Category Archives: SMS Marketing

How hospitality businesses can bridge the revenue gap during recovery

So, we’re going to talk about THE instagram post. You know the one, Tom Kerridge’s post addressed to no show restaurant customers. In the post he warns individuals that no-shows can potentially be putting peoples jobs more at risk, as hospitality businesses continue the road to recovery. Albeit a little less politely. 

Now, the Text Marketer family are lucky enough to service hundreds of hospitality businesses and well, we have to know… Tom did you send diners an SMS reminder prior to their booking? We mean no disrespect, but honestly, they work wonders! In all seriousness though, the pandemic has had a huge impact. Even now that hospitality businesses are open, due to the guidelines around capacity restrictions, social distancing among customers and staff and PPE requirements, there has been a significant impact on revenue. 

The government has announced a VAT tax cut – from 20% to 5% – on eat-in or hot takeaway food from restaurants, cafes and pubs, and the ‘Eat out to help out’ scheme will be introduced in August. But our advice to Tom, and businesses within hospitality is quite simple. Utilise the humble SMS. There are many creative ways to bridge the revenue gap during recovery but none of them will work without effective communication between your business and customers. Since we are fortunate enough to have seen many successful bulk SMS and SMS Web page campaigns over the last couple of weeks, we thought we’d share some ideas proving valuable for hospitality businesses now.

Continue with take-away services

It’s a no brainer right?! Some individuals might not feel 100% comfortable returning to your restaurant or cafe just yet, and it’s a fantastic opportunity to facilitate more customers without breaking capacity restrictions. Moreover, you can increase brand awareness by introducing branded packaging and if we’re being completely honest, we’ve become quite accustomed to a take-away afternoon tea. 

Top Tip #1: With a simple SMS Web page campaign, you can market your take-away service to customers visually, and include an enticing photo of one of your menu dishes.

Increase delivery options

Introducing multiple delivery and collection options is proving very popular with customers. Branching out from deliveroo to include delivery options via local taxi firms, curbside pick-ups and even implementing delivery services of your own, has been successful among businesses. Ultimately for these services to add-value, they need to be convenient for as many customers as possible. Furthermore, by utilising the humble SMS to support safe deliveries, you can guarantee deliveries will not be left going cold on anyone’s door step. 

Booking reminders

Tom, this one’s for you. And no, this isn’t strictly a campaign idea. But it is worth repeating, especially in the current climate. To maintain social distancing and reduced capacity, for each booking, customers are given a set window for service. As such, it’s more important than ever before that customers arrive on time and are able to make the most of their 90 – 120 minutes. A simple SMS reminder can ensure customers are able to make the most of their booking or alternatively, if their plans have changed, prompt them to cancel their booking in advance, so businesses can amend staff rosters as appropriate. 

Introduce meal kits

As an extension to take-away services, introducing meal kits allows individuals to purchase chilled or even frozen versions of their favourite meals, to cook at home. This option enables businesses to handle more trade, as they can prepare orders in advance and give customers an appropriate collection timeframe. 

Top Tip #2: 160 characters can go much further than you think. So get creative. An SMS campaign introducing or reacquainting customers with your online ordering system, for take-away or meal kits, could prove really valuable.

Boost gift card sales

After more than 100 days in lockdown (yes, it’s really been that long), vouchers may prove to be the perfect pick me up gift for individual’s friends or family members. What’s more, encouraging voucher sales is a great way for businesses to increase revenue in the current climate, and offers customers another opportunity to support their favourite independent businesses.

Reward customer loyalty

Customer retention is key to business success. Afterall, you are far more likely to sell to an existing customer, than a new one. Perhaps now, more so than ever it’s important to show your customers just how much you value them. Businesses can achieve this in a number of ways. To name just a few, thank customers for their patience and support, continue with customer loyalty schemes and offer discounts on repeat bookings or purchases. Making sure your business remains top of mind, for the right reasons as trade returns to normal, will be key to ensuring business survival and success over the coming months. 

Ask for feedback

For many businesses, these new offerings will be exactly that, new. To understand how these are being received by your customers and identify any areas for improvement, it makes sense to ask them. This could be particularly useful if you have opened with a limited menu, and want to know which items to add.

Top Tip #3: SMS surveys are a great way to get feedback from customers. The conversion rate is much higher than that of email, and answering text messages is far more convenient for customers as well. Meaning businesses can base decisions on the answers from far more customer responses. 

If you need any help getting your business campaigns ready, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our friendly team at info@textmarketer.co.uk, they’ll be happy to help.

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Retail trends gaining momentum post-Covid19

Unsurprisingly, the pandemic’s impact on the retail industry was swift and significant. Consumer behaviour literally changed overnight with the government implementation of lockdown, and even now stores have reopened, retailers have a lot of work to do to reclaim the revenue lost during lockdown.

That being said, initial signs are positive, with the Office for National Statistics reporting a 13.9% growth month-on-month for June; and arguably retail more so than any other industry, is expertly equipped to adapt to changes in consumer behaviour. So, while things are still relatively fresh, we thought we’d highlight some of the retail trends which have gained momentum during and post-Covid19. 

Golden age of localisation

Local convenience stores have experienced a huge surge during lockdown, with many individuals wanting to avoid large queues and public transport. As such, Co-op won a 7% share of the market in April (last achieved in 2011) and George MacDonald, Executive Editor of Retail Week, was recently quoted saying we may be entering the ‘golden age’ of retail localisation.

The way MacDonald describes this ‘golden age’, is as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for independent stores to strengthen and secure their unique place on the highstreet. And with a recent study revealing that 55% of polled UK adults want to shop more locally, this certainly seems to be the case. 

Brand communities

For this one, we’re simply going to reference the weekly ‘clap for carers’. As Izzy Ashton, deputy editor of insight puts it –

Marketing is now less about the hard sell, and more about pulling customers into a brand’s community”. 

Creating a community among customers is a great way to promote customer engagement and retention. It can be achieved in a number of ways – loyalty schemes, customer competitions, for example best use of a product or best caption for a brand post.

Really how this is achieved will be dependent on your business model, brand and customer audience. But with a recent survey reporting that 8 of 10 recipients considered their local high street vital to their community, it’s easy to see how valuable this could be for local retailers.

The continued rise of eCommerce

Naturally, eCommerce has experienced significant growth during lockdown. The way we see it, this has been largely driven by two main factors.

The first and obvious is that lockdown forced the closure of any store deemed ‘non-essential’ and the second, is the growing number of silver surfers getting on board with online shopping.

Only time will tell if the older generation will continue to adopt a more digital approach, but interestingly, in June when stores were able to reopen, online retail sales continued to surge, reporting a 33.9% year-on-year growth. So the data does suggest that consumers will be sticking to online shopping, for the immediate future at least. As such, enhancing eCommerce offerings is essential. Just two great examples include – extending returns policies and diversifying delivery options. 

Additionally, this serves as a reminder of how important it is for retailers to provide customers a smooth omnichannel experience:

Not a recent quote, but the point still stands. 

Green consumerism

Early on in lockdown, many consumers were struggling to buy their usual, favourite products. While this does relate mainly to food purchases (does anyone remember how difficult it was to find flour and eggs?!), it has definitely impacted purchasing behaviour more generally.

Ultimately, not being able to buy the usual food shop for the week, left some questioning how much they actually need. Additionally, as many individuals have had to take voluntary pay cuts, been furloughed, or may have even lost their jobs, it logically follows that individuals are being more mindful of their spending. This has led many consumers to trade off, or trade down on some of their favourite products.

But perhaps most remarkably, 47% of customers identified as trading off are focusing on more environmentally friendly brands. Thus it’s likely this will continue to be a focus for consumers and consequently retailers.  

Fashion subscription businesses

Fashion retailers were one of the hardest hit when the coronavirus crisis first emerged, with a reported 23.1% year-on-year decline for March. But with retail sales picking up and stores reopening, many are thinking about how best to safeguard their business for the future. In recent years, fashion retail subscriptions have really grown in popularity, and as 33% of Brits reported that the main reason for not using a subscription style service was that they enjoyed shopping in person, this group of consumers could be much more open to the idea post-lockdown. Given that retailers are still reporting a significant decline in footfall, it’s certainly worth investigating. 

As the title suggests, none of these trends are new to the retail industry, the pandemic has simply emphasised them. To businesses already benefiting from the changes, it’s paramount marketing efforts are focused on how to retain the additional revenue, and for businesses elsewhere, it’s time to adapt.

As always, any change a business makes is only as effective as the communication of said changes, to their customers. So when your business is ready to launch a customer campaign, remember our experienced team is on hand to help. To get in touch, simply email info@textmarketer.co.uk or call 0117 205 0202.

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Are these business practices here to stay?

It’s fair to say that the pandemic has globally impacted every single industry. Though this impact has expressed itself differently in each industry and continues to develop as we head into recovery, change has been universal. In the UK we are still in the earliest stages of easing lockdown restrictions and have a long way to go before we truly understand what the post-COVID19 landscape will look like, but… 

As lockdown measures were first announced on 23rd March, in 12 weeks certain trends and hits and misses have been noted. During this wild and woolly time (our alternative to unprecedented – you’re welcome) each organisation has approached the situation differently and for many, it has been a learning curve. So while we’re keen to leave behind some of the more eccentric hobbies, in this post we’re going to talk about some of the lessons and business practices we’re going to hold onto post-coronavirus.

1. Remote working works

Remote working isn’t a new concept. However before lockdown, the Office for National Statistics found that just 5% of workers in the UK worked mainly from home. Lockdown has seen this figure rise dramatically and with positive affect. Not only do staff report that they are more productive when working from home, but employees score their happiness 8% higher than those based in the workplace. Furthermore the Working from Home survey conducted by Engaging Works, found that the ideal working week for 60% of recipients, would be one split between remote and office-based working. 

But remote working has benefits above and beyond employee happiness. It enables businesses to recruit further afield increasing the talent pool, potentially reduces financial costs attached to an office space, and perhaps most importantly, also has a positive impact on the environment. We certainly expect to see many businesses making more permanent moves towards flexible remote working. 

2. A thesaurus is not just for university students

It might be just us, but it felt like the pandemic came with quite a lot of vocabulary lessons. Phrases we’d never really heard of became normal run of the mill. For instance flattening the curve, and R-nought. While certain terms are necessary, there are a few words and phrases we’ve grown a little weary of. For example: unprecedented and the new normal. When words are overused they lose their effectiveness, and from a reader’s perspective variety is appreciated. So it’s worth coming up with a few alternatives to keep your customers’ attention. 

3. There is such a thing as over-communication

Okay, so this one may not be a new lesson. But it is always worth repeating. A recent YouGov study highlighted that not only did 51% report that they felt brands were over communicating with them during this time, 43% also felt brands’ current messages and advertising is inauthentic. Authenticity has become a bit of a buzz word in recent times, but ultimately not all topics and trends will be relevant to your brand or product, and audiences can tell when something has been shoehorned. Whenever you are planning a campaign or comms strategy, ask yourself 3 simple questions:

  1. Is this relevant to my brand and / or product? 
  2. Is this relevant to my audience?
  3. Will the content of the comms add-value or interest my audience?

This is where segmentation works wonders. For instance, the answer to question 2, may not be the yes across your entire audience. But by utilising segmentation you can ensure only those who a piece of content is relevant to, receive it. Customer engagement will always be valuable but there is definitely a right and wrong way to achieve this. 

4. It pays to know your audience 

KFC’s recent “We’ve missed you too” campaign has received glowing reviews. The advertisement features images from the brand’s social media campaign #RateMyFKC, which encouraged individuals to make their own version of the chicken dishes at home to be rated by the brand. The video showcases the varying degrees of success, before ending by reassuring customers that they will take it from here. 

The advert has proved popular among both the KFC audience and the public in general. This slightly more tongue-in-cheek approach may have been considered a little risky in the current climate, but following research which found that customers had grown tired of empathy from advertising, the brand were confident it would be well received and they were right. The campaign serves as an important lesson of how important it is to know your audience.

5. Video calls will never replace face-to-face

Video calls are great. They have enabled businesses all around the world to continue to communicate and innovate. However, nothing will ever fully replace face-to-face interaction. Zoom fatigue is a new term which scientists have coined to describe how individuals are tiring of video calls. There are many reasons for this but to highlight just two:

  • 93% of communication is non-verbal and unfortunately not all of these cues are available on video calls
  • It’s not the norm to be able to see a large version of your face during a meeting. And if we’re honest, we’re hoping it stays like that. 

So yes, video calls will always have a very important place in business but so will face-to-face interactions.

6. Community spirit still exists

The weekly ‘clap for carers’ has been a highlight for many during lockdown. It has seen neighbours, who previously may have never properly spoken, connect on a weekly basis. And it has been lovely. The same premise has also been adopted by some brands who have used this time to drive their marketing efforts into turning their customers and members into brand ambassadors. Creating that community feeling among your customers and members is a great way to achieve this and has been particularly successful for businesses in the fitness industry.

If you would like any advice on how your business might approach its recovery strategy, please head to our Business recovery hub or talk to one of our team at info@textmarketer.co.uk.

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Back 2 work campaign ideas

As the UK continues to ease lockdown restrictions and more businesses reopen, we’re finally starting to see what the post-Covid19 landscape looks like.

However, with a u-shaped recovery predicted for the UK, we’re told to expect a lingering effect over the coming months, before trade returns to normal.

During this time, it’s more important than ever before to ensure your business effectively communicates with both customers and employees. Ultimately, you’ll want to ensure your business stays top of mind to customers and that staff remain fully engaged.

With this in mind, we thought we’d outline a few back 2 work campaigns we’ve seen work really well over the past few weeks.

External campaign ideas

Reopening announcements

These messages are key to a business’ reopening success and they create a softer way to begin marketing to your customers again. As businesses are adapting to changing customer demand, even once open again, it can be difficult to keep track of what services are available, opening times, protocols for booking appointments and sessions etc.

A simple bulk SMS can update all of your customers within minutes and as you may already be aware, SMS benefits from an impressive open rate of 95%. What’s more, with Hubspot reporting an increase of 44% in email sends since lockdown began, utilising SMS is a great way to ensure your messages aren’t lost among the noise.

Market online and take-away services

During lockdown many businesses showed great creativity, reacting to the pandemic digitally. To name just a few examples, restaurants, cafes and bars introduced take-away options, beauticians ran online consultations and sent bespoke facial kits direct to customer homes and fitness businesses streamed sessions online.

As individuals may not feel 100% comfortable returning to a business’ premises, for example a store or gym, where online and take-away services have proved popular, it makes sense to continue offering them. For this, customers need to be aware of which services are available and any subsequent changes. For example, if your take-away service was launched with a limited menu, you might want to look at extending this.

To ensure customers know what is available and how they can book or place an order, we’d recommend using an SMS web page. After all, a picture says a thousand words and this allows you to go above 160 characters, which may be required to properly relay booking instructions.

Ask for customer feedback

As face-to-face interactions are limited at the moment, businesses will unfortunately be receiving far less feedback than usual. And this at a time, when businesses have had to implement far more changes than usual.

As feedback can be invaluable, it makes sense to simply ask your customers a few questions to gauge how these changes have been received and identify any areas for improvement. For example, you could ask customers whether there is anything more you could do to make them feel more comfortable about returning to your business premises, and if you are planning on extending or adjusting your opening hours, asking what would be most beneficial to customers, could enable you to make a more informed business decision. SMS surveys can be a great way to collate feedback from customers, as they are convenient, quick and boast an average click through rate of 19% vs just 4.2% of email.

Furthermore, we understand businesses may be very busy at the moment. So for those who think their business could benefit from customer feedback, but don’t have the time to organise this themselves, we are able to arrange managed surveys via our experienced team. For more details, simply email info@textmarketer.co.uk.

Internal campaign ideas

Schedule regular check-ins

While we would always advise against over-communication with customers, with employees, especially at the moment, we’d advise the opposite.

Keep communicating.

A recent survey found that 56% of adults in the UK, said that their mental health has deteriorated during lockdown and we understand that not all managers will have the time to organise, continual and individual check-in’s. A bulk SMS campaign, asking if staff members feel they would benefit from a check-in call, could allow managers to prioritise their time more effectively. Ensuring that employees that are struggling receive appropriate support. What’s more, as the average response time to a text message is just 90 seconds, you can ensure this information is collated efficiently.

Provide transparent updates

In the aforementioned survey, the number one concern among recipients was redundancy. The economic impact of the pandemic is undeniable, and as such, businesses have a duty to make regular and transparent updates a priority. Often, there will not need to be a large amount of detail, so the humble SMS is an ideal choice. For instance, a quick:

Well done team, another fantastic week ending on a sales figure of x. Keep up the good work.

could work towards keeping staff motivated and reduce worrying. Moreover, as 90% of all text messages are read within just 3 minutes, utilising SMS, you can ensure these updates are sent, received and read, almost immediately.

Ask for staff feedback

This may seem obvious, but it is often overlooked in businesses. Have you asked your employees if they are happy with the changes implemented? Do they feel safe returning to the office? If not, is there anything you could implement to make them feel more comfortable? All of these questions are really important and could lead to invaluable feedback. With an SMS survey, you can quickly and easily gauge how employees are feeling and make sure your business remains proactive in supporting employee happiness and well being, through this difficult period.

As mentioned above, we appreciate businesses may be incredibly busy right now. So, if you are interested in implementing a campaign but would like some support on the creation or management, get in touch with one of our friendly team members at info@textmarketer.co.uk, they will be happy to help.

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The automotive industry: Back to business communication strategy

Traditionally the automotive industry has played an important role in supporting the UK economy, contributing an impressive £20.2 billion in 2017 alone. However, as with most industries, Covid-19 has impacted and disrupted this highly profitable industry over the past couple of months. 

According to Deloitte, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a swift and severe impact on the globally integrated automotive industry. Symptoms include a disruption in Chinese parts exports, large scale manufacturing interruptions across Europe, and the closure of assembly plants in the United States. This is placing intense pressure on an industry already coping with a downshift in global consumer demand. 

However, as life begins to slowly return to some form of normality and government restrictions begin to lift, we need to now take some time to look at how the automotive industry can get back to business. What messages do they need to communicate with their customers? How can they entice consumers back to their showrooms and instil confidence that all health and safety measures have been put in place? 

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Using SMS to enhance back-to-business for hairdressers and barbers

Hairdressers and barber shops were among the businesses to close their doors on March 23rd 2020, when lockdown in the UK officially began.

That was over 14 weeks ago and with the search term ‘DIY haircut’ soaring in google search trends in March and April, it’s fair to say it’s been a difficult period.

Thankfully however the government confirmed this week that these businesses will be able to reopen on 4th July 2020 – so we’re preparing to say goodbye to the mullet. 

Businesses will need to reopen while adhering to various safety guidelines, but as the hair and beauty industry employs over 250,000 people in the UK, it’s important these reopenings are a success.

Since there can be no business without customers, a large part of this success will depend on your business’ comms plan. So to help you make your comms plan as effective as possible,  we thought we’d highlight a few ways SMS can be used to enhance business post-COVID19:

Come back with a bang!

You need to let your customers know when you’re reopening and explain how and when, you’ll be taking appointment bookings. Though social media and email can be great communication channels, with the humble SMS your messages benefit from an unrivalled open rate of 95%.

As these messages, potentially above all others, are vital to a successful reopen it makes sense to ensure as many of your customers receive and read them as possible. And those 160 characters can go further than you think. So if you have any exciting reopening plans, you can detail them in your messages to help generate a buzz among customers.

Use SMS to support safety guidelines

As businesses will need to reopen with safety guidelines in place, you need to make sure you communicate with your customers any new protocols they need to follow. For example, if there are restrictions around numbers allowed in your waiting area at one time, and you may mask that customers wear a mask.

Here an SMS Web page could be really effective as you can visually show customers what to expect on their visit. Furthermore, as the coronavirus has caused a lot of uncertainty there may be some customers who are slightly uncomfortable about returning.

A recent survey said only 48% of individuals said they would feel fully comfortable returning to a hairdressers or barbers. So communicating what measures your business has implemented to ensure it is safe for customers and staff, could go a long way.

Communicating with your customers

The various guidelines for reopening are currently being confirmed, but some have said that to maintain social distancing, salons may be looking at a maximum capacity of 50% compared to pre-lockdown. Clearly safety is the first priority, but this does mean it will be important to keep communicating with your customers, especially those who are struggling to get an appointment.

This is where the mighty SMS can help. A quick bulk message to thank your customers for their patience could prove valuable. What’s more, SMS can also help you manage various admin tasks which may help free up some time. Below we’ve listed just a few SMS use cases to help your salon or barber shop post-COVID19:

Bulk SMS

Bulk SMS really is as easy as 1, 2, 3 and it allows you to contact all of your customers in just a few clicks. Should your salon decide to introduce longer opening hours, or open up more appointments, you can easily update your entire database within minutes. What’s more, with SMS you are sending your messages straight to the mighty mobile phone, which individuals pick up an average 58 times a day. So you can be confident your message will be seen by your recipients. 

Engage with your customers

Especially in cases where you are planning on reopening with a restricted number of services, or are thinking about increasing your opening hours, it’s worthwhile using a tool SMS surveys to collect customer feedback.

This way you can use recipient feedback from the SMS survey, to help you make informed business decisions. Furthermore, as mobile conversion rates are up 64%, you will receive the largest response possible to help you structure your back-to-business strategy.

Appointment reminders

Upon reopening, appointments are going to be like gold dust. Appointment slots will need to be carefully spaced to maintain social distancing, so where possible, you need to try and avoid customers missing their appointment slot and ensure they arrive on time.

For this, a simple reminder could be really beneficial – particularly early on, while customers get used to the new set up. And since 90% of all SMS messages are read within 3 minutes, you can be sure your message is delivered and read almost immediately.

To find out how TextMarketer can help with your back-to-business strategy, please do not hesitate to contact one of our friendly team at info@textmarketer.co.uk or call 0117 205 0202.

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How healthcare practices can use SMS to cancel non-urgent appointments

According to the Financial Times, the NHS is about to face its largest challenge in a generation. The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented situation, and has led governments all around the world to ask the public to do their bit to support the healthcare industry.

Arguably the NHS was already stretched and so the government is looking to quickly implement changes to help support our health service during this time. In preparation for the situation ahead, 65,000 former doctors and nurses are being asked to return to the medical front line. Additionally, many manufacturing companies – Nissan and Smiths group included, have been working on plans to quickly produce ventilator machines in a national effort to tackle the crisis.

While helping with these actions may seem beyond our control, there are smaller steps that can be taken to help ease the pressure on our health service, one of which is the NHS cancelling non-urgent appointments. This is being done with the utmost care and consideration for patients, but it works in two key ways. Firstly it frees up time and space for urgent cases to be seen and secondly, it ensures that as few people as possible are visiting highly populated venues such as medical practices.

SMS communications are almost immediate

There may be some cases where appointments need to be cancelled relatively last minute, and this is where SMS can really help. While an email or missed call may go unnoticed for hours, or even days, 90% of all text messages are read within 3 minutes. Considering individuals pick up their phone, an average of 58 times a day, this is not surprising, but it does mean appointment updates sent via this channel are almost guaranteed to be received immediately.  

SMS is wide-reaching

According to Statista, approximately 95% of all households within the UK own a mobile phone, which is even more impressive when you consider that only 79% have a landline. Furthermore, as 95% of all SMS are read by recipients, healthcare providers can be confident that their message has been received. 

At present, this is most frequently used by healthcare providers to send time-critical information. An example includes identifying whether a patient should attend a pre-booked appointment, by understanding whether they have started to develop a range of symptoms, such as a persistent cough or high temperature. Furthermore, by using two-way SMS, patients are able to quickly and easily reply to their medical practice and alert them if they need to cancel or amend their appointment due to the development of these symptoms. 

Individuals are already familiar with SMS

Last year, it was reported that missed appointments cost the NHS £216 million. However, in practices where SMS has been implemented, sending recipients a simple text message to remind them of their appointment, reduced the number of no-shows by 50%. With this in mind, it makes sense to communicate appointment cancellations via a channel people already respond well too and are familiar with. By adding an option with your SMS message for individuals to cancel or call to reschedule, healthcare practices can ensure they are being as efficient with their time as possible and reducing the risk of other patients becoming infected. 

In addition to sending text messages to notify recipients of appointment cancellations, healthcare practices can send individuals contact details for those wanting further information or even basic advice. For instance, you could remind individuals to make urgent appointments over the phone rather than in-person, to keep personal contact to a minimum.

To find out how your healthcare practice could implement SMS today, please get in touch with one of our friendly advisors on 0117 205 0202 or at info@textmarketer.co.uk

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How can gyms successfully communicate with their members post-lockdown?

According to a survey conducted by Sport England, the British public misses going to the gym more than doing any other sport during lockdown. In fact, 87% of those surveyed said they’d resume their membership post-lockdown and a further 27% of people, who are not currently members of a gym, said that they are likely to join once fitness centres begin to open again. 

As the spread of Covid-19 begins to reduce, lockdown restrictions are easing, alongside them is the much anticipated opening of gyms. However, despite the easing of lockdown restrictions, safety measures are still a priority for the British public. 

Consequently, the focus for gyms needs to be around how to balance sharing the new safety protocols while ensuring their members feel safe and content enough to return to the gym. 

The success of this lies in effective, clear and tailored communication. We’ve put together the below infographic to help to support you in communicating the key safety measures during the opening of your gym or fitness facility. 

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How to use virtual mobile numbers for staff communication during a crisis

There are many effective channels available for businesses to communicate with their workforce, such as email, phone or letters. However, during a crisis, speed and reach are two of the most important factors to consider when looking to send emergency communications, two qualities that play to the strengths of SMS.

Most people will have a smartphone to hand throughout the day, in fact according to The Guardian the average person picks up their phone 58 times a day. This close connection to our phones makes SMS one of the most effective ways to communicate time critical information to your staff. With an impressive 95% open rate, your emergency message will be received and read in record time. 

Business continuity plans normally include messages that need to be broadcast to all staff. However, a call to action or the ability to respond are often overlooked, leaving the recipient unable to interact with the message and the sender unsure if the message has been read and understood.

However, in a crisis situation, you may need to hear from your staff immediately after that initial broadcast message has been sent. This feedback enables you to make a quick assessment of the team’s readiness and gauge reactions to the developing situation.

For this to be most effective you will need two-way messaging.

Using alphanumeric originators, such as your brand name, will stop recipients from being able to reply to your SMS. However, a Virtual Mobile Number (VMN) is an 11 digit number that can be used instead of your brand name and will allow you to receive SMS replies directly back from your recipients.

Communication strategy comparison

Here is an example of a typical crisis communication broadcast that does not include a VMN or two-way messaging.

“Hi George. This is a message from the Cactus Energy business continuity team. We will be closing all of our offices and changing to working from home. This affects all staff from tomorrow morning.”

How do Cactus Energy know how prepared George is after sending this message? And how do they ensure that all feedback to the message is stored in the same place? George might text his manager a response or send an email to the BCP team – but how do you ensure that nobody gets missed and all responses are recorded?

The VMN channel enables you to drive a response down one channel and have a single, less chaotic view of the situation.

Below are two examples of how replies to your VMN can instantly update your crisis management team with vital information. 

“Hi George. This is a message from the Cactus Energy Business Continuity Team. We will be closing all of our  offices and changing to working from home. This affects all staff from tomorrow morning.

“Please text back to this message with ‘Ready’ if you are able to work from home. Alternatively please respond with ‘Need assistance’ if you are having any trouble working from home.”

The inbound responses that come back to your dedicated VMN can be:

  • Downloaded into a report by a crisis coordinator 
  • Added to a report via an automation
  • Added to your own employee management systems via our API

Alternatively, here is a conversational strategy which utilises the real-time aspect of two-communication.

“Hi George. This is a message from the Cactus Energy Business Continuity Team. We will be closing all of our offices and changing to working from home. This affects all staff from tomorrow morning.

If you are ready to work from home please do not reply. 

However if you need assistance, please text back quoting your employee reference number and share any issues with us. We will respond as soon as we can via this number.”

The inbound responses that come back to your dedicated VMN can be picked up within your Text Marketer account and employees can then make responses more personalised and ensure any issues are dealt with quickly and efficiently. 

Another important point to make is that you can advertise your VMN in internal communication channels such as your intranet or staff newsletter. This will help to drive even more employee replies and ensure that all employees are aware of the channel. 

If you are looking to improve or enhance your business critical communications over the coming months with a VMN, we may be able to help. Simply contact our team on 0117 205 0202 or at info@textmarketer.co.uk for more information.

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How retailers can use mobile messaging for better business continuity communications

Threats to modern retailers come in many forms. Whether it be from cyber attacks, competitors or natural disasters, retailers should consider what their communication strategy will look like should the worst-case scenario occur. How will you adapt to your new circumstances and reassure your customers? How will you organise your staff and protect your brand?

Adaptability is key, and as such there are two main criteria that need to be considered – speed and reach. This is where SMS comes into play as a powerful weapon for retailers in an emergency situation.

What are the benefits of using SMS for business continuity in retail?

  • 95% of SMS will be opened by your customers (Esendex)
  • 90% of your customers will read an SMS that you send them within 3 minutes (Techjury)
  • 95% of UK retail consumers own a mobile phone (Statista)
  • SMS can be received at any time or place
  • No internet connection required
  • Two-way chat communications can be deployed where required
  • No spam folder. Messages arrive directly in your customer’s inbox.

What are the applications of SMS for business continuity in retail?

Emergency/service interruption notifications


Store closure notifications, revised opening hours, stock availability updates, changes to delivery times. These types of messages and more are perfect for SMS messaging which can be delivered directly to your customers’ pockets.

SMS functionality for these types of messages can be integrated directly into your existing systems via API, or accessed via standalone online platforms

Message templates can also be used for large scale sends, with dynamic fields making it easy to personalise your message for every customer.

Comms with Staff


It can be difficult to communicate with staff in a fast and engaging way when some of them either work shifts, or are on the road as part of their work (E.g. delivery drivers).

SMS provides the ideal platform to retailers here by sending short, easy to understand messages which can be read at any time or place – and don’t get lost in inboxes. Given that on average we check our phones 58 times a day, there is no more effective way to get urgent messages about shifts opening, new mandatory practices etc. over to your team. 

SMS can also be used to have two-way chats with your staff to arrange shifts and overtime.

2 way SMS for customer service


In an emergency, your customers may want to speak with you – on mass at times. This presents problems for customer service teams who maybe weren’t ready for the influx, and can only deal with one customer at a time over the phone.

2 way SMS – using a virtual mobile number – allows you to receive replies from your customers.

It’s convenient for the customer as they can engage with you at their convenience, and systems like these are also very easy for call centre operatives to manage. They will be able to conduct multiple conversations at the same time using message templates and canned responses, and even bot interactions for the simpler questions, meaning faster responses for customers.

One step further with SMS Web Pages


SMS Web Pages allow retailers to send visually richer communications to customers, which can also include interactive buttons for secondary actions.

This means that for business continuity purposes, SMS Landing Pages can be used as a base to manage your relationship with customers in the context of that emergency.

Nearest store location, checking an item’s stock level, querying revised opening times, access to customer services – it can all be accessed via an SMS Landing Page.

It’s also a great way to protect your brand; as I write, the retail sector is being badly bruised by the coronavirus, in response to which we’re seeing some really creative messages from retailers like IKEA about supporting customers who are unable to leave their home. They’re not directly selling anything in these messages, they are showing their support for their customers in the hope that they will retain their loyalty through the crisis and out the other side. Business continuity doesn’t often get tested as much as this, and we can all learn from the leading practitioners here.

How retailers can get started with SMS with business continuity

We’ve worked with a variety of different retailers to provide better ways of providing business continuity communications.

To find out how SMS and our other powerful communication channels can form part of your strategy, please get in contact today with us on 0117 205 0202 or info@textmarketer.co.uk to find out more.

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How healthcare providers can use mobile messaging for better emergency communications

Healthcare practices need to consider what their patient communications would look like should situations out of their control arise, and affect the way that they care for patients. From adverse weather conditions leading to the suspension of services, or emergency health concerns requiring fast and widespread messaging, providers need to make plans now to limit the impact.

The speed at which communications can be sent to patients, and also making sure that all of your patients receive the communication, are the critical success factors. This is where mobile-messaging tools like SMS come into play. They’re delivered almost instantly and most of the UK population now own a mobile device that will support SMS.

What are the benefits of using SMS for emergency communications in the healthcare sector?

  • 95% of text messages will be opened by your patients (Esendex)
  • 90% of your patients will read an text that you send them within 3 minutes (Techjury)
  • 95% of UK residents own a mobile phone which can receive texts (Statista)
  • No internet connection required to receive SMS
  • Two-way chat communications can be used where required / feasible
  • Traceable messages mean providers can check when patients have received messages
  • There’s no spam or ‘promotions’ folder; messages arrive directly in your patients’ inbox.

What are the applications of SMS for emergency comms in the healthcare sector?

1. Emergency messages/healthcare centre closure notifications

Traditional means of communication are less effective when it comes to emergency comms. Either the patient isn’t at home to take that important call, and then fails to listen to the voicemail message that’s been left behind, or the letter that’s been sent gets ignored, or even lost in the post. Not ideal when patients’ health is at stake.

From practice closures and revised appointment details, to test results and emergency health advice, SMS is an ideal alternative. An added benefit of SMS for these types of communications is that they can include hyperlinks, meaning that you can link to more digital services like web pages and appointment booking platforms.

 SMS can be deployed in one of two ways. Firstly via API, which means that SMS functionality can be integrated directly into healthcare providers’ existing admin systems. Secondly via a secure online platform. This method also offers the benefit of being able to send texts (in bulk when needed) from any device with an internet connection – you don’t have to be at your desk.

In both cases message templates can be used meaning you can send consistent messages every time, which can be personalised for every recipient where required.

2. Communications with staff/arranging extra workforce cover

Situations may arise which require more healthcare professionals than you currently have arranged to be on shift. For example, an incident which has resulted in an influx of patients.

By setting up an SMS alert, you can send messages quickly and in an engaging way to relevant teams who may be on-call or able to provide cover. With SMS being delivered instantly and the majority of them being read within 3 minutes, this simple way to communicate will save time in an emergency.

3. 2-way mobile communications for conversations with patients

In many ‘crisis’ scenarios, there will be lots of questions from worried patients. This can cause big problems when we consider that most healthcare providers only have a finite amount of staff to answer those questions and a limited amount of phone lines through which they can be made.

Online mobile messaging through our platform can solve this problem by allowing staff to manage multiple conversations at the same time through widely used channels like SMS. This also provides a benefit to the patients in that they don’t have to wait on hold for immediate access to trained healthcare professionals, and it can all be done at a time and place that suits them best.

For simple enquiries messaging bots can also be deployed here, meaning that some questions can be answered completely autonomously, freeing up more time for staff to answer more complex queries.

4. Sending richer, more interactive messages with SMS Landing Pages

Healthcare providers may wish to increase their emergency communications engagement by offering comms which are more visually attractive and offer additional functionality. This is where SMS Landing Pages can help.

They allow healthcare providers to include any imagery, including all practice branding. Interactive buttons also make it easy to link to additional content like more in-depth healthcare advice and automated appointment booking platforms. Healthcare providers can also use buttons to add automatically add appointments to patients’ device calendars, and also link to interactive maps helping patients find the healthcare provider’s location.

How healthcare providers can get started with mobile messaging for emergency communications

We’ve worked with a variety of different healthcare providers to provide better ways of providing emergency communications.

To find out how SMS and our other powerful communication channels can form part of your strategy, please get in contact today with us on 0117 205 0202 or info@textmarketer.co.uk to find out more.

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How can grocery retailers maintain momentum post lockdown?

The coronavirus outbreak has undoubtedly had a major impact on British retailers, with consumer behaviour quickly changing to adapt to the new rules and regulations introduced by the UK government. 

According to the Financial Times the impact on the economy of Covid-19 was undeniable, with retail sales and business activity contracting at a record pace. In fact, the volume of British retail sales dropped 5.1% in March, the largest ever drop recorded by ONS. However, it wasn’t retail as a whole that suffered substantial losses in customer demand; grocery retailers experienced a 10.4% surge in business. 

While this is encouraging news for grocery retailers and consequently their suppliers, this level of demand is unlikely to naturally remain stable once lockdown has lifted. Consequently, it is important to start considering how grocery retailers can communicate with their customers and encourage them to continue to shop in a similar fashion. How can they use the trends witnessed over the last few weeks to build and sustain demand post lockdown? How will consumer behaviour change and what can retailers do to ensure business remains stable? 

Below we take a look at a couple of emerging trends in the retail industry during this period of isolation. 

New routes to customers

A trend witnessed in the UK grocery retail market during lockdown is the further emphasis on B2B2C (Business to Business to Consumer), offering new routes to reach customers for retailers.

With Amazon quickly growing its share of the delivery market in the UK, there’s no surprise that grocery retailers are choosing to align themselves with the retail giant, as a means to expand their product reach. This concept was first noticed in 2017 when Morrisons formed an alliance with Amazon, to reach a larger portion of the British population and offer a substantially more competitive delivery timescale, in  some cases offering same day delivery. However, since the outbreak of Covid-19, the Morrisons/Amazon alliance has strengthened further, with Amazon delivering a broader range of Morrisons products to a wider range of cities throughout the UK.

A smart move by Morrisons, who in 2017 experienced a 1.9% fall in like for like sales. Growing and organising a nationwide delivery service is costly and likely to take a great deal of time and energy to set-up. By merging forces with Amazon, Morrisons are able to compete in a way that has never before been possible, making their business more stable and becoming stronger competitors in the online grocery marketplace. This is a true growth area in grocery retail that is predicted to stay around for the foreseeable future. 

A question that needs to be considered for all grocery retailers is whether or not they could sustain this same level of service, should the demand for home delivery continue? 

Recommendation: Divert a portion of existing budget to support your home delivery operations and ensure you can provide increasingly competitive delivery time slots. 

Role of communication: Delivery updates: Grocery shopping has moved drastically towards a quick and efficient online process. Ensure your customer communication reflects this new behaviour. We recommend sending SMS order confirmations and delivery updates that keep your customers informed. 

Online retail and consumer behaviour

During lockdown we witnessed a surge in online food shopping with customers preferring a low contact approach to buying their groceries. The latest figures from grocery analysts Kantar show shoppers spent £524m more on groceries year on year in April, despite the fact that the number of supermarket visits dropped sharply. 

This increase is to be expected with consumers looking to move their shopping online, however another element at play here is a change in consumer behaviour. According to The Guardian, the big weekly shop has made a comeback with supermarkets reporting record high orders as Britons develop new lockdown routines. This move towards one big weekly shop instead of smaller daily supermarket visits, is a step away from the UK’s shopping trends pre-Covid-19. 

It was recorded in 2017 that two-thirds of Britons nipped to a supermarket more than once a day, and one in 10 people decided what to buy for an evening meal just moments before they ate it. However, while lockdown restrictions may look to be easing in the coming weeks, indications from China report that the big weekly shop is still showing dominance over smaller daily trips and most of the customer demand still comes from online orders. 

Recommendation: Adapt your communication strategy to support this trend towards the big weekly shop. Perhaps provide guidance on meal planning, recipe inspiration or partner with a leading nutritionist or chef to help build your brand to become true foodie influencers rather than purely a grocery supplier.

Role of communication: Send an SMS Survey to your customer base to understand their eating habits; dietary restrictions, cooking ability & interest and discover any trends or meal inspiration that would be of interest to them. The information gained can then be used to inform your new communication strategy. 

There is no denying that once the country moves from crisis to recovery, the shopping habits of the nation will once again change. However, by acting now and adapting your approach to these changes in consumer behaviour, you can ensure that you’re able to maintain high levels of demand far beyond the point that lockdown is lifted. 

For more information on how we can help support your communication simply call 0117 205 0202 or email info@textmarketer.co.uk

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How to use SMS web pages to communicate during a crisis

Everything from a cyber attack, to something as seemingly simple as an office power cut, is a potential threat and crisis situation to a business. Clearly, it isn’t possible to prepare for every eventuality. But whatever type of crisis or emergency you are facing, there is no doubt that with the right tools, you can position your business for effective disaster recovery. As time is often precious in these situations, it is necessary to choose simple but powerful tools and this is where an SMS Web Page can be really useful. SMS Web Pages are simple mobile landing pages, which are both easy and quick to create. Once created they can be sent to all relevant parties via SMS.

3 steps to communicate in a crisis, using an SMS Web Page

Whether there is an internal business emergency, or a national crisis, it is vital to act as quickly and efficiently as possible. Your business needs to ensure that all information is sent to recipients immediately. An SMS Web Page can be created in just 3 steps and host a wide range of content including: text, images, a call to action with links to another site, meaning that this is a really effective way to convey information to recipients in an emergency.

The steps to creating an SMS Web Page are as follows:

  1. Select your template: simply select a layout template from the options available. 
  2. Upload your images and write your text: add the necessary text and images, for example your company logo. You can then change the background and font colour and size. 
  3. Preview your web page and send!: once created, preview the page and make sure all of the information is clear and easy to understand. Once happy, click to send the campaign. 

Internal communication during a crisis via SMS Web Pages

During a crisis it is crucial that you communicate with your employees, to ensure everyone is updated as the situation unfolds. You can send an email, but it may go unread for hours or even days, especially if sent outside normal working hours. With SMS, your message is sent via a channel in which 90% of all messages read within just 3 minutes. But in some situations, it may be difficult to convey the information within the SMS character limitations and your message may require imagery to better illustrate points or even calls to action employees must follow. It is in these situations that an SMS Web Page can be particularly effective. Your landing page can be used in the following ways: 

  • To communicate the crisis and provide explanation
  • To notify individuals of changes in working hours and methods
  • To share rules of conduct
  • Keep employees updated as a situation unfolds
  • To request information from employees, for example, ask them to fill in an emergency form

External communication during a crisis via SMS Web Pages

Just as it is crucial to update staff, it is also vital to update customers during a crisis. You must notify your customers of any actions your business is taking and how this may impact them in both the short and long term. SMS facilitates rapid communication and when combined with a landing page, allows you to give all the necessary information in a clear format. In particular, it allows you to advise of:

  • Sudden closings or different opening times
  • New services active in emergency situations
  • Scheduled event cancellations
  • Price policies, active behavior in emergency situations
  • Collect the data of those who want to use a remote service because they are unable to move

The importance of communicating well in a crisis 

The reality is, all businesses need to communicate well in a crisis; but especially those within the healthcare, education and the public sectors, as individuals will be turning to these organisations for immediate guidance. During these times it is necessary to communicate in a timely and complete manner and just a few examples of these comms are as follows: 

Healthcare

Can use SMS Web Pages to communicate the hygiene rules to be followed if a health-related emergency is underway, or they can activate online counseling services and use the landing pages to collect the contacts of those who want to activate this service remotely.

Public sector

Could send instructions to citizens regarding the most up-to-date rules of conduct and ask to share the link to the landing page, so it reaches as many people as possible. 

Education 

Additionally, organisations in the education sector, will likely need to communicate with parents and teachers, to advise on potential lesson suspensions and provide details of an online lesson calendar, if this service is provided.

Finally, banks, supermarkets and pharmacies also have a lot to gain by implementing SMS Web Pages. These web pages could be used to convey basic rules to follow in the event of a crisis, how to use services in the event of an emergency and perhaps most importantly, for pharmacies they could be used to organise prescriptions and thus avoid overcrowding.

To find out more about how to implement SMS Web Pages into your business continuity plan, or speak to us about how you can introduce SMS into your processes today, email us at info@textmarketer.co.uk or call us on 0117 205 0202.

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What can we learn from China’s retail industry

There are few industries that have been more affected by the Covid-19 outbreak than retail. 

Providing 3 million UK jobs and contributing an impressive £381 billion of sales in 2018 alone, retail’s ability to bounce back post Covid-19 will play a key part in supporting and restoring our economy. 

With that in mind, attention naturally turns to how retailers can begin to recover; what actions can be taken to start getting back to business? For this, we should take a look at how China’s retailers have started to recover. What lessons can we learn? What trends are emerging and how can UK retailers adapt their business now to gain a competitive advantage?

China’s retail industry at a glance

Covid-19 was first detected in China in late December 2019, consequently it was one of the first countries to go into lockdown to prevent further spread of the virus. China is therefore estimated to be around 4 weeks ahead of Europe in terms of the progression and impact of Covid-19. Consequently, the Chinese retail industry is one of the first in the world to begin to see green shoots of recovery.

China’s recommendations to the European retail market

The American Management Consultancy firm McKinsey held a virtual roundtable with some of China’s most influential retail giants, to discuss their experiences of managing retail companies during and post Covid-19. As part of this discussion, the retailers offered some advice to those European retailers yet to enter this phase of recovery. We have summarised these recommendations below. 

Focus on improving your online offering

  • O2O, e-commerce & Click and Collect are set to be growing revenue arms for retailers

[Quick summary: O2O refers to Offline to Online business and vice versa. The idea is around blurring the boundaries between a business’ online and offline proposition. A great example of this is Click & Collect whereby a customer can purchase a product online and collect in-store]

  • Expand online SKUs to meet growing customer demand
  • Community retail is set to become an influential player. Consider how you can incorporate new sales methods into your business – how can your brand interact more with the community? 

A fantastic example of community retail can be seen with Ikea in Warsaw who launched a program called: Kuchnia Spotkan in Polish.The initiative involves the opening of a community kitchen at the IKEA Warsaw location, that can be rented by customers free of charge and used as a space to host friends and family for dinner. This truly blurs the line between brand and consumer and helps to build the perception, trust and sentiment of the brand in a new and unique way that goes above and beyond price and product. 

Invest further in delivery

  • Loyal high street shoppers have recently swapped to online purchasing and many look like they’re here to stay. Ensure your delivery service is robust enough to continue to serve such high volumes of online shoppers and home delivery requests

Communication is king

  • The correct channel, or combination of channels, can give companies the edge over competitors to reach a new type of customer. Consider what messaging would be most effective and which channels would be most appropriate for targeting your customers post Covid-19

Retail trends emerging post-lockdown in China

  • Cloud consumption is the new normal with a focus on contactless payments 
  • Supply chain diversification is of vital importance to ensure your business is less vulnerable. This will also improve your brand sentiment as customers are leaning towards more eco-friendly, locally sourced products and so having a variety of both international and domestic suppliers can strengthen your business and brand
  • Consumer demand trends have changed and will continue to fluctuate – consider adopting virtual or flexible stock
  • E-commerce and home delivery demand will continue to grow due to consumer anxiety around visiting crowded spaces – consider diverting budget to support these areas
  • Multichannel adoption is vital. Post lockdown your customers will be targeted and bombarded with marketing messages from an array of businesses. How can you ensure your brand stands out? Always consider: right channel, right message and right time.

The role of communication

This insight into emerging trends from Chinese retailers certainly offers a few signposts for how UK retailers can begin to prepare for a return to business. The common theme that underpins all recommendations and trends, seems to be that of communication. Whether it be related to a more tailored message to your customers, different conversations and approaches with your suppliers or communicating a more agile approach to logistics. Communication is the key to success.

How can SMS help?

Hailed as one of the most effective forms of communication, SMS exists on all mobile phones, and has an impressive 95% open rate. A flexible and direct form of communication, SMS can help support retailers to navigate post-lockdown life.

  • SMS Surveys can be used to understand consumer trends early, by surveying consumers around their shopping intentions. This will enable retailers to amend their marketing and purchasing strategies accordingly
  • Delivery notifications can be sent to alert customers of their order status and estimated delivery time
  • Click & Collect alerts can be sent with detailed instructions around how to collect their order, while also providing the unique order identifier 
  • Tailored marketing can be used to alert a customer around a new complementary product range or a new promotion running
  • Back in stock alerts. It is inevitable that retailers may continue to struggle with stock shortages during the early stages of recovery. By creating a personalised SMS alert system to let your customers know when the product they’re interested in is back in-stock, you will help to maintain the relationship with the customer and lead to a quicker conversion
  • Local store information. Some products might not be available for home delivery and so detailed directions can be supplied via SMS to ensure that your customer can quickly and easily find their nearest store
  • Customer satisfaction surveys can be used to efficiently gather feedback on new services, such as Click & Collect and enable you to make quick changes or improvements as required
  • Internal staff communications and shift rota updates. Shift patterns can quickly change as consumer demand fluctuates. Consequently the ability to quickly and easily communicate with your workforce is of vital importance to ensure your business can continue to run smoothly.

If you would like to find out how we can help your retail business on the road to recovery, please email info@textmarketer.co.uk or call 0117 205 0202 we’d be happy to help.

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Why SMS should form part of local governments’ emergency communication strategy

With the range of services provided by councils being as varied as it is, the range of threats that can effect those services can also be just as large. Whether it be adverse weather conditions causing school/facility closures, major roadworks notifications, internal IT system failures, or health and safety alerts, forward-thinking local governments should always be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

There are two main points to take into account for this when planning an effective communications strategy. Firstly – the speed at which messages can be sent to staff/residents, and also the ability to make sure they have been delivered/read. Secondly, making sure that your message can be delivered to every recipient required.

Mobile messaging tools like SMS stand out as an excellent option at this point. They’re delivered almost instantly, and nearly all of the UK’s population now own a mobile device with SMS support.

Why SMS should form part of local governments’ communication strategy

  • 95% of text messages are read – and 90% of those within 3 minutes (Esendex / Techjury)
  • 95% of UK residents own an SMS-enabled mobile phone (Statista)
  • Text messages work for all demographics, including elderly people who are less likely to have a smartphone
  • You can receive replies and engage in conversation if it’s appropriate
  • Traceable messages mean councils can check when citizens have read messages
  • Messages aren’t going to get lost or moved to a ‘promotions’ folder – every text goes into the Messages inbox.

How can text messaging be used effectively by local governments?

Emergency notifications and facility/road closure updates

When an emergency strikes sometimes it’s not feasible to contact affected parties using traditional communication methods. Post is slow and expensive, emails get lost in inboxes and have low open rates, and manual calling is too time- and labour-intensive. 

SMS is an ideal alternative for things like IT outage notifications, road closure notices, health advice, and also local facility information, as they’ll be delivered straight to your audiences’ pockets on a device that gets checked on average 58 times per day (Source).

Councils have the option to deploy SMS in one of two ways. Firstly, via an API, meaning that SMS functionality can be integrated into your existing systems. This is great for minimising staff training as the functionality is in a system they’re already familiar with.

Secondly, SMS can be accessed from a secure online platform which offers the benefit of being accessible from any device with an internet connection – ideal in the event of an office closure situation or if your main software programs have been compromised.

To make life even easier, both options support customisable message templates. This means that you can save time by selecting a pre-composed message and personalising it for every recipient by using your own data.

Communications with staff/arranging extra workforce cover


From time to time emergencies arise which require extra staff to deal with it. For example, if there are not enough refuse collectors to deal with the day’s commitments, then more may need to be drafted in to help.

By sending out an SMS notification, you can communicate with non-working staff in a matter of seconds to see if they can help. This avoids the requirement of making calls and sending emails which may go unanswered for hours and helps to eliminate the risk to citizens. 

SMS can also be deployed as a 2-way messaging platform meaning that non-working staff can also reply/ask any questions through the platform.

Going the extra mile with SMS Web Pages


For local governments who want to increase their engagement with emergency communications by including images, branding and interactive functionalities, there are SMS Web Pages.

The ability to use multiple interactive buttons which trigger different actions means that once received, an SMS Web Page can act as a resident’s base to manage their digital relationship with that particular council in an emergency.

Links to frequently asked questions, access to the latest information relating to the emergency, or even linking to a chat with a member of staff through the resident’s channel of choice – it can all be accessed through an SMS Web Page.

How local governments can get started with SMS emergency messaging

We’ve worked with a variety of different councils to provide better ways of providing emergency communications.

To find out how SMS and our other powerful communication channels can form part of your strategy, please get in contact today with us on 0117 205 0202 or info@textmarketer.co.uk to find out more.

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Protecting yourself against coronavirus SMS scams

Understandably the coronavirus pandemic has made many people worried about their wellbeing. Though there have been many heart-warming stories amidst the outbreak, unfortunately there has also been a growing number of scams.

Cybercriminals have been capitalising on individuals’ uncertainty and fear, and in the UK alone, there have already been over 500 COVID-19 related scams, totalling £1.6 million in losses. Many of these scams involve messages to recipients under the guise of organisations such as the NHS, WHO and even national government. These messages aim to trick individuals into downloading unsafe applications or include requests for personal information such as bank account details.

What’s more, this isn’t just a problem in the UK. Australia’s Cyber Security Centre recently urged people to remain vigilant, as it reported SMS phishing scams, also known as smishing scams, were on the rise and similar trends have also been identified in East Asia and North America. 

To help tackle the growing issue, the UK government has added both UK_GOV and UKGOV to the list of restricted SMS Sender ID. Ensuring all text messages sent using these sender IDs are automatically stopped by mobile networks, and therefore are not delivered to recipients unless coming from an official channel – please see example message with sender ID highlighted for reference.

This is in addition to measures networks first announced in early 2018, as part of the SMS PhishGuard initiative which introduced an official SMS SenderID Protection Registry. However, as cybercrime researcher Chris Monteiro states – “arguably, the issue is not that spoofing is easy, but that identifying a legitimate message is inherently hard.”

Helping you identify legitimate messages

Phone with padlock, implying security

As alluded above, it’s not always easy to identify a legitimate from a fraudulent message, but the below outlines a few tips which may be useful in situations where you need to make the distinction:

1. Take a moment to consider the sender ID

With the exception of government and charitable groups, businesses and organisations are only able to contact you if you have opted in to receive communications. So, when you receive a message take a moment to consider whether you are expecting the message and if you previously opted in to receive these communications from the sender identified in the sender ID.

2.     Review the message content

It may seem obvious, but often these messages will be written in such a way to try and make the recipient panic and act quickly. Try to stay calm and properly review the message content. Is the tone consistent with other messages you have received from this organisation? Is the message asking for personal information? It’s very unlikely that a business will ask you to convey personal information via SMS. 

3.     Contact the organisation or business directly

If you are still unsure whether the message is legitimate or not, contact the business or organisation directly and ask. A simple phone call can quickly confirm this and put your mind at rest. Just be sure to use details you either already have stored for the organisation, or those you have found online, as details within the message may be fraudulent.

Reporting SMS scam messages

In addition to following the advice above, if you do receive a suspicious SMS message in the UK, you can report it to your network provider by forwarding it to 7726. Reporting these campaigns enables mobile network providers to continually update protective protocols to protect future recipients.

If you have supplied personal information

If you believe you have provided personal information in response to a fraudulent campaign, remain calm, notify your bank and update relevant passwords as soon as possible. Thankfully many organisations can usually identify unusual activity on accounts, but it is always best to be cautious.

At Esendex we understand how important it is to help reduce spam and have always had robust measures in place. All accounts go through a four-step account verification process and we have various safeguards and filters which cover both the content and selected sender ID of all message campaigns. We are committed to working with mobile operators and staying up to date with the latest cybercrime trends to ensure we continue to protect our customers and their businesses.

If you have any concerns, or would like to find out more information please phone one of our friendly advisers on 0117 205 0202

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How can gyms support their members during the pandemic?

In the UK gyms were among the list of public places closed on 21st March 2020, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Following the government announcement, many were left wondering how they could continue to support their members, while adjusting to this rather different reality.

Typically, gyms and fitness studios are reliant on both physical locations and on-site staff, but thanks to advancements in technology, that doesn’t have to remain the case.

The digital fitness industry has really grown over the past few years, generating $3.6 billion revenue for the US alone in 2019; and although hardly surprising, companies such as Peloton have reported 5 times more fitness app downloads in March, relative to February – in line with increasing lockdown restrictions. But what might be surprising, is that for fitness businesses willing to be flexible and respond to the pandemic digitally, there are some relatively simple solutions to continue supporting your members.  

  1. Stream live workout classes

This may seem obvious, but thankfully, due to advancements in technology you don’t need specialist equipment to stream live – you can do so using a laptop or even a smartphone. What’s more, there are now many free and straightforward applications to support live streaming and below we have listed just a few, all of which at their basic level at least, are free:

  1. Real-time work out videos

Since many individuals are working remotely and some may also be responsible for children, it may be difficult to tune in at a specific time. Therefore, it could be worthwhile creating some real-time work out videos. Your members can then benefit from being able to access this content on demand and are able to see and understand how each exercise is performed correctly. Again, these can be filmed using a laptop or smartphone and there are several user-friendly, video editing softwares available. For a relatively extensive list which includes a quick overview of each application and any associated costs, we recommend this article.

  1. Send personalised workout routines

Be it over social media, email or SMS with a PDF attachment, sending members a personalised written workout can be simple but effective. Not only does this have the advantage that individuals can do the workout in their own time, but by supporting this activity online you can encourage individuals to tag your brand in completion photos, and perhaps even create a leaderboard, to encourage competition and engagement between members.

This is particularly effective for personal trainers. Once considered a luxury for the rich and famous, personal trainers have become increasingly popular over the last few years with 13,770 registered personal trainers in the UK and 80% of those working on a freelance basis. Consequently, the ability for personal trainers to continue to support their clients on a 1:1 basis is more important than ever. However, to stand out from all of the online noise around exercise an effective medium such as SMS is recommended due to it’s 95% open rate and ability to respond quickly and effectively with any concerns or questions. 

Communicating with your members

Ultimately, the most important aspect when introducing any of these new options to your member community, is being sure to effectively communicate the options available and any associated processes they need to follow.

Under normal circumstances, social media may be a fantastic way to communicate with members. But as our news feeds are currently full of stories surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, there is a concern that announcements made on social media, for example, details of your new online classes may be missed. Thus, we recommend using more personalised communication to help ensure your messages are noticed. Channels such as email, phone calls or text messaging are effective mediums to communicate with your members and enable you to discuss your new digital propositions in further detail.

As a business messaging company, we can speak knowledgeably of how gyms and fitness studios can best use and implement SMS into their communication strategy. Consequently, we’ve created a quick guide below of the top use cases.

Send bulk notifications

By utilising bulk SMS, you can communicate with your entire member database in just a few clicks. This can be a great way to notify members that some digital additions are coming soon, so to keep an eye out, or even to send a quick update on any changes to opening hours. What’s more, as SMS boasts a 95% open rate, you can be confident your message will be received by all recipients.

Send time-critical reminders

You might want to send a reminder to all members registered for a live workout, that it will begin in 15 minutes and perhaps even include the link to the class itself. This can be really beneficial – particularly when first introducing this type of activity. And since SMS benefits from 90% of all messages being read within 3 minutes, you can be sure your reminder is delivered and read almost immediately.

Communicate in real-time

Sometimes the information you need to share with your members requires a little more space than is available with a standard SMS. This is where utilising SMS Long Numbers can be useful. It allows recipients to reply to your messages, so you can have a real-time conversation and explain anything which isn’t clear. Thus, ensuring your message is received and enabling you to communicate more detail.

No matter which channel you use, the important thing is that you continue to communicate with your member community. If you would like to discuss further, how SMS could help to support your communication strategy, please email info@textmarketer.co.uk or call 0117 205 0202.

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How care homes can use SMS to keep families updated

On the 2nd April 2020, it was announced that the coronavirus pandemic had officially surpassed 1 million cases globally. As the situation has developed, many countries have introduced social distancing and enforced various closures, including those of schools and restaurants, in a bid to slow the spread of the virus. 

To protect those identified as high risk, for example the elderly, many social restrictions were implemented as early as possible. Though necessary, these restrictions have been difficult for families and friends, especially in cases where relatives are residents within a care home. Often residents will rely on family visits for socialisation and with health concerns weighing on people’s minds, it is even harder for families to be separated from their loved ones. With this in mind communication has never been more essential.

Since nursing homes often house many residents, communication with families can be a challenge. For instance, it is unlikely that staff will have the time to assist with calls for each resident but, thankfully due to technology, there are ways to communicate which are less labour intensive. Using our robust platform, the care home team can send bulk messages to families in just a few simple steps. These messages can then be used in the following ways to help residents and families feel more connected during the COVID-19 outbreak:

Notify families of changes and send relevant updates

While nursing homes aren’t currently allowing visitors, it is vital to keep families reassured and notified of any changes. A simple message with details on any new measures the home has introduced to ensure resident safety, could help keep family concerns to a minimum and potentially save a lot of staff time answering phone calls.

Furthermore, once visits can be reintroduced, you can update all resident families almost immediately by sending a bulk text message that includes information on visiting times. And, if these times differ according to different medical care schedules, you can segment your contact lists as appropriate to ensure each family receives relevant information.

Enable two-way communication

By setting up a virtual mobile number, not only can your organisation send messages directly to recipients, but they can also reply. So, families can reply with a short message which staff can then relay onto residents. This could help families feel more connected and alleviate feelings of loneliness. And as all replies are received into your account inbox, all staff can access messages, so even if there is a shift change, messages can still be passed on in a timely manner.

Send families personalised updates

As well as being able to send ad hoc messages, you can also personalise bulk messages with information like resident names. This small touch could go a long way to making families feel more at ease. Moreover as SMS benefits from a 95% average open rate and 90% of all messages are read within 3 minutes, you can be confident your updates are received and read within minutes, helping families feel more connected. 

At a time like this, communication is crucial and there are many different technologies both families and nursing homes can utilise to make things that little bit easier. 

To learn more and see if this could be a solution for your organisation, simply contact our friendly team on 0117 205 0202 or at info@textmarketer.co.uk

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A note from our CEO, Richard Hanscott

Our ability to change has perhaps never been so important. Every organisation is having to think fast and make changes to cope with the severe challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has created. I am reaching out today to reiterate our commitment to you, our customers, and to provide a few examples of different industry responses to this situation and how we are helping to keep their customers engaged.

While this remains a developing situation, Text Marketer continues to operate as normal. We are fortunate to be a cloud-based business with a strong Business Continuity Plan, and as such, we have been able to quickly change the way we work in response to the situation. This means that all of our staff can work effectively and safely from home, while providing you with the quality service that you expect and deserve.  

We believe that the role of communication is more essential now than it has ever been. Everything that has gone before has now changed and people are having to adapt to this new normal. The role that your business can play in this new life, very much depends on your ability to communicate. While many businesses are understandably focused on continuity, this moment is also about innovation. To adapt to an unprecedented and highly changeable environment, businesses need to be thinking in new and different ways – communicate in formats that they have never before considered. 

Over the past few weeks we have worked with a wide range of businesses to communicate with their customers. To share not only that these businesses are still trading, but how they have innovated and changed to continue to provide value to their customers. 

“We believe that the role of communication is more essential now than it has ever been”

RICHARD HANSCOTT – CHIEF EXECUTIVE, TEXT MARKETER

With a drop in footfall and enforced store closures many retailers have concentrated on driving traffic to their online stores and adapting their delivery processes to be in-line with government regulations and keep all of their customers safe. 

An example includes retailers sending a text message to customers to alert them that a product on their customers’ wishlist has come back into stock or that a new delivery date has become available. This kind of personalised messaging helps to support customers in a more unique way, than if the retailer were to post the updates on social media for example. The message could get lost in the noise on a social platform and also presents more steps to purchase for the customer. By using a text message, the retailer can be sure that they’re targeting the right customer, with the right message at the right time and hopefully ensure they are more likely to convert.

With the mandatory closure of all restaurants, pubs and cafes the hospitality industry have had to move quickly to feed the nation with delicious, freshly cooked meals, delivered safely to the doorstep. Sending customers a personalised message to explain that their favourite restaurant now provides home deliveries has been critical.

A fantastic example of these businesses using SMS is around safe and secure delivery. A text message can be sent to alert the customer that their takeaway is just 5 minutes away and inform them that the delivery driver will ring their doorbell and leave their order on their doorstep. This ensures that the customer remains fully informed. Text messages have an average open rate of 95%, meaning that the customer will be alerted almost immediately to their food’s imminent arrival. 

With schools being closed for the majority of the nation’s children, the communication between educators and parents has never been more important. The variety of ways in which teachers have continued to communicate and support students and parents has been vital to ensure that education can continue at home.

An example includes teachers sending an SMS survey to parents, to understand how the students are getting on with their homework, ensure the student’s mental health isn’t suffering and enable them to make tailored communications with the student going-forwards. This is often sent on a Friday to help design the following week’s lesson plan. Sending the survey by text means that teachers can quickly receive feedback, with an average 90% response rate. 

We hope that these examples can provide some inspiration, support and confidence in your own business and understand how you too can continue to navigate this changing situation. 

Before signing off, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our real-life heroes in the NHS. Never has our healthcare system needed more help than right now and we are grateful to be able to support their work, if even in a small way. As such, we are offering all healthcare providers, sending emergency communications, 1000 free message credits and full account management support. So if this affects you, please contact us and we will work alongside you to get your messages up and running. 

I reiterate that we are here for you all and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch with one of our many communication experts info@textmarketer.co.uk.

Stay safe

Richard Hanscott

CEO, Text Marketer

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How can technology help the NHS during the COVID-19 outbreak

There’s no denying that the NHS has been under increased strain over the last few years with staff shortages, increased waiting times and an unprecedented number of nurses leaving the profession. With the latest COVID-19 developments, looking for ways to relieve some of this pressure is of paramount importance. 

At Text Marketer we believe that the introduction of technology can help to support the NHS and its patients during the toughest of times. One of the problems that we face at present is how to look after those patients already requiring treatment without putting them at risk of contracting the virus when visiting a hospital. Below are some examples of how SMS has been used to help people with long-term conditions. 

Managing chronic conditions

SMS can be of great help in managing chronic conditions without any personal contact. Researchers at The George Institute for Global Health in Sydney conducted a clinical trial which evaluated how an intervention by text message could be used to increase medication adherence in adults with chronic diseases.

Applications ranged from a text being sent to patients if they failed to open a medication dispenser, to personalised messages regarding specific medicines and dosages. The conclusion was that SMS proved to be an essential tool in disease prevention, monitoring and management.

Monitoring long term health conditions

Text messages can also be used to send a friendly reminder for patients to log their vital signs such as blood oxygen levels. Depending on the results recorded, platforms can then provide some guidance based on the agreed care between the medical professional and the patient. This type of digital management has led to improved treatment and lowered anxiety levels for patients with conditions such as COPD.  

Flexibility of delivery

Another advantage of mobile devices and telehealth technology is their flexibility in delivery, which enable patients to stay at home and reduce in-person contact.

However, even though technology can help support patients from the comfort of their home, there are still people that will need to attend doctors surgeries or hospitals. SMS can also be of use here.

Appointment reminders

It’s widely reported that the cost of missed healthcare appointments to the NHS alone is close to £1 billion per year. SMS is a fantastic channel to reverse this trend. Sending a simple text message reminder of an upcoming appointment can help to reduce no-shows by almost 50% according to Health Services Research. Text messages have a 95% open rate, meaning that patients are alerted to their upcoming appointment and can be offered the opportunity to reschedule if necessary, thus freeing up the appointment for someone else. 

Critical message alerts

SMS has been used as an efficient alert system for many years and never has it been more important for the healthcare industry. SMS can be used to communicate to your entire workforce or your patients at the touch of a button. This has been most effective in communicating to people the symptoms of coronavirus or warning people of clinic restrictions and closures. 

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