Expert Interview Series: Gil Shapira of TeleMessage About the Impact of Mass Text Messaging

Gil Shapira is the VP of Business Development at TeleMessage, a leading provider of business mobile messaging offering mass messaging and secure compliant mobile messaging solutions. Gil recently spoke with us about the growth and capabilities of mass text messaging and gave us a glimpse as to what the industry will look like in the future.

Tell us a bit about your background. Why did you decide to co-found TeleMessage?

TeleMessage is an established company which has provided robust messaging services for the last 16 years. It all started when we were backpacking around the world. We were looking for low-cost ways to exchange messages between travelers and families back home, and the idea was to send messages to phones from a web portal.

What are some of the benefits of mass text messaging that aren't necessarily seen when relying solely on emails?

Nowadays, people are looking for a mobile-first solution, and I believe that the tremendous growth of text messaging speaks for itself. Mobile messaging is the fastest growing online trend and behavior (passing social networks). It passed three billion mobile messaging app users worldwide. If you take into account SMS messaging, you can actually reach seven billion mobile users worldwide - which is the single most ubiquitous communication channel in a fragmented chat apps world.

Mobile phones take up the most digital time and attention, and chat and messaging apps are amongst the most-used services on phones. Unlike email, text messages usually receive a response within 90 seconds. Moreover, in most chat apps, you know whether recipients have received and read the message.

Chat apps offer far more services and features than email. They are built for mobile devices because they are faster, instant, and more secure. Plus, they allow voice and text, group chat, file sharing, channels, stickers, media, and video messages. And they are clearly better-suited for a world that is concerned with security and privacy.

If someone were to say to you, "I don't need mass text messaging. I'll just communicate with my clients and customers through social media," how would you respond?

I would not rule out social media as a channel; but for the majority of companies as well as customers, mobile is clearly the preferred channel of communication. It's uncommon to find companies doing social engagement and not doing mobile engagement. Surprisingly, there are still a lot of companies that are not utilizing mobile texting at all. Some companies are still doing only voice or email, and they are missing out on big opportunities in both cost savings, proactive engagement, and improved efficiency and innovation.

In what situations are automated voice broadcasts more practical or effective than simple text messages or emails?

There are still many use cases where voice is a very important channel.

Let's take an example of emergency notifications with time-critical information. If you would send it only via email or text, people might not notice an email or hear a beep of an SMS arriving. But if the phone starts to ring and vibrate, they will surely notice it.

In our platform, we have the ability to track delivery confirmations or send chasing messages that will try to reach people across many channels, including IP push notifications to apps, SMS, MMS, voice calls, faxes, and emails.

Do you have any tips on how to craft a mass text message if time-sensitive responses are critical to the campaign?

Try to make it personal. Schedule the message to be sent at the best time to trigger a response. Don't send too many messages; people are already overloaded with messages and information.

Other things to consider:

    • Try to utilize templates and plan for two-way interaction.

 

    • If you can, try to automate the process by using APIs.

 

  • An email to SMS might be a good solution for some companies using Outlook as their main messaging tool.

When utilizing mass text messaging, what are some important metrics to keep an eye on?

This needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, since different companies and services have different goals and metrics.

For example, some are trying to decrease support calls into their call center and might measure how many hours they saved by sending proactive alerts. Others want the opposite and are trying to generate more responses and calls for ordering goods and services. What is truly important is to choose a messaging solution vendor that can provide tailored reports and statistics.

Tracking message delivery statistics is a must for everyone, since the quality of delivery is of great importance. Though companies are not aware of it, there are different routes and ways to send messages; and there are also regulations about when you can use long codes or short codes, as well as what information needs to be delivered to subscribers and the processes for opting in and out of a messaging service.

Tell us about the future of mass text messaging. Will another method of messaging render it obsolete, or will it remain a viable type of communication for the foreseeable future?

The future for messaging is very bright. It's the preferred communication channel for the younger generation, and social messaging still has a lot of room to grow.

On the enterprise front, since consumer chat apps are overtaking enterprise communication, we foresee companies embracing similar enterprise messaging apps for internal communication. Enterprise apps have far more requirements that encompass the administration of users, compliance and regulatory requirements, greater security and reliability demands, and IT integration needs.

Another concern for companies is the fact that their employees are chatting with customers over these consumer channels even though there is no record of this communication and interaction in the enterprise. Solutions which solve this need driven by compliance and regulation will clearly emerge, and we are already offering text archiving solutions.

On the messaging apps front, Asian messaging apps are far more advanced, and we can assume that the Western chat apps will follow many of the trends that are successful in China. This means far more power will shift towards companies like Facebook (which owns FB Messenger and WhatsApp), as well as far more e-commerce, brand engagement, and paid services done via chat services.

As for chat bots, they will clearly change the way we communicate. Our vision of the new hype is the following:

Today:

  • Smarter bots evolving; bots combined with human engagement
  • Messaging bots will overtake vertical apps; companies and appliances will utilize bots instead of apps
  • Far greater power for companies running these chat services
  • More bots with personality

In ~5 years:

  • Singularity point: natural language processing + AI + semantic search + image and voice recognition + location + connected IoT
  • A blur between messaging bots and intelligent agents - you won't know if you're talking to a human or a machine

In ~10 years:

  • Sensor maturity, advanced machine learning
  • AI systems make automatic recommendations
  • Bots will be the new APIs

To summarize - these are the main trends we see in messaging:
* Messaging chat apps becoming a major channel for customer interactions and communication
* Messaging chat apps becoming a major source for e-commerce transactions and payments
* Chat apps and messaging being used by brands for acquisition and retention phases
* Enterprises embracing chat apps as a main communication channel
* Chat bots with artificial intelligence and personality

Want to see if mass text messaging can help your organization? Contact us today!

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