April 6, 2014 by

Hacking Simplicity

simplicity1

A fairly smart guy, Albert Einstein, once said that things should be made as simple as possible… but not any simpler. In reality simplicity has become more appealing than ever before, and for us here at Messente it has went on to become our mantra behind much of what we do, how we think and what tools we use.

The age of simplification

Companies have evolved and so have people, leading us to interaction on a scale you probably did not quite envision years ago. With the technology constantly evolving often there are way too many choices, variations or modifications, thus in an over-communicated world people actually look for an over-simplified message, wrote Al Ries and Jack Trout. The belief of simplicity has led us to a singularisation and people opt for easy-to-use products, straightforward guidance and things that work quickly, without lots of extra effort.

Is simple easy?

Whether it is easy and plain simple or not, it is more closely related to how intuitive it is. For us state of simple and intuitive is achieved when everything means something, combining just the right amount of details, complexity and difficulties. When all these things are tied together in just right amounts and ways, there is sense of clarity un purpose – everything belongs exactly where it is supposed to be.

“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity”
- Charles Mingus 

Making Messente progressively more simple and seamless, has been amazing learning experience personally for me. It has been astonishing to see how much depth of understanding is necessary to create a simple interface, by relying on insights that drive certain ideas and motives behind it.

Of course not all of us have the same idea of what simple actually means in the unique context of, for example, software, communication, operations or even management. However, I believe there are common understandings that frequently encounter the meaning of simplicity.

Do you take any purposeful actions to simplify your services or products? How do you manage complexity?

 

March 25, 2014 by

Improve Your SMS Campaigns In Four Simple Steps

Last week I got sms from my local shopping center, telling me about upcoming event called “beauty night”. Instantly I had three ideas how they could have made it better.

It came from a shortcode “165″ and the mall name was not mentioned until at the very end. If they had used plain text “MallName” sender name it would have been clear from the start.

They also used some funny date format (15.3) And had one capitalised word in the middle of the sentence. Attention to detail will make your texts look more professional and appealing.

Lastly, I would have really loved to get a link to a page about this event. I really missed it.

Here are four simple tips for creating an enjoyable sms campaign for your customers.

1. Get The Text Right

Opposed to e-mails, text messages are very limited by text length and it has no visual effects. You have only plain ol’ text, so it is very important to get it right.

Here are some very simple rules to get you started:

  • Proofread – one simple typo can ruin the whole sms
  • Keep it simple – use short and simple sentences, so it is easier to read
  • Don’t use txt speak – nbdy wnts to rd ths
  • Put the link at the end – a good common practice
  • Use link shortening tools or even better – your own short link with your domain
  • Make sure the user knows what to expect from the link

Cut to the chase – leave out all unnecessary details and just get to the point. Chattering on without a clear aim will only drive away your potential customers.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
― Ernest Hemingway

Dont be afraid to experiment with different keywords or highlighting some words with CAPITAL letters. You only have a few seconds to make the impression to the reader, until he closes the text.

2. Improve Landing Page

Make sure the landing page of the sms content link is optimized for tablets and phones. It should follow the basic requirements for any mobile-device optimised pages:

  • No clutter – cut down on any excess elements you can live without
  • Keep the images small – improve page loading speed on the phone
  • Use appealing images – images are the first thing your brain processes
  • Make sure the text is easily readable on the phone – get the font size right

Having a link to a fully featured browser, will decrease the conversion rate significantly, as the page will load slowly and it is hard to navigate on it using the relatively small screen of the phone.

Responsive Web by Chris Bannister
(Source: Responsive Web by Chris Bannister)

If you have some kind of forms, make sure you improve those the most. Forms are the most complicated part of your website and it is crucial to make the forms easy to fill in. Include examples where possible and fine-tune any error messages.

3. Measure Your Campaign Efficiency

There are lots of free tools to measure the link click rate and the conversion rate. Arguably the most popular is Google Analytics with its endless possibilities.

Google Analytics may be the Titan of web analytics, but it is also a bit difficult to grasp at the beginning. Fortunately there are alike services like HubSpot or Bit.ly, which make the whole analytics process a lot more straightforward.

If possible, set up a conversion flow funnel. This way you can see where most of the users get stuck and you can easily improve the landing page for your next campaign. Don’t forget to fine-tune your forms!

Finding out and removing any bottlenecks can give a significant boost your campaign performance.

4. Time Your SMS Right

Timing the sms right, can also significantly improve the results. Based on the Experian email marketing benchmark study, the best time to send your marketing campaign is around 8 PM and 12 AM.

If you have large enough client base (at least 1000 customers), you can easily make small experiments and improve your next campaign, based on the results. For example you can make A/B test, where test-group A gets SMS around 12 AM in the morning and test-group B gets the same text at 8 PM.

If you are making your first experiments, a quick tip is to look at your web analytics for mobile users. This will give you a nod in the right direction, when the mobile users are most active.

March 10, 2014 by

SMS in Financial Services

mobiil ja krediitkaart2

SMS messaging is a powerful mobile communication tool that allows financial service institutions to interact with their customers in a cost-effective, timely way. Global messaging volumes in the financial service industry will continue to grow and its estimated that it will be more than 1.6 trillion in 2015.

The most popular ways how financial institutions use SMS messaging:

  • Alerts
  • Authentication
  • On-time passwords and PIN codes
  • Opt-in marketing and special promotions
  • Payment behavior improving reminders
  • High-value withdrawal and payment notifications

The SMS has the unique advantage of reach. The vast majority of handsets support SMS, whereas less than half support mobile Web and even fewer support mobile applications. This mix may change over time as advanced handsets become more widely available, but text messaging is and will continue to be the most used feature of a smartphone.

Keep texting! :)

February 23, 2014 by

Happy birthday, Messente!

390ASP14352 Messente is moving fast – over the past year we have doubled in the number of messages. But for the year of 2014, we are excited to aim even higher.

We really worked hard though out the year of 2013. The messaging traffic in Messente was doubledour product is better to use, our team got bigger and we have many more clients we are excited to work with. Yet ‘simpler‘ is the concept we have really moved towards. We believe that connecting to Messente should be genuinely simple and fast.

Being there when needed

Lately we came up with several new features that make contacting Messente easier. In our last blog post, we introduced Live Chat for quick questions, but we also launched our first newsletter. There you can find the most important tips and news. To subscribe to our newsletter, leave a message to our Live Chat at the bottom right corner with your email address. We’ll take care of the rest.

Messente is attending Mobile World Congress 2014

Our team is attending MWC in Barcelona right now. If you are attending as well and interested in meeting up – contact either lauri.kinkar@messente.com or marcis.jurisons@messente.com.

February 4, 2014 by

Introducing Live Chat

Live Chat

This January, live support chat was added to Messente in order to make asking questions a breeze. We are really excited about this :)

Whenever there’s something you want to ask us or you get stuck using Messente – just click on the orange window in the bottom right corner of the screen. Drop us your question and someone from our team will instantly see what you typed in and will assist you.

Live Chat really works

Recent studies (like the US Wireless Customer Care Study for example) claim that over 40% of US based customers use live chat windows as a primary support channel online. It’s just so much faster than e-mail and more convenient than a phone based support line.

Studies aside – we’re simply glad to be able to talk to you. Thanks to everyone who has already used our chat window to give us valuable feedback on Messente.

I hope the chat has proved to be helpful in getting your questions answered. If you haven’t tried it yet, feel free to just say hi :)

 

January 26, 2014 by

User Authentication and What SMS Has To Do With It

Here at Messente we know how important it is to manage authentication within your applications, while keeping the logic clean and possibly automated. Furthermore the need to improve secure authentication is often behind finding the balance between user-friendly and smart solution.

Traditional approach to security used to rely on using passwords and usernames to authenticate users and, despite the simplicity, also SMS can be an extremely valuable part in your security layer.

Two-factors when and where you need them

You have probably experienced two-factor authentication, also known as 2FA, when you last downloaded and tried one of the popular over-the-top (OTT) messaging app (such as WhatsApp, Viber, Line etc.).

Many of the applications would require more than a single password and two-factor authentication would involve using different factors simultaneously:
- something the user already knows (for example, a chosen password);
- something the user has (for example, a mobile phone);
- something the user gets (for example, a PIN code sent in an SMS message).

Combination of these significantly increases security, while SMS is an easy, reliable and straightforward way to deliver your authentication notifications.

How it works

In a simplified scenario, user enters the mobile phone number into the application’s form, receives authentication PIN code in an SMS message and types it into the application’s form to confirm the identity.

It’s fast. SMS notification is received at your handset in seconds and it won’t get in the way or slow you down.
It’s easy. Users are well familiar with SMS notifications, thus authenticating is straightforward and distinct.
It’s secure. SMS notification is generated and sent via other – non-email nor web – channel and application can compare the originally generated password with the submitted one.

Please give us a shout at messente@messente.com if you wish to share some of your thoughts and ideas on this. As always, thanks for your feedback and stay tuned!

P.S. If you liked this post, you might also enjoy reading about “Why HTTP API is so much better compared to SMPP protocol” and “Fine tuning SMS communication for your brand“.

 

January 12, 2014 by

Why HTTP API is so much better compared to SMPP protocol

SMPP has long been industry standard for sending SMS over the Internet but HTTP API’s have quietly made it’s way to the top.

In Messente we clearly flavor HTTP API to SMPP for three main reasons – simplicity, speed and features.

Simplicity

Setting up SMPP connection requires you to have special knowledge about the protocol and the number of free software is also very limited. HTTP protocol tools on the other hand are freely available for almost all programming languages and they are extremely simple to use.

Developing your own SMPP client may take several months – using some free software may speed things up but will also have some limitations. Developing your own script for sending SMS messages over HTTP API takes just one day from scratch.

Messente also offers multiple HTTP API libraries in lots of flavors – starting with PHP library and ending with Microsoft.NET version. Make your pick.

Speed

SMPP had an edge over HTTP mostly when sending thousands of messages per day – but no more. Especially with the HTTP 1.1 persistent connections, protocol overheads have decreased significantly.

Quote from a study by W3 Consortium about the HTTP/1.1 pipelining (persistent connection):

HTTP/1.1 implemented with pipelining outperformed HTTP/1.0, even when the HTTP/1.0 implementation uses multiple connections in parallel, under all circumstances tested. In terms of packets transmitted, the savings are typically at least a factor of two, and often much more, for our tests. Elapsed time improvement is less dramatic, but significant.

HTTP/1.1 allows developers to use (multiple) persistent connections to achieve same speeds that only SMPP could deliver a few years ago. And keep in mind, that using HTTP API’s it significantly easier for developers.

More features

SMPP protocol is very strictly documented and there is not much you can do to add new features. HTTP API on the other hand is very flexible and new features can be added with ease.

Let’s say you wanted to schedule a text message – a reminder for example. You could not do that with SMPP but it is already built in to Messente’s HTTP API – just add one more parameter to your request and you are done.

Conclusion

SMPP protocol will stay for many years to come, but new users will mostly start implementing HTTP API’s just for the sheer simplicity it provides.

If you are starting with SMS messaging, there is no need for you to start with SMPP protocol – in my mind there is so much more to do with your time :)

December 29, 2013 by

How to send customized SMS messages via Messente webplatform?

Blogpost pilt

We all know the importance and quality of interaction brands can receive by communicating with their customers via SMS message. However, there are a few certain set of guidelines and best practices that businesses and can follow in order to keep their marketing as personalized as possible.

In order to get best response out of campaign, your SMS message should address the recipient with information you have gathered through loyalty program (name, gender, preferred products or brands etc).

Messente webplatform has a special feature for sending out customized messages – tags. You can use different type of tags: Title, First name, Surname, Company, Email and Custom field.

Messente tags2

 

Its very simple way how to use it. When composing a new SMS message, just select the right tag from top of the Message box and insert it into message body.

Messente_tags3

 

PS. You can only use previously uploaded information “tags” in the message. More info how to upload contacts and create correct CSV file can be found here: https://messente.com/pages/faq#How_to_import_csv_file

If you would like to read more about Messente contacts management, then click this: http://messente.com/blog/2013/07/11/contact-management-made-easy/

Keep texting! :)

December 10, 2013 by

The ingenious 160 characters

Creativity and Limitations

Why 160 characters?
Have you ever thought why a text message is limited to 160 characters? The reason is actually pretty simple. Back in 1985 the chairman of Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) Friedhelm Hillebrand had a challenge of finding out how many characters should there be in a text message.
Friedhelm started typing out random sentences on his typewriter and found out that all the sentences ran actually under 160 characters. To back up his proposal for the GSM committee he researched huge amount of postcards and found out that most of the sentences contained fewer then 150 characters. He also analyzed Telex – telegraphy network for business professionals. Even though they didn’t have a limit on the characters Friedhelm found out that most of the messages contained approximately 150 characters as well.

Keep it simple!
Sometimes creative limitations are good! :) SMS messages are more urgent, direct, and personal than email. Up-to-a-point messages provide a key element of what is actually “controversial”. SMS is comparatively simple but what really makes the difference is how it is applied. So creating an efficient SMS requires some level of mastery of the language and we believe that it’s a bit of a science. But managing it successfully will be profitable.
Here are some key benefits of SMS text messaging:

- SMS text messaging open rates reach up to 98%
- 90% of messages are read within minutes of delivery
- Less competition since people receive 5 times less texts than emails

From banking to agriculture to medicine, with mobile phones continuing their massive spread through the developing world, text messaging is making bigger impacts than ever.

Read more about on “How to start SMS marketing”

November 27, 2013 by

Say Hi to Margus

302949_2290942431838_1020224689_nMargus joined Messente’s sales team earlier this week. He is passionate about marketing and technology as well as photography and sales.

Having previously worked in the sales field, in an advertising agency and also as a starting entrepreneur Margus likes to keep pushing forward, exited to be working with many great customers  in the technology sector. He has graduated from Baltic Film and Media School and is currently studying at Business Academy Aarhus in Denmark.

Enter Margus.

“I have been looking forward to working in the technology sector. Joining Messente was a very easy decision especially after seeing how rapidly the company is growing. 

Even at the beginning of the hiring process it seemed to be a super opportunity – global business, experienced team and cool people to work with. I am very much looking forward making big things happen in Messente.”

Want to say Hi to Margus? E-mail him at margus.sytt@messente.com