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July 25, 2014

Push Techniques & Your Mobile Marketing Strategy

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Cell phones are rarely out of reach of their owners. For mobile marketing campaign managers, the question isn’t ‘can we reach consumers via their smartphone’ – we already know the answer to that – but rather, ‘how can we best reach individual consumers via their smartphone.’

Most successful mobile marketing campaigns use push notifications, SMS messaging or a combination of both. Each has it’s own set of pros and cons, which vary according to industry. Deciding when to use push notifications versus SMS is one of the key decisions you’ll make when devising a mobile marketing strategy.

Push notifications can yield a decisive ROI when smartly executed. Data from tech startup Urban Airship indicates that push notifications can prompt a 540% increase in daily app opens and a 30% increase in social media sharing. If you’re looking to communicate information and updates about a product to existing app customers, push notifications are where it’s at.

According to data collated by Responsys, 68% of people who download a brand’s app opt in to receive push notifications, but their power goes beyond apps. It’s true that most push notifications are delivered to mobile devices, but they are expanding to reach desktops, e-readers – even car dashboards. Some analysts predict that by 2020, the number of web-connected devices will reach 75 billion. With an average of ten points-of-internet-access per person, champions of the push notification are salivating at the possibilities.

It’s not all wine and roses. Like SMS messaging, push notifications should be used sparingly for maximum impact. Remember, notifications can be switched off. And unlike SMS, users don’t even need to unsubscribe in order to stop receiving them. Diehard app lovers are notoriously fickle; once the number of apps they use reaches a critical mass, they become more inclined to demote their least favorite. Avoid bombarding customers with notifications and you’re less likely to fall prey to a push cull. To minimize the number of users switching off, the trick is to walk that fine line between remaining on someone’s radar, and simply irritating them.

Bear in mind too that smartphone penetration is deep but they’re not the only game in town. A third of Americans own cell phones that are not smartphones. That’s a significant market. Those consumers can’t use apps, ans SMS is the only way to reach them, so if the bulk of your target audience is yet to adopt a smartphone, forget about push notifications and concentrate your mobile marketing strategy on SMS.

An effective mobile marketing strategy is all about balance. Balance between push notifications and SMS messaging. Balance between apps and mobile friendly content. Walking that tightrope is the difference between getting noticed and shouting to an empty room.

 

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. 

July 19, 2014

From Zero to Hero: How Mobile Revolutionized Planet Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

July 17, 2014

Mobile to Surpass Print Advertising in the UK

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According to a forecast by eMarketer, mobile advertising spending will soon overtake traditional print ads. The report predicts mobile spending to grow by a staggering 96% this year, hitting £2.02bn. That’s still a shade behind the forecast print spend of £2.06bn, but the report anticipates mobile ad spend will be worth £4.5bn in 2016. The UK’s total digital advertising market is forecast to be worth £7.25bn by the end of this year, growing to £8.64bn by 2016.

This rapid growth reflects the widespread adoption of secondary mobile devices used in conjunction with smartphones. By 2018, 50% of Brits are expected to own an iPad, Kindle or other tablet.

The eMarketer report states: 

“Continued robust growth in the mobile channel is driving the bulk of [overall] digital ad growth in the UK. The dramatic growth of mobile and video ad expenditures will boost digital ad spending throughout the forecast period.”

This “mobile mushroom” is showing no signs of letting up. The numbers are truly dramatic: compare the £7.25bn valuation put on the market today with the £83m from four years ago and you get an idea of just how seismic this shift is. Mobile advertising will account for nearly 30% of all digital ad spending in 2014, according to the report.

So what’s prompted such an explosion in mobile marketing campaign spending? Most analysts agree that, in the UK at least, a strong economy, with the pound ringfenced from the worst effects of the Eurozone crisis, has instilled confidence in consumers. Plus, the efficacy of mobile marketing tactics are easy to track compared with traditional channels, causing advertisers to turn away from print (the report also predicts that the newspaper and magazine market will lose £276m in ad spend between 2014 and 2018).

A similar story is playing out on this side of the pond, with mobile spending accounting for 22.5% of all digital ad investments in 2013. A study conducted last year – also by eMarketer – indicated worldwide growth of mobile web ad spending had exceeded 100% by the year’s end, with mobile accounting for 15.2% of digital ad dollars spent globally.

The implications for your mobile marketing strategy are clear. Firstly, track the results of your print and mobile marketing campaign. Secondly, compare and contrast the success rates of your digital campaign and your traditional print campaign. If recent analysis is correct, you’ll find more and more consumers are turning to mobile to browse commercial prospects. Once that happens, you can adjust your budget accordingly, and start reaping the benefits of mobile.

July 16, 2014

Could the Yo App Become a Serious Mobile Marketing Tool?

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In case you haven’t heard, the app marketplace is abuzz. The conversation revolves around a new app, called Yo. While the capabilities of the app are quite limited, the possibilities have yet to be determined.

The app works like this: once you’ve downloaded Yo, you can send a message to any other user of the app – as long as that message is “Yo.” At first glance, this app appears to be a joke on the user. It was launched on April Fools Day, and several of the reviews of the app lean toward the absurd. One user even claims: “Since downloading Yo, all of my relationships have improved and I’ve regrown most of my hair.”

Perhaps the most uncanny story about Yo is that the inventor, Or Arbel, has been able to raise one million dollars in support of the app.

Mobile marketing is serious business. In the past year, the techniques of mobile marketing have become innovative, and extraordinarily useful for consumers. Apps can track users’ locations and their buying habits, all while creating the simplest purchasing experience possible. Frankly, Yo doesn’t seem serious enough to constitute all the buzz.

Suppose you own a clothing company, and wish to send a yo to each of your customers to let them know that you are having a sale. You can’t let them know about what clothes are on sale or how much, nor can you personalize any pertinent information about your upcoming sale. The only the message you are able to send is that one word, Yo. Certainly the app will generate some traffic back to your website – for the consumers willing to take that step, that is. Most consumers won’t respond, however, because there are several other apps garnering their attention, ones with much more information and more appealing ads.

That said, there is a sort of intrigue surrounding the use of Yo. Often times, advertisers do not need to send much information, and the message can be implicit. Advertisers will undoubtedly find a space for this technique in mobile marketing, but it will require some very creative groundwork. The key will be to find the right time and place to send the “yo” to users so that their interest is piqued, coupled with a consumer base that “enjoys the hunt.” For those mobile marketers willing to take the plunge into the realm of minimal marketing, only time will tell if Yo is the way to go.

July 15, 2014

Six of the Worst: Mobile Marketing Rookie Errors

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When marketing to mobile users, just be smart. Check out this quick list of the worst mobile marketing errors and prove you’re not a rookie.

1)Overlooking Mobile Limitations

Your smartphone is not a PC or a Mac. You’ve got no mouse, and no printer. There’s a small screen and an even smaller keyboard. Data can be slow and it costs money, so don’t inundate the mobile user with GIFs and content streams. The key is to be creative with what you got: mobile users will appreciate it.

2)Not Focusing on Mobile Capabilities

Your smart phone is better than a PC or a Mac in some ways. It’s a phone with text messaging and email. It’s a video camera and player; it takes pictures and plays music. It can tell where you are and when your next appointment is. And best of all, you can purchase anything you want with it. So utilize these capabilities in your marketing campaigns... or be left in the dust.

3)Confusing Mobile Users with PC Users

Mobile users don’t have time for downloads or site navigation. They need a good .mobi site catering to the device they are using. Give them quick access, relevant data, fast-paced service, and localized info. Eliminate too many words, images, downloads and clicks. And remember: less can much, much more.

4)Making Direct Connection Difficult

Communication over the data stream is great, but nothing beats a direct connection. Make it easy for consumers to contact you via telephone, and supplement your operation to allow for inbound calls. If you can’t afford to hire phone operators, try an interactive voice response system to receive your calls. Be sure to utilize chat and IM technology as well: a whole new generation of mobile users is consuming this form of communication like wildfire.

5)Underestimating Privacy

Mobile consumers are more concerned than ever with personal privacy. Your mobile marketing strategy must follow all regulations when collecting info about mobile users. Always ask permission. Give links to privacy policies on your site and within all of your ads. Don’t abuse the info you collect on your customers: if you make some privacy errors with several of your customers, you’re likely to lose a great deal of your customer base. No joke.

6)Overtargeting Users

This is a biggie. Consumers are getting pretty savvy about the info that businesses collect about them. Since marketers track shopping trends and navigation trends, the marketing messages can become super personalized. Group your customers into categories based on their similarities, and market to these groups accordingly – that way you aren’t spending too much on highly generic ads. Try marketing based on the device a given consumer uses, or perhaps location-based advertising. In any case, if you’re drunk on highly general mobile marketing, perhaps it’s time to start getting more personal.

 

July 11, 2014

The Pitfalls of Using Long Codes in your Mobile Marketing Campaign

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Before we tear into long codes, let’s be clear: they have some useful capabilities outside of the United States. Long numbers create interactivity and an ongoing conversation between users and businesses, and the very best examples provide a truly premium experience for participants.

All well and good, but if your mobile marketing campaign is aimed squarely at users in the United States, the benefits of long codes are irrelevant. According to the Wireless Association, long codes may only be used for person-to-person messaging, and is not allowed for SMS blasts, time-based alerts or automated search.

For many businesses, these restrictions will simply prove too much to even attempt getting round them. The ethical demands of conducting a long code campaign that not only abides by the regulations but also gives an ROI means most marketers will stick with the tried and tested short code method. So why the big fuss about long codes?

In the United States, one of the trademark concerns of the mobile marketing industry – and the regulators that govern it – is consumer protection. Network carriers are held responsible by subscribers for unauthorized communication; they also have a legal obligation to minimize spam. Long codes are known as a ‘grey route’ to market, and attract unscrupulous businesses. Legit companies should stay well away. Until such time as long codes are officially allowed by U.S. carriers, the best advice is to leave them out of your mobile marketing strategy altogether.

Meanwhile, short codes are gaining traction in both domestic and foreign markets, despite being subject to financial constraints that other marketing channels are unencumbered by. Their popularity is down to the high success rate of SMS messaging as a method of engagement. In fact, the open and read rate of text messages is reckoned to be somewhere between 90% and 98%, depending on who you ask.

July 10, 2014

Mobile Marketing: Image Isn’t Everything

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Using images – especially the off-the-shelf variety available from stock photo resources – is the default setting of most content creators. Write an article, publish it with a generic shot that vaguely relates to the piece and costs a couple of dollars to acquire, and never think about it again.

This is all well and good for blog posts and other desktop-based content, but what about mobile marketing? Is there a good home for the right image in a text message?

Yes and no. It’s true that the widespread adoption of smartphones has enabled consumers to receive rich content like images and audio. There’s a lot you can do with the right picture, especially if you’ve created something unique and eye-grabbing. Brand memory and recognition are principally visual phenomena, so a truly arresting image is far likelier to stay with a consumer than a slogan, mission statement or even company name.

But there are pitfalls. When brand marketers rely on images, they often forget that there’s little point in adding a picture if it doesn’t add value to the message. Remember, multi-media messages are charged at a higher rate than plan SMS, and they are frequently excluded from price plans. In some cases, marketers can pre-pay data fees – but make sure you’re aware of what your options are before tacking on pictures to your SMS messaging campaign.

You must also ensure you custom-create any image-led campaign for SMS and MMS. If you simply transfer a link from your mobile website – where customers can click on the link to see the image – it will not be clickable in a text message. Always review any images, videos or other rich multimedia content you send in text messages.

Finally, just because you can send an image with your message doesn’t mean you have to. The same is true for all mobile marketing tactics – they are options, not requirements. You have a rich palette from which to work, but if you throw all the paint at the canvas, it’s not going to be a pretty picture.

 

July 09, 2014

How to Make the Perfect SMS Pitch

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Using SMS messaging in the most effective way requires an understanding of the singular properties of the medium. If you approach your text marketing campaign in the same way you would an email campaign, you’ll miss out on the many advantages of an SMS-focused strategy.

Perhaps the most important differentiator between email and SMS is the character limitations of the latter. If you’ve already engaged with social media via Twitter, you’ll understand the unique challenge of crafting a message in less than 140 characters. You may have an extra 20 characters at your disposal with SMS, but the same rules of clarity, brevity and levity apply to the creation of a good message.

But there is a key difference between a social media campaign and an SMS messaging campaign. Tweets don’t require opt-in subscribers, or incur even a minimal additional cost to the viewer. To engage with your texts, consumers have to give up their cell phone number and agree to receive messages. This is no mean commitment, and it demands a new standard of ethics and responsibility on the part of mobile marketers.

With an open-and-read rate of more than 90%, it’s worth getting your SMS strategy right from the start. If you fail to impress with your first message, subscribers will simply opt out. Hooking recipients with those first 160 characters they see is essential for the long-term survival of your mobile marketing campaign. Here, we offer a few pointers on making the perfect SMS pitch…

Be Relevant

You might have a large portfolio of services to offer a wide range of different consumers. The beauty of SMS lists is the ease with which you can ‘divide and conquer’ according to personal preference. Don’t waste that opportunity by viewing your contact list as a monolithic, static entity. Instead, view each phone number as an individual organism, with highly specific needs. If you run a hotel with a public restaurant, for instance, don’t send updates on room rates to someone who only signed up for meal deals.

Be Appropriate

Striking the right tone for your audience is one of the tricks of the SMS marketing trade. This will vary hugely depending on industry, but there are a few rules of thumb that apply across the board:

  • Don’t use text speak in an effort to appeal to a youth demographic, or simply to save precious space. Unless you are aiming purely for a tween crowd, it will come across as unprofessional at best, and incomprehensible at worst. Remember, many people dislike text speak, but nobody objects to proper English.
  • Having said that, your messages should be more informal than a letter or even an email. Strike a friendly but professional tone.
  • Avoid jargon. When working in a specific industry, it’s easy to get caught up with insider jargon, so remember who your audience is before rattling off a message containing a foreign acronym.

Be Link Friendly

In all likelihood, you have a lot more to say than you can possibly fit in a text message, so don’t forget to include a hyperlink to your website. View text as a gateway to your brand, and encourage recipients to click with a clear call to action.

Be Plugged In

Segmented mobile subscriber lists are an invaluable source of user information. You should be constantly tracking the analytics of your mobile marketing campaign to see what each subscriber likes or dislikes, and adjusting your messages accordingly. The more you seem to be speaking to each customer as an individual, the better your SMS pitch will be.