Telerivet powers Nuru International’s next campaign

Nuru International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending extreme poverty in remote, rural areas by equipping people with the tools and knowledge they need.

In Kenya, Nuru has been working with smallholder farmers in Kuria West district to prevent the spread of Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLND). MLND is a virus that leads to fungal infections in corn plants, and has a major impact on the livelihood of smallholder farmers, who can easily lose their entire crop to the disease.

This summer, Nuru launched a SMS campaign to provide information to farmers about preventing MLND. To power their communication system, Nuru turned to Telerivet.

The campaign reached its goal: 98.4% of farmers in Nuru's campaign kept their crops free of Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease. Furthermore, farmers expressed that they were really happy to be receiving information by SMS.


Now, Nuru Healthcare and their Social Marketing Teams plan to launch a campaign focused on women attending four antenatal care (ANC) visits. The team plans to utilize Telerivet again as a tool for spreading individual reminders and wider-reaching messages.

Lindsay Cope, Healthcare Senior Program Manager for Nuru explains, “We saw great success with the first SMS-based campaign aimed at helping farmers prevent Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease from devastating their farms. Now we are thrilled to utilize similar methods to improve maternal and child health.”

Nuru’s primary way of connecting with women in the community will be through Telerivet’s informational services. The Social Marketing Team linked Telerivet to their Salesforce database which allows local staff to send relevant, real-time messages to a variety of audiences.


Based on their formative research, the campaign will take a three-pronged messaging approach highlighting factors identified to influence a woman's ability to seek four visits. These will include emphasizing what makes it important and easy to attend the first visit in the first trimester of pregnancy, peer and family approval, and linking ANC visits to a healthy start to a child's life leading to future family contribution.  

With only 20% of pregnant women in Nuru’s target community in Kuria, Kenya attending the four recommended antenatal care (ANC) visits, and just 6.2% seeking the first visit in the first trimester, Nuru Healthcare and Social Marketing Teams are eager to launch their upcoming ANC campaign.  


Our Polling Feature – New and Improved

A year ago, we first added SMS polls and surveys on Telerivet. Since then, hundreds of organizations have used Telerivet to conduct mobile polls and surveys in dozens of countries around the world — including small businesses collecting customer feedback, radio programs polling their listeners, and NGOs conducting surveys.

This summer, we reached out to many of our customers to get ideas on how to improve Telerivet, and one common request was to improve our SMS polling feature. We live for feedback, and implementing features that our customers ask for is one of our favorite things to do. So today, we’re happy to announce a big batch of new improvements to Telerivet’s SMS polling feature that make it even more powerful, efficient, and easy to use.


More intuitive and efficient poll editor

When editing a poll, a lot of important actions used to be hidden behind a small blue “gear” icon that let you edit settings for each choice in your poll. It wasn’t always obvious what the gear icon meant, and often you had to click a bunch of different gear icons to make the necessary changes.

We’ve moved things around so that it’s a lot more obvious what actions are available, so now editing your poll requires a lot fewer clicks than before. Here’s what it looks like:



To create synonyms for any response choice — for example, “yes” and “y” — you no longer need to re-enter all the settings for each synonym. Simply click the “+” icon next to each choice and enter all the words you want to accept:



If your survey has many similar questions, you no longer need to re-enter each question separately. Now you can just click the “Duplicate Question” icon shown below to quickly make a copy of any question:




Quick and easy, right?


Flexible keyword matching

The first version of Telerivet’s SMS polls made it easy to test for exact matches of SMS keyword responses. But respondents often don’t follow instructions exactly, and might send other words besides the exact text you want. Now you can easily configure flexible match conditions, like “has word” or “starts with”:




And if you’re asking questions with numeric responses, you can also easily sort your numeric data into ranges by using comparisons like “less than” or “greater than.”


Add custom actions anywhere in your survey

Previously, for each response choice in your survey, Telerivet only allowed a few basic actions, such as sending an SMS reply. Now you can use Telerivet’s Rules Engine to add custom actions for any multiple choice response — such as sending an email, posting a tweet, adding the contact to a group, updating contact information, or even notifying your own application via the Webhook API:





Insert variables into questions and actions

With the new poll editor, you can easily personalize your survey by inserting variables like the name of the current contact. The old poll editor actually allowed variables, but it didn’t show you what variables were available, so few people knew that it was even possible!




In addition, for anyone who conducts SMS surveys with multiple questions, we’ve added a new set of variables that make it easy to refer to the current respondent’s answers from earlier in the survey. For example, [[response.q1.code]] is the code assigned to the contact’s response for question “q1”, and [[response.q1.text]] is the full text of the SMS response.


Try it out!

If you’ve already created a poll on Telerivet before this update, it should continue working the same as before. For example, the text of the SMS responses will still have to match the multiple choice questions exactly unless you change it. To try out the new features, just go to your Services page and click “Edit service”.

If you already have a Telerivet account but haven’t created a poll yet, try creating a survey with the new and improved poll editor.  

And if you haven’t started using Telerivet yet, try it out.

We hope you find Telerivet’s SMS poll feature more intuitive, more efficient, and more powerful than before. Try it out and let us know what you think!


New feature: Message Routes

Telerivet has always made it easy to connect multiple phones to your Telerivet account, whether you’re sending messages to multiple countries, taking advantage of in-network SMS rates, or sending more messages than a single phone can handle.

We know that being able to send messages from multiple phones gives you more flexibility and reliability with your communications. But it has required manual effort to choose the right phone to send each message.

So we’re happy to announce our new, long-awaited Message Routes feature!

Any Telerivet user with more than one phone connected to their Telerivet account can now easily create custom routing rules to determine which phone to use to send each message. Whether you utilize Android phones, virtual numbers, or a combination, it’s now easy to choose which phones send which messages.

Here are our top three reasons why you should try out Message Routes:

1. Make your SMS sending more reliable

 If some of your Android phones are disconnected, Message Routes can send messages using any active phones. And if one of your phones has an error sending a message, Telerivet can automatically transfer the message to another phone.

2. Decrease your SMS costs

If it’s cheaper to send an SMS message to another phone on the same mobile network, you can easily use phones on different mobile networks to send messages to different contacts.

3. Send more messages than a single phone can handle

 Message Routes can automatically distribute messages among multiple phones. If your phoneshave a lot of queued messages, Telerivet can automatically choose the phone with the shortest queue.

Better yet, Message Routes work everywhere in Telerivet, including Telerivet’s web app, automated services, and the developer API.

Sounds pretty great, right? When you’re ready to try it out, here’s how to do it.


Creating Routes

In your Telerivet project, go to the Phones page, and click on the "Routes" tab. Then click the "Add new route" button to set up your routing rules.

If you’ve used Telerivet’s Rules Engine, then you already know how to create a Message Route. Each message route is just a collection of one or more “rules” —  either an “if … then …” condition, or a rule choosing the phone(s) that can be used to send the message.

Depending on what you want your Message Route to accomplish, you can add rules in different ways. Below we’ll describe how to create two different types of Message Routes: Load-balancing routes, and Least-cost routes.


1. Load-balancing routes – Distributing messages among multiple phones

To create routes that distribute messages among multiple phones, all you need to do is click “Add rule…” and click "Choose phone(s) to send message":



Then add all the phones you want to use. Click the (+) button on the right hand side to add more phones:



That’s it! Just click “Save route” and you’re done.

Now, when you use this route to send messages, Telerivet will automatically distribute messages among all the of phones you list:

So, how does Telerivet choose which phone to use for each message? When you send a message, Telerivet calculates a numeric score for each phone in the list, and then chooses the phone with the highest score.

Curious how Telerivet calculates the score? Here’s how we do it:

1. If the phone has connected to Telerivet’s servers in the past half-hour (+1000 points)

 2. The number of errors sending messages in the past hour (-5 points per failure)

 3. The number of messages waiting to be sent (-1 point per queued message)

 If multiple phones have the same score, then Telerivet will just choose a phone at random.

If a phone tries to send a message and it fails (e.g. if airtime runs out on one of your phones), Telerivet will also retry sending the message via another phone in the list.

By creating a route with multiple phones, it’s easy to send SMS reliably, even if some of your phones are temporarily out-of-order.


2. Least-Cost Routing — Using different phones to send SMS to different contacts

The other big use case for Message Routes is when you want to send messages to different contacts using different phones.

To create a Message Route with this behavior, start by creating an "if … then …" condition for each of your phones, and then add a "Choose phone(s) to send message" rule underneath each one:




The next step is to actually define each of the if/then conditions, to specify which messages get sent via which phones. There are a few different ways you could do that:


Option 1. Look at first digits of the phone number:




Option 2. Create a custom variable for each of your contacts:



Option 3. Add contacts to a group:




If you can determine which phone to use from the first digits of the phone number, that’s usually the easiest option, since you don’t need manually import or organize your contacts.

It's possible to create a route that doesn't assign every phone number to a phone. If you try to send a message that is not routed to any phone, you'll just get an error message.


Using your routes

Once you’ve created your routing rules, using them is easy. After you create a route, it will show up anywhere in Telerivet where you select a phone to send a message:




If you click the "Set as default route when sending messages" checkbox when creating or editing your route, then it will be selected by default.

You can use custom routes on the Messages page, in polls, in the rules engine, and even in the Developer API.

To use your routes in the Developer API, visit the API page for your project to get the Route ID. Any time you send a message from the API, simply use your Route ID for the phone_id parameter. See API documentation.


Overriding the default route for each contact

Like before, there is also the ability to override the default route for each contact, but now you can also disable that functionality.

On your project settings page, there is now a checkbox labeled "Allow customizing sender phone for each contact":



If this setting is enabled, then you can set the "Default Sender Phone" (or route) separately for each contact, the route selected by default will show up as "Default phone" — which just means to use the default phone (route) for each contact.

For backwards compatibility, existing projects with multiple phones have this setting enabled by default, but new projects will not. So if you don’t need to have a different default route for each contact, you might want to disable this setting.

Try out the message routes feature and let us know what you think!


You’ve got options: 2 ways to distribute polls

Need to distribute a poll so you can collect important through responses? Using our automated services templates you can create custom SMS polls and surveys, and anyone with a cell phone can respond. But what’s great is having two options to distribute these polls out to respondents. You can send the poll to a list of respondent phone numbers via SMS or publish the poll publicly through any method, such as television, radio, or print ads.

To send a poll via SMS, first create your poll and then go to the Services page and click Send poll via SMS.

My Poll

Then, enter the phone numbers you want to send the poll to. Want to make things even quicker? If you have a spreadsheet or other document containing phone numbers, you can copy and paste a column of phone numbers into the To field.

When sending a poll using Send poll via SMS, we will automatically add these phone numbers to a group with a name such as poll-sample. This group name can be customized by clicking Edit settings. To view the members of this sample group, click View poll sample.

To distribute a poll through other means, such as radio, television, or print all you need to do is create your poll in Telerivet and give your audience the first question and ask that they send their SMS response to your phone number. For example, a radio announcer can ask listeners a question over the air and have them text Yes or No to their designated phone number. If your poll only has a single question, this options allows you to conduct your poll without sending any outgoing SMS messages, which is usually free if using an Android phone to send and receive SMS messages. With this options make sure that you have selected Yes, allow anyone to submit this poll in your poll settings.

Now go out there and get those questions answered! 



Open House

Last Thursday we hosted an open house event in our San Francisco office for the Mayfield Fellows Program. The Mayfield Fellows Program is a work/study program at Stanford University designed to develop an understanding of the strategy and techniques for growing technology companies. One of our interns, Elizabeth W, is a Mayfield Fellow and helped put the event together.

We love sharing the Telerivet story and our CEO Joshua kicked things off by explaining Telerivet’s mission, why this technology is needed, and how it came to be.

Jesse, our CTO, described some of the ongoing technical breakthroughs that make Telerivet's technology available worldwide. He also touched on the challenges of building software tools for organizations in developing countries.

Jake, our Director of Operations, shared his experience of helping transform our startup from a couple of engineers to a multiple-employee operation with offices in San Francisco and Dar es Salaam. I discussed the unique challenges of communicating our powerful platform to a global audience. And Telerivet's two other stellar summer interns, Aidan and Nafeesa, briefly discussed their experiences with our team in Tanzania and global marketing.

Elizabeth W. gave an interactive demo of Telerivet to the fellows using our polls feature.

It was also the perfect opportunity to show off our newly launched website. Take a look!