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June 16, 2015

How SMS can Save Summer

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As the weather starts to heat up, annual summer vacations enjoy a revival. Airplane travel has become a popular and affordable way to travel these days, yet it has taken forever for the air travel industry to catch up with the mobile revolution. In fact, while travel and hospitality seem to lead innovation regarding user experience depicted through mobile, air transportation has done little in the way of making flights more mobile friendly.

And it doesn’t stop there. There are several ways to improve a summer traveler’s experiences with the help of mobile. Here’s a list of improvements every vacation could benefit from.

 

Mobile Ticket Purchase

According to Text Marketer, one in five international vacations were booked via mobile device. Travelers love great deals, so when there’s an extra passenger seat available at a discount, communicating those savings to loyal customers can be a great benefit. Frost and Sullivan report that consumers are 98% more likely to respond to a SMS message compared to regular emails. Using mobile to showcase great deals is a win-win situation.

 

Mobile Check-in 

One of the most common complaints about air travel is a long check-in line. Instead of numerous lines for check-in, offering a mobile responsive check-in service provide allow passengers ease of mind while they make their way through security and to their final boarding gate. It’s one less step that could make a huge impact on a customer’s flying experience.

 

Retail Opportunities

When travelers are stuck with a long layover or change in flight schedule, nothing beats duty-free shopping. Retail locations in airports have become incredibly lucrative for a variety of vendors. SMS marketing coupons are 10 times more likely to be redeemed than mail or newspaper ads. Using beacon technology to offer special discounts or special offers is a great way to use mobile effectively.

 

In Flight Upgrades

Some aircrafts currently offer WiFi access for a small fee, but many planes have yet to be fully upgraded. While placing phone calls or texting may be unsafe, even in the future, it would seem that offering Wi-Fi access during all flights could make a customer’s flight much more productive and enjoyable.

 

Mobile Accommodations

In addition to improving mobile for air travel, hotel accommodations are jumping on the wagon. Hilton hotels recently announced a smartphone check-in service to debut sometime in 2016. The app will allow guests to search and purchase a room via mobile. The mobile device also acts as a room key and can quickly connect with hotel staff or services via text message.

There are several ways to save summer with unique mobile initiatives that will ultimately benefit both the traveler and companies alike. 

 

June 10, 2015

SMS is Preferable to Messaging Apps, Says Survey

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Sure, numerous messaging apps have cropped up in recent years, with the Facebook Messaging app being the most popular. Yet despite the rise in messaging apps, many prefer the classic text message option. According to a new survey conducted by RingCentral, most prefer SMS to messaging apps, and 80 percent of the 509 people surveyed said they used texting for business. RingCentral is a cloud-based communications system for SMBs with “desktop and mobile apps, SMS capabilities and a variety of additional features.” 

Most survey participants were between the ages of 25 and 34. Some 48 percent of respondents have one or two messaging apps on their phones, with 30 percent having three or four. This isn’t exactly shocking, as most don’t want their phones cluttered with a bunch of messaging apps they don’t use. Several (41 percent) used two messaging apps regularly, though 36 percent of people surveyed said they didn’t feel overwhelmed by using more than one method for checking their messages every day.  

As far as the actual messaging apps go, Facebook is the favorite, followed by WhatsApp and Snapchat.  

The survey also looked at how many texts participants sent and received per day, how long they go without responding to a text, and why they preferred text messages to IM. Most said they send and receive between one and 20 messages every day, respond to messages two to 11 minutes after receiving them, and prefer traditional texting because it’s the simpler, easier, faster option. About 72 percent of participants clearly favored texting. 

Arguably more direct, traditional texting is much less difficult to ignore or miss than messaging apps. And while 80 percent of survey participants said they used texting for business, email is still widely considered the more professional option. Conducting business over IM is perceived as too casual and personal.  

“This employee feedback in our survey suggests the dire needs for companies to adopt the right business communication tools, policies and procedures to empower texting, calling, messaging, and online meetings—through more efficient communication platforms—at work,” RingCentral’s Carolyn Shmunis wrote on the company blog. “As new communication preferences emerge, employees and employers must devise a system that prevents communication overload, while enabling efficient communication both internally and externally. Preparing employees with the right tools to call, text or message one another should remain a top priority to help workplace productivity and efficiency.” 

Shmunis also noted that the survey takeaway is very clear: Texting may be the preferred option to IM, however it’s still important for businesses to “be better well-equipped to communicate with all modes of communication effectively.” 

 

May 21, 2015

Global Smartphone Sales of $96bn in 2015 Q1

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Recently released figures suggest 2015 will be a record-breaking year for the smartphone. According to market research company GfK, global sales hit $96 billion in Q1 - an 8% year-on-year increase.  

The market has never witnessed such a successful quarter. The number of units sold went up by 7%, to 309.7 million (from 290.1 million in the first quarter of 2014). The lion’s share of that growth comes from Middle Eastern and African markets, but strong growth in North America continues to drive revenues. 

Outside the USA, there has been a slowing of growth in other mature markets such as China and Japan - though analysts predict this is a temporary hiccup rather than a new trend. As more consumers make the transition from 3G to 4G, developed Asian markets are expected to fuel a resurgence in regional sales. 

Much of the ground made can be attributed to a combination of 4G and large-screen adoption, but low-end smartphones have also experienced an upsurge, increasing their market share from 52% in the previous quarter, to 56% in Q1 of 2015. Mid-range devices remained stable and price erosion in emerging markets has seen high-end models (retailing at $500+) take a tumble.

What are we to make of these figures? According to GfK, global smartphone demand is predicted to grow by at least 10% year-on-year for the remainder of 2015. Asia - and in particular India and Indonesia - is forecast to be the primary growth area, as the economies are strong but smartphone penetration is still relatively low.

May 15, 2015

Is Your Website Primed for Mobile Users?

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At the end of last month, Google updated their algorithms to reward mobile-friendly sites. 

“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal,” the company wrote on its Webmaster Central Blog back in February. “This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.” 

The substantial change in how the search engine giant rank websites means it’s essential that your website, blog, and landing pages are completely optimized for mobile.  

Are you ready for this historic change? Let’s look at what you need to do if you haven’t already: 

 

Test Your Website 

Google has provided website owners with a free tool that lets them know what they need to do to ensure they’re prepared for the new mobile search algorithm. Simply run the tool on your site to obtain a speedy assessment of whether your mobile rank is good enough for the change. If your site is fully optimized, you’ll receive a success message saying “Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly” or something similar. You’ll also receive a visual of how Google sees your site. 

If your website is less-than-mobile-friendly, you’ll receive a notification that reads, “Not mobile-friendly” complete with a list of why not. Typical reasons include “text too small to read,” “links too close together,” and “mobile viewpoint not set.” You’ll also be notified as to how Google sees the page and what you can do to change it. 

 

Select Your Approach

Google recognizes three different “mobile-friendly” configurations so you may move content as needed. The first is responsive design, also Google’s number-one recommended design pattern. Responsive design never creates two copies of the same site, meaning viewers have only one go-to URL, and the website adapts to whatever device it’s on, whether tablet, smartphone...you get the idea. 

Dynamic serving and mobile websites round out the list, with the former allowing you to again keep the same URL. The difference is the change in HTML, as dynamic serving utilizes user-agents to determine what device the consumer is using and sets up the appropriate view.  

The mobile website option refers to creation of a separate mobile website, however it means creating and maintaining two different versions of content. Responsive design is considered the best option because website viewers, Google, marketers, and website owners are all big, big fans. 

 

Wrap-Up

Google has also created a list of common mistakes in addition to its mobile-optimization tool so you may correct whatever’s wrong with your site, if applicable. If your site isn’t optimized, don’t panic--you can still rebuild your search credit. However, the sooner you implement changes, the better. 

 

April 21, 2015

90% of Mobile Marketing Revenue Comes from SMS

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It is increasingly apparent that the SMS segment of the global mobile advertising market is very dominant due to the rapid surge in smartphone and tablet use around the world. Some 90 percent of adults in the U.S. use mobile phones, 60 percent of which are smartphones.  The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) believes that soon smartphone use in the U.S. will rise to 80 percent. 

“With consumers carrying mobile devices wherever they go, it has become crucial for marketers to target this large consumer base with mobile advertisements and promotions,” according to Transparency Market Research (TMR). “A mobile advertising platform firm provides services to marketers that allow them to send these advertisements to consumers using mobile devices. Each distinct mobile advertising platform contains opportunities for marketers to deliver their message to a broad range of consumers.” 

SMS is subsequently a “big deal,” as mobile advertising services are easily sent out via text message. Mobile advertising is also being used to place banner ads on smartphone apps, which appear either at the top of the app (mobile web banner) or at the bottom of the app (mobile web poster). One of the many advantages of SMS is it allows users to view and send short messages without worrying about privacy issues or seriously interrupting the receiver’s day. It’s therefore not shocking to note that SMS accounts for 90 percent of total mobile marketing revenue. Simply put, it's the most cost-effective of all mobile marketing tactics.

In addition to SMS, multimedia messaging services, aka MMS, are experiencing an increase in popularity. Other services gaining momentum include full-screen interstitials, mobile videos, and mobile games. 

Transparency Market Research believes the next few years will see advertisers in the global mobile ad marketing space focus increasingly on performance. An increase in ROI spending will likely occur, as will the quantifiable results that follow. Preference for location-based advertising is also growing, and will only get bigger and better in the future. Such advertising makes it possible for advertisers to target specific portions of their target demographic, therefore dramatically enhancing mobile ad effectiveness.  

Unlike traditional phone calls, “spammy” emails, and the days of going door to door, SMS is a safe and effective means of catering to target audiences. Most read text messages as soon as they come through compared to the hours that pass before reading an email or the disgruntled consumers on the other end of a marketing phone call. In addition to its effectiveness, SMS messaging is a low-cost marketing option. No wonder it makes up 90 percent of mobile marketing revenue….

 

April 20, 2015

Here's Why Your Web Development Should Start with Mobile

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Responsible design goes way beyond pixel measurements and assorted limitations, as it’s about deciphering the behaviors and preferences of a target audience, and meeting their needs, whether through smartphones, tablets, or websites.  

Consumer habits and expectations change depending on the device they’re using, meaning content and information must be displayed in the right way. The best option for learning about a target demographic and testing their “commitment to proper responsive build” is starting with a “mobile-first” approach. And while mobile may be the smallest of frequently-used platforms, it is still the favorite. Let’s take a deeper look at starting web development with mobile: 

 

Content 

When developing a brand, quality content is key. However, working through large blocks of copy and trying to find the important points gets tough, making it essential to ask the following question: What is the point I’m trying to make? Once the key theme is identified, it’s time to cut out “filler” content so the resulting post easily fits on a mobile device screen. This not only looks much better, but also makes it more readable for consumers. 

The other benefit to resizing content for mobile screens is once you’ve made the post fit, sizing it for tablets and the like is quite simple. 

 

Form and Function

Yes, you’re working with a smaller screen when crafting content for mobile, but that doesn’t mean it’s supposed to be anything short of engaging. Think form followed by function, and go for attention-grabbing headers and titles, visually-stunning telegraphic iconography, concise messaging, and quick yet memorable, meaningful takeaways. Create phone, tablet, and desktop “experiences” that takes user mindset into account—again, begin with mobile and go from there.

 

A Prime Example

A common request marketing agencies receive from clients is creating a product gallery. In terms of mobile, the gallery must be easy to swipe through so one product per swipe is featured with minimal copy. This results in a more intimate browsing experience. Image pairings are possible for tablets and desktops, or showcasing the entire product page. 

 

Wrap-Up 

Don’t think of mobile as far better than the other options, as each offers its own benefits. Rather, view them as complimentary. On mobile, for example, it’s easy to focus on a given element, while desktops make it possible to display an entire product line and emphasize that the brand meets the needs of a whole range of customers. It’s also possible to group products “visually, physically, or factually” in light of varying market approaches. 

The ability to solve the same issue on different devices is one that cannot be discussed enough, as it makes the ability to change content according to platform easier in the future. It also helps significantly in terms of prioritizing per device, and creating responsive designs. 

 

April 15, 2015

Mobile Devices Mostly Impervious to Hackers, say Verizon

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Mobile has revolutionized the tech industry, creating as many new businesses as it has destroyed old ones. In the past decade, a ‘marketing strategy’ has turned into a ‘digital marketing strategy’ before morphing swiftly into a ‘mobile marketing strategy’ and it’s left countless heads spinning. 

Oddly, there is one perennial area of concern for the industry that has remained largely untouched by the smartphone: hacking. 

According to a recent report from Verizon, mobile devices are seldom used by hackers to commit their nefarious deeds, which is not all that surprising, given the limitations of inputting complex code into small-screen devices. Perhaps more surprising is just how few mobile devices are targeted by hackers. 

The Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) is Verizon’s annual paper on cybersecurity issues. This year’s DBIR has concluded that “mobile devices are not a preferred vector in data breaches.” In other words: criminals use laptops and desktops to hack into networks.

The report draws on data from tens of millions of mobile devices on Verizon’s own network. It found just 0.03% of tablets and smartphones were infected with serious malware - significantly below the 0.68% rate of infection from unwanted software affecting non-mobile devices. 

That’s not all the good news. The few infections that make it through to our phones are generally less serious than the types of spyware and malware affecting our computers. The lion’s share of ‘successful’ mobile viruses were relatively harmless pieces of ‘adnoyance’ software, which are aimed at trying to direct users to purchase security packages and other money-making schemes, or collect personal data. These types of infection are also much easier to spot than the more malicious desktop infractions. 

Apple users won’t be surprised to learn that the vast majority of infections were found on open-source Android devices. In fact, most suspicious activity logged on iOS devices were failed ‘hit and hope’ scams aimed at Android users. 

This information, while reassuring, is not an excuse for lax security practices. But it does suggest the new model of closed, app-based software - designed to be impervious to hackers - is working, and that can only be a good thing. As more and more online activity is conducted via mobile devices, the tolerance for security breaches will (hopefully) continue to plummet. 

 

April 04, 2015

Smartphones Are Now the Dominant Mobile Device

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Unless you’ve been living under a frightfully large rock, you know the impact smartphones have had on the digital industry. Unsurprisingly the devices now make up 75% of the mobile phone market, a 10% increase from a year ago and a 73% increase from 10 years ago, according to Internet analytics firm comScore. 

Three-quarters of Americans aged 13 or older own smartphones, with the rest using basic cellphones, such as flip phones and TracFones. The percentage of people who don’t own a cellphone at all….well, that number is so low it’s not even worth discussing.  

“If you take a look at the big picture, it’s how mobile has taken over and become the dominant platform through which people engage in digital media,” said Andrew Lipsman, vice president of marketing and insights at comScore.  

People are spending more and more time in front of digital screens despite the fact that desktop use has gone down the tubes. Still, people are glued to their screens practically all day and night, whether on their way to work, watching TV, or any other time thanks to the prevalence of smartphones and tablets.  

The positive side to this screen addiction is the ability to stay better informed and even learn a thing or two more quickly, noted Lipsman. The negative side is a bit more complicated, as new research recently released by digital technology firm Apigee in San Jose, CA and Stanford University’s Mobile Innovation Group, found a “deepening dependence” on smartphones in terms of social interaction. Dependency was most severe among smartphone users, who say they’re on their phones “nearly all the time,” including while at family dinners. 

Shockingly, 21% of smartphone users said they couldn’t sustain a relationship with a partner without their phone apps, and 19% of users said they could not make new friends without the the assistance of their devices. Younger Americans use smartphones the most (surprise, surprise), with at least 85% of citizens ages 13 to 44 owning one, according to comScore. 

The numbers decline with age: 76% of people ages 45 to 54 use smartphones, and 63% of those ages 55 to 64 use such devices. The percentage is 48% people ages 65 or older. 

Apple devices remain the most popular, as they make up 41% of the market. The company is followed by Samsung, LG, Motorola, and HTC at 29%, 8%, 5%, and 4% respectively. 

Wondering about the most popular smartphone apps? Facebook still rules them all with 70% of the market, followed by YouTube (55%), Google Play (52%), Google Search (52%), and Facebook Messenger (47%). 

What will become of the country’s smartphone addiction? Only time will tell….

 

March 30, 2015

Analytics App Raises $34 Million

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In search of the best analytics tool for your marketing app? Localytics might be the answer to your app-tastic prayers. A service app that offers “analytics, insights, and marketing solutions in one place,” Localytics has raised $34 million in Series D funding so far.  

The company initially focused on app analytics, but CEO Raj Aggarwal noted that customers also called for tools that made it easy to move forward with their newly-acquired data. This prompted the Localytics team to add push notifications, integration with sales and business intelligence software, email marketing, and in-app messaging. Aggarwal explained that businesses are in need of “all the insights and tools to engage users and meet their expectations for an amazing app experience, in one place.”  

He pointed out that apps are an essential component of the digital experience, and as such, businesses need their marketing and product teams to use the same tools. Disparate data sets are quickly becoming a thing of the past.  

Localytics offers real-time, granular data analytics that answer questions such as, “How frequently do consumers visit my app?”, “How long does the average user spend on my app per visit?”, “What are people doing in my app?” and “Why aren’t my app users converting?” among other relevant queries. The insights portion of Localytics shows which demographic your app targets, what features pique consumer interest the longest, how many purchases were made over the last 15 days, and what makes some users “more valuable” than others. 

As far as marketing services, Localytics offers push messaging that helps re-engage customers, in-app messaging that lets users know about new features, and features answers to attribution questions, such as where to invest in terms of advertising. A/B testing is also part of the app’s marketing services, and helps determine what drives the most conversions, and which call to actions are best for specific campaigns.  

Localytics is currently used by some 32,000 apps, including those for eBay, ESPN, Fox, The New York Times, and the upcoming HBO Now app. 

The company will soon introduce a new predictive marketing feature, which is designed to aid businesses in discovering which customers are most likely to abandon the app. Once such customers are identified, they’ll receive targeted messages convincing them to keep using it. This marketing feature also determines which customers are willing to spend more on the app, and subsequently tempts them with targeted deals.

Current Localytics investors include Sapphire Ventures, Foundation Capital, and Polaris Partners.

 

March 27, 2015

Mobile Marketing is Going Hyper-Local

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Mobile marketing has taken huge strides towards fulfilling the potential of geo-targeting technology, allowing local businesses to make the most of their sphere of influence. The only way for geo-location techniques to go is inward, reaching ever-more specific parts of the local economy.

Mobile marketing is doing just that, placing an increasing emphasis on attracting foot traffic to brick and mortar retail outlets. The industry is now able to service international brands with bespoke campaigns in multiple locations using region-specific methods capable of targeting users to a single square foot. 

This ultimate refinement of mobile marketing tactics is a real game changer. A heady cocktail of beacons, GPS, location information gathered from existing interactions and other geolocaters is ushering in a new era of hyper-local mobile marketing so precise it’s hard to imagine how it could improve further.

Having such devastatingly effective mobile marketing tactics available at the local level is helping small businesses maximize their efficiency on tight budgets. For a relatively low cost, small businesses can quickly, reliably reach the widest audience they can serve, via a combination of in-app messaging, web ads, text messages, MMS and push notifications. 

So what next? With such sophistication already on display, where targeted mobile marketing could go now is anybody’s guess. Some mobile marketers are considering adjusting their services to allow for weather, which would let marketers better judge the prime time to pitch discounts. It might not be relevant to every business, but purveyors of ice cream or rooftop cocktails could really use knowing if it’s about to rain the moment they’ve sent their 50% discount coupon to hundreds of people. Other local data like traffic conditions may also begin to play a part in geo-location technology. 

The tools at our disposal allows imaginative approaches to marketing to flourish, unencumbered by technological limits. Nobody can say for certain what the next few years hold for mobile marketing - that’s why it’s so exciting. But if the rapid rate of change we’ve seen take place over the past decade continues, we can be confident that the mobile landscape of 2025 will look very different to the one we see today.