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How to Integrate SMS Texting into Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Integrating SMS text messaging into Microsoft Dynamics makes this premier CRM system even better. Adding SMS text messages to your email communications can generate new leads, increase productivity, and boost sales for enterprise businesses. It’s important to find a truly native SMS text messaging integration for MS Dynamics in order to realize the full benefit. Here’s what you need to know.

The highest ROI MS Dynamics SMS Integrations are built using Microsoft Development Tools and operate seamlessly within your existing IT infrastructure. Truly native SMS integrations offer an array of enterprise-grade features built for scale and reliability AND operate inside of your existing Microsoft Dynamics 365 database.

When selecting a Microsoft Dynamics SMS texting solution, look for the following:

Native Microsoft Dynamics Integration

When adding SMS text messaging to Microsoft Dynamics, compatibility is a major concern. Native integration means that applications are built using Microsoft’s own development tools to improve security, performance, and reliability.

Although some SMS text messaging providers report having Microsoft Dynamics Integration, it’s important to clarify what they actually mean. Many times, such integrations are in fact data connections that merely sync contact info between the vendor’s application and your Microsoft Dynamics 365 instance.

This means you will have to open a separate window in order to send your text messages as opposed to having them embedded into the menu system right inside your MS Dynamics window.

Other vendors use automation tools like Zapier or Boomi as intermediaries between their messaging services and client databases. While tools like these have their place, 3rd party solutions are typically not the best solution for enterprise-grade SMS text messaging, and they can substantially increase your costs per text message.

Since both inbound and outbound requests count as separate transactions, the total cost of ownership grows rapidly as messaging volume increases. Automation platforms like these provide quick access to basic integrations but remain prone to unwelcome side effects.

For instance, Zapier adds its own fees to your messaging costs and 15-minute Zapier messaging delays are not uncommon (depending on the service plan and configuration). Most enterprise-grade businesses eliminate the middleman and need to avoid message delays.

Many non-native MS Dynamics SMS applications require using provider infrastructures to send SMS messages (not your own). A questionable arrangement subject to a host of vulnerabilities and problems. True Native Integration eliminates these concerns because SMS messages flow directly from within your CRM database.

Ease of Use

With native integration, on-boarding and training times can be significantly reduced. Since there’s no need for additional accounts or logins – users already familiar with the Microsoft Dynamics CRM ecosystem can take full advantage of native SMS integrations immediately.

 

Engage in SMS texting directly from your CRM dashboard

 

Native integrations bypass the steep learning curve often associated with implementing 3rd-party solutions and make your organization more efficient.

Enhanced Security

Another benefit of native SMS integration is enhanced security and better control over data access. Built for large organizations, enterprise-grade SMS texting features make system administration easier. Because they use the same security protocols as other Microsoft applications, data security breaches or containment issues are minimized.

Most importantly, data never resides on questionable 3rd-party servers.

On-premise MS Dynamics installations utilize local data processing and storage servers while cloud-based setups reside on Microsoft’s trusted, ultra-secure network.

Administrators rest easy knowing critical data is protected and always available.

Improved Performance

Native apps (built using Microsoft Development Tools) share the same legendary performance and uptime associated with traditional Microsoft products. Because native applications live entirely within the user’s Dynamics 365 instance, they’re naturally more efficient and less susceptible to problems.

Businesses that use native, cloud-based SMS Integrations have higher reliability and since native apps exist within your specific Microsoft Dynamics 365 environment, database updates are never needed between you and outside vendors.

As long as the Microsoft Dynamics database is operational, your data is accessible.

However, to take full advantage of these capabilities, you must choose a cloud-based SMS text messaging provider with a native text messaging integration. Ideally, an enterprise-grade platform with similar uptime and performance metrics as those of your Dynamics 365 database.

Compatibility and Extended Functionality

Because they’re built with the same software development platforms, native MS Dynamics apps integrate seamlessly with other Microsoft products and services. With so many powerful API and customization features, system configuration options are virtually endless.

You can connect freely with other Microsoft Core Services or create custom solutions of your own knowing that compatibility won’t be an issue in your CRM environment.

Partnering with an SMS Text Messaging vendor who supports cloud-based Microsoft Dynamics 365 installations offers even more possibilities. Like taking advantage of Microsoft’s powerful, cloud-only custom integrations and smart reporting functions (powered by machine learning).

 

Cloud-based installations extend CRM functionality and reporting capabilities

 

Many of these add-ons benefit from including SMS text messaging and reporting functionality. For example:

PowerBI

Microsoft’s flagship business analytics solution offers valuable data insights and customizable displays of performance metrics. These stunning reports can easily be embedded in apps, webpages, or shared with others both inside and outside of your organization.

Flow and PowerApps

A drag-and-drop suite of tools to create built-in workflows and custom automation sets. Users can easily personalize over 200 different Microsoft/partner applications based on business logic and enterprise needs.

Automated workflows improve productivity and enable collaboration at an unprecedented scale. They also provide the ability to create new processes without having to write a line of code or hire a developer.

Web Portals

MS Dynamics 365 cloud databases include native support for building self-service web portals. These websites are easy to share and maintain and can be used for a number of different internal applications.

Learning Paths

A relatively new Microsoft Dynamics CRM feature allows organizations to strengthen and enhance user experiences. Administrators can build “paths” to deliver custom content to specific users/groups accessing the database.

Such automation can significantly reduce training times/costs by allowing the user to control their own learning experience.

However, these add-ons are only available for cloud-based MS Dynamics and Dynamics 365 installations. Thus, it’s paramount to choose providers who support Dynamics cloud databases to take full advantage of an MS Dynamics SMS text messaging integration.

Long Code vs. Short Code SMS Texting Options

A frequently overlooked component of selecting a vendor for an MS Dynamics texting integration is understanding when to use Long Codes Vs. Short Codes. Which is one of the most important factors to consider.

Long Codes

Long Codes are 10-digit numbers used for direct 2-way communication with two or more parties. Following the traditional number format of landlines and cell phones, long codes are used in voice calls, faxes, and text messages.

Being able to call and text from the same number has distinct advantages. The biggest of which is providing customers direct access to your brand via a single point of contact.

Long codes are ideal for creating personalized experiences and seamless two-way conversations.

However, carrier restrictions prohibit sending mass SMS marketing messages using long codes. Violations can incite legal action and cause vendors to forfeit long codes already assigned.

Hence, Short Codes are essential as well.

Short Codes

Short Codes serve entirely different purposes than Long Codes. These 5 to 6-digit numbers are used frequently for marketing, alerts, and mass one-way communication. Short Codes are designed for sending bulk SMS Marketing Messages and Mass Notifications.

Although less personal than Long Codes, Short Codes facilitate messaging millions of clients or subscribers at the same time. Yet, this messaging format also has limitations.

Shared Short Codes are the most common option among smaller SMS text messaging providers. A “shared” number means multiple businesses use the exact same code. The differentiator being the keyword brands use to connect with their customers.

For example, Short Code 95660 may respond to keyword “drive” for an auto dealer and “pedal” for a bike shop.

image source

 

The problem is Shared Short Codes cannot engage in 2-way dialog using the same channel. Nor can they retain conversational data for administrative purposes for more than a short period of time.

While some SMS vendors claim this is possible, most implementations fall far short for enterprise brands focused on customer service.

 The result forces customers to use alternate contact methods to continue the conversation, adding yet another layer of friction and creating a less personal experience. To combat this problem, some providers offer Dedicated Short Codes with unfettered access. However, this option can be expensive and still makes customers call back using a different number.

The solution? Choosing a provider who offers all three options at once. Long Codes, Shared Short Codes, and Dedicated Short Codes to fit an array of business scenarios.

SMS Text Messaging Service and Support

Incorporating SMS texting into Microsoft Dynamics 365 adds tremendous value. However, the right setup and support are crucial to fully leverage your investment.

Look for SMS providers who build and support their own technologies rather than piggybacking off other SMS APIs or generic integration tools. True enterprise-grade SMS vendors provide native SMS integrations, direct carrier connections and maintain their own fully documented SMS APIs.

Besides offering higher-performance and optimal pricing, top vendors employ dedicated technology teams and seasoned developers who understand how to properly integrate new SMS texting solutions.

Leading SMS vendors provide knowledgeable installation teams to assist with new setups or transition over from existing ones. Premium SMS solutions also include automated software wizards to help with common tasks and provide troubleshooting assistance should problems arise.

Seek out vendors who employ US-based support agents who understand the unique needs of enterprise businesses and large organizations. Overseas service options can introduce language barriers and create support hours outside of US standards.

Enterprise Scalability and Pricing

When integrating SMS text messaging into MS Dynamics 365, choose an experienced vendor who understands enterprise businesses, maintains direct carrier connections, and offers volume pricing and scalability.

SMS texting vendors who deal primarily with small businesses often lack the resources to manage mass SMS traffic volume – including reliable mass deliverability and proper queuing protocols for competing campaigns.

Insist on using cloud-based providers who have the bandwidth and speed necessary to handle large-scale volume.

You’ll find that market pricing varies as many SMS vendors simply build their interfaces on top of other provider’s SMS APIs. In most cases, these are resellers with little or no flexibility to offer volume discounts as you grow.  The best SMS providers build their own SMS API and connect directly with carriers to eliminate costs and offer enterprise level pricing.

TrueDialog – Microsoft Dynamics 365 SMS Text Message Integration Experts

TrueDialog is the perfect solution for enterprise-grade SMS texting capabilities. Our cloud-based SMS text messaging solution is built for big business, yet made easy for small business.

Our five-star-rated platform includes an ISO 9001 database, direct carrier connections, 99.9% uptime, and true native Microsoft Dynamics 365 integration. If you’re serious about implementing an enterprise-grade MS Dynamics text messaging solution to deliver personalized customer engagement at scale, TrueDialog is an ideal solution.

Our proprietary “TrueDialog” feature enables seamless texting with both Short Codes and Long Codes all combined in the same thread, so businesses can send mass text messages and then effortlessly engage in one-to-one texting conversations at scale.

Unlike many other solutions, TrueDialog has invested in building direct carrier connections which eliminate the middleman and provide our customers with two huge benefits: 1) improved deliverability by reducing potential points of failure and reliance on third parties and 2) a lower cost structure which allows us to price our service significantly lower than the competition.

Additionally, we offer local US-based support (in tech-savvy Austin, Texas) from knowledgeable staff and developers who understand the unique needs of enterprise businesses. Our industry-leading features are state-of-the-art yet still provide the best value in SMS text messaging.

No other SMS platform compares.


If you’re ready to add integrated SMS Texting capabilities to your existing IT infrastructure, click here to schedule a demo or give us a call today at 512-501-5940 to schedule a demo of our Microsoft Dynamics SMS integration and let us show you why we have the best SMS enterprise-grade platform on the market.

The Top 3 Reasons to Integrate SMS Texting into Your CRM

Integrating SMS texting into your current CRM is easy and low cost with our pre-built SMS integrations. Combine the power of your CRM with a Salesforce SMS, Marketo SMS or Microsoft Dynamics SMS integrated solution to improve efficiency, increase customer satisfaction and boost your ROI.

SMS/CRM INTEGRATION AUTOMATES WORKFLOW

The two main purposes of any hardware/software integration are to reduce workload and improve operational ROI. Adding SMS texting to your current CRM (e.g., Salesforce, Marketo, or Microsoft Dynamics) is a prime example. Many repetitive tasks are eliminated while those that remain can be greatly simplified.

Better Customer Service

Let’s face it – faster response times increase overall conversion rates. In fact, studies have shown businesses who respond in the first hour after contact generate 7X more leads than those who don’t. And that number jumps to a whopping 60X more when brands wait for 24 hours or longer.

TrueDialog’s unique SMS platform makes responding to customers easier than ever.

Our Contact Center solution allows agents, help desk teams, and employees to conduct threaded, multi-user, team-based SMS conversations at scale. While TrueDialog’s proprietary “Cross-Code” technology allows both short code & long code messages to appear in the same text thread.

This highly unique feature allows enterprises to seamlessly integrate mass sms marketing messages & text notifications with personalized 1-to-1 texting dialog for an unparalleled customer experience. Businesses respond faster and save time by allowing multiple agents to contribute to customer support conversations using a single group thread.

A much smarter approach than maintaining separate, single-agent conversations or frantically digging through a series of disparate texts or emails.

Automatic CRM Updates

Previously, sending text messages and updating your CRM records were separate functions. But with an enterprise SMS texting solution like TrueDialog, that’s no longer the case. Our integration suite intuitively translates conversations into CRM leads and automatically updates customer accounts.

A truly native SMS integration builds enterprise-grade texting directly into your CRM instance. Imagine sending texts and automatically logging them into your analytics CRM data for Salesforce, Marketo, Oracle or Microsoft Dynamics. No separate windows and no more copying and pasting. No more editing in multiple systems. Each new conversation seamlessly flows into your chosen CRM.

Not to mention that texting is a highly-efficient way to engage with customers. Statistics show that more than 90% of mobile users read text messages in 3 minutes or less. With the average response time being around 90 seconds.

A far cry from email or other traditional forms of outreach.

Reminders and Notifications

With SMS integration, both clients and employees stay up-to-date with the latest account information. Agents can use text messages to automatically remind customers of upcoming events. Or push instant notifications to fellow employees regarding updated tasks, assignments, or meetings.

Changes to your CRM database can be scheduled for delivery (or dispersed in real time) to those that need the information most. Doing so keeps customers happy and helps employees close more deals.

SMS INTEGRATION IMPROVES OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY

Efficiency is another key benefit of integrating SMS texting with your existing Salesforce, Marketo, or Microsoft Dynamics database. Merging your CRM and text messaging platform allows employees to be more productive and responsive. Easily see message history and customize message data flow into your CRM. The perfect combination to make better use of limited resources – whether it be time, personnel, or technology assets.

Unified Communication

One of the biggest advantages of integration is bringing your communication and client data together under one roof. TrueDialog’s enterprise messaging solutions provide “native” integration between your existing CRM and cutting-edge SMS capabilities.

Imagine texting a customer account from directly within Salesforce. No more jumping between screens or having to duplicate your work in multiple systems. Sent messages (and responses) are automatically logged as CRM events with no extra effort required.

SMS Message Dashboard
SMS Message Dashboard

TrueDialog’s SMS integrations transform your CRM into a unified communication hub.

Now you can respond to customers and manage internal communications using one interface. Agents have instant access to client records and can easily view prior text, email, and call history in a single consolidated CRM record.

Customers decide how they want to interact with your company while reps seamlessly switch options to accommodate their preferences. And employees benefit too.

SMS integration means sales teams are notified about CRM account events or lead assignments as they happen. Leaving agents more prepared to respond to clients and better understand their needs before making contact.

Most importantly, increased efficiency means sales and support reps are able to manage additional client requests. Thus, generating even more leads while simultaneously expanding your customer service capabilities.

CRM SMS INTEGRATION ENHANCES MARKETING CAMPAIGNS

Brands using SMS messaging for opt-in marketing and mass texting see exceptional results. Not only is this medium fast and incredibly affordable, but obliterates the ROI of traditional advertising methods.

Research has shown that text message open and response rates exceed 97%. Email marketing, on the other hand, is lucky to hit 20%. Factor in that nearly all US adults own cell phones (with text messaging being the preferred means of communication) and these stats become impossible to ignore.

Blended Marketing Options

TrueDialog’s innovative SMS solutions allow brands to combine their email and text marketing into a single enterprise-grade solution. Once integrated with Marketo, Salesforce, or Microsoft Dynamics, businesses can deploy SMS texting campaigns just as easily as traditional email promotions.

TrueDialog’s Process Builder Overview
TrueDialog’s Process Builder Overview

Better yet, these same mass marketing texts can be effortlessly converted into 2-way personalized messages as needed. An ideal option for companies wanting to do both (at scale) with multiple contact center reps, client agents, or mobile field employees.

User Segmentation

To take full advantage of these hybrid communication options, audience segmentation is a must. TrueDialog facilitates real time interactions with inbound leads and provides easy-to-use options for customer follow-ups and appointment requests.

Native SMS Texting integration with most CRMs means robust SMS segmentation options for promotions and/or retargeting campaigns. Send welcome deals to new customers while offering loyalty rewards to existing clients – at the same time.

SMS text messaging integration allows for process-driven campaigns as part of your marketing automation strategy. Using the built-in components of your CRM software, SMS texting can be included as a process or activity (since all users fall into different parts of your automation process).

All from within the comfort and security of your existing CRM platform using our cloud-based enterprise-grade texting solution.

Custom Reports

TrueDialog’s pre-built SMS integrations provide an array of expanded reporting options to analyze data and extract metrics. Since SMS is defined as its own object, CRM administrators can easily build custom reports that include individual CRM objects for reporting.

For example, if you want to look at click rates or opt-out rates of email vs SMS, our native CRM integrations make the process simple.

RAISING THE BAR IN ENTERPRISE SMS/CRM INTEGRATION

When it comes to SMS pricing, reliability, and value TrueDialog leads the way. We offer corporate text messaging solutions with more pre-built features than any other SMS platform. All available through our turn-key, enterprise-grade platform or our brilliantly designed SMS API for developers.

Other industry-leading benefits include:

  • Direct Carrier Connections – to eliminate 3rd party middlemen and provide our customers with unparalleled reliability. Reducing points of failure improves deliverability while dedicated connections afford extremely competitive pricing.
  • Proprietary “TrueDialog” feature with “Cross Code” and 2-Way Texting Features at Scale – our unique texting software and Contact Center SMS Solution enables both mass short code texting and 2-way text dialogs with threaded, multi-user conversations all in the same platform.
  • Now you can seamlessly combine both short code and long code messages in the same thread.Imagine sending mass text messages and then effortlessly engaging in one-to-one conversations at scale.
  • No other SMS platform offers such advanced options.
  • SMSafe Dual Cloud-Database – TrueDialog maintains a duplicate ISO 9001 cloud-database for extra protection against accidentally texting opted-out contacts. To achieve this same level of protection on other SMS APIs, developers would have to build this expensive capability themselves.
  • TrueDialog incurs significant costs to provide this feature. But enterprise customers who are serious about compliance understand why.
  • Native SMS CRM Integration – SMS texting solutions for most major CRM applications including Salesforce SMS, Marketo SMS, Microsoft Dynamics SMS, Oracle Eloqua SMS, HubSpot SMS, and CampusNexus SMS.

All of these incredible features are available without pop-ups, plugins, or configuring additional networks. Start sending and receiving text messages from directly within your CRM to improve operations and delight your customers.

Conclusion

When it comes to SMS/CRM integration, TrueDialog simply can’t be beat. Our industry-leading services have garnered a 5-star rating and made us Capterra’s Top Rated SMS Software Platform. We provide enterprise-grade SMS texting solutions with more features than the competition – at about half the price.

  • Uninterrupted Workflows
    Use established workflows to import messages into ques or create new routes and triggers based on specific needs.
  • Persistent Conversations
    Quickly scan prior messages using existing CRM records. Agents stay informed and can handoff conversations without missing a beat.
  • Customizable Configurations
    Integrate SMS into multiple data objects (leads, cases, contacts, accounts, etc.) to effortlessly text individuals, groups, or entire organizations at scale.
  • Unified Analytics
    Easily port messaging data between systems for review and analysis.
  • No New Software
    Add text messaging functionality to your current CRM without having to retrain employees.
  • Maximum Agent Efficiency
    Monitor multiple cases simultaneously without needing to jump between screens or applications.

No other provider comes close.

If you’re ready to add integrated SMS capabilities to your existing enterprise infrastructure, give us a call today at 512-501-5940 to schedule a demo of our SMS integration for your specific CRM and let us show you why we have the best SMS enterprise-grade platform on the market.

Want to try before you buy? No problem. We offer a FREE 15-day trial with no credit card required. Just fill out the registration form, create your login, and you’ll be texting in minutes.

Contact Us Today to Get Started

Getting Lost Without Mobile GPS

Remember the days of unreliable, over-sized travel maps testing your patience? Or getting so turned around you had to stop and ask for directions at the nearest gas station? If you were born before the mid-90s (not to put an age limit on it) you are all too familiar with those times.  However, getting lost seems to be a thing of the past; younger generations are hardly ever stumbling upon this annoyance and we find ourselves reaching destinations with far fewer turnarounds.

mobile location, location-based mobile messages, health communications, text messages, SMS,Mobile GPS On Your Smartphone

For as long as I have been driving, I love the luxury of a navigational map on my smartphone (or mobile GPS).  Global Positioning System (GPS) not only maps a perfect route to my destination with the desired time and distance traveled. but also provides multiple route options and includes a traffic indicator.  Due to the advances in technology, our smartphones have completely revolutionized the way we travel.

Not only are these maps an added perk of any mobile device but brands are taking full advantage of its compatibility with mobile websites and mobile apps as well.  If a company has a mobile website with a destination address located on it, with just one click the user is able to automatically input that address into their mobile GPS and get directions to this location immediately.  This is especially useful for travel in foreign landscapes or those hard to find destinations.

As the number of smartphone is inversely proportional to the use of location-based information, we can conclude that both will continue to be in high demand for years to come.  There are more than a million daily smartphone activations. Added to the current number, the Pew Internet & American Life Center reports that 74 percent of smartphone users utilize real-time location-based information or directions.  Greatly impacting the way individuals travel, as well as the amount of time we spend lost.

Mobile Websites

Mobile Business Apps Provide Convenience For Comparison Shoppers

 

Comparison Shoppers Are Using Mobile Apps

Recently, Amazon announced that they are launching their augmented reality bar code scanning app on the Android platform.  As well as making in-store comparisons easily accessible to everyone running Android, it’s also an intriguing starting point to discuss future developments of the technology. As reported, 40% of smartphone owners are using their phones to compare products and prices and make purchases. The battle lines between ecommerce providers and multi-channel retailers are being drawn and the fight for comparison shoppers begins.

All this spells good news for the consumer, as their options increase in line with the competition for market space.  Sure, there’s integration between mobile phone marketing and third party apps that give people the opportunity to check and compare across a range of products and websites; but what about the advantages conferred when retailers create their own branded mobile business apps that issue targeted notifications of special deals straight to the smartphone?

Whoever comes out on top in this battle the rewards are clear.  With worldwide mobile payment transactions predicted to break the $171.5 billion barrier in 2012, it’s obvious that future trends predict an ever-greater share of business will be conducted on smartphones.

Augmented Reality, mobile apps, Retail

Back to School Checklist: Pencils, Backpack, Cell Phone

The Back to School Checklist Has Changed

– 2 packs unsharpened pencilsBack To School Checklist, Mobile Ideas, mobile retail
– 3 spiral notebooks (I won’t look in)
– 5 2 ½ inch (like it matters) binders
– 1 calculator (I’ll never use)
– 1- Pencil pouch (I’ll still lose all my pencils)
– Stylish backpack (that won’t fit anything)
New cell phone case
– Cute Clothes

Going back to school is not my favorite time of the year. I’m dreading when August 17th finally rolls around, but I admit there is  one thing I look forward to at the beginning of every school year – it has nothing to do with learning. I love back to school shopping.  Above is the typical back to school checklist of things I need before classes begin. With freshman year rapidly approaching, the clothes are more important than ever (almost as important as having an unlimited texting plan).

I usually start looking online for clothes in late July. That gives me plenty of time to decide “who I want to be”.  I then hit up the mall and see if there’s anything there I like. I’ll try on a few outfits and send photos of them to my friends, but my trip usually doesn’t end well.  With all the other teenage girls shopping for the cutest outfits of the season, stores usually don’t have the sizes or colors I want. Therefore, I am left constantly browsing the internet, sometimes from my mobile device, while I’m at the mall; looking at every item currently available on my favorite stores websites. (Delia’s, Forever 21, American Eagle, etc.) After some in depth searching, I’ll send pictures of my favorite finds to my friends and see what they think. As soon as my friend’s text back with their approval I usually buy it right away.

My friends tend to like a lot of the things I like and I end up having numerous options and wanting to buy them all. This causes a very large credit card bill, not making my mother (or father) very happy. Having a program where I could text to get a mobile coupon for a store I like would probably bring that bill down a lot. Even having the ability to enter a sweepstakes to win back to school money or supplies would make everything a lot easier (if I did win). If I could use my cell phone to save money, instead of just using up all of the minutes on our family plan, I’m sure my parents would be really happy too.

Education, Mobile Coupons, Mobile Marketing, Retail

Picking a Mobile Partner: Would You Let a Surgeon Operate After 4 Months On the Job?

 

3Seventy booth at NRA 2012 Show

 

 

The 3Seventy team just returned from the Food & Beverage industry’s biggest trade show, the 2012 National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, IL.  There were thousands of attendees, food samples as far as the eye could see, and master chefs showing off their talents.

However, the biggest thing that everyone was talking about was mobile marketing. From every point-of-sale (POS) system company advertising their new mobile POS, to QR codes for restaurants, text message marketing, and over 20+ loyalty app companies, it is clear that mobile is the next big thing for the food & beverage industry.  However, a few things stood out to me from an implementation point of view:

  1. There is a larger need for education about mobile that needs to take place with restaurant owners. The corporate and larger franchise groups know they need to get there, and have done research on mobile to ask appropriate questions.
  2. The independent restaurant owner isn’t a marketer and struggles with social/email marketing programs. So, for him or her to stay tuned to the newest technologies like mobile is a real struggle. This restaurant owners needs ease of use and results.
  3. A large number of vendors/exhibitors at the show were showcasing technology that wasn’t truly mobile and had not been developed to mobile web or application best practices.
  4. The majority of the QR codes on products, booths, and even show material didn’t go to a mobile website. The majority went to a traditional website and a few went to a responsive mobile website.

There is a large interest in mobile in the restaurant industry, which is a double edge sword. Mobile is projected to generate billions of dollars in a few years and this attracts a lot of opportunists to the space looking to make a quick buck. Before selecting a mobile partner, there are several critical questions you need to ask during the evaluation phase:

  1. Are they using 5-6 digit numbers or 10+ digits numbers? Ask to see an example of their keyword and short code for yourselves. Your text messaging campaigns need to come from a short code (only 5 or 6 digits) and adhere to the proper mobile compliance and regulations.
  2. Does the message have STOP or HELP in it? Does it allow you to reply with either of those words and get a confirmation message back?
  3. Does the partner offer two way messaging? What I mean by this is you text a keyword PIZZA to a keyword 375275 and you get a message back. This message allows you to respond A, B, C, D and when you respond instead of getting a confirmation message (just text back) you receive another question that allows you to again respond to a questions with A, B, C, D again.
  4. How long has the company been in business and what type of clients do they have? You will find a lot of the companies have been in business a very short time and don’t have a good client portfolio on a national level.
  5. Ask the company if they own their SMS platform or if they are merely reselling another company’s technology. Find out about the company that built the technology and research them too.

The bottom line is that, in order to be successful in mobile, you must find a partner with experience, thought leadership and technology ownership in order to build successful campaigns and a long term strategic relationship. After all, you wouldn’t pick a surgeon after 4 months on the job, you shouldn’t pick your mobile partner that way either. The life or death of your mobile initiative depends on it.

Mobile Marketing, Partnerships

Picking a Mobile CRM Partner is like Playing Poker

3Seventy has been in the mobile business for the past four years, and in that time, we’ve seen  a lot of mobile companies come and go. Someone every day asks, “Have you heard of “XYZ Company”? Typically, this is a new mobile company that just came on the scene.
There is a ton of money being invested in mobile technology and it’s very hard for a brand to know which mobile company is best for their specific needs. In many ways, picking the right mobile CRM partner is like playing poker, knowing when someone is bluffing and when it’s time to go all in.
Our founder and CEO, Carrie Chitsey, is a successful entrepreneur and avid poker player, and often sees similarities between the two. She often puts herself  in the shoes of our clients, prospects and folks we talk to on a daily basis. After doing this, several things have become clear about brands that are looking to get into mobile:
  •  Most are in “research” mode, basing their needs on what they’ve read or seen from competitors.
  • Someone has sold them on a specific or limited approach to mobile, often falling flat on promises and leaving a bad taste in the mouth of brand decision makers.
  • Many brand managers focus on mobile on a campaign-by-campaign basis, rather than stepping back and looking at the big picture to develop a mobile strategy.
  • Most decision makers are so focused on keeping up, or beating, the competition with mobile that the mobile database they are trying to build is really an afterthought and not a primary focus.
5.       And if they’ve tried mobile before, they now know what they want this time, have goals and want a good partner, not just a technology.
We love the second time folks; they know a good mobile partner when they see one. These are great marriages.
So how does mobile strategy remind Carrie of poker? It’s easy, and told straight from the source.
·         Picking your table is key, if you end up or stay too long at a bad table, you lose all your money. The same is true with mobile; if you pick a bad partner, not only will you be unsuccessful, it leaves a bad taste and often waste most of your money.
·         In the world of poker, it’s ok to switch tables if you know you sat down to a bad table. The same holds true in finding a mobile partner. If you aren’t seeing performance, technology is not what it cracked up to be and you aren’t getting mobile strategy and results….. move on, time is of the essence in mobile. You can’t wait 12 months to get a good mobile partner.
·         The guy who wins the most hands is not the guy that wins the most money. Mobile is test and learn, and not everything you do is going to be a huge success.  Test, learn, and repeat the good stuff while throwing out the bad. Don’t be afraid to recognize what isn’t working. You need to build a foundation for success, anyone can win one jackpot but try hitting multiple without strategy and skill.
·         Don’t play games you don’t understand even if you see others winning by luck. There will always be something new and shiny in mobile. Innovation is good, but you have to learn the basics first. Going from not doing anything mobile to moving straight to an iPhone or Augmented Reality application is not a good move.
·         Learn by playing the game. Reading, watching others, and learning theory are great but nothing replaces actual experience. Get going, pick a great mobile partner, and throw in some chips. After all, you don’t have to go “all-in” on your first hand.

The Hybrid Experience – How Digital, Interactive, Mobile, and Social Interact

Retailers today struggle with what to give customers in store, how to create a memorable experience, and how to create additional value and revenue. All are trying different tactics to increase revenues and loyalty through mobile /social sharing in store.

The question is, are these repeatable models to scale? Who owns this experience in a brand? Is there a central owner? I’ve heard more times than I can count that within each brand there are no short of 5 heads of marketing, each having different P&L, responsibilities and agendas. And then there are the brands’ agencies (plural), which all have different roles and agendas. So which agency and which VP of Marketing owns the “new hybrid” customer experience in store? When you determine who the owner is, where is their knowledge coming from? The lack of knowledge in the industry today on mobile is one of the main reasons so many brands have not done mobile, or have not done mobile well.

Mobile is exciting and it’s all over the news; you can’t help but read about a new mobile campaign rollout these days. Should you make corporate decisions by following what other brands have done? Do you really want to follow exactly what your competitor is doing? Anyone can hit one homerun but that doesn’t get you an over .300 batting average. You have to engage a company that lives and breathes mobile, you can’t run your business day to day and be in tune with every new technology out there.

Now, let’s talk about the new hybrid customer experience. This is the experience in which customers engage with a brand in store in the new “digital, interactive, mobile, social” realm. The reason I don’t give it a name and it can be classified into four categories. No one knows what to call digital interactions in store.

One size consumer experiences do not fit all. We have to look at our new consumers groups and how they want to engage, the channel they want to engage and how to get them to re-engage and come back into the store. This is the biggest miss by brands in the marketplace today.

Each brand usually is targeting multiple demographics. First you must outline a mobile strategy to understand your demographic channels, how to engage and how often to re-engage. It’s just as important to first run “blocking and tackling” campaigns prior to “trick plays”. We see more brands trying to do far out innovative things and a only few will stick, but creating a foundation for building a mobile database that will last and not just be “one timers” is built from the main steps in mobile.

So who are the demographics and how do you reach them?

Moms with kids

  • High text frequency
  • Use text to keep contact with kids
  • Search for locations and products on the go
  • Opt-in to mobile campaigns to get value add
  • Growing in smartphone usage

 

Minorities

  • Cell phones are primary household phones
  • Low landline usage
  • Low in-home internet access
  • Primary text users and watch cell phone minutes carefullyLow smartphone usage, typical phones are WAP or xHTML

 

Business Stakeholders

  • Sales, technology, and management
  • High smartphone usage
  • Uses a combination of text, email, and internet
  • Typically has 7-10 applications downloaded and uses 2-4 regularly

 

Corporate Business

hybrid experience

  • Corporate America employees connected through Blackberries
  • This group works for corporate America , uses Blackberries frequently due to fast response via email and text
  • Low adoption rate of smartphones due to security issues with iPhones and Androids
  • Uses internet often, limited applications downloads

 

Tweens

hybrid experience

  • Uses feature phones and “smaller” Blackberries
  • Parents pay phone bill to reach this demographic
  • 90% texting, 10%
  • Very limited smartphones in this demographic due to cost

 

High School/College Kids

  • Similar to tweens, using text frequently, voice less often
  • Limited smartphone usage due to costs, although growing in college aged demographic
  • High Facebook usage, although connects through mobile web vs. application

 

Non Mainstream Male

  • Early adopters of latest in technology and gadgets
  • Gamers, surfers, skateboarders, and musicians 23-35 year old male.
  • Highest demographic using Android OS powered devices
  • Uses mobile devices for gaming and texting, not a fan of “voice” conversations

So how do you connect and make an emotional connection and experience with these different consumer groups in store? You understand the key drivers around purchasing behavior, social behavior and choose interactions and experiences that go across multiple mobile channels to appeal to each demographic.

If you roll out a QR code program for tweens or minorities it will fail. If you roll out a QR code and SMS program for tweens, minorities and Moms, you will see the interactions by channel and give these groups multiple ways to engage with the brand.

More on Hybrid experiences and closing the gap in my next post.

Agencies, Marketing Integration, mocial, multi-channel, Partnerships

Hybrid Experiences – Integrating Mobile with Print, Social, Digital for Winning Customer Experiences

Retailers today struggle with what to give customers in store, how to create winning customer experiences, and how to create additional value and revenue. All are trying different tactics to increase revenues and loyalty through mobile /social sharing in store.

The question is, are these repeatable models to scale? Who owns this experience in a brand? Is there a central owner? I’ve heard more times than I can count that within each brand there are no short of 5 heads of marketing, each having different P&L, responsibilities and agendas. And then there are the brands’ agencies (plural), which all have different roles and agendas. So which agency and which VP of Marketing owns the “new hybrid” customer experience in store? When you determine who the owner is, where is their knowledge coming from? The lack of knowledge in the industry today on mobile is one of the main reasons so many brands have not done mobile, or not done mobile well. Mobile is exciting and it’s all over the news; you can’t help but read about a new mobile campaign rollout these days. Should you make corporate decisions by following what other brands have done?.Do you really want to follow exactly what your competitor is doing? Anyone can hit one homerun but that doesn’t get you an over .300 batting average. You have to engage a company that lives and breathes mobile, you can’t run your business day to day and be in tune with every new technology out there.

Now, let’s talk about the new hybrid customer experience. This is the experience in which customers engage with a brand in store in the new “digital, interactive, mobile, social” realm. The reason I don’t give it a name and it can be classified into four categories. No one knows what to call digital interactions in store.

One size consumer experiences do not fit all. We have to look at our new consumers groups and how they want to engage, the channel they want to engage and how to get them to re-engage and come back into the store. This is the biggest miss by brands in the marketplace today.

Each brand usually is targeting multiple demographics. First you must outline a mobile strategy to understand your demographic channels, how to engage and how often to re-engage. It’s just as important to first run “blocking and tackling” campaigns prior to “trick plays”. We see more brands trying to do far out innovative things and a only few will stick and work, but creating a foundation for building a mobile database that will last and not just be “one timers” is built from the main steps in mobile.

So who are the demographics and how do you reach them?

Moms with kids: These ladies are high texters, it’s the only way they can get ahold of their kids, they use the internet on their phones regularly to find things while on the go, they opt in to mobile campaigns to get value add and share with other mothers. This group is growing in smartphones but doesn’t use applications frequently as of today.

Minorities: This demographic uses their cell phones as the primary phone in the household. They have low landline usage and don’t have internet in home. They are primarily text users because it’s unlimited in their plans and they watch their cell phone minutes carefully. Typical phones are WAP or xHTML, very low smartphone users in this demographic.

Business Stakeholders: this is your group of business people that are in sales, technology or management and have a smartphone primarily to stay connected to work. They have applications downloaded on their phones and use a combination of text, email and internet on their phones. They typically have 7-10 applications downloaded on their phones and use 2-4 regularly.

Corporate Business: This group works for corporate America and is connected to Blackberries. Corporations aren’t getting off the Blackberry servers anytime soon due to the investment of the security issues with iPhones and Androids. These folks are Blackberry lovers because they can type fast in response to the high email and texting usage. The Berry Group, does use internet regularly but not as often as the other Business group and very limited applications downloaded.

Tweens: This group of cell phone users are feature phones and “smaller” Blackberries. Their parents need them to have a phone to reach them but don’t want to pay for a data plan. This demographic is about 90% texting, 10% voice, very limited smartphones.

High School/College Kids: Very similar to tweens, however this group uses text frequently, less voice, and limited data plans due to the costs. This group is very into Facebook and usually connects to this through the mobile website and not the application on their device.

Non Mainstream Male: this is the gamer, surfer, skateboarder, and musician 23-35 year old male. This group is the highest Android group and doesn’t want to conform to Apple and likes to be different and support new things. This group is big on gaming application downloads and texting, this group is not a fan of “voice” conversations and sometimes is irritated with phone calls.

So how do you connect and make an emotional connection and experience with these different consumer groups in store? You understand the key drivers around purchasing behavior, social behavior and choose interactions and experiences that go across multiple mobile channels to appeal to each demographic.

If you roll out a QR code program for tweens or minorities it will fail. If you roll out a QR code and SMS program for tweens, minorities and Moms, you will see the interactions by channel and give these groups multiple ways to engage with the brand.

More on Hybrid experiences and closing the gap in my next post.

Agencies, Marketing Integration, mocial, multi-channel, Partnerships

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