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Category: Mobile Insight

Life inevitably throws us curve balls.  Hazardous weather may cause an event to be delayed or cancelled.  A natural disaster may cause a widespread outage or leave behind damage.  Campus violence or crime may put people in extreme danger.  Even something as mundane as a technical difficulty may cripple essential functions.  In these circumstances, students and faculty need to be informed.  When time is of the essence, the most reliable way to instantly inform people of circumstantial changes is an SMS emergency text system.

Before we dive into some of the best practices for setting up your emergency campus alert system, let’s answer the question of why we should use SMS / Text for alerts.

 

Benefits of SMS Emergency Alert Notifications:

  • SMS texts can be broadcasted to a large group in a matter of seconds
  • SMS text is the preferred method of communication among college students
    • Open rates for texts are at about 99%, while open rates for emails are at about 15%
    • Approximately 90% of texts are read in under 3 minutes
  • SMS provides no requirement for an internet connection to receive an alert
  • SMS will often work even when voice circuits are overloaded
  • SMS provides receipt confirmation to show your message was successfully delivered
  • Some systems, like TrueDialog’s, allow recipients to discretely text back to the administrator (1-to-1) with live updates.

It’s clear that SMS text is opening doors for rapid information sharing, as well as improving overall safety and security on campus.  So, if you’re in the midst of developing (or improving upon) your emergency text system, here is some insight on the best practices:

 

Top 5 Best Practices for Creating an SMS Alert Notification System:

1. Determine who has the authority to send alerts

First, develop a protocol that establishes who exactly should be sending which type of alert, and under which circumstances.  Only key people should be given the capability to send mass alerts, so start by building your team.  Many alert notification systems will allow you to customize the rights and restrictions for each administrator.

2. Prewrite clear and concise messages

Spend some time carving out “canned” messages you know may be needed, such as campus closings due to severe weather.  Certainly pieces of information within the message will need to be changed once an actual situation arises, but it’s helpful to turn to an existing template during a critical situation.

3. Promote your Emergency Alert Notification System

One of the easiest ways to build your database is to include a subscription form with enrollment materials for new students.  Ensure both faculty and students know how the SMS Alert System works, and educate them on how they can reach campus security during an emergency via text.

4. Regularly train faculty and test the system

More than likely, your university won’t need to send out alert notification systems on a regular basis.  As time passes in between each send, it’s easy for emergency alert administrators to forget how to use the features of the system.  Periodically, you should conduct mock drills with faculty, and review the protocols your university has established.

5. Be conscious of how frequently the emergency alert notification system is used

Be courteous of your students and faculty by only sending emergency alert text messages that are absolutely needed.  Remember not to overuse the system, because if students feel they are receiving too many alerts, they may fall into the habit of ignoring them.  In order to avoid diminishing the importance of your messages, never blast your entire list (unless it is a major emergency, such as a campus shooting).  Segment your list and only send an alert to the people who would be impacted depending on the situation.

Conclusion:

Remember, the benefits of having a solid alert notification system in place at your university cannot be overstated, but there are important logistics that need to be sorted through in order to put a successful system in place.  For more best practices download whitepaper, “Higher Education: Regulations to Know Before You Text”.

If you’re university is currently in the market for an SMS emergency alert solution, TrueDialog can help.  Unlike other campus emergency alert solutions, with TrueDialog you can send mass SMS text, voice messages, email and social alerts in just one click.  Additionally, you can continue the dialog, one-to-one, when students reply to your broadcast.  Click here to learn more about the TrueDialgo SMS text platform.

If you have questions, we’re happy to help. Call 512-501-5947 or Text “Easy” to 370370.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational and educational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes legal advice.  The samples, suggestions, best practices and other information detailed here are provided as general background information only and may or may not be appropriate for your particular situation.  You should not act or rely on any information in this document without first seeking the advice of an attorney, and you agree that neither TrueDialog nor its agents shall have any liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on this information to the fullest extent permitted by law.

It’s no surprise that the transition from high school to college is full of obstacles and unknowns. But what may come as a surprise is that the summer prior is the most significant period in the college-intending student’s journey, and it’s often the most overlooked.Summer Melt

During the time between confirming college acceptance and arriving on campus in the Fall, teenagers are faced with major responsibilities, decisions and tasks to complete the enrollment process. And as it turns out, universities are failing to bridge that very important last mile.

 

What is Summer Melt?

 

College-intending students who fail to show up on campus in the fall comprise a phenomenon known as the “summer melt”. According to the U.S. Department of Education, about 20% of students who have committed to enroll “melt away,” with minority, lower-income and first-generation students being the most vulnerable.

If you’ve found that your university has been plagued the summer melt, fortunately there are tactics to keep students actively engaged and committed. Continue reading to learn why the summer melt matters, current melt statistics, and successful strategies that other universities are using to mitigate the phenomenon.

 

Top 3 Summer Melt Factors

 

There are many factors that impact a student’s ability to complete the last mile of the admissions process, but most commonly they boil down to the following:

1. Financial Burdens

The reality of just how much it costs to earn a degree begins to set in during summer months. Students begin to receive bills related to tuition, housing, and health insurance, and working through the logistics of setting up payment plans and budgeting for other costs can be overwhelming.

2. Lack of Support

After graduation, students support from high school staff naturally disappears. Also, not every student receives adequate support at home, and even parents who are involved may be just as overwhelmed by the process. During the summer, students are now tasked with paperwork and deadlines, many times without mentorship from there chosen university. To make matters more difficult, often times universities run on limited staff during the summer, so departments may be closed and support services may not be accessible when needed.

3. Transition Anxiety

Aside from all the logistics, it is common for students to feel emotionally unprepared to leave home. This apprehension may stem from family dynamics, but more often than not, students feel a lack of connection with their new school.

 

Top 3 Ways to Keep Students “Cool” During the Summer Melt

 

1. Go Mobile

According to Cappex, 77% of students do want relevant information from their university via text. Today’s average college student no longer uses email as their primary source of communication. In fact, open rates for emails have fallen to about 15%, where text message open rates are soaring at 99%. And 90% of these texts are read by the recipient in under three minutes. Texting college-intending students can simplify the process of sending task reminders, and improve students access to their academic information, as well as the overall relationship between the student and university.

2. Assign a School Counselor

Once a student has confirmed acceptance, they should be assigned a counselor to help them navigate through the entire enrollment process. If possible, universities should extend the counselors contracts to include summer months. Universities should also provide workshops for students and their families over the summer, or create a web-based portal to demonstrate how to complete certain tasks.

3. Build a Solid Community

Establishing a community where students feel at home at your university before they even set foot on campus will create a sense of loyalty. As a best practice, universities should start this process right after a student is accepted, which will even boost yield rates.

 

Summer Melt

In order to encourage your students to start their college careers, your university has a big role to keep them on track during the summer. Research has proven that interventions do reduce the melt. In fact, Georgia State University was able to reduce summer melt at their university by 21.4% just by utilizing smart text messaging (click here to learn more about the study). Therefore, it’s worth the investment to put measures in place to close the opportunity gap at your university.

If your university is looking for a SMS text solution, click here to learn more about TrueDialog, the preferred platform for colleges and universities, and start your free trail today.

What will your university do to keep students “cool”?

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Reducing Coupon Fraud With SMS

Coupon promotions have been a staple for businesses of all sizes. They have proven themselves to attract customers, increase sales and help reach organizational goals. But what may come as a surprise for many is that couponing is not without its rules and regulations. A major issue that continues to plague coupon advertising (even those delivered by SMS) is coupon fraud.

What Are Mobile Coupons?mobile coupons, coupon fraud, sms coupons, sms marketing

Mobile coupons are digital coupons that are received and redeemed with a mobile device. These coupons are typically redeemed either by a code directly in the text itself or, a QR/bar code on a landing page. Despite their simplistic nature, mobile coupons have been very successful and have had a massive impact for a variety of industries. According to Juniper Research, 45% of mobile users will use mobile coupons this year with mobile coupon’s global usage projected to surpass 1 billion by 2019.

Types of Coupon Fraud

Coupon fraud takes on many different forms. Of course there are instances of consumers intentionally misusing coupons, manipulating offers, and even selling coupons. But one of the most common practices of coupon fraud is posting/sharing, or redeeming, codes on the increasingly popular coupon sharing sites, as well as social media. Coupons that are intended for one person to use are being released and repurposed by many. Even store employees are getting into trouble by using previously redeemed coupons for a customer without one. Often times, people don’t even realize they are committing a crime, but coupon fraud is very serious and a punishable offense.

Reducing Coupon Fraud

How can businesses go about protecting themselves from fraud? To explain this concept, let’s look at a recent example that we had here at True Dialog…

A quick service restaurant wanted to have a targeted coupon promotion for a particular region of their restaurants. However, incorporating a 3rd party coupon into their POS system wasn’t a feasible option. This meant that coupons would have to be entered manually which would increase the chances of both human error and coupon fraud. By using True Dialog’s Coupon Campaign builder, landing pages were automatically created that allowed end-users to both receive coupons by texting in a keyword to a short code. These coupons were then redeemed at participating stores. Since these coupons were single use only and were being redeemed at the register, any chances of customers posting on coupon sharing sites were eliminated which allowed franchises to control market spend.

Here are a few best practices when it comes to managing coupon liability:

  1. Create Single-Use Codes – For each unique device that is offered a coupon, ensure a different redemption code will be sent and the code will become invalid as soon as it’s redeemed.
  2. Use Unique URLs – Similar to creating different coupon codes, ensure your platform automatically generates unique URLs that cannot be shared from one user to another (even if copied and pasted).
  3. Set Expiration Dates – As a best practice, coupon campaigns should always have a start and end date. To ensure old coupon codes aren’t still circulating, have them expire as soon as the campaign ends.
  4. Use Personalized Messaging – It’s always a good idea to personalize your SMS messaging, but it’s even more so important when presenting coupon offers.
  5. Avoid Distributing Printed Coupons – Unlike mobile coupons, traditional methods for clearing paper coupons cannot be done instantaneously. Also, paper coupons are more susceptible to redistributing and counterfeiting.

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As you know, higher education institutions around the world are using text message updates to stay in communication with students, parents, and graduates. Alumni associations have quickly learned that the best way to stay connected is by strategically integrating text/SMS opt-in forms into their processes.

Here are a couple of ideas and real world examples of effective alumni SMS campaigns.

Alumni Event Updates

Many universities are turning to text message updates to announce upcoming events for their alumni near and far. Events include everything from reunions, to fundraising events. SMS has been an effective solution for not only sending invitations, but also gathering key data from alumni to deliver better events. SMS allows your association to collect votes on the top venues for hosting events, ask about topics for workshops, and collect RSVPs for events too.

Alumni Giving

Alumni choose to give back to their university for a number of reasons. Whether they want to show appreciation for their education, help someone else have a similar experience, or just want to stay connected, alumni are among some of the most generous donors. And once a new class passes graduation, an immediate goal for the university is to quickly get graduates into the habit of giving back. A practical way to build lasting relationships and sustain generosity is to stay in touch with alumni via SMS.  Even for graduates who aren’t willing to make a donation, SMS provides an outlet to ask them to support the school in other ways (such as volunteer opportunities).

Student and Alumni News

More than just event announcements are being sent via text, institutions are using SMS to keep those on and off campus up to date about what’s happening. Schools like the University of Southern Florida invite anyone – students, alumni, and even sports fans – to sign up for the latest USF news. If done really well, this program could even segment news updates so that contacts in the SMS database are only receiving news most pertinent to their interests.

You can segment text message updates with a dialog SMS campaign. Rather than using a basic SMS protocol that replies to the contact with a simple, “Thanks for opting in and stay tuned…,” you can ask a question. Try using  multiple choice question such as, “What kinds of university updates would you like to receive? Sports, Events, Student News, Alumni News, All.” As people reply with their choice, their account in your SMS database will be updated with that preference so you know what information to send to them.

Miami University aims to send only the most relevant news to their alumni by offering chapter-specific updates. When you visit their text message sign-up page, the sign-up form offers you the option to choose a specific alumni chapter to receive text message updates.

SMS Gateway, SMS API, True Dialog SMS, Preferred SMS Solution, Text Message Marketing, SMCS

Updating Alumni Information

As we all know, people move and change jobs on a fairly frequent basis. Mobile numbers are one of the few contact data points that rarely change, making SMS communications vital.

Sometimes we miss the opportunity to gather that mobile phone number while people are still students. Don’t let this opportunity slip by. Lay a foundation today and start communication with students via text. It’ll payoff for years to come.

 

Curious how mobile technology can improve communications in your school? Learn More

 

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There are over 6 billion texts sent via Americans every day, making text messaging the most prevalent form of communication, according to Gallup.  It’s no wonder organizations are jumping on board to use it as another platform to engage with their audience.  But for most of us, the thought of developing a strategy to start texting is just overwhelming.

In an effort to make this subject a bit easier to approach, we’ve compiled a list of a few quick and easy steps that will help get your organization well on its way!

Step 1 – Build Your List

One of the easiest ways to get people to subscribe to your list is to give them a chance to do so at every point of contact.

Brainstorm of all the places you can add your opt-in form.  For example, places like your website, social media accounts, and signature line are great places to start.  Also, train your staff to share the benefits of opting-in with your customers/clients/ network.

Step 2 – Segment Your List

When someone subscribes to your list, be sure to inquire as to how often they’d like to receive messages, and what type of information they want.  Then place them into categories based on these requests.

Segmenting your list will help ensure your audience is getting information that is most useful and relevant to them.  It could mean the difference between being a helpful, educational source, verses being ignored.

Step 3 – Learn Your Subscriber

After you’ve segmented your list based on preferences, take it one step further by personalizing your content.  Overtime, you may be able to analyze demographics, purchase history, and behavioral patterns to tailor your message even further.

Remember, being personable goes a long way when it comes to building your following.  Avoid using robotic and generic language.  Response rates are higher when the message feels as though it is addressed directly to the recipient.

Step 4 – Develop Short and Sweet Messages

With traditional SMS messages, you only have 160 characters to express yourself.  However, the faster you’re able to get to the point of your message, the better.

Before hitting “Send”, reread your message and eliminate any filler words and phrases.  Only include information that is most relevant, and communicate it in plain English.  Avoid capitalizing and abbreviating words, as well as using emoticons.  Keep it simple!

Step 5 – Include Calls-to-Action

The top priority of your SMS marketing program should be to have subscribers that are engaged and interact with the messages you send.  That’s why it’s important to include a clear call-to-action in your message.

If the goal of your message is to encourage your audience to take part in something, spell it out for them.  Make sure to not bury the objective in the message, or add too much fluff.  Also, use “buttons” whenever possible, such as “Click Here.” “Buy Now.” “More Info.”.

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It’s no secret that social media is a huge component in many digital marketing strategies. Social media marketing expenditure in the U.S has reached $7.52 billion dollars (Statista). Virtually every business has some form of social media presence today. To avoid talking to an empty room, marketers use different tactics, such as social media contests and coupons, to measure things like engagement and conversions. But, how do you maximize your social media ROI?

Nearly 80% of social media usage is conducted on a mobile device (Marketing Land). Since social media is already a mobile activity, text (SMS) should be a key element of your social media strategy. When done effectively, Texting can provide valuable insight into how well your social media efforts are converting followers into repeat purchase customers.

Social Media and SMS are the Perfect Pair

social media ROI, social media measurement, social media, sms, social media marketing, mobile marketing

So, how do we put text messaging and social media together? Well, for the most part, it’s similar to using an 800 or vanity number. Businesses can attach a short-code for followers to text into for mobile coupons, contests, or to start a mobile club. Imagine you’re a small burger joint opening  in town. You want to encourage all the locals to try your specialty burgers and prompt them to make a repeat purchase. You can have a keyword for new customers to text in to a short code so they receive a coupon for a free burger when new customers buy fries and a drink. This keyword can be worked into all social media materials from cover photos on Facebook, to a specified hashtag on Twitter, to descriptions on your business’s YouTube videos.

 

Measure Social Media ROI Instantly With Texting

Social media is an instantaneous way to reach a large audience while text messages provides equally instantaneous feedback. While likes and comments are great, they are very passive forms of engagement. A ‘like’ doesn’t always translate into a sale. However, when customers text to your designated short code for a free burger, they are taking that extra step to committing to a purchase.

Promoting your SMS campaign via social media allows a more efficient measure of social media ROI. With a simple text, a marketer can measure a variety of different things about their campaign. A text can serve as a good headcount of active people in your contact list, a way to measure coupon effectiveness, show which keywords are most effective, and more. With True Dialog’s RESTful API, you can easily track outbound texts during the time of your social media campaign. Our API can also be easily integrated into other systems to have one, cohesive place for all marketing measurement.

social media ROI, social media measurement, social media, sms, social media marketing, mobile marketing

Have questions on what SMS can do for your media measurement? Feel free to email us at sales@truedialog.com or call us at 512-501-5940.

 

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Currently, the advertising business in the U.S is worth over $111 billion.  By 2020, revenue from TV and radio advertisement alone is projected to reach $81.7 and $17.68 billion respectively. With so much money circulated around advertising, it is important to make sure that your business’s advertising efforts are effective across your media channels. Vanity numbers, specialized URLs, and other methods are very popular for measuring media effectiveness. However, text messaging can be a valuable media measurement tool as well. With a high open and response rate, low cost implementation, and easy integration, SMS can be a valuable addition to any TV or radio advertisement.

How Does Media Measurement Work With SMS?

It may seem counter-intuitive to use a mobile approach to measure the results of broadcast advertising SMS is not only cost-effective, it  simplifies the overall measurement process. The concept is simple, have a short code associated with your advertisement that allows the viewer to text in when they see it. For example, imagine you’re a restaurant with airspace on all local TV and radio channels. You include a short code in your advertisements that allows viewers to text in and receive a mobile coupon for their next entree. Since people have their cell phones on them 97% of the time, high response is practically guaranteed. This serves as an an instantaneous tally of how many people you’re reaching with your commercial as well as how effective the commercial is.

Kill Multiple Birds With One Smartphone

media measurement, sms solutions, mobile solutions, mobile advertisement

It is easy to see why the benefits of media measurements with SMS are substantial for your business. Let’s return back to the restaurant example. The first benefit of your SMS campaign is the prompting of customers to visit your restaurant with mobile coupons. About 74 million U.S smartphone users utilized mobile coupons in 2015; proving just how valuable they can be. In terms of media measurement, texting provides a few key benefits. As we said before, texting can provide an instantaneous count of how many people are seeing your advertisement at a given time. This means that you can figure out when and where your advertisements have the most impact. Maybe more people text in right before dinner time or around major holidays. Perhaps your commercial does better on stations with more family friendly content. Regardless, SMS makes it easy to see exactly where your advertisement stands.

 

Sources: Statista

 

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Appointment Management With SMS

Can Texting Really Reduce Cancellations by 60%?

How important are meetings with new and existing customers for the health of your business? Although it is a very simple question to answer (hint: it’s very important), appointment management can be a tricky process.

For most business owners, appointment management is easy to maintain. The true challenge is ensuring that clients maintain their end of the bargain.

Late-arrivals and cancellations can be costly for any business. For example, imagine a doctor that owns her own practice. She averages about 10 appointments a day for $200 each. However, she has about five cancellations per week which is a $1,000 loss. By using texting (SMS) for appointment reminders, she can cut down her weekly cancellations to two thus bringing weekly cancellation losses down to only $400.

SMS is a great way to remind customers and clients about their upcoming appointments with your business. It provides the “just in time” reminder that automated emails may miss. In addition, using SMS with scheduling can help so businesses fill the gaps that cancellation leave behind. Whether it’s for a doctor’s appointment in the next few days or hair stylist confirming an appointment after it’s been scheduled, SMS can be an effective way to ensure customers keep their appointments with your business as well as maintain profit goals despite unavoidable cancellations.

 

Clients Never Forget With a Textscheduling management, sms integration, sms gateway, crm integraiton, scheduling software

Did you know that text messaging is the most common smartphone activity in the U.S? The average American sends and receives about 32 text messages a day (Informate).

Since SMS is both used often and checked frequently, it is an effective means for appointment management. Common best practices include:

  • An initial text can be sent immediately or a day after a client schedules an appointment.
  • After confirmation, texts can be sent the day of or multiple times in the days leading up to the appointment.
  • Because of ease of use, clients can easily respond to the text confirmation so they can move or cancel the meeting if needed
  • Having a confirmation text a few days before the appointment can provide time for businesses to fill a spot if a cancellation occurs.

Deployment is a Breeze – SMS & CRM Are Very Compatible

Now that the benefits of SMS to manage appointments are crystal clear, how do you implement it into your existing scheduler? One of the benefits of using SMS for appointment management is how easily it integrates with virtually any CRM or API. This simple integration translates to easy implementation. A gateway SMS campaign can be integrated with a business’s scheduling software application to send triggered alerts to clients with upcoming appointments. Running all scheduling activities through one system reduces the chance of human error and provides a more seamless integration experience.

Most SMS solutions have the integration process mapped out to make implementation easy as possible. For example, the True Dialog integration process happens almost instantaneously – with one phone call we can have you up and running.

 

If you have any questions about using SMS for appointment management, feel free to contact us, we are happy to help.

Happy texting!

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One of the major indicators of success for universities and colleges is student retention. Out of all the first-time, full-time students that enrolled in a 4-year university in fall 2012, 20% didn’t return for fall 2013 (NCES). One of the main reasons students don’t return in the fall is lack of student engagement due to poor communication. Notification emails are effective but, may go unchecked for quite some time. However, SMS can aid in boosting retention rates for many universities by maintaining a direct line of communication between student and university.

SMS for Deadline Remindersstudent engagement, sms solutions, university alert system, university sms

In all the hustle and bustle of everyday student life, it is easy for important deadlines to fly under the radar. Unfortunately, missing important deadlines can drastically affect whether or not a student returns for another semester. Although email is still the preferred method of communication among many universities, it doesn’t boast the immediacy that SMS has. 90% of all texts are opened within 3 minutes, a drastic change from the 47 minutes it takes for 90% email response.

By using a basic SMS campaign, reminder texts can be sent out to students. Since these texts are more likely to be read than email, more students will be better prepared for upcoming deadlines. When students keep up with these important dates, like FAFSA or enrollment deadlines, they are better prepared to return for another semester.

360 Degree Student Engagement

Student engagement goes beyond communications between students and the university. Many university students do more than just study, they also engage in many different activities. SMS can keep students engaged both in and out of the classroom. Professors can utilize an SMS dialog campaign to facilitate class conversations while on-campus organizations, like alumni relations or Greek life, can send mass texts to keep members updated. Essentially, SMS can maintain 360 degree student engagement by simplifying communications from all aspects of student life.

 

Sources: Dynmark, The Atlantic

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Customer engagement is one of the most crucial aspects for running a successful quick service restaurant (QSR). Once a business overcomes the hurdle of building  a clientele, a good customer relationship management (CRM) system can help maintain repeat business and provide valuable feedback for the business owner. So, what is the best way to go about management? One of the best CRM channels for many QSRs and fast casual restaurants (FCs) is SMS.

A Text Can Pull Customers Back Into Your StoreCRM, customer management, sms marketing, mobile marketing, mobile coupon

One of the easiest ways to get customers to make a repeat purchase is by enticing them with coupons. SMS  text in programs can be easily incorporated  into a variety of different marketing materials persuade customers to join your mobile club. Let’s imagine that you own a local pizza place. You want to build your customer database by promoting special deals to encourage customers to make a repeat purchase. Utilizing SMS, customers can text in a unique keyword, like PIZZA, to a designated shortcode. From there, they can receive a unique coupon code that they can redeem in your store for a salad or appetizer with their next pizza purchase. This special keyword can be shared among all your marketing channels, like social media, radio, or Groupon, to make a cohesive marketing experience.

SMS Simplifies Continuous CRM

Once customer relationships are built, it is important to retain them. It is difficult for many businesses to find that sweet spot for maintaining customer relations. On one hand they don’t want to be too overbearing, but they also don’t want to be forgettable. SMS can provide a great solution to maintain profitable customer retention among QSRs. It not only provides direct communication to customers, it also simplifies the entire CRM process. An SMS coupon campaign can be used to deliver weekly or monthly specials and get customers to come back. For example, Chipotle’s mobile club texts their members about 1-2 times a month offering BOGO entrees or other free items with next purchase. Since it is only twice a month, it is not overwhelming for their customers and provides incentive for people to make keep making repeat purchases.

 

 

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