Summer is here at last!  Summer means rejoicing because of no school and no homework.  Summer means splashing in the pool or relaxing on the beach.  And for many families, summer means camp.  Many organizations are utilizing text messaging to help make the summer camp experience better.  Here are 4 ways that summer camps can use text alerts.

Girls in a double kayak

  1. Promotions

People need to know about your summer camp, or else you won’t have any campers!  Texting is a great way to spread the word and get people excited about your camp.  You can let potential campers know about dates, costs, and other pertinent information.

  1. Activity updates

Parents enjoy receiving updates about what their kids are up to while at camp.  Parents like to be aware of what’s going on, and receiving texts helps them feel connected—especially if they are separated from their child for a long period of time.  Texting is also useful to let parents know about pick-up times or delays when their kids are on their way home.

  1. Day camp reminders

If your summer camp is a day camp rather than an overnight camp, then parents will appreciate reminders about upcoming schedules and activities.  Reminders such as, “Don’t forget to wear your swimming gear for tomorrow’s trip to the lake,” or “Bring a water bottle for the hiking trip tomorrow” are useful so that kids don’t come unprepared.

  1. Emergencies and cancellations

Although parents don’t like to think about it, the unfortunate truth is that emergencies sometimes happen at summer camp.  In the (rare) event that something serious does happen, texting is a quick and convenient way to inform a large amount of people about an emergency or a cancellation.

 

Summer camp represents some of the best memories of my childhood.  Why not incorporate texting into your camp to help improve the experience (if only for the parents, at least)?

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Welcome to Mobile Text Alerts!

Hre is a walk-through of your Control Panel and all its features.

Below is the table of contents for this tutorial, so that you can scroll down or click the link to a specific section as needed:

  1. Dashboard
  2. Messages: Send a Message
  3. Messages: Scheduled Messages
  4. Messages: Message Templates
  5. Message Replies
  6. Subscribers: Manage Subscribers
  7. Subscribers: Import Subscribers
  8. Manage Groups
  9. Keywords
  10. Marketing Tools: Loyalty Rewards
  11. Marketing Tools: Digital Coupons
  12. Manage Administrators
  13. Reports
  14. Upgrades
  15. Settings
  16. Billing
  17. Help

1. Dashboard

When you first log in to your account, the first screen you see is the Dashboard Summary:

From this screen you can view your account at a glance.  Towards the top of your screen, you can read about the different ways to get subscribers (for reference).  In addition, you can view the number of messages sent this calendar month from your account, the number of messages sent this calendar year from your account, the number of subscribers you have added this month, and your total number of subscribers.  The middle of your screen displays recent posts from the Mobile Text Alerts blog, as well as tutorials that you may find helpful in trying to figure out how the system works.

If you scroll down, then you can see your recently sent messages and any upcoming messages that you have scheduled to go out at a particular date/time:

 

2. Messages: Send a Message

If you click on the “Messages” tab on the left column of your screen, a drop-down menu will appear with two options.  You can either click “Send a Message” to send out a message, “Scheduled Messages” to manage your scheduled messages, or “Message Templates” to create and manage message templates.

Messages navigation bar

 

Clicking “Send a Message” will take you to the Send a Message screen:

Send a message

 

From here you can select to either send a message now or to schedule a message to be sent at a later date or time.  If you want your message to be sent out to all of your subscribers, you can check the box in the middle of the screen.  If you want your message to be sent out just to specific groups that you have created, you can enter the group’s name in the box that says “Select Group(s).”  (More on groups later.)

If you want to send your message to individual numbers, you can scroll down to manually select subscribers by checking the “Send Message” box of the members that you would like to send the message to:

send a message3

After you have selected your intended recipients, scroll down to the bottom of the screen to the “Message Content” box.  There you can type your message, click “Send Message” (or “Schedule Message,” if you are scheduling a message to be sent out later), and your message will be sent!

The “Insert Into Message” drop-down box allows you to insert the first and last names of your individual subscribers into your message to help personalize the message for each recipient. It also allows you to insert a link (this will shorten the link for you and allow you to track how many people have clicked the link under your Reports). Finally, it allows you to insert a link for any digital coupons you have created under your Marketing Tools tab.

Clicking “Post to Facebook” will allow you to post your message to any groups over which you’re an administrator (you must have your account connected to Facebook under your Settings).

 

 

3. Messages: Scheduled Messages

Clicking on “Scheduled Messages” will take you to this screen:

scheduled messages

On this page you can manage all of your scheduled messages.  You can see information about your messages, including the text of the message, the number of recipients, the scheduled date/time, and how often the message is set to repeat.

If you need to edit any of the information, click on the pencil and paper icon under the “Edit” column.  If you want to delete a scheduled message, click on the trash can icon under the “Delete” column.

To add a new scheduled message, click on the purple “Schedule a New Message” button at the bottom of the screen.

 

4. Messages: Message Templates

Clicking “Message Templates” will take you a screen that allows you to save templates of messages so that you can use the same wording in future messages without having to type it all out every time.

To create a message template, click the green “Create a Message Template” button.

This will take you to another screen in which you will give your template a name and type out the content of your message template into the text box.  Click “Save Template” and your message template will be created. Your message template will now show up on the “Message Templates” page.

Clicking the “Send Template” icon will take you to the “Send a Message” page, from which you can select the recipients of the message.

The name of your message template can be used as a keyword to quickly send out the entire template by texting in from your phone.

 

5. Message Replies

If you send out a message and subscribers reply to your message, you can view these replies from an inbox on your Control Panel.

Message Replies

From this page you will be able to see a report of the replies you have received to your messages.

You can click on one of the replies to view a history of messages sent to and from that subscriber. You can export your replies report by clicking the button on the bottom right corner.

 

6. Subscribers: Manage Subscribers

To manage, add, edit, remove, or import subscribers, click the “Subscribers” tab on the left-hand column of your screen.  A drop-down menu will appear with the options “Manage Subscribers” or “Import Subscribers.”

subscribers

Click “Manage Subscribers” to add, edit, or remove subscribers.  The “Manage Subscribers” screen will look like this:

manage subscribers

  • To add a subscriber – click the green “Add a Subscriber” button and a new row will be added to the list of subscribers. Type in the new subscriber’s first name, last name, phone number, and email, and then click “Save” on the right side of the row to save the information.
  • To remove a subscriber – click the row of a subscriber to highlight that row. In the below example, I want to remove “Sam Smith,” so I clicked on the row with that name:

remove subscriber(NOTE: Do not click on the actual name of the subscriber, because the system will think that you are trying to edit the subscriber.  Click on the empty space on the subscriber’s row.)

After you have highlighted the subscriber that you want to remove, click the red “Remove Subscribers” button toward the top of the screen and the subscriber will be removed from your account.  Hold shift when highlighting subscribers to select multiple subscribers to remove at once.

  • To add to or remove from groups – click on the row of a subscriber (or hold shift and click on the rows of multiple subscribers).  Then click “Add Subscribers to Group” or “Remove Subscribers from Group” as desired. A drop-down menu will appear with a list of your groups.  From this menu, select the group that you want to add your subscriber(s) to or remove your subscriber(s) from.
  • To edit a subscriber’s information – click the pencil and paper icon underneath the “Edit” column on the row of the subscriber that you would like to edit.

manage subscribers3

You can then edit the subscriber’s first name, last name, phone number, and email address.  Be sure to click “Save” when you are done to save your changes.  Click “Cancel” if you want to cancel any changes that you made.

 

7. Subscribers: Import Subscribers

If you click on the “Subscribers” tab of the menu on the left of the screen, another option that you have is “Import Subscribers.”  This allows you to import members from a spreadsheet.

import subscribers

Clicking on “Import Subscribers” will take you to this screen:

import subscribers2

As the page explains, you can drag and drop a spreadsheet from your computer onto the large box that says “Drop files to upload.”  Or you can click on the box to upload a file from your computer.  Your spreadsheet must be in XLS, XLSX, ODS, or CSV format; you can click on the “template spreadsheet” link to download a template that will be in the correct format.

 

8. Manage Groups

Click on the “Manage Groups” tab on the left-side column to add, edit, or remove groups on your account.

manage groups

This will take you to the “Manage Groups” screen:

manage groups2

“Groups” allow you to organize your subscribers into different segments (groups) so that you can send messages.  Instead of selecting members individually and sending messages that way, you can send to different groups as needed.

Adding, removing, and editing groups is similar to adding, removing, and editing members (see the previous instructions in the “Manage Subscribers” section).  Click “Add a Group” to create a new group.  You can add members to your groups from the “Manage Subscribers” tab.  If you want to remove a group, highlight which group(s) you want to delete and click “Remove Groups,” or click the “Delete” trash can icon on the group’s row.

When editing a group, you can switch “Hide Group” on or off.  If “Hide Group” is turned on, then that group will not show up on your sign-up page.  You can also designate a “Group Keyword” and type in a “Welcome Message” for your group members to see when they join your group.  Again, make sure to click “Save” when you are done editing the group to save your changes.

You can add/remove members from your groups from the “Manage Subscribers” tab, as explained in the section above.

Click the “View Members” link on the group’s row to see which (if any) of your subscribers belong to that group.

 

9. Keywords

From the “Keywords” tab you can manage and purchase shortcode keywords for your account.  These keywords allow users to text in to a shorter 5 digit number to be added to your subscriber list.

From the Manage Keywords page you can view the shortcode keywords already associated with your account.

You can also switch the Target Group (if any) affiliated with each keyword.  If a keyword is affiliated with a Target Group, then anyone who texts in that keyword to the shortcode number will be added directly to that group.  You can also edit the auto-response message that people will receive when they text in the keyword.  Be sure to click “Save” if you make any changes.

Click the green “Purchase a Keyword” button to purchase additional keywords.

 

10. Marketing Tools: Loyalty Rewards

From the Loyalty Rewards page you can keep track of how many purchases people have made, and they can be notified if they have earned a loyalty reward based on their number of purchases.

From your Settings you can select how many purchases someone must make before earning a reward, and you can also set whether or not the subscriber is notified after each purchase they make. You can add a purchase on the “Loyalty Rewards” page each time the subscriber makes one, and once the subscriber hits the designated number of purchases they will receive a text notifying them that they have earned a reward.

Simply select the subscriber who made a purchase, enter how many purchases they made toward the bottom, and click “Add Purchases.” The counter will keep track of how many you have added for each subscriber.

 

11. Marketing Tools: Digital Coupons

The Digital Coupons page allows you to create beautifully designed digital coupons.

Each digital coupon can be created with a header, an image, contact information, and instructions on how your customers can redeem your digital coupon.

Once your coupon is created, you will be able to insert a link for your coupon in any of the messages you send using the “insert into message” drop-down menu on the “Send a Message” page.

 

12. Manage Administrators

From the “Manage Administrators” tab, you can add, edit, or remove administrators from your account.

manage administrators

If you have multiple people handling your account, you may want to designate administrators.  You can do that from this page:

manage administrators2

You can add, remove, and edit administrators in that same way as subscribers and groups.  Click “Add an Administrator” to create a new administrator and click “Remove Administrators” to delete highlighted administrators (for more detailed explanations, see the “Manage Subscribers” section of this tutorial).  To edit an administrator, click the pencil and paper icon on the row of the administrator you would like to edit.

When editing, you can designate a username, password, phone number, and email for the administrator.  You can also select specific groups to attach to that administrator under “Administered Groups.”  The administrator will only have access to the specified group(s) and will not have access to anything else on the control panel except sending messages to the group(s).

If you want the administrator to have full access to the entire control panel, you can designate them as a “Super Administrator” by toggling the “Super Administrator” switch from off to on when editing.

Be sure to click “Save” when you are done editing, or else all of your changes will be lost.

 

13. Reports

From the “Reports” tab, you can view several different reports you may find useful.

The “Subscriber Report” will show you helpful graphs detailing various patterns and aspects of your subscriber list.

The “Subscriber-Group List” simply shows a list of subscribers and any groups they are a part of.

The “Sent Messages Report” screen will look like this:

reports2

From here you can see a list of all your sent messages.  You can see the text of the message under the “Message” column.  The “Recipients” column shows you how many members received the message.  You can also see the date that the message was sent and whom the message was sent by.

Clicking the arrow under the “Send Message Again” column from the row of any of your sent messages will take you to the “Send a Message” screen and will automatically copy the text into the message box so that you can easily send the message again.

Clicking the links under the “Recipients” column will bring you to this screen:

reports3

This screen shows you the first name, last name, phone number, and email address of the recipients of your message.  The “Status” column will tell you whether or not the message was successfully sent from the system.  It will say “SUCCESS” if the system successfully sent the message, and it will say “FAILED” if the system detected an error when attempting to send.

Lastly, the “Link Tracking” report will show any links you have sent in your messages via the “Insert Link” function, and it will show you how many times each link has been clicked.

 

14. Upgrades

From this page you can see a list of upgrades you can add to your text alert services.

upgrades navigation bar

Clicking the “All Upgrades” link will give you a list of all upgrades available at a glance.

all upgrades

You can click on the link for each upgrade to get further explanation.

 

15. Settings

Click the “Settings” tab to manage your account settings.

Settings

The “Settings” page will look like this:

settings2

From “Account Settings” you can change the keyword for your account.  Type it in the textbox and click “Save.”  You can also change your account’s password.

Click “Control Panel Settings” to see this screen:

settings3

You can set “Send Messages to Emails and Phones” to “on” or “off.”  If you set this to “on,” then your messages will be sent to subscribers’ emails in addition to their phones (if you have an email address listed for them).  If you set this to “off,” then messages will only be sent to subscribers’ phones.  Be sure to click “Save” if you make any changes.

Clicking “Sign-up Settings” will take you to this screen:

settings4

From here you can edit your welcome message for when your subscribers sign up, and you can edit your organization name.  You can also switch “Enable Email Addresses” between “on” or “off.”  Turning this on will enable subscribers to enter their email addresses on your sign-up page.

Again, don’t forget to click “Save” when you are done editing!

Finally, click on “Message Settings” to see this screen:

settings5

You can edit your “Reply-to Email Address.”  If any of your subscribers reply to your texts, those replies will be sent to the email address that you designate here.  Click “Save” to lock in your changes.

 

16. Billing

On the column at the left side of your screen, click “Billing” to view and edit your payment information.

billing

From here you can see your credit card information:

billing2

Click the green “Edit” button to change your card information.  It will take you to this screen:

billing3

Enter your card number, the full name on the card, the expiration date (in the format MM/YY), and the security code on the back of your card.  Click “Submit,” and your info will be updated.

 

17. Help

The last tab from the menu on the left of your screen is the “Help” tab.

help

For further explanations on Mobile Text Alerts features, click “Tutorials.”  Click “Blog Articles” to see our blog, which also has some helpful and interesting information.

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One event that a lot of people dread is buying a car.  Car dealerships are infamous for being untrustworthy and for trying to rip off their customers.  How can car dealerships bring in new customers and create a brand that people can trust?  One way is through text messaging.  Automotive News reports on a new study from Edmunds.com discussing how texting can be used to increase sales for car dealerships.

Text Alerts for Car Dealerships

Texting has many potential benefits for car dealerships, according to the article.  We have already discussed in previous blog posts how texting is better than email, and this study confirms it.  The study found that 8% more texting leads than email leads converted in two days – that’s 40% of text message sales in contrast to 32% of emails.  In addition, the study found that text messages experienced a much better close rate (20% better, to be exact) than email leads.

Another benefit that the article discusses is immediacy.  The reality that people can receive texts instantly can be used to your advantage.  As Seth Berkowitz, president of Edmunds, says in the article, “It’s an immediate way to communicate like phone or chat, but you don’t have to be tethered to your device.”  Texting means faster response time.

As we have said over and over, texting is the way of the future.  It is becoming a more and more acceptable method of communicating, even in the business world.  A car dealership, or any other business or non-profit organization, can help build a name for themselves.  You can use it for pursuing leads, for marketing and promotion, and for a host of other reasons!

Feel free to contact us if you are interested in starting a free trial with Mobile Text Alerts, or if you have any questions about how text alerts might benefit you and your organization.

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Texting Pain Relief

Out of the myriads of ways to use text messaging, I never thought that pain relief would be one of them!  But that’s exactly what this article from the Boston Globe discusses.  A study was conducted involving patients texting while undergoing minor surgeries.  The results found that people who texted during the surgeries did not need nearly as much pain medication as people who did not text.

I admit that when I first read the article I was intrigued but also skeptical.  Why would texting prove to be a better method than some other form of distraction, such as watching TV or playing a video game?  But as I thought about it more, it made sense.  For many people, texting can be extremely personal and engrossing.  People become absorbed in their cyber conversations, and in some cases even obsessed.  While obsession is obviously not a good thing, the engrossing nature of texting helps explain the results of the study.

Another interesting finding in the study was that texting back and forth with strangers was more effective than texting loved ones, in terms of reducing the patient’s pain during the surgery.  The article speculates that this is because texting with strangers involved more affirming and positive topics of conversation, while texting loved ones often focused on the surgery and more negative topics.  I thought that this finding was insightful and had intriguing implications for texting and its use as a means to interact with strangers/acquaintances, as well as with loved ones.

People are coming up with new ways to use technology all the time.  This study is yet another example of people exercising their creativity to take advantage of the tools that are right in front of them.  There is so much to explore, and there is so much that we can do!

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Texting to Improve Marketing

Remember when social media was the big craze?  Everyone who was anyone had a MySpace, and then everyone who was anyone had a Facebook, then a Twitter, and on it went.  Don’t get me wrong – social media is still a big thing.  But for businesses and organizations, texting actually proves to be a better way to improve marketing.  This article does a good job of discussing the superiority of texting to social media, but here are my own reasons why texting can improve marketing.

1. Texting makes marketing instantly personal.

Texting is definitely the most instant and most personal option for marketing.  With text marketing, all you have to do is type a message, press a button, and then sit back as your message is instantly delivered to multiple personal devices.  What other form of marketing does this?  Yes, social media posts can also go to people’s personal devices, but there is no guarantee that anyone will actually see the post.  With text marketing, it is almost certain that anyone who receives the text will read it.

2. Texting allows for easy sign-up and opt-out.

All that users have to do to sign up to receive your messages is send a text, and all that they have to do if they want to stop receiving your messages is send another text.  Subscribers appreciate the convenience and the sense of control; in addition, you as a marketer also have more control over who will see your text messages.  You can keep track of who is signing up and who is opting out, and then you can adjust your marketing accordingly.

3. Texting allows for easy submission of feedback.

Feedback is so vital to any organization.  Whether you are a business, a non-profit, an entrepreneur, or whatever, you need feedback to know how to improve and grow.  Text marketing is a great way to get feedback because it is so convenient for your subscribers.  They can type in their feedback and send it to you or complete a survey on their phone within minutes.  It’s a win-win situation – you receive valuable feedback for your organization, and they get to have their opinions heard in a quick and convenient manner.

4. Everyone does it!

According to the Pew Research Center, 90% of American adults have a cell phone; 81% of those cell phone owners use their phones to make and receive text messages.  People – myself included! – are constantly checking their cell phones.  Personally, I pay far more attention to my text messages than I do to my email, social media accounts, or paper mail.

 

What better method is there for reaching out to large numbers of people?  Texting provides convenience and effectiveness to help improve marketing.  Feel free to contact us if you have any questions!

 

 

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