Airtime as a public health incentive

Last year the Telerivet mobile messaging platform launched a new feature, airtime transfer, and in the last year we have seen some inspiring, innovative uses.

On over 450 mobile networks in more than 120 countries worldwide, Telerivet users can transfer airtime to help power their business operations, messaging services, community outreach, and marketing campaigns. 

New Incentives

In Nigeria, the nonprofit New Incentives is working alongside state governments and partners to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV and neonatal mortality. Through their conditional cash transfer program, New Incentives incentivizes pregnant women to access lifesaving health services that often have low adoption rates – including registering for antenatal care and delivering in hospitals.  The intervention saves lives by reducing neonatal mortality and the rate of HIV-positive newborns.

New Incentives’ program has positively increased the demand for lifesaving health services in Nigeria. In the state of Akwa Ibom, facility deliveries at participating clinics have nearly doubled from 30% to 55% following program adoption. In addition to improving health behaviors, cash transfers also provide pregnant women and their families with invaluable financial resources during this vulnerable time.

New_incentives_mother

New Incentives uses Telerivet to disseminate airtime as an incentive for women in their programs. Airtime transfers have become an increasingly powerful tool for incentivizing survey responses and for promoting behavior change communication.

Since New Incentives' beneficiaries are already buying airtime in order to make calls, send SMS, and access the internet on their mobile phone, sending airtime reduces beneficiaries' communication expenses, and is a practical alternative to sending cash.

By using Telerivet, New Incentives is able to reliably reach their most remote beneficiaries. “Network reliability is an issue in Nigeria, therefore we count on Telerivet for the messages to arrive for hard-to-reach cases,” says New Incentives Chief Strategy Officer Patrick Stadler. “Telerivet also saves us hours each week compared to our previous method of disseminating airtime."

Read more about New Incentives and Telerivet here

Sending Airtime for your organization:

Each of the 450+ mobile networks supported by Telerivet sells different airtime values to Telerivet at different price markups. For some mobile networks, the airtime topups are priced at or below “face value” on Telerivet, while other mobile networks sell airtime at a markup. This month, Telerivet added thousands of new topup values, including small values that can be used to send incentives or rewards. In addition, the latest pricing update significantly reduced the average markup above face value, making Telerivet's airtime transfer feature even more affordable for organizations around the world.

This month, Telerivet added thousands of new topup values. To check the availability and pricing for the mobile networks in your country, visit the airtime pricing page.

In addition to Telerivet’s “built-in” support for these mobile networks, Telerivet can also integrate other airtime transfer APIs into your Telerivet account upon request (such as Africa’s Talking in Kenya or Selcom Wireless in Tanzania), for an additional monthly fee (learn more).

To learn more and start sending airtime today, visit the User Guide.

Try it out and email us at support@telerivet.com if you have any questions or feedback!

Airtime Transfer and Top-up with Telerivet

Telerivet’s mobile messaging platform now has a new feature – airtime transfer.

On over 450 mobile networks in more than 120 countries worldwide, Telerivet users can transfer airtime to help power their business operations, messaging services, community outreach, and marketing campaigns.

Send_airtime3If you use the Telerivet Android app to send messages with a prepaid SIM card, you can easily top up your airtime directly from Telerivet, without needing to buy airtime vouchers from a local vendor.

Your business can easily offer airtime as a promotion or reward for loyal customers, or send airtime to your own employees, making communication expenses easily trackable and avoiding the need for cash payments or reimbursements.

When conducting a poll or survey via SMS, you can send airtime to your respondents to encourage participation and reimburse them for the cost of sending SMS. You could either send a small amount of airtime automatically to each participant, or randomly select a winner to receive a larger airtime topup.

Poll_airtime

Each of the 450+ mobile networks supported by Telerivet sells different airtime values to Telerivet at different price markups. For some mobile networks, the airtime topups are priced at or below “face value” on Telerivet, while other mobile networks sell airtime at a markup.

To check the availability and pricing for the mobile networks in your country, visit the airtime pricing page.

In addition to Telerivet’s “built-in” support for these mobile networks, Telerivet can also integrate other airtime transfer APIs into your Telerivet account upon request (such as Africa’s Talking in Kenya or Selcom Wireless in Tanzania), for an additional monthly fee (learn more) .

To learn more and start sending airtime today, visit the User Guide:

Try it out and email us at support@telerivet.com if you have any questions or feedback!

New powerful features for contact management

We launched a huge upgrade to Telerivet this week, with several new features that make it easier than ever to manage and engage your organization’s mobile messaging contacts.

Here's what's new:

Full-text contact search

While the new search box looks the same as before, it’s much more powerful under the hood.

The search box on the Contacts page now searches within the full text of all contact fields, including name, phone number, and all custom fields.

Search

In particular, you can now search for any sequence of 3 or more digits any within the contact’s phone number. It’s not necessary to match the exact formatting of the contact’s phone number. Also, if you store the contact’s full name in Telerivet, it’s possible to search for contacts by either first or last name.

Full-text search also means that Telerivet is much better at auto-completing contact names and phone numbers whenever you compose a new message.

Even if your organization has hundreds of thousands of contacts, searching your contacts is practically instantaneous.

Advanced contact segmentation

The new Contacts page makes it easy to filter and segment your contacts by a variety of conditions — for example, to find new contacts created in the past few days; active contacts that have sent messages recently; or inactive contacts that may need further outreach.

Simply click “Filter” and select your conditions, like the number of messages sent or received, the last time you contacted them or heard from them, and any custom variables.

Filters

For any filter you create, you can easily send messages to all contacts in the filter, add/remove them from groups, and apply custom services.

Dynamic Groups

If you often need to segment contacts matching a particular set of filter conditions, you can save your filter as a Dynamic Group — for example, new contacts, active contacts, or inactive contacts.

First, define a filter, then click “Add Group” and select “Create dynamic group from current filter”.

Add-dynamic-group

Like a normal group, a Dynamic Group lets you easily send and schedule messages to all members of the group. But instead of needing to manually add or remove contacts from the group, a dynamic group’s members are updated automatically from the filter conditions.

Import more contacts at once

We’ve increased Telerivet’s ability to handle importing more contacts at once, so now it’s possible to import up to 5,000 100,000 contacts at one time. (Previously, Telerivet only supported importing 500 contacts at a time.)

Also, it’s possible to import contacts into different groups – just import a “Groups” column with a list of group names separated by commas.

Import2

Block sending messages to contacts

It is now possible to prevent Telerivet from sending messages to particular contacts.

For example, you can block sending messages to contacts who text “STOP” to unsubscribe, or contacts who abuse your SMS system.

You can manually select block/unblock contacts from the “Actions” menu, or block contacts automatically from the Rules Engine, API, or a subscription service.

Telerivet displays blocked contacts with a red line through the middle.

Blocked

When you send a message to a group containing any blocked contacts, Telerivet will automatically skip the blocked contacts.

Custom Date/Time fields

Telerivet now supports storing custom Date/Time fields for your contacts, so you can easily keep track of the exact time when contacts trigger an event.

If you use the Rules Engine, you can set a Date/Time variable to the value [[time]].

View non-members of a group

If you use Telerivet to conduct an SMS poll, you typically have one group of contacts that was invited to participate in the poll (the sample), and a smaller group of contacts that actually participated in the poll (the respondents).

Now it’s also possible to see the non-respondents: contacts in the sample group that are not in the respondents group — for example, if you want to send them a reminder to complete the poll.

Simply select a group, then click “Non-Members” to see the contacts that are not in that group. You can choose whether to show all non-members, or only non-members that are members of another group.

Non_members

Automatically track when contacts added to a group

Groups can automatically keep track of the date/time when each contact joined the group.

This is particularly useful for subscription services – you can keep track of the time each contact subscribed, and then schedule a series of messages to each contact a certain number of days after they joined.

To enable this functionality, click the settings icon for your group, then choose which contact field will store the subscription time for that group.

Subscription-time

Updating a custom field on multiple contacts

Need to update a field for a bunch of contacts at once? Just select the contacts and click Actions > Update field.

Update_field

Preview messages before sending

When sending messages with variables like [[contact.name]] or [[contact.vars.example]], you can see what the variables will look like before you click “Send”. Just click the “Preview” link and we’ll show exactly what the messages will look like for up to 50 contacts.

Preview-link
Preview

To explore the new ways your organization can use Telerivet’s contact management tools, head over to your Contacts page now! As always, let us know if you have any questions or feedback, and feel free to email us at support@telerivet.com .

Your Feature Requests, Implemented

East Africa is one of Telerivet’s larger user hubs, and this February we visited some of our customers in Tanzania to see how they use Telerivet, and to get ideas and suggestions for how to improve the service.

We’re happy to announce that we’ve already launched several of their ideas and suggestions as new Telerivet features! Here’s what’s new:

Multiple Contacts with the Same Phone Number

In Dar es Salaam, Grace Schools uses Telerivet to narrow the gap between teachers and parents of more than 1,000 students. Teachers can easily manage communication threads with parents, and broadcast information such as school announcements and homework assignments.  

The headmaster showed us how they’ve been using Telerivet, and provided some valuable feedback: Some children share the same parents, and hence share the same phone number. When a single contact in Telerivet could refer to two or more children, it was cumbersome to use Telerivet to keep track of information for each student.

In response to their feedback, Telerivet has now added the ability to add multiple contacts with the same phone number. This will help many types of organizations that need to keep track of multiple people at the same phone number – not only schools, but also m-health programs communicating with new parents, and youth sports leagues, too.

Multiple-contact-phone

When multiple contacts have the same phone number, you can send outgoing messages to a particular contact and Telerivet will store the conversations separately. If you receive an incoming message on a phone number that matches multiple contacts, Telerivet will automatically assign the message to the most recent conversation.

Shared Phones and Shortcodes

IMG_20150206_154247_sm2Based in Arusha, Tanzania, Farm Radio International supports dozens of radio stations which use Telerivet to poll their listeners via SMS and missed calls. Recently, Farm Radio acquired a SMS shortcode to make it easier for more radio listeners to participate in polls.

Each radio station has their own Telerivet project, but a single phone or shortcode could only be used in one project at a time. They needed a solution that would allow sharing their one shortcode among several Telerivet projects.

Thanks to their feedback, we’ve added a feature to make it possible to share a single phone in multiple projects – which works whether you use a shortcode, virtual number, or Android phone.

If your organization has multiple Telerivet projects, you can configure which projects a phone is shared in from your Phones page. Click the phone you want to share, then click “Edit Settings”, then select the projects in the “Sharing” section:

Sharing

Routing incoming messages to the correct project is easy – just create a service with the Rules Engine, add one or more “If … then …” conditions to match particular messages, then use the new “Copy message to project” action.

For example, the rules below copy any messages starting with the word “arusha” to the project for a radio station in Arusha, while copying any messages starting with “moshi” to the project for a radio station in Moshi:

Copytoproject

In addition to routing messages based on keywords (as in the example above), it’s also possible to route messages depending on the contact’s groups or custom variables.

Manually Triggering Services for Contacts

While in Arusha, I was invited to the Arusha Coders Meetup to demo Telerivet’s API. To my surprise, the developer seated next to me was already a Telerivet user!

He liked using the Rules Engine to automatically handle incoming messages, but it was missing a way to define rules that he could run manually, when he wanted.

We have now added the ability to define custom rules that can be manually triggered for one or more contacts.  This makes several new things possible with Telerivet. For example, you can:

  • send different messages to contacts, depending on a variable

  • call third-party APIs for certain contacts

  • quickly update variables or groups for multiple contacts at once

First, define your if/then conditions and actions with the Rules Engine:

Contact-rulesThen from the Contacts page, simply select one or more contacts and trigger your service from the “Actions” menu.

Features from Telerivet Users Worldwide

Of course, even if Telerivet hasn’t visited your organization in person, we’ve still been listening to your ideas and suggestions whenever you contact us for support.

In addition to the new features inspired by Telerivet users in Tanzania, we’ve also recently implemented several features requested by Telerivet users worldwide:

  • You can pause sending messages from a particular phone, for example if it’s out of credit. (Suggested by a Telerivet user in New Zealand)

  • You can send a poll via the Rules Engine, for example when someone texts a particular keyword (Suggested by Telerivet users in Indonesia and Kenya)

  • When two or more polls are active at the same time, Telerivet now uses a better algorithm to figure out which poll each contact’s responses should be assigned to (Inspired by a Telerivet user in Sierra Leone)

  • When importing contacts, you can add a new group (Suggested by a Telerivet user in Australia)

As we start the fourth year of Telerivet, we’re still working on adding many more new improvements which will launch in the coming months. As always, keep sending us your ideas and suggestions!

Improving Our System Status Communication

Organizations all over the world use Telerivet for mission critical communication. We take system reliability very seriously, and we know that our customers rely on Telerivet to be available all the time – 24 hours a day, 365 (or 366) days a year.

 

For the past 3 years, Telerivet has built an excellent record and reputation for reliability, in large part because of our significant work to build systems and processes for redundancy, monitoring, alerting, and automatic failover – and perhaps in small part because of good luck.

 

However, Telerivet’s good luck took a break on Saturday, January 31, as our servers experienced three separate hardware problems that coincided with additional problems in our automated failover systems to cause more than an hour and a half of downtime.

 

Telerivet has had a basic status blog since 2012 – which we have rarely ever needed to update. As we responded to all the support requests related to the downtime on January 31, however, we realized we needed a better way to communicate with customers about service interruptions.

 

Today, we’re happy to launch our new status page at status.telerivet.com. It’s hosted outside of Telerivet’s own infrastructure, so that the status page will likely remain online even if Telerivet’s servers experience any issues in the future.

 

On the status page, our system administrators will post updates in real time about any significant problems detected with Telerivet’s service. We’ll also publish detailed incident reports (postmortems) explaining the root cause of outages as well as actions we take to improve our systems.

 

Importantly, the new status page makes it easy for you to subscribe to get updates on future incidents with Telerivet, which can be delivered via email, SMS, or webhook.

 

In addition, we have published several real-time metrics on our status page to give you additional insight into how Telerivet’s service is performing.

 

For Telerivet’s web app and API, the public system metrics on status.telerivet.com show our servers’ uptime as determined by an external monitoring service. In addition, it shows the average response time and error rate for all HTTP requests, as computed from our server log files.

 

Status-metrics

 

With these public metrics, it’s now easier for Telerivet customers to see how well our service has performed – both now and in the past – and hold us accountable.

 

As the first entry on our new status page, we have completed a detailed incident report of the service interruptions on January 31, where you can read about the root causes and contributing factors of the downtime, as well as all the actions Telerivet has already taken in the past few weeks to fix the underlying issues and improve our reliability in the future. Read the incident report here.

 

We hope you find our new status page helpful. If you want to receive notifications of any future incidents, just visit status.telerivet.com and click the “subscribe to updates” button.