Alert Solutions Blog

DMARC Specifications and Email Messaging: What Senders Need to Know

Posted by Cassie Breen on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 @ 13:07 PM

DMARC, which stands for "Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance", is a technical specification which asks mailbox providers not to deliver unauthorized email messages that appear to have been sent from the same domain. This helps reduce the potential for email-based abuse.

DMARC standardizes how email receivers perform email authentication such as SPF and DKIM. This means that senders will experience consistent authentication results for their email messages at AOL, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! and any other email receiver implementing DMARC.

emaildelayWhat does this mean? 

Companies will no longer be able to send a bulk message from the domains, such as or, that have adopted DMARC.  For companies that do attempt to do this, any recipient who uses an email account provider implementing DMARC will not receive the email.

Until DMARC, there was no “official” rule that banned you from sending a bulk email message from an AOL email account.   Now Internet Services Providers are using DMARC to tell their users email accounts with their domain are not to be used for anything other than sending a personal message.

Companies should be aware of these changes in order to ensure their email marketing campaigns and other email notifications are being received.  By implementing DMARC, senders can receive detailed periodic reports, indicating which messages were rejected and why.  

DMARC is also beneficial in preventing spoofing/phishing of their domain. Since all non-aligned messages are rejected, SPAM sent using that domain would not go through either, which can help protect your brand.

For more information on email marketing best practices, download our email deliverability guide.

Topics: email deliverability, email marketing, email marketing best practices

School Bus Safety: 7 Tips to Start off this K-12 School Year

Posted by Cassie Breen on Tue, Jul 29, 2014 @ 13:07 PM

School safety is a hot topic for K-12 school districts.  Whether K-12 students are in transport or in the classroom, school administrators should have their students’ safety in mind. 

A large portion of school safety discussions include school bus safety.  According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, from 2001 through 2010, 1,368 people died in school transportation-related crashes.

With the start of the new school year quickly approaching, school administrators and student families should have school bus safety in mind.  According to a recent article, here are some school bus safety tips offered by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Center:

  • Students should arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is expected to arrive. schoobusstopEarly arrival helps students avoid running across the street to catch the bus or running after the school bus if it has already left the bus stop. 
  • Students should avoid the school bus “danger zone” by staying 10 feet away from the front or back end of the bus so that the driver can see them.
  • All students can help prevent falls on the bus by keeping the aisles clear of backpacks or books that can trip someone or block the way to the emergency exit. 
  • Shouting should be avoided to avoid unnecessarily distracting the bus driver. 
  • Students should never leave their seat until the bus makes a complete stop.
  • If a student needs to cross the street after exiting the bus, they should take five giant steps in front of the bus, make eye contact with the bus driver and cross when the driver indicates it’s safe. 
  • Students should not talk to strangers when walking to and from the bus stop. 

School administrators can do their part in school bus safety by outlining general school bus safety rules and tips in their school safety policy.  By notifying student families of these school bus safety rules and tips through preferred communication methods, school administrators can help strengthen parent engagement.

With an increase in parent communication and engagement, K-12 school districts can help develop awareness of the importance of school bus safety.

View the full article regarding school bus safety tips here.

To learn more about strengthening parent engagement and communication, download our brochure.

Topics: school notifications, school announcement, school safety, parent engagement

Help Boost Patient Communication and Retention with Automated Notifications

Posted by Cassie Breen on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 @ 13:07 PM

Loyal patients are vitally important to the success of any medical practice.   Patient communication and patient engagement are crucial in achieving patient loyalty and optimal patient retention.

A recent article stated that it costs 90 percent less to get current patients to return for future care than it does to attract new patients.   This shows just how important patient retention is to any medical practice’s bottom line.


Patient communication can be a difficult task for many medical practices.  With busy schedules and limited staff time, it can be very difficult for office staff and doctors to find the time to ensure patients remain satisfied. Preferred Communication methods, be it email, voice or SMS text messaging, can be utilized with automated reminders to help improve patient communication and positively impact the healthcare experience. 

Automated notifications can be used in medical practices to strengthen patient communication and patient retention.  This includes:

  • Access to Care:  Access to care is very important.  For example, by allowing communication through email, voice and SMS text messaging, appointments can be made quickly and easily.  Communication preferences can be noted and automated appointment reminders can be sent via these preferred communication channels to help achieve optimal patient communication and reduce lost revenue associated with missed appointments.
  • Care Delivery: Automated notifications can also help with care delivery.  This allows for patients to be notified through preferred communication channels of prescription refill reminders, lab result notifications, etc.  By automating these processes, medical practices can free up staff time to allow for more communication with patients who need further assistance or have questions.
  • Follow-up Care:  Patient communication does not stop after the patient leaves the office.  In order to create greater patient satisfaction, medical practices should be engaging with patients through post appointment follow-up.  This could be through an automated wellness reminder or to inform a patient of a clinic happening related to their illness or needs.  Medical practices can also utilize a hot key press so patients can be connected to the correct department to further discuss any questions or concerns.

By creating greater patient engagement through tools like automated notifications, medical practices can help produce a higher level of patient communication and increase patient retention.

To learn more about improving patient communication and patient retention with automated notifications download our Patient Communication Suite Brochure!

Topics: automated patient notifications, Medical, patient communication, patient satisfaction, patient retention

Common Core Mobile Apps: What School Administrators Should Consider

Posted by Cassie Breen on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 @ 12:07 PM

Common Core standards have been overwhelming the education world and sending school administrators and teachers through the difficult process of integrating these changes into their K-12 schools. 

The use of mobile technology in K-12 classrooms has been growing; however the number of mobile apps available to school administrators and teachers has also grown exponentially.  This includes the number of mobile apps available to help with the transition to Common Core standards.parentstexting

This leaves school administrators with a few questions: What Common Core mobile apps should our K-12 school use?  What mobile apps will best help us make this transition?

First of all, school administrators need to determine their learning strategy.  School administrators should also consider how it can be assessed with Common Core standard skills of communication, critical thinking and collaboration before adopting any Common Core mobile apps

A recent District Administration article also recommends school administrators assess the Common Core mobile apps and ensure they meet the following criteria:

  • Allow teachers to modify content to meet the students’ needs
  • Accommodate different learning styles, particularly for students with disabilities
  • Include a built-in assessment component to measure progress
  • Promote inventiveness by giving students a chance to create within the app
  • Simulate real-life situations in which students can apply the new Common Core concepts

Read more blog posts related to mobile learning here.

Topics: mobile learning, education

Property Management Tips: Bridging the Generation Gap to Attract More Tenants

Posted by Cassie Breen on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 @ 14:07 PM

In a recent blog post we discussed the must-haves of millennial renters property managers should be aware of.  Although the millennial generation is a large portion of today’s renter, there is another group also making a large impact: the baby boomers.

Both of these generations are important to satisfy as property managers and, many times, this must be done simultaneously.  But how do you create unified tenant satisfaction between two groups that largely differ from one another?

This can be very difficult to do. However, property managers must find a way to blend the must-haves of both generations together.  Many amenities are must-haves for both groups, but are utilized in different ways.    

For example, both the millennial generation and the baby boomers typically find interest in a common area or clubroom. 

The millennial generation finds this area as a positive attribute, but is most interested in attending events being held.  Baby boomers also find the inclusion of a clubroom or common area in their rental property as a must-have, but would like to use this space to host social gatherings or club meetings.   This could be a great opportunity for property managers to meld both sides together and create a uniform tenant satisfaction.


Other must-haves may be included, but are only there to satisfy one group or the other, which is also a viable route so long as the amenity does not subtract interest for either side. 

For example, finishes in a rental unit. 

Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances are a must-have for many baby boomers but not for the millennial generation, who overlooks these details.  As a wow factor for baby boomer, property managers should consider these factors in their design.  Although it may not gain any greater interest from the millennial generation, it will not deter them from their decision and will increase interest from the baby boomers.

By taking the must-haves of both millennial and baby boomer generations into consideration, property managers can increase their revenue through the interest gained from this large percentage of today’s renters.

What must-haves do you include in your rental community to attract the millennial and baby boomer generation renters?  Share your thoughts on our blog!

Read more blogs focused on property management here.

Topics: property management, tenant satisfaction

E-Rate and ConnectEd Initiative Helps Improve Technology Access in K-12 Schools

Posted by Cassie Breen on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 @ 15:07 PM

Technology has become an integral part of everyday life, which has made it necessary for K-12 school districts to try and improve technology efforts and connectivity in their classrooms.  This is the basis for the federal initiative to provide all students with high-speed broadband and mobile devices and the revamping of the program that provides discount internet access to K-12 school districts.

The E-rate program, whose modernization is set to be completed by the Federal Communications Commission this fall, will help give all K-12 schools high-speed internet access.  This will shift funding from old technologies, such as pagers, to broadband and Wi-Fi networks in order to eventually reach a goal of 99 percent of America’s students having access to high-speed Internet connections within five years.

The E-rate program was created as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and connects schools and libraries to the internet at a discount of 20-90 percent. Today, more than 95 percent of schools are connected with the help of these funds, up from only 14 percent in 1996, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

Greater access to technology and high-speed internet is also the main goal of President Barack Obama’s new ConnectED initiative.

According to a recent District Administration article, the four goals of the ConnectEd Initiative include:technologyinschool

  1. Upgraded connectivity: Ensuring broadband and high-speed Wi-Fi are available to virtually all U.S. students in their classrooms and libraries.
  2. Access to learning devices: Providing students and teachers with access to affordable mobile devices to access digital resources at any time in or out of school.
  3. Supported teachers: Offering professional development to help teachers use technology properly and efficiently to increase student achievement.
  4. Digital learning resources: Ensuring access to high-quality digital learning materials for students and teachers.

This uniform access to technology in all K-12 school districts will help close learning gaps and improve communication.  K-12 schools will be able to implement more blended learning programs, create more personalized learning efforts and affordably connect through modern communication channels.

Learn more about how Alert Solutions’ Communication Suite can improve communication in your school, download our brochure.

Topics: educational technology, power announcement, powerschool, education

Making Content Marketing Work for the Millennial Generation - 5 Tactics

Posted by Cassie Breen on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 @ 12:07 PM

Content marketing campaigns have become a well-utilized tool by businesses today.  Most individuals appreciate the information provided and embrace it. However, it hasn’t been as easy to win over the millennial generation. 

A recent study conducted by DigitasLBi, Razorfish, Tumblr, and Yahoo shows 45% of Millennials are not interested in the content businesses are providing through their content marketing campaigns.  This presents an issue for businesses as the study explains Millennials will command a cumulative $1.4 trillion in spending power by 2020.

How can businesses hurdle the obstacle of a disengaged generation?  Simple – engage with them on their terms with content that interests them.  This generation looks for information through multiple channels and utilizes, on average, 7.1 devices to receive this information.  Businesses need to ensure they are reaching and engaging Millennials through all of their preferred communication channels, such as SMS text messaging and social media.


Effective content marketing campaigns are essential to a business’ marketing success, but the strategy behind it must change to fit the millennial generation.  Five tactics to achieve effective content marketing, mentioned in a recent Direct Marketing News article, include:

  • Set the Mood
  • Help Millennials Escape
  • Fuel Creativity and Play
  • Spotlight Pop Culture
  • Help Millennials Succeed and Help them Discover

By following these tactics, engaging Millennial through their preferred communication channels and providing interesting content, businesses can create successful content marketing campaigns and turn the millennial generation into loyal and powerful brand advocates.

For list segmentation and audience targeting tips and tricks, download our best practice kit today.

Topics: personalization, list segmentation, content marketing

Increase Medication Adherence in Your Medical Practice: A “SIMPLE” Strategy

Posted by Cassie Breen on Thu, Jul 03, 2014 @ 14:07 PM

The problem of poor medicaltion adherence is a well-recognized problem in the healthcare industry. Studies have shown that in the United States alone, poor medication adherence causes 125,000 deaths annually and accounts for 10% to 25% of hospital and nursing home admissions. This makes non-adherence to medications not only dangerous for patients, but also only of the most costly factors for the healthcare industry.

A Medscape article provides a strategy to deal with the issue of medication adherence using the acronym “SIMPLE” which breaks down into:

  • “S” Simplifying Regimen Characteristics: 

Many medical offices already implement this strategy.  By simplifying a medication regimen or matching the medication regimen to the patient's activities of daily living, you can lessen the chance ofmedicationadherance medication non-adherence.

  • “I” Imparting Appropriate Knowledge

Patients' understanding of their conditions and treatments is positively related to medication adherence. Medication adherence, satisfaction, recall and understanding are all related to the amount and type of information given by medical offices.  Studies have shown that patients who understand the purpose of the prescription are twice more likely to fill it than those who do not understand the purpose.

  • “M” Modifying Beliefs and Human Behavior

Some diagnoses and medical regimens are complex and require lifestyle modification.  When this is the case it is worthwhile to address patients' beliefs, intentions, and ability to perform the actions required. This is because knowledge alone is not sufficient to enhance medication adherence in recommendations involving complex behavior change.

  • “P” Patient Communication

Patient communication encompasses interventions ranging from sending voice, email or SMS text reminders, to involving patients' families in the dialogue. At least 50% of patients leave their medical offices not knowing what they have been told.  This is an imperative part of improving medication adherence.  Medical offices need to be communicating with patients from the time the appointment is made throughout the post-appointment follow-up.

  • “L” Leaving the Bias

In a review of 185 studies, no clear relationship between medication adherence and race, sex, educational experience, intelligence, marital status, occupational status, income, and ethnic or cultural background was found.  It is important for medical offices to understand that medical adherence can be an issue for anyone and focus their efforts on ensuring all patients are adhering to medications.

  • “E” Evaluating Adherence

It is imperative to measure and evaluate patient medication adherence in order to correct issues in adherence that are found.  Self-reporting is the most practical and widely used tool. If asked simply and directly, patients can be very accurate in reporting whether they are adhering to their medications. Regular assessment of patient adherence by itself can lead to increased patient adherence.

Implementing a patient communication solution, such as Alert Solutions’ Patient Communication Suite can help provide greater patient communication, increasing the likelihood of medication adherence.  By providing notifications, such as automated refill reminders and wellness reminders via patients preferred communication channels, medical offices can reduce medical non-adherence and increase their bottom line.

Learn how you can maximize patient communication through automated notifications and improve medical adherence in your medical practice today!

Topics: automated patient notifications, Medical, patient communication, medical adherence

K-12 Schools Go Green and Find Uses for School Lunch Waste

Posted by Cassie Breen on Tue, Jul 01, 2014 @ 14:07 PM

The addition of more fruits and vegetables into K-12 school lunches has been a struggle, especially in regards to the new USDA guidelines.  Many of the fruits and vegetables that students are required to take end up half eaten or not eaten at all.

Some schools find a way to go green and environmentally use the waste created by school lunches.  These schools place a separate trash bin in lunch rooms for food waste specifically.  These scraps are sent to a compost heap where they are churned into nutrient-enriched dirt that farmers or landscape architects can buy.

schoollunchAlthough most of the participating schools exist on the west coast or in the Midwest, more schools across the United States are catching on.  For example, PS 30 in Staten Island, NY has begun to embrace composting in their school.  At P.S. 30, students done with their school lunch have a choice of three plastic bins: one for landfill garbage like plastic bags, foam cups and wrappers; one for recyclables, like metal, glass, plastic and milk cartons; and one for food scraps.

Since students must take these items, but the school district cannot force them to eat the food, an environmentally-friendly solution seemed like the way to go.  In a recent article, Joseph Napolitano, P.S. 30’s assistant principal said, “It’s really being recycled whether they eat it or not; it’s not really a waste.”

Although not all students follow the directions and throw items away in the trash bins, there are a “green team” of students who carefully pick out unwanted junk, while wearing latex gloves.  Even with less than a quarter of school buildings participating, the weight of all discarded scraps came to 1,400 tons between September and March, compared with 450 tons during the entire 2012-13 school year.

The New York City school composting program kicked off just two years ago in 230 school buildings in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island and is expected to at least double in the fall.  The city is hoping this will encompass 1,300-plus school buildings.

To view the full article click here.

To read more about “going green” in your school check out more blog posts.

Topics: environment, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, go green

Lease Renewals: How to Win the Tenant Retention Chess Match

Posted by Nina Russo on Thu, Jun 26, 2014 @ 13:06 PM

Lease renewal time can be very stressful for property managers and landlords.  As we have mentioned in previous blog posts, tenant retention is extremely important since it is much less expensive to keep a current tenant than find a new one.

Although things like lease renewals or rent increases are just part of doing business for property managers and landlords, it is important for them to remember that to the tenant it’s personal.  By putting themselves in their tenants’ shoes, property managers and landlords can focus on what is really important to the tenant and be strategic in planning for lease renewals.

A recent Property Management Insider article compares the lease renewal process to a chess match with the following “moves”:


Move #1

Affirmation Brings Loyalty:  Property managers and landlords should think of themselves as customer service representatives.  We are all familiar with brand loyalty and how important it is for many retailers; the same goes for property managers and landlords.  When speaking to a customer service representatve about an issue, the call will most likely end with the question of whether everything you need has been taken care of or not.  Property managers and landlords should be doing the same thing.  By asking this question, property managers and landlords are breeding loyalty and affirmation.  This tactic can be used, for example, after a service request has been addressed.  By completing the task and affirming that all of the concerns have been addressed, placing themselves in a positive light in their tenant’s mind when lease renewal time comes.

Move #2

Confidence is Key: In order to obtain the lease renewal, property managers and landlords need confidence.  They must believe that they will receive the renewal because they have given no reason for their tenant not to renew.  Many times, property managers and landlords think a tenant is not going to renew because of an annual rent increase. However, according to the 2014 SatisFacts Index for Annual Surveys, when asked, “What can be done to improve the community?” zero percent of respondents selected “lower rent.”  Property managers and landlords should focus on more proactive concerns such as more timely responses, improved  tenant communication and increased customer service levels.

By thinking ahead to your tenants’ responses to lease renewals property managers and landlords can come up with a proactive and strategic plan to ensure their tenant stays onboard and claiming their “win” in the tenant retention chess match.

View more posts relating to tenant retention.

Topics: property management, tenant retention

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