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February 18, 2015

How Do My Customers Use Mobile?

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In order to develop a highly-effective mobile marketing campaign, you must first understand how audiences, specifically your audience, interacts with mobile technology. Ask yourself the following essential questions and gain invaluable insight into consumer mobile habits: 

How Are My Customers Using Mobile? 

Utilize analytics to determine how your target audience is using mobile. Are they using tablets or smartphones? Android or iOS? Are there certain times of day they shop the most, whether in store or online? Which mobile advertising tactic is therefore the best option? Once you discover exactly how your target customer base is using mobile, you can develop a customized marketing strategy to reach them through the most effective channel.  

Who Are My Competitors?

You and your entire team should download competitor apps and learn how they keep their customers engaged. This provides ideas, and otherwise helps you understand what’s working for other players in the space. Once you know what’s working (and what’s not), you’ll be better equipped to devise a plan that eclipses them. 

What is the Cost Per Download? 

Knowing the cost per download (or per customer acquisition) while launching your app is important when it comes to budgeting. Development is just one side of the coin. The financials also have to make sense when devising a proper price point.

Should I Use In-App Advertising? 

Popular apps such as Twitter allow in-app advertising and mobile advertising. This is an effective way to market your app or business to the masses, but it’s important to choose well-known and relevant apps that make sense for your consumer base.  

What About Social Media?

Mobile social media platforms are another efficient, effective marketing option, and one that offers near-immediate access to app downloads and web site conversions. 

Apps versus Mobile Sites?

At this juncture, consumers tend to favor apps over mobile sites, such as social media, email, and news apps. A mobile-friendly website is still a good idea, however, whether or not your company offers an app. 

Location-based Advertising?

If you haven’t jumped on the location-based advertising bandwagon yet, now is the time. With the massive proliferation of mobile phone use, location-based mobile marketing presents a highly-efficient way to attract new customers while keeping current ones engaged. Experiment with geo-fences and iBeacons, and craft marketing interactions with users as they enter or leave stores. Whether it’s sending suggestions, exclusive coupons, information about daily promotions, or anything else relevant to your brand and consumer base, it’s definitely a good idea to try location-based advertising via mobile web and text marketing. 

Do a little research through trial runs before committing to one or several mobile marketing strategies. Without knowing what your customers are after, you’ll be hard-pressed to create a mobile marketing campaign that works. 

 

February 12, 2015

Here's how to Get a Slice of the Mobile Pie

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A mobile marketing campaign is no longer separate from the rest of a business’ overall advertising strategy; rather it is a fundamental part of both marketing and the shopping experience, whether in store or at home. Retailers are subsequently shifting the way they think about mobile, and are looking to satisfy customers’ digital needs in every way possible. According to Deloitte, more than $500 billion in sales is driven by mobile content--so how to capitalize on this market, even if a newbie? 

 

A Fantastic Example

Starbucks is a fine example of mobile advertisement capitalization, as the company jumped on the mobile bandwagon while other businesses were dismissing it. The coffee connoisseurs created the Starbucks App, which allowed its mobile-friendly customer base to enjoy the perks of a rewards program by ordering ahead. Ease of payment is always attractive, and the app works on the majority of smartphones. 

By going on the mobile offensive, Starbucks is generating some $6 million in mobile transactions each week. Quick service restaurants, pharmacies, gas stations, and grocery stores could also benefit from app-related payment and reward options. 

 

Guarding Mobile-Influenced Consumers

If starting with a mobile marketing campaign, the first thing you’ll want to do is examine your current customer base. Learn when your customers are utilizing their mobile phones the most to make purchases, and send them relevant, personalized content they can use at particular times. Think about why consumers are on their phones in relation to your business, and ensure your brand is giving them what they want when they want it. Push notifications and location-based text marketing triggers are two great places to start. 

 

Attracting Competitor Costumers

Another way to capitalize on mobile marketing is to provide competitor customers with offers designed specifically for them. Location-based tactics are a great way to do this, and they allow you to combine targeted mobile advertising with appealing mobile wallets. Convenience and customer service can be enough to win new clients who are already using competitors’ products. 

 

Becoming a “Bigwig” in the Mobile World 

When making a name for your business in the mobile space, tackle the project from every angle. Create multi-channel campaigns across mobile, web, email, and in-person. Engaging, customized mobile wallet experiences and attracting customers via personalized text advertisements and push notifications are valuable strategies. The idea is to maintain current customer interest while finding opportunities to obtain competitor market share, and this takes a multifaceted approach. 

Follow companies who have made the most of a good mobile marketing campaign and learn from their example. You might discover a whole new platform for your business…and a brand new pool of potential customers. 

 

February 11, 2015

South Africa's Mobile Future

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In Europe and North America, mobile marketing relies on an even-handed mixture of text messaging, mobile-optimized websites, apps, push notifications and targeted advertising. In the U.S., where smartphones comprise 70% of the mobile market and tens of thousands of new apps are launched each month, constant change is the name of the game.  

Not so in South Africa. An estimated 70.6% of the population use feature phones. Devising a mobile marketing campaign capable of reaching the masses requires a heavy reliance on SMS messaging, with less attention paid to the latest digital advertising buzzwords getting American execs in a tizzy. 

The beauty of text message marketing is you don’t have to worry about differentials between operating systems. It doesn’t discriminate by device. Ads necessarily have to follow the same format: concise messages with small images (or none at all). In developing economies like South Africa, mobile marketers must be as cost-sensitive as their audience if they want to synchronize. 

Despite the proliferation of feature phones - which have limited internet capabilities and can’t support apps - voice usage is declining in South Africa as much as everywhere else. Mobility 2014, a study conducted in association with the First National Bank, little more than half the money spent on mobile by Millennials goes towards voice (down from 66% in 2012). Data spend, however, has increased from 17% to 24% - an impressive rate of growth for a country with notoriously expensive data packages. 

Although it’s currently a supporting player, smartphone usage is growing in the region. According to the South African Social Media Landscape 2015 study, YouTube’s South African audience grew by a staggering 53% between 2013 and 2014. This audience will continue to grow as data costs become proportionate to the rest of the world.

Mobile evolution might be moving more slowly in South Africa, but it is moving. A forward-thinking mobile marketing campaign will cover both bases. It will recognize that diverse countries require diverse strategies. For most businesses, SMS messaging will be the fulcrum of a good mobile marketing campaign. 

That’s not to say that a text message marketing campaign in South Africa is a picnic. With 11 official languages and a wide social strata covering everyone from rural farmers to globally successful entrepreneurs (Elon Musk is a Pretoria native), mobile marketing in South Africa demands a wide-ranging approach. Keep one eye on the dominant feature phone and the other on the growing data economy and you won’t go far wrong.

February 04, 2015

New App Puts Contacts in Context

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Last week saw the launch of an app that aims to to bring contextual information to existing messaging platforms. 

Rather than offering yet another variation on the seemingly endless array of messaging apps available, Blinq augments the apps people already have. Appearing as nothing more than a small white dot, Blinq subtly makes its presence felt within the interface of messaging apps like Facebook, Whatsapp and SMS. From there, it alerts you to incoming information on the person with whom you’re communicating by pulling data from a variety of social and business networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. The app prioritizes this information, only alerting you to the more important updates (favoring, say, the beginning of a new job over the latest Instagram snap of breakfast).

It’s a brilliant solution to the problems caused by the multi-platform, multi-site web presence that’s now standard for many individuals. It gives you quick access to information on a person, when you need it. If, for example, a potential business partner calls you and you can’t quite recall every detail needed to avoid embarrassment, Blinq throws you a few bones to help you construct a full skeleton of their online identity. 

The app has been launched primarily as a consumer product - but the potential as a CRM tool for businesses are obvious. Other aggregator software already performs similar tasks for email exchanges - Blinq simply brings mobile in line. As a mobile marketing tool for small businesses, Blink could provide an affordable, effective solution for keeping track of customers and providing the best, most personalized service possible. 

Only available on Android right now, the developers plan to bring Blinq to iOS in the future. To do that, they have to create a more standalone experience than the one available on Android. But with half a million already raised by investors, and the product now available for perusal, Blinq hopes to expand its operation and bring the security and reassurance of contextual communication to more people.

 

January 30, 2015

Is “Paidmium” Really the New Freemium?

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Mobile apps have been changing their business models right under our noses. The newest model is called “Paidmium,” which refers to a mobile app that one must purchase from iTunes or Google Play – immediately requiring the user to either spend more money on in-app purchases or perhaps look at ads within the application.

Yep, you read that right. First you pay for the app, and then you pay more.

The current debate in the mobile marketing sector is whether or not Paidmium is superior to the more common mobile business model, Freemium. The truth is, the mobile marketing crystal ball is still a bit murky, and it is hard to say which business model will come out on top.

Freemium is the tried and true way for app developers to make money. Programmers create an app, offering it free to potential customers in the marketplace. Then, once the customer begins to use the app and learn its value, in-app offers are made available for the customer to purchase at will. Whether they pay or not, they can still utilize the original app, but their access to some of the other features may be limited.

According to a study by App Annie and IDC, apps based on the Freemium business model dominated in 2013. What this means is that, by and large, mobile users downloaded more Freemium apps – and spent more money within them – than users spent on any other type of app (i.e. Paidmium, Paid apps, or apps with in-app advertising). For developers who want to make some money, Freemium appears to be the model of choice. 

Let’s change gears for a moment, though: suppose we consider the top fifty grossing apps for iPhones in the past year. Every single app was either a Paid app or a Paidmium app (save for two). That means that the biggest players in the business are charging for their apps to be downloaded in the first place. And perhaps you’ve guessed that top three highest grossing apps out of fifty were video game apps.

Mobile app gaming consumption may be the leader in time spent on mobile devices, but the success doesn’t stop there. In 2014, the mobile gaming app market was worth 17 billion dollars, and exactly half of the revenue from these games came from in-app purchases. When this kind of money is on the table, you can bet that a lot of developers are looking to get in on the Paidmium action. 

Only time will tell which way the app business model will go, and what will be the preferred choice for mobile marketing campaign managers. As of late, most developers certainly prefer the Freemium model for its simplicity coupled with a broad customer base. But the Paidmium model is gaining traction (particularly with gamers), and we’re bound to see more apps that flourish under the Paidmium model.

 

January 29, 2015

Behavioral Change Techniques Sorely Lacking in Most Fitness Apps

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Earlier this year, the American Journal of Preventative Medicine issued a report regarding the effectiveness of fitness applications. While their studies showed that apps provide much opportunity for social networking and feedback, most apps were seriously lacking in behavioral change techniques.

Behavioral change techniques, also known as BCTs, are techniques that directly help app users to modify their physical activity in significant ways. 

The study reviewed the 100 top-ranked physical activity apps and analyzed them for the existence of BCTs. Using a classification process according to 93 specific kinds of BCTs, the Journal reported that only 39 types of BCTs were present. On average, only six BCTs were present in any given app.

Now just about half of all American adults own a smartphone, and roughly half of those users access health information through their mobile phones. Also, about 50 percent of mobile users have at least one fitness app. These apps regularly provide certain types of BCTs: social support through online communities like Facebook, how to perform an exercise, exercise demonstrations and feedback, as well as information about others’ approval of a technique. While these are critical BCTs for self-improvement, the study found that most apps were lacking in the breadth of their BCTs.

Furthermore, the study found that app developers favored BCTs with a modest evidence base over others that had a more established effectiveness rate. David E. Conroy, PhD, the lead investigator, stated that “not all apps are created equal, and prospective users should consider their individual needs when selecting an app to increase physical activity.” In one example, he mentions that social media integration for providing social support is a very common BCT in apps, but he goes on to say that the BCT of active self-monitoring by users is much more effective in increasing activity.Perhaps the cause of the lack of self-monitoring BCTs is a result of development around mobile device capabilities. For example, accelerometers serve to passively monitor the movements of the mobile user, but they do not incite the user to participate in some form of exercise. Moreover, there is little evidence of retrospection or active self-reporting with these apps – BCTs that experts agree are most effective for changing behavioral activity.

The American Journal of Preventative Medicine didn’t suggest that Americans eschew fitness apps; the study simply showed where these apps are lacking. The potential of fitness apps in our society should, in fact, be lauded. Most apps do have many benefits, and exercise BCTs will most likely help a sedentary person to get moving. Since insufficient physical activity is the second-leading preventable cause of death in the United States, Americans should take advantage of fitness apps that can help them to increase their daily activity.

January 28, 2015

Apps vs. Mobile Sites: Which is Best for Your Business

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If you’re a small business owner looking to develop your mobile marketing strategy, you might be wondering whether to engage the services of an app developer or optimize your website for mobile users. Both have distinct advantages depending on industry, audience and budget. The problem is, there’s so much conflicting advice out there, it can be tough to know which route to take. 

A 2013 Compuware survey found that 85% of consumers prefer apps to mobile websites. That’s a bit like saying diners prefer a steak to a burger. Sure, it’s more exclusive and tastier, but it’s also more expensive and not appropriate for every occasion. The proliferation of burger chains should tell you all you need to know: just because something’s ‘preferable’ doesn’t mean there isn’t a huge market for the alternative.

Deciding whether to opt for a mobile app or mobile friendly website depends on what mobile marketing tactics you plan to use, and how these feed into the rest of your strategy. Let’s hear the case for apps first:

Apps

The principal advantage of having your own mobile app is the ability to embrace the hardware and native functionality of the phone or tablet. Gyroscopes, GPS, speedometers, cameras - all these incredibly useful bits of technology are included in most modern mobile devices, and can be incorporated into the operation of your app.

Plus, apps don’t necessarily require an internet connection to run. Many apps are capable of storing data locally on the phone’s hard drive, enabling users to continue interacting with the app even when not connected to the web. Some news sites, for instance, will download all current content when there is a wifi connection, effectively storing that day’s events onto mobile devices. This content is what users will see until the app is able to reconnect.

Because of the high demand for developers, the available infrastructure and development tools are becoming increasingly sophisticated and user-friendly. The major operating systems offer a huge selection of frameworks - often free to use - for developers to get started.

Mobile Friendly Sites

It’s easier than it used to be to get your own app - but it’s still prohibitively expensive for many small businesses. The maintenance and development costs go up with every platform you want your app to work on. With a mobile-optimized website, there is only one version of the content you need to maintain. This makes managing your mobile marketing strategy a lot easier.

Your ultimate goal is to drive more traffic. In some cases, a mobile site will do this more effectively than an app. Think about whether you want to use mobile to open up new revenue streams or improve loyalty initiatives. Depending on your objectives, a cross-channel site may be more appropriate for you mobile marketing strategy.

January 26, 2015

What's With the Round Smartwatch Craze?

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Round smartwatches are increasingly popular, and new offerings are providing consumers with an array of fun and practical features, including those designed to keep users healthy and fit. Let’s check out some of the smartwatches on the market today, as well as those in the soon-to-be-released file: 

 

Alcatel Onetouch Watch

Available in March on Amazon, the Alcatel Onetouch Watch comes in four style options, two metal and two micro-textured resin. It supports both iOS and Android devices, which sets it apart from just about every other smartwatch currently manufactured. Controlled through a companion iOS or Android app, the watch makes it easy to a) view all the health information it’s collected about you, b) pick which apps you want to notify you, and c) manage the various ways the watch communicates with your phone.  

While watch reviews indicate the device does not provide as appealing an interface as other Android Wear options, it makes up for it in battery life. The Alcatel watch is designed to last for two to five days, under the right circumstances. Plus, health features include a built-in heart rate monitor, gyroscope, accelerometer, altimeter and e-compass to measure metrics such as sleep cycles, steps, distance and calories burned. It’s also possible to make the watch ring if you misplace your phone, while tapping the screen brings up multimedia controls. The USB charging port is conveniently hidden...and small. 

The Alcatel Ontouch Watch will feature an entry price of $149, making it less expensive than some of the other options currently available. 

 

LG G Watch R 

Arguably one of the most popular round smartwatches on the market today, the LG G Watch R is a stylish option featuring “Ok Google” voice commands with Android wear, the “world’s first” full-circle P-OLED display, and fitness integration that includes a built-in heart rate monitor. The watch is compatible with most devices housing an Android 4.3 or later operating system. 

 

Samsung Smartwatch

Samsung is set to unveil a smartwatch around the time it launches its latest Android offering, the Samsung Galaxy S6. A round watch believed to be similar to the Moto 360, the Samsung S6 is currently known as  “SM-R720,” and is referred to by the codename “Orbis.” It will run the technology giant’s own Tizen OS system, and the device is expected to make a huge splash at the Mobile World Congress this March. 

Any of these round smartwatches appeal to your sensibilities? 

 

January 22, 2015

The SMS Modification Craze

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Remember flying in the 80s? Long haul flights seemed to take days. There was only one movie and three screens in the entire cabin, so if you were wheezing a bit too much at Shanghai Surprise for the fifth time, everyone knew about it. To hear the audio you had to shell out $4 for those stethoscopic ‘headsets’ that were barely-glorified tin-cans-on-strings (no really, kids – they were nothing more than hollow tubes that plugged into two tiny speakers in the armrest). You could smoke.  

The funny thing was, nobody complained. It was as if flying through the air incredibly and winding up thousands of miles away in a few hours was enough for people. They didn’t need anything else. 

Like aviation in the 80s, SMS in the 90s was a primitive affair by today’s standards – if by ‘primitive’ you mean ‘the sudden ability to instantly transmit the written word to people around the world.’ 

For much of the 90s and 00s, text messaging was impressive enough to flourish without extra bells and whistles. Rapid advances in technology allied with free market forces soon put paid to that. These days, the new normal is modified, souped up, pimped out text messages adorned with fancy new skins and non-QWERTY keyboards capable of sending anything from emojis to rap lyrics.  

It should be noted at this point that SMS is SMS; the protocol hasn’t changed a jot in twenty years, only the window dressing. In many cases, ‘SMS modification’ really means ‘SMS replacement’ in the form of messaging apps. The appeal of these apps lies largely in their ability to provide users with a bespoke messaging experience.

Among the most popular of these is Chomp SMS, an easy-to-use, customizable app that lets users create their own themes and download custom font packs as they tire of their current look. 

GoSMS Pro is a similar idea but with a much bigger palette from which to work. It allows users to completely overhaul their visuals with new icons, fonts, animations, backgrounds and text bubbles. It also comes with a raft of non-visual features, including a private storage space for storing locked conversations and a text message backup service. 

Not all messaging apps are designed for purely aesthetic reasons. Some, like TextSecure, prevent screenshots of messages being taken and uses end-to-end encryption, thwarting prying eyes (whether criminal or federal!). 

The trouble with these apps is that both parties have to be using them in order to reap the full benefits. Unlike standard SMS messaging, which everyone in the world with a phone has access to, the playing field is not level. For instance, Strings - the app that lets you recall text messages you regret sending - is of no use unless both parties are running the app; two people agreeing to send messages with the app is a tacit acknowledgement that there is a lack of trust in the relationship. This will be the major stumbling block for Strings (and others) as they try to grow.

Our favorite SMS messaging apps are those with objectives no loftier than bringing a smile to the face. There are a plethora of text messaging apps designed to add some levity to your conversations with friends and family. Here are some of the very best:

Crumbles. Sends messages in the form of cut-ups from famous movies, one word at a time. You type the message, hit send and the recipient sees an array of great characters - from Doc Brown to Darth Vader - deliver each word. Hard to describe, but loads of fun once you try it.

PopKey. Leverages the power of Apple’s GIF-supporting Messages app to send any number of GIFS from a huge library of possibilities. Also enormous fun!

RapKey. Far and away our favorite messaging app right now, RapKey sends hip hop lyrics instead of boring prose. With a cool, 8-bit influenced retro interface, it works by giving you a series of categories to choose from - talking to your spouse, griping about money etc - and a list of couplets to scroll through. Find the most appropriate rhymes for your situation and make text messaging more fun!

 

 

 

January 16, 2015

The App that Stops You From Using Apps

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Is one of your new year’s resolutions to spend more time with friends and family and less time absorbed in your mobile device? Perhaps you’re looking to limit screen time while at the family dinner table? Believe it or not, there’s actually an app for that.

Entitled Moment was originally launched as a “well-designed and practical tool” for anyone wanting to shorten time spent staring at their mobile device screen. Designed by developer Kevin Holesh, Entitled Moment makes it easy to set daily smartphone use limits, and runs in the background of your phone. It makes a noise and sends a notification when you exceed your limit for the day. 

Currently being promoted as a “family application,” Moment now allows family members to track each others’ daily phone use from their devices and create “screen-free” timed sessions that includes loud alerts should someone pick up their phone.

Holesh notes that most people underestimate how much time they spend on their smartphones by some 50%. The developer’s own mobile device “addictions” helped inspire the app, as he found time spent in the digital world was interfering with his real-world relationships.

Similar apps were released following the launch of Moment, including Checky, which tracks how often users check their phones each day. 

The app’s creator also remarked that parents wrote to him thanking him, as Entitled Moment significantly helped manage kiddie screen time. This prompted Holesh to create Moment 2.0 and make limiting screen time a family activity.

Subsequently, consumers can now view daily family member phone use patterns, and configure “family dinner time” mode—an hour-long block that encourages users to put their phones down while at the table. Should a family member break the “phone down” rule, the person will hear a loud alert until they stop using their device.

Downloaded over one million times thus far, the app’s alerts are quite humorous, and include sirens, thunder, buzzer/alarm clock, and “the most annoying sound in the world” from the comedy classic Dumb and Dumber. A free app, it currently has about 200,000 active monthly users. Moment is available on iTunes, and includes the option of paying $3.99 for three months, or $19.99 for the whole year.

Rather than punishing children with a “no phone” rule, this app makes family dinner time something any member can implement at any time. Moment serves as a highly useful tool in decreasing kids’ screen time at home, and may be used in conjunction with other parental controls for mobile devices.