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SMS is Not Dead: How Businesses Can Leverage SMS Marketing in 2021

No matter who you are, when you hear the familiar ping of your phone letting you know you have a message, it is almost impossible to resist the urge to see who wants to get in touch.

Most of us will stop what we are doing and have a quick look, just to check if the message is something urgent from a friend, family member or client.

This natural human instinct to respond to a notification is why SMS is by no means dead. In fact, it is alive, kicking and essential.

Consider that according to Deloitte’s Mobile Nation report, 89 per cent of Australians own a smartphone. And while there are plenty of messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Instagram, SMS capability is pre-loaded on every device.

What’s more, when it comes to using smartphones, research has found that texting is the number one activity, even above using the device for phone calls.

Despite this, most major brands don’t have a mobile marketing strategy. They leave this amazing opportunity on the table; often because they fail to realize how simple and affordable sending automated texts via a bulk SMS platform can be.

Email vs mobile marketing

Sending a bulk SMS to your customers really is as simple as sending an EDM.

And while email open rates can be depressingly low (20 per cent is seen as a great result), studies have shown that texts and bulk send SMS open rates can exceed 90 per cent.

Due to the endless flood of emails received each day, people are increasingly turning off their inbox notifications. This is probably why marketing emails usually sit unopened for over an hour, while mobile marketing messages tend to get noticed in five minutes or less. Click-through rates are higher with texts as well (6 per cent for email vs 36 per cent for SMS).

Switching to mobile marketing and adding an SMS strategy to your campaigns just makes good business sense.

Related: Even more fascinating statistics about SMS marketing from SMSGlobal

Ways to use mobile marketing

With a bulk SMS platform, you can contact your entire database with a major marketing message or send personalized messages based on where your customers are at in their journey.

Here are a dozen awesome ways to integrate SMS to your client communications:

  • Bulk send special offers and limited promotions
  • Automate appointment or event reminders
  • Confirm orders
  • Send package delivery notifications 
  • Send Christmas, birthday or ‘client anniversary’ wishes
  • Bulk send new product updates
  • Share links to helpful content
  • Send customer surveys (you can even send a question with a yes/no answer and request responses)
  • Send competition entry links
  • Issue e-tickets
  • Start personalized conversations
  • Establish simple or complex recurring message functions

The way you use SMS can be tailored to your business and your customers. Get creative and have fun or use a bulk SMS platform as a practical way to support the people who rely on your business.

Related: Offbeat ways businesses use SMS to increase engagement 

How to use mobile marketing

Communicating with your audience using a mobile messaging solution is relatively simple. Once you have created your strategy and identified which customers you want to get in touch with, all you need is a platform designed to integrate SMS messaging with your existing technology. 

For example, if your business uses Salesforce, Zapier, HubSpot, WordPress, BigCommerce or Magento, you can connect it to an SMS platform like SMSGlobal. When a client signs up, makes a purchase or indicates that they would like more information, a text can be scheduled or delivered immediately. 

A good provider that gives value for money will be able to adapt to your existing platforms and will have a ‘built for you’ service, so you and your team don’t have to spend time figuring out how to activate your mobile messaging solution. They will even be able to take on the challenge of creating a bespoke HTTP integration that can work with your business’ unique software. 

SMS is what you make it

If you want the most direct line to your customers, integrate SMS messaging and create a mobile marketing strategy. Thanks to the current technology available, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the messages you send and how you initiate conversations with your clients. 

Softphone vs. Desk Phone: 6 Reasons to Use a Softphone

A softphone has all the functions and features of a desk phone, except it works on any device of your choice and in any location. Softphones provide flexibility and mobility without increasing your business expenses. So, why are softphones superior? Read on to learn more.

Why Use a Softphone Instead of a Desk Phone

A softphone is a software-based communication application used to make telephone calls over the internet. You can download it on any device (computer, tablet, smartphone). Some softphones are desktop applications that run on Mac and Windows devices. Other softphones are web-based and accessible through web browsers or smartphone apps for iOS and Android devices.

You can get a softphone through a business phone service provider or through third-party softphone apps. It is recommended, however, to get the one your provider offers as that would typically work best with your phone service.

Let’s look at how a softphone works better than a desk phone:

1. Quick and Easy Set-up

Softphones are easy to set-up and use. To set up your softphone, you will need a link or mobile app and login credentials given by your provider. You can then use this link on compatible browsers or download the app. Then, you type in your login credentials and you now have access to your softphone on any device.

You do not need any extra equipment — such as a specific type of desk phone — or additional configuration needs to make your softphone work. You can use softphones on existing devices and, therefore, there is no need to purchase a new phone.

2. Take Your Business With You

The best part about using softphones is that they work in the cloud. This means that you do not need to carry your office desk phone with you when you travel for business. You can simply access your phone service account via your softphone on any device and in any location. All that is required is a stable internet or WiFi connection.

Softphones help remote team management. Whether your employees travel for work or your teams work remotely, they can stay connected and reachable on their business line through their laptops or smartphones.

3. Answer Calls from Any Device and Keep Personal Numbers Private

When you use a softphone from your personal device, the thought usually is that your personal cell number or home number will be displayed on outgoing calls. However, that is not the case. The point of a softphone is to let you use your business phone line from any location or device.

As such, you can mask your personal number and instead display your business number when making a call. Furthermore, incoming calls made to your business number will forward to your softphone on your personal device without your number being made public.

4. Check Business Voicemail and Update Contacts On-The-Go

With the growth of softphones as a common business communication tool, providers have worked on making these software-based tools more efficient and useful. This has led to softphones having numerous features besides just a dialpad. These include:

  • Adding and updating contact information
  • Updating call notes
  • Having access to contact history and interactions
  • Easy call transfers with access to the office directory
  • Virtual voicemail forwarding
  • Customizable caller ID that lets you choose which business number to display
  • Making outbound calls to any location in the world with international business numbers
  • Having access to call reports and activity logs
  • Viewing other active users
  • In-network calls

With these features, users are working in sync with other employees to maintain continuity and productivity.

5. Less Equipment Needed in the Office

Since a softphone can be used on any device, your office doesn’t need to invest in top-quality desk phones. In fact, if your business has a BYOD policy, employees can simply use their own devices to make and receive calls, even within the office. This saves your business considerable communication-related costs as you do not need to purchase new equipment.

6. Host Voice and Video Conference Calls

Some softphones also offer voice and video conference calling capabilities. This further encourages collaboration and helps with business meetings, sales pitches, and more.

Time to Get Your Business a Softphone?

A softphone simplifies the process of making and receiving business calls by enabling employees to stay connected no matter where they are or what devices they are using. Get a softphone today to streamline your calling process and improve office efficiency. To learn more, call us at 1 (888) 908 6171.

Call Monitoring: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Call monitoring is a call center feature that can be used by businesses of every type and size to improve their customer service and build strong customer relationships. Learn how this feature works and the best ways to use it.

Call Monitoring Explained

Call monitoring or call listening is a call center feature that allows managers or supervisors to listen in on a call. This feature is commonly used to improve quality assurance and customer service. Some other terms for call monitoring include call logging, agent monitoring, and quality monitoring.

Call listening enables calls to be monitored with or without the agent or employee’s knowledge. Some providers may even give you the option to record and store such calls for future use.

Who Uses Call Monitoring?

Any business trying to improve or maintain its customer service standards may use call monitoring to do so. Callers will hear the message: “This call may be monitored for quality assurance.”

And so, call monitoring is a common feature used in call centers, sales, and customer service companies. This feature can be used to:

  • Train new agents (used by managers and supervisors)
  • Conduct performance analysis (used by managers and supervisors)
  • Gather customer insights (used by marketing departments)
  • Determine the quality of leads (used by marketing departments)
  • Improve sales calls and lead generation (used by the sales department)

Key Features of Call Monitoring

Monitoring calls is more effective when done in conjunction with call monitoring features that let users participate, observe, record, and analyze calls and interactions. Some of the top features that support call monitoring include:

  • Call monitoring dashboard — Included as part of a call center software; used to track certain metrics and study call logs
  • Call detail records — detailed logs and reports of incoming and outgoing calls to study caller preferences.
  • Call whispering — informs agents about where a call is coming from (which advertising campaign or channel) before they answer it.
  • Call barging — enables managers and supervisors to join a call between a customer and agent to aid the agent in resolving the call.
  • Call recording — records inbound and outbound calls and stores them for future reference.

Benefits of Call Monitoring

Like any advanced phone system feature, being able to monitor business calls comes with a variety of benefits. Call monitoring lets you not only listen in on calls but also to take the necessary steps to improve your business’ overall customer service efforts. Here are the top benefits of using this feature:

  • Improved quality assurance
  • Fewer training sessions for new employees
  • Remote agent management
  • Reduced number of escalated calls with upset or angry customers
  • Higher first call resolution rates
  • Gathering customer insights and feedback, etc.

5 Call Monitoring Best Practices

To get the best out of this call center feature, you need to implement these call monitoring best practices:

1. Set Clear Objectives

As with any other business decision, set clear goals and objectives. Determine why you will be monitoring calls, make a list of the KPIs to measure, and prepare a scorecard for evaluations.

2. Provide Useful Scripts

A well-written script can go a long way in ensuring customers feel valued and heard. And by giving your agents and employees useful scripts, you give them the tools they need to offer assistance, troubleshoot, and provide solutions for common issues. This can help improve first call resolution rates.

3. Learn from Bad Calls

Treat bad calls as a treasure-trove of info. These calls can help you identify what went wrong and how to not repeat those interactions with other customers. Additionally, these calls make valuable training materials for new agents.

4. Study Metrics

Measure and analyze the KPIs and metrics you have been tracking. Find out which areas are working well and which need improvement. Brainstorm with your team to find ways to implement changes that align with your company’s standards and customers’ expectations.

5. Be in Compliance

Features like call monitoring and call recording have laws that differ across different countries. And so, depending on where your business is located and where your customers call from, you will have different federal and state laws to abide by.

Does Your Business Need to Monitor Calls?

Monitoring calls can give you insight into the current state of your company’s customer service and sales. And that is valuable information that can be used to improve your services and build better customer relationships. To learn more, speak or chat with one of our telecom experts today!

What is Fax Over IP and 4 Benefits of Using FoIP

As businesses transition to the cloud and internet services, your faxes should not be left behind. Fax over IP is an IP telephony feature that enables fax transmission via the internet, which makes sending and receiving business documents easier and safer.

Fax Over IP Explained

Fax over IP — also known as FoIP or eFaxing — is an telephony feature that sends fax documents using internet protocols instead of the PSTN. Public switched telephone network (PSTN) has dominated the fax transmission game for years. However, internet protocols have paved way for services such as fax over IP to become possible. All that is required is a reliable internet connection and bandwidth to carry the faxes.

How Does Fax Over IP Work?

FoIP works similarly to voice over IP; that is, files are converted into digital packets and then transferred from one endpoint to the next. With eFaxing, your fax document is converted into a packet, encapsulated in a transport protocol, and transmitted to the destination. Both endpoints are usually fax machines that work with a FoIP gateway or adapter to enable the sending and receiving of faxes.

In some cases, your business can even get a fax forwarding service that forwards incoming faxes directly to your email. In other words, when your fax machine receives a fax, it can be rerouted to a predetermined destination such as a business email ID.

4 Benefits of Using FoIP

So, why should your business consider getting FoIP? Here are the top 4 benefits of using a fax over IP service:

1. Unified communications
FoIP can easily be fitted or integrated into your existing business communication tools. This means that you do not need a separate or additional analog network to use the service. You can access important communication tools from the same network.

2. Content management
By transmitting fax over an IP network, you can manage important business and customer documents by digitizing, archiving, emailing, and storing them on the cloud.

3. Lower costs
Faxing over IP is often less expensive than using a traditional fax machine. For instance, the per-message rate is lesser than PSTN. Additionally, by unifying network connectivity, you are paying for one less network. This can result in definitive cost-savings.

4. Remote access and usage
Lastly, you can access the faxes from any device; even in areas where physical fax lines cannot be installed. This is an advantage for businesses with remote workers and distributed teams using their own devices.

Is Fax Over IP Right for Your Business?

There is only one way to find out: give the service a try. If your business deals with faxes on a daily basis and you want a reliable means to handle important documents, then FoIP may be the right solution. Call our experts today to learn more!

5 Ways Call Forwarding and Automation Can Improve Your Phone System

One of the most important parts of any business is to offer reliable customer support. This means that when a customer calls your business, you are always reachable and can provide quick and effective service. Offering such a support channel can prove difficult at times, especially when your team does not have the right business phone system tools. Fortunately, advanced services such as call forwarding and phone system automation can support your call volume.

5 Ways to Improve Your Phone System with Automation and Call Forwarding

Call forwarding and phone system automation can work hand-in-hand to help callers get the assistance they need. This means transferring calls automatically or through an automated response system to the right agent, voicemail, or pre-recorded messages. Doing so can help your business offer quick and accurate customer support. Here are 5 ways to use call forwarding and phone system automation to improve your call flow management.

1. Interactive Voice Response

A cloud IVR system or interactive voice response is an automated system that answers incoming calls, identifies the purpose of the call, and proceeds to assist the caller. Your IVR system can present options to the caller through a series of menus such as “Press 1 for sales, Press 2 for customer support, Press 5 to make a payment, Press 4 for voicemail, and so on.” This way, callers can input the service they need.

2. Name or Company Directory

This feature is part of your automated phone system where you create a name or company directory so that callers can navigate by themselves to the department they want such as “Press 1 for marketing.” Having the automated system present them with options means that they don’t have to know the department’s number or dial an extension themselves. You can list specific departments or even specific employees with an automated phone system. This also reduces the amount of transferring a caller has to go through before they reach the right department or employee.

3. Advanced Routing Strategies

An automated phone system will give you the opportunity to use various call forwarding and routing strategies for maximum productivity. For example, calls made during off-hours or weekends can be routed to remote employees who have an evening or weekend shift. This is called time-based routing. You may even forward those calls to your own smartphone or home office.

Or, you can have certain calls forwarded to remote employees or international offices located in different parts of the world with location-based routing. This type of automation is especially useful for companies with international reach and clientele. Lastly, you can have incoming calls ring on multiple devices at the same time. This ensures that the call is answered quickly and no call goes missed.

4. Multichannel Communication Options

Offering support only through phone conversations may be a disadvantage. Especially considering most customers look for emails, chat, or social media contact methods. This is why your business should consider using these options and implement phone system automation as well. For instance, chatbots can help resolve issues through pre-recorded messages and rules. Automated responses for emails inform the customer that your business has received their complaint or email and will respond within a few days.

By executing multichannel support, your business caters to customers who do not prefer phone conversations. Thereby, increasing your customer base.

5. Voicemail

Your automated phone system can even forward the call to voicemail when the caller simply wants to leave a message and receive a call back. This is useful when the caller is not sure which department to speak with or if all employees are busy and the caller does not want to wait in line.

 Get Phone System Automation with Global Call Forwarding

Here at Global Call Forwarding, we specialize in bringing advanced communication tools to businesses of all sizes and in all industries. You can use our call forwarding service and automation options for your phone system to your benefit and build stronger relationships with your customers. Want to learn more? Call us at 1 (888) 908 6171 or chat online with one of our experts today!

6 Reasons Why a Softphone Is Essential For Any Remote Team

Managing remote or distributed teams can be a hassle. Ensuring that employees stay connected and are able to contact customers and answer customer service calls is important. However, not everyone has access to the tools needed to make such a system work. Here is where a softphone can benefit your remote team.

How Can a Softphone Benefit Your Remote Team?

A softphone is a software that transforms any device (computer, laptop, smartphone, IP phone, tablet, etc.) into a phone. You can then use this device to make and receive calls over the internet instead of a cellular or traditional phone line. All you need to make this work is a headset, a camera (if video calling is needed), and a voice over IP service. Then, employees can connect with co-workers and customers from any location and any device!

Here are 6 reasons why a softphone is essential for your remote or distributed team.

1. Save on Communication-Related Costs

Softphones don’t need extra hardware or equipment to make them work effectively. And so, you won’t need to supply your remote teams with equipment. They can simply use their existing devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones) to connect to your VoIP service and make and receive calls. This helps you save hardware, equipment, and IT costs.

2. Never Miss a Call, Stay Reachable

The best part about voice over IP is that users can stay connected from any location. And since employees and agents can use any device, they are reachable no matter where they are located. Plus, incoming calls can be forwarded to their number ensuring that they never miss a call. And when calling customers, they can change their outgoing caller ID to represent the company’s phone number instead of their own number. This way, their personal phone number is protected while they continue doing their job.

3. Maintain Productivity

A softphone gives a remote worker the ability to work at their own pace and from the comforts of their own home or local coffee shop. When giving employees the ability to work remotely, you cut down on commuting and transportation woes and give parents the opportunity to take care of their children while still being able to work. Remote working can significantly reduce stressors present in one’s life, helping them focus better on important tasks. Employees that do not feel burdened or stressed and can therefore do their jobs better, thus maintaining productivity.

4. Take Advantage of Advanced Communication Features

Softphones also give users access to advanced business communication features. The variety of features depends on your VoIP service. Most providers will offer the following:

  • Ability to make and answer calls
  • Call transfer
  • Call forwarding and routing
  • Outbound calling (with dynamic caller ID)
  • Call with a single click or by dialing through the dialpad
  • Access to voicemail
  • Ability to make notes about the call and the caller
  • Contact management

5. Support Your BYOD Policy

A bring your own device policy is a workplace policy that encourages employees to use their own devices. This is an ideal situation for remote workers as well as employers. Employers don’t have to worry about expenses related to equipment such as providing laptops or computers, etc. At the same time, remote workers can use devices and applications they are comfortable with. A softphone can easily fit into your BYOD policy as users can convert any of their devices into business communication tools. This way, they remain productive through devices they are comfortable working with.

6. Make Remote Working a Possibility

For many businesses, transitioning to remote-work is not easy. However, business VoIP technology and softphones make remote working or managing distributed teams easier. So, now, you can offer employees the option to work from home or hire agents in different time zones to get more global customers.

Get a Softphone Today

Are you ready to get a softphone to enhance and streamline your business communications? Global Call Forwarding can help! Sign up for our virtual phone number service and use the GCF Web Dialer for any device to make and answer calls through the internet. Call us at 1 (888) 908 6171 to get started today!

11 Tips to Improve Your Outbound Calls Strategy

Are your outbound calls not making enough sales? You may need to rethink your strategies and implement new ones. Here are 11 tips to improve your outbound calling strategy and generate more leads.

11 Proven Tips to Improve Your Outbound Calls Strategy

Outbound calls are outgoing calls made from a company to its customers, vendors, and business partners. During outbound calls, agents or representatives call a list of promising leads or prospects and encourage them to make a purchase or sign up for a service.

Some common reasons for outbound calling are:

  • To increase brand awareness and visibility
  • Proactive approaches such as checking in with customers, setting upcoming appointments, following up on recent purchases or abandoned carts, etc.
  • Offering customer success services where you and customers or clients together work towards a goal
  • Verify or activate accounts
  • Send out reminders for upcoming payments or renewals
  • Collect feedback or conduct market research, to name a few

Outbound calls are sometimes known as cold calls, which are frequently used for sales, telemarketing, customer success, and more. However, cold calling is difficult because most customers are not prepared for your pitch.

So what can you do to grab their attention more effectively? Here are 11 useful tips to improve your outbound calling strategy.

1. Set Realistic Goals: Identify KPIs

First, it is important to set reasonable goals and share these with your teams. These goals and milestones can be modified as your business grows and new factors come into play. Make sure everyone understands what the goals are and how to achieve them. For example, are outbound calls meant to survey prospects or make a sale? How many sales should be made per month or per quarter? And so on.

Additionally, you want to identify relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) so you can measure employee performance. Common KPIs associated with outbound and sales calls are:

  1. Average Handle Time: Length of calls in relation to the total number of calls. Longer handling times may indicate difficulty in closing, poor persuasion skills, or insufficient product knowledge.
  2. First Call Resolution: Number of calls resolved on the first call in relation to the total number of calls. High first call resolution indicates that agents are doing well and are able to sell effectively without wasting time.
  3. Conversion Rate: Number of sales in relation to the total number of calls. A low conversion rate means that not enough sales are being made and the outbound calling strategy needs more work.
  4. Occupancy Rate: Time agents are spending on calls in relation to the amount of unavailable time spent. A low rate for an agent or rep means that they are struggling with post-call work.

2. Create the Ideal Call List

This goes without saying but if you are not targeting the right audience and demographic for your business, you won’t make great sales. Therefore, creating the perfect list can impact how well your business performs. Conduct market research and allow collaboration between marketing and sales teams so that together they can work on ideal buyer personas for your product. Then, develop a promising list that agents can pursue and generate more sales with.

3. Get an Outbound Calling Service

Consider getting a business VoIP service to support your local and international outbound calls. With a web dialer, your call center agent can quickly place calls from a computer and log important call notes.

Additionally, they can contact long-distance clients and display local area codes instead of international ones. Individuals are more likely to answer recognizable or local numbers instead of random, unknown ones.

4. Train Your Phone Sales Reps

Part of ensuring your phone sales reps are doing their jobs well is training them to do them correctly. Train and re-train agents to highlight and refresh best practices that they should imitate. Sit in on calls or record calls and review them to offer advice on proper and ineffective strategies. Refer to experts and webinars for more useful and modern sales development training tactics that outbound call center agents can use.

5. Collaborate with Marketing

Your marketing team has a good idea of how to sell to audiences. And your sales team knows who this audience is. Putting these two teams together can help you gain a bigger picture of your target audience and how to appeal to them.

6. Pay Attention to Your Prospect

Most agents dominate the call trying hard to make their pitch and sale. However, in order to gain their attention, you need to engage the prospect. Listen to them, pay attention to their needs, concerns, and issues. And adapt your pitch to make it flexible, allowing you to customize its relevance. This is much more useful as opposed to a stock script. Make them feel valued as individuals and not merely as another conquest in your sales job.

7. Study. Analyze. Optimize

Next, study your processes, responses, and agent performance. Use the KPIs and other metrics to track how your call center or business is performing. Analyze call tracking metrics to boost inside sales revenue.

8. Identify the Best Calling Times

Another factor worth paying attention to is the best time of day to call prospects. Most experts suggest that Wednesday and Thursday are the best days to call prospects. This is because they are not preoccupied with the upcoming week or getting ready for the weekend. Additionally, calling between 11 am and 1 pm or 4 pm and 5 pm is preferable instead of early morning or during the pre- or post-work commute.

9. Consider Outbound Calling Tools

As mentioned before, consider outbound calling tools such as a call center dialer, CRM, and customizable caller ID to boost your success rate. These tools make it easy and even automate processes to a certain degree which can make placing calls and closing deals faster.

10. Simplify the Process

Make it easy for prospects to understand your brand and product, find more information, and make the purchase. Only offer information that is necessary and relevant. Overstatement and technical jargon can put customers off.

11. Record and Review Interactions

It can be very helpful to see how your employees are interacting with customers. Use a call recording software to review calls and pay attention to customer preferences, behaviors, and more. This will give you insights into what aspects of your product or service are most and least successful. Based on that information, you can create better products and services and improve customer care.