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96 posts categorized "Mobile Tech"

September 16, 2014

The iPhone 6 is Flying off Shelves Before it Hits Them

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This week, Bloomberg reported that pre-orders for the new iPhone 6 topped 4 million within 24 hours of going on sale. Demand is outstripping supply, as the device looks set to be Apple’s biggest smartphone yet – in more ways than one.

The backlog in pre-sales means customers won’t receive their handsets until next month, weeks after they officially go on sale. However, Apple insists devices will be available in store as of September 19; they encouraged customers to arrive early to avoid disappointment. 

This level of excitement is, of course, nothing new when it comes to the iPhone, but there’s an extra frisson thanks to the new, bigger size; the standard version comes with a 4.7 inch display, while the iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5 inch display (previous iterations of the iPhone have a 4 inch screen). With the proliferation of larger mobile devices like tablets, and Android’s innovation in the larger screen market, consumer demand for bigger devices is high. This surely counts as one of the least predictable trends in mobile devices, where historically the mantra was ‘smaller=better’ – and Apple expect to have record quarters for the next couple of years just for meeting this demand.

So why the move towards larger screens? It’s partly down to improvements in consistently fast data streaming, which has prompted greater demand among mobile consumers for rich content on the move. In tandem with this, social media leaders like Facebook and Twitter are moving towards in-feed promos and video content.

Size isn’t everything, of course. The iPhone 6 is bigger, sure, but it also promises to be better, with a more powerful operating system and crucial hardware additions like Near Field Communication (NFC) for improved ‘tap in’ capabilities. 

There’s also the much-trumpeted HealthKit, which sees Apple jumping on the Quantified Self bandwagon. The software allows users to monitor vital signs and track fitness, and represents Apple’s first major foray into this burgeoning market.

One more thing. Remember the classic glowing Apple logo on the back of Macbooks? Rumor has it that the new phone will carry this retro feature, which will make the nostalgia freaks almost as happy as the techheads when they all finally get their mitts on the iPhone 6.

September 04, 2014

Getting the Most Out of Mobile Coupons

Traditional paper coupons were long favored by businesses, who hoped that their customers would put them to use and drive up sales. The cold reality is that almost 99% of paper coupons are never redeemed. But mobile coupons? They're changing everything.

Mobile coupon users are expected to grow to 53.2 million this year, and with a redemption rate of 10%, you can't afford to ignore the new generation of discount fans. If your business is ready to take their mobile marketing to a new level, here are a few tips that will help you get the most out of mobile coupons.


Send mobile coupons to your customers at the most opportune times and increase sales.

What are Mobile Coupons?

Just to be clear, a mobile coupon is a digital message that is received by a customer through their mobile phone or similar device. By showing the coupon received on their screen, the customer can get a discount when purchasing a product or service. Text messaging is still a very personal form of communicating, which is why over 99% of all messages are opened.

When a customer opts in to your text message database, you are able to reach them with promotional deals at anytime, anywhere. There is no other type of marketing solution that can offer this kind of guarantee and effectiveness.


With an almost 99% open rate, you are almost guaranteed that your customers will open your message.

Ways You Can Use Mobile Coupons

A mobile coupon can encompass a wide range of uses, and there is plenty of room for you to get creative in the process. Most mobile coupon deals cover the traditional types of discounts such as BOGO, percentage or dollar amount off, giveaway entries, and last-minute discounts. Here are a few scenarios where mobile coupons might come into play for your business.

  • You are a new business, or beginning a mobile marketing campaign, and you have no database of customers or prospective customers. You begin advertising a substantial discount on one of your most popular products that customers can receive by texting in a special keyword. You can then take their details in exchange for the coupon, building your database quickly as a result.


  • You own an entertainment business and want to begin branching out to a new demographic of customer. Advertising discounts in areas that the intended demographic frequents or through social media advertising, you can reach those customers and offer free entry or exclusive invites that get them and their friends through the door.


  • Your business already has a substantial database of customers but you are looking to increase sales. By looking at the past purchases of previous customers, you send out coupons for the same or a related product to something they have bought before. Sales increase and customers keep returning.




Mobile coupons couldn't be easier; customers simply show their coupon for a discount.

Mobile Coupons Make Customers Happier

Research has shown that the happiness of customers is directly affected when they receive mobile coupons. During a study with Dr. Paul J. Zak, Professor of Neuroeconomics at Claremont Graduate University, women who were given a coupon off their online grocery shopping bill had significantly higher levels of oxytocin, a decreased level of stress and were 11% happier than those who did not receive a coupon. Take that how you will, but if a mobile coupon can make your customers happier, that will affect their perception of your business as well.

Mobile coupons can help increase your sales, get more people through the door, and create happier and more devoted customers. What have you got to lose?


Jessica Galbraith is a text message lover and full-time writer.

 

August 31, 2014

5 Surprising Beneficiaries of Text Message Marketing

Did you know that 99% of all text messages are opened? In comparison, less than 20% of emails in every industry are opened, and cold calls hover around a measly 6% success rate. Text messaging has been around over twenty years, yet it continues to be a form of communication that is personal and trusted by mobile users.

Mass text messaging delivers valuable information to your customers in real-time, whether you want to promote your upcoming fashion sale or send out a last-minute coupon for a popular dish in your restaurant. There are countless businesses that can benefit from mass text messaging, some of them may even surprise you!



From a simple text message you can increase sales, get your message shared across social media, and create an effective campaign to reach customers.

Entertainment Businesses

Bars, clubs, concert venues, businesses that promote entertainment have been leading the way in mass text messaging since the beginning. Entertainment businesses are perfectly set-up to interact with their clients and customers through text whether to promote upcoming shows, drink specials, or even announce last-minute VIPs. 2-for-1 coupons and discounted entry fees are an easy way to get customers through the door, and all they need to do is show the message on their phone.

Professional Businesses

Mass text messaging may not be as common in professional businesses, but there is a giant market just waiting to be tapped into. Businesses such as hair salons and gyms can easily send coupons or daily specials to their clients, reminding them that they are overdue for a cut or workout. Businesses such as doctors or dental practices may go about their promotions in a different way, but there are plentiful opportunities to reach clients through texting. Appointment reminders, whether scheduled or recommended, are a great way to get-in-touch and keep clients coming in.

Retail Businesses

Retail businesses already know that they need to keep with the trends to stay alive, so if your retail business isn't already compiling text subscribers it is time to join the party. Sending out texts inviting customers to special events, in-store fashion shows, and invite-only sales is a great way to make them feel like they are part of an exclusive club. Discount coupons and new stock announcements are also effective strategies for getting those shoes and dresses off the shelves.

Online Businesses

Online businesses are prime candidates for text messaging promotion, enabling current and prospective customers to click over from their text and land straight on a website. Sending out last-minute deals and one-day only discounts is the easiest way to expand sales through simply messaging your customer base. Get people on the website = more sales.


Mass text messaging makes it easy for online businesses to bring customers directly to their website and increase sales.

Food Industry Businesses

The food industry is perfectly poised for mass text messaging services. With good timing, you can have text messages promoting your lunch special on the phones of loyal patrons, right when their stomachs start growling. Texts announcing weekly specials, new menu additions, and even specially priced happy hours are a great way to remind customers that they need a night out with friends and a good bite to eat.

Mass text messaging gets your business's message straight into the hands of those you most want to reach. You are almost guaranteed that they will not only open your promotional message, but read it. You can't get effective advertising that is this personal in any other format.

Jessica Galbraith is a full-time writer and author of the travel blog The Fly Away American. She is an avid texter and always open up a new message.

August 20, 2014

5 Tips for Writing Effective Mass Text Messages

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If your nightclub, bar, community organization, or church group uses mass text messages for marketing or informational purposes, you have a terrific opportunity to get your message across effectively. Nine out of ten text messages are opened within three minutes of delivery, and you can't get that level of response from email or direct marketing. 

Then again, people can block texts, and if you annoy them with your mass text messages, they'll do so. Before you send a mass text message, make sure you're doing it right. Here are 5 tips for writing an effective mass text message.

1. Make It Personal and Identify Yourself

Text messages, including mass text messages, are perceived as more intimate than email, so avoid language that might come across as spammy. Identify your organization and include a clear call to action: "Club Sidecar is offering two for one appetizers with the following code from 9 p.m. to midnight Friday. Be sure to save this message." Not everyone will have your number stored, and if you don't identify yourself, they may not know who the message is from.

2. Time It Right

In general, the best time to send your mass text message is during regular business hours. People expect to get texts during the day and they tend to open them promptly. Exceptions would be when you have a spur-of-the-moment promotion and want to get word out right away. Even so, you should avoid sending text messages late at night or in the wee hours of the morning. Sending out a mass text message at 3 a.m. is more likely to get your number blocked.

3. Use Actual Words, and Proofread Before Sending

Don't write in "text speak." While the occasional "lol" is probably forgivable, spell out "you," "your," and other words that tend to get abbreviated. Remember: you're a legitimate business or organization, not a 12-year-old with a brand new phone. Also, proofread your message before you send it out. Make sure coupon codes are accurate, and that general grammar and spelling are correct.

4. Make the Most of Your 160 Characters

When you only have 160 characters to your point across, you have to be clear and concise. Remember that not everyone can access URLs on their phones, so if you include one make it easy to remember. This may mean setting up a specific domain for your mass text message campaign, but it's worth it. It only takes recipients seconds to read a text message, so get straight to the point.

5. Keep an Eye on Analytics for Future Mass Text Messages

Analytics on a mass text message campaign can help you compose a better message next time. Did that catchy URL get a good response? What percentage of text recipients redeemed the coupon code you sent out? What was the response rate of the simple poll you sent out by mass text message? The numbers tell a story, and you should use them to educate yourself on how better to compose your next mass text message.

The mass text message can be a tremendously effective marketing tool. It's quick, unobtrusive, and reaches people on a device they have by their side 24/7. Take the time to write your messages carefully, with a clear call to action, and you'll get better response rates and ultimately better results.

 

August 09, 2014

Scottish Healthcare Gets a Boost from SMS

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Glasgow's Western Infirmary

Healthcare providers across the world are using SMS to stay engaged with consumers. Blood banks in India are increasing donor numbers. Discharge times in U.S. hospitals are being reduced by up to an hour. And in Scotland – where healthcare is managed largely under the auspices of the public sector – investment in SMS systems is helping patients stay on top of appointments, and even encouraging them to quit smoking.

The latest development in the Scottish Government’s fledgling relationship with SMS technology has seen mobile marketing company Incentivated develop a ‘Find My Nearest’ service specifically aimed at helping women get to breast screening centers. A public advertising campaign is currently promoting the service. By texting their postcode along with the keyword SCREEN to 61611, Scottish women will receive a reply giving details of their nearest screening center, and ask that they call for a screening appointment if they have not had one in the last three years.

Headed by the Scottish Breast Screening Programme, the scheme divides the country into six regions. Postcodes sent into the service are cross-checked against the government’s database of mobile users. The reply message differs according to region, and is sent as soon as the person’s location has been determined.

Gail Lyall, Senior Marketing Manager for the government, says:

"Creating awareness of the importance of the role of breast screening is hugely important to ensure we keep increasing the numbers of women that detect breast cancer at the earliest stage. The audience we are targeting are hard to engage, so when we have their attention to act, it is imperative we make things as easy as possible for them. SMS allows us to provide a quicker customer journey from call to action to making that important appointment."

It’s no surprise that Holyrood has opted to use Incentivated. The tech firm has a well-established relationship with the government, and already provides a wide range of SMS services, including a program for the Scottish Children’s Panel that allows citizens to text in for information on taking part in public hearings designed to improve child safety in the home. The service was an enormous success, prompting 1700 SMS requests in the first week alone.

Scotland also provides a text service for people trying to give up smoking. Users text in the date they would like to quit, and a daily reply helps them count down to the big day, as well as sending tips on staying off the cigarettes for good.

August 03, 2014

Scented Text Message Startup Still Smells Victory After a Taste of Failure

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Vapor Communications, a company that transmits aromas via text message, has failed to meet its $150,000 crowdfunding goal on Indiegogo – but is promising to press on with the money it did raise. 

The technology was partly invented by Harvard University professor David Edwards. It has thus far raised close to 30% of its goal, with 176 backers pledging $47,000 to the project. Despite falling well short of their target, Vapor Communications will continue to work towards a viable commercial version of the technology. Plans are afoot to move their office from Paris to Cambridge later this year, and a company statement said:

“We expect that the evolution of the product over the coming months will increasingly attract the interest of consumers.”

Vapor Communications was founded last September as a way to bring Edwards’ oPhone hardware to market. The oPhone comes with small ‘scent cartridges’ that communicate with an app on the iPhone. Pre-sales were strong, with the $149 retail price seeming just right to enthusiastic food bloggers and others with an interest in sharing scents.

But critics suggest that this need to buy extra hardware is an impediment to success. In a world governed by cloud-based data and in-built apps, the less physical stuff you need to accumulate, the better. The vast majority of smartphone experiences require nothing more than a download, which makes apps like oPhone and oSnap a hard sell.

Nevertheless, the developers’ aims are laudable. It’s true that a huge part of our eating experiences are influenced by aroma, and that there is plenty of interest in communicating smells in the same way audiovisual content is shared. Whether that interest extends beyond those in the food industry to the consumers they serve remains to be seen. If and when then happens, the oPhone will be well placed to meet the demand. For now, lovers of madcap tech concepts can only hope Vapor Communications continues to grow in it’s new UK home. 

July 31, 2014

Text Messages Used to Curb Teen Drinking

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As student activities go, binge drinking and text messaging are two perennial favorites. Now, a group of researchers have figured out a way to use the latter to combat the former.

A recent study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine suggests data collected and support offered via text message can reduce future instances of binge-drinking in young adults.

Lead researcher Brian Suffoletto, M.D. and his team designed the trial and won funding from the Emergency Medicine Foundation (EMF). The research – which is the first of its kind – aimed to see if SMS messaging  could collect data on college drinking habits, deliver feedback and ultimately change drinking behavior in young adults. The findings are due to be published in August in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

According to Dr. Suffoletto, more than 50,000 adults between 18 and 24 arrive at emergency rooms on a daily basis in the United States, all seeking treatment for alcohol related problems. The research team performed a randomized trial of an SMS program with 765 young adults who were discharged from four emergency departments in Pennsylvania.

Participants were divided into three groups. One group received a series of automated text messages each week, asking them about their drinking plans for the weekend. A follow-up report compares their actual consumption. If the group anticipated having more than five drinks during a 24 hour period, participants received a warning text and a request to lower alcohol consumption during the week. Those who agreed received positive reinforcement and strategies for cutting down; those who refused to lower their consumption received a text message asking them to reflect on their decision.

A second group received a text query about total alcohol intake, but did not receive any pre-weekend messages or post-weekend feedback. The third group was a control group, and did not receive any text messages.

At the three month stage, participants who were exposed to the text message encouragement had decreased their drinking by 1-2 occasions each month (from a baseline of 3-4). Nearly 15% of the intervention group reported complete abstinence.

Researchers speculate that frequent text messages raised self-awareness about alcohol use. This sort of ‘mobile intervention’ could, if implemented in emergency departments across the country, not only curb teen drinking, but alleviate the daily burden placed on hospitals because of alcohol poisoning and other alcohol-related admissions.

June 27, 2014

World Cup: Yo App Sends Text Alerts When Goals Are Scored

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Every four years, the World Cup serves up a thrilling taste of the best footballing talent on the planet, but for developers, the month-long extravaganza is an opportunity to capitalize on soccer fever. And although there was no shortage of apps released during the 2010 tournament, smartphone ownership was leagues below where it’s at now. Mobile-powered football fandom has finally come of age.

The app everyone is talking about this time is “Yo”. It helps subscribers keep track of all the goals scored during the competition by sending text message alerts to users who add the user name “World Cup” to their account.

Unlike other sports news apps, no further information is sent. Yo doesn’t send the name of the scorer, or even which team they’re on. Users receive the titular two-letter greeting as a kind of ‘heads up’ to look out for coverage of the goals. It may sound rather limited, but it’s all part of Yo’s attempt to carve out a ‘contextualized messaging’ niche in a crowded text app marketplace.

Sure, it’s a little gimmicky – but gimmicks have their place, especially if they can claim to shave even a second or two off any of the manifold tasks we perform each day. With contextualized text messages, users can see at a glance that something they are interested in has undergone some sort of development and they should investigate further. There’s no need to even open the message. When it comes to brevity – one of the golden rules of text message marketing – ‘yo’ is as fiendishly efficient as it gets.

The app has already surpassed one million users, despite only being launched earlier this month. And while it’s riding the wave of the world’s most watched sporting event, Yo’s founders hope to carry on finding uses for contextualized SMS.

Company CEO Or Arbel believes major brands like Starbucks could use the ‘Yo’ alert to let customers know their orders are ready. So he’s certainly thinking big. Whether or not such a major brand will favor a start up’s product over their own well-established app remains to be seen, but with millions of “yo” text messages now zipping between smartphones, and an app market more exciting and unpredictable than the World Cup itself, you’d be a fool to dismiss the idea with a red card just yet…

June 23, 2014

Will the Cellphone Sweater Really Take Wearable Tech to the Next Level?

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“Smartphone” has passed well and truly into the lexicon, and some would have us believe that “smartclothes” are next. At least, that’s the message from a group of NYU students who have come up with a prototype for a hooded sweatshirt capable of sending preset text messages.

During a demonstration, the designers showed off the smart hoodie’s three triggers: touching the hood, touching the sleeve and rolling up the sleeve. Each action results in a different, pre-programmed SMS message being sent to a pre-determined recipient. 

If you’re still scratching your head wondering how many applications there could be for such limited capabilities, join the club. Many industry analysts have questioned how users will forsee the type messages they need to send at short notice – and so surreptitiously.

There are a number of other obvious limitations. Like how do you wash an item of clothing with built in electronics? And how sensitive is the technology? Is there a risk of accidentally sending a text message?

The designers say the main objective of the smart hoodie is to help people in emergency situations. With 911 texting now being adopted by law enforcers across the continent, you can imagine how a preset message might help someone in trouble. You find yourself embroiled in a bank robbery, or an outbreak of public violence, and the smart hoodie could alert authorities with the villains being none the wiser. But are there enough hyper-cautious folk out there who would actually pre-program such paranoid messages and then wear the same item of clothing every day, just in case? Without washing it in between?! Plus, 911 texting programs require users to text their location in order for the authorities to find them. How would this help if you’re out in a random public place?

Even worse, couldn’t texting police about an ongoing bank robbery make you look rather suspicious? How, they might ask as they shine a light in your face in some dingy interrogation room, did you know to preset the message? It sounds like more trouble than it’s worth?

We haven’t even mentioned airport security – that’s a whole other can of worms right there. Compared to that, the benefits of wearing a secret texting device pale. And there are a few minor advantages we can think of. Tapping your sleeve is, to date, still perfectly legal whilst driving; perhaps the system could help in the fight against distracted driving by giving motorists a way to let their family know they’re getting close to home. 

If you have a busy work day ahead of you before picking a friend up for dinner, the smart hoodie could be a convenient way of letting them know you’re going to be late, without interrupting that overrunning conference call.

These applications seem pretty trivial next to the pitfalls of owning such an item. It seems unlikely that the wearable text message device – at least in this prototype form – will catch on, but it’s an interesting new direction for SMS technology, and we await the next innovation with interest.

 

 

 

June 16, 2014

911 Texting Now Available to the Deaf

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Not only did Manitoba recently become the first Canadian province to provide it’s citizens with a 911 texting service, it has also made the platform available to the deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired.

The new wireless text messaging program is the first of its kind in Canada. Unveiled last week by Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS), the system requires hearing or speech impaired people to first register their wireless devices. 

Text-to-911 software has proven popular with law enforcement services all over North America. In May, the four major wireless carriers in the United States have been emergency SMS capabilities as an alternative to voice calls. It’s important to note, however, that the FCC says Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T only support text-to-911 in areas where dispatchers are already equipped to receive SMS.

For those areas, using the technology is very simple. Users simply type 911into the number field, and state their location and the nature of the emergency in the body of the text.

The National Emergency Number Association states that call centers equipped to receive emergency text messages can field SMS in a variety of ways. Centers without the latest SMS technology can simply upgrade their systems.

It’s hoped that more communities will adopt the technology over the coming year, and it could take several years before implementation is nationally adopted.

According to the FCC, anyone who sends a text to 911 via Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, or AT&T in an area where the program is not yet supported will immediately receive a "bounce back" text informing them that their text could not be delivered. If you find yourself in this situation, you would then need to make a voice call to emergency services.

The advantages of text-to-911 are clear. In certain criminal situations, it’s not always possible – or advisable – to bring attention to yourself by talking on the telephone. Emergency text messages could save lives in such situations. Nevertheless, the FCC and law enforcers stress that when contacting 911, the first choice should always be to place a call, with SMS suggested only when a phone call is impossible or dangerous.