Marketing

406 posts categorized

February 05, 2016

Can Mobile Tech Solve Long Lines at the Grocery Store?

 

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Retailers are regularly on the lookout for ways to improve the customer experience and cut costs—if there’s a way to do both at the same time, that’s even better. One emerging trend in this area involves utilizing mobile technology to help expedite certain transactions. Tech companies, restaurant chains, clothing stores, and more businesses have implemented cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) systems in an effort to reduce long lines and other potentially problematic retail behaviors.

 

What Is a Cloud-based POS System?

 

Traditionally, when you go to the grocery store, the final step in your customer service journey includes the interaction you have with a checker tending a stationary till at the front of the store. The number of checkers and cash registers is limited by the resources available. As a result, customers might have to wait in long lines to make their purchases. If this sounds like a familiar scene, you’re not alone.

 

What is less familiar (but currently growing in popularity) is the mobile POS system, which manages transactions and other customer-related actions exclusively online. As a result, the transaction is accessed remotely using a mobile technology device like a smartphone, tablet, or iPad. 

 

Is a Cloud-based POS System Safe? 

 

Customers not accustomed to making purchases online might find the mobile POS a little intimidating, especially if they’re fearful of online corruption or attacks. For customers who are comfortable with making online purchases, the process is only slightly different from buying goods at popular online retailers like Amazon or eBay. 

 

For customers, cloud-based POS systems are just as secure as traditional transaction methods. Security features include encryptions and fire walls to protect incoming and outgoing personal data. 

 

From a retailer’s perspective, the shift to a mobile POS system actually mitigates some risk of fraudulent activity. In the future, credit card companies are expected to make good on all purchases (even fraudulent purchases) so long as the vendor has upgraded to a mobile system. 

 

A Better Customer Experience 

 

One of the greatest advantages of using a mobile POS is that customers can make purchases from anywhere in the store. Moreover, with sales associates standing by, customers can get answers and assistance for a broader range of needs, including inventory, warranty specifics, price checks, and more. 

 

By making this information mobile, retailers stand to save money on overhead while simultaneously making more money on the sales floor. Imagine how much potential business is lost because a customer doesn’t want to wait in line to ask an inventory question. By offering a mobile solution, associates can deliver expedited service to customers that would otherwise never make it to checkout. Meanwhile, giving sales associates more flexibility on the floor will make them more productive and likely reduce the number of required sales associates.  

It’s not a matter of if retailers will decide to make the switch to mobile POS; it’s really a matter of when. Several retailers have already made the transition and are offering customers a wide range of transaction options like mobile receipts and quicker checkout times. As the technology develops further, this trend will become as prolific as retail stores themselves, ultimately changing the way we do business on a daily basis. 

 

January 31, 2016

The Best Ways to Monetize Apps

 

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Knowing which monetizing strategy will work best for a mobile app is like trying to figure out what’s in the secret sauce atop your favorite burger. You can see bits and pieces of familiar condiments and spices, but when you try to make it at home, it’s never exactly the same. Maybe that’s because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, or secret sauce, for monetizing apps. 

As strange or cliché as this hamburger analogy sounds, it’s safe to say that most burger recipes are uniquely their own; and that’s typically the way all successful apps find their way to the top of the charts. Creating a unique app is most certainly the first step in creating a viable monetization strategy—your secret sauce—and your ticket to a wildly successful app. 

If no two apps are exactly the same, it’s logical to assume that no two apps make money in exactly the same way either. There is, however, a good chance that most successful apps use similar strategies, in a variety of combinations, to optimize strengths and dull app weaknesses. Understanding which mobile marketing strategy - or combination of mobile marketing strategies - will be most effective for your brand is a core requirement for success. 

Here’s a look at some of the best ways to monetize apps using popular strategies. Think of these techniques like you would ingredients to the secret sauce on your burger. Ask yourself what works best with your app, and try combinations until you’ve made something delicious…I mean profitable. 

 

Freemium Apps 

It’s a play on words, and it also accounts for 93 percent of all downloaded apps in 2015. Freemium apps are just what they sound like—they’re free. So, in order to use this ingredient effectively, your app had better offer a premium, or upgraded version, for a small fee. 

This strategy only works well, though, when there are clear advantages to the paid version; it also has be to a first-rate, highly useable, and addictive app. If this sounds like your burger, then feel free to say it’s free; but be sure you’ve got a better version of the app available for purchase. 

 

In-app Purchases

Depending on the meat of your app—the genre, if you will—in-app purchases are a great seasoning to add. The trick here is to make a game that’s highly addictive and charge users small fees to enhance their addictive experience with features like profile personalization, game currency, or increased usage. 

Once a user makes the first purchase, he or she is usually hooked. Game apps like Candy Crush Saga made an estimated $630 thousand a day with this technique. You can, too, if you make an appetizing app. 

 

In-app Advertising

Think of in-app advertising like you would an assertive spice blend—use too much, and your burger is ruined. Successful in-app advertising does two things: compliments multiple ad networks and functions within well-designed ad space. 

In other words, in-app advertising should not be the only revenue source holding your app together. Additionally, thoughtful and strategic ad placement is very important to the ad’s success. An occasional banner add at the bottom of your favorite app isn’t so bad; pop-up ads flashing across your smartphone screen every 30 seconds are not the way to go. 

 

Sponsorship 

Finally, sponsorship is a great way to offer products or services most relevant to your consumer. Prominently displayed sponsors will pay for both impressions and clicks if this strategy is implemented correctly. 

The important thing to remember about this monetizing tactic is that what you’re selling, and when, is critical to the user’s experience and general acceptance of the advertisement. 

For example, the RunKeeper fitness app partnered with third party Kiip to showcase products that would appeal most to runners, particularly during times the app was aware the runner had just started or completed a run. Timing is everything, and sponsorship monetization needs that and good products to be successful. 

Building your app’s unique monetization strategy will require some trial and error; but the payout for the time investment can make all the difference in your journey. What’s in your secret sauce?

January 30, 2016

What is Sales Force Automation?

 

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Before the proliferation of digitalized communications, records, and processes, pen and paper were the sophisticated tools of the trade for most sales associates. A Rolodex, for example, is the tangible version of most contact lists we use today on our mobile devices and computers—without which, most professionals could hardly function. 

Today, the job of the sales associate is greatly helped by the advancement of Sale Force Automation (SFA); which covers an array or responsibilities that empower sales professionals to work more efficiently from just about anywhere in the world. 

 

How Does Sales Force Automation Work? 

At its most basic level, SFA is software designed to organize customer data, record customer interactions, and deliver insight on short- and long-term sales behavior. 

Between the early 1980s to Y2K, SFA began to incorporate more aspects of the sales process including, web-based contact list, e-mail packages, custom templates and more. By automating the sales process and digitizing the data, sales methods became more specialized and, over time, increasingly more successful. 

 

Customer Relations Management 

Software companies like Oracle, Baan, and Microsoft pioneered the industry and helped bridge the gap between SFA and Customer Relations Management (CRM). 

In the early 2000s, Paul Greenberg published CRM at the Speed of Light, which helped guide the notion that CRM should include a company’s overarching strategies, practices and technologies aimed at building customer relationships as well as driving sales.  Eventually, CRM and SFA became intertwined—with SFA focusing on the systems and software, and CRM focusing on the analytics of the customer lifecycle. 

Today, CRM includes things like social CRM, which aims to prioritize customer interaction over customer transactions across different media channels. However, CRM also includes things like customer retention rates, online shopping trends, email open rates, and other data points that improve business relations, drive sales, and curate a strong customer base. 

 

The Future of SFA

Because sales associates are no longer sitting behind a desk making phone calls all day; many of them work exclusively in the field, the future of SFA as well as some combination of CRM will inevitably include features specific to mobile devices. This includes formatting sales catalogues and brochures or mobile, digitalized forms, paperwork and signatures, as well as streamlining the purchasing process to maximize efficacy in the field. 

Further, these mobile solutions will continue to assist sales professionals with traditional SFA tasks like managing appointments, rescheduling, and record keeping. 

Just like other business tools and systems, mobility is essential to the future of SFA. Sales teams are made of increasingly on-the-go professionals, who need devices that reflect this change in professional behavior. Thus, mobile is not only the future, it’s the present hot spot in sales and customer management. 

 

December 27, 2015

What Will Happen to Mobile in 2016?

 

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What’s to become of the mobile market in 2016? Said market certainly isn’t going anywhere, and plenty of innovations and changes are expected. Overcoming various hurdles is also in the mix, and with that in mind, check out a few mobile predictions for the New Year: 

 

Messaging App Marketing

Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are on their way to having 1 billion active users monthly. More services and marketing opportunities will be added to both messenger services in 2016, giving marketers the chance to further break from traditional advertising and come up with unique options. 

 

More Mobile Payments

Paying for, well, anything through smartphones is something that will likely continue in 2016. Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay, and similar mobile payment possibilities are set to become standard smartphone features, however undoing years of paying with cash, debit cards, and credit cards as opposed to swiping a smartphone takes diligence. Mobile wallet incentives such as coupons, rewards and loyalty perks, and similar discounts will therefore be required if this form of payment is to really take off. 

 

Increased Data Release

Consumers are predicted to allow more personal data release in 2016, though whether they’ll do it willingly is up for debate. The “convenience and value” of the connected world is something consumers like a lot, so the release of more personal data to publishers and marketers is a distinct possibility. 

 

On-Demand Delivery and Small Businesses

Small businesses will get in on the on-demand delivery action in 2016, something that’s mainly been reserved for corporations and other big businesses. Food ordering, package delivery, and similar easy-to-use services are great for small businesses, and something more of them will utilize in the New Year. 

 

Facebook=Entirely Mobile

The days of checking out Facebook feeds through laptops are increasingly coming to an end, with the social media juggernaut set to become “entirely mobile.” In Q3 2015, 78 percent of Facebook’s $4.3 billion in ad revenue worldwide was due to mobile, and many of the site’s users log in through their phones anyway.

 

Stronger Cybersecurity 

The creation of more cloud-based services and more consumers relying on their phones to purchase goods and services means strong cybersecurity is a must. Small businesses should take note of cybersecurity options, as more cyber attacks are predicted for small businesses in 2016. 

 

Battle For “Mobile Moments”

In a blog for Forrester.com, analyst Thomas Husson called mobile moments the next “battleground” among marketers. 

“Mobile moments – a time when consumers picks up their mobile devices to get what they want in that moment of need – are the next battleground where to win, serve, and retain customers,” he writes. “Mobile experiences are too static today and leverage too little consumer context. As customer expectations of convenience escalate in 2016, the pressure will be on firms to tap new technologies to serve customers in context where they already are – not where brands find it convenient to serve them. Firms must look to use context both to assemble and deliver experiences dynamically on their own and third party platforms.

“In particular, we expect alternative ecosystems beyond Android and iOS to emerge. With consumers using fewer or more integrated apps, new mobile platforms that offer a more relevant experience such as WeChat in China or Facebook Messenger in the US are quickly accumulating power as the owners of vast audiences and rich data about those consumers.” 

 

December 22, 2015

Google Brings App Streaming to Mobile Ads

 

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Google launched a new way to find information last month, even if such information is locked up tight within a mobile app. The search engine’s “Trial Run” gives consumers 60 seconds of playtime before deciding whether they want to make the app a member of their home screen. Google made it so advertisers pay only when a consumer installs the app rather than every time someone opts for a trial run. That way, advertisers are paying for those truly interested in the game, not consumers who download on a wing and a prayer. 

"The immersive demo increases the likelihood that an install is coming from someone who enjoys playing the game," according to the blog post written by Google director of mobile ads Sissie Hsiao and product manager Pasha Nahass. "Users get a taste of the game before going through the download process, and the app developer attracts better qualified users who've chosen the game based on their experiences in the app."

The format is designed to offset recent Google research that found one in four downloaded apps never gets used. Trial run ads are currently behind one third of all mobile app revenue, with advertisers very willing to pay more for them because they result in actual downloads. Of course, if the consumer downloads and ignores the app in question, it’s not worth much to advertisers. This new option subsequently offers the chance to increase brand awareness by ensuring the person will (probably) use the app. 

 

Changes to Interactive Ads

Google also announced an HTML5 ad for interactive interstitial ads. The idea is to create a customized user experience designed specifically for every advertiser’s app. The search engine touts the ads as providing creative freedom to advertisers who utilize HTML5 as opposed to a standard template. Interstitial ads give advertisers the chance to display products through galleries and point out personal branding options. Global fashion retailer Zalora, for example, is using the feature so consumers can swipe for exclusive offers. 

"We understand that experiences on mobile need to be made for mobile, and an ad is no different," Hsiao and Nahass said. "We're continually exploring new and better ways to build out interactive formats for the small screen."

Both of these possibilities are still in the beta testing stage and therefore available to a handful of advertisers. 

“You can buy ads, you can get apps installed. But a lot of apps are used once or they’re never used, even after they’re installed,” Hsiao noted, emphasizing that the formats are designed to pair app developers with the right users. “We found that 1 in 4 apps is never even used, and there’s often this ‘try once’ experience, and then [the app is] never used again,” Hsiao adds.

Google noted that app developers interested in joining the beta should contact their account managers. 

 

December 18, 2015

Five Festive Apps to Make You a Better Christmas Shopper

 

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You can’t giftwrap them, but apps still make a great gift for Christmas. Check out our top six apps and see if you can bring a little something different to the table this year…

 

Shpock

The self-styled “boot sale and classifieds app” puts the emphasis squarely on secondhand goods, with categories including home and garden, leisure and games and baby and child. Shpock’s USP is its focus on local transactions. Think of it as a virtual car boot sale, where you can make offers, ask questions of the vendor and even haggle a bit.

 

Etsy

As well as providing a handy Christmas countdown clock, Etsy’s app covers all your gift-shopping needs, with a particular focus on homemade items. If you want to shop online but avoid sending generic presents to creative family members, this app is your festive friend.

 

Gift Professor

This free app helps you decide what to get for those tricky friends and family members who are particularly hard to shop for. Gift Professor connects you with two thousand online merchants, suggesting several ideas based on answers you give to questions set within the app. It takes minutes to proffer a range of suggestions, and allows you to easily save them so you won’t accidentally give the same gift to that hard-to-please loved one when their birthday rolls around.

 

Pinterest

Pinterest is another perennial favorite in the arty, crafty, homemade mould. It’s also the go-to app for anyone who likes to get super organized for the holidays. Planning a pre-Christmas party and want some new recipe ideas? Check. Struggling with the right gift for your creative niece? Pinterest will more than likely solve your problem. If you’ve never used it before, now’s the time to start pinning away, and with a recent update allowing you to buy directly from clickable pins, gift-buying with Pinterest is more convenient than ever.

 

Delivery Status

Shopping in-store has one notable advantage over shopping online: knowing where all your gifts were once they’d been paid for (at the back of the closet, away from small prying hands, if you’re my mother). Delivery Status has capitalized on this gap to put comprehensive tracking capabilities in the palm of your hand. It supports more than 30 delivery services, including FedEx, UPS and DHL, enabling you to keep track of their progress, count down the number of days until a package arrives, and even label individual packages in app so you won’t forget what each parcel contains. 

 

December 17, 2015

A Short History of CRM Software

 

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Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software hasn’t always been this sophisticated. Since the first fledgling programs first hit the market during the 1980s, it has steadily evolved - along with other business software - to become a key component of the modern day business model. 

Much of what we would today call CRM grew from database marketing and statistical modeling during the 1980s, when the ‘digital rolodex’ was the flashiest, cuttin’ edgiest game in town. Firms like Goldmine started releasing programs throughout the decade, building a legacy which lasts to this day

The home computer boom of the 1990s precipitated investment in increasingly sophisticated software. Sales force automation (SFA) took basic database marketing a step closer to CRM by combining automation and contact management, providing businesses with more customer data than ever before. By the middle of the decade, Siebel Systems had become the leading SFA specialists, developing software that could reasonably be described as CRM tools and, according to some, coming up with the acronym itself. Indeed, the assortment of names given to this emergent technology - including enterprise customer management (ECM) and customer information system (CIS) - gradually gave way to CRM which, by 1996, was the tag that stuck. 

The latter half of the decade saw the market become highly competitive, with CRM constantly picking up more marketing, sales and service applications. By the decade’s end, e-CRM vendors were offering internet-based iterations of the software, and mobile technology was beginning to come into play. 

In spite of the setbacks caused by the bursting of the dot-com bubble, e-CRM clawed its way back into businesses’ affections, and offline software continued to develop throughout the beginning of the new century. Tech giants like Microsoft joined the market, and firms like force.com harnessed the power of cloud-based applications, customizing them to individual CRM platforms and thereby giving businesses greater choice and flexibility than ever before.

In recent years, CRM has started to go social, and cloud-based solutions have reached new peaks of popularity. As we move into the second half of the current decade, we can expect increasing levels of integration, lower costs and more emphasis on mobile CRM.

November 30, 2015

What Does the Mobile Messaging Boom Mean for the Customer Service Industry?

 

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When you need to get a hold of a customer service representative at your bank or another business, do you often feel your only choices are waiting forever on the phone or getting lost in a barrage of “press one for this” and “press two for that” options? Sometimes, these options don’t even get you to the person you need to speak with.

Instead of waiting around on the phone for hours, or getting a wrong department or being hung up on, consumers are finding mobile messaging an effective customer service solution. And, they’re loving the convenience of taking care of issues via mobile, so that they can go about their business while they wait for someone to solve their problem.

Is mobile messaging the way of the future for customer service? Let’s take a look at how SMS messaging might be the best way to communicate with companies going forward.

 

Customer Service and Changing Times

Traditionally, consumers have experienced many troubling scenarios with customer service reps, including phone calls that were never answered, dropped phone calls, poor connections to overseas call centers, and calls that did not get to where they were supposed to go after being led down a rabbit hole of “press” options. These customer service experiences are certainly not desirable service experiences for the customer. They’re nightmares that have the potential to turn off consumers from engaging with a brand.

Regardless of how much, or how well, a business markets its products or services, if its customers can’t get help when they need it, consumers likely turn away from the brand. Brand loyalty is only a possibility when a company can help a customer appreciate its products and services. To increase brand loyalty, many companies are turning to text messaging as a way to easily and effectively communicate with their customers.

 

Why Mobile Messaging?

Consumers have pretty much created the new wave of customer service communication for themselves. They are demanding mobile messaging as a customer service option because they feel more in control when they can simply leave a message as they would to a friend, and then have a person get back to them via text. There’s no hanging on the phone, no navigating customer service forms on websites, no hang-ups without having a question heard, and none of the other traditional customer service problems. Consumers like being able to use iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and other messaging apps to state their issue and go about their lives as the business looks into the problem and gets back to them.

Of course, this only works when a company puts structures into place to receive mobile messages and sets aside time to diligently reply to mobile messages—a task that many businesses have dedicated themselves to. As consumers show they don’t have the time, or the inclination, to deal with customer service issues of the past, companies are listening and making mobile messaging to customer service a reality to build brand loyalty.

November 20, 2015

Swrve Raises $30m

 

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Last week, mobile marketing software company Swrve raised $30 million in funding to further the company’s goal of global expansion and product development. To date, the company has raised more than $50 million, with this latest round led by Evolution Media Partners and Irish investment firm TPG Growth and Participant Media. 

The funding money was a huge victory for Swrve and its CEO Christopher Dean, who recently helped acquire adaptive.io, a data automation platform for mobile. 

With help from the latest round, Swrve and adaptive.io are positioned to roll out the latest produce line called Swrve Amplify, which allows clients to manage multichannel campaigns with real-time targeting data. 

“We’re excited about the simplicity of Swrve Amplify in allowing us to make real-time decisions based on all of our data sets,” said Dean. 

What he’s referring to is a combination of predictive analytics, which contain an evolving behavioral algorithm that predicts user behavior, segmentation, AB testing, and in-app messaging. The sum of these parts has resulted in the California-based company’s major success; today Swrve is considered the word’s leading mobile marking automation platform. 

In 2015, Swrve made considerable headway in terms of building out its client portfolio. Earlier this year, Swrve added The Guardian, Condé Nast, Glamsquad, Warner Brothers, and Microsoft to a growing client list.

 

Important Mobile Developments

“Mobile has reached a point where brands and games can’t ignore it,” said Dean. 

In addition to improving and simplifying omnichannel communications, Swrve is attempting to fully measure the app user’s collective behavior online as a distinct category of activity from the spectrum of devices and channels we choose (or don’t choose) to interact with every day. 

The end game is a more sophisticated advertising and marketing strategy for business, and what will hopefully result in more meaningful and relevant content for users. 

With the addition of $30 million, Dean and Swrve have found a bit of breathing room to let the innovation process begin. 

November 14, 2015

What Are 'Mobile Moments' and How Can They Help My Mobile Marketing Strategy?

 

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Christmas shopping used to be a hectic business. Typically, a day or two was set aside sometime in between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve - depending on how organized you were - in order to head to the mall and fight the crowds for the ever-dwindling supply of gifts. 

In the age of the smartphone, everything has changed. From browsing to buying, every stage of a transaction can now be performed on a mobile device. According to recent Google research, 54% of holiday shoppers will use their smartphones to shop throughout the season, and smartphone-based commerce has gone up by 64% over the last year. In fact, almost a third of all online purchases now happen on mobile phones.

So how can your mobile marketing strategy benefit from this continuing trend towards smartphone commerce? The key is understanding how people use their devices. 

A recent study claimed that people use their smartphones as many as 150 times in a single day, spending around a minute on each ‘session.’ A rounded mobile marketing campaign will tackle each and every kind of activity: text messages, emails, social media and web searches. Because each session is typically so brief, the trick is capitalize on these ‘mobile moments.’ 

Mobile moments - or micro moments - are those brief snatches of time when people turn to their smartphone in order to take a specific action, like finding the answer to a question, booking a plane ticket, downloading an app or buying something online. Mobile users approaching these moments have an express, immediate intent. That intent may be to buy. It may be to browse, or compare user reviews. But whatever the reason shoppers turn to their phones, your business should take the opportunity to be there - and be useful. Here’s how:

 

Comprehensive Online Listings

Google’s research shows consumers are 38% more likely to visit and 29% more likely to buy from companies whose online directory listings are complete, up-to-date, and accurate. Further, you should regularly update the listings with seasonal info and include images and business hours. The more information you can parlay in your listings, the better.

 

Predict Expectations

The digital marketplace is a diffuse, niche-led realm, and users will respond to a wide variety of different messages. The key to a successful mobile marketing plan is recognizing which message will have the most impact on which user. For text message sign ups, location-based notifications are a solid way of reaching potential customers at the moment they’re most likely to buy. Throw in a discount, and suddenly you have a customer with two compelling reasons to visit your outlet: 1)they’ll save money, and 2) they’re within walking distance. 

 

Take Advantage of the Holiday Season

Many retailers live and die by Q4, when the annual spending bonanza kicks in, with more people buying more stuff than at any other time of year. That’s why now - before Thanksgiving - is the perfect time to implement changes to your mobile marketing strategy. Invest in a mobile friendly website and start promoting festive deals so you can hit the New Year with a running start.