Alert Solutions Blog

Some eRate Discounts will End in 2015 for K-12 Schools

Posted by Erika Scialdone on Tue, Sep 16, 2014 @ 13:09 PM

In the year 2014 alone, eRate discounts saved K-12 schools a total of $ 2.4 billion for e-mail, voice mail and website hosting applications.  According to the FCC, starting in 2015, this crucial abundance of discounts will no longer be available.

The cancellation of eRate discounts will propose an intense, most likely negative, change to many K-12 school budgets.  However, there are other applications that can be used for e-mail and web hosting sites that are currently free.

There are two free applications that are used within school communities today:  Google Apps for Education and Microsoft Office 365 Education (A2 Plan).emailinbox

Google Apps for Education

-          Includes g-mail (e-mail) accounts

-          30 gigabytes of storage per user

Microsoft Office 365 Education (A2 Plan)

-          Includes e-mail accounts

-          50 gigabytes of storage per user

The Chief Technology Officer for Microsoft’s U.S. education business, Cameron Evans said, “Microsoft has long been a committed partner to schools in helping implement technology tools that address their unique needs and meet budget requirements.  Our Office 365 Education A2 plan has been available to education institutions for free since 2012, regardless of their eRate-eligible discount level.”

Both of these applications are useful, but they do have their setbacks. For example, the Microsoft Office 365 Education application does not have free archiving capabilities, and this is a requirement for schools by state law.

Other setbacks include:

-          Privacy and security measures that are often insufficient

-          Legal terms are always subject to change with or without notice to the school

-          Additional staffing and resources for support  - there will be expenses even with a “free” application

What do you think of the latest eRate discount changes? Share your thoughts on our Blog!

To read more about e-Rate, check out another blog post!


Topics: educational technology, power announcement, powerschool, education

Planning a Mobile Marketing Campaign? Get Started the Right Way!

Posted by Nina Caliri on Thu, Sep 11, 2014 @ 14:09 PM

So, you’ve finally decided to see what all of the mobile marketing hype is about. Good choice – as studies suggest more than 90% of SMS text messages are read within minutes of delivery. This accounts for a rapid response that is unseen in other messaging channels.

But before getting too excited, consider the following

1. Do you understand the law?

Like everything else, mobile marketing laws evolve over time. Are you up to date on the latest legislation? Check out a recent post on our blog.

 2. Do you have an opt-in list?automatedcollectionreminder-1

You’ll need explicit written permission from subscribers to send them SMS text messages. Building your list organically will net the most relevant mobile marketing campaigns.

 3. What will your call-to-action be?

Unless your mobile marketing campaign is purely informative, you need to map the intended response of your audience. In other words, what should happen after the recipient reads your SMS text message?

4. Have you figured out the technicalities?

It may take weeks, or even months, to provision the phone number or short code that your SMS text messages will appear to be coming from. And remember, there is a 160 character limit!

Execute your new mobile marketing campaign properly to achieve the highest possible ROI and increase response rates.

Want to learn more about getting started? The experts at Alert Solutions can help get you going today!

Download our brochure or download our Guide to SMS Text Messaging Success for more SMS best practices.

Topics: SMS text messaging, SMS Best Practices, mobile marketing

K-12 Schools Install ‘Standing Desks’ to Improve Student Health

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Sep 09, 2014 @ 09:09 AM

A rising trend in the corporate environment, standing desks have made their way into hundreds of classrooms nationwide, according to a recent District Administration article.

What is a standing desk? Simply put, it’s a regular desk raised in height. There is no chair, but rather a standing_deskstool. This causes students to spend most of the day standing, which is said to increase alertness and combat childhood obesity by improving student health.

In fact, during a trial study completed in Texas classrooms in 2011, fourth grade students at standing desks burned an average of 300 additional calories per week compared to their sitting peers. The difference is even greater for overweight and obese students, who burned an average of 575 additional calories per week.

And because more than one-third of children and adolescents are overweight according to the CDC, it’s possible that standing desks will become even more prevalent in America’s K-12 schools over the coming years.

Teachers with standing desks also notice a difference in the attentiveness and concentration of their students, stating that they are more focused on their schoolwork.

Are you starting off the new school year in a health-conscious state-of-mind?   Check our more student health blog topics from Alert Solutions today!

Topics: student health, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education

Property Managers: Automated Rent Reminders are Worth a Shot

Posted by Nina Caliri on Thu, Sep 04, 2014 @ 11:09 AM

Few things affect your property’s revenue stream more than vacant units and late rent payments. And while steady, consistent communication helps to retain good tenants, reasons behind past-due and delinquent rent is far, wide and unpredictable.

Is there anything you haven’t tried? Regardless of the number of units at your location, you’ve probably experienced tenants that do not pay their rent on time. Property managers need a non-intrusive method to help get that rent money in the door by the first of the month.AutomatedRentReminders

Many are now turning to automated rent reminders. Think about it – you’ve likely received an email or text message letting you know that your credit card or utility bill is soon due. Are you employing the same tactic at your rental properties? Sent through the communication channels your tenants prefer, a courtesy email, voice or SMS text message is all it takes.

Alleviate collections and help ensure the steady cash flow you depend on. To learn more about implementing automated rent payment reminders at your rental property, download our Commercial or Residential brochures today!

Topics: property management, tenant communication, automated collection reminders, tenant notifications

Alert Solutions Named to Inc. 500|5000 List of Fastest Growing Companies

Posted by Nina Russo on Tue, Sep 02, 2014 @ 12:09 PM

Alert Solutions is excited to announce it has been named to Inc. Magazine’s 500|5000 list of the fastest-growing privately held companies in America.

This is the first time we’ve been recognized, posting 121% growth over three years and placing us at number 2,972 of 5,000. We’ve also been named amongst the top 10 Rhode Island-based companies, within the likes of Alex and Ani and Carousel Industries.AlertSolutionsInc5000

“Alert Solutions is thrilled to be a part of this prestigious list,” stated Dave Baeder, our president and CEO. “This recognition is a testament to the dedication and hard work of our entire team in delivering the highest quality products, services and customer support.”

The Inc. 5000 rankings are based on revenue growth between 2010 and 2013. To qualify, organizations must be privately-held, for profit, independently owned, and based in the U.S., with minimum 2013 revenue of $2 million. This was the 33rd annual Inc. 500|5000 and the most competitive crop in the magazine’s history.

Click here to read the rest of our press release.

Topics: Medical, power announcement, powerschool, education

Use Automated Reminders to Boost Patient Communication at Your Medical Practice

Posted by Nina Russo on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

According to the Institute of Medicine, up to 98,000 patients die each year because of clinical communication failure.

From critical test results to follow-up notifications and appointment reminders, medical offices should always provide excellent patient communication.  This not only benefits the patient, but will also benefits the medical practice by increasing patient satisfaction and decreasing the potential for malpractice.

Automated notifications can be delivered via patients’ preferred communication methods including email, voice and SMS text messaging. This better ensures patients are receiving the message quickly and reliably and allows for medical offices to confirm delivery through real-time reporting.doctorpatientmedication-1

Other uses for these automated reminders include:

Medical offices should be aware, the greater patient communication there is, the greater patient retention they will experience. Through increased patient retention and cost reduction from benefits such as decreased missed appointments, decreased medical non-adherence and other issues facing the healthcare industry, medical offices can drastically increase their bottom line with automated notifications.

To learn about improving patient communication in your medical practice with automated reminders, download our brochure!

Topics: appointment reminders, Medical, patient communication, patient retention

K-12 School Districts Explore a Four-Day Week to Reduce Absenteeism

Posted by Nina Russo on Tue, Aug 26, 2014 @ 11:08 AM

K-12 schools across the US have been developing new ways to go about their school year. One option that has been recently explored by several school districts is the four-day week.

This cuts the week for students from a five-day week to a four-day week. Copan Public Schools in northeastern Oklahoma, is one school pursuing this new structure in order to attract teachers and reducing absenteeism.

“We realized there were a lot of positive outcomes from the four-day week,” Superintendent Rick Ruckman of Copan Public Schools says. “If we didn’t have activity absences on Fridays because we didn’t have class on Fridays, it would help those kids be involved in any activities they wanted. So far, it’s been great.”

The benefits of a four-day school week may include:attendnace

Reducing Absenteeism: Many students who participate in athletics or other extracurriculars use up their allotted absences early in the year for tournaments and competitions that occur on Fridays. Parents can also use the extra day off for things, such as appointments, reducing the amount of school absences.

• Lower Costs: Schools utilizing the four-day week will save on transportation and utility costs. This is especially true for rural districts where students taking the bus are spread out across a large geographic area, increasing transportation costs.

How do you feel about a four-day school week? Share your thoughts on our blog!

For more tips and tricks on reducing chronic truancy in your school, download our best practice guide!

Topics: attendance, power announcement, powerschool, education

Email Marketing Campaign Subject Lines – 3 Tips Connecting You to Your Customers

Posted by Cassie Breen on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 @ 12:08 PM

Businesses realize how important it is to connect with their customers.  Email marketing campaigns are a great way to do this, but there are some challenges that stand in the way.

With so many emails flooding customers’ inboxes, it can be difficult for your email marketing campaign to even be seen, let alone opened or receive any clicks.  This is why it is so important for businesses to be aware of every detail of their email marketing campaign.

Included in these details is the email subject line.  In order to connect with current or future customers, businesses must ensure they are producing an enticing, relevant and valuable email subject line.   Although this connection may be a brief one, it is so important in whether or not your email marketing campaign will be opened, discarded or even worse, marked as ‘spam’.Here are a few tips according to Direct Marketing News to help your email subject line connect with recipients:deliverabilityoptimization-1

  1. Personalize

Businesses should be creative in their email subject lines.  This should be more than just simply inserting a first name.  Create an email subject line that specifically pertains to recipients.  This will direct them to your email marketing campaign while scanning through their inbox.

  1. Get to the Point

Although creativity is important, there must be a balance.  You do not want to be overly creative to the point that the message you are sending through your email subject line is unclear.  You should  lead the email subject line with the most important information.

  1. Use Variety

Structure in your subject line is not necessarily a bad thing, but variety should also be instilled.  Much like a conversation, you do not want to start you email subject line the same for every email marketing campaign.  You want to have the recipient feel like there is a human being at the other end.

By using these tips to create a compelling and informative email subject line, you can ensure your email marketing campaigns are being noticed in the inboxes of current and potential customers.

To learn more about email marketing campaign strategy, check out our other blog posts.

For email marketing best practice tips and tricks, download our best practice guide.

Topics: personalization, email marketing, email marketing best practices

Educators Find Top Priorities for Upcoming K-12 School Year

Posted by Cassie Breen on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 @ 13:08 PM

The start of the new school year is quickly approaching, which means educators in K-12 school districts must develop a new set of priorities.  With many new changes happening in the education world, educators must be sure their structure and goals are reflecting these changes.

Educators have identified numerous new initiatives and objectives for the 2014-2015 school year.  According to a recent eSchool News article, here were some of the educators top priorities:PowerTeacher

  1.        Common Core Learning Goals

Educators across the US are struggling to come to terms with the implementation of Common Core Standards. However, they are challenged with how to change curriculums and practices in order to accommodate these new Common Core standards.  Teachers especially, must figure out a way to adjust both the content they teach and the way they teach it.

  1.        Integrating Technology into Lessons

Using technology in the classroom helps students to learn all of the things that make up the essentials of the 21st century.  There has also been an increased prevalence of BYOD, bring your own device, and expanded access to mobile devices and apps in schools.  For example, in K-12 classrooms, mobile devices are used to access and research online digital content, to create content, to develop skills and to communicate and collaborate.  Educators must find a way to incorporate greater technology into classrooms while remaining within exponentially tightening school budgets.

  1.        Expanding Students’ Opportunity for Project Based Learning

Employers today are hiring those who can communicate effectively, think critically, and solve problems in collaboration with other team members.  This leads to more and more schools looking to project-based learning as a way to better prepare students for these demands.   This leaves educators looking to expand project based opportunities in their school districts and classrooms in order to encourage a deeper level of thinking by involving students in answering questions for themselves, making connections, and using analytical skills.

What are your top priorities for the upcoming school year?  Share your thoughts on our blog!

To read more regarding the latest in education news, check out other blog posts!

Two Strategies to Reducing Patient No-Shows at Your Medical Practice

Posted by Cassie Breen on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 @ 13:08 PM

One of the largest problems plaguing medical offices across the US is patient no-shows.  Patient no shows account for numerous concerns for medical practices including a significant amount of lost revenue.

So what is being done to correct the issue of patient no-shows in medical practices? Here are a couple of ways medical practices are working to reduce patient no-shows:

1.)    No-Show Policies

Most medical practices have policies in place regarding patient no-shows.    Every missed appointment is a cost to the medical practice as a gap in their scheduled day.  In order to make up with the cost of a missed appointment, some medical practices have put a fee in place for patients who miss their appointments.  Many offices have their patient no-show policy written into their patient consent form as well as it being posted in the office area.
Medical practices must be careful when it comes to charging no-show fees or dismissing patients and most take multiple factors into consideration.  Many times, medical offices will follow-up with patients regarding missed appointments to find out why the appointment was missed.  Depending on the response of the patient, the medical practice may just give a warning, rather than impose a fee.  As far as dismissals go, medical practices tend to use the “three strike rule.”  The patient receives a warning for the first two missed appointments, but on after the third no-show will be dismissed.

2.)    Patient Notification System

Another way medical practices are dealing with the issue of patient no-shows is by implementing a patient notification system.  A patient notification system can allow medical practices to remind patients of upcoming appointments via preferred communication channels of email, voice and SMS text messaging.  Not only can these automated appointment notifications remind patients of their upcoming appointment, but allow for them to confirm or reschedule through a hot-key press.
Automated appointment reminders also allow medical office staff to better utilize their time.  Instead of manually making appointment reminder calls, office staff can spend time face-to-face with patients, increasing patient engagement.

Through the use of patient no-show policies and patient notification systems, medical practices can drastically reduce patient no-shows and increase their revenue.

How do you deal with the issue of patient no-shows at your medical practice?  Share your thoughts on our blog!

To learn more about reducing patient no-shows with a patient notification system, download our brochure!

Topics: appointment reminders, automated patient notifications, patient communication

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