Ez Texting

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October 30, 2014

Want a Personal Shopper? You Probably Already Have One

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Always dreamed of having a personal shopper? You probably already have one...in the palm of your hand.

A new survey by Perception Research Services International, a company that specializes in shopper

research, found 76% of smartphone owners use their devices for shopping purposes.

The survey notes “53% of smartphone owners rely on their devices to compare prices, 49%

to read customer reviews, 48% to search for product information, 48% to check for sales or

coupons, 37% to get product information from a manufacturer’s site, 34% to get a friend or

family member’s opinion, 31% to make a purchase, 31% to enter a contest, and 17% to view

a product demonstration.” Out of the 1,450 American adults surveyed, over half owned a

smartphone.

 

Consumers use their smartphones when shopping for a range of products, including electronics,

clothing, computers/software, groceries, cosmetics, furniture and appliances, cosmetics and

personal care products, office supplies, home decor, and pet supplies among other items. QR

codes are among the most popular mobile commerce options, with consumers using codes to

learn more about products and promotions, participate in loyalty programs and receive rewards,

read customer reviews, and obtain store addresses.

 

“Retailers and manufacturers need to adapt to a world in which shoppers are armed with a

tremendous amount of information at their fingertips—about the brand to choose, the price

to pay and the place to buy,” notes Jonathan Asher, executive vice president at Perception

Research Services International. “Retailers know they will continue to lose a certain amount of

sales to online purchases, and they must accept that some showrooming will occur. The key is

to find ways to capitalize on those opportunities in which shoppers are in their store examining

products, and make it compelling for them to make purchases there rather than go online—or to

some other retailer—to do so.”

 

Marketers are therefore encouraging shoppers to buy new products or services based on

previous purchases and shopping patterns. Companies such as shopkick and Paypal are

utilizing Bluetooth-enabled beacons to link consumer in-store data to mobile marketing. Taking

advantage of location-based technologies and tracking buyer history has subsequently made

recommending products and services to consumers easy and efficient. Even third-party

manufacturers can benefit.

 

Beacon hardware manufacturer Roximity is developing marketing technology that leverages

beacons. For instance, a supermarket using Roximity’s technology could allow a third-party

brand, such as Dole, to utilize its beacon network for a particular promotion.

Startup companies are quickly getting on board with location-based technology, using mobile

not only to help consumers find their businesses, but to add understand what products

customers like and how to incentivize greater purchases.

October 16, 2014

How to Improve Text Message Security

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Mobile phone security risks are abundant with standard, unencrypted text messages among other elements of mobile use. Accordingly, more and more users are looking to encrypted phone call and text message options for privacy protection. A number of apps available for iOS and Android are designed to improve text message security, encrypting both text messages and phone calls. Let’s take a look at some of these apps, but remember no app can protect mobile devices from physical access. Unless a phone features a passcode, anyone handling the device can read messages, view pictures, check out call history, etc.

 

TextSecure and Signal

Created by former Twitter security researcher Moxie Marlinspike’s Open Whisper Systems, TextSecure allows users to message everyone on their phone list. End-to-end encryption is only available when talking to other TextSecure users; however, notifications are sent if the conversation isn’t secure. Available for free on Android, TextSecure utilizes independently developed algorithms, including those that create a new security key with each message.

 

Telegram

Described by its creators as the encrypted, cloud-based, quicker version of WhatsApp, Telegram makes it easy to share messages and media with up to 200 people at once. Choices include ephemeral chats, which are never saved, and cloud-accessible messages for users wanting to return to conversations. The “secret” chats leave “no trace” on the Telegram server.

 

Wickr 

Offering “military-grade security,” Wickr is for those who want to know their messages and photos aren’t readable past a certain time. Metadata is stripped from photos before they’re sent, and messages automatically disappear following a set amount of time after being read. The app makes customization simple and allows users to decide how many people they want to find them, create group chats, and “shred” remains of deleted files.

 

Surespot

Surespot features tools for independently managing different identities on a single device to distinguish personal and professional communications. Voice chat is also integrated, as is flexible photo control for locking, unlocking, and deleting photos from recipients’ phones. The app requires a password that cannot be recovered or reset. Users may look at one another’s public keys offline to ensure no “man-in-the-middle” attacks.

 

CoverMe

CoverMe securely stores a variety of media data, including passwords, photos and documents, and makes it possible to hide identities and phone numbers. Calling and texting with non-users is possible via the CoverMe phone plan, but only phone calls and texts with other users feature end-to-end encryption.

These and other security apps offer the text message security that businesses often require to communicate with employees and clients. And of course, they’re useful for the everyday user as well.

 

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 04, 2014

5 Red Flags: How to Tell That Your SMS Efforts are in Trouble

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It sounds obvious, but the first step towards improving your mobile marketing ROI is recognizing there is room for improvement. Many small businesses are new to SMS messaging, and have nothing to compare their data to. If this sounds like you, check out our five red flags that will let you know your SMS efforts are not working as well as they could:

1) Rising Unsubscribe Rates 

Look at your unsubscribe rates for recent mobile marketing campaigns. A few are to be expected, but if the number is increasing each month (disproportionate to subscribers), you need to rethink your approach. Focus on building the respect and trust of your target audience. Try offering an unbeatable discount with your next text blast and see if your unsubscribe figures drop off.

2) Non-existent or Low Lead Conversion

If your sales team isn’t seeing many conversions coming from your mobile marketing strategy, it’s time to analyze your content and ask why. Be more forensic in your analysis of information like website visitor numbers, social media interactions and mobile marketing campaign statistics. 

3) Web Traffic Plateau

Continual growth is the sign of a healthy business – and that goes for website traffic data too. Even if you had a strong start in the first year, and you have lots of regular visitors to your site, if these figures level out it’s a sign that you are no longer producing fresh, interesting content. Time for a makeover.

4) Irrelevant Social Media Contacts

Next time you look at your Facebook and Twitter followers, don’t just take the total number into account. It may be impressive, but if it’s comprised largely of random sellers, students looking for work, or plain old trolls with no interest in your business, that figure is not a true reflection of your consumer engagement levels.

5) Spammy Online Forms

If your landing pages, forms and comments sections are populated with spam, you’re not reaching your target market. Reappraise your content and figure out why it’s attracting so much spam. Keyword analysis, fresh content, design overhaul, even meta tag adjustments can help you weed out the spammers and get back to finding real leads.

September 02, 2014

What to Do with Your Data: Analytics, Insights, and the Ez Texting Edge

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Remember the days when market research announced its presence? Whether it was asking questions on the street, organizing focus groups, or taking surveys by mail or in-store, mining consumer information used to be an explicit activity. It was an industry all of its own; it had to be – commercial transactions used to take place between two people, and there was scant record of the purchase, other than the bare minimum of information contained in a receipt.

One of the best things about SMS messaging as a marketing tool is that it functions as its own research center. Not only is it highly effective at engaging consumer spending power, it allows businesses to harvest crucial data on personal preference, location, demographic, and all sorts of other useful metrics. If you’re conducting a mobile marketing campaign, don’t make the mistake of thinking your job is done once your SMS blasts have been scheduled. This is only the beginning.

Analytics help you make sense of all that written data. A recent Wharton School Customer Analytics Initiative claims American companies spend $10 billion dollars annually just to find out what consumers think of their products. And yet, access to public attitudes has never been easier, with scores of user reviews and consumer blogs available online, for free.

Between web content and data mined via SMS messaging, you can practically eliminate whatever ‘market research’ budget you once had. Ez Texting’s reports and analytics features are a good example of a text service with built-in research tools. It gives you the ability to:

  • Track incoming and outgoing messages
  • Track how and when new contacts join your list
  • See opt-in spikes to ascertain which campaigns are the most effective
  • Track reasons for opting out
  • Gather detailed information on the status of messages sent

Of course, it’s not simply a numbers game. Having automated data collection capabilities is pretty exciting stuff (at least for number-crunching geeks) but understanding what to do with the information is less intuitive. With that in mind, Ez Texting gives you three top tips for making the most out of your analytics:

1) Identify Actionable Insights

The flipside of all this easily available data is that you end up with a lot of information that’s of no real value to your business. Developing a knack for separating actionable insights from white noise is one of the marks of a good business head. What is ‘useful’ will differ from industry to industry. Decide what information you are looking for before you even examine your raw data, and ruthlessly discard everything else.

2) Assume Mobile

Always assume the customer is going to engage with your business on a mobile device. You’ll have a desktop site with analytics anyway, so there’s no downside to focusing on measuring what the mobile audience is saying.

3) Embrace the Negative

Too often, businesses regard customer complaints as a crisis management situation. A situation that you hope goes away as quietly as possible. But ignoring the negative conversation surrounding your brand is a missed opportunity. Study complaint data closely and find out what the common thread is – there’s bound to be one, and understanding properly it will improve future retention rates.

August 26, 2014

How to Say Sorry After a Text Fail

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Text message fails are so common in the business world there’s a website devoted to cataloguing them. Unlike other workplace errors, which usually don’t spread beyond the safe confines of the office, a mistake-laden text blast is sent to customers, with potentially disastrous consequences for your brand image. 

Luckily, members of the public are, for the most part, likely to see the funny side - as long as we’re talking about an unfortunate autocorrect or some other minor error, and not personal insults or sharing of sensitive data! In most cases, then, there is a way back.

A big part of your recovery lies in the apology you issue after an SMS marketing fail. The way you go about apologizing can cast you in a positive light. The best case scenario is that public opinion of your company will actually improve (although we wouldn’t suggest sending an error-strewn text message just to test this theory!). So you’ve messed up and sent an erroneous SMS to thousands of customers. Here’s how to apologize:

React Quickly

You know how it goes. You make a big mistake - one that everybody will soon know about – and you freeze. Except for the back of your neck, which burns. All you can do is close your eyes and pray that when you open them you’ll have travelled back in time. The paralysis brought about by guilt and fear is of no use to anybody, so instead of waiting around for stuff to hit the fan, you need to immediately own your error. Go directly to your boss and break the news before they find out about it from someone else.

Be Honest

Squirming around for a way to downplay a mistake is uncomfortable for everyone. Don’t do it. Admit exactly what happened so you can strategize the best plan of action. Don’t be tempted to drip feed your coworkers in the hope your mistake will seem less serious. It won’t – it’ll just look like you’ve made a series of errors and then tried to sweep them under the carpet. 

Face the Music

In most cases, you will need to issue an apology to the recipients of the erroneous text. Yes, this is embarrassing in itself, but it has to be done – and quickly. Have a creative meeting and craft a humble, humorous apology that will appeal to your audience’s better nature. Depending on the scale of the error, you may need to offer some kind of promo code or discount. This will usually do the trick of getting people back onside. Your budget will take a hit, but it’s worth it to retain those all important contacts. 

Have Faith

Don’t dwell on the mistake. If you allow it to distract you, it will only set you back. Don’t let one error define you.

Own It

That said, it’s worth following your apology SMS up with a reference to the mistake on Twitter or social media. If it was relatively funny, and threatens to be shared by outsiders, you should pre-empt this and talk about it yourself. Own It lest it Owns You.

Mistakes happen on the way to success. Learning how to deal with them via sincerity, humility, humor and efficiency will turn a stressful situation into a bona fide learning curve.

 

August 20, 2014

The Big Mobile Marketing Match: Email vs. SMS

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No doubt about it, email marketing has been king for many years in the new media advertising realm. The accessibility to potential clients, coupled with low-cost delivery has proven to be a boon for marketing campaigns across the board. Since spam filters have enhanced and email open rates have decreased, however, SMS text message marketing has taken a leading spot in digital advertising.

First off, there are a great deal more mobile users than email users. According to a study by Ericsson in 2014, there are reportedly 4.5 billion mobile users in the world. This number does not include users who own and use multiple devices. Each of these users has the capability of receiving a text message via SMS. The Radicati Group recently reported that there are a projected 2.5 billion email users around the globe. Essentially, that’s about 45% more people who can receive SMS versus email.

SMS, unlike email, has not yet been impacted by spam – at least not in the same fashion. Often emails that are completely legitimate are considered spam simply because inboxes are inundated with junk mail. This has driven down the possibility of connecting with readers of email, with only 22% of messages having the opportunity to be opened and read by email users. SMS, in contrast, has a 98% open rate by mobile users, with only 1% filtered by spam text messaging.

Think about how the average mobile user addresses a text message versus an email. For years, email users have complained about the content of their inboxes, scrutinizing the subject lines to determine if each email is worth opening. When mobile users receive texts, however, they choose to open virtually all of them. It is still natural for mobile users to assume a text is coming from a more trusted source, whereas email users are highly skeptical of the correspondence they receive – especially if they do not recognize the sender. Perhaps as text marketing is adopted by more companies, this trend will alter toward the high filtration rate of email filtering. On the other hand, with such strict guidelines set forth by the FCC when it comes to SMS marketing, the level of spam texting may stay significantly low for quite some time.

The real benefit of SMS marketing is the increased rate of return. It’s true that companies must still market via email, just as they must continue employing traditional advertising channels. But the open and click-through ratio for text messaging far surpasses that of email or traditional marketing methods. The numbers don’t lie – consider ramping up your marketing game by developing an effective SMS campaign today. You’ll be happy with the results.

August 07, 2014

Our New Look Site: Ez on the Eyes, Ez on the Fingers

As a vendor of impartial mobile marketing news and opinion, we don't usually crow on about our own website, but some important changes have been made that will make your experience better than ever.

Here at EzTexting, we’ve been hard at work redeveloping our website. We scrapped our old design. Our features have been streamlined, and we now have brand new ones to share. We’re happy to announce our new Fremium pricing product, available now to our customers. In order to bring you the best texting services available on the internet, we are constantly looking for ways to enhance our product.

We had to start afresh with the design. We gathered feedback from our existing customers, and adopted an objective view of the website. Looking at EzTexting through this lens, we discovered that the site needed to be overhauled, in a manner of speaking. With an emphasis on a more appealing layout and a sharper focus, we are proud to unveil this new site to our clientele.

We developed our new design in order to improve your experience each time you visit EzTexting. In the business of SMS marketing, we seek to create a seamless path of least resistance between you and your customers. By redeveloping our site, we’ve got you back in the cockpit with a whole slew of new bells and whistles.

Naturally, when a business decides to redesign their site, it gives them the opportunity to share their latest features. We intend to do just that. Take our Fremium pricing product, for example.  Fremium allows a new customer to send hundreds of texts for free, with no obligation. It’s just that simple.

Since the landscape of the World Wide Web constantly changes, we at EzTexting know the value in adaptation. A few years ago, net users had to contact the internet through a dial-up phone line. (And we were lucky if we could even load a few web pages!) Nowadays, there are several ways to access the web: on your mobile, with a tablet, or with your trusty computer. In light of these changes, our website now provides access for all sorts of devices and platforms with ease.

It is paramount that EzTexting has everything you need to send (and receive) your mobile marketing content. You are cordially invited to tell us what you think of the new décor: provide us with your feedback, and we’ll give your critique the attention it deserves. We think you’ll agree that the website’s makeover is a welcome change and, as always, we are happy to provide you with the latest technology – right at your fingertips.

July 22, 2014

3 Data Driven Tips for Your Mobile Marketing Campaign

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In 2013, mobile e-commerce was valued at $43 billion, and mobile traffic comprised nearly half of all website visits during the first quarter of 2014. It’s no wonder mobile marketing campaign managers are investing more and more in mobile marketing tactics that not only boosts their ROI, but also gathers data to help them create even better campaigns in the future.

Harrying all this impressive data into an effective mobile marketing strategy is no mean feat. There are a few things you can do to leverage the power of all the mobile usage data flying around into a positive marketing plan. Sticking to the numbers gathered by recent E-Commerce Pulse research, here are some truly data driven ideas for your next mobile marketing campaign:

Be Direct

Direct traffic is the most significant source of sales for mobile, with close to a third of all sales coming from shoppers converting while on their device. Increasingly, users are bypassing search and heading straight for the source – particularly on mobile devices with a wide range of helpful apps. To optimize this potential, be sure that your landing pages (at least) are all mobile friendly, and that the checkout process is as smooth as possible.

Don’t Forget SEM

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is thought to be responsible for 24.8% of tablet conversions during 2013. But it drives little more than half that amount on mobile – a reflection of the challenges inherent to small screen devices. On the one hand, you might think it’s not worth bothering with something that offers such a low conversion rate, but how about some blue sky thinking here? Why not up the ante: make your mobile user experience so easy that those conversions start hitting.

Social: Small but Significant

On mobile, social accounts for more orders than on desktop or tablet (68% of Facebook time and 86% of Twitter time is spent on mobile, according to the Wall Street Journal). Nevertheless, the overall sales earned, owned and paid via social media is still a small share of all mobile orders, so your mobile marketing campaign should take this into account. Social channels function more as an brand awareness generator, and a touchpoint for your business, rather than a primary point of sale, so choose your tracking metrics with this in mind. 

The mobile e-commerce market is poised to hit $50 billion in sales this year, so it’s increasingly important that retailers continue to invest in mobile marketing budgets. By gathering data from as many individual platforms as possible, you can create a single, ‘joined up’ brand experience across all platforms.

July 21, 2014

3 Effective Negative Marketing Strategies

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Though it must undoubtedly be tempered by positivity and come attached with something of real value to the consumer, ‘negative marketing’ can be one of the most compelling ways to engage an audience. Whether it’s self-effacement, common enemies, or simply a list of the wrong way to go about things, spinning the ever-sunny face of web and mobile marketing into a scowl can work wonders for driving traffic.

Almost every industry should consider using it as part of their mobile marketing tactics, but many companies are hesitant to adopt such a potentially risky strategy. Last week we looked at the reasons why negative marketing, when done right, is so effective. Today, examine a few specific negative marketing methods…

1) Negative Titles

One only has to spend five minutes looking at clickbait headlines that pepper the web to spot two common patterns. One tactic is something we like to call ‘Inducing Incredulity’ – those titles that read ‘You Won’t BELIEVE What Happened After This Cat Ate Spaghetti’ or ‘This Free Weight Loss Method is HATED By Doctors.’ The pot of gold promised at the end of those link rainbows is always profoundly empty, and you’re left kicking yourself for trusting any content with such a profligate attitude to capital letters.

The other common – and far superior - approach to headlines is to present articles from a negative angle. Let’s say there’s a news piece about crime statistics in the United States, and you have a choice of two headlines: i)’Most Crime-Free Cities’ or ii)’Worst Cities for Crime’ – the content is precisely the same, but guess which title will generate the most clicks? It works just as well for lifestyle advice articles. Instead of ‘How to Roast the Perfect Chicken’ go for ‘How to Get Roast Chicken Wrong’. It may not be the most flattering comment on human nature, but the fact is, negative headlines translate into more clicks.

2) Shared Experiences

Creating brand loyalty relies on bonding with your audience, and one way to do this is by sharing negative experiences with them. If you can tap into an emotional touchpoint in an unexpected way, your reader will think of you as less of a corporate powerhouse and more of a friend. This is an especially effective mobile marketing strategy to launch your campaign with, as it puts you on an even footing with consumers, letting them know you share their pain. However, once you’ve created that bond based on shared negative experiences, it’s important to shift the tone to more positive, solution-oriented content.

3) Self Effacement

Nobody likes a braggart. That’s as true for businesses as it is for individuals, and whilst every company needs to ‘big themselves up’ in some way, a touch of self-deprecation is a really attractive way to get attention. Sharing your mistakes will make you seem more human, plus, if you do make a slip up, you can be the first to condemn yourself (before the blogosphere pounces). As long as your product or service is unimpeachable, you can afford to poke a little fun at your logo, CEO, or recent advertising campaign.