMS text messaging is a very different prospect. The messages can be crafted in minutes and begin sending it almost immediately. It really is marketing made super easy.

3. By using text message marketing you are ensuring that your messages are only being sent to people who have expressed a past interest in what you have to offer. This means no wasted time on trying to sell to a prospect that is simply not that into you, allowing you to focus all your resources on those who are.

4. Text message marketing has been proven to be very effective. According to recent statistics SMS marketing can produce a conversion rate of anywhere from 30% to 65%. Considering that other marketing avenues such as TV, print or radio average a 1.5% conversion rate then the statistical advantage of SMS is easy to see.

5. The immediacy. Research has shown that 90% of text messages that a person receives are opened – and read – within fifteen minutes of it reaching their phone. There is no other marketing medium that can reach a prospect so directly and so quickly.

6. For something that is so effective, SMS marketing is surprisingly cost effective and affordable, offering an extremely high ROI. Each text message sent costs just a penny or so to send, a price that any other form of advertising would find hard to match.

7. It is not just teenagers who have a very short attention span these days, it is all of us in general. People still love receiving information, they just want to receive it as quickly as possible and in a nice direct manner, with no annoying filler and fluff. That is exactly what SMS marketing delivers, a brief, to the point message that is targeted directly to a prospect’s interest.

8. Text messaging is also very easy to track. You can easily find out just how well you message converted, when it converted and that make it very easy to determine what messages are working and what messages are not.

9. Creating a customer base has never been easier than it is with text message marketing. There is no need to waste money on special software to capture emails, or to send three different messages just to confirm that you have permission to send future messages, in the way you often have to with an email marketing campaign.

10. Smartphone use is still exploding. Did you know that 35% of smartphones users now access the Internet from their devices far more often than they do from a PC or laptop? Or that 85% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 65 own a cellphone, and 75% of children aged 13 – 17 do as well? Even for the over 65’s the rate of cell phone ownership – and regular use – is increasing. Whatever your niche, your customers and potential prospects are out there in the mobile universe, and SMS marketing is the perfect way to reach them.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

the future of rich communication in mobile industry

"Deploy a mobile ready messaging strategy across your organization"

Deploy a mobile ready messaging strategy across your organization

Global mobile usage has tripled over the last five years, as noted by GSM Association (GSMA), a trade body consisting of international mobile operators. With the skyrocketing number of mobile phone users, text messaging remains one of the most interactive channels for key mobile operators today—making the next-generation, GSMA-initiated Rich Communication Suite (RCS) a major platform in enriching the SMS experience, and thus, making it an attractive proposition for many end users.

RCS, also known as the advanced SMS messaging protocol, is said to be the future of the modern mobile market. It will permanently alter the global mobile landscape by providing customers with simple yet rich user experiences through many up-to-date communication and multimedia capabilities. Airlines, for example, can benefit largely from these services by sending message reminders to their passengers, complete with rich media experiences, including visual updates. In addition, passengers can easily interact with the coming messages to check in, change their seats, etc. Many brands will likely take full advantage of such capabilities.

Equipped with interoperability and media sharing features, RCS effectively replaces the traditional text messaging by enabling conversational and group messaging—a feature that was previously available only in popular messaging applications such as WhatsApp, Viber, and Facebook Messenger.

The RCS-led developments serve as good news for many mobile operators, as these permit them to meet the contemporary needs of the now more tech-savvy consumers, 65 percent of whom, as per GSMA, transact with companies via chat applications. Thanks to the improvements made possible by RCS, GSMA has forecasted that the estimated $60-billion SMS-based B2C market will climb to $74 billion by 2021. RCS monthly active users will also reach 150 million by the end of the third quarter of 2017 and 220 million by the first quarter of 2018.

The steadily growing mobile usage, as well as the rising demand for faster multimedia communication and accelerated delivery of services, will not only drive the RCS segment, but will also result in the development of up-to-date services and applications that will promote revenue growth for international mobile operators and other concerned entities.

ArpuPlus, for instance, is already gearing up to further expand its application-to-person (A2P) SMS messaging services and develop specifications for RCS. These specifications include enhanced instant messaging, video calling, and media file sharing during calls—all accessible from a subscriber’s contact list.

Understandably, the MENA region is looking at incorporating RCS into their communication platform offerings. However, there is a need to fast-track such regional adoption to keep up with the latest market trend and ensure that it takes its share of the enormous growth opportunities presented by the RCS segment. ArpuPlus will play a key role and facilitate RCS deployment in the region via leading telecom operators.

The feature-rich, advanced SMS messaging will make mobile phones even more important to our personal and business lives than ever before, and with it lie major prospects for expansion and significant development.


how sms marketing has higher engagement rate compared to email

"Dynamically Send, Receive & Enhance Text Message Campaigns."

Dynamically Send, Receive & Enhance Text Message Campaigns.

Did you know that SMS marketing can have up to eight times higher response rates than email marketing? With statistics like this it’s clearly an avenue that should not be dismissed but how do you get started with SMS? Take a look at some of our tips to getting started…

Data and Consent

When considering SMS marketing majority of Marketers check their data lists and soon realise that they haven’t got as many mobile numbers as they would have hoped. Additionally, of the numbers they do have, they haven’t actually gained the explicit consent to communicate with them via SMS.

So how do you get started with SMS without this consent and data? Step one is to harness the data you already have. Your opted-in email list should be a priority as you can target these subscribers by sending them an exclusive offer and request their mobile number and consent to contact them via SMS marketing. In return for these details, you could offer them special discounts and deals.

Creating a workflow would be a useful way of addressing these subscribers as you can continue to target users who haven’t signed up right up until the deadline that you set.

Additionally harnessing your social media following is another way you can build this offer. Using targeted ads and organic posts, you can quickly share your special sign up offers and grow your SMS as well as your email list. You can use email as the starting point for confirmation to the offers, and then when an offer is live, send your SMS to all of the relevant consent gained contacts.

Valuable Content

As with all marketing collateral, the content included needs to be valuable to its recipients. This is very important with SMS messages as they are clearly a lot shorter than most other marketing channels so planning and prioritizing what you are going to say is key.

Conduct market research into your target audience to see what information will be most valuable to them. Sending non-targeted content or lengthy messages can result in subscribers being charged, confused or annoyed.

Popular SMS content includes:
  • Offers and discounts
  • Reminders
  • Tips and hints
  • Transactional messages


With people taking their mobile phones everywhere with them and open rates of 98% it can be tempting to send subscribers an influx of messages however, timing is key. The majority of users will open a text message within 3 minutes so this is perfect timing for sending messages alerting of limited time offers or flash sales that are relevant to them.

The send of SMS messages should also be kept to a maximum of one to two per week, any more than this and you will probably see your list of unsubscribers grow. People still see SMS messaging as quite personal – between friends, family or colleagues and too much of that oh-yay-I-have-a-text-oh-actually-it’s-just-another-marketing-message feeling can lead to unsubscribes.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

how sms message can have sustainability to drive customer behaviour change through digital

"Dynamically Send, Receive & Enhance Text Message Campaigns."

Dynamically Send, Receive & Enhance Text Message Campaigns.

We take health knowledge for granted. Of course, we need to eat healthily, take vitamins and see a doctor if we are unwell. But many people in the world do not have that knowledge. They don’t understand that what we eat affects our health, haven’t a clue what vitamins are and a clinic or doctor may be hours away and cost money they do not have.

Health message programmes delivered by mobile phone can change that. If you know what to feed your family to help them stay well and when to take them to the clinic you can make healthy choices. Often the changes needed are simple. In India poor families routinely feed their baby black tea and biscuit for breakfast. Not only is this nutritionally poor, but the tea inhibits iron absorption. Replace the tea with milk, and the biscuit with cereal and breakfast suddenly becomes a good start to the day.

Results from our messaging programmes in the developing world have included increasing the percentage of babies taken for HIV testing, encouraging more women to have vaccinations during pregnancy, increasing the number of women taking iron tablets, and reducing the incidence of smoking in the house.

Messaging is all about health education. Messaging programmes cannot build clinics, train doctors or supply vitamin pills. But they can and do change individual’s behaviour and in this sense technology is driving healthier lifestyles.

Before you begin

Before writing a mobile messaging behaviour change programme there are four key steps to consider: 
1. What will your programme change? Start with what you can change. Many health mobile programmes skip this step and without it you just don’t know if your programme has succeeded. You cannot change everything at once so it’s very important to select some key issues and craft your messages to focus on those.

2. What’s the most effective ‘dosage’. Our work in low resource settings has shown us that dosage matters. The wider to programme the more messages you need to send. A single issue messaging programme may only need a dozen messages. On the broad issues of maternal and child health, we found that two SMS messages a week for at least six months seems to be the tipping point.

3. What are the barriers and motivators to change? 
Unless you learn about these, the chances are your programme will fail. Without knowing what barriers people have to climb, and what motivates people, you may spend time and money developing a programme that is ignored.

4. How will you measure the change? 

It is useful to be able to prove that your messages changed things. You may be able use national average figures as a baseline. Or you may be able to set up a control group. But since you have people reading your messages on their phone it makes sense to carry out short surveys by SMS. It’s worth doing an early survey so you can identify anything that needs changing early on.

How do you write messages that work? 

Mobile phone SMS messages are very short. At 140 characters, every letter and every space counts. (We use 140 characters including spaces, to allow for translation into languages that come up longer than English.) Audio messages work best at around one minute (about 200 words). So, there is no room to qualify the information you include.

Work carried out by BJ Fogg at the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford University provides a format to make effective behaviour change messages. We have used these principles in the programmes we have developed which are now being used in six countries and we have added some ‘golden rules’ of our own.

  • Messages need to be simple, direct and accurate.
  • Break the change down into the smallest possible step. So, a handwashing message may need several steps…collecting water, buying soap, putting water near the cooking area, washing hands with soap, drying hands.
  • Make each step as easy as you can.
  • Make the emotional connection with the end user first. Once you have their attention, you can ‘drip feed’ vital information to them little by little.
  • Re-iterate but do not repeat. We have found that people get annoyed if they are sent exactly the same message again. Or they think the programme has made a mistake.
  • Keep it personal. The phone is intimate. You hold it in your hand and up to your ear. So use ‘you’’ and ‘your family’ not ‘the patient’.
  • Use the words the consumer uses. You can add the medical word as well. That’s a good way of educating people. But if people in India say ‘sugar sickness’ for diabetes then your messages need to say that.

Behaviour change at scale 

The real secret of a mobile phone based messaging programme is that it is both personal and scalable.

A ‘pivot date’ means you can tightly target the messages to suit the individual’s needs. Our projects in India, China, South Africa and other countries have been on maternal and child health. Here the pivot date is the date the baby is due. We can then work out when vaccinations and clinic appointments are due and deliver just the right message in the right week. The same principle applies in other fields. If you are offering pre- and post-operative care information you can pivot around the operation date. Or the date of diagnosis in the case of chronic diseases. You could even design a weight loss programme that alters the messages according to how much weight has been lost. Once you have developed the pattern of messages, you then target them according to where the end user sits on the ‘journey’ of your messages.

Ultimately, it’s tempting to focus on the technology and many programmes do just that. But it’s vital to get the content of the programme exactly right first. Liebig's law of the minimum applies here. This was developed for agriculture and it states that ‘growth is dictated not by total resources available, but by the scarcest resource (the limiting factor)’. Content is often the limiting factor in mobile phone programmes, rather than the technology. Unless the messages engage people, resonate and help them make changes, they will not be read. The right content makes a mobile phone a lot more powerful.


Monday, November 6, 2017

how enterprise messaging helps secure communication

"Deploy a mobile ready messaging strategy across your organization"

Deploy a mobile ready messaging strategy across your organization

Enterprise messaging, i.e. messages exchanged between businesses and consumers, is about to make a quantum leap into the digital world. So far, SMS was the only mobile messaging channel available to enterprises. But now, many more digital channels are emerging: apps such as Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Skype, Viber and more. Even voice channels are becoming available such as Alexa and Google Assistant. These channels have already enriched person-to-person communication and now they’re poised to do the same with business-to-consumer communication. The proliferation of so many messaging channels now gives businesses a rich variety of ways to reach and engage their customers.

Enterprises generally use messaging for transactional and promotional use cases. Transactional messaging is triggered when a user does a transaction e.g. when a consumer uses her credit card to make a purchase. Promotional messaging refers to the deals and offers sent to them by businesses. Both business and consumers depend heavily on messaging. Messaging is the essential lifeblood for enterprises, enabling them to acquire, engage, transact and support their customers. Consumers find these messages to be an essential tool to stay updated with their personal activities. The messaging industry has grown substantially accounting for over 10 billion messages per month in India alone, and many times that worldwide.

While SMS messaging has many advantages, it has a few limitations too. SMS is unmatched in terms of universal reach and simplicity. However, it limits businesses from sending rich, interactive messages to users. Also, regulations limit who they can send messages to. Consumers also feel they cannot control which messages they want to receive or not.

These limitations can be overcome by adding digital messaging channels into the mix. Messages sent through messaging apps can be considered as Smart Messages. Smart messages can include rich media such as images, audio and video etc. For example, a bank can send a scanned copy of the check along with the transactional alert. Smart messages are highly interactive – each message can have interactive, clickable elements that allow users to respond instantly with a single click. For example, a banking alert could enable the user to report fraud instantly, a package delivery notification can enable the user to reschedule instantly.

Furthermore, smart messaging leverages AI and chatbot capabilities to enable a conversational experience. This enables businesses to engage in a deeper conversation with users that can include both structured and natural language interactions. For example, after receiving a promo offer, users can request more details and even make a purchase through the chat bot. Smart messages enable a high degree of engagement and personalization. The chatbot can develop a detailed, personalized user profile and customize its interactions accordingly. Users also get fine-grained control enabling them to determine who, when, why and how frequently can a business send messages to them. Smart messaging enables consumers to consume content at their own convenience.

This offers an incredible opportunity for enterprises to transform their business communications. For example, enterprises can be more targeted in their marketing activities, while also being more respectful of consumer preferences. Enterprises can engage their customers better by designing their chatbots to be a trusted friend, advisor or assistant leading to improved conversion rates. Smart Messaging enables enterprises to take advantage of the new era of conversational experiences where virtually every customer interaction will be driven through conversations. Conversations will enable businesses to build long-lasting relationships with their customers.

Not only is smart messaging better but it's substantially cheaper. While these digital messaging apps are richer and more interactive, they do suffer from the limitation that the user must have the messaging app on their device. Therefore, most businesses will use a combination of both SMS and Smart Messaging. Smart Messaging platforms help businesses manage multi-channel environments by maintaining a user profile that includes the preferred channel. By using the right mix of messaging channels, businesses can optimize user engagement, messaging cost and marketing ROI.

One consequence of this evolution is that messaging will now become a more strategic function within the organization. Many enterprises have banished the management of their messaging services to the depths of IT departments. However, given its substantial impact on business, it now needs to be brought back to the strategic business and customer facing functions. Messaging will transform virtually every customer touchpoint and needs to be integrated into customer-facing business processes.

The combination of functionality and price makes this evolution a no-brainer. Bot building platforms are already seeing many of its customers adopt smart messaging platforms with incredible results. Smart messaging is poised to transform the messaging industry. Enterprises that are early adopters stand to benefit immensely.