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Category: Mobile Insight

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

Higher Education: Alert Notification System Best Practices

Life inevitably throws us curve balls. Hazardous weather may cause an event to be delayed or cancelled. A natural disaster may cause a widespread outage or leave behind damage. Campus violence or crime may put people in extreme danger. Even something as mundane as a technical difficulty may cripple essential functions. In these circumstances, students and faculty need to be informed. When time is of the essence, the most reliable way to instantly inform people of circumstantial changes is an SMS emergency alert notification system.

Before we dive into some of the best practices for setting up your urgent alert notification system, let’s answer the question of why we should use SMS / Text for alerts.

Benefits of SMS Urgent Alert Notifications:

  • SMS texts can be broadcasted to a large group in a matter of seconds
  • SMS text is the preferred method of communication among college students
    • Open rates for texts are at about 99%, while open rates for emails are at about 15%
    • Approximately 90% of texts are read in under 3 minutes
  • SMS provides no requirement for an internet connection to receive an alert
  • SMS will often work even when voice circuits are overloaded
  • SMS provides receipt confirmation to show your message was successfully delivered
  • Some systems, like TrueDialog’s, allow recipients to discretely text back to the administrator (1-to-1) with live updates.

It’s clear that SMS text is opening doors for rapid information sharing, as well as improving overall safety and security on campus.  So, if you’re in the midst of developing (or improving upon) your urgent text system, here is some insight on the best practices.

Top 5 Best Practices for Creating an SMS Alert Notification System:

1. Determine who has the authority to send alerts

First, develop a protocol that establishes who exactly should be sending which type of alert, and under which circumstances.  Only key people should be given the capability to send mass alerts, so start by building your team.  Many alert notification systems will allow you to customize the rights and restrictions for each administrator.

2. Prewrite clear and concise messages

Spend some time carving out “canned” messages you know may be needed, such as campus closings due to severe weather.  Certainly pieces of information within the message will need to be changed once an actual situation arises, but it’s helpful to turn to an existing template during a critical situation.

3. Promote your Urgent Alert Notification System

One of the easiest ways to build your database is to include a subscription form with enrollment materials for new students.  Ensure both faculty and students know how the SMS Alert System works, and educate them on how they can reach campus security during an emergency via text.

4. Regularly train faculty and test the system

More than likely, your university won’t need to send out alert notification systems on a regular basis.  As time passes in between each send, it’s easy for urgent alert administrators to forget how to use the features of the system.  Periodically, you should conduct mock drills with faculty, and review the protocols your university has established.

5. Be conscious of how frequently the urgent alert notification system is used

Be courteous of your students and faculty by only sending urgent alert text messages that are absolutely needed.  Remember not to overuse the system, because if students feel they are receiving too many alerts, they may fall into the habit of ignoring them.  In order to avoid diminishing the importance of your messages, never blast your entire list (unless it is a major emergency, such as a campus shooting).  Segment your list and only send an alert to the people who would be impacted depending on the situation.

Conclusion:

Remember, the benefits of having a solid alert notification system in place at your university cannot be overstated, but there are important logistics that need to be sorted through in order to put a successful system in place.  For more best practices download whitepaper, “Higher Education: Regulations to Know Before You Text”.

If you’re university is currently in the market for an SMS urgent alert solution, TrueDialog can help.  Unlike other campus urgent alert solutions, with TrueDialog you can send mass SMS text, voice messages, email and social alerts in just one click.  Additionally, you can continue the dialog, one-to-one, when students reply to your broadcast.  Click here to learn more about the TrueDialgo SMS text platform.

If you have questions, we’re happy to help. Call 512-501-5947 or Text “Easy” to 370370.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational and educational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes legal advice.  The samples, suggestions, best practices and other information detailed here are provided as general background information only and may or may not be appropriate for your particular situation.  You should not act or rely on any information in this document without first seeking the advice of an attorney, and you agree that neither TrueDialog nor its agents shall have any liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on this information to the fullest extent permitted by law.

“Summer Melt”: How to Keep Students Enrolled in College

It’s no surprise that the transition from high school to college is full of obstacles and unknowns. But what may come as a surprise is that the summer prior is the most significant period in the college-intending student’s journey, and it’s often the most overlooked.

During the time between confirming college acceptance and arriving on campus in the Fall, teenagers are faced with major responsibilities, decisions and tasks to complete the enrollment process. And as it turns out, universities are failing to bridge that very important last mile.

What is Summer Melt?

College-intending students who fail to show up on campus in the fall comprise a phenomenon known as the “summer melt”. According to the U.S. Department of Education, about 20% of students who have committed to enroll “melt away,” with minority, lower-income and first-generation students being the most vulnerable.

If you’ve found that your university has been plagued the summer melt, fortunately there are tactics to keep students actively engaged and committed. Continue reading to learn why the summer melt matters, current melt statistics, and successful strategies that other universities are using to mitigate the phenomenon.

Top 3 Summer Melt Factors

There are many factors that impact a student’s ability to complete the last mile of the admissions process, but most commonly they boil down to the following:

1. Financial Burdens

The reality of just how much it costs to earn a degree begins to set in during summer months. Students begin to receive bills related to tuition, housing, and health insurance, and working through the logistics of setting up payment plans and budgeting for other costs can be overwhelming.

2. Lack of Support

After graduation, students support from high school staff naturally disappears. Also, not every student receives adequate support at home, and even parents who are involved may be just as overwhelmed by the process. During the summer, students are now tasked with paperwork and deadlines, many times without mentorship from there chosen university. To make matters more difficult, often times universities run on limited staff during the summer, so departments may be closed and support services may not be accessible when needed.

3. Transition Anxiety

Aside from all the logistics, it is common for students to feel emotionally unprepared to leave home. This apprehension may stem from family dynamics, but more often than not, students feel a lack of connection with their new school.

Top 3 Ways to Keep Students “Cool” During the Summer Melt

1. Go Mobile

According to Cappex, 77% of students do want relevant information from their university via text. Today’s average college student no longer uses email as their primary source of communication. In fact, open rates for emails have fallen to about 15%, where text message open rates are soaring at 99%. And 90% of these texts are read by the recipient in under three minutes. Texting college-intending students can simplify the process of sending task reminders, and improve students access to their academic information, as well as the overall relationship between the student and university.

2. Assign a School Counselor

Once a student has confirmed acceptance, they should be assigned a counselor to help them navigate through the entire enrollment process. If possible, universities should extend the counselors contracts to include summer months. Universities should also provide workshops for students and their families over the summer, or create a web-based portal to demonstrate how to complete certain tasks.

3. Build a Solid Community

Establishing a community where students feel at home at your university before they even set foot on campus will create a sense of loyalty. As a best practice, universities should start this process right after a student is accepted, which will even boost yield rates.

In order to encourage your students to start their college careers, your university has a big role to keep them on track during the summer. Research has proven that interventions do reduce the melt. In fact, Georgia State University was able to reduce summer melt at their university by 21.4% just by utilizing smart text messaging (click here to learn more about the study). Therefore, it’s worth the investment to put measures in place to close the opportunity gap at your university.

If your university is looking for a SMS text solution, click here to learn more about TrueDialog, the preferred platform for colleges and universities, and start your free trail today.

What will your university do to keep students “cool”?

Best Practices, Education, Mobile Solutions, SMS Campaigns, Universities and Colleges

Reducing Coupon Fraud With SMS

Coupon promotions have been a staple for businesses of all sizes. They have proven themselves to attract customers, increase sales and help reach organizational goals. But what may come as a surprise for many is that couponing is not without its rules and regulations. A major issue that continues to plague coupon advertising (even those delivered by SMS) is coupon fraud.

What Are Mobile Coupons?

Mobile coupons are digital coupons that are received and redeemed with a mobile device. These coupons are typically redeemed either by a code directly in the text itself or, a QR/bar code on a landing page. Despite their simplistic nature, mobile coupons have been very successful and have had a massive impact for a variety of industries. According to Juniper Research, 45% of mobile users will use mobile coupons this year with mobile coupon’s global usage projected to surpass 1 billion by 2019.

Types of Coupon Fraud

Coupon fraud takes on many different forms. Of course there are instances of consumers intentionally misusing coupons, manipulating offers, and even selling coupons. But one of the most common practices of coupon fraud is posting/sharing, or redeeming, codes on the increasingly popular coupon sharing sites, as well as social media. Coupons that are intended for one person to use are being released and repurposed by many. Even store employees are getting into trouble by using previously redeemed coupons for a customer without one. Often times, people don’t even realize they are committing a crime, but coupon fraud is very serious and a punishable offense.

Reducing Coupon Fraud

How can businesses go about protecting themselves from fraud? To explain this concept, let’s look at a recent example that we had here at True Dialog…

A quick service restaurant wanted to have a targeted coupon promotion for a particular region of their restaurants. However, incorporating a 3rd party coupon into their POS system wasn’t a feasible option. This meant that coupons would have to be entered manually which would increase the chances of both human error and coupon fraud. By using True Dialog’s Coupon Campaign builder, landing pages were automatically created that allowed end-users to both receive coupons by texting in a keyword to a short code. These coupons were then redeemed at participating stores. Since these coupons were single use only and were being redeemed at the register, any chances of customers posting on coupon sharing sites were eliminated which allowed franchises to control market spend.

Here are a few best practices when it comes to managing coupon liability:

  1. Create Single-Use Codes – For each unique device that is offered a coupon, ensure a different redemption code will be sent and the code will become invalid as soon as it’s redeemed.
  2. Use Unique URLs – Similar to creating different coupon codes, ensure your platform automatically generates unique URLs that cannot be shared from one user to another (even if copied and pasted).
  3. Set Expiration Dates – As a best practice, coupon campaigns should always have a start and end date. To ensure old coupon codes aren’t still circulating, have them expire as soon as the campaign ends.
  4. Use Personalized Messaging – It’s always a good idea to personalize your SMS messaging, but it’s even more so important when presenting coupon offers.
  5. Avoid Distributing Printed Coupons – Unlike mobile coupons, traditional methods for clearing paper coupons cannot be done instantaneously. Also, paper coupons are more susceptible to redistributing and counterfeiting.

Marketing Integration, Mobile Campaigns, Mobile Coupons, mobile CRM

Text Message Updates for Alumni

As you know, higher education institutions around the world are using text message updates to stay in communication with students, parents, and graduates. Alumni associations have quickly learned that the best way to stay connected is by strategically integrating text/SMS opt-in forms into their processes.

Here are a couple of ideas and real world examples of effective alumni SMS campaigns.

Alumni Event Updates

Many universities are turning to text message updates to announce upcoming events for their alumni near and far. Events include everything from reunions, to fundraising events. SMS has been an effective solution for not only sending invitations, but also gathering key data from alumni to deliver better events. SMS allows your association to collect votes on the top venues for hosting events, ask about topics for workshops, and collect RSVPs for events too.

Alumni Giving

Alumni choose to give back to their university for a number of reasons. Whether they want to show appreciation for their education, help someone else have a similar experience, or just want to stay connected, alumni are among some of the most generous donors. And once a new class passes graduation, an immediate goal for the university is to quickly get graduates into the habit of giving back. A practical way to build lasting relationships and sustain generosity is to stay in touch with alumni via SMS.  Even for graduates who aren’t willing to make a donation, SMS provides an outlet to ask them to support the school in other ways (such as volunteer opportunities).

Student and Alumni News

More than just event announcements are being sent via text, institutions are using SMS to keep those on and off campus up to date about what’s happening. Schools like the University of Southern Florida invite anyone – students, alumni, and even sports fans – to sign up for the latest USF news. If done really well, this program could even segment news updates so that contacts in the SMS database are only receiving news most pertinent to their interests.

You can segment text message updates with a dialog SMS campaign. Rather than using a basic SMS protocol that replies to the contact with a simple, “Thanks for opting in and stay tuned…,” you can ask a question. Try using  multiple choice question such as, “What kinds of university updates would you like to receive? Sports, Events, Student News, Alumni News, All.” As people reply with their choice, their account in your SMS database will be updated with that preference so you know what information to send to them.

Miami University aims to send only the most relevant news to their alumni by offering chapter-specific updates. When you visit their text message sign-up page, the sign-up form offers you the option to choose a specific alumni chapter to receive text message updates.

Updating Alumni Information

As we all know, people move and change jobs on a fairly frequent basis. Mobile numbers are one of the few contact data points that rarely change, making SMS communications vital.

Sometimes we miss the opportunity to gather that mobile phone number while people are still students. Don’t let this opportunity slip by. Lay a foundation today and start communication with students via text. It’ll payoff for years to come.

Curious how mobile technology can improve communications in your school? Learn More
 

Mobile Solutions, Universities and Colleges

How to Develop a Successful (and Stress-Free) SMS Strategy

There are over 6 billion texts sent via Americans every day, making text messaging the most prevalent form of communication, according to Gallup.  It’s no wonder organizations are jumping on board to use it as another platform to engage with their audience.  But for most of us, the thought of developing a strategy to start texting is just overwhelming.

In an effort to make this subject a bit easier to approach, we’ve compiled a list of a few quick and easy steps that will help get your organization well on its way!

Step 1 – Build Your List

One of the easiest ways to get people to subscribe to your list is to give them a chance to do so at every point of contact.

Brainstorm of all the places you can add your opt-in form.  For example, places like your website, social media accounts, and signature line are great places to start.  Also, train your staff to share the benefits of opting-in with your customers/clients/ network.

Step 2 – Segment Your List

When someone subscribes to your list, be sure to inquire as to how often they’d like to receive messages, and what type of information they want.  Then place them into categories based on these requests.

Segmenting your list will help ensure your audience is getting information that is most useful and relevant to them.  It could mean the difference between being a helpful, educational source, verses being ignored.

Step 3 – Learn Your Subscriber

After you’ve segmented your list based on preferences, take it one step further by personalizing your content.  Overtime, you may be able to analyze demographics, purchase history, and behavioral patterns to tailor your message even further.

Remember, being personable goes a long way when it comes to building your following.  Avoid using robotic and generic language.  Response rates are higher when the message feels as though it is addressed directly to the recipient.

Step 4 – Develop Short and Sweet Messages

With traditional SMS messages, you only have 160 characters to express yourself.  However, the faster you’re able to get to the point of your message, the better.

Before hitting “Send”, reread your message and eliminate any filler words and phrases.  Only include information that is most relevant, and communicate it in plain English.  Avoid capitalizing and abbreviating words, as well as using emoticons.  Keep it simple!

Step 5 – Include Calls-to-Action

The top priority of your SMS marketing program should be to have subscribers that are engaged and interact with the messages you send.  That’s why it’s important to include a clear call-to-action in your message.

If the goal of your message is to encourage your audience to take part in something, spell it out for them.  Make sure to not bury the objective in the message, or add too much fluff.  Also, use “buttons” whenever possible, such as “Click Here.” “Buy Now.” “More Info.”.

Best Practices, Company Success, Mobile Solutions, SMS Campaigns, SMS Marketing

Social Media ROI Measurement With SMS

It’s no secret that social media is a huge component in many digital marketing strategies. Social media marketing expenditure in the U.S has reached $7.52 billion dollars (Statista). Virtually every business has some form of social media presence today. To avoid talking to an empty room, marketers use different tactics, such as social media contests and coupons, to measure things like engagement and conversions. But, how do you maximize your social media ROI?

Nearly 80% of social media usage is conducted on a mobile device (Marketing Land). Since social media is already a mobile activity, text (SMS) should be a key element of your social media strategy. When done effectively, Texting can provide valuable insight into how well your social media efforts are converting followers into repeat purchase customers.

Social Media and SMS are the Perfect Pair

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So, how do we put text messaging and social media together? Well, for the most part, it’s similar to using an 800 or vanity number. Businesses can attach a short-code for followers to text into for mobile coupons, contests, or to start a mobile club. Imagine you’re a small burger joint opening  in town. You want to encourage all the locals to try your specialty burgers and prompt them to make a repeat purchase. You can have a keyword for new customers to text in to a short code so they receive a coupon for a free burger when new customers buy fries and a drink. This keyword can be worked into all social media materials from cover photos on Facebook, to a specified hashtag on Twitter, to descriptions on your business’s YouTube videos.

 

Measure Social Media ROI Instantly With Texting

Social media is an instantaneous way to reach a large audience while text messages provides equally instantaneous feedback. While likes and comments are great, they are very passive forms of engagement. A ‘like’ doesn’t always translate into a sale. However, when customers text to your designated short code for a free burger, they are taking that extra step to committing to a purchase.

Promoting your SMS campaign via social media allows a more efficient measure of social media ROI. With a simple text, a marketer can measure a variety of different things about their campaign. A text can serve as a good headcount of active people in your contact list, a way to measure coupon effectiveness, show which keywords are most effective, and more. With 3Seventy’s RESTful API, you can easily track outbound texts during the time of your social media campaign. Our API can also be easily integrated into other systems to have one, cohesive place for all marketing measurement.

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Have questions on what SMS can do for your media measurement? Feel free to email us at sales@truedialog.com or call us at 512-501-5940.

 

Mobile Marketing, SMS Campaigns, SMS Marketing, Social Media

Broadcast Media Measurement With SMS

Currently, the advertising business in the U.S is worth over $111 billion.  By 2020, revenue from TV and radio advertisement alone is projected to reach $81.7 and $17.68 billion respectively. With so much money circulated around advertising, it is important to make sure that your business’s advertising efforts are effective across your media channels. Vanity numbers, specialized URLs, and other methods are very popular for measuring media effectiveness. However, text messaging can be a valuable media measurement tool as well. With a high open and response rate, low cost implementation, and easy integration, SMS can be a valuable addition to any TV or radio advertisement.

How Does Media Measurement Work With SMS?

It may seem counter-intuitive to use a mobile approach to measure the results of broadcast advertising SMS is not only cost-effective, it  simplifies the overall measurement process. The concept is simple, have a short code associated with your advertisement that allows the viewer to text in when they see it. For example, imagine you’re a restaurant with airspace on all local TV and radio channels. You include a short code in your advertisements that allows viewers to text in and receive a mobile coupon for their next entree. Since people have their cell phones on them 97% of the time, high response is practically guaranteed. This serves as an an instantaneous tally of how many people you’re reaching with your commercial as well as how effective the commercial is.

Kill Multiple Birds With One Smartphone

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It is easy to see why the benefits of media measurements with SMS are substantial for your business. Let’s return back to the restaurant example. The first benefit of your SMS campaign is the prompting of customers to visit your restaurant with mobile coupons. About 74 million U.S smartphone users utilized mobile coupons in 2015; proving just how valuable they can be. In terms of media measurement, texting provides a few key benefits. As we said before, texting can provide an instantaneous count of how many people are seeing your advertisement at a given time. This means that you can figure out when and where your advertisements have the most impact. Maybe more people text in right before dinner time or around major holidays. Perhaps your commercial does better on stations with more family friendly content. Regardless, SMS makes it easy to see exactly where your advertisement stands.

 

Sources: Statista

 

Mobile Marketing, Radio, SMS Marketing, Television

Appointment Management With SMS

Can Texting Really Reduce Cancellations by 60%?

How important are meetings with new and existing customers for the health of your business? Although it is a very simple question to answer (hint: it’s very important), appointment management can be a tricky process.

For most business owners, appointment management is easy to maintain. The true challenge is ensuring that clients maintain their end of the bargain.

Late-arrivals and cancellations can be costly for any business. For example, imagine a doctor that owns her own practice. She averages about 10 appointments a day for $200 each. However, she has about five cancellations per week which is a $1,000 loss. By using texting (SMS) for appointment reminders, she can cut down her weekly cancellations to two thus bringing weekly cancellation losses down to only $400.

SMS is a great way to remind customers and clients about their upcoming appointments with your business. It provides the “just in time” reminder that automated emails may miss. In addition, using SMS with scheduling can help so businesses fill the gaps that cancellation leave behind. Whether it’s for a doctor’s appointment in the next few days or hair stylist confirming an appointment after it’s been scheduled, SMS can be an effective way to ensure customers keep their appointments with your business as well as maintain profit goals despite unavoidable cancellations.

 

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Did you know that text messaging is the most common smartphone activity in the U.S? The average American sends and receives about 32 text messages a day (Informate).

Since SMS is both used often and checked frequently, it is an effective means for appointment management. Common best practices include:

  • An initial text can be sent immediately or a day after a client schedules an appointment.
  • After confirmation, texts can be sent the day of or multiple times in the days leading up to the appointment.
  • Because of ease of use, clients can easily respond to the text confirmation so they can move or cancel the meeting if needed
  • Having a confirmation text a few days before the appointment can provide time for businesses to fill a spot if a cancellation occurs.

Deployment is a Breeze – SMS & CRM Are Very Compatible

Now that the benefits of SMS to manage appointments are crystal clear, how do you implement it into your existing scheduler? One of the benefits of using SMS for appointment management is how easily it integrates with virtually any CRM or API. This simple integration translates to easy implementation. A gateway SMS campaign can be integrated with a business’s scheduling software application to send triggered alerts to clients with upcoming appointments. Running all scheduling activities through one system reduces the chance of human error and provides a more seamless integration experience.

Most SMS solutions have the integration process mapped out to make implementation easy as possible. For example, the 3Seventy integration process happens almost instantaneously – with one phone call we can have you up and running.

 

If you have any questions about using SMS for appointment management, feel free to contact us, we are happy to help.

Happy texting!

Best Practices, Company Success, Mobile Solutions, Text Alert System

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