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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.

September 17, 2014

(More Than) Texting From Your Computer

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As many iPhone users know, it can be a breeze to respond to iMessages whether you have your phone or not. Due to the fact that Apple has designed the iMessage platform to run on Mac, tablet, and smartphones alike, users have the benefit of sending and receiving messages from a computer if they want to. But what if you don’t have this luxury? Perhaps you are using another type of smartphone or you prefer PCs. Well, now you have an answer.

A new platform called Pushbullet serves to mirror all of the content on your android device, sending it to the computer of your choice. And yes, this includes text messages.

Many will argue that they don’t need to send or receive texts from their computer, but note all of the powerful benefits. First of all, mobile phones have much smaller interfaces with tiny on-screen keyboards that can be difficult to navigate. When you attempt to type on them, they autocorrect your every word. Were you to type the text message from your computer, you could type the whole text message on your regular keyboard – some without even looking at the screen.

When you work on a computer all day long (as most people do these days), isn’t it easier to send and receive text messages without having to look down at your phone every few seconds. Sending and receiving SMS messages from your computer is easier on the eyes and the neck. Also, you can turn off the loud text alert in the office without worrying about missing texts due to silent mode.

The Pushbullet platform also provides messaging history. If you have more than one mobile device, you can review all of your messages at once, along with any documents currently on the mobile device.

Pushbullet technology allows users to send a variety of items from their computers to their phones, save SMS attachments on a computer’s hard drive, and seamlessly transfer links between computer and phone. Essentially, Pushbullet has a variety of options for Android/PC users that can increase productivity immensely, which is arguably even more significant than sending a text messages from a computer.

August 31, 2014

Building an Effective Drip Campaign

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Connecting with customers can be difficult in an age of technology, when consumers are being bombarded by advertising from all directions. Due to such high spam rates, the effectiveness of email marketing and snail mail advertising has dropped significantly. That’s why marketing these days takes repetition, repetition, repetition. By creating a good drip campaign, you can raise the chances that a prospect will not only open your marketing message but ultimately invest in an ongoing relationship with the brand.

A drip campaign is a time-released set of automated messages via either email or text marketing. These messages are cued by certain triggers, from click-throughs and sign-ups, to a series of messages sent out according to a scheduled calendar. Drip campaigns are designed with one purpose in mind – to pique the interest of potential customers over continued engagement. Here are some great ideas when it comes to an effective drip campaign:

  • Be Clear on the Conversion

When setting up a drip campaign, always be clear on exactly what you would like from the customer. Is the end goal to receive a purchase, a sign-up, or a referral? Create a clear conversion goal for the campaign and an extremely coherent pathway for the customer to get there. Make sure the call-to-action is concise and simple, and the conversion process is as easy as can be. If customers don’t quickly understand what to do next and how to do it…they probably won’t do anything!

  • Strengthen the relationship

Think about how to build better relationships with customers. Personalized messages can go a long way when it comes to strengthening customer relations. Address clients by name, and send messages from a personal account whenever possible (rather than from an obviously automated one). In addition, be sure to send customer greetings on special holidays and birthdays. Consumers appreciate attention to detail and feel connected to brands that address them personally.

  • Provide value

Customers must see the benefit in engaging with a brand. Every email or text message should contain content that clients find useful. Include links to engaging articles and blogs, announce exciting events, comment on current trends, or offer them participation at upcoming webinars. Sending customers special or exclusive offers is perhaps the best way to provide value in a drip campaign.

  • Automate with excellence

Be choosy when it comes to message automation. Make sure the email or text marketing service you choose meets all of your brand’s needs. The auto-responder should have follow-up capabilities, exhaustive analysis of metrics, and matchless reliability. Don’t waste your time with second-rate services, as there are several reliable and affordable marketing companies to choose from.

With drip campaign best practices in your marketing arsenal, you are bound to gain some traction with current and prospective clients. Start planning and testing a drip campaign for your business to stand out above the milieu of advertising spam.

August 14, 2014

Is Beacon Technology Going to Change the Retail World?

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Beacon technology incorporates the power of consumer-targeted advertising with location-based mobile marketing by installing small pieces of low-cost hardware within the shelves of retail stores. When customers enter a store with Bluetooth-enabled mobiles or tablets, the business can send customized advertisements directly to their devices thereby enhancing their shopping experience. While Beacons have only recently begun to appear in shops, the technology itself is already part of Apple devices since the 3rd generation of their products. And reports from the tech blogs are starting to take notice of the Beacon technology’s capabilities.

Mass Potential

Apple’s beacon system, called iBeacon, is automatically installed in all devices that use their current operating system, iOS 7. This means that, even if a mobile user knows little about how the iPad or iPhone works, they still have the infrastructure in place to benefit from Beacon technology. There could be as many as 190 million iOS devices currently capable of accessing iBeacons. Undoubtedly, this number showcases the unbridled potential of Beacon technology.

Current Barriers

There is a bit of a curve to this technology, though. An almost equal amount of the mobile and tablet markets use non-Apple products, which are less integrated with the Beacon infrastructure. Because the operating systems of non-Apple products tend to require updated versions of their OS, mobile marketers cannot rely upon these technologies for their Beacon-based advertising strategies.

Furthermore, Beacon technology requires mobile users to “opt in,” in a manner of speaking. First of all, customers will need to download the appropriate app for the business in question, and then they will have to activate it before entering the store. In addition, Beacons require ranging technology to function, which works in proximity of the devices using a mobile’s Bluetooth. The mobile will not receive any pushes or notifications, however, if a phone’s location is cloaked – the customer must allow the appropriate app to access its location for the Beacon to function properly.

The Future

In truth, Beacon technology is only beginning to get a foothold in the physical advertising space, and once it gains some traction, it will be here to stay. The unrealized potential of mobile location-based marketing is burgeoning, just waiting to be deployed. In the near future, we will witness customers taking advantage of flash sales and contactless payment options, as well as living in automated homes where temperature and lighting may be adjusted directly from mobile devices. The rule books have yet to be written. We do know that the key to capitalizing on Beacon technology will rely on corporations’ creativity and connectedness: sharing real-time information with customers to a mutual end and appealing to the changing temperaments of these individuals, all the while motivating these loyal customers in a direction – according to when and where – they want them to be. 

August 09, 2014

Six of the Best: Reasons to Use SMS

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Despite the appeal of other emerging forms of communication, text messaging via SMS is still the most popular choice for mobile users. Four billion people around the globe use SMS, sending upwards of a trillion messages each year. Due to its popularity it’s no wonder that mobile marketers agree: pound for pound, SMS allows for the furthest reach to the widest audience. But why is SMS the best selection for a mobile marketing campaign? Here are several reasons:

1)Popularity

As mentioned above, SMS is the most popular form of mobile communication. At least 70% of the world’s populace uses a mobile phone, and of those subscribers, 80% of them use text. With reach like that, mobile marketers will want to incorporate SMS into their marketing strategy.

2)Permanence

First off, text messages can be sent at anytime to anyone. Even if the receiver is offline, they will receive the SMS once they are back online. Messages do not expire, and will be read as soon as the recipient is free to read it.

Furthermore, SMS users tend to remain SMS users. Many different communications platforms have been developed since the late 20th century: fax, email, IM, as well as the more recent platforms of apps, multimedia messaging, Facebook and Twitter. Consumers choose text messages due to their widespread availability and the low cost. Also, practically everyone knows how to send and receive text messages. For years, SMS shall go head-to-head with the mobile user’s other most common type of communication (voice calling).

3)Capability

SMS-style messages have numerous capabilities. They can include binary data, pictures, music, logos, animations, and coupons/vouchers. Information can be exchanged between applications. And in fairly recent news, SMS is able to utilize mWallet services – an invaluable asset to have in today’s mobile marketing landscape.

4)Dialogue

Text messages are a two-way street, allowing for back and forth communication between users. From a marketing standpoint, this paves the way for feedback, comments, and join-in promotions using SMS. Many marketing campaigns ask users to send them photos within messages. In one example, BBC radio ran a picture-messaging campaign for the MDA that was wildly successful – to the tune of over forty-thousand picture messages in a 24-hour period!

5)Payments

SMS promotes the use of reverse payments, where the recipient may opt to pay for the message. In the case of valuable mobile content, this is the most common method to receive payment. Also, charities have utilized SMS’ payment capabilities, providing a channel and a means for eager donors.

6)Economy

Certainly, bulk SMS messages can be costly, but they are cheaper than the Post Office. Also, since the messages are short, they are more likely to gain the attention of busy mobile users. And clever retailers can do a lot using only 160 characters.

Perhaps one day there will be a way for advertisers to break through the noise, creating targeted cross-platform advertisements that reach every mobile user available. Since SMS is the most widespread and powerful mobile marketing tool currently available, be sure to incorporate text messaging strategies into your marketing campai

July 30, 2014

Microsoft Finally Takes It's Head From the Sand... and Into the Cloud

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After years of threatening to become a computing anachronism, Microsoft is transmogrifying into a cloud services provider with a strong focus on mobile marketing. 

Earlier this year, the tech giant put the finishing touches to its Windows Phone 8.1 OS, and promised delivery to consumers by ‘Summer 2014’. They’ve already begun integrating Nokia’s smartphone business, and shares have gone up by 25% since the appointment of new CEO Satya Nadella five months ago.

On the face of it, Microsoft is finally joining the cloud/mobile party that’s been in full swing since the turn of the decade. It’s been a long time coming, and competing with the likes of Google and Apple will be a tough road aho.

Critics have lambasted Microsoft for its reticence regarding the obvious consumer appeal of cloud computing, but their strategy has become more focused on Nadella’s watch, with the professed ‘cloud first, mobile first’ philosophy at last gaining credibility.

In particular, the firm has begun to recognize the need to give partners more control over the cloud services they resell. They recently announced the implementation of the Microsoft Cloud Solutions Provider program, which grants affiliates who resell products like Office 365 and Windows Intune greater control of billing and customer service tools. Says Phil Sorgen, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Partnerships:

“It fundamentally enables our partners to own the customer relationship.”

The program will expand gradually until it covers all MS cloud services. It certainly appears that Microsoft is offering the right incentives to partners. They are waiving the first year fee for new registrants wanting to sell Azure and Office 365, and increasing the number of internal use rights licenses by anything from 25 to 200 percent. Even their traditional on-premise software products are getting a 10 percent price slash for partner programs.

The jury is still out on whether this cloud and mobile marketing strategy will pay off for Microsoft. With hundreds of thousands of partners out their, the challenge is to meet the needs of a vast, heterogeneous group with extremely diverse priorities. Not all of them are thrilled at the way the wind is blowing.

Many long-time resellers and integrators will find themselves struggling to adjust their models to cloud-based services after years spent building business around on-premises Microsoft software. For one thing, on-premises deals are usually made with a one-time payment, whilst cloud services are sold by subscription. The latter generates recurring revenue streams – but the size of the deal tends to be smaller.

But Microsoft have realized that focusing on the future is the only way to ensure long term prosperity. Their attentions are pointed at the ‘born in the cloud’ generation of entrepreneurs who have never used on-premises software. For them, Microsoft’s evolution can’t happen quickly enough.

July 19, 2014

From Zero to Hero: How Mobile Revolutionized Planet Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

May 29, 2014

SEO Strategies to Avoid

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Three letters represent the primary focus of any mobile marketing campaign, and have done for around a decade now. SEO. It’s come a long way since then, adapting to an increasingly complex array of strictures and barriers imposed by search engines in order to prevent people gaming the system, but the objective is the same: improve visibility for relevant industry keywords.

The fast pace of change in SEO best practices means that well-intentioned tips published a year ago may actually harm your rankings today. This is not a dilettantes game. To do it right, you need to stay on top of the latest effective strategies and, even more importantly, those tactics that have fallen afoul of Bot Logic. Smart mobile marketing tactics – or ‘white hat’ techniques – will be rewarded for creativity in the shape of increased clicks, impressions and conversions. The ‘black hat’ SEOs that still haunt our online world are fighting a losing battle. When was the last time you saw a link farm on page one for a popular keyword? I’m guessing some time around the turn of the decade.

Trouble is, the misinformed or naïve SEO strategist will be punished as fully as the cynical black hatter. Even if you adopt a mobile marketing strategy in good faith, if Google frowns upon it, you’re done for. It could set your business back months. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of ‘must-avoid’ SEO tactics so you know what not to do…

 

Reciprocal Links

There is much confusion surrounding the value of reciprocal links. Of course, links from friends, family and business associates are a natural part of entrepreneurship. This is where the ‘link as vote’ analogy is helpful. Think of your business as an election campaign. You can and should reach out to potential ‘voters’ and ask them to support your campaign for success. But if you receive an unsolicited email from someone you’ve never heard of, and they request a link exchange, accepting it would be like associating your ‘candidate’ with the wrong sort of voter. In most cases, such emails will come from sites weighed down by links already, and the greater the link:valuable content is, the lower the value of each additional link becomes. Chances are, if they’ve contacted you (usually via automated software) they stand to benefit from your link much more than you from theirs. Don’t be tempted by offers of dodgy links. Bide your time, and grow your backlinks in a more organic way, and Google will love you forever. 

Peak Keyword

Back in Web 1.0, you could happily stuff a page with keywords, safe in the knowledge that this unsophisticated metric was given credence by search engines. Those days are gone. Now, when Google bots crawl a page crammed with keywords, they will consign that page to the bottom of the results.

Link Overload

Placing relevant links in your article is a key part of creating useful content – but overdo it with extraneous links and you will be stung by the search engines.

Comments

Just as link building needs to be done slowly and with great care, commenting on others’ blogs as a way of boosting your online profile can be a positive organic approach. But as with all good SEO practices, you need a rich mixture of tactics to get real results. Even if you’re only leaving comments of value, blog commenting for the sole purpose of building links is nothing less than spam.

May 23, 2014

5 Mobile Marketing Don’ts

 

More and more small businesses are catching on to the manifold benefits of mobile marketing, and 84% of companies that adopt a mobile marketing strategy report an upsurge in sales.

With so many new players in the game, rookie mistakes are inevitable. If you want to avoid some of the more common errors made by mobile marketing newbies, read our top five fails so you know what not to do…

Blocking Mobile Traffic

This is surprisingly common. There’s some kind of screwy logic at play: businesses think that just because they don’t have a mobile version of their site, they should block mobile traffic altogether. Bad idea. Something is better than nothing, and smartphone users are getting increasingly nimble at navigating non-mobile sites on their devices, so don’t cut yourself off from a potentially huge audience.

Failing to Optimize for Mobile Search

That said, you really should be working towards having a fully optimized mobile version of your site, searchable on a mobile phone. Remember, people search very differently on a portable device than they do on a desktop. You can’t simply transfer the keywords you target on desktop browsers to mobile. People tend to search for brands and precise names and locations on mobile, because they’re on the move and have a specific destination in mind. Their searches are also more likely to be location-based. The addendum ‘near me’ is a common prompt in mobile browsers – use it to your advantage. Bear in mind too that long tail key terms like your industry + town/city are much cheaper and easier to rank for, so you’re shooting yourself in the foot if you fail to target them in favor of the big keywords.

Omitting Contact Information

It’s surprising how many people fail to put their address on the homepage. It needs to be easy to spot, and attached to an embedded Google maps link to help them find your store. Similarly, your phone number should be prominently featured and a clickable link. The fewer steps it takes consumers to contact you, the more likely they are to do so.

User Unfriendly Apps

Everyone’s chasing the glitzy prize of their very own app. Problem is, the market is now glutted with sup-par apps that don’t really help anyone. Contrary to our earlier assertion that ‘something is better than nothing’, ill-thought-through apps don’t count. An app download is a much bigger ask of consumers than a quick visit to your website. Unless you’re part of a major organization with the clout and budget to build a good app that works across multiple devices, skip it.

QR Codes

No. They seem attractive because they’re free, but they’ve been ruined by poor execution on the part of many, many businesses. Consumer faith in QR codes has plummeted, and they are now little more than odd relics of the late noughties cluttering up billboards and lampposts around the world. Unless you’ve got some compelling new twist on the concept, leave the QR codes in the past where they belong.

 

 

May 17, 2014

Game-ify your Mobile Marketing Campaign

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The drive to play and compete is a part of human nature. People crave the thrilling adrenalin rush that comes along with trying to beat an opponent. The popularity of gaming apps like Angry Birds is a testament to just how universal that craving is. Consumers spend an average of two hours every day on apps, including games. Successful mobile marketing campaigns today are capitalizing on the universal appeal and power of gaming as a great way to boost customer interaction and thus drive sales.

Engaged Consumers Make More Purchases

In mobile markeint, gameification means creating messages that employ elements of fun and play to entertain members or customers. When consumers are entertained, they become a “fan” of the brand and thus more likely to make a purchase. Fun can blur the line between entertainment and marketing, making the engagement experience more compelling for consumers as they aim to defeat opponents or surpass challenging obstacles. The rush of pride and accomplishment that comes from play can directly affect mood and general brand perception.

The success of Verizon Wireless's revamped customer social hub, Verizon Insider, is a perfect example of how marketers can get more from their mobile marketing campaigns through gamification. In 2012, Verizon set out with the goal of increasing customer interaction. Through its gaming campaign, Verizon Insider users earned points and rewards in several ways, including contest participation that allowed players to post their scores on the company's Facebook and Twitter feeds. Just a few months after the campaign's launch, these users were already spending 30% more time on the Verizon Insider site, with page views up by 15%. Verizon's campaign shows that gamification works.

Analytics Drives Purchasing

Marketers hoping to boost brand awareness and/or increase sales should start by analyzing their mobile messaging. A/B split testing and re-targeting are action techniques that help marketers get the most out of their campaign efforts.

For an example of how this type of split testing and re-targeting might work, one can imagine movie fans receiving quiz questions via MMS. Not only do high scoring quiz-takers experience the thrill of victory; these consumers also receive a significant discount on tickets to the upcoming sequel.In addition, they are encouraged to post their scores via social media, sharing the campaign's message with their friends.

During this first phase of the MMS marketing campaign, the company sends two different versions of the message to various consumer groups, testing to see which wording results in higher conversion rates and in what demographic brackets. After the first round of texts, the company then re-targets, sending alternate messages to customers who didn’t respond to the first one. Consumers are targeted with an additional call to action and perhaps an even a bigger discount, increasing their likelihood of conversion. After analyzing the results, the marketers have a solid idea of what works and whom it works with.

Upping the Game

Gamification in mobile marketing has become a major topic of discussion, and its use is only gaining momentum. Regardless of how much fun consumers are having, however, the importance of testing a gaming campaign's messaging is essential if marketers are going to come out ahead and maximize their ROI. For companies, after all, the endgame is always the bottom line.