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Text alerts: Cutting costs, and saving lives

By Isa Soares, CNN
February 22, 2013 -- Updated 1647 GMT (0047 HKT)
  • Text message alerts are now an everyday occurrence
  • For us they are gentle reminder, but they are also big business
  • Esendex, which creates the alerts, is going international
  • In tough economic times, it seems business are doing more with more with less

(CNN) -- We receive them almost on a daily basis; text messages alerting us that our taxi is outside or our dentist appointment is tomorrow.

To us they are just alerts, gentle reminders for our busy diaries.

For the company that creates the platform and those that use it, these messages are both money generators and cash savers.

Esendex, a mobile messaging service provider based in Nottingham, has been creating the means for clients to send a text message for more than eleven years.

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Today, with 17,000 customers throughout Europe, the company is expanding to new markets and learning to be German, French and Spanish. In other words, it's learning to be international.

Its CEO Julian Hucker tells me, during a visit to their offices, that this has meant "adhering to some onerous rules around SPAM messaging" in France and other key Euroepan Union regulations.

Out of all their international markets, Spain has surprised them the most. In the midst of an economic crisis and with unemployment at record highs, Spanish companies have been turning to Esendex to help them do more with less.

Julian tells me companies are looking for inexpensive and alternative ways to communicate with their customers. They are looking, he says, to innovate their way out of trouble.

For Esendex, who has been signing up more customers in Spain than anywhere else, the economic crisis has been a huge opportunity.

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Last year, Esendex's profits totalled $15 million. Spain accounted for 15% of those sales and from July to December of that same year, the Spanish market grew 39%.

Esendex has 2,000 customers in Spain alone. The Centro de Hemoterapia y Hemodonacion, better known as CHEMCYL, is one of them.

The blood donor bank based in the region of Castilla y Leon has a blood bus that travels to small cobbled towns and big cities, enticing passers-by to donate blood. But there's little hanging around or time wasted.

Using Esendex's SMS platform, CHEMCYL sends text messages to donors on their list, alerting them as to when the blood bus will be visiting and where they can donate.

By receiving the text message the night before, donors are more likely to remember and make time in their schedule to stop and donate blood.

I saw the bus in action in Valladolid, when it stopped at the university square. In the few hours of the morning I visited, the bus received more than 17 donations, mostly all thanks to the text message they had sent out the previous night.

For CHEMCYL, who made a switch from sending half a million letters to SMS, this has meant a saving of $229,000 -- money they can invest in medical research and other new projects.

So the message is clear: In tough economic times, try to do less with more. It seems you only need a few dozen words.

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