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April 10, 2014

What do Consumers think of SMS Marketing?

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Mobile marketing tactics like SMS messaging and smartphone-optimized websites are a relatively new phenomenon. Mobile marketing campaigns are revolutionizing the way in which commerce reaches out to consumers. And yet so many companies still don’t have a mobile marketing strategy in place.

There are a number of reasons for corporate hesitance to move with the times. A common canard is that consumers don’t want to receive text messages. All evidence says this simply isn’t the case.

A 2012 study conducted by the UK Direct Marketing Association (DMA) found that a third of Americans said they would rather receive offers such as mobile marketing coupons in a text. Emails were favored by 21%, with mobile apps – somewhat surprisingly – preferred by just 11% of people. It’s not just the US public that’s becoming increasingly attracted to SMS messaging. In France, 60% of consumers prefer to receive offers via text, according to the research. 

Many of the misconceptions about mobile marketing campaigns are informed by the email marketing era of the 90s and 00s, when spam was clogging up inboxes all over the world. Some CEOs (wrongly) believe that consumers are sick of receiving offers and ads from companies.

But mobile marketing works in a completely different way. It’s bound by federal legislation which obliges businesses to ask customers for explicit, opt-in permission before sending text messages. Companies are also required to clearly explain the opt-out process, and make sure it can be completed in a hassle-free way. So if you’re worried about irritating your customers with unwanted messages, don’t be.

As we’ve seen, concerns about whether consumers will sign up to receive texts are unwarranted. If the DMA figures are correct, more than half of your customers would be interested in opting in to receive mobile marketing coupons and other info via SMS messaging. The beauty of mobile marketing tactics like this is they’re relatively cheap to implement. You can just dip your toe in and see if you like the results before committing more of your budget.

Consumer attitudes to SMS messaging are shifting. As smartphone adoption continues to rise, more and more people are conducting all their online activity through mobile devices. Devising mobile marketing tactics is no longer a luxury for the tech-savvy entrepreneur – it’s an absolute essential for businesses of every kind.

 

 

 

April 08, 2014

Neglect Text, Neglect Success: The Benefits of Mobile Marketing

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If you keep your eye on the latest mobile marketing solutions and SMS messaging strategies, you’ll be familiar with the statistic that’s often bandied around, but for the benefit of the uninitiated: 95% of all mobile users open and read SMS messages within three minutes of the text being sent.

It’s certainly a compelling piece of data. And yet, so many businesses are still failing to employ SMS marketing as part of their overall strategy. Some are afraid of anything relatively new and stick to what they know, others have never bothered to give it a good go. But the advantages of text marketing are manifold, and you ignore them at the peril of your business. Here are a few of the key benefits to creating a comprehensive mobile marketing strategy:

  • Speed. At 160 characters or less, your average text doesn’t take long to create (or to read). Use this fact to your advantage by turning your mobile marketing campaign into a masterclass in brevity.
  • Directness. Most email inboxes are checked once or twice a day, and commercial messages are filtered out automatically, manually or just mentally. Compare that to an SMS inbox, which is frequently checked multiple times in a single day – often as and when each message is received.
  • Affordability. For small businesses, the sheer affordability of text marketing is one of its key assets. Far cheaper than real-world billboards or television ads, you can usually buy in bulk to get an even better deal on an SMS package.
  • Eco-friendliness. More and more businesses are adopting greener practices. Apart from being ethical, it makes good business sense – most customers want to know the brand they’re dealing with has at least some environmentally-friendly credentials. In the world of advertising, SMS marketing is as green as it gets.
  • Interactivity. Engaging with your customer base is easy with SMS. Issue polls, surveys and questionnaires. Not only will they encourage consumers to visit your social media pages and website, they can provide invaluable data on personal preferences and buying habits.
  • Trackability. Monitoring metrics is crucial to understanding the success of any advertising campaign. With text, it’s a lot easier to track these metrics. Some companies offer a tracking service as part of their SMS messaging package. Use such services to review a detailed analysis of each text and you will start to understand more about how your business is functioning as a user experience.

As you can see, there are huge potential sources of untapped business out there, just waiting at the end of a cellphone to receive your latest offer – so climb on board with the text revolution!

 

 

 

April 07, 2014

50% of Workers Will Be Required to Use their Own Smartphones by 2017

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Employees across America will be required to use their own mobile devices for work within three years, according to a new study. Data from research company Gartner indicates that the current practice of employers offering their workforce smartphones, tablets and fully paid-up network contracts will soon become a thing of a past.

The study claims that 38% of all companies will cease providing mobile devices to workers by 2016. Instead, workers will be expected to use their own phones and tablets.

‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) policies have increasingly found favor among business owners looking to reduce costs. Another upside is the ability to leverage the power of employees’ social media networks and unaffiliated connectivity. 

As a mobile marketing strategy, disseminating information from personal accounts not associated with a brand name is a lot more trustworthy to an increasingly sophisticated web audience with a knack for spotting corporate shills and charlatans online.

But there is a great deal of confusion among employees regarding their company’s stance on personal device usage. A survey conducted by GLOBO suggests companies that do have a BYOD policy often fail to communicate this to their employees. The report claimed 68% of people used their own mobile device for work purposes, but only 29% of them knew whether their employer even had a BYOD policy in place. More than 90% of people said they didn’t know if their company planned to instigate a BYOD policy.

Furthermore, cutting costs on cellular data, SMS messaging and mobile devices may be a false economy in the long run. Although initial savings may impress Financial Directors, the long-term implications of employees using their own devices in and out of work can be expensive. One of the biggest pitfalls is security breaches – although these can be mitigated by imposing VPN, remote lock and cloud computing software on devices.

But therein lies another problem. Can employers really ask their workforce to not only use there own devices for work, but to use up space with a multitude of security software and applications? After all, recent research shows that 48% of decision makers use between one and ten mobile apps as part of their infrastructure. The use of mobile apps is increasing, and whether that will be compatible with a demand for BYOD policies remains to be seen.

 

 

 

April 02, 2014

UK Experiencing Mobile Marketing Boom

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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!

 

April 01, 2014

6 Mobile Marketing Tactics That Won’t Get You Sued

 

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Crafting a quality SMS mobile marketing campaign requires ensuring none of the tactics you use will get you sued. Mobile data collection practices, political spam, patent infringement and scam subscriptions are just some examples of the many mobile marketing issues that result in legal trouble. Let’s look at a few surefire ways to avoid such trouble and keep your mobile marketing strategy on the right side of the law:

Get the Permission You Need 

Not everyone has unlimited text messaging, meaning unsolicited text messages can cost up to $0.20 per message. Since this practice results in seriously unhappy potential customers, always obtain formal permission before launching an SMS mobile marketing campaign. Creating a list based off of invoices, contracts and “fish bowls” is not considered “permission.” Opt-in lists are your best bets, and allow customers to subscribe to your company’s alerts, updates and exclusive deals as they wish. The “call to action” must be very clear so customers know exacting what they will be receiving when the sign up.

Remember, Full Disclosure is Key

Full disclosure is highly recommended, as companies often find themselves in proverbial hot water for failing to clearly describe offer terms. Your customers should have a strong sense of what they’re agreeing to when they sign up rather than being surprised by fees and similar issues.

Maintain Records

Maintain detailed records of mobile marketing lists so you know exactly who has opted in...and who has opted out. Keep such lists for at least six months if not more, and update them frequently to avoid getting sued by one or more customers looking to make easy money.

Stop Sending Messages When Customers Opt Out!

When a customer unsubscribes or otherwise opts out of an SMS mobile marketing campaign, it is imperative that you stop sending them messages. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled companies may send one follow-up text verifying customers no longer wish to receive texts, but that is all. This message must be sent within five minutes of the opt-out. Continuing to send marketing and promotional materials can easily result in lawsuits and other legal trouble.

Keep Customer Data Secure

Hackers looking to use your mobile marketing lists can result in a significant number of lawsuits, making it essential that all customer information is protected from unauthorized use. Choosing the right platform and using every available security measure reassures customers that their information is safe, and upholds your reputation as a company who cares about client privacy and security.

Be Careful When Choosing SMS Mobile Marketing Campaign Wording

Another cornerstone to an effective SMS mobile marketing strategy is the right wording. For example, the word “free” should mean just that--the message is free to the end-user (FTEU) with all supported carriers. If this is not the case, this word can result in legal trouble, as unhappy customers will be billed for something they thought wouldn’t cost anything. Avoid misleading customers by using phrases such as “Msg & data rates may apply.”

It makes logical sense that people are going to buy from a company they can trust rather than one that slams them with unsolicited text messages and hidden fees! Keep these tips in mind as part your SMS mobile marketing strategy! Use these and similar mobile marketing tactics to avoid legal issues, maintain relationships with current clients and attract new customers. And remember to always consult an attorney when making final campaign decisions.

 

March 28, 2014

Messaging Apps: The Carriers Bite Back

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A capitalist economy is all about competition. Each company strives to get your dollar before the other guy does. AT&T is trying to do just that. With technology advancing, it is becoming even harder for traditional carriers and SMS texting providers to compete with the advantages offered by free and cheap one-time-buy mobile apps. Mobile phone providers are attempting to fight the loss of their customers with new mobile marketing solutions and a new SMS marketing campaign.

AT&T’s New Benefits

Just last month AT&T advertised that they will allow contracts for LTE roaming in many different areas internationally. They also announced their intention to make international SMS texting free for their customers. Not only will this support text messages globally, but it will also support picture messages and video messaging. On the 28th of February, AT&T started their Mobile Share and Mobile Share Value plans. These plans were created to have the same capability of third party apps, thus diminishing their value and rather increasing the appeal of AT&T. AT&T says that their SMS service will be available in 190 countries, and their MMS in 120 countries. Unfortunately these new mobile marketing solutions do not support tablets or laptops; all messages must be sent from one phone to another phone.

The new mobile marketing campaign also includes the new feature of international calling at a rate of one cent per minute. This feature is allowed in 35 countries. These new mobile marketing solutions really have users’ interests peaked. Previously, phone customers had to pay extra money to send picture and video messages, or even for every individual text. Often users would turn to mobile apps to allow them to text more when their SMS limit had already run out.

T-Mobile’s New Benefits

On March 23, 2014, T-Mobile will have a launch improvements of their own. Their new mobile marketing solution allows some users to double their amount of data for the same price. It also allows mobile customers to have unlimited SMS to 120 countries internationally. Because of the size of T-Mobile’s customer base it can not provide as widespread benefits as AT&T, but it shows that they too are wising up to the staggering appeal of mobile messaging apps. 

The Competition

Back in 2012, researchers found that the collection of messaging apps sent a total of almost 19 billion messages every day. That vast number passed up text sent by traditional SMS carriers by almost 1.5 billion. In the spring of 2013, it was projected that 2014 would be the year that application messages would pass SMS messages at a ratio of more than 2 to 1. There are fewer app users than SMS users, but the affordability of free in-app messaging is of course enormously appealing.

WhatsApp, Kik, Viber, WeChat and MessageMe, are taking the mobile market by storm, and AT&T would like to do something about it. Keep your eyes open for more benefits from traditional mobile carriers. The phone companies are fighting back, and you might just get a great deal because of it. 

March 25, 2014

HTC One M8 Goes on Sale in UK

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HTC’s new smartphone went on sale today at several stores in London, ahead of a general release on March 27. International consumers will have to wait until April 11 to get their hands on the device.

The HTC One M8 was officially unveiled just one hour before it became available to shoppers at six Carphone Warehouse and three Phones 4U stores. A few handsets were also released at a press conference in New York.

The HTC One is being heralded as one of the best designs to hit the smartphone market to date. According to a press release published on the T-Mobile website, the HTC One has “the brainpower of a true superphone… [and] stunning hardware design.”

The device has two cameras on the back, allowing photographers to take shots capable of mimicking the depth-of-field control that was once the sole preserve of DSLR machines. Another winning feature is Motion Launch, which lets users quickly deploy their device without having to first unlock it. A phone call can be taken by putting the device to your ear; the camera can be activated simply by upending the phone and hitting the volume button. 

Despite all the bells and whistles, HTC’s new offering faces an uphill battle in terms of marketing. The company aims to make high end products capable of competing with iPhones. To a certain extent, they’ve achieved that with the HTC One, but they lack two key things that Apple has in spades: a fanatic, loyal customer base, and an app store that rules the roost.

That’s not to say HTC doesn’t have potential. For every hardcore Apple fanboy, there’s an open-source devotee who wouldn’t go near an iPhone if their house was burning down. And they’re precisely the same people who care more about design than market ubiquity. In that context, HTC has a place in the hearts of the anti-Apple brigade who don’t want to slum it with a Samsung device.

Whether there are enough of those people out there remains to be seen. In marketing terms, probably not. Few mobile marketing tactics include a pressing urge to reach out to HTC users – and their SMS messaging glitches are documented across the web. But for individual users with a taste for good design, and an antipathy towards good marketing, the HTC One could be the answer.

Synergizing SMS and Social Media

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A recent campaign conducted by Southwest Airlines is a perfect demonstration of mobile marketing meshing with web, social media and real-world engagement. It was devastatingly simple: a cocktail napkin - handed out to thousands of flyers every day - had a shortcode emblazoned across it, encouraging travellers to text their email address in order to sign up for news updates.

It was a great example of marrying multiple user experiences to maximize engagement. By integrating two channels like this, you can grow your business exponentially, as each channel feeds off the other.

This sort of cross-channel synergy works especially well with SMS and social media, both fundamental parts of any right-thinking marketing plan. They work so well in tandem because they are both frequently used by a large portion of the population. SMS messaging has a particularly long reach, with open rates exceeding 98% (the vast majority of those being read within minutes of receipt).

Social media is growing almost as fast, and is no longer the sole preserve of the young. If you develop innovative ways of synergizing your SMS messaging and social media campaigns, you’ll not only reap the rewards, you’ll be able to track which channel is generating the most leads and/or revenue. Here are a few good practices that will help you link up your users across the two channels:

Contests

Contests are a tried and tested method of engaging an audience. People love to get involved and feel like they are part of a process. Come up with an idea for a contest. Run it on Facebook. Promote it via text message to mobile subscribers. It will encourage users who previously engaged purely through mobile to interact with your Facebook page, thus getting a richer experience from your brand. 

Coupons

When you issue coupons to your SMS subscribers, be sure to include a like-gated page URL so they can access the coupons directly from the message. The less they have to do, the more likely they are to take part in the promotion.

Offer Incentives

You may have high hopes of your message going viral – but it doesn’t happen for nothing. Offer an irrefutably attractive deal to encourage viewers to share the message on social media. If you offer no value, nobody will share your message.

Update Subscribers

If you have a social media update of any kind, send it to your mobile subscribers. Tease them by texting a portion of the post or video, inviting them to visit your Facebook page to see the rest.

Getting the most out of mobile marketing means devising a synergistic, cross-channel experience. The more types of audience you can get to, the bigger your overall audience will be.

 

March 17, 2014

Secure Text Banking? It’s All About Checks and Balances

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SMS messaging provides one of the fastest, easiest ways for consumers to stay in touch with businesses. Banking is no exception. Virtually every major US bank now offers some form of text banking.

Text banking is proving popular with a small number of customers who like to stay on top of the finances – and like the fact they don’t need an internet connection to do it. Nonetheless, as many as 51% of cell phone users think mobile banking is not secure, and the number of bank customers who prefer using cell phones to view balances and transactions stood at around 8% in 2012, when the most recent ABA figures were published. 

This reticence to engage with text banking is understandable. Fears about sending account details via text messages are not unfounded. And even just using text as one part of mobile marketing tactics that make no specific reference to an account will make some customers jittery. When it comes to personal finances, some people will always prefer the real-world transactions they’re used to.

For people more concerned about convenience than worst-case scenario cyber-fraud, SMS messaging is one of the best things to happen to banking. Apart from the improved customer service texting can offer, it’s also – whatever detractors tell you – potentially far more secure than other typed of banking. 

In response to security concerns, most banks have recently designed a whole host of precautions enabling them to minimize fraud and identity theft. Customers are now assigned a PIN they must enter to begin any particular SMS messaging session, as well as nicknames for account numbers.

Leading the way in providing greater security for text banking is Wells Fargo, who were the first bank to make the service available to all customers, even those not enrolled in online banking. Their research indicated customers want to check their balances while on the move, so they implemented a number of codes that customers could text to perform certain transactions. ‘BAL ALL’ lets customers check their balance.  ‘ACT’ tells them if a check is deposited. ‘ATM’ points them to the nearest cash machine.

The bank does not send account numbers or passwords, and their Online Security Guarantee promises 100% insurance if unauthorized activity is reported within 60 days.

Other banks have gone further. Both USAA and BOFA allow customers to deposit checks using an iPhone. Not everyone will be comfortable performing such high level transactions remotely. But for those who want that choice, SMS messaging and mobile banking is making life a whole lot easier.

March 10, 2014

iOS vs. Android Users: Who Should Mobile Marketers Target?

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There’s nothing mobile marketers love more than a good scrap about the best operating system. Ever since the first generation Androids and iPhones emerged in 2007, their relative merits have been hotly disputed; you can usually tell which side of the debate a person will be on by the phone in their hand.

Of course, there is no easy answer to the ‘which is best?’ question. So much is subjective, and some Android (or iOS!) devotees will never be persuaded to change their personal preference, no matter how compelling the arguments for doing so are. Broadly speaking, iOS generates more revenue, but Android has a greater market share. Neither of these truths are going to help you create the right mobile marketing strategy.

The very fact that this debate has raged continuously since the smartphone boom took hold is indicative of the complexity of both operating systems. Deciding which device your mobile marketing strategy should focus on requires careful consideration of a whole range of metrics. Let’s take a close look at some of the factors at play:

US Performance

comScore report revealed 133.7 million people in the United States owned a smartphone during the first quarter of 2013. Android was ranked as the top smartphone platform, with 51.7% market share next to Apple’s 38.9%.

Similar results were gleaned from a Kantar Worldpanel Comtech report, which showed Android beating the iPhone by a 9% margin. It’s important to note, however, that the cut and thrust of the smartphone market means these figures are bouncing around on a daily basis.

Plus, device ownership is far from the full story when it comes to iOS vs. Android. Whilst the latter enjoys a greater number of customers, the former generates more money from online commerce. A Black Friday report conducted by IBM showed iOS users spent an average of $127.92 per order, compared to $105.20 spent by Android users. Android users accounted for 11% of ecommerce traffic, next to iPhone and iPad users’ 28.2%. These facts are of more relevance to your mobile marketing strategy than pure ownership.

Worldwide Performance

Phones supporting Android sell significantly better than iPhones in global markets. During the fourth quarter of 2012, Android had a 70% share, compared with 21% for iOS. If your business is global, you should adjust your mobile marketing strategy accordingly as such a marked difference in ownership levels undoubtedly supersedes the greater online spending conducted on Apple’s devices (which remains true internationally).

Tablets

Mobile marketing solutions targeting tablets should always differ from those targeting smartphones, because people use them in different ways. Apple’s iPad outperforms Android tablets and, again, ecommerce revenues are greater for the former.

Apps

According to data collected by Canalys, just over 50% of all app downloads in the first quarter of 2013 were for Android, with iOS taking the lion’s share (40%) of the remainder. What this means for your mobile marketing strategy depends on the type of business you run, so study your market closely. Find out which apps your customers regularly use and, if building your own app, create one for both operating systems.

Web Use

Apple rules the roost in terms of web use, with a 60.1 % share (according to NetMarketShare). Android lags with 24.9%, which, considering there are more Android devices out there, corroborates the evidence for iOS users being significantly more active online.

Overall, it’s important not to draw too many conclusions from the wealth of data on which device performs the best. When devising mobile marketing tactics, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. We’re talking Apples and oranges (or rather, Apples and Androids) – so come up with a separate mobile marketing strategy for each, especially if your business has a global reach.