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28 posts categorized "Current Affairs"

April 04, 2014

Apple Patent 'Transparent Texting'


This is undoubtedly weird. Created by Japanese mobile firm NTT Docomo as a public service announcement, the aim is to demonstrate the dangers of texting and walking at the same time. While Americans are campaigning for legislation to stamp out texting while driving, it seems Japan is more concerned with the potential problems caused by pedestrians not looking where they’re going.

For those of us who can’t read Japanese script, the text claims that one out of five people who text and walk wind up injuring themselves or others. According to a study conducted at Aichi University of Technology, only 547 out of 1500 people who look at their phones while crossing an intersection would reach the other side without colliding into someone, tripping over, or dropping their phone.

With 7.25 million iPhones sold in Japan during 2011 alone, it’s hardly surprising that the country’s number one smartphone is working on a solution to the problem of ill-timed SMS messaging and web browsing. Last week, Apple filed a patent that aims to provide customers with a live video feed of their surroundings while texting. The objective is to give text addicts a better chance of avoiding street lamps, pedestrians and cars.

The inbuilt camera will be able to continuously capture the immediate environment while texts are being written and communicated. It’s a pretty far-out notion, and says much about the compulsive phone habits of many smartphone users.

There is no indication of when we can expect to see the technology in action; there are already some apps that allow transparent overlays, but they currently require users to copy and paste a text into a relevant application. The live editing function is what’s missing – Apple hopes to change all that.

For SMS marketing purposes, the technology has some exciting implications. With the use of geo-targeting, stores could wait until consumers’ cameras are within range of their outlet before sending a text. Imagine reading a text as you walk down the street, and being able to see the retailer in the background. Creative minds in charge of mobile marketing campaigns will be waiting for this patent to bear fruit with great excitement – and Japanese pedestrians could be a whole lot safer as they walk busy streets. 

April 02, 2014

UK Experiencing Mobile Marketing Boom


While companies continue to use mobile marketing tactics to promote and expand their businesses in the U.S. and in the U.K., the mobile marketing industry across the pond continues to trail its U.S. counterpart.  It seems everyone in the U.S. has a smartphone attached to their hand, which they use to send texts, make calls, look up information, browse social media and make purchases among many other activities. Smartphones and tablets are even surpassing laptops in popularity, as U.S. citizens are increasingly turning to mobile devices to retrieve necessary information. This frequent use of smartphones does not appear to be mimicked in the U.K. 

Recently O2 Media and the Marketing Institute surveyed 252 marketers in the U.K., finding two-thirds of marketers dedicating portions of their budgets to mobile rather than traditional media. Of these marketers, 14 percent obtained additional money for SMS marketing campaigns, and 7 percent redirected funds used in online / desktop marketing.

Despite these efforts, the idea that “marketing spend hasn’t followed where the eyeballs have gone” remains a concern, notes Fintan Lonergan, O2 Media’s managing director. The company works with clients such as Heineken, Aer Lingus, Ikea and Nissan, helping them connect to consumers.

In 2013, a mere 19 percent of U.K. businesses had dedicated 10 percent or more of their advertising budget to mobile marketing. “This is very low compared to the central role that mobile plays in consumers lives,” Lonergan adds. Only 7 percent of surveyed marketers said they worked for “a mobile-first organization,” with “lack of strategy” considered the biggest challenge Ireland faces in regards to mobile marketing. 

Progress is being made, however. Lonergan cites location-based targeting as a “really encouraging” development in the U.K., with more and more marketers focusing on mobile marketing strategy. In 2013, the most popular mobile marketing tactics were social media, SMS messaging, apps, mobile displays and  mobile-optimized websites.

“There is a lot of media attention on mobile and the growth of mobile and yet very little has been known about what marketers are doing within mobile,” says Lonergan. 

In the UK, Lonergan says mobile marketing has gone on “a hockey stick curve in the last 24 months,” noting a recent eMarketer study that found mobile advertising in the U.K. will likely surpass print advertising in 2014.

“Our marketing industry is lagging behind a bit, and that’s not a criticism, it’s just a fact,” he notes.

So why this “lag”? Perhaps it’s simply a matter of company funds, or maybe there just aren’t as many smartphone users in the U.K. Companies are provided with numerous other options in terms of advertising, such as email and social media, and success in those areas may prompt businesses to look at SMS marketing campaigns as unnecessary. Whatever the reason, it will be interesting to see how fast the U.K. catches up with the U.S. regarding this expanding form of advertising!


March 21, 2014

In-Store Browsing the In-Thing in UK


A growing number of British consumers are adopting the practice sometimes known as showrooming: comparing online prices with real-world prices while browsing in stores, and buying the cheapest version of a particular product (hint: it’s never from the bricks and mortar store).

A report published in February by OnePoll looked at a range of consumer behaviors involving smartphones during the last quarter of 2013. The results showed that using smartphones to conduct research is the new normal. Seven out of ten respondents had used their mobile device to investigate potential purchases and compare prices. Over a third used mobile price comparison sites, and 17% had visited the mobile sites of individual retailers.

Retail apps are also growing in popularity, with users accessing them from multiple locations. Around 42% of respondents used retail apps at home, and a quarter did so at work or on their way to work.

But the most compelling results relate to the use of smartphones in physical stores. Some 55% of people admitted to ‘showrooming’ during shopping trips. Out of those, more than half said they compared prices online using their mobile device, and just under half used them to gather more information on products. Around 41% used their phones to take pictures of potential purchases. Despite all the browsing activity, only 17% of smartphone owners admitted to showrooming itself.

The research threw up some interesting data relevant to mobile marketing campaigns. More than two thirds of respondents said they would be more likely to revisit a store if it sent bespoke promotions to their smartphone.

Mobile browsing-to-buy remains less common than direct mobile shopping. Only 17% of people using their smartphone to conduct research also bought with the device, and just over one in ten people who browsed in-store went on to buy from the same retailer.

For anyone devising a mobile marketing strategy in the UK, the implications are clear: if you can reach people who are already in a physical store that pertains to your business, you have a good chance of converting them into customers. Bricks and mortar-only retailers have their own mobile marketing tactics – such as apps and SMS coupons – but, short of deliberately operating from a location with no wi-fi or network coverage, there’s little they can do to stem the tide of online activity conducted from their premises.

These behaviors are now endemic – not just across the ocean, but here in the US too. Smartphone adoption rates are soaring, and the fear for offline businesses is that consumers will one day come to their store to browse online and find it closed.

March 20, 2014

Texting and Driving: State by State


Texting and driving is set to become illegal in South Dakota, a decision that put to bed years of disagreement between the House of Representatives and the State Senate. If signed by the state’s governor the bill will be law, making texting and driving a petty offense resulting in a $100 fine.

However, drivers will be ticketed for SMS messaging offenses only if pulled over for another traffic violation.

"This is not about tickets and fines, but it's about changing the culture that texting while driving is not safe. It's dangerous. It's deadly, and it deserves to be illegal," said Senator Mike Vehle.

The senate has previously passed texting and driving bans rejected by the House. Eight local governments, including those from the state’s largest cities, have passed SMS messaging bans of their own due to legislative failure to make a statewide ban. Courts will eventually decide whether local governments can pass bans separate from state law. 

Representative Charlie Hoffman, R-Eureka, said the last-minute effort to bring back and pass the bill was due to public pressure. 

"People in the House and Senate didn't want to go back on their campaigns and have to be badgered on 'Why aren't you doing your job,'" Hoffman said.

The bill would ban the use of handheld electronic devices to write, send or read SMS messages. Driving could still use cell phone voice-operated or hands-free technology, however.

So what are some of the texting and driving laws in other states? They vary from state to state, with some, such as Montana and South Carolina, not placing any bans on SMS messaging and driving. Others, such as Alaska, Alabama, New Hampshire and Nevada, prohibit texting for all drivers as primary law.

Numerous states feature detailed texting and driving regulations. For example, New Jersey’s primary SMS messaging laws include a handheld ban for all drivers, ban on all cell phone use for novice drivers, and a ban on any kind of cell phone use by bus drivers. “Novice drivers” are defined as anyone under the age of 21 with a GDL or a provisional license. 

California’s primary texting and driving laws include the prohibition of texting and handheld phone use for all drivers and of all cell phone use for bus drivers. Its ban on cell phone use for novice drivers is secondary law. Connecticut’s laws are the same as California’s, though Connecticut positions its novice driver texting law as primary. Other states with the same texting and driving laws as Connecticut and California include Delaware and the District of Columbia.

Pennsylvania bans texting for all drivers as primary law, while New York establishes the same ban and a handheld ban for all drivers as well. Florida features a law against texting for all drivers as secondary. 

South Dakota joins many states with texting and driving bans, which enforces the life-saving idea that any SMS messaging conversation can wait!










March 19, 2014

Is Text-to-Tip The Future?


Starbucks has added a digital tipping feature to its mobile payment program, allowing customers to easily add tips to their purchases. The app will be available for iOS on March 19, 2014, with an Android option to launch later this year.

Users in the United States, Canada and the U.K. will enjoy access to this app, which provides customers with a two-hour window following a transaction to add a tip of 50cents, $1 or $2 to the bill. The subsequent digital receipt will reflect the added tip. Starbucks Mobile Pay has been available for three years and allows users to pay with a digital version of their Starbucks card on their smartphones. Entitled “Shake to Pay,” users simply shake their phones to pull up their Starbucks card barcodes and make payments.

"We're really excited because tipping has been something our customers have been really asking for," said Starbucks Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman to CNET. "More and more customers...carry cash with them less and less these days. It's nice to be able to leave a tip for your barista and your store using mobile payment now on the iPhone app."

This is the first time mobile phone users will be able add tips to their digital bills. Some 10 million customers have already downloaded the Starbucks payment app, which covers about 11% of in-store purchases. It makes sense that the coffee giant added the tip option to this already wildly-successful mobile marketing strategy, and will undoubtedly set the bar for other companies who employ tipping. 

More and more companies are utilizing SMS messaging to promote their business or brand, including opt-in apps that alert customers to store sales, provide exclusive discounts and downloadable coupons, remind customers of appointments and much more. Most companies have found such mobile marketing tactics highly effective and are scrambling to come up with new and effective ways to maintain client relationships while simultaneously attracting new customers.

Restaurants, hotels and other customer service-based businesses and companies are likely to develop and market their own tipping apps, assuming Starbuck’s app is successful. Given how popular the company’s mobile payment app is, it is very likely the tipping option will be yet another successful mobile marketing strategy. Customers could easily tip those who clean their hotel rooms when checking out, or add a tip if using their smartphones to pay for takeout. Even smaller operations that use smartphones to take payments, such as independently-owned hair and nail salons, can benefit from tipping apps.

SMS messaging and subsequent mobile marketing tactics aren’t going anywhere! It therefore makes perfect sense for companies to continue to develop their mobile marketing strategy, whether it involves tipping apps or not! 

March 08, 2014

Facebook’s Paper App: The Next Big Thing in Mobile Advertising?


In January, everyone from mobile marketing managers to the average social network user was salivating at the announcement of Facebook’s long-awaited Paper app. Essentially an artistic rendering of the News Feed, it allows members to share and discover new content in a purpose-built environment.

It looks good. More importantly, it could be just what Facebook needs as it weathers criticism surrounding the presentation of its one million plus advertisers’ content. In the wake of the recent high-profile, high-cost WhatsApp purchase, Paper is a boon to Facebook’s reputation as a creator (rather than a buyer) of quality products.

The app was created entirely in-house, albeit under the Creative Labs banner which promises to develop and deliver small-scale projects to see how well they go down with Facebook’s 1.25 billion users. Initially conceived to improve the oft-criticized aesthetic of the social network, Zuckerberg hoped Paper would make his behemoth a sleeker, more attractive prospect, somewhat akin to the web versions of newspapers.

In reality, it’s probably just a clever way of incorporating mobile marketing advertising content into the existing app. Ads are yet to be launched on Paper, but they are surely inevitable, and any long-term mobile marketing strategy will have one eye on the app’s progress during 2014.

Paper organizes news stories according to topic and engagement level. In doing so, it has introduced external content into the site – something Facebook always resisted. Users can even relegate their own feed to the bottom of the pile, turning their app into another news source. Stories are displayed via colored cards with custom fonts and designs, each geared towards replicating – or at least approximating - the appearance of the original source publication.

This potential for ‘friend demotion’ signals a new dawn for the company, one in which the emphasis on promoting activity between contacts is reduced. Facebook insists the goal is to “put content first”, and for now, that means a clean, utilitarian, ad free news app. Enjoy it while it lasts – and have a mobile marketing strategy ready to go when Paper is prized open to advertisers.


March 05, 2014

5 Best Practices for Retaining Your Opt-In SMS Marketing List


Okay, so you amassed a substantial SMS marketing list, but what about retaining said list? After all, creating a list is one thing, but keeping it is something else! Check out five of the best practices for retaining your opt-in marketing list and use them to create effective SMS marketing campaigns:


1. Positive Disruption

It seems everyone is on their phones these days, and while getting bombarded with advertisements is never fun, receiving exclusive offers, coupons and discounts through text is! Ensure you’re sending customers discounts they can only receive through their phones as opposed to email or snail mail. Most people will be delighted to receive a coupon for 10% off their next vehicle oil change or an alert regarding “big sale” dates and times.


2. Market Research

As with most things, it’s important to do a little research before creating a text message campaign. Decrease your opt-out rate significantly by learning what your customers want to hear and receive, which will certainly help you create a much more effective SMS marketing strategy. Learn what’s worked in the past and what hasn’t, what customers are really looking for from a business like yours, and any other helpful information you and your team can use.


3. Time Zone and Timing

Successful SMS marketing campaigns pay attention to timing...and time zones! Besides researching the best times of day to send SMS alerts, remain aware of customer time zones. Sending messages at 6am on a Sunday or 12pm on a Tuesday night is not going to help you retain your SMS marketing list, no matter how great the promotion or discount. Customers will appreciate time zone awareness, which will bolster your relationship with them and even help expand your brand via positive client reviews.


4. Ease of Mobile Experience

Always, always, always send customers easy-to-digest text messages that don’t require a lot of time and or external device use. For example, very few people are going to be interested in coupons they have to print, especially if they don’t have easy access to a printer! Create an effective text messaging campaign by sending customers deals and discounts with barcodes for easy scanning at the register or ones that otherwise don’t require a lot of work.


5. Monitor Opt-Out Rate

Finally, successful SMS marketing campaigns and strategies include monitoring customer opt-out rate. Look at what worked and piqued customer interest, as well as what didn’t work and resulted in opt-outs. This is an essential part of crafting your next text message campaign, so don’t forget to keep a weather eye on those rates! 

Keep these tips in mind and see if your next SMS marketing campaign isn’t light years ahead of your last one! Good luck, and stay creative!


February 18, 2014

Big Data and the Future of Mobile Marketing



As we move further into 2014, more and more digital marketing talk revolves around “big data” among other emerging trends. Companies have increasingly utilized the big data approach over the last few years, as the method has created a whole new genre of “personalized” marketing. The ultimate goal of the big data method is to develop one-on-one marketing strategies in hopes of maintaining lengthy, positive relationships with prospects and clients.

So how will big data affect the future of mobile marketing, and what consumer information is needed to create an effective mobile marketing strategy?

Location Data

Hailed by JiWire as one of the foundations of mobile marketing, location data serves as “real-world cookies.” It helps companies/marketers develop a deep understanding of their target audiences and what exactly such audiences are looking for. However, “sophisticated data science” and “big data platforms” are required to translate large amounts of raw data into something that businesses, and subsequently their audiences, can use.

Digital Marketing Personalization 

Customer expectations are at an all-time high thanks to this new age of big data, meaning mobile marketing strategies and solutions are all about developing personalized campaigns. Customers are always looking for personalized experience whether browsing the web for certain items or receiving coupon codes on their phones from local businesses. The personalized approach is an easy way to build and maintain long-lasting customer relationships, and many marketers say using this approach has resulted in better business.

Access to Purchase History

Mobile usage has provided companies with an “unprecedented view” into purchase history and activity, from an initial click of interest to the actual buying of a product or service on specific dates at certain times. A successful mobile marketing strategy understands that a consumer’s decision to purchase a product involves studying on and offline behavior, such as looking at a product online before opting to purchase said product in an actual store. Being able to review unique customer behavior and develop a mobile marketing solution from there is one heck of an advantage.

ROI Advantages

It’s not hard to gauge ROI perks when applying big data to mobile marketing strategies. The ability to measure awareness of a product or service, product/service engagement and physical behavior (such as a store’s foot traffic) is as helpful as tracking purchase history. Businesses can now review the ROI of mobile marketing campaigns, and make adjustments as needed.

Big data is predicted to grow considerably by 2020, allowing businesses to target their audiences using very specific details.


December 18, 2013

How Best Buy Used the Holiday Season to Grow their Text Marketing List


Tis the season to rev up your mobile marketing. Black Friday, which heralds the start of the busy holiday shopping season, has passed. Brick-and-mortar retailers as well as digital entrepreneurs are searching for new ways to reach out to potential customers on the hunt for the perfect gift for their loved ones.

Savvy business owners understand the importance of engaging mobile customers to boost their profits during this lucrative time of gift giving. Entrepreneurs who neglect to join the digital revolution will not only miss out on the opportunity to increase their audience base, but they’ll also fail to take advantage of innovative technology that allows them to constantly engage with existing clients as well as new ones.

Best Buy, for instance, is demonstrating a great use of SMS marketing to build their mobile database during the holiday season. Customers who opt in with a holiday-specific keyword will be sent daily messages through the end of the year, linking to offers, with the hope that customers will remain in the database beyond the holidays to receive later marketing messages.

Additional mobile marketing strategies for retailers, such as Apple’s iBeacon technology, allow business owners to engage customers on the spot as they peruse the aisles of their store. By employing a groundbreaking indoor positioning system, the iBeacon can push notifications to a user’s mobile device, alerting him or her to an item on sale nearby or providing up-to-the-minute product information. Once customers download the app on their mobile device, they are also given an opportunity to pay for items via their cell phone, bypassing the traditional cash register.

This advanced location awareness technology is a brilliant new way of interacting with customers during the holiday season. As a business owner, text message marketing allows you to enhance your direct mail and social media campaigns and send timely holiday-based messaging to your customers to keep them engaged. Because subscribers opt-in to your digital alerts, this type of marketing is permission based and has a higher open rate than email marketing.

As the holiday shopping season shifts into high gear, SMS text marketing is a sure bet to drum up new clients and spread the word about your goods and services.

December 17, 2013

Mobile and Social Trends Impact the Purchasing Decisions of Buyers


There’s nothing shoppers dislike more than crowded parking lots at the mall, mile-long checkout lines and picked-over merchandise. In our fast-paced global society, time and money are precious commodities and consumers want to save more of both. Savvy shoppers are often choosing to forego the traditional mall experience, opting instead for the speedier functionality of making purchases online or with their mobile devices.

Emerging consumer trends provide an excellent opportunity for small business owners to rev up their mobile marketing efforts and engage with this new crop of tech-savvy shoppers. According to recent studies, mobile and social campaigns are influencing the purchasing decisions of users. Consumers say they are more likely to pick up an item they see posted on their social channels, and that they are more apt to consult new media for more information about a particular product or to compare relevant discounts prior to buying.

Here are some interesting statistics regarding new consumer behavior as reported by CMS Wire:

    • 68% of smartphone users plan to use mobile devices for holiday shopping.


    • 59% of consumers would be more likely to shop at a store with mobile self-checkout capabilities.


    • 56% search for store locations on their mobile devices.


    • 54% will check and compare prices via mobile.


    • 47% will obtain product info on the mobile phone or tablet.

Social media also plays a big part:

    • 81% say posts by friends on social media influences their buying decisions.


    • 30% of frequent online shoppers use Pinterest to discover new products.


    • 78% of consumers say posts made by companies influence their purchases.

A smart mobile marketing campaign takes these new purchasing trends into account. In order to boost revenue, ramp up customer engagement and build brand awareness, entrepreneurs can’t do business as usual. Brands must reach customers where they live with effective mobile marketing strategies.

Staying abreast of up-to-the-minute trends in technology can reposition your business. Enhance mobile marketing campaigns by implementing social media techniques to do outreach to this rapidly expanding demographic that relies on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Promote your product specials by tweeting about exclusive offers and discounts. Since more and more shoppers are consulting Pinterest for that perfect merchandise, you can start a board for your business that features free samples of your product and information on how to buy. Post pictures of your seasonal product on Facebook and encourage users to share.

Rapidly increasing mobile device use provides ample opportunity to take advantage of mobile marketing trends and to create innovative digital campaigns for ultimate customer engagement. Reach your revenue goals and watch business soar when you stay up to speed with this changing marketing game.