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November 27, 2014

3 Ways to Get More Punters with Mobile Marketing

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Punter (noun) British, informal : customer

SMS messaging is the most effective marketing method for bars. It lets you target specific customers with bespoke promotions, maximize your ROI and grow that all-important contact list.

The beauty of using mobile marketing tactics for bar promotion is the receptiveness of a willing audience, primed to engage with businesses via their smartphone. According to a recent YouGov survey, 75% of smartphone users prefer to receive promotional material in a text message. It’s a flexible medium capable of sending short, succinct information containing links to rich content. SMS is the perfect gateway to the meatier elements of your marketing strategy.

Here are five reasons why text message marketing is a good way to grow your business:

Immediacy

More than 90% of text messages are opened and read within a few minutes. That includes commercial SMS which, unlike email, requires opt-in consent from users. For that reason, texts are trusted sources of information. Let’s say you run a promotion via email. You need to announce your latest drinks special at least a few days ahead of time. What if your bar ends up packed with punters who did not receive the email? There was no need to run the offer and you’ve failed to maximize your profits. With SMS marketing, you can turn a slow Monday night into a busy one by issuing a last-minute deal. Now, you’re only reducing prices when it makes sound financial sense to do so.

Entertainment Promotions

If you run a live music program, you’ll know how effective it can be at drawing in a crowd. But bands are notoriously unreliable, and schedules can change with only a few hours notice. SMS messaging keeps your punters abreast of all the latest changes to the lineup, so even if someone pulls out, you can minimize the negative impact of disappointed customers.

Geo-Targeted Promos

One of the most powerful weapons in the mobile marketers arsenal, geo-targeting is a highly effective strategy for attracting nearby business. For bars and restaurants, geo-targeting is particularly useful, as you can quickly identify which opt-in customers are in the area, devise a promotion that will appeal to them, and get them through the door. This technique is especially useful on weekend nights; people are already out (often in large groups) bar-hopping with no real destination in mind. Geo-targeting allows you to attract passing trade during busy nights by offering an unbeatable drinks promotion. Again, make the offer time limited and punters are more likely to make a snap decision. With your nearby promotion, they’ll do the math and realize that spending the next couple of hours in your bar will save them a bundle.

SMS message marketing is highly effective for a fraction of the cost of other forms of advertising. A strategy can be devised and implemented within minutes. Reaching an audience in such a short space of time simply isn’t possible with more traditional ad mediums like radio and print. If your bar still doesn’t have a mobile marketing strategy, get one going in time for the festive season and your business will have a very merry Christmas indeed…

November 15, 2014

The Potential of App-to-Person SMS for Mobile Network Operators

App-to-person SMS represents a major revenue opportunity for mobile network operators. Globally, app-to-person messages are expected to hit 2.19 trillion by 2018, generating predicted revenues of $60 billion.

The figures come from wide-ranging research conducted by UK-based industry analysts mobilesquared. They surveyed more than 50 international mobile network operators and made a number of key findings:

  • 32% of mobile network operators have experienced a reduction in person-to-person SMS over the last year
  • 50% have experienced an increase in app-to-person traffic, with a third of those reporting growth of at least 6%
  • 81% cite decreasing revenues from traditional services like P2P text messaging as their primary concern

When it comes to P2P messaging, mobile network operators have long been upping the ante on competitors, with increasingly generous – and in many cases unlimited – SMS bundles on offer as a way of enticing new users. 

They’re no longer just competing with each other. So-called ‘over-the-top’ (OTT) services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are usurping traditional SMS providers as the go-to platforms for interpersonal communication. Half of all mobile network operators who took part in the survey expect to lose at least half of their customers to OTT services by next year. 

But while P2P text messaging is on the wane, business is booming for commercial text messaging companies. Consumers, it seems, are compartmentalizing their personal life, preferring OTT platforms for talking to friends while sticking with traditional SMS to engage with brands.

This is great news for mobile marketing campaign managers and small businesses. With an opt-in model predicated on consent and trust, the mobile marketing industry has managed to skirt the problems faced by their email-marketing forbears. Rather than filtering out all commercial messages as spam, smartphone owners are engaging with businesses via SMS because they want to, not because it’s the only option available to them. 

There’s no such low-hanging fruit for mobile network operators. They must forge relationships with OTTs and provide competitive price points if they want to leverage revenues from app-to-person SMS.

 

 

 

November 12, 2014

Generations and Their Gadgets

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It’s true: each generation has their own “gadgets,” and today’s young generations prefer laptops to desktops and smartphones to “regular, old” cell phones. A Pew Internet Study conducted between August 9 and September 13, 2010 found many devices are popular across the generations, with young people paving the way for increased mobility. 

In the study, only 11% of people surveyed did not own a cell phone, desktop computer, laptop computer, or other devices inquired about. Cell phones are the most popular device among adult Americans, especially those under age 65. Desktop computers are favored by adults ages 35 to 65, while the millennial generation is the only one more likely to own a laptop or a notebook than their stationary predecessors.

Over half of adults own an mp3 player such as an iPod, and this device is again most popular among millennials. E-book readers aren’t widely used by older adults, and while tablets, such as the iPad, are most widely used among Americans 65 and older, only 4% of adults total own the device. Game consoles remain a “younger person” device, and highly used among those ages 18 to 45.

In addition to owning more of the devices discussed in the survey than their elder counterparts, millennials are more likely to use them for a wider range of reasons. Cell phones were originally used for talking and texting, but Millennials rely on them for email, internet, music, videos and games. And that’s besides their original uses!

Gen X and Millennials are comparable in their ownership of certain devices, such as game consoles, but Xers are still more likely to own desktops.

Each generation may carry cell phones, however the survey’s largest drop-off was still the older generation with 48% ownership. This is compared to 95% of Millennials and 92% of Gen-Xers. When study participants were pressed further about cell phone ownership, 33% who did not own a cell phone resided with someone who did. This means that overall, 90% of all adults—including 62% of those age 75 and older—live in a household with at least one working cell phone. And as this number increases, the likelihood of landline phone connections decreases.

Every generation’s gadgets always seem to outdo previous incarnations, with today’s devices offering a (virtual) world of options right at the fingertips. The only question is, what grandiose feature(s) and usage options will the next generation’s devices include?

 

 

 

November 11, 2014

Shun the Bait: How to Spot a Smishing Scam

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According to a Pew report from 2011, mobile users aged 18-24 share an average of 109.5 SMS messages per day. With such high levels of activity, it’s hardly surprising that there is room for opportunistic scammers to slip through the net. With mobile phones generally carrying fewer security measures than desktop computers, the best protection against scammers is your own vigilance.

The most common SMS scams are variations on two themes: getting users to install malicious spyware with the aim of stealing their identity, or persuading them to use a premium-rate SMS app (usually concealed within legitimate – or legit-looking – apps). 

In the case of the latter scam, few users notice the premium charges applied to their account until they received a bill. It’s notoriously difficult to pursue refunds from network providers because opt-in laws surrounding SMS communications mean that victims have actively agreed to use the software at the premium rate. If ever there was an argument for reading those boring terms and conditions…

Collectively, these practices are known as ‘smishing’ – or ‘SMS fishing.’ The good news is, there are lots of tell-tale signs to help you spot smishing scams, and a few other measures you can take to protect yourself. Cast your eye over our tips for avoiding getting scammed by smishermen:

If it looks too good to be true it probably is

If free food looks too delicious to be free, it’s most likely bait. Even major brands tend to offer relatively small incentives for engaging with them, so if you’re getting text messages purporting to be from Starbucks and offering you thousands of dollars for texting a number, it’s well worth checking their website before doing anything. Maybe it’s legit, maybe it isn’t – just don’t rely on the information in the text message alone. If this unbelievably generous special offer is real, the marketing department will make sure it’s all over the internet.

If they’re in a hurry, you should worry

It’s true that time-sensitive offers are just part of the marketer’s arsenal, so not all text messages that generate a sense of urgency are suspicious. But if they’re trying to get you to respond within a couple of minutes rather than a few hours, it’s because they don’t want you to root around for corroboration. Of course, that’s precisely what you should do. Just as overly-generous promotions require some further research, so do overly-urgent ones.

Treat mobile security as seriously as desktop security

For some reason, cellphone users lower their guard when it comes to protecting their device. There are a number of steps you can take to minimize risk. Don’t use third party websites to download apps – stick with the official marketplace for your device. Carefully examine any links you receive – whether via email or SMS – and if you have any doubts, research the url in Google before clicking the link. Also, you might want to lock your device down by tightening the security settings or installing security software.

 

 

October 31, 2014

Defend Yourself from the Attack of the Android Worm

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Android users are facing a new threat in the shape of a worm, ominously named ‘Selfmite.b’. As with most worms, the majority of users will be unaware of the threat, which sends text messages to every contact in a user’s list. Selfmite.b gets into others’ phones via the innocent-looking SMS which appears to be from a friend or other trusted person. Once a user has been tricked into clicking the bogus links contained in the text message, malicious software is installed on their device.

This pernicious virus takes its name from Selfmite, the SMS worm that attacked smartphones earlier this year. But while that worm sent links to the first 20 contacts in an address book, Selfmite.b sends them to every single contact. Not only that, it does this on a loop, meaning victims continue to receive malicious texts until they are blocked.

According to data from AdaptiveMobile, the worm had sent over 150k messages during the first ten days of October. Victims span the globe, with infected phones identified in Canada, China, Costa Rica, Ghana, India, Iraq, Jamaica, Mexico, Morocco, Puerto Rico, Russia, Sudan, Syria, USA, Venezuela and Vietnam. That’s a hundred times more traffic than the first Selfmite generated. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that the people behind the worm can change it remotely using a configuration file. This makes it much harder to stop the infection process.

As inconvenient and embarrassing as having your entire contact list spammed is, the worst upshot for victims is financial. Selfmite.b can generate huge phone bills, and victims even risk having their number blocked as though they were the perpetrators. The worm can even sign users up to expensige online subscriptions.

You can protect yourself. Selfmite.b requires you to manually click a link and manually install the APK file. If in doubt about any such file, don’t install it. Because of the generic nature of the messages containing the links, it shouldn’t be too hard to spot the scam. It will use one of the following texts, or something similar:

Hi buddy, try this, its amazing u know.http://x.co/5****

Hey, try it, its very fine.http://x.co/5****

Unless your friends are in the habit of sending you weird links, alarm bells should already be ringing. The poor syntax is a dead giveaway. And if nobody calls you ‘buddy’ then you’re probably on to Selfmite.b immediately.

The key is to avoid falling into the trap of absent-mindedly clicking links. Always read messages carefully, and if you have any doubts, give your friend a quick call to see if they sent you a text. They will thank you for alerting them to the fact they are being targeted. If your phone has already contracted Selfmite.b, a good anti-virus program will get rid of it.

October 27, 2014

Integrity of Whisper App Questioned

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The firm behind social media app Whisper is tracking the location of its users – despite claiming to be ‘the safest place on the internet’ in terms of anonymity. The company is also sharing information from phones known to be used in military bases with the US Department of Defense, according to a recent Guardian expose.

Whisper users currently publish around two-and-a-half million messages a day. Their principal selling point is anonymity, but the Guardian report alleges the company has developed an in-house mapping tool allowing them to locate users to within 500 meters. The British newspaper also claims Whisper has been handing user locations to the Department of Defense. 

According to the Guardian, Whisper has been storing data since their 2012 launch. At that time, much of their brand image was predicated on a policy of holding data only for ‘a brief period of time’ and allowing those who don’t wish to be tracked to opt out of geo-location.

But the Guardian claims Whisper has been storing data even on users who specifically opted out. The news will be particularly alarming to military personnel who have used the platform to unburden themselves of traumatic events witnessed or experienced in the line of duty. Many soldiers use the app to share suicidal feelings and symptoms of PTSD and to discuss other topics they wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about on social media outlets like Facebook. 

The Guardian says Whisper has shared user data with law enforcement agencies, the FBI and MI5, a practice Whisper contends is standard in the tech industry – and only in situations where there is evidence of criminal behavior or imminent suicide.

Whisper has denied the allegations, saying it ‘does not follow or track users’ and dismissing the suggestion they were monitoring people without consent as ‘false’. CEO Michael Heyward issued a ten point riposte to the Guardian and suspended his editor-in-chief when the allegations came to light. He insists Whisper is only sharing information with the DoD when there is an investigation into frequent mentions of self-harm, adding “[We] are proudly working with many organizations to lower suicide rates.”

Heyward has been summoned to appear before the Senate Commerce Committee to answer questions about the app’s privacy policy.

Whisper has experienced rapid growth over the past two years and is now valued at more than $200m. The app tapped into a growing demand for private, confessional platforms which purport to foster more candid public discussions about sensitive issues like suicide.

Whisper has updated it’s terms and conditions since the story broke. 

October 16, 2014

How to Improve Text Message Security

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Mobile phone security risks are abundant with standard, unencrypted text messages among other elements of mobile use. Accordingly, more and more users are looking to encrypted phone call and text message options for privacy protection. A number of apps available for iOS and Android are designed to improve text message security, encrypting both text messages and phone calls. Let’s take a look at some of these apps, but remember no app can protect mobile devices from physical access. Unless a phone features a passcode, anyone handling the device can read messages, view pictures, check out call history, etc.

 

TextSecure and Signal

Created by former Twitter security researcher Moxie Marlinspike’s Open Whisper Systems, TextSecure allows users to message everyone on their phone list. End-to-end encryption is only available when talking to other TextSecure users; however, notifications are sent if the conversation isn’t secure. Available for free on Android, TextSecure utilizes independently developed algorithms, including those that create a new security key with each message.

 

Telegram

Described by its creators as the encrypted, cloud-based, quicker version of WhatsApp, Telegram makes it easy to share messages and media with up to 200 people at once. Choices include ephemeral chats, which are never saved, and cloud-accessible messages for users wanting to return to conversations. The “secret” chats leave “no trace” on the Telegram server.

 

Wickr 

Offering “military-grade security,” Wickr is for those who want to know their messages and photos aren’t readable past a certain time. Metadata is stripped from photos before they’re sent, and messages automatically disappear following a set amount of time after being read. The app makes customization simple and allows users to decide how many people they want to find them, create group chats, and “shred” remains of deleted files.

 

Surespot

Surespot features tools for independently managing different identities on a single device to distinguish personal and professional communications. Voice chat is also integrated, as is flexible photo control for locking, unlocking, and deleting photos from recipients’ phones. The app requires a password that cannot be recovered or reset. Users may look at one another’s public keys offline to ensure no “man-in-the-middle” attacks.

 

CoverMe

CoverMe securely stores a variety of media data, including passwords, photos and documents, and makes it possible to hide identities and phone numbers. Calling and texting with non-users is possible via the CoverMe phone plan, but only phone calls and texts with other users feature end-to-end encryption.

These and other security apps offer the text message security that businesses often require to communicate with employees and clients. And of course, they’re useful for the everyday user as well.

 

October 09, 2014

Are Selfies the Future of Mobile?

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Defined as a photograph “one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to social media,” the selfie is poised to be the future of mobile marketing, duck face and all.

The folks behind Opera Mediaworks certainly believe in the marketing power of the selfie. The company recently partnered with Celtra and now offers advertisers the ability to integrate selfies into ad campaigns.

The partnership “brings together Celtra’s expertise in empowering advertisers to deliver meaningful, highly-captivating brand messages to their audiences in the most effective and measurable manner and Opera Mediaworks’ vast global ad platform, which serves 64 billion impressions a month to more than 800 million consumers.”

This selfie ad format allows advertisers to create highly-personalized campaigns geared towards “precisely-targeted” audiences, and therefore up the ante much like geo-tracking. Today’s consumers can browse the internet, download favorite music, stream movies and do pretty much anything else on their phones, resulting in a desire for personal experiences with favorite brands rather than a more generic or traditional interaction. Selfies are about “branding yourself” as much as they are about brands...think images of famous people holding or using assorted products.

The Celebrity Selfie

The ubiquity of the celebrity selfie is partially responsible for turning the concept into a money-making opportunity, with Calvin Klein recently launching a selfie campaign using celebs and fans posing in their Calvin briefs. The pictures feature the hashtag #mycalvins. Ellen DeGeneres’ snapshot from the 2014 Oscars featuring Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts and a number of other stars was dubbed “the most retweeted selfie of all time,” once again demonstrating the selfie’s impressive function as a communication tool.

World Domination

Selfies aren’t just for American audiences, or for those who keep their feet on the ground. The Philippines is one country capitalizing on the selfie, with their Postal Corporation recently creating selfie stamp tourism souvenirs as a way of encouraging locals to send personalized packages. NASA is getting in on the selfie action, with their Instagram account featuring selfies of astronaut Mile Hopkins...in outer space.  

Simplicity At Its Best?

Taking a selfie isn’t exactly challenging, and the popularity of selfies and their corresponding hashtags provide an easy advertising option for brands looking to create more personal relationships with consumers. Every smartphone features a quality front-facing camera, and even if the selfie is as narcissistic as critics say, there’s no denying its power as a marketing tool. 

October 08, 2014

Mobile Marketing Budgets are Smaller Than They Should Be

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Mobile devices have quickly become powerful marketing tools, yet brands are still not investing in mobile advertising as they probably should. Despite practically “everyone” owning a mobile device, mobile marketing accounts for a mere 5 percent of the average brand’s budget. Why? Usual reasons include difficulty tracking performance and gauging ROI.

According to recent Forrester research, 62 percent of marketers surveyed felt “confident” about measuring mobile ad campaign ROI, yet only 18 percent felt “very confident” in their ability measure ROI. Marketers want to see hard numbers if heavily investing in mobile, which many experts find “counter-intuitive.” 

“Consumers now spend over half of their leisure time on mobile devices,” says Gal Oppenheimer, senior product manager of built.io, a mobile back-end and application development platform. “Mobile advertising is clearly important, but it needs to get easier to track brand awareness and consumer spending.”

Other experts say marketers are too busy comparing mobile and desktop metrics, which is essentially a waste considering how different the mediums are. Marketers are used to cookie-based tracking, but such tracking doesn’t really work in the mobile world. A single cookie isn’t capable of tracking consumer actions as they go back and forth between mobile browsers and apps, nor can they follow consumers who click on mobile app download ads. The latter is a common mobile ad unit that encourages consumers to download a brand’s app. 

Mobile marketing is definitely a work in progress, yet current efforts are encouraging. Groupon, for example, works with at least three different mobile ad networks, and places ads on a wide range of publishers’ mobile sites and apps. The online retailer works with mobile advertising vendor Fiksu Inc. to discover which mobile attribution methods are best for tracking ad effectiveness.

Facebook is also working on a solution to the “mobile puzzle.” The social media giant introduced a mobile ad unit in April of this year, Audience Network, which allows marketers to target and place ads across an assortment of mobile apps utilizing what Facebook knows about its sizable user base. The network is designed to result in more relevant ads on apps, which leads to improved click-through rates, and subsequently a better ROI for the advertiser and more revenue for app developers.

Marketers are still hesitant, but if tracking abilities improve, more money will go into mobile ad efforts. “Forrester found that if marketers could track more reliably, 86 percent would allocate more of their budgets to mobile,” wrote Mike O’Brien in a recent post for ClickZ. “And 93 percent would run more cross-channel campaigns, something only 13 percent said they felt confident measuring.”

 

September 23, 2014

5 Reasons Why Mobile Marketing is Top Dog

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Mobile marketing is now so sophisticated and ubiquitous, it’s easy to forget just how new the phenomenon is. Web marketing has been around since the advent of the internet, but apart from a few rather crude SMS blasts, the concept of mobile marketing didn’t really exist until the first wave of smartphones came out less than a decade ago.

It may have taken a while to come of age, but mobile commerce has been making up for it over the past few years, with sales derived from tablets and smartphones expected to reach $100 billion by the year’s end. Google analysts predict mobile search volumes will outstrip desktop by 2015. Every business worth it’s salt is pursuing some kind of mobile marketing strategy, each hoping to corner their share of a smartphone audience that accounts for more than half of the population of the United States.

We’ve identified five key reasons why mobile has become the top priority of businesses great and small:

It’s Local

Right now, 40% of mobile searches are local; 77% of those take place from a user’s home or workplace, indicating an active preference for mobile even when alternatives are available. This is tremendously important for small businesses serving their local area. By targeting local keywords, a small business owner can conduct an effective mobile marketing campaign on a relatively tight budget. Which brings us to…

It’s Affordable

Before the mobile revolution, effective marketing campaigns were expensive. Really expensive. Television, radio and billboard advertising cost a lot of money, way more than your average small-to-medium sized business owner can afford. Big corporations got bigger and everyone else was priced out. SMS messaging has changed all that, allowing start ups to have a realistic chance of success on shoestring budgets. The ROI for mobile advertising is also easy to track, with analytics providing invaluable data like peak search times and customer preferences. With mobile, businesses can tweak their service according to consumer behavior and make their ad spend go further.

It’s Fast

Four out of five mobile conversions happen within five hours of the search. This is critical because searches turn into leads, and ultimately sales. Make yourself available via mobile and you can grab more customers faster than ever before.

It’s for Everyone

The first generation of cell phone owners are now in the valuable 55-64 demographic – and their children are even more tech savvy. Mobile growth is happening across all age groups and ethnicities, which is a solid gold gift for marketing managers.

…and Everything

The top five tasks performed on smartphones are making phone calls (83%), checking emails (74%), search (67%), taking photos (62%) and accessing social media (57%). There’s hardly an online activity that isn’t conducted via mobile. Another gift for marketers, who can focus variously on each task as part of their campaign.

Mobile marketing is here to stay, and it represents a real revolution for small business owners who no longer have to be drowned out by corporate clout. Get on board with your own mobile marketing campaign and you’ll find out for yourself why mobile is top dog.