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Court Rules in Favor of Carriers in Text Price Fixing Case

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Recently a federal judge out of Illinois ruled in favor of wireless carriers in a controversial text messaging price-fixing case. Though the evidence appeared to weigh heavily against the wireless carriers in the form of suspect emails, opportunities for collusion, price increases in tandem, and expert testimony, it was not enough to convince the judge of actual collusion between the companies. The summary judgment of the court cited that the plaintiffs’ myriad arguments were insufficient to prove conspiracy – a tactic employed in the past by lawyers in antitrust cases – so the court’s rejection of the case is worth mentioning.

As you may have noticed, the price of a text message doubled between 2005 and 2008. The plaintiffs claimed that these increases were the result of collusion between wireless carriers. In one example, they mentioned an email from one company’s officer to another. This email appeared to have collusive and opportunistic overtones. There were instances of circumstantial evidence as well: well-timed trade group meetings between the companies in addition to the price increases at these companies occurring at the same time were cited as possibilities, with expert witnesses backing up their evidence.

The court official wouldn’t budge, even after the plaintiff’s supposedly significant evidence. The email was disregarded: though the official was an informed employee, there was no direct evidence of collusion present in his correspondence. In addition, there was no evidence that the trade group meetings contained any dialogue about collusion whatsoever. Furthermore, the price increases enacted by the wireless companies were spread out over the course of at least a year, showing that the increases didn’t actually happen at precisely the same time. The plaintiffs merely presented evidence that hinted at the conclusion of conspiracy, but this was not enough to prove that these companies colluded with one another.

There are consequences for the Illinois judge’s summary statement. Since the plaintiffs couldn’t prove their case in the end, this judgment creates a precedent for any other antitrust conspiracy cases. Several instances of circumstantial evidence coupled with expert witnesses proved to be insufficient to prove the defendants’ guilt in the matter – on the contrary, the arguments read as trite inculpation to the judge. In the future, these types of evidence will likely be thrown out of court or ignored by judges, requiring plaintiffs to have hard evidence to prove the existence of collusion in these cases.

Push Techniques & Your Mobile Marketing Strategy

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Cell phones are rarely out of reach of their owners. For mobile marketing campaign managers, the question isn’t ‘can we reach consumers via their smartphone’ – we already know the answer to that – but rather, ‘how can we best reach individual consumers via their smartphone.’

Most successful mobile marketing campaigns use push notifications, SMS messaging or a combination of both. Each has it’s own set of pros and cons, which vary according to industry. Deciding when to use push notifications versus SMS is one of the key decisions you’ll make when devising a mobile marketing strategy.

Push notifications can yield a decisive ROI when smartly executed. Data from tech startup Urban Airship indicates that push notifications can prompt a 540% increase in daily app opens and a 30% increase in social media sharing. If you’re looking to communicate information and updates about a product to existing app customers, push notifications are where it’s at.

According to data collated by Responsys, 68% of people who download a brand’s app opt in to receive push notifications, but their power goes beyond apps. It’s true that most push notifications are delivered to mobile devices, but they are expanding to reach desktops, e-readers – even car dashboards. Some analysts predict that by 2020, the number of web-connected devices will reach 75 billion. With an average of ten points-of-internet-access per person, champions of the push notification are salivating at the possibilities.

It’s not all wine and roses. Like SMS messaging, push notifications should be used sparingly for maximum impact. Remember, notifications can be switched off. And unlike SMS, users don’t even need to unsubscribe in order to stop receiving them. Diehard app lovers are notoriously fickle; once the number of apps they use reaches a critical mass, they become more inclined to demote their least favorite. Avoid bombarding customers with notifications and you’re less likely to fall prey to a push cull. To minimize the number of users switching off, the trick is to walk that fine line between remaining on someone’s radar, and simply irritating them.

Bear in mind too that smartphone penetration is deep but they’re not the only game in town. A third of Americans own cell phones that are not smartphones. That’s a significant market. Those consumers can’t use apps, ans SMS is the only way to reach them, so if the bulk of your target audience is yet to adopt a smartphone, forget about push notifications and concentrate your mobile marketing strategy on SMS.

An effective mobile marketing strategy is all about balance. Balance between push notifications and SMS messaging. Balance between apps and mobile friendly content. Walking that tightrope is the difference between getting noticed and shouting to an empty room.

 

Apple’s ‘Reuse and Recycle’ Prices Falling

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Earlier this month, Apple quietly made a few key changes to its ‘Reuse and Recycle’ program. The lack of ceremony surrounding the changes are easily explained: it’s not particularly good news for customers.

Customers in Canada and the United States will now get less money for trading in their iPhone. The new top value is $225, versus the former rate of $270. Go back two years and Apple were offering up to $345 for a pristine iPhone 4S (then the latest model). The new pricing plan is the lowest since the program was launched.

Even with the higher prices on offer, Apple’s recycling scheme was one of the least-trumpeted aspects of their business. Many iPhone users remain completely ignorant of its existence. It works like this:

  • An Apple customer goes to the Apple Store and asks to trade in their older phone for a new, on-contract model.
  • The Apple Store rep keys in the customer’s existing iPhone details using their EasyPay device (those neat mobile touch screen gizmos you see reps clutching).
  • Based on the information entered, a value for the old iPhone is given to the customer. Metrics include display quality, button quality, overall hardware damage, liquid damage and functionality.
  • The Apple Store rep lets the customer know they cannot get their original phone back, and they should back up any info they need.
  • The customer gets a new iPhone and a gift card with the agreed-upon value pre-loaded to go towards the new device.
  • The old phone is placed in a plastic bag, and the old SIM card is given to the customer while the employee sets up the new iPhone.

According to Apple, recycled iPhones are only re-sold in the United States, although they’ve not ruled out expanding the program to international markets. Despite launching the scheme to little fanfare, the tech giant did assert its commitment at the time, stating:

SMS Isn’t Spoiling Grammar

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Since the dawn of the text message, there has been an overarching fear that SMS would spell doom for the grammatical climate of the future generations. But apparently, this is not the case.

In a recent study at Coventry University in Britain, researchers examined both the text messages and the grammar tests of over 240 students from elementary school, high school, and college. This study was designed to show the rate of change (if any) over the course of a year of texting and testing, and it produced some surprising results.

Initially, the participants were asked to submit their texts from the last two days, verbatim. Naturally, the text messages were missing proper punctuation and capitalization. Words were omitted here and there, others were enjambed as in the case of “hafta” and “tryna,” and within the texts there were several instances of initialisms (e.g., lol, smh). The participants were also asked to complete a series of tasks to show their skill levels in grammar and spelling.

After a year had passed, this entire process was repeated.

The research group found little or no correlation between the grammatical violations in text messages and their test scores. On the contrary, they found that students’ abilities to go back and forth between their “textisms” and actual correct grammar evidenced their enhanced literacy skills. The researchers, Nenagh Kemp, Clare Wood, and Sam Waldron, found that primary and high school students actually had faster spelling development.

College level students also proved to have better spelling after a year. Unfortunately, the lack of capitalization and proper punctuation presaged poorer performance on spoken and written grammar tests for these students. The correlation was too weak, however, to attribute this deficiency to texting alone.

The results of this test shouldn’t be that surprising, though. Previous studies have shown that when young students “play with language” they tend to have stronger reading and spelling skills. Also, studies have proven that when students choose to break tradition with grammatical convention, they consequently strengthen their grammar skills.

All in all, this study shows that grammatical violations in text messages do not reveal a decline in knowledge of grammar for people of any age. Even the youngest students in the study recognized the difference between “textisms” and actual writing. For the time being, there is no need to fear—provided everyone remains aware of the difference between these texting exemptions and grammatically-correct writing.

3 Data Driven Tips for Your Mobile Marketing Campaign

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In 2013, mobile e-commerce was valued at $43 billion, and mobile traffic comprised nearly half of all website visits during the first quarter of 2014. It’s no wonder mobile marketing campaign managers are investing more and more in mobile marketing tactics that not only boosts their ROI, but also gathers data to help them create even better campaigns in the future.

Harrying all this impressive data into an effective mobile marketing strategy is no mean feat. There are a few things you can do to leverage the power of all the mobile usage data flying around into a positive marketing plan. Sticking to the numbers gathered by recent E-Commerce Pulse research, here are some truly data driven ideas for your next mobile marketing campaign:

Be Direct

Direct traffic is the most significant source of sales for mobile, with close to a third of all sales coming from shoppers converting while on their device. Increasingly, users are bypassing search and heading straight for the source – particularly on mobile devices with a wide range of helpful apps. To optimize this potential, be sure that your landing pages (at least) are all mobile friendly, and that the checkout process is as smooth as possible.

Don’t Forget SEM

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is thought to be responsible for 24.8% of tablet conversions during 2013. But it drives little more than half that amount on mobile – a reflection of the challenges inherent to small screen devices. On the one hand, you might think it’s not worth bothering with something that offers such a low conversion rate, but how about some blue sky thinking here? Why not up the ante: make your mobile user experience so easy that those conversions start hitting.

Social: Small but Significant

On mobile, social accounts for more orders than on desktop or tablet (68% of Facebook time and 86% of Twitter time is spent on mobile, according to the Wall Street Journal). Nevertheless, the overall sales earned, owned and paid via social media is still a small share of all mobile orders, so your mobile marketing campaign should take this into account. Social channels function more as an brand awareness generator, and a touchpoint for your business, rather than a primary point of sale, so choose your tracking metrics with this in mind. 

The mobile e-commerce market is poised to hit $50 billion in sales this year, so it’s increasingly important that retailers continue to invest in mobile marketing budgets. By gathering data from as many individual platforms as possible, you can create a single, ‘joined up’ brand experience across all platforms.

3 Effective Negative Marketing Strategies

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Though it must undoubtedly be tempered by positivity and come attached with something of real value to the consumer, ‘negative marketing’ can be one of the most compelling ways to engage an audience. Whether it’s self-effacement, common enemies, or simply a list of the wrong way to go about things, spinning the ever-sunny face of web and mobile marketing into a scowl can work wonders for driving traffic.

Almost every industry should consider using it as part of their mobile marketing tactics, but many companies are hesitant to adopt such a potentially risky strategy. Last week we looked at the reasons why negative marketing, when done right, is so effective. Today, examine a few specific negative marketing methods…

1) Negative Titles

One only has to spend five minutes looking at clickbait headlines that pepper the web to spot two common patterns. One tactic is something we like to call ‘Inducing Incredulity’ – those titles that read ‘You Won’t BELIEVE What Happened After This Cat Ate Spaghetti’ or ‘This Free Weight Loss Method is HATED By Doctors.’ The pot of gold promised at the end of those link rainbows is always profoundly empty, and you’re left kicking yourself for trusting any content with such a profligate attitude to capital letters.

The other common – and far superior - approach to headlines is to present articles from a negative angle. Let’s say there’s a news piece about crime statistics in the United States, and you have a choice of two headlines: i)’Most Crime-Free Cities’ or ii)’Worst Cities for Crime’ – the content is precisely the same, but guess which title will generate the most clicks? It works just as well for lifestyle advice articles. Instead of ‘How to Roast the Perfect Chicken’ go for ‘How to Get Roast Chicken Wrong’. It may not be the most flattering comment on human nature, but the fact is, negative headlines translate into more clicks.

2) Shared Experiences

Creating brand loyalty relies on bonding with your audience, and one way to do this is by sharing negative experiences with them. If you can tap into an emotional touchpoint in an unexpected way, your reader will think of you as less of a corporate powerhouse and more of a friend. This is an especially effective mobile marketing strategy to launch your campaign with, as it puts you on an even footing with consumers, letting them know you share their pain. However, once you’ve created that bond based on shared negative experiences, it’s important to shift the tone to more positive, solution-oriented content.

3) Self Effacement

Nobody likes a braggart. That’s as true for businesses as it is for individuals, and whilst every company needs to ‘big themselves up’ in some way, a touch of self-deprecation is a really attractive way to get attention. Sharing your mistakes will make you seem more human, plus, if you do make a slip up, you can be the first to condemn yourself (before the blogosphere pounces). As long as your product or service is unimpeachable, you can afford to poke a little fun at your logo, CEO, or recent advertising campaign. 

From Zero to Hero: How Mobile Revolutionized Planet Marketing

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Mobile marketing has gone stratospheric since the advent of the smartphone, but it’s been around in some form or another for more than 20 years. SMS messaging gave marketers a whole new channel to pursue during the 90s, when cell phone ownership first became widespread. Now, with text messages the most commonly read form of communication, advertisers are cautiously rediscovering the possibilities of SMS marketing.

But mobile marketing is about much more than SMS. The smartphone age has seen to that by putting the power and connectivity of a desktop computer into the palms, pockets and handbags of almost everyone in the western world. Some inroads were made into serious, non-SMS mobile marketing tactics during BlackBerry’s first flush of success in the early noughties, but when the first iPhone hit stores in 2007, marketing execs really sat up and began to take notice. 

As developers clamored to create apps to go along with Apple’s devices, the first wave of modern mobile marketing tactics began to take shape. The focus was very much on volume, and publishers relied largely on getting high app store chart rankings in order to gain visibility. Marketing efforts were all about short-term gains, with the main objective to generate as many downloads as early as possible in order to climb the charts. Quantity reigned supreme over quality.

These early years of app/mobile marketing were dominated by incentivized downloads – something Apple continued to allow until April 2011, despite the obvious credibility problems. Tracking performance was problematic. Platform regulations were loose, and developers took full advantage; it was essentially a land grab, the Old West of app and mobile marketing. 

By 2012, developers began thinking about the possibilities of quality and performance tracking. CPI-based campaigns gathered steam and, and better quality tracking was sought. For their part, Apple tightened its rules, clamping down on people accused of gaming the chart system by using bot farms to generate inauthentic downloads.

Around the same time, publishers became more data-focused, integrating in-app analytics software to collect metrics like usage, engagement, retention and monetization potential. There was a growing focus on high-quality user experience – but mostly with the objective of retaining customers for the medium-term.

That all began to change over the last 18 months, as a new climate took hold in the tech world. The shift is now overwhelmingly moving in the direction of stellar quality, as mobile marketing campaign managers realize that acquiring new users, even for a pittance, is not sensible unless they are retained, engaged, and monetized. Against that backdrop, some unlikely transactions have taken place – such as the $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook – but there is no doubt that the app world has raised it’s game. With GPS technology and other location-based tools fast improving, the future of mobile marketing is unpredictable, but undeniably exciting.

 

 

Mobile to Surpass Print Advertising in the UK

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According to a forecast by eMarketer, mobile advertising spending will soon overtake traditional print ads. The report predicts mobile spending to grow by a staggering 96% this year, hitting £2.02bn. That’s still a shade behind the forecast print spend of £2.06bn, but the report anticipates mobile ad spend will be worth £4.5bn in 2016. The UK’s total digital advertising market is forecast to be worth £7.25bn by the end of this year, growing to £8.64bn by 2016.

This rapid growth reflects the widespread adoption of secondary mobile devices used in conjunction with smartphones. By 2018, 50% of Brits are expected to own an iPad, Kindle or other tablet.

The eMarketer report states: 

“Continued robust growth in the mobile channel is driving the bulk of [overall] digital ad growth in the UK. The dramatic growth of mobile and video ad expenditures will boost digital ad spending throughout the forecast period.”

This “mobile mushroom” is showing no signs of letting up. The numbers are truly dramatic: compare the £7.25bn valuation put on the market today with the £83m from four years ago and you get an idea of just how seismic this shift is. Mobile advertising will account for nearly 30% of all digital ad spending in 2014, according to the report.

So what’s prompted such an explosion in mobile marketing campaign spending? Most analysts agree that, in the UK at least, a strong economy, with the pound ringfenced from the worst effects of the Eurozone crisis, has instilled confidence in consumers. Plus, the efficacy of mobile marketing tactics are easy to track compared with traditional channels, causing advertisers to turn away from print (the report also predicts that the newspaper and magazine market will lose £276m in ad spend between 2014 and 2018).

A similar story is playing out on this side of the pond, with mobile spending accounting for 22.5% of all digital ad investments in 2013. A study conducted last year – also by eMarketer – indicated worldwide growth of mobile web ad spending had exceeded 100% by the year’s end, with mobile accounting for 15.2% of digital ad dollars spent globally.

The implications for your mobile marketing strategy are clear. Firstly, track the results of your print and mobile marketing campaign. Secondly, compare and contrast the success rates of your digital campaign and your traditional print campaign. If recent analysis is correct, you’ll find more and more consumers are turning to mobile to browse commercial prospects. Once that happens, you can adjust your budget accordingly, and start reaping the benefits of mobile.