SMS Text Messaging is Key as Clinical Trials Patient Engagement Tool

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At the start of this month, Eric Lazar, VP of Mobile CRM, wrote an article titled, “Why old-school SMS is still a powerful mobile marketing tool.”  In the article, he outlines the slight obsession that the general population has with mobile technology. Okay, make that a huge obsession.

Lazar brings up nomophobia, a fear of being out of mobile phone contact. Yes, that exists! Apparently, more people would rather stop brushing their teeth for a week than give up their mobile phone. Paired with the finding from an eMarketer & comScore study that participants use their phone overwhelmingly more for texting than any other application, it is clear that SMS is the perfect avenue for marketing.

Marketing… in Clinical Trials?

Marketing can help cure people. It is an effective way to let people know about clinical trials, get participants involved, and retain patients on studies.  As Noel Chandler, CEO and Founder of Mosio, Inc., says, “Recruiting and Retention is a challenge in clinical research that will remain and the fix is and will always be marketing and relationships. Patient engagement.”  The best way to reach out to current and potential participants is to use the technology that they cannot live without – SMS.

An SMS Call To Action

Lazar brings up the ‘SMS to the rescue’ point of view in his article: SMS call-to-action messaging is the easiest marketing strategy.  These messages are simple, clear interactions with people, at the request and with the permission of the participant. This is a no-spam system because the participant elects to receive messages.

Here’s one scenario: A woman with Type II Diabetes is sitting on the bus on her way to work. She is feeling let down and worn out because her medications do not seem to be helping her anymore. She sighs, glances upward, and finds an advertisement for a clinical trial using a new combination of FDA-approved diabetes medications. On the advertisement is a number to text for more information; so, with a smile, she pulls out her phone and types in the number.

Simple. Clear. Action.

SMS As A Communications Gateway

The first text is only one of many possible interactions. SMS is an easy way to obtain email addresses, set up pre-screening appointments, or answer short questions and concerns about clinical trials.

On a deeper level, texts can hold pictures and videos, or link to websites or surveys.  If you have a short video clip relating to the trial, a text-friendly informational photo, or a link to your website, it can be included in SMS marketing strategy. Lazar describes the SMS gateway, “SMS becomes a truly interactive medium of push and pull to deliver information, tips… alerts and rewards… contests, surveys…”

Texts aren’t just a one-dimensional entity. Patient information and interest can be gathered, conversations can be started so that potential patients can receive the help that they need, and clinical trial information can be more widespread.

Connecting and Engaging

Patients are connected and engaged through SMS; they are more involved and more committed to clinical trials. This is the best way to increase both recruiting and retention – by marketing specifically to those in need for a particular clinical trial and providing an easy avenue to keep communication open.  After all, isn’t communication the best way to build and keep a working, steady relationship?

 

Learn more about integrating SMS into your clinical trials with Mosio, Inc., and get a free consultation/quote at http://www.mosio.com/biz/solutions/research.

Author: Emily Waller holds an Honors B.S. in Biomedical Engineering, has worked on numerous clinical trials, and as a medical & technical writer.  She writes to promote innovative ideas in healthcare, technology, and research within the online community.  She also loves photography, neuroscience, and household DIY projects.

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Need two-way mobile messaging software or solutions for your business? Mosio can help! Contact us for a free mobile consultation and we’ll put together a quick quote for you.

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Event Text Messaging | 6 Ways to Use SMS at Events, Conferences and Meetings

A few weeks ago I was at a conference in San Francisco, settling in for the keynote presentation, when the event host reminded everyone that there was a free Conference app they could download with information and other links, and that a screen would be showing the conference Twitter feed all day. I looked at the people sitting to either side of me, and they were checking their text messages on their mobile phones, not their smartphones. It reminded me that just 28% of all mobile phone users in the U.S. have smartphones and I wondered, again, why conference and event organizers focus on the new thing that reaches just 1 in 4 attendees, when they could create similar systems through text messaging and reach virtually everyone.

Events, conferences and meetings are all about communication, and text messaging is a powerful way to improve that communication, expand participation, and talk to people with the technologies they are using. With that in mind, here are…

6 ways you can use text messaging for your next event, conference or meeting

1. Text Information Booth: Designate a line where event attendees can text for information about the agenda, expo booths, lodging, meals, or any other aspect of the event. Make sure that someone is responsible for responding promptly, and that you publicize this line in event literature.

2. Text Questions: Many conference organizers find it clumsy to run around the floor with a microphone for questions after a panel or speaker. Enabling attendees to text their questions will produce more questions for speakers to answer, and allow them to choose the best to respond to.

3. Text to screen: Empowering event or conference attendees to make their voices heard by displaying messages for everyone to see increases participation, expand the conversation and tells attendees that you value their contributions.

4. Text Message Polling: Want to take the pulse of your audience during a speaker or a break? Want to gauge interest in topics for the open sessions on the final day? Text messaging is the ideal way to get feedback from your entire audience.

5. Text Message Sponsorship: Text messaging is another way to get your sponsor’s names out there. With any of the tactics described in this post, your sponsor’s name can be included in the response text.

6. Text Message Follow Up: Establishing an interaction based on trust between organizers and attendees means that your outreach will be read, and that means you can follow up. Leveraging the text message relationships you built through your event at the point of experience.

And these ideas are just the beginning. If you want to talk about how to customize text messaging for your event, conference or meeting, we would love to talk with you.

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5 Tips for Sending Text Message Alerts, Reminders and Offers

There are as many stats on text messaging usage as there are text messages sent every day, so I won’t list any here. You know everyone is texting, now it’s time to figure out the right way to go about it. Text messaging is the perfect medium for delivering brief pieces of information, offers or reminders to customers, members or employees with a nearly 100% chance of having it opened and read (open rates are north of 90%).

As I type I have 6 voicemails that need listening to and not a single unread text message. Reading them is too easy. Sending text message alerts, reminders and offers CAN be sent via your mobile phone, but if you’re sending them for business, it’s recommended that you use a web-based service to manage everything.

5 Tips for Sending Text Message Alerts, Reminders and Offers

1) Be consistent, but don’t send texts too often.

People want to be informed, not blasted. In fact, saying the phrase “text message blast” out loud on our offices will either get a giggle or a roll of the eyes, depending on who hears you say it. Before SyFy canceled Caprica (I’m still upset about it), I got Caprica SMS alerts every Friday reminding me that it was on, always with another little piece of information on the message. I already knew it, but the message provided me with a reason to get happy a little earlier in the day. Why not?

2) Don’t use “free” text message email (aka SMTP to SMS).

Kim Dushinski has a great post called “No Such Thing as Free Text Messaging“, definitely worth a read, especially if you’re using text messaging for marketing purposes. If you’re using SMTP or an un-certified text messaging service (“cheap, bulk SMS here!”, you’ve seen them), it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” you’ll get blocked by the mobile carriers. Mobile carriers love money as much as they hate spam and in quite a few occasions where free texting is concerned, they’re not getting anything they love.

3) Make it worthwhile for the recipient.

Whether it’s a special savings offer, coupon, a reminder to make sure someone shows up for a scheduled meeting or a last minute head’s up that something has changed, use the medium wisely. My dentist charges $75 if I miss an appointment, I’ll gladly take the day before text reminding me of it.

4) Use text messaging as a two-way dialogue, not a one way channel.

Imagine getting a phone call, email or text message from a friend or family member that you couldn’t respond to. Frustrating and the notion even sounds a little silly. The best thing about texting for businesses and organizations now is that there are plenty of services (not all, mind you) that enable users to reply back to an SMS once they receive it. It’s entirely up to you, but if a mobile service provider doesn’t let those receiving the text reply back to you to have a conversation with your customer and do so efficiently, you’re not utilizing “all parts of the buffalo” (apologies to any vegetarians).

5) Leave some character space for recipients to forward the message.

I was going to use a different tip and then someone told me about this from Yea-Nay Marketing’s blog that I think is definitely worth sharing. Text messages are 160 characters long (the length was determined by the average number of characters on a postcard). It’s plenty of space, so leave some in case the person receiving your text wants to forward it to some friends. Yea-Nay recommends only using 120 characters for your message, but it’s whatever you feel like. FYI: This is awesome! including the space after the ! is 17 characters, plenty of room for your customer, patron, member, etc to share with friends. If you’re looking for a SMS character counter, you’re more than welcome to use ours even if we never do business together. See? While there’s no such thing as free text messaging. There is a free text messaging character counter.

More info:

The MMA (Mobile Marketing Association) has published new guidelines for 2011. The guide is 165 pages long, so i embedded the slideshare version down below if you’d like to click through it. For something possibly a little more exciting to you, check out their mobile marketing case studies.