Advertising

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February 05, 2016

Can Mobile Tech Solve Long Lines at the Grocery Store?

 

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Retailers are regularly on the lookout for ways to improve the customer experience and cut costs—if there’s a way to do both at the same time, that’s even better. One emerging trend in this area involves utilizing mobile technology to help expedite certain transactions. Tech companies, restaurant chains, clothing stores, and more businesses have implemented cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) systems in an effort to reduce long lines and other potentially problematic retail behaviors.

 

What Is a Cloud-based POS System?

 

Traditionally, when you go to the grocery store, the final step in your customer service journey includes the interaction you have with a checker tending a stationary till at the front of the store. The number of checkers and cash registers is limited by the resources available. As a result, customers might have to wait in long lines to make their purchases. If this sounds like a familiar scene, you’re not alone.

 

What is less familiar (but currently growing in popularity) is the mobile POS system, which manages transactions and other customer-related actions exclusively online. As a result, the transaction is accessed remotely using a mobile technology device like a smartphone, tablet, or iPad. 

 

Is a Cloud-based POS System Safe? 

 

Customers not accustomed to making purchases online might find the mobile POS a little intimidating, especially if they’re fearful of online corruption or attacks. For customers who are comfortable with making online purchases, the process is only slightly different from buying goods at popular online retailers like Amazon or eBay. 

 

For customers, cloud-based POS systems are just as secure as traditional transaction methods. Security features include encryptions and fire walls to protect incoming and outgoing personal data. 

 

From a retailer’s perspective, the shift to a mobile POS system actually mitigates some risk of fraudulent activity. In the future, credit card companies are expected to make good on all purchases (even fraudulent purchases) so long as the vendor has upgraded to a mobile system. 

 

A Better Customer Experience 

 

One of the greatest advantages of using a mobile POS is that customers can make purchases from anywhere in the store. Moreover, with sales associates standing by, customers can get answers and assistance for a broader range of needs, including inventory, warranty specifics, price checks, and more. 

 

By making this information mobile, retailers stand to save money on overhead while simultaneously making more money on the sales floor. Imagine how much potential business is lost because a customer doesn’t want to wait in line to ask an inventory question. By offering a mobile solution, associates can deliver expedited service to customers that would otherwise never make it to checkout. Meanwhile, giving sales associates more flexibility on the floor will make them more productive and likely reduce the number of required sales associates.  

It’s not a matter of if retailers will decide to make the switch to mobile POS; it’s really a matter of when. Several retailers have already made the transition and are offering customers a wide range of transaction options like mobile receipts and quicker checkout times. As the technology develops further, this trend will become as prolific as retail stores themselves, ultimately changing the way we do business on a daily basis. 

 

January 31, 2016

The Best Ways to Monetize Apps

 

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Knowing which monetizing strategy will work best for a mobile app is like trying to figure out what’s in the secret sauce atop your favorite burger. You can see bits and pieces of familiar condiments and spices, but when you try to make it at home, it’s never exactly the same. Maybe that’s because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, or secret sauce, for monetizing apps. 

As strange or cliché as this hamburger analogy sounds, it’s safe to say that most burger recipes are uniquely their own; and that’s typically the way all successful apps find their way to the top of the charts. Creating a unique app is most certainly the first step in creating a viable monetization strategy—your secret sauce—and your ticket to a wildly successful app. 

If no two apps are exactly the same, it’s logical to assume that no two apps make money in exactly the same way either. There is, however, a good chance that most successful apps use similar strategies, in a variety of combinations, to optimize strengths and dull app weaknesses. Understanding which mobile marketing strategy - or combination of mobile marketing strategies - will be most effective for your brand is a core requirement for success. 

Here’s a look at some of the best ways to monetize apps using popular strategies. Think of these techniques like you would ingredients to the secret sauce on your burger. Ask yourself what works best with your app, and try combinations until you’ve made something delicious…I mean profitable. 

 

Freemium Apps 

It’s a play on words, and it also accounts for 93 percent of all downloaded apps in 2015. Freemium apps are just what they sound like—they’re free. So, in order to use this ingredient effectively, your app had better offer a premium, or upgraded version, for a small fee. 

This strategy only works well, though, when there are clear advantages to the paid version; it also has be to a first-rate, highly useable, and addictive app. If this sounds like your burger, then feel free to say it’s free; but be sure you’ve got a better version of the app available for purchase. 

 

In-app Purchases

Depending on the meat of your app—the genre, if you will—in-app purchases are a great seasoning to add. The trick here is to make a game that’s highly addictive and charge users small fees to enhance their addictive experience with features like profile personalization, game currency, or increased usage. 

Once a user makes the first purchase, he or she is usually hooked. Game apps like Candy Crush Saga made an estimated $630 thousand a day with this technique. You can, too, if you make an appetizing app. 

 

In-app Advertising

Think of in-app advertising like you would an assertive spice blend—use too much, and your burger is ruined. Successful in-app advertising does two things: compliments multiple ad networks and functions within well-designed ad space. 

In other words, in-app advertising should not be the only revenue source holding your app together. Additionally, thoughtful and strategic ad placement is very important to the ad’s success. An occasional banner add at the bottom of your favorite app isn’t so bad; pop-up ads flashing across your smartphone screen every 30 seconds are not the way to go. 

 

Sponsorship 

Finally, sponsorship is a great way to offer products or services most relevant to your consumer. Prominently displayed sponsors will pay for both impressions and clicks if this strategy is implemented correctly. 

The important thing to remember about this monetizing tactic is that what you’re selling, and when, is critical to the user’s experience and general acceptance of the advertisement. 

For example, the RunKeeper fitness app partnered with third party Kiip to showcase products that would appeal most to runners, particularly during times the app was aware the runner had just started or completed a run. Timing is everything, and sponsorship monetization needs that and good products to be successful. 

Building your app’s unique monetization strategy will require some trial and error; but the payout for the time investment can make all the difference in your journey. What’s in your secret sauce?

January 25, 2016

Google Play Now Offering Promo Code Support for Apps

 

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The introduction of discounts, special offers, and promotional codes was never about saving consumers money. Retailers are more interested in getting bodies through the door than they are with customers’ financial standings. By rewarding customers with exclusive offers that result in even a tiny bit of savings, stores can get consumers to spend more than they would without the offer. And what’s more exclusive than a promotional code? Promo codes are like secret passwords that open the door to savings—and American’s love them. 

But guess who didn’t have a promo code feature built into its online app store? 

Google, that's who.

It’s rare that anyone gets a chance to point out missteps by the technology behemoth. Now, Google has finally equipped its Android app store to make good on some long awaited discounts. 

Apple has been using promo codes in the App Store for years; meanwhile Google showed little interest in expediting the technology. And now that it’s here, there are some curious limitations: the codes can’t be used for in-app subscriptions, and developers have to ration 500 codes per quarter. 

 

What will those poor developers do?

All kidding aside, there are some lucrative reasons why consumers (and developers) should be excited about this better-late-than-never leap forward by Google.

For starters, consumers stand to save money (albeit a small amount) and experience apps they may have otherwise missed when browsing. By giving these codes out to family and friends, developers can encourage small but relevant growth—and also gain valuable feedback from small groups of users.  

 

Great Growth Opportunities

The potential for growth is huge. Gaming apps are the bread and butter of both the App Store and Google Play. But that doesn’t mean other industries won’t benefit as well. 

However, this is really about marketing products and convincing people to act. Moreover, the exclusivity of the limited time promo code is a force to be reckoned with. 

In addition to improving marketing efforts, the promo code will also serve as a conduit to test freemium games among the media, while providing more objectivity to app reviews. This has little intrigue for the general public, but could be a huge advantage for developers looking to get feedback on newly emerging apps. 

Remember, as appealing as the promo code is, it’s just another tool marketers will use to promote their products. Why Google is so unfashionably late to this party, it’s hard to say. 

As consumers, keep an eye out for these special offers and see for yourself whether it’s worth the time and energy to save with a secret code. 

 

November 29, 2015

6 of the Best Cyber Monday Deals

 

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For retail junkies across the country, Cyber Monday is the most wonderful time of the year. Shoppers wait in long lines, brave giant crowds, and fight their way to checkout with dreams of scooping up the best deals of the season. 

The best way to ensure you make the most of your shopping time during Cyber Monday is to plan ahead and make selections well before you hit the retail road. There’s no time to browse and compare prices on the big day, so building a list ahead of time is the best way to save time and money. Here’s a list of six Cyber Monday bargains you’ll want on your shopping list in 2015:

 

Apple MacBook Air (11.6-inch screen) - $720

It’s true—great things do come in small packages. That’s especially true with this offer from online retailer eBay. Apple products are notoriously expensive and rarely go on sale, but you can scoop up this featherweight laptop for a cool $720 this weekend, a 20 percent savings off the usual retail price. 

 

Selfie Stick - $2.99

You may not take selfies, but everyone in your family and circle of friends does! This deal featured at Five Below discount stores is a simple and affordable gift for just about everyone you know. The stick comes with an AUX cable and fits most smartphones. 

 

Camera-Equipped Quadcopter - $50

For only $50, this kid-friendly, remote-controlled aircraft has a built-in camera so pilots can get a birds-eye view from up to 260 feet away. Regularly priced at $150, this gift will soar above the rest this holiday season. You’ll find this bargain at JCPennys across the country this shopping weekend.

 

Kindle (Paperwhite) - $50

Amazon makes the backlit Paperwhite Kindle irresistible this holiday season at the low price of only $50. This is a great opportunity to scoop up one for yourself, if you’ve never enjoyed an e-reader before, or share your love of reading with family and friends at nearly 40% off the regular price. 

 

Xbox One: Gears of War Bundle - $300 + Target Gift Card 

There’s a lot of sales to choose from as far as the Xbox One is concerned, but this year it looks like Target has its competitors beat. In addition to $50 off the regular retail price, this bundle includes the latest Gears of War game, as well as a $60 Target gift card for you or to be used as another gift. 

 

Samsung 65-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV - $1,888

What Black Friday shopping list would be complete without an insanely big TV? This Samsung Smart TV, available on eBay, is the granddaddy of deals this holiday season at only $1,888. While that’s a bit much for a stocking stuffer, if you’re in the market for a new TV this year, this is a great opportunity to grab a quality device for well below retail value. This 65-inch TV normally goes for $4,000.

So, there you have it: six of the best Cyber Monday deals in 2015. Once you’ve made your list and checked it twice, you’ll be well on your way to savings. 

November 20, 2015

Swrve Raises $30m

 

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Last week, mobile marketing software company Swrve raised $30 million in funding to further the company’s goal of global expansion and product development. To date, the company has raised more than $50 million, with this latest round led by Evolution Media Partners and Irish investment firm TPG Growth and Participant Media. 

The funding money was a huge victory for Swrve and its CEO Christopher Dean, who recently helped acquire adaptive.io, a data automation platform for mobile. 

With help from the latest round, Swrve and adaptive.io are positioned to roll out the latest produce line called Swrve Amplify, which allows clients to manage multichannel campaigns with real-time targeting data. 

“We’re excited about the simplicity of Swrve Amplify in allowing us to make real-time decisions based on all of our data sets,” said Dean. 

What he’s referring to is a combination of predictive analytics, which contain an evolving behavioral algorithm that predicts user behavior, segmentation, AB testing, and in-app messaging. The sum of these parts has resulted in the California-based company’s major success; today Swrve is considered the word’s leading mobile marking automation platform. 

In 2015, Swrve made considerable headway in terms of building out its client portfolio. Earlier this year, Swrve added The Guardian, Condé Nast, Glamsquad, Warner Brothers, and Microsoft to a growing client list.

 

Important Mobile Developments

“Mobile has reached a point where brands and games can’t ignore it,” said Dean. 

In addition to improving and simplifying omnichannel communications, Swrve is attempting to fully measure the app user’s collective behavior online as a distinct category of activity from the spectrum of devices and channels we choose (or don’t choose) to interact with every day. 

The end game is a more sophisticated advertising and marketing strategy for business, and what will hopefully result in more meaningful and relevant content for users. 

With the addition of $30 million, Dean and Swrve have found a bit of breathing room to let the innovation process begin. 

November 14, 2015

What Are 'Mobile Moments' and How Can They Help My Mobile Marketing Strategy?

 

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Christmas shopping used to be a hectic business. Typically, a day or two was set aside sometime in between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve - depending on how organized you were - in order to head to the mall and fight the crowds for the ever-dwindling supply of gifts. 

In the age of the smartphone, everything has changed. From browsing to buying, every stage of a transaction can now be performed on a mobile device. According to recent Google research, 54% of holiday shoppers will use their smartphones to shop throughout the season, and smartphone-based commerce has gone up by 64% over the last year. In fact, almost a third of all online purchases now happen on mobile phones.

So how can your mobile marketing strategy benefit from this continuing trend towards smartphone commerce? The key is understanding how people use their devices. 

A recent study claimed that people use their smartphones as many as 150 times in a single day, spending around a minute on each ‘session.’ A rounded mobile marketing campaign will tackle each and every kind of activity: text messages, emails, social media and web searches. Because each session is typically so brief, the trick is capitalize on these ‘mobile moments.’ 

Mobile moments - or micro moments - are those brief snatches of time when people turn to their smartphone in order to take a specific action, like finding the answer to a question, booking a plane ticket, downloading an app or buying something online. Mobile users approaching these moments have an express, immediate intent. That intent may be to buy. It may be to browse, or compare user reviews. But whatever the reason shoppers turn to their phones, your business should take the opportunity to be there - and be useful. Here’s how:

 

Comprehensive Online Listings

Google’s research shows consumers are 38% more likely to visit and 29% more likely to buy from companies whose online directory listings are complete, up-to-date, and accurate. Further, you should regularly update the listings with seasonal info and include images and business hours. The more information you can parlay in your listings, the better.

 

Predict Expectations

The digital marketplace is a diffuse, niche-led realm, and users will respond to a wide variety of different messages. The key to a successful mobile marketing plan is recognizing which message will have the most impact on which user. For text message sign ups, location-based notifications are a solid way of reaching potential customers at the moment they’re most likely to buy. Throw in a discount, and suddenly you have a customer with two compelling reasons to visit your outlet: 1)they’ll save money, and 2) they’re within walking distance. 

 

Take Advantage of the Holiday Season

Many retailers live and die by Q4, when the annual spending bonanza kicks in, with more people buying more stuff than at any other time of year. That’s why now - before Thanksgiving - is the perfect time to implement changes to your mobile marketing strategy. Invest in a mobile friendly website and start promoting festive deals so you can hit the New Year with a running start.

November 01, 2015

Mobile Helps Propel UK Adspend to Record Highs

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According to the Advertising Association/Warc, UK ad spending hit a record high in 2015. Spending increased by 5.8% to reach £9.42bn in the first half of the year, and mobile is predicted to exceed the billion-pound barrier for the first time. Digital channels remain the force behind this growth, as Internet spending is up 13.3% for H1 to £3.9bn. Mobile makes up 79% of this growth, with ad spending increasing more than 52% to £1.08bn. 

Growth is noticeable throughout the industry, including both television and cinema forms. Only print has seen a decrease in revenue. 

“Advertising’s resilience points to the strength of the broader economy in the first half,” said Tim Lefroy, chief executive at the Advertising Association. “The UK leads the world in eCommerce and the trend to mobile means serving the public better ads in the right place at the right time.”

Ad spending is expected to demolish the £20bn barrier in 2016, with the Advertising Association’s media breakdown is as follows:  

  • Radio: Radio ad spending decreased by 2.2% to £116m in Q2, branded content excluded. Full-year growth is expected at 3.0% in 2015, and 2.3% with branded content included.
  • TV: Spot advertising “recorded solid YOY growth of 2.9% to £1,144m in Q2, compared to a quarter in which the FIFA World Cup was held last year.” TV spot advertising also enjoyed a fantastic Q1 via ad revenues rising to 11.5%. An “increase of 6.7% is forecast for 2015 as a whole.” 
  • Out of Home: YOY growth was strong at the beginning of 2015 with an increase of 9.7% in Q1, though it decreased 3.6% to £249m in Q2. 
  • Regional Newsbrands: These newsbrands saw a decline of 7.2% in ad spend in Q2 2015 compared to 2014. This “represents a 12.1% drop for print (to £246m) and a 24.0% increase for digital revenues (to £55m).” 
  • National Newsbrands: Print ad revenue decreased by a staggering 19.2% Q2 2015 to £239m. Digital ad spending, in comparison, increased 5.9% to £51m.
  • Magazine Brands: Ad spending declined by 6.8% in Q2. Print advertising saw a 11.0% decline to £168m, while digital saw an increase of 5.2% to £70m. 
  • Internet: Internet ad spending included a 12.8% increase in Q2 2015, which was followed by “revised growth of 13.9% in Q1 (+1.1pp).” Mobile made up 79% of total internet growth during H1, resulting in ad spending of £1,079m (up 52.1%). 

Cinema and direct mail ad spending saw increases as well. Separate Advertising Association research indicated the UK as the biggest mobile advertising spenders in Europe, and the third-highest spenders in the world following the United States and China. 

October 17, 2015

3 Ways Mobile Has Influenced Social Media

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Where would social media be without mobile? On-demand access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram et al has made us take it for granted. For many social media addicts, anything less than hourly engagement is punishing. Smartphones have satisfied (or pandered to, depending on your perspective) this urge for constant connectivity.  

B2B marketers who are new to digital marketing may feel clueless about how to launch a mobile marketing campaign. To help you get started, we’re going to take a look at the key ways in which mobile technology has influenced the way people interact with social media, and offer some tips on how to capitalize on this shift in online habits:

 

Mobile is Mainstream

Mobile is no longer the ‘alternative’ to desktop browsers. According to social media mogul Jeff Bullas, 71% of social media users access their network via a mobile device. This trend has been heading steadily skyward since the first web-enabled small-screen devices hit the market, and social networks have responded accordingly. The most effective mobile marketing strategy will reflect this. 

Budget permitting, a dedicated mobile app is best, but it’s quite possible to optimize an existing website in a mobile-friendly fashion. The columnated design of major social networks like Facebook were conceived, in large part, with this in mind. Be sure to use a visually striking header image, and make the bio section an attention-grabbing tagline capable of communicating your core brand message. In addition, use highly shareable, rich media content like videos and images.

 

Cache has Cache

Print media is no longer the king of the crop in terms of credibility. Social networks and online sources are by far the most common ways people consume news. For B2B marketers, becoming a credible source of industry news is a really good way to extend your reach. Become a ‘thought leader’ on your industry, using primary sources from within and without your own company. It could be interviews with experts or direct coverage of industry events - anything original that will appeal to readers and make them more likely to share your content across their own networks.

 

Intuition Breeds Loyalty

The easier your promotional efforts are to engage with, the better the user experience will be. Interactive ads ask for feedback and involvement from users, which in turn solidifies brand recognition: the longer a person spends with your marketing, the more familiar with and loyal to your brand they’ll become. Similarly, native ads (those that appear as regular, non-marketing content) generally offer greater value. The more immersive the experience, the less likely users are to switch off. Approach your content in as creative a way as possible. Avoid sales-speak. Talk to your audience as people, not cash-cows waiting to be milked.

Think a little differently, without a transparently profit-driven approach, and the long-term benefits will be far greater than an old-school aggressive sales pitch. In an age of endless, free content at the click of a button, an effective mobile marketing campaign is one that puts the user first. 

October 15, 2015

Mobile Marketing for the Over 65s

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The huge disparity between the amount of attention marketers pay to the over-65s, and the spending power of that demographic should give brands with an eye for opportunity pause for thought.  

There are two main misconceptions about older audiences. One, that they have already defined their brand loyalties and so aren’t worth chasing; two, that they aren’t tech savvy enough to engage with a social media or mobile marketing campaign.  

In terms of brand loyalty, it may be true that baby boomers retain allegiances to familiar brands. But their sheer spending power allows them to explore new products and services without sacrificing loyalty to brands they’ve used for 20 years. It’s not an either-or situation.

On the second point: this view may have been true a decade ago, but a 65 year old in 2015 was only in their mid-forties when the Internet Age got under way, and although the digital landscape has changed somewhat since then, we’re hardly talking about fuddy-duddies here. This generation were some of the earliest adopters of mobile technology. They understand how it works.

In fact, Pew research reckons close to 40 million over-65s have a Facebook or Twitter profile, making them the fastest growing group of social media users. What’s more, they’re using social media for the same reasons as everyone else - and that includes commerce.

Reluctance to engage this demographic has nothing to do with how lucrative it might be, and everything to do with a lack of understanding of how to communicate with them on the part of young start-ups and their marketing teams. The elephant in the room is ignored because businesses (especially technology-based businesses) don’t speak elephant.

 

What’s Good for the Goose…

Overcoming this communication problem is simply a matter of adjusting the processes by which users engage, particularly with apps (which, admittedly, only started really booming during this decade). The onboarding process should be kept simple, with as few steps as possible. But guess what? That should be the case regardless of the demographic you’re targeting. Apps are supposed to be intuitive and user friendly. Design your app with a 75-year-old in mind and it will appeal to all generations.

Similarly, your text content should use relatable, universal language. Avoid aggressively youth-oriented slang - it won’t be understood by older people, and will be embarrassingly wide of the mark for high-schoolers. Don’t waffle, and try not to sound like you live in a marketing bubble.  

Mobile marketers and social media bods are wrong if they think they don’t know how to reach baby boomers. If they know how to market a product to 30-year-olds, they’re already speaking the right language. So for your next mobile marketing campaign, keep it simple, visually appealing and non-age specific. Cast aside your stereotype of ‘the grey dollar’ and treat all consumers as equal - you’ll find that the over-65 demographic isn’t as elusive as you thought.

October 08, 2015

6 Halloween Marketing Ideas for SMBs

 

Everyone’s favorite spook-tactular holiday is approaching, and with it comes the opportunity to drive more customers to your small business. Check out a few of the super-cool Halloween-related possibilities for small business marketing to implement while you enjoy the beautiful fall season: 

 

Welcome Trick-or-Treaters

Participate in a trick-or-treat event with other area businesses, or simply welcome costumed tykes into your store. Put treats that relate to your business in bags, such as candy featuring your business name, pencils, erasers, small note pads, and pencils. Kids love getting small toys in addition to candy, so feel free to be as creative as you want.

 

Create a Haunted House

Turn your business into a haunted attraction, and have your employees dress up as various ghosts and goblins. For example, if you have a retail business with aisles of merchandise, turn each aisle into its own special “haunt.” Encourage employees to get really creative with their costumes, which they’ll be all about if they love Halloween. Provide a discount that’s attractive to parents bringing their kids to your business, such as 10 or 15 percent off certain merchandise. Giving away coupons to customers upon their completion of a haunted house is also a fun possibility. 

 

Offer a Halloween Promotion

Send email coupons or codes to customers that are only good on or around Halloween. Text message codes are another possibility. Decorate your store as extensively as you want—or as much as your budget allows—to further draw people in and look for decorations in dollar and “five below” stores. Dress up in a creative costume and have employees do the same, which again they’ll likely be excited about. 

 

Hold a Costume Exchange

Show your dedication to the community by hosting a costume exchange. It’s not only a great way for customers and potential customers to cull and subsequently procure new costumes for cheap, but it’s also a way to familiarize locals with what you offer. Besides, people will likely jump at the chance to get rid of old masks of politicians and find something fun without spending a small fortune. Halloween costumes are expensive, after all!

 

Throw a Halloween Party

Make your business Halloween party central! Host an open house that allows consumers to learn more about your business while enjoying mystery punch and pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies. Designate a section for games, which will keep kiddies occupied, and offer freebies such as temporary tattoos, face painting, and of course plenty of candy. Ensure party-goers leave with goodie bags that feature more freebies and lots of information about your business, including business cards. For best results, make certain all freebies feature your business name and contact information. 

These are just some of the many ways to use Halloween to your small business’s marketing advantage. Have fun and get creative, and don’t forget to ask employees for their input and help. Most people love Halloween, and are excited to participate in anything involving the spooky holiday. Have fun!