01/20/2017

5 SMS Marketing Tips for Veterinarians

 

 

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Helping animals in your community means making as many pet owners in your area as possible know about the services you provide. SMS marketing is one of the most versatile and cost-effective tools that businesses can use to reach out to communities.

Text message marketing makes it easy to get the message out to prospective patients, as well as providing a great way to communicate with your current clients.

Here are five ways SMS marketing for veterinarians can help your practice grow. 

Add a text call to action – and Increase the power of existing advertising

With people carrying phones in their pockets 24/7, by including a keyword and short code to your advertising, potential customers have an easy and instant way to get in touch with you to learn more as soon as they see your ads. Texting has been found to be a more powerful call to action than providing an email, web address or voice call contact.

 

Appointment Reminders

One of the most useful ways SMS marketing for veterinarians can enhance efficiency and reduce costs is through appointment reminders. A simple way to improve your customer communication, useful appointment reminders reduce the number of missed appointments. With a 98% final read rate, your reminders are always likely to be seen, and they give your patients that chance to let you know of any possible scheduling conflicts, so you can manage your appointment scheduling better.

 

Promotions and tips

Text messaging is also a great way to let your subscribers know about any new products or services you have to offer. Whatever you’re adding to your practice, from pet food to grooming services, you can encourage more footfall and an interest in the wider range of services that you provide. Sending out tailored pet care tips also helps you build a relationship with your patients, adding a personal touch, and ensuring they have all the info they need to care for their pets properly. 

 

Discounts

Vet’s bills can be expensive. It’s one of the reasons pet owners can put off those routine check-ups or vaccinations, saving trips to the vet for emergencies only. But offering special rates to text subscribers can motivate them to come in and see you.

Whether you’d like to offer exclusive discounts to first-time or existing patients, text message marketing allows you to get in touch with those who could benefit and let them know about your latest offers.

 

Patient Questions

The beauty of SMS marketing is that it isn’t just a one-way street. You can get in touch with patients, but they can get in touch with you too. Allowing pet owners to get in touch with you via text with their pet care queries is a valuable service that patients really appreciate, and helps to build trust and loyalty with your practice. Cheaper than manning the phones all day, all questions can be sent to a dedicated number to be reviewed by yourself or other staff members. You can then provide advice or ask the client to come in to see you in person if necessary.

 

10/31/2016

The App That Teaches CPR in Emergency Situations

 

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There are apps for business, there are apps for entertainment, there are apps for the weather, and there are apps that help save lives. One app that falls into the life-saving category is PulsePoint, a nonprofit application endorsed by the Red Cross and the American Heart Association, among others. The app provides updated CPR guidelines and otherwise encourages citizens to be active during emergency situations, rather than standing and watching them unfold. 

 

Using The Training

Nearly 60 percent of adults in the United States have undergone training to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or use an automated external defibrillator (AED). These people have acknowledged their willingness to help during times of emergency, yet only about 11 percent do. Those behind PulsePoint have used mobile technology to streamline CPR guidelines while simultaneously finding ways to appeal to this trained segment of the population. 

Think of the time it takes for paramedics or an EMS team to arrive at the scene when someone’s having a heart attack. Beginning the CPR process quickly doubles if not triples the individual’s survival rate; therefore, a mobilized, trained population could provide life-saving assistance during said window. 

 

How PulsePoint Works

So, how does PulsePoint work? Those trained in CPR or AED use register with the app and receive notifications whenever they’re near someone suffering from cardiac arrest. The app also lets these people know where the nearest public AEDs are located. 

EMS workers take over the emergency situation once they arrive; however, having a trained individual provide assistance until that time could easily be the difference between life and death. The app alerts anyone nearby who has PulsePoint the moment 911 is called. 

 

Crossover Potential

PulsePoint is currently working in small and large cities, including Fargo, North Dakota and Cleveland, Ohio. The app also offers extensive crossover potential in areas of public health, security, and education. This naturally depends on PulsePoint’s level of success; however, variations of the innovative software could provide assistance to assorted civil service functions. 

 

Creating Citizen Superheroes

The official PulsePoint website stresses that the app is a way to create superheroes out of regular citizens with CPR training who are interested in putting their skills to excellent use. The site notes that SCA can happen any time, at any location, and the more citizens are aware of the health of their community members, the more they become helpful partners to paramedics and similar service agents. 

PulsePoint is challenging those trained in CPR and AED to be proactive instead of looking the other way when they see an ambulance go by or hear those familiar sirens. The website notes this is even more imperative when an ambulance or fire truck is stuck in horrendous traffic. Rather than depriving cardiac arrest victims of the help they need, PulsePoint is encouraging the average person with CPR training to help his or her fellow citizen when it’s direst. 

Will the app become the new standard in cardiac arrest cases? 

 

10/26/2016

Mobile Wallets Are Faster, So Why Wait for Chip and PIN?

 

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Have you used a chip reader yet? First, you dig out your credit card, stick it in the machine, wait a few seconds, remove the card, sign the dotted line, and then you get your receipt. 

It’s a simple process, but it’s more time consuming than the previous swipe method, and the public, as well as merchants, are taking note of the extra time it takes at checkout. In fact, chip-enabled credit cards can take as long as 10 seconds to complete a transaction; add those seconds up over an 8-hour work day, and you might find that customers are starting to tap their feet. 

Chip technology was, and still is, a huge victory for financial institutions and retail stores; reducing fraud with this technology has been successful by most accounts. However, businesses were slow to adopt chip readers, and banks launched a defense wherein retailers would take on the burden of fraudulent charges. 

Merchants responded in kind, but were likely unaware of the excess wait times they’d be facing as a result. According to a new report by Iovation and the research firm Aite Group, by the end of this year, 80 percent of all credit cards in the U.S. will include chip technology

 

Alternatives for Chip Technology 

Chip technology wasn’t the only solution to the original problem, nor is it the only viable alternative today. Mobile wallets have been around for years, including Google Wallet, which was first introduced back in 2011 and released to the public late the same year. Tim Cook announced Apple Pay back in 2014, yet very little awareness of mobile wallet technology exists in the public.

This is partly because many retail stores don’t yet support mobile payment technology, but it’s also a result of slow adoption from consumers, many of whom are dubious of the new payment system. 

However, they might also feel compelled to get familiar with mobile wallet technology when they grow tired of waiting in line at the grocery store, restaurants, or the local coffee shop. Some mobile wallet processing takes as little as 2.4 seconds, and you don’t even have to bring your wallet to the store—just your smartphone.

Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay are all working to streamline their systems and overcome the greatest challenge of all: getting the average consumer to ditch plastic cards altogether. 

 

Chip Vs. Mobile Wallet Safety 

There’s a lot of debate over which method of payment is more secure: chip or mobile. But where one has seen more adoption (chip technology), the other (mobile wallets) is looking to springboard off the chip.

According to a paper by officials from the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and Boston, the “…contactless mobile solution provides the framework for the enhanced security present in the EMV chip+PIN card environment, while also introducing new security layers unique to the mobile phone, including password protection to operate the mobile phone and access applications securely embedded in the phone.”

And that’s exactly what mobile wallets plan to do moving forward, assuming they can get consumers on board with the idea of paying for everyday items with their phones.

At the end of the day, mobile wallets will be faster and safer than cards (with or without chip technology), so it’s odd to see so much retail commitment when it’s possible that mobile wallets could make chip technology obsolete. 

 

10/18/2016

Mobile Marketing Campaigns for Restaurants

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It seems like every day a new French bistro or craft beer pub opens up. In today’s bustling marketplace, small factors can have a huge impact on your bottom line. Take smartphones, for example. Did you know that two thirds of Americans own a smartphone, and more than six billion texts are sent out daily? So, it comes as no surprise that having a strong mobile presence can be beneficial to your business.

Here is how mobile marketing campaigns for restaurants can help restauranteurs bring more diners through the door. 

Mobile Coupons

In the old days, restaurants relied on printed coupons to fill seats and increase revenue. In today’s digital age, mobile coupons are seeing a 1,000 percent higher buy rate than print coupons. Moreover, digital coupons cost a lot less than print ones. In order to entice buyers, you need to set up a snackable rotation of customer coupons that you can use with different kinds of diners. Here are a few ideas:

  • Percentage off entire order
  • Buy one, get one free
  • Get a side item or drink free with purchase of an entrée
  • Discounts on purchases over a dollar amount (for example, $5 off a $30 purchase)

In order to get diners to jump on these offers faster, only offer them for a short period of time via SMS messaging or text.

Loyalty Rewards

Reward your repeat patrons with tasty rewards and exclusive company announcements. Text message campaigns allow consumers to opt in to the service. Keep a list of all of the diners who are repeat customers and send them personalized loyalty offers – such as free dessert coupons on their birthdays.

Timing Is Everything

When it comes to reaching hungry mouths, timing is important. You can drastically improve response rates by sending your text messages at the right times. For example, send a message between the hours of 11am and 1pm when people are opting where to go for lunch. Entice them with a special lunchtime deal that is only good for a certain amount of time. If you own a bar/restaurant, send exclusive happy hour deals, such half-off drink or bar snack specials.

Seamless Mobility

In order for customers to reach your website, it should be built for mobile phones. If you send a text message directing them to a deal on your website and they cannot navigate your site on their mobile devices, you both will not be able to reap the benefits.

Hone in on Your Target Market

Recently, Dunkin’ Donuts ran a focused marketing campaign in the Boston area. The campaign was advertised on local radio stations and through mobile internet ads. This generated 7,500 customers opting in to receiving Dunkin’ Donuts mobile offers. 

Consider running targeted marketing campaigns for customers in a specific region, especially if you own more than one restaurant location.

In order to fill more seats and generate revenue, restauranteurs need to start taking advantage of mobile marketing. 

 

 

 

06/14/2016

Cracking the Conference Circuit with Group Texts

 

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If you attend or put on conferences, for your benefit or as part of your job duties, you’ll probably notice a lot more conference activities taking place via text message these days. Text messaging technology is becoming a go-to way for conference organizers and even conference speakers to communicate with employees, vendors, and attendees. Those who depend on conferences to earn their living, and to receive valuable knowledge, are quickly learning that group texting is an efficient way to share information with a large amount of people and share that information all at once, if need be.

 

Group Texts to Coordinate Conferences

Have you been in charge of running a conference, or have you been an attendee at a conference, and run into a situation where there was a last-minute room change, equipment failure, or other emergency that many people needed to know about right away? Group texting can be an easy way to notify anyone who needs to know about a conference change of the new details in an quick and efficient manner. 

To make group texting work for conference attendee notifications, it’s imperative that conference organizers have partners’ phone numbers, and that they ask anyone who’s attending a conference to provide a phone number. If you’re faced with a situation where your keynote speaker has come down with a bad flu the day of the conference, you can even use group texting services to mass text your contacts and quickly find a replacement.

 

Group Texting and Conference Speakers

Conference speakers use group texting to build their marketing lists on the spot, while they’re on stage in some instances. Some of the best speakers bound onto the conference floor, get their audience fired up and energized in the way they do best, and then ask attendees to pull out their cell phones on the spot to text for a free gift or get added to a list for immediate after-conference bonus material.

Why use text as a means of communication, and why during the middle of the conference? Speakers know that email open rates run at less than 25 percent, so they realize that 75 percent of an audience might not get a speaker’s valuable information, or reach back to connect if email addresses are relied upon as a means to follow-up communication. These speakers have probably also read that text messages are opened at a rate of more than 90 percent, which means there’s a much greater chance of making a connection with a potential client or customer after the conference, if text messaging is chosen as a method of communication.

 

People Are Hungry for Information

The masses are hungry for information, whether for professional or personal gain. However, they want this information immediately, which is why group texting services can provide numerous benefits over email, written, or verbal communication on the conference circuit. Group texts can help solve advertising and even logistics challenges, and they can build relationships and marketing lists. They can make lives easier and simpler in an age when most people depend on their smartphones for nearly everything.

Need to distribute critical notes, links to conference material, or live recordings of conference events? Consider using mass group texting. Including a live Q&A session in your conference or sending out follow-up surveys? Group texting can come through for you in these instances and many others.

 

05/28/2016

Apple Hit with New Lawsuit

 

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VoIP-Pal (VPLM) recently filed a lawsuit against mobile technology giant Apple, stating that Apple has infringed upon its patented innovative call classification and product design technologies. The VPLM case, which was filed in a U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, Nevada this month, seeks more than $2.8 billion in damages from the computing and technology leader.

The damages sought in the lawsuit have been calculated at exactly $2,836,710,031, based 1.25 percent of royalties of the estimated profits Apple received throughout the history of its Mac (10%), iPhone (55%), and iPad (35%). 

 

An Issue with Patent or Pending-Patent Use

VPLM, through its case, that Apple has infringed upon its patents or pending patents with the development and sale of services like iMessage, Wi-Fi Calling, and FaceTime (which are available on various Mac, iPhone, and iPad devices).

It claims that Apple’s use of VPLM’s technology (as well as designs, features, and products) greatly infringes upon the marketing efforts of VPLM, for its own products that are similar and innovative. VPLM states that Apple used the company’s caller attribute classification protocol, as well as its call routing product design, instead of employing its own independent products and designs. This, says VPLM, is in violation of the company’s intellectual property rights. 

The Nevada court filing cites several ways in which VPLM believes Apple has infringed on its patents, including employing various VPLM messaging capabilities in the iMessage app. The VPLM case claims that Apple’s iMessage application directly and/ or indirectly makes use of specific technology included in the VoIP-Pal patent, including “the classification of a user, and, subsequently, how the call should be routed.”

 

Legal Action After Failed Communications

VoIP-Pal, a Bellevue company, delayed taking legal action until now, because it remained hopeful that it could work out a licensing situation with Apple in regards to the VPLM patent portfolio. VPLM says the company is still wishing for an amicable solution. We are “confident,” says VoIP-Pal CEO, Email Malak, that a favorable outcome can be reached for both parties and that the two sides will continue their current good.

VoIP-Pal describes itself as a “technical leader in the broadband VoIP market.” The company acquired Digifonica, a network operator, in 2013 and it currently does not generate income. However, it has plans to put its VoIP technology to use in creating products that will enhance the mobile marketplace.

 

 

05/27/2016

Mobile Tech and the Automotive Industry

 

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More an American institution than a mere brand, Ford is joining the mobile revolution with the launch of a new app. What’s interesting about it is that it has nothing to do with operating or securing their product - not directly anyway. 

The 120-year-old company has taken a commendably modern approach to the app, which is not so much about promoting their cars as promoting the whole concept of mobility, whether by public transportation, ride-sharing services, bicycles or car (Ford or otherwise).

The FordPass app claims to offer a ‘marketplace for mobility solutions.’ It’s a bold move. The automotive giant is accepting and taking advantage of changing attitudes to motor travel. Car ownership for every person or family in America was an aspiration largely created and marketed by Ford themselves. But it’s no longer inevitable that each individual will even desire their own vehicle, with many people choosing to forgo it altogether.

Vehicle sharing, whether in the form of companies like Lyft and Uber, or community-based car pool systems, is part of the ecologically-aware zeitgeist, especially among younger people. By embracing this changing culture and reaching out, not just to non-Ford owners but to those with no car at all, the company hopes to own the conversation - or at least part of it - surrounding the ethical, environmental and health ramifications of one car, one person.

Ok, ok, but what does it do? Well, the app has a lot going for it. Like many multi-purpose apps, the best way of getting to grips with it is to download it yourself and have a play around. The central feature, ‘My Vehicles’ allows drivers to upload information about their cars, trucks and motorbikes, such as model details and how many miles are on the clock. 

The loyalty program allows users to accrue points when they buy a Ford vehicle, fill up on gas or schedule a parking space using the app. In addition, the app functions as a key capable of starting the engine and remotely locking and unlocking your car (though perhaps not in that order) - a feature only usable on recent models.

Other features include parking assistance, which allows you to geo-locate your vehicle in large parking lots.

05/04/2016

Mobile App Solutions for Travelers

 

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Taking a vacation this year? For some, the stresses incurred by traveling is enough to put them off going away at all. Fortunately there’s an abundance of mobile technology designed to make travel more enjoyable and minimize the stress. Here, we take a look at some of the bast travel-centered apps to hit the market:

 

Citymapper

Available in 30 cities around the world, Citymapper is designed to help you navigate around unfamiliar places in ways that Google Maps alone can’t. It provides detailed, easy-to-use journey planners, with real time disruption alerts and departure times for public transport. It also integrates Uber, and has a nifty cycle route map, so all your potential travel requirements are covered.

 

Wolfram Sun Exposure

Enter your skin type and location and this app - available on iOS - will tell you how long you can safely stay in the sun before getting burned. Other data inputs include the time of day and the strength of the sun cream you’ve lathered on. For those with sun-sensitive skin, Wolfram is a real boon when travelling to sunny climes.

 

Duolingo

With more than 70 million registered members, Duolingo is fast becoming the go-to app for basic language tuition. It’s no substitute for proper language lessons, but if you want enough to get by and show some common courtesy to your host country, this well-designed tool game-ifies the learning process to keep you incentivized. Duolingo covers 21 languages - enough to assist you in the most commonly visited countries around the world; it even offers a course in Esperanto, which is more popular than you might think - 30 users daily have completed the Esperanto course since its launch in 2015.

 

XE Currency

Your one-stop shop for online currency conversions, this app proves that the simplest ideas are the best. With more than 20 million downloads since launching, XE Currency has added a few useful features recently, including current market rates for precious metals and historic currency charts. But the main attraction remains the user-friendly conversion platform, which handily saves the last updated rates in real time, so that you always have up to date information - even in locations with limited connectivity.

 

Tripit

Your own personal travel agent pulls together all those strands of travel info that used to be so complicated to manage. All you have to do is forward your various confirmation emails regarding flights, hotels, rental cars, dinner and event bookings, and Tripit creates a single itinerary for your entire vacation. 

 

App in the Air

This flight tracking app - one of a few on the market - claims to cover more airlines and airports than any other. Stay in the loop regarding delays, departures and arrivals, and use the integrated version within the aformentioned Tripit app to make life even easier.

04/30/2016

Starbucks Launches Emoji Keyboard

 

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If you’ve ever dreamed sending emoji of a unicorn drinking coffee to a friend or family member, that dream is now reality. Starbucks recently launched a keyboard app that’s all about entertainment as opposed to the coffee company’s main objective: selling food and beverages. The app allows you to send pictures of coffee, Frappuccinos, teas, and purple unicorns drinking caffeinated beverages to friends and family. 

 

Snaps Media Partnership

This keyboard app was not released under Starbucks on Apple or Google Play, rather it was created with the help of Snaps Media, a company that works with a variety of brands interested in launching keyboard apps and emojis. Brands working with Snaps Media don’t have the time or desire to craft related apps, which is why the company boasts a client list that includes Nickelodeon, VH1, TCM, MTV, BET, sports teams, and television shows such as Broad City, Deadpool, Portlandia, and Workaholics. Snaps Media also works with brands such as Dove, Sour Patch Kids, Coco-Cola, Pepsi, and Victoria’s Secret. 

 

App Developer Inspiration

Starbucks is undoubtedly a very popular brand, and one that has inspired more than a few app developers to use the famous name to promote their own App Store options. For example, searching for ‘Starbucks’ results in the pop-up of numerous “secret menu” apps, as well as coupon finders and “nearest store” locators. An emoji keyboard is subsequently not exactly a shocking new possibility related to the coffee juggernaut. 

 

First Time

The app is the first time Starbucks has introduced an emoji keyboard dedicated to mobile users. 

“Starbucks’ first emoji app features favorite Frappuccino blended beverages, iced tea, coffee, and even a purple unicorn sipface,” the company announced on its newsroom page, and promised new content is coming soon. 

 

Keyboard Quality

So what about the keyboard’s quality? According to initial reviews, it’s not great. Complaints about icon quality and the fact that emojis must be copied and pasted into messages are putting consumers off, however these problems are generally synonymous with emoji keyboards. This includes Kimoji, the most popular emoji app of the moment. 

 

Where It Works

The Starbucks emoji keyboard is the same as other popular third-party apps in that it’s available through SMS/iMessage, messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Messenger, and in email among other options. The release comes on the heels of Starbucks’ revitalized Rewards program and their “more personalized” mobile app. The new version of the company’s flagship app includes the new Rewards program as well as entertainment program options and mobile ordering improvements. 

The emoji keyboard app is free to download on both Google Play and the iTunes App Store. Starbucks has already led the way in terms of mobile app payments, so whether their keyboard app will become the most popular option of its kind should be interesting. Whatever the results, Starbucks’ foray into the mobile world demonstrates the company’s ambition in terms of mobile loyalty and related commerce. 

Besides, who doesn’t want to send an emoji of a purple unicorn drinking a cup ‘o joe? 

04/29/2016

Exceeding Consumer Expectations in the Social Media Age

 

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In the age of user reviews, accessed with a few keystrokes and even fewer minutes, good customer service is more important to business success than ever. There’s a valid argument that social media gives consumers an unfair upper hand, that it’s too easy for one difficult, disgruntled customer to trash a reputation online. But it cuts both ways: if you can create a positive experience for enough customers, some of them will go as far as singing your praises on Yelp, TripAdvisor - or whatever the relevant review sites in your industry are.

 

So instead of trying to suppress bad reviews - a big ask that could easily backfire - concentrate on exceeding expectations with a view to overwhelming those negative nancies by dint of a lovebomb campaign from happy customers. If you streamline your customer experience and make it a satisfying one, a positive online presence will start to create itself…

 

Stay in Touch

Following up with customers immediately after a sale will help you respond quickly and proactively to any problem areas. Email or text them (with consent, of course) to ask them to rate the experience. A simple five star rating method will take a second for them to click, and make additional comments and suggestions an optional extra. Another proactive way of collecting feedback for retailers is to simply communicate with customers at the register. Put together a focus group, issue SMS surveys - anything to harvest more information on how your business is perceived. When it comes to the customer experience, no amount of data is too much.

 

Provide an Easy Complaints Process

Most complaints can be dealt with to the satisfaction of the customer if the process for submitting and handling complaints is simple. The last thing you want to do when someone has an issue is further frustrate them with a hard-to-find, slow-to-respond complaints process. Create an official complaint form and link to it clearly from your homepage. The more quickly you can resolve a complaint, the less likely the complainant is to criticize you on social media.

 

Respond to Negative Feedback

If you have been treated unfairly on a review site, join the conversation. Gently offer to resolve the issue, and avoid becoming emotional about it, even if the person in question is a tricky customer. Even the most committed armchair critic can be lovebombed into submission, so budget for the provision of freebies and other incentives - or rather, disincentives to complain.

 

Tracking Tools

Tracking tools like Hootsuite and Google Alerts are a great way of monitoring what’s being said about your company.