Network Security Essentials: A Checklist for your Business

I hardly need to labour the point that network security is essential in an age where companies of all sizes are hacked. Hardly a week goes by without data breach headlines in the mainstream media. 2021 is so exception so far, with high-profile hacks including LinkedIn, Parler (an almost complete website scraping in this case), Mimecast, U.S. Cellular and many more. The reasons for these successful breaches, which compromised the data and privacy of clients, ranged from targeted attacked, exploits on misconfigured cloud services and unsecured data to malware injection and scamming. Many of these data breaches could have been prevented. It makes you wonder why, in 2021, companies (large and small) are still so careless and cavalier with important client data, especially when you consider that lack of IT personnel or funds is not an issue for the global giants. Didn’t these companies have a simple checklist or basic code of practice for network security? Remember to protect all client data as if it were your own data by using encryption, authenticated access and any other precaution possible. Consider the following an overview or starting point for creating your own checklist.

The Basics

Let’s assume, as many do, that larger companies have a handle on the basic elements of network security. Firewalls are configured correctly. Administrators have a full list of their hardware and software and all security updates and patches are installed promptly. They have a robust backup procedure that ensures prompt restoration of company data even after a ransomware attack. Brilliant! Now what?

Despite the naysayers, password management is still an issue and not due to password length, authentication method or complexity but instead due to longevity i.e., passwords are in use too long without being changed.

Employees will also log into personal solutions during office hours and if part of a BYOD policy, ALL will have devices approved and with OS versions approved by IT? Again, let’s assume enterprises have no flaws in all these areas, despite almost daily reports of data breaches. Enterprise-level solutions seek to address more advanced problems…

SIEM, NGF and User Error Prevention

Modern network security is aimed at identifying emerging threats and reducing the impact of human error (which is still the biggest threat to your data). In fact, a recent joint study from Stanford University and Tessian indicates that 88% of all data breaches are caused by employee error. The Blame Game is not the solution here as the study also points out that “Your employees are focused on the job you hired them to do and when faced with to-do lists, distractions, and pressure to get things done quickly, cognitive loads become overwhelming and mistakes can happen.”

Therefore, recognising that security awareness training is not the entire solution and that employees are not cybersecurity experts, companies must use technology to help with the problem. While classified as enterprise solutions, most of them are available to smaller companies, whether it’s next-generation firewalls (NGFWs), analytics-driven security information and event management (SIEM) or remote solutions offered as-a-service. All companies should perform a risk assessment and identify their greatest threats to network and data security, then and then arranging a trial of available solutions.

Even a brief look at NGFWs will confirm they are a key step in enhancing cybersecurity, including basic firewall function with several additional benefits. These include intrusion detection systems (IDS), intrusion prevention systems (IPS), application awareness from Layer 2 to 7, reduced infrastructure footprint, and antivirus and malware protection. Finally, NGFWs do not affect your network speed. Surely, a worthy purchase that can help reduce user errors by blocking threats?

Email & Internet

Your anti-malware solution (if not part of a NGFW) must scan incoming emails and monitor internet traffic. Companies need to decide if they prefer to only allow certain websites (based on a whitelist) or block some (based on another list). Whatever you decide, security (and perhaps productivity is the primary consideration). Different companies will have different ideas on this and are free to do so, since company-owned equipment is involved. However, I’d advise against keyloggers, surveillance cameras and the like as they can affect employee morale.

Ransomware and Backups

There is always the possibility of an emerging threat penetrating your firewall and ransomware is the worst of these, requiring that a ransom is paid (and that we ‘trust’ the cybercriminal to act ethically?) or full restoration from clean backups. Therefore, your backup and disaster recovery plans must be fully tested and verified as working before the worst happens. It’s obviously too late when it’s discovered the backup is worthless. Industry practice is to have at least three backups with at least one air-gapped (drives or tapes stored in a fireproof safe, for example). Backup verification is worth emphasising… Ever heard of bit rot? It’s the death of hard drives, SSDs and tapes (all magnetic media, in fact) over time and underlines the need for regular backup or archive verification.

In conclusion, all the above and any additional technological solutions you wish to make to mitigate identified risks should be part of an overall IT policy, outlining security goals with examples and user scenarios where possible. Security is an ongoing task and is constantly evolving as new threats emerge. That is the reason for data backups, penetration tests, encryption and other processes. If BYOD is present, do you have a mobile device management (MDM) solution? An employee has left the company. How long do you wait before disabling the user account and all LAN credentials? How about DHCP? These and other questions are yours to answer when ensuring maximum LAN protection. How will you proceed, or do you already include all these recommendations in your security posture? If so, well done, you’re immediately ahead of many global companies…

Use Hybrid IT To Maximise Remote Working Benefits

At its simplest and according to industry insiders, the term ‘hybrid IT’ is used almost exclusively to describe a combination of on-premise and cloud-based services. In my opinion, it could also be used to describe the IT infrastructure and processes necessary to allow office-based employees to work from home when necessary. For many companies and indeed governments, it became necessary during the current Covid-19 pandemic and unfortunately, they soon discovered that their business continuity/emergency response plans failed in many areas.

Allowing Working from Home

The decision to allow working from home (WFH) is never taken lightly by company management as many believe that employees require supervision, direction, or management and that a lack of these leads to a lack of productivity. Among professional employees, the reverse is often true. Business or organisational stakeholders must embrace the concept of remote working, especially true during a pandemic. However, they don’t have to blindly accept it and will follow a logical process before rolling out a remote working solution that minimises risk and secures data.

As Przemysław Jarmużek, IT Administrator at SMSEagle, is quick to point out,” From an operational perspective, it’s essential that IT and all department heads perform a brainstorming exercise to not only define all remote requirements and offer some proposed solutions but also to identify the potential risks involved. The ideal solution will maximise efficiency and minimise risk to your organisation’s digital assets.”

Is Remote Working Viable?

Remote working is only a viable solution for your organisation if it allows business continuity, even if solutions are provided in a reduced manner. Not all companies or industries benefit from it. Anything requiring hands-on interaction with the public is impossible during pandemic lockdowns, for example. This can include barbers, brick-and-mortar retail outlets or indeed hotels, restaurants or trade services such as plumbing, electrical or construction. “To benefit from remote working, your organisation is comprised of an office-based environment, where the fixed office setting is duplicated at home and allows the completion of tasks normally performed while connected to the company LAN,” said Radosław Janowski, Product Manager at SMSEagle.

The Home or Remote Office

Have your employees the space or equipment necessary for a home office? Most will agree that access to high-speed broadband is essential. If your employee is in an area that does not support it, then remote working is doomed to failure unless a solution is found. Should your employee invest in broadband (unlimited 4G, for example) and office equipment such as a printer without compensation? I don’t think so and good companies will ensure that at least a percentage of any additional setup costs are reimbursed.

While it’s certainly true that most households will have a family computer or two, it’s unreasonable (and poor security practice) to expect employees to use these workstations for work. IT need access to all systems used for work and unless a BYOD policy is in play, it’s best to avoid using an employee’s own equipment. Why? Because IT will need to audit the device before remote working takes place. They will need to install additional security software as users no longer have the protection of company firewalls, endpoint protection etc. In additional, IT must ensure that the device is ‘clean’ before allowing remote connection to the company LAN or related services. They must install a secure VPN to ensure permission-based access only – secure user authentication is often a problem for a variety of reasons. The list goes on, suffice to say that any devices used remotely must be as secure as any on the company network.

Collaboration and Interaction

Once the overall IT security strategy for remote working is decided on, it’s up to each department to recommend their chosen solutions for remote connection to the network (document access, for example) and any tools they need for effective collaboration with clients, suppliers and colleagues. You are effectively replacing onsite processes and operations with virtual ones over a remote connection.

To give one example, your company may have weekly, biweekly or daily internal meetings. When working from home, if you do not have a VoIP solution in place, what will you choose? Zoom got a new lease of life during the pandemic, but many companies use Skype or WebEx. There are many other options to choose from.

How about document management and sharing? Will you choose cloud solutions such as OneDrive or Google Drive? Perhaps you use a lot of cloud-based solutions such as Office 365, Salesforce. OR you prefer to access an internal document management system with full tracking, versioning etc. Whatever you decide, data security is a must as governing laws, privacy regulations and compliance requirements remain unchanged. You can use any combination of private, public or hybrid cloud solutions in addition to remote connection to the company LAN for internally managed data.

In conclusion, the main thing to remember is that remote working has its place, even without a pandemic, and once set up correctly by IT, poses few security risks. The process of extending the security perimeter to include remote workers is quite painless, should involve company-owned and monitored equipment (using approved software and services) and compensate employees for any expenses in initial setup and ongoing costs. Uptime is even more critical and network monitoring and alerts should be considered on the company LAN.

Remote working is possible for all companies who can benefit from it and as someone who’s worked remotely for more than ten years, I can state that morale is not an issue. In addition, productivity is higher as there are no distractions or conversations around the water cooler.

Two-way SMS communications

Are you connecting via your customers’ preferred channel?

Skip phone calls and emails and start texting.

Here’s why.

With an open rate almost five times that of email, Gartner states that “SMS remains an effective, yet underutilized, mobile tactic among marketing leaders.” And that’s not surprising. According to some sources, 98% of text messages are read—and 90% within the first three minutes. That makes SMS the most effective means of improving customer engagement by far. With every mobile phone able to send and receive SMS messages, no other messaging channel approaches SMS in its reach.

Text messaging allows businesses to share snippets of information and start meaningful conversations with individuals or groups. With 75% of consumers wanting to receive special offers and 64% asking for more communication via text,  SMS marketing is the optimal channel for brands to engage—especially with time-sensitive promotions.

Two-way SMS offers the ultimate personalized customer experience. As a direct message to a specific customer and either a real, live agent or well-trained bot on the other end, it’s easy to carry on text-based conversations using your customers’ preferred channel. Irrespective of your business’s size or the interaction’s complexity, customers prefer two-way SMS because they get an immediate response.

Include 2-way SMS in your omnichannel marketing strategy

With millennials (24 to 40 years old) overtaking baby boomers, holding much of the buying power (along with Generation Z  comprising those 18 to 23 years old), and preferring digital to human communication, using SMS marketing to reach them is essential for your survival. Used in conjunction with other channels, 2-way SMS can boost your marketing by simply speaking the native language of your customers and increasing:

  • Engagement: Reach your audience where they are—on their cell phones. With Gen Z on their smartphones an average of five hours or more each day—and with other generations not far behind—text messages deliver real-time alerts and messages with push notifications, nearly instant open rates, and rapid response times.
  • Intimacy: With personalization a critical differentiator in an impersonal world, 2-way SMS marketing positively impacts brand awareness, with retailers personalizing communications and recognizing special days with offers and promotions tailored to each customer.
  • Reach: Since it isn’t dependent on an internet connection, SMS is unique. It offers a far wider reach than channels built for the internet, even in remote areas or developing countries with limited infrastructure.

So if text message marketing hasn’t been on your radar and you’re fed up with receiving little response to email campaigns, it’s time to look at 2-way SMS.

Analyze campaign stats, refine your approach, and increase efficiencies

Text message marketing is also easy to track, allowing you to monitor your metrics and ensure the success of your campaigns. With up-to-date stats of messages sent, texts received, and overall contact counts, you’ll be able to analyze the data, see when engagement spikes, refine your approach, and increase your revenue and profits.

Unique versatility of SMS communications

Despite the vast number of messaging apps on the market—including Messenger, Signal, Skype, Telegram, Viber, WeChat, and WhatsApp—the versatility of SMS communications remains unparalleled. Anyone with a mobile phone can receive and send SMS messages without needing to install a messaging app, making it easy to engage in two-way communications with your target audience anywhere in the world—even with local numbers.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to nurture future generations of customers—today.

About SMSEagle

SMSEagle is a leading global brand of SMS gateway hardware. Designed for reliability and easy integration with existing systems, SMSEagle supports bi-directional SMS communications via your web browser, email system, or an API. It also converts email messages to SMS and offers the ability to send SMS alerts from network and security monitoring systems and SMS tokens from authentication systems.

SMS Usage Statistics in 2019. Market Predictions for 2020-2023 and Beyond

It was December 3, 1992. That’s the date that Neil Papworth sent the world’s first text message. More than 26 years later, SMS has grown into a powerful marketing and communication tool.

Today, trillions of SMS text messages connect billions of people and benefits millions of businesses and marketers immensely. SMS helps businesses generate outsized positive ROI.

In this article, we’ll review the most recent SMS usage statistics. Be warned! These stats might compel you to take your SMS marketing seriously.

Global SMS and Usage Statistics

Image Credit: GSMA Intelligence

The number of mobile users is increasing and will continue to soar. In a GSMA report, mobile users will go from five billion users in 2019 to 5.7 billion in 2020. This growth will increase market penetration of mobile phones from 67 percent to 72 percent in that period. Hence, an increase in the use of SMS.

The GSMA statistics support Statista’s predictions that smartphone users will grow from 3.2 billion to 3.8 billion from 2019 to 2021. Another Statista report posits the number of mobile subscribers globally will reach 7.33 billion in 2023.

Screenshot from Statista

The growing number of mobile devices means SMS remains a viable communication platform.

In America, over 272 million people own smartphones. And they collectively check their phones tens of billions of times every day; an average person picks up their phone 58 times a day.

Let us look at some of the global SMS and usage statistics.

  •  In 2024, the global application to person (A2P) SMS API market will reach $245.9 million based on a CAGR of 4.1 percent from 2017 to 2024. However, the A2P SMS market will grow at a CAGR of 4.2 to reach a valuation of $86.53 billion in 2025.
  • The A2P SMS market is stronger in the USA, growing at 6.2 percent to reach a valuation of $31.7 billion in 2022.
  • Phone users read over 90 percent of text messages within three minutes of receipt.

SMS Marketing Statistics for Businesses

Screenshot from Ericsson

According to Ericsson, the number of mobile subscriptions in 2020 will exceed eight billion. Smartphones and feature phones will contribute to 73 percent and 23.4 percent of that growth, respectively.

Let’s explore the conversion and response rates of SMS.

Screenshot from Finances Online

  • Retailers that use promotional SMS for their CRM initiatives enjoy a 23.3 percent conversion rate.
  • Compared to calls, 64 percent of customers prefer using two-way text messages when interacting with customer service. Most of these customers are younger people and they cite efficiency and convenience as their top reasons for preferring text messages.
  • About 75 percent of customers enjoy receiving special offers by text message. Messages sent this way convert at 9.18 percent, which is several times higher than the 0.9 percent and 1.91 percent of Facebook and Google Ads, respectively.

Image Created by Nicholas Godwin for

  • The fastest growing marketing channel is customers opting in to receive business text messaging services. In 2016, 37.2 million customers used this channel,  in 2020 48.7 million customers in the US are choosing the channel.
  • In 2019, businesses spent $165.7 billion on mobile ads. In that year, 90 percent of US consumers indicated that they prefer to receive text ads.
  • In 2019, the conversion rate of SMS campaigns stand at 45 percent.

Screenshot from Finances Online

  • Eighty-five percent of consumers and buyers want to go beyond receiving just information from businesses, they want to hold text conversions with these businesses.
  • SMS open rate stands at 98 percent because receivers must read them before they delete them. Whereas, open rates for Facebook posts, email messages, and Tweets stand at 12 percent, 20 percent, and 29 percent, respectively.
  • HubSpot reports that the average click through rate of URLs in text messages is 19 percent, meanwhile, email stands at 4.2 percent.

Marketing SMS Usage Statistics

Screenshot from GlobalWebIndex

  • According to a 2019 Social Flagship report by GlobalWebIndex, 48 percent of internet users share content with their peers through text messages. Only 37 percent of users share information via email.

Screenshot from eMarketer

  • The US mobile messaging app usage, including SMS app usage, will go from 161.6 million users in 2020 to hit 171.3 million users in 2022. This growth will go from 56.1 percent of the US population to 58.1 percent of US users.
  • SMS Comparison further reveals that SMS has a higher clickthrough rate (CTR) when compared to other marketing like Facebook and Google AdWords. The Click-through rate for SMS stands at 9.18 percent, while Facebook and Google AdWords have a CTR of 0.90 percent and 1.91 percent, respectively.

Screenshot from OpenMarket

Sixty-two percent of buyers are not getting SMS notifications from retailers. In Travel and Hospitality, 75 percent of travellers and vacationers are not receiving any SMS communication from train operators, hotels, and airlines.

  • According to SMS Comparison, nine out of ten customers will prefer to communicate with companies via text message. That stat applies to one-way communication by alerts, reminders, and notifications, or two-way communications.

Screenshot from Finances Online

  • Mobile marketing, including SMS marketing, is driving more purchases for businesses in 2020. Businesses in these three industries are seeing the most increase in sales due to mobile marketing: 54 percent of restaurants, 40 percent of apparels and beauty, and 36 percent of electronics.
  • According to Rebrandly, using branded links on your SMS campaigns will increase clickthrough rate by 39 percent and boost brand visibility.
  • The top four reasons why consumers pay attention to a marketing message in their mobile phone are:  brand familiarly at 54 percent, content that’s interesting and creative at 52 percent, excellent timing at 41 percent, and promotional offers such as coupons at 41 percent.

Screenshot from Finances Online

  • By end-of-year 2019 the mobile phone sales market would witness a 19 percent drop because of longer phone replacement cycles.

Screenshot from Finances Online

  • Researchers expect to see 49 million consumers opting to receive marketing messages from brands in 2020. Following the COVID-19 outbreak, Gartner says that SMS will become vital for businesses that want to keep touch with their audiences and customers at this time.

SMS Statistics from the Financial Service Industry

Mobile SMS banking has become a dominant trend

  • According to the Business Insider Intelligence Mobile Banking Competitive Edge study by Business Insider,  89 percent of customers say they utilize mobile banking services.
  • According to Coherent Marketing Insights, the transactional SMS market share will reach 47.4 percent by 2027.

What Does the Future Hold for SMS and SMS Marketing?

The SMS industry will continue to witness an upward swing. Future projections have shown that recent advancements in technology will shape consumers’ behavior and how businesses utilize SMS.

Screenshot from Juniper Research

Let’s take a look at some of the predictions.

  • According to the Coherent Marketing Insights, the global bulk SMS marketing industry will hit a CAGR of 7.4 percent between 2019-2027.
  • Juniper Research estimated that the number of business text messages in 2020 would reach 3.5 trillion messages from the 2.5 trillion messages in 2019.

Screenshot from Juniper Research

  • Given the high engagement rates of SMS marketing and the intelligent automation capabilities of chatbots, experts expect that SMS chatbots will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.

Screenshot from OpenMarket

  • From 2019 to 2027 the global market for bulk SMS marketing service will grow at a CAGR of 7.2 percent.

Final Words

From the usage statistics we have outlined here, it’s clear that the future of SMS is promising.

SMS remains the most underutilized, yet most engaging marketing and communication channel. And it’ll continue to witness adoption across multiple industries including financial services, healthcare, hospitality, transportation, and more.

With a massive open rate of 98 percent, SMS has the potential to deliver significant value for businesses. As a marketer, SMS communications means your customers will most likely read your message.

Furthermore, SMS marketing can help businesses boost customer reach. They can improve customer engagement and increase revenues. Businesses that engage in SMS marketing will continue to enjoy these enormous benefits if they employ the right strategies.

The beautiful thing about SMS is that it is cost-effective and can form an essential part of your integrated marketing strategy. You should go ahead and invest in SMS. I’m sure you will be glad you did.

14 Ways Savvy Brands Use SMS to Earn More Money, Trust, and Referrals

14 Ways Savvy Brands Use SMS to Earn More Money, Trust, and Referrals

SMS has more reach than other messaging channels because you don’t need a smartphone and an internet connection to access a text message.

But what gives SMS marketing its power is the engagement it generates.

While email has a 20 to 30 percent open rate, SMS has a 98 percent open-rate. And 90 percent of recipients read their text messages within three seconds of receiving them.

More so, SMS has a reply rate as high as 45 percent, and an average person responds to an SMS within 90 seconds.

What’s more?

SMS marketing generates outsized ROI. For example, a British motor racing circuit earned a 680 percent return on their SMS marketing efforts.

How can you benefit from all these goodies?

Let’s explore how you can leverage SMS to boost your profits, earn buyers’ trust, and gain referrals.

Table of Contents: 14 Ways Savvy Brands Use SMS to Earn More Money, Trust, and Referrals

You may skip to any part of this content by clicking any of the items on the list.

    1. Build a Loyalty Program by Leveraging SMS
    2. Build Referrals from Loyal Buyers
    3. Boost Your Subscriber Base by Targeting In-Store Shoppers
    4. Track and Measure Your Customer Engagement Levels
    5. Use SMS for Call to Action
    6. Manage Your Product Recalls and Returns
    7. Use SMS to Boost Your Email Open-Rate
    8. Offer Discounts and Build Top-of-the-Mind Awareness
    9. Boost Your Revenues By Getting Instant Buyer-Feedback
    10. Abandoned Cart Notification
    11. Delivery Alert and Customer Service
    12. Product Launch, New Stock, and Product Updates
    13. Manager Your Customer Appointments
    14. Distribute Your Coupon to More People

1. Build a Loyalty Program by Leveraging SMS

More businesses are favoring customer retention over acquisition. Specifically, businesses favoring customer retention over acquisition moved from 70 percent to 80 percent in one year.

One study showed that 82 percent of shoppers choose businesses that have loyalty programs over others. And loyalty programs guarantee customer retention.

Fortunately, raising your customer retention rate by five percent is a big deal. It could earn your business up to 125 percent more profit.

Image Credit: TechnologyAdvice

So it only makes sense for businesses to gravitate towards customer loyalty strategies. But some businesses are better at using potent tactics than others.

Savvy brands understand the power of SMS, and they’re using it to drive their customer loyalty growth at the speed of thought.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

When shoppers buy from them, they seize that moment. These brands would send buyers an SMS invite to join their loyalty programs in exchange for intelligently structured benefits.

2. Build Referrals from Loyal Buyers

Loyal customers are happy to introduce you to new customers, or they’re willing to introduce new people to your business.

Your customers’ willingness to introduce their friends to your business is a Net Promoter Score (NPS) booster.

If the term is new to you, your business’s NPS shows you the level of loyalty your customers have for the business. It shows you how likely they’ll recommend your product or service to their friends or colleagues.

On a scale of one to ten:

  • 9 – 10 are loyal, would recommend you to others, and would keep buying
  • 7 – 8 are indifferent and can move to other brands if they want
  • 0 – 6 are unhappy and can soil your reputation with negative comments

In a Bain and Company study, shoppers who’ve bought ten or more times from you refer 50 percent more buyers than one-time shoppers.

So the best audience to target for your referral programs is frequent buyers.

Regular shoppers are more likely to refer people to your business. And they send significantly more leads your way than anyone else.

Using SMS, which almost guarantees high open rates, ask your loyal buyers to refer people to your business. You may decide to incentivize this request for referrals too.

3. Boost Your Subscriber Base by Targeting In-Store Shoppers

Boost Your Subscriber Base by Targeting In-Store Shoppers

The line separating the online and offline world is quickly blurring out. And this isn’t only about virtual or augmented reality. Even the simple mobile phone has become instrumental in bringing your local store online.

Use attractive offers in your retail shops to ask your in-store shoppers to subscribe via SMS in exchange for incentives. You can offer different discount types, depending on your strategy. For instance, asking your customers to subscribe using a short code by SMS for a credit card.

4. Track and Measure Your Customer Engagement

SMS marketing is a business growth strategy that helps you engage your customers. As you might imagine, engaged customers buy more from you.

Hence, you can measure the success rate of your marketing campaign by sending messages with trackable links. These types of messages make it easy to track your customers’ engagement with your marketing messages.

Return to the Table Of Contents

5. Use SMS for Call to Action

Since the click-through rate (CTR) is high with SMS, leverage it to deliver timely messages to your audience.

However, not all Call to Action (CTA) is appropriate for SMS. With a maximum of 160 characters, your SMS can’t have lengthy texts that end with “Read More,” or pitches that end with “Buy Now” or “Sign Up.”

However, your timely messages can use:

  • Click the link
  • Call us
  • Text back
  • Visit us

Yes, that sort of thing. You want them to act.

6. Manage Your Product Recalls and Returns

Defective products can impact your reputation negatively. Hence, as an obligation, you must recall hazardous products that result from design and production errors.

Image Credit: GS1 New Zealand

You want to act speedily when notifications of product defects reach you. And an SMS platform can help. You can use text messages to manage single product defects to mass defects.

Leveraging SMS, you can quickly reach your customers with information on the status of your product, and guide them on the next course of action.

Image Credit: Lontae

For mass defects, your first call would be to stop all distribution of the product, then send recall notification to your customers through SMS.

7. Use SMS to Boost Your Email Open-Rate

Some businesses either use Email or SMS in their marketing campaign, but savvy ones use both channels strategically.

Since emails convey detailed messages well, you can use it for lengthy conversations that require explanations. Furthermore, an email allows attachments like brochures and downloadable documents. But the chances are that most of your customers won’t see the email.

Hence, you want to leverage the higher open rate of text messaging to boost your email open-rate.

In one Smart Insights report, SMS helped businesses experience a 20 to 30 percent boost in their email open. A simple message that asked eads, “have you read our email?” did the magic.

8. Offer Discounts and Build Top-of-the-Mind Awareness

Building your brand takes more than having a catchphrase, brilliant logo designs, and brand colors. You want your customers to remember you.

To stay top-of-the-mind, you can use SMS strategies like

  • Keeping track of and sending anniversary messages to your customers
  • Sending them tips and helpful information on using your product or service
  • Offering discounts and promotions
  • Giving them party invites
  • Sharing news headlines if appropriate

And more. Here are some examples.

A local Domino’s Pizza stays top-of-the-mind by offering discounts via text messages.

Another brand, ARM, also uses discounts sent via SMS to invite their leads to sign up for their program.

You may also use trackable URLs in your SMS to uncover the best send times for your messages. And then take advantage of the timing when running your campaign.

Up to 90 percent of your customers would read your message. So if you’re offering discounts, you want to be ready for the rush. For example, make sure your staff can fulfill your offers on time.

9. Boost Your Revenues By Getting Instant Buyer-Feedback

Sending your buyers a survey immediately they leave your store can help you get a sense of how satisfied they feel about your food or their shopping experience at your place.

This point can also be helpful for an event if you host online or offline events. When a session ends, get a quick sense of what your attendees enjoyed and what they didn’t like. And then, use that feedback to improve on your coming event sessions.

You can send your leads to a page on your website or app to leave a short survey like the one below.

Surveys and feedback can help you discover profitable patterns you can leverage to boost your revenue and customer satisfaction.

10. Abandoned Cart Notification

Trying to recover all abandoned carts is a waste of time because, on average, approximately 70 percent of shopping carts are abandoned. As high as 92 percent of the visitors to a retail website have no intention to buy.

You can automate your SMS such that when a customer adds products to their cart without checking out, they receive notification automatically. But you must have collected their phone numbers to make this possible. You must send the abandoned cart SMS fast and create an easy link for them to get back to the cart.

You can increase your success rate by offering incentives, such as discounts and free deliveries.

11. Delivery Alert and Customer Service

Customers want you to keep them in the loop. So you could send them delivery tracking notifications about their purchases by SMS.

More so, you can use SMS for customer service. This Australian health care service does with their patients, see the message above.

Brands like Amazon and DHL already use this channel because it’s effective. You can copy them safely.

12. Product Launch, New Stock, and Product Updates

Product Launch, New Stock, and Product Updates
Most businesses have come to rely on email for their product launch and for keeping their customers updated about new stocks or improvements. But SMS can offer exciting opportunities too.

You can inform your target audience about new products, discounts, services, and events via text messages. Studies have shown that SMS might even be more potent than email.

SMS messages have a 209 percent higher response rate than messages on apps, email, or Facebook. In one study, sales leads who got a text message during a product launch converted 40 percent higher than those who didn’t get a text message.

Salesforce says that 89 percent of marketers report that SMS marketing commands more results than business websites and display ads. More so, 82 percent of marketers either maintained or increased their investment in SMS marketing.

In short, using SMS to launch your product gets you the types of results you love.

13. Manage Your Customer Appointments

If you offer services, you might want to confirm or remind your customers of an appointment via SMS. You’d reduce the chances of cancellation because 70 percent of respondents agree that using SMS is a good way to get their attention.

Likewise, if you choose to stay open to accommodate late buyers, you can inform your busy customers of extended hours.

14. Distribute Your Coupon to More People

Text messages can create a sense of urgency around your discount, coupon codes, or flash sales. Due to the fast open and response rates of SMS, you can get a response almost instantly.

So you can compile the phone numbers of leads who respond and target them in future campaigns.

Mobile coupons allow you to send your brand codes to customers quickly. You can send them as coupon codes via SMS that they can present at check out.


Get Savvy: Earn More Money, Trust, and Referrals

It’s action time. But you don’t have to act on everything. Take one or a few ideas that resonate with you. And put them to work. That’s what works.

Decide on what goals matter most to your business right now. Is earning more money the most import thing right now? Would earning more trust boost your business value better? Or would you rather get more referrals now?

It’s time to get savvy. Choose a goal and take action today.

How to increase your SMS open rate

With business competition so high these days, companies today must be aggressive in the marketing of their products and services. This means utilizing a variety of traditional and new marketing strategies and tools to engage new customers and manage them once they are acquired.

New marketing tools are the rage today with SEO, social media marketing, websites and blogs, and email marketing now getting the most focus from marketing executives across the world.

Businesses know that people are spending more time online and opportunities for marketing to them there are increasing. As online marketing strategies evolve from simply pushing marketing at consumers to getting them to engage and interact more with the marketing, conversion rates are beginning to rise.

Apart from the online marketing, SMS marketing also plays a major role in developing a relationship with your customers and converting prospects. According to a statistic report 2019, there are 5 billion people sending and receiving SMS messages globally. It is about 65% of the world’s population.

SMS Messaging Was and is Very Effective

As we have moved to mobile phones becoming the center of business marketing efforts, it is easy to forget that what was considered the original mew marketing tool started out on mobile phones even before the internet became a factor. It was SMS or text messaging that got companies to consider mobile phones as a marketing device.

SMS marketing was an immediate hit and has enjoyed during its life a very high open rate. In fact, globally text messaging enjoys an open rate of more than 90%. In a world of two-way communication being a standard, this is an astounding number. It has caused SMS messaging to be a standard tool for many companies to use to engage potential customers or to alert customers to new products, specials, discounts and other promotions.

But not all SMS messages are created equal and many SMS marketing campaigns do not meet their objectives. The first goal of any SMS campaign is to get customers to open the test mail. Here are the proven methods for increasing your SMS open rates.

Perfect Your first Line

You need to be able to capture the attention of your target market with introductions that resonate with them. Look at other successful SMS messages to get some ideas on how to get people to open your text.

Collect Data and Analyze It

You should collect data on every aspect of your SMS marketing campaign, and analyze this data to perfect the campaign. Look at your target market, the actual message, the offer, and the results to determine how you did, and what can be improved. After you have made adjustments, test these changes with new SMS messages. Repeat this process continuously.

Timing is everything

Make sure that you send your SMS messages at the right time. You want to send a message near the time you want the person to take action. If you want to direct them to a sale, do it the night before or morning of the sale. Pope expect an SMS message to be current. So give them what they expect. Make is a last minute call to action.

Use SMS to Enlighten

The best rule for sending SMS is the 80/20 rule where you 80% of the text messages you send to customers are helpful or informative, and only 20% are a sales pitch. The idea here is similar with blogs which is to become a resource for quality information as you present offers.

Coordinate with Email Marketing

It has been shown that SMS marketing works well with email marketing when coordinated properly. Both forms of marketing have their strengths and weaknesses, so you need to understand both intimately in order to get the most out of each. But when executed properly the combination will increase your customer attraction and conversion.

Final Words

All the above strategies are designed to help you improve the open rate for both email and SMS rates. As long as you will keep these tips in mind, you will have nothing to worry about with retention or open rates!

SMS Marketing is also a better and smarter choice than social media (Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin). Because almost 100% of mobile phones are SMS-enabled, it’s the easiest communication channel everyone in the world knows how to use and, above all, because 99% of all SMS messages are opened and read within 5 minutes or less. This is a huge open and read rate!

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) — Security And Other Considerations For Stakeholders

Today’s employees are always connected, thanks to ubiquitous broadband and a wide range of portable devices, from smartphones, tablets and laptops to fitness trackers and a plethora of smart devices such as watches, cameras and GPS navigators. How necessary is this level of connection?

Cinemas and restaurants are no longer peaceful, with beeps, chimes, vibrations and other alerts notifying everyone in the vicinity that something else (generally of a trivial nature) has occurred in your vast network of contacts. It makes sense that social addicts want to spread this contagion to the workplace since not being connected can produce a sense of withdrawal not unlike that of those coming off hard drugs. We need someone to like that oh-so-interesting photo of last night’s chicken chow mein. We need someone to know how we feel at work… Or do we?

BYOD Motivated By Cost Savings?

Let’s look at the motives behind BYOD adoption for companies and device users. Visitors to your home quickly request access to your Wi-Fi as most are tied to a set data plan by their mobile carrier, with a monthly cap and corresponding rate per gigabyte of usage. Using Wi-Fi, device users can access broadband Internet and reduce data usage over 3G, 4G or 5G. Therefore, we can safely conclude that users want BYOD to save money on data charges by connecting to the company Wi-Fi.

Employers also want to save money, of course and by allowing employees to use their own devices, do not have to issue company-owned devices. Since it is likely that personal devices are of a higher spec than those purchased for business use, there are also possible productivity benefits.

In an ideal world, the story ends there, everyone involved saves money and lives happily ever after. Unfortunately, there are drawbacks for both parties, ultimately caused by data, user and device management requirements.

Can any company afford to provide Wi-Fi access without considering potential security risks to the network and the data residing on it? No, as every jurisdiction is likely to have regulations and mandatory requirements relating to data security, personally identifiable information (PII) or indeed e-discovery. Therefore, any cost savings in allowing BYOD are likely cancelled out by the management of BYOD devices.

Practical BYOD Issues

As a former network administrator, I appreciate the additional workload a BYOD program can place on the IT team (the team blamed when the network is breached or data is lost).

The problems with BYOD from a security perspective include but are not limited to:

  1. Permission management–to ensure secure access (by user, device or network credentials), a solution aimed at mobile device management (MDM) is best.
  2. Device Management–companies need to decide on the device types and manufacturers they will allow on the network. Additional requirements could relate to the device OS revision/version involved. To allow all mobile device access is a mistake as cheaper brands could use an earlier OS version with known vulnerabilities or apps that can exploit network connections.
  3. Security updates–if the device owner does not encrypt the device or install security updates then it is a weak point on your network.
  4. Viruses, malware and other threats–again, virus scanners and other security tools must have the latest updates to protect the device and, in turn, the company network.
  5. Employee exit procedures–When the owner of a BYOD device leaves the company, the device must be cleaned to remove company data in a secure manner. This can require admin access to the device, a problem for many device owners, who do not like being ‘spied on’.
  6. Lost or stolen devices–If a BYOD device is lost or stolen, there is a potential data loss/breach involved. For this reason, the remote wipe is a useful admin feature. Unfortunately, such control is often a problem for device owners (see (5)).

For employers considering BYOD, device admin is typically the single thorny issue. If a user does not want the company to administer the device (and I wouldn’t) then the company should not allow the device to connect to company Wi-Fi. End of story. If the same employee needs a company device for travel or remote work, then issue a company-owned device as the company can administer it as they desire.

In conclusion, I believe that constant connectivity is not needed, unless you are a volunteer firefighter or an on-call medical professional. For family emergencies, SMS is still an effective way to receive an urgent message. After all, employees can still use their mobile carriers for internet access if needed at work. From a company perspective, is it easier to only allow company-issues devices access to the network? It varies from company to company, but for the most part, when full administration of employee-owned devices is necessary, the resulting admin and security risks may not be worth it. There are also HR (if an employee uses the device on work tasks outside working hours, expect to compensate that employee) and legal considerations (under e-discovery, mobile devices are included, and data loss can result in substantial fines) in some jurisdictions. I recommend you identify all potential risks before embarking on a BYOD strategy. What do you think? Is the use of personal devices an issue in your company?

Two Hot Cyber Security Trends You Should be Considering

Ebbs and flows of cybersecurity trends are no surprise to seasoned IT professionals, but sometimes it can be hard to keep up with what’s coming next and what’s on it’s way out.

The trick to staying in the know is constant conversation in amongst your peers, and keeping up with the technology companies currently making splash when it comes to thwarting attacks and keeping your data safe.

Today, we’re breaking down two hot trends in cybersecurity that you should be on top of—ransomware and blockchain.

Ransomware: defense is a high priority.

This particular pain for IT professionals has been an increasing threat lately because of the new capability to outsource the development of custom ransomware strains.

So, someone could be working with a hacker to build a ransomware specifically designed to attack you. The hackers get a portion of the proceeds as payment, meaning this doesn’t usually require any money up front.

Two popular examples are WannaCry and Petya, striking Britain’s National Health Service and personal bitcoin wallets.

Dan Manson, National Cyber League Commissioner, suggests how to prepare:

“Businesses need to stop looking for cybersecurity professionals in the wrong places and using outdated ways of hiring employees. We find that many companies lack the understanding of potential cyber threats and also are unfamiliar with the state of the cybersecurity landscape. Therefore, they don’t know better than to rely on a resume than to ask a potential employee to show proof of their skills being validated.

This is the main reason the National Cyber League started providing NCL Scouting Reports. Not only does this report reflect personal cybersecurity skills growth, but cybersecurity students are getting jobs as it shows employers their skills are tested and validated,” Manson told pheonixNAP.

His advice rings logically true—ransomware is evolving at an alarming rate, and the first step in defense against is your talent.

Finding the right person for ransomware defense could mean the difference between a near miss and a billion dollar mistake.

Blockchain: improving the security of transactions.

On a happier note, there’s something new on the horizon that looks to be an improvement for the cybersecurity professionals of today.

Cryptocurrency and blockchain are commonly referred to together, but the two aren’t mutually exclusive, and blockchain has the potential for very positive security applications.

Lawrence Aucoin, CTO and Managing Partner at Optimal IdM, discusses the future of blockchain for security professions, no matter how vague:

“Blockchain applied to an identity world is an interesting, if not fairly speculative, real-world application,” Aucoin told CSO.

“Some of the compelling foundational components of an identity blockchain are that you don’t need a central ‘store’ (or bank) as a middleman to trade with a partner. In fact, you don’t even need to know who the partner is—only that they are a verified participant in the blockchain. Trust is essential to commerce and that is blockchain’s sweet spot.”

Because blockchain is all about trust, there is a huge financial motivation. IT professionals should keep an eye out for more attempted attacks on blockchain solutions, as well as more developments and applications for corporations.

As we look ahead to new trends, we need to assume that the urgency and concern data breached foster is only going to rise. Keeping up with trends is just one step on the journey towards true cybersecurity.

Daily SMS Mobile Usage Statistics

It’s official—mobile use is now prevalent throughout internet users and businesses. Most people would respond to this statement with, “I could’ve told you that,” but what we’re still learning is how people interact with these mobile devices, and how they can best used to service businesses effectively and securely.

Analysts and companies of all shapes and sizes have released statistics about developments in mobile use this past year, and particularly, how companies have grown to use SMS. Here are some of the most impressive findings.

Mobile use is so big, the world starts to use these devices the moment we wake up.

According to ExpressPigeon, over half of users grab their smartphones immediately after waking up. This is just one of the ways we’ve grown to interact with our mobile devices more as time has gone by.

These mobile usage statistics indicate that mobile use is growing in new ways—especially when using SMS.

  • According to Nielsen, SMS is the most used data service in the world.
  • According to MBA online, more than 4.2 billion people are texting worldwide.
  • According to the Pew Research Center, 81% of Americans text regularly and 97% of adults text weekly.
  • According to CTIA, 6 billion SMS messages are sent each day in the US, over 180 billion are sent each month, and 2.27 trillion are sent each year.
  • According to Portio Research, the world will send 8.3 trillion SMS messages this year alone – 23 billion per day or almost 16 million per minute.
  • According to Statistic Brain, the number of SMS messages sent monthly increased by more than 7,700% over the last decade.

The reason that SMS messages are being sent at a faster speed across the globe—when it comes to communication effectiveness, they work.

  • According to Mobile Marketing Watch, SMS messages have a 98% open rate, while email only has a 20% open rate.
  • According to Velocify, SMS messages have a 45% response rate, as opposed to email which has a 6% response rate.

It’s clear that SMS is very influential for the general population’s overall use, but it’s not just personal use. Statistics show that businesses are starting to pay more attention to SMS as a reliable and secure communication source.

Most businesses think that their customers want support via SMS.

The most important communication for businesses isn’t always internal. Sometimes it’s communication with customers, and data shows that businesses are starting to make the move to customer communication via SMS message.

  • According to ICMI, 79% of companies believe customers want SMS support, and 1 in 5 customers is just as likely to prefer a text message from a business to a phone call.
  • According to Dimension Data, 38% of contact centers currently use SMS, and 23% have plans to implement in the next 12 months.
  • According to Forrester & ContactBabel, SMS text decreases the price of a customer service call from $6-$20 call to pennies per session.

Customer service isn’t the only use—businesses are starting to see the benefits to SMS message for internal use, as the response rate is so much higher.

  • According to eWeek, 80% of people are currently using texting for business.
  • According to eWeek, over one-third of business professional say they can’t go 10 minutes without responding to an SMS message.
  • According to Loyalty 360, 20% of financial services companies use SMS to ensure business continuity and add to their multichannel capabilities.
  • According to Vitiello Communications Group, nearly 70% of employees think their companies should us SMS to communicate with employees, and 86% say it should not just be reserved for customer communication.

These statistics show that mobile use isn’t just here to say, but that it’s growth is changing the way businesses are communicating securely and reliably both internally and with customers.

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6 reasons why texting works better than app push notifications

There are plenty of people, perhaps even you, who believe that an app is the answer to every company’s communication challenges.

It’s true that apps are generally easy to find and install. Since more people are using mobile devices, some as a prime source of communication instead of a desktop or a laptop, an app isn’t a bad way to access information without visiting your device’s browser.

Plus, ‘push’ notifications from some apps make it easy to provide you the exact info you need rather than having to search it out.

However, there’s also another digital tool that’s even easier to work with: the text message.

Some have said that SMS has served its purpose and is past its prime, but texting continues to be a popular way of interacting. Here’s why:

  • You can respond. Push notifications are one-way messages sent to everyone who has signed up through an app. If you want to respond or have further questions, you must find contact info through your app or a company site, and then send an email, a voice mail or even a text. With texts you can always respond and even have a conversation.
  • Access to larger audiences. Not everyone who is a fan of a particular company or product will download its official app, or even has the right type of phone to do so. But just about everyone has text capabilities on their mobile devices. Businesses wanting to connect with more subscribers and potential customers can easily send texts rather than cultivating the smaller number of app subscribers.
  • Easy to create multiple lists and manage multiple campaigns. Companies that send out mass texts can use texting programs to segment different audiences, often by different topics, demographic info or interests. But with push notifications, every subscriber gets the same message, although every end-user can configure how they’re displayed.
  • Texting is inexpensive. Texting is one of the more affordable ways to contact customers. You may have to pay extra if you create MMS (multimedia messages with audio, video or photo attachments) or buy short codes, which are words and numbers customers can use to respond to you. In comparison, an app can be a significant financial investment for your company. Whether you’re building one from the ground up or a using a third-party, the process takes weeks or even months of design and testing time.
  • Easy sign-up. To subscribe to a business text list requires only one opt-in, where you inform the company that you want to start receiving their messages. Push notifications, on the other hand, require installing the app, customizing it to sign up for apps, and sometimes adding other security steps such as an authentication passcode.
  • Universal compatibility. Texting works worldwide, or at least anywhere you can access a mobile network. Apps may have certain restrictions or areas where notifications may not work.

Overall, app notifications make it easy to connect to mobile users. But in terms of person-to-person communication, texting still remains champion.