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May 28, 2015

MMS Myths Debunked


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A fair few myths surround Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS). And despite the billions of messages sent and received by consumers every month, MMS is still misunderstood. 

Let’s check out the most common myths concerning MMS: 

 

Myth #1: MMS Is More Costly Than Regular Text Messaging

Today’s consumers know their SMS texts are usually covered by their plans, but are frequently concerned MMS messages are not. If you have a text messaging plan (which you probably do, c’mon now), you’re charged the same amount for text and multimedia messages. Most major U.S. wireless carriers bundled the two together some years ago, meaning brands, media companies, and advertisers may deliver 30-second videos to customers for the same price as regular text messages. 

 

Myth #2: A Smartphone is Required to Receive MMS Messages

One of the biggest and best advantages of MMS is you don’t need a smartphone to enjoy multimedia content sent to your mobile device. There’s over 2,700 unique mobile devices in today’s market with the support needed for MMS, and many of them are not “smart.” 

 

Myth #3: Most Phones Don’t Support MMS Video

The aforementioned 2,700 mobile devices capable of receiving MMS messages? They’re also more than able to handle MMS video content. 

 

Myth #4: MMS Requires a Data Plan

Just because your service plan doesn’t include an internet or data plan doesn’t mean you can’t send or receive MMS messages. All your device needs is MMS functionality, which it can easily feature minus so-fancy apps and data service. Additionally, it’s entirely possible for mobile marketers to craft and send detailed mobile marketing campaign messages to non-smartphone users via MMS. Nice, right?

 

Myth #5: Only Those Crazy Kids Do the Text Message Thing 

Hardly. Pretty much everyone, from tweens to teens to young adults to older adults utilize text messaging. It might originally have been considered a “kid thing,” but that’s sooo not the case anymore. All age groups text, which explains the photo of your kids that your parents sent you while on a grandparent-grandkid excursion. 

 

Myth #6: MMS Is Popular in Europe and Asia, But Not the United States

Not true. MMS has been on the same usage level as SMS for years, and is currently eclipsing it. There were 10 billion MMS messages sent in the first half of 2009 in the U.S.--yes, 2009. 

Consumer fascination with MMS presents a variety of exciting opportunities for media companies, as mobile messaging is a billion-dollar industry that shows no signs of slowing down. MMS provides the chance to reach consumers anywhere, anytime--in other words, it’s one heck of a marketing asset. 

 

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 20, 2015

Millennials Pose Biggest Mobile Security Risk

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Internet technology security has become of increased concern for companies with sensitive internal data. The risk from outsider infiltration has been of topic for years, yet a recent report conducted by endpoint security specialists Absolute Software, says otherwise.

According to the survey, almost fifty percent of the workforce will be millennials by 2020. As this group replaces the baby boomers, there are new concerns posed by use and behavior with employer-owned mobile devices and personal computers. 

The survey took a look at 750 Americans over the age of 18 who work for companies with at least fifty employees. Although seventy-nine percent of those questioned reported they prefer separate mobile devices for personal and work use, fifty-two percent will use the company-owned property for personal reasons. What’s more, of that total, fourteen percent admit their personal behavior could compromise company data and lead to a potential security risk. 

What’s more interesting still, the age demographic and position level have strong influences on this behavior. Only five percent of baby boomers reported compromising activities on company property, while twenty-five percent of millennials report similar activity. Sixty-four percent of millennials reported using desktop computers for personal use, while only thirty-seven percent of baby boomer reported the personal use of company desktops. 

Aside from breaking company policies that protect sensitive data, among those surveyed, twenty-seven percent reported the content they view is not safe on company property. Five percent concluded their personal content was of no threat to the company’s security. 

Moreover, as position level increases, so too does the likeliness of an employee using employee-owned property for personal use. Of those at senior level positions, seventy-six percent admitted to personal use, and twenty-six percent have actually lost company devices in the last five years. Lower level positions were significantly less, with fifty-one percent admitting to similar personal use.

Vice President of Global Marketing Absolute, Stephen Midgley, says the report was conducted to help companies become more aware of this unique threat to IT security.

“Armed with this information, our customers can consider user behavior as an additional data point in their endpoint security and data risk management strategies,” said Midgley. 

The recommendation is simple: implement a security solution on all employee-owned devices. Additional measures might also include a combination of employee training, updates to guidelines and procedures, as well as personal responsibility placed on the employees.

 

May 16, 2015

A Third of UK Online Purchases in 2015 Will Be Mobile

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According to eMarketer’s latest estimates, one-third of all 2015 online sales in the UK will take place on smartphones and tablets. The figure is believed to increase by over 40 percent by 2019. eMarketer also estimates that UK retail ecommerce sales will rise 14.5 percent this year to reach £60.4bn. This increase is due to an improved economy, more purchase delivery options, and shoppers turning to mobile devices for buying products and services.

Digital will function as the “main driver” of overall retail sales growth, and subsequently its share of total retail sales will increase to 14.4 percent this year. The increase puts the UK on top of global rankings in regards to ecommerce’s portion of total retail sales. China will be second, with a 12 percent share. The U.S. is farther down the line at 7.1 percent.

Additionally, growth trajectory for mCommerce sales is quite sharp, with this year’s forecast predicting a 30.3 percent increase. eMarketer experts say UK retail mCommerce sales “will reach £19.9bn in 2015, and by 2019, that figure will almost double to just short of £37bn.”

Tablets are especially essential to UK mCommerce sales growth, says eMarketer, as more and more consumers use the devices for “lean-back browsing” of potential purchases. Some retailers are putting extra effort into their tablet retail sites and apps, ensuring they’re both rich and responsive. eMarketer predicts that in 2015 tablet retail mCommerce sales will reach £13.3bn, nearly 67 percent of overall UK retail mcommerce sales. Compare that to 2013, when tablets accounted for a 60.5 percent share of such sales. 

“That mobile is playing an increasingly important role in the retail shopping habits of UK consumers is without question, be that via smartphone, phablet or tablet,” said eMarketer analyst, Bill Fisher. “What this demonstrates, though, is that digital shopping and buying long ago entered the mainstream for most UK consumers, and buying via mobile is just the next step. Indeed, device-agnostic buying, thanks to users’ familiarity with these various device types, is becoming the norm.” 

Even though consumers have demonstrated their willingness to rely on tablets and other mobile devices for making purchases, many retailers have been slow to adapt. Security concerns are one reason for this, and new payment technology options have stagnated as a result. However, the UK is set to establish itself as a huge player in the mobile commerce market over the next few years. 

May 15, 2015

The World's First SMS Referendum Took Place Last Month... in Mongolia

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For all the rapid advances in digital technology over the past decade, the business of democracy remains firmly analogue. Ever since mutterings ranging from ‘foul play’ to ‘system error’ cast a pall over the 2000 Presidential elections, electronic voting in the U.S. has been in decline, with states abandoning machines in favor of traditional pencil-and-paper voting. Voting watchdogs and analysts have major reservations about the security of a digital system if faced with committed, politically motivated hackers. Strange as it seems, electronic voting may have had it’s day.

If e-voting - which is at least supervised by election officials in a centralized venue - is on the wane, it seems unlikely that mobile voting will fare any better. For those fearful of tampering and corruption, the remoteness of casting votes via a mobile device will do nothing to reassure. 

Well, it doesn’t get any more remote than Mongolia, which last month became the world’s first country to stage a referendum in which citizens can engage with the democratic process via their mobile devices.  

Prime Minister Saikhanbileg Chimed asked three million Mongolians to air their views on the country’s dwindling economy, which, according to Bloomberg, has slowed down from a record 17.5 per cent in 2011 to around 7 per cent in 2013. The mining industry, a bedrock of the economy, is beset with legal wrangles. Foreign investment has collapsed, causing the Tugrik to fall 42% against the U.S. dollar. The government is involved in a tax dispute with Rio Tinto Group, who were slated to finance one of Mongolia’s biggest assets, the $6.6 billion Oyo Tolgoi mine. Public and political opposition to the open-cast mining industry has only fanned the flames of economic unrest.

With negotiations at a stalemate, Saikhanbileg has shrewdly recognized the only credible way out of the mess is via a public mandate. In January, just two months into his office, Saikhanbileg took to national television to offer Mongolians a stark choice to save the economy: press on with multi-billion dollar mining projects or cut spending and scale back investment in the industry. The Prime Minister invited citizens to state their preferred strategy via text message.

Four days later, the votes were in. Austerity measures received a resounding ‘no’ from the people, giving the government the go-ahead to - hopefully - revitalize the mining industry and resume negotiations with multinationals like Rio Tinto.

For the wider world, the implications of the result are perhaps less significant than the implications of the voting method. Democracy by text message had never been tried before. It seems to have worked, but only time will tell whether the Mongolian experiment is destined to be an anomaly or a historic precedent.

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. 

 

May 02, 2015

Mobile Marketing Tactics for Cinco de Mayo

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Cinco de Mayo, or May 5th, commemorates the Mexican defeat of French troops at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Celebrated among Mexican communities in Mexico and the United States, it has become a drinking holiday. Cinco de Mayo also offers businesses the chance to attract new customers while having a fabulous time with current ones. If devising a mobile marketing scheme in time for this holiday, check out a few tips to help you out: 

 

Fun With Hashtags

Why not create a hashtag campaign? Make one about a week or a few days before Cinco de Mayo encouraging consumers to take selfies with your merchandise, such as a Cinco de Mayo cup bearing your brand name. Feel free to create a competition out of it--think creative selfies featuring the cup and the appropropriate hashtag. Give out “awards” on Cinco de Mayo, such as sending coupons or discount information for free food, drinks, products, or services. Don’t feel limited to selfies--the hashtag campaign can include anything you want so long as it’s appropriate. 

 

Party, Party, Party 

Make loyal customers feel special by throwing an exclusive Cinco de Mayo shindig. Text a special VIP code to customers who have been with your brand for years, regularly purchase certain products or services, etc. The code could function as an invite to a private party of sorts--one that includes free food and beverages, deep discounts on certain items, free trials of services, and whatver else you want to feature. A fantastic way of thanking customers for their loyalty, it’s also a way to spread the word about your brand. After all, don’t happy customers enjoy talking about favorite products and special related benefits?

 

Sales Alerts

Throwing a huge Cinco de Mayo sale? Let customers know via text. You can also send customers exclusive sales codes that guarantee discounts on the holiday. Consumers never tire of exclusive coupons and promotions, and are that much more likely to patronize your business if they know they can get something for cheap if not free. 

 

Powerful Call to Action 

Don’t let your call-to-action ruin your Cinco de Mayo mobile marketing campaign. Opt for engaging, if somewhat personal, options such as “Start Your Adventure Here” and “Celebrate Cinco de Mayo With Us By [Doing X and Y].” Whatever you decide, keep it concise and creative, and never, ever use “Click Here” and similar statements. 

These are just some of the many ways to work Cinco de Mayo into your upcoming mobile marketing campaign...

April 22, 2015

This App Lets You Send a Text 25 Years into the Future... Sort Of

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In an age of instant communication and 24-hour rolling news, the notion of posterity may seem rather quaint. The emphasis is on the now, with scant consideration for what might happen a few weeks - let alone a few years - from now.  

One new app aims to put long-term thinking back in the spotlight, by providing users with a platform to delay the release of their text messages for up to 25 years. Launched last month, Incubate Messenger is the innovation of Atlanta-based entrepreneur Michael McCluney.  

Incubate’s uses aren’t immediately obvious but, according to McCluney, it doesn’t take long for people to ‘think of reasons they need to strategically time [a] message’ when you give them the functionality. Those reasons range from forgetful spouses priming an anniversary text message months ahead of the date, to soldiers on tour sending a time-delayed SMS to their kids when they know they’ll be unable to reach a phone on duty. In addition to SMS messaging, movies, photos and audio messages are also catered for by the app.

McCluney’s lightbulb moment came when an exhausted friend - and father of triplets - told him of the nightly struggles tending to three 3-month-old babies. The developer suggested his friend make audio recordings to capture the chaos of a trio of screaming infants in the middle of the night. Wouldn’t it be great if Dad could somehow share these moments with his kids when they were old enough to laugh at their tiny selves?  

That exchange inspired one of Incubate’s unique features: Nursery. The feature allows parents to send time-delayed messages to their kids from the moment they are born. Parents simply create an account, which their child can access when they get their first mobile device. Anyone with an account can exchange messages and see how many messages await them in the future but - and here’s the clever bit - they can’t access the message or see the identity of the sender until the date set by the sender. Having a mystery text message that you can’t read for 25 years is the ultimate in delayed gratification, and a masterstroke of an emotional hook.

Asynchronous communication is not entirely new. Boomerang and Gmail both have options for time-delayed messages, as do Vine and Snapchat. But Incubate aims to promote the sharing of information with a little more gravitas than photographs of desserts. It’s about creating a time capsule capable of creating a bond through space and time. Until now, a dewy-eyed father packing his kid off to college can do his best to reminisce about his youth - and probably get rolled eyes and groans in return. With Incubate, it’s possible to capture and store precious memories as they happen, and share them in the future when they’ve taken on new significance.

 

April 17, 2015

Apple Watch Pre-Orders Reach a Million

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Apple recently began pre-selling three versions of its new smart watch to the world, with orders now hitting the one million mark. And that’s just in the United States.  

Unsurprisingly called the Apple Watch, the device allows you to read emails, send messages, and answer iPhone calls, all from the convenience of your wrist. A Taptic Engine feature alerts you through—you guessed it—a tap, so no notifications are missed. The Digital Touch feature makes it easy to communicate by sending a tap, sketch, or heartbeat. There’s even health and fitness features, as well as Apple Pay.  

The watch is available in aforementioned three collections: Apple Watch Sport, priced at $349 and $399; Apple Watch, which costs between $549 to $1,099; and Apple Watch Edition, a watch created from custom rose or yellow 18-karat gold alloys. Prices for the Edition start at $10,000. 

"Apple users were waiting for the Apple watch, so when we saw this huge surge in demand, we were not surprised at all," Jaimee Minney, vice president of marketing and public relations for Slice Intelligence, told ABC News. 

The future of the Apple Watch looks good despite what Slice calls “ho-hum reviews, even by some of the most ardent Apple fans.” According to the company, the average Apple Watch buyer ordered 1.3 watches, spending $503.83 per watch. Consumers opting for the Apple Watch Sport edition spent $382.83 per device, while those ordering the Apple Watch edition spent $707.04. 

“Among those buying an Apple Watch, 72 percent purchased an Apple product in the past two years -- iPhone, Apple computer or iPad -- and 21 percent of them pre-ordered an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus mere months ago,” Minney wrote in a recent blog post. “Nearly one-third purchased two Apple products and 11 percent bought all three devices, in addition to their new watch.” 

Watch accessories are also popular, with Minney noting consumers who purchased the Apple Watch or the Sport edition choosing the larger 42mm case. The space gray aluminum case is a favorite as well, edging out the silver and space black cases. 

“The Black Sport Band was by far the most popular among both Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport buyers, with 49 percent overall pre-ordering one, followed by the White Sport Band at 16 percent and the more expensive Milanese Loop -- $149 versus $49 for the black Sport band -- rounding out the top three at around 10 percent,” Minney remarked.  

According to Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics, should Apple continue to see one million units per quarter the company would easily become one of the most profitable watchmakers in the world. This means second to Swatch in regards to profitability and only just behind the legendary Rolex brand. 

“If you told people about a new Apple product that cost $400 and asked them if they would buy it, 1 million people would say yes," Entner said. "They don’t even need to know what it is -- and more often than not they wouldn’t be disappointed. Since the second coming of Steve Jobs, the missteps that Apple has taken are few and far between.” 

 

April 05, 2015

Mobile Messaging: The Ultimate Customer Service Helpdesk

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Mobile marketing has witnessed a decade of innovation during which thousands upon thousands of apps have flooded the marketplace, doing everything from fitness tracking to spread betting. But what if there was no need for a separate app for each task? What if you could use a single interface to request and receive goods and services? 

The rise of apps like Magic has brought ‘conversational commerce’ - in which customers can make specific requests via SMS messaging - to the forefront. Facebook is soon to launch it’s own Magic-like on-demand text service. Meanwhile, messaging app SnapChat is expanding to offer a commercial iteration of its service - SnapCash - which allows users to make transactions for products. 

This is all relatively new stuff in the United States, but Asia has been harnessing the full potential of SMS messaging as a catch-all service tool for some years. In China, WeChat gives its 440 million users a single portal through which they can pay bills, order taxis and shop; the app has generated more than $1.1 billion in revenue since launching in 2011. In Japan, LinePay provides a similar service. 

In the U.S., most of the recent buzz around ‘conversational commerce’ has focused on Magic, the app that allows you to request any service that exists in the real world, from dry cleaning to dry stonewalling. The so-called ‘concierge’ service uses a winning combination of human and artificial intelligence to meet the demands of its growing customer base.

Other start-ups have followed suit. Scratch, for instance, offers a ‘professional shopper’ to not only help facilitate purchases, but actually offer fashion advice along the way. Native pulls off a similar trick in the travel world, working as a personalized travel assistant to help you plan every part of your trip via SMS messaging. 

The implications of this development are significant for the future of mobile. The limitations of the mobile interface have always been down to the problems of shrinking a desktop internet onto small screens. Fiddly shopping carts and multiple apps make for a fractious, incomplete experience. But the text message was made for small screen devices. Now it is liberating us from the process of browsing, comparing and purchasing goods which, even on a mobile-friendly site or app, is a little unwieldy.