Marketing

350 posts categorized

April 21, 2015

Could Google's Mobile Update Backfire?

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Today sees the roll out of Google’s most significant algorithm update in years. In response to mass migration from desktop to mobile, the search engine will now use a website’s ‘mobile friendliness’ as a ranking metric. 

It’s great news for businesses who put themselves ahead of the mobile marketing curve in time to reap the benefits. It’s not so great for those lagging behind - many of them big businesses with expensive, unwieldy marketing departments. According to research firm SumAll, a staggering 67% of Fortune 100 companies do not have mobile friendly sites. They can expect their traffic to nosedive now the change has taken effect

The changes - dubbed ‘mobilegeddon’ by some - are perfectly consistent with Google’s track record of responding to shifts in search culture. Mobile traffic has increased, and desktop search has declined correspondingly. For the average user, more likely to access the internet from a mobile device than a desktop computer, the update will doubtlessly improve their experience.  

Assuming Google isn’t doing this for purely altruistic reasons, what are their motivations for implementing changes that will not only harm powerful corporate influences but reduce Google’s own ad revenue?  

One answer may lie in the question. Google knows it must close the gap between desktop and mobile ad rates in anticipation of a full-blown small-screen revolution. Another possibility is that Google isn’t so much reacting to external trends, but rather influencing consumer behavior. If sites render well on mobile devices, they will become more popular, thus increasing the number of mobile clicks.

The businesses who aren’t ready for this will definitely suffer. They may even claim that the content available on mobile friendly sites just isn’t as good, nullifying Google’s objective to (ostensibly) provide a meritocratic search tool. The worst case scenario for Google is that big companies switch their search focus to Yahoo or Bing, and move their ad spending to Facebook. Such gloomy predictions have always failed to materialize in the past, and Google remains synonymous with search for the majority of internet users. 

Nonetheless, it’s a risky strategy. Without ad revenue Google is nothing, but they have proven themselves time and again to be deft at bending with the wind. Whether today’s major algorithmic update will turn into ‘mobilegeddon’ remains to be seen, but as risky as the move may seem, betting against Google is riskier still.

 

90% of Mobile Marketing Revenue Comes from SMS

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It is increasingly apparent that the SMS segment of the global mobile advertising market is very dominant due to the rapid surge in smartphone and tablet use around the world. Some 90 percent of adults in the U.S. use mobile phones, 60 percent of which are smartphones.  The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) believes that soon smartphone use in the U.S. will rise to 80 percent. 

“With consumers carrying mobile devices wherever they go, it has become crucial for marketers to target this large consumer base with mobile advertisements and promotions,” according to Transparency Market Research (TMR). “A mobile advertising platform firm provides services to marketers that allow them to send these advertisements to consumers using mobile devices. Each distinct mobile advertising platform contains opportunities for marketers to deliver their message to a broad range of consumers.” 

SMS is subsequently a “big deal,” as mobile advertising services are easily sent out via text message. Mobile advertising is also being used to place banner ads on smartphone apps, which appear either at the top of the app (mobile web banner) or at the bottom of the app (mobile web poster). One of the many advantages of SMS is it allows users to view and send short messages without worrying about privacy issues or seriously interrupting the receiver’s day. It’s therefore not shocking to note that SMS accounts for 90 percent of total mobile marketing revenue. Simply put, it's the most cost-effective of all mobile marketing tactics.

In addition to SMS, multimedia messaging services, aka MMS, are experiencing an increase in popularity. Other services gaining momentum include full-screen interstitials, mobile videos, and mobile games. 

Transparency Market Research believes the next few years will see advertisers in the global mobile ad marketing space focus increasingly on performance. An increase in ROI spending will likely occur, as will the quantifiable results that follow. Preference for location-based advertising is also growing, and will only get bigger and better in the future. Such advertising makes it possible for advertisers to target specific portions of their target demographic, therefore dramatically enhancing mobile ad effectiveness.  

Unlike traditional phone calls, “spammy” emails, and the days of going door to door, SMS is a safe and effective means of catering to target audiences. Most read text messages as soon as they come through compared to the hours that pass before reading an email or the disgruntled consumers on the other end of a marketing phone call. In addition to its effectiveness, SMS messaging is a low-cost marketing option. No wonder it makes up 90 percent of mobile marketing revenue….

 

April 20, 2015

Here's Why Your Web Development Should Start with Mobile

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Responsible design goes way beyond pixel measurements and assorted limitations, as it’s about deciphering the behaviors and preferences of a target audience, and meeting their needs, whether through smartphones, tablets, or websites.  

Consumer habits and expectations change depending on the device they’re using, meaning content and information must be displayed in the right way. The best option for learning about a target demographic and testing their “commitment to proper responsive build” is starting with a “mobile-first” approach. And while mobile may be the smallest of frequently-used platforms, it is still the favorite. Let’s take a deeper look at starting web development with mobile: 

 

Content 

When developing a brand, quality content is key. However, working through large blocks of copy and trying to find the important points gets tough, making it essential to ask the following question: What is the point I’m trying to make? Once the key theme is identified, it’s time to cut out “filler” content so the resulting post easily fits on a mobile device screen. This not only looks much better, but also makes it more readable for consumers. 

The other benefit to resizing content for mobile screens is once you’ve made the post fit, sizing it for tablets and the like is quite simple. 

 

Form and Function

Yes, you’re working with a smaller screen when crafting content for mobile, but that doesn’t mean it’s supposed to be anything short of engaging. Think form followed by function, and go for attention-grabbing headers and titles, visually-stunning telegraphic iconography, concise messaging, and quick yet memorable, meaningful takeaways. Create phone, tablet, and desktop “experiences” that takes user mindset into account—again, begin with mobile and go from there.

 

A Prime Example

A common request marketing agencies receive from clients is creating a product gallery. In terms of mobile, the gallery must be easy to swipe through so one product per swipe is featured with minimal copy. This results in a more intimate browsing experience. Image pairings are possible for tablets and desktops, or showcasing the entire product page. 

 

Wrap-Up 

Don’t think of mobile as far better than the other options, as each offers its own benefits. Rather, view them as complimentary. On mobile, for example, it’s easy to focus on a given element, while desktops make it possible to display an entire product line and emphasize that the brand meets the needs of a whole range of customers. It’s also possible to group products “visually, physically, or factually” in light of varying market approaches. 

The ability to solve the same issue on different devices is one that cannot be discussed enough, as it makes the ability to change content according to platform easier in the future. It also helps significantly in terms of prioritizing per device, and creating responsive designs. 

 

April 18, 2015

Wrap Raises $3.5 Million in Series A Funding

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In today’s mobile era, content in increasingly digested in “bite-size” chunks. Wrap Media is a new company looking to develop a viable alternative to what it calls “wraps,” or small stories delivered as swipe-able content on mobile devices. The company has raised $3.5 million in Series A funding from FF Angel LLC and Raine Ventures. 

Launching a wrap from your mobile device is easy enough, and once launched you may swipe left or right through the assorted pages to view content. It’s also possible to watch embedded YouTube videos or tap through links to connect with Wrap on social media. As far as potential use goes, options include sharing stories and embedding coupons or merchandise you can purchase from automated business emails, such as digital receipts and order confirmations.  

The folks at Wrap Media stress that what they’ve created is not “another website creation service,” but a “presentation layer” that sits pretty atop any platform. While wraps are currently delivered via the mobile web, founder Eric Greenberg says the company’s long-term goal is to provide such experiences from anywhere, whether a small smartphone screen or a gigantic living room television.  

Greenberg had the idea for Wrap while building a mobile gifting app through a card-based user interface. He found the interface had more potential than the app itself, and subsequently shifted company focus to the interface. Greenberg is also the founder of several other companies, including systems integrators Scient and Viant. 

Wrap’s web-based authoring service provides companies with the ability to create app-like messages using simplistic tools, and messages may be shared as links on social media, SMS, and email. The idea is to provide a new format for mobile marketing so companies can share their stories without having to invest in serious development and design resources, even though it still looks like they did. Wraps are created in 15 minutes or over the course of a few hours depending on the amount of content involved. 

“This is a story that can’t be told today…because you’d have to develop something from scratch. And to do something like this, is a minimum of six figures,” Greenberg explained. “So instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars with developers and designers, you can literally create these interactive experiences with a junior marketing manager, with no code and no design experience.”  

Companies currently utilizing Wrap’s services include CBS Interactive, Loverly, and StumbleUpon. Wrap is also in talks with some 50 other companies. Pricing is on a transitional basis as well as software-as-a-service, as Wrap is still in private beta. Service is intended to start around $300-$500 per month. 

The $3.5 million Wrap has acquired in funding includes $3 million from Founders Fund’s seed stage fund FF Angel LLC and Raine Ventures. The remaining $500,000 is out of Greenberg’s pocket. He also seeded the company with another $2.5 million, resulting in $6 million in raised funds. 

Wrap is expected to launch in September 2015. 

 

April 13, 2015

5 Mobile Marketing Tactics You Should Avoid

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When something becomes commonplace, the issue of predictability follows. This is true of mobile marketing, so rather than falling victim to increasingly-stale practices, check out a five tactics you need to avoid like an infectious disease: 

 

A ‘Narrow’ Approach

Thinking of mobile marketing solely in terms of apps and the mobile web is a big no-no. Earning a spot on the app home screen is something that takes time and a heck of a lot of strategy, as consumers are all about context-aware experiences rather than basic mobile websites or subsequent advertisements. “Mobile wallet” is a great example of being context-aware, as the mobile wallet that is Apple Passbook allows users to store loyalty cards, assorted offers, and more. Saving something to a mobile wallet is less stressful than waiting for an app to download, and by assisting the consumer in some way, said consumer is more likely to engage. 

The new Messenger for Business is another fine example, as it allows brands to communicate with consumers through private chat threads. 

 

Singular Profiles

Rather than creating channel-specific databases featuring customer insights, brands need to work on single profiles of customers that utilize data from all channels. This creates an “omnichannel experience” that seamlessly moves between various touchpoints. 

 

Robots, Not Humans 

Relying on people instead of robots or automated systems for in-store support and interactive chat has become an archaic practice. Human employees get distracted, or feel ill and therefore not up to proverbial snuff. Brands must therefore focus on centralizing the rules of engagement in the cloud for customer support. For example, Lowe’s recently replaced people with robots in their stores to assist in shopper needs, such as finding products, with great success. 

 

Implicit and Explicit Intent

While marketers are contextualizing user experiences by location, they’re completely missing user implicit and explicit intent. For example, just because a man is walking through a makeup boutique doesn’t mean he should be sent a coupon for $5 off select mascaras. Understanding user intent in any given moment is imperative, as it helps brands accomplish their goals, i.e. providing the correct experience, function, or content. 

 

Interruptions

Picking and choosing the right time to “strike” is another necessary component of mobile marketing. Just because people enjoy receiving texts from friends doesn’t mean they’ll find a constantly-chirping phone fun to deal with. Showing restraint is therefore essential, and brands must resist the urge to inundate customers with offers and deals, no matter how spectacular. What they must do is find the right times to “strike,” and enjoy the rewards that follow.  

 

March 31, 2015

SMS vs. MMS

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Mobile marketing is nowhere near critical mass. For a variety of reasons, this marketing channel is not as widely used as experts predict for the future—many speculate the distinction between SMS and MMS messaging is not popularly understood, and as a result, has slowed growth. But it’s really not that complicated, and choosing the right tactic for a marketing campaign doesn’t have to be a painstaking process of trial and error. Before we jump into the unique traits and characteristics of each, let’s look at a few basic similarities.

 

Similarities

Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Message Service (MMS) are both mobile marketing tactics that are designed to complement a marketing strategy by providing content directly to consumers’ handsets or mobile devices. SMS and MMS work to instantaneously provide content directly to users, engaging consumers via their mobile device, the result of which is highly effective, reliable and progressive. 

 

Differences

The most obvious difference between the two is made clear by their names. SMS is a text-based service that does not provide users with rich media content. Conversely, MMS allows users to send a variety of media including images, animated .GIF, and short video or audio files. This is where the divergence really begins, as the latter may cost more money to produce but also delivers a substantially higher return on investment. 

 

MMS Advantages 

MMS messages can be sent peer-to-peer from mobile phones, a mobile messaging service provider, or a website. These multimedia messages enjoy higher customer engagement, and better click-through-rates. What’s more, MMS increases campaign opt-ins by 20% over SMS and subscribers are more likely to engage with the content on social media outlets. 

The quality of MMS content is perceived as much higher than SMS and has a well-maintained handset database. Real-time content transcoding makes sending media faster and with unlimited charters and device detection, the message is louder and goes further. Most phones already support MMS messages and don’t require further enablement. MMS does not require data from the end user. 

 

SMS Advantages 

 

While SMS doesn’t have the same branding opportunities as MMS, it does offer useful insight by providing user data that’s not so easily collected by MMS messages. 

Although the standard SMS message is limited to 160 characters, this may include a link that tracks back to a website where useful information can be collected, or further online engagement can occur. The drawback, of course, is that data is required by the end user and can sometimes have hidden costs for the user as well. This is one of the more debated issues surrounding SMS messaging today, as extraneous data usage can often cause more harm than good when trying to develop a loyal mobile audience. 

SMS can be sent peer-to-peer or through a mobile messaging service provider. SMS is incredibly fast, with 99.99% delivered in under 15 seconds. Currently, SMS delivers more than 3 billion messages a year, across most small US carriers. 

Hopefully by getting a better handle on what these two marketing tactics do, marketers will be ready to help further realize the advantages and disadvantages of using these highly effective marketing tools. 

 

 

March 30, 2015

Analytics App Raises $34 Million

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In search of the best analytics tool for your marketing app? Localytics might be the answer to your app-tastic prayers. A service app that offers “analytics, insights, and marketing solutions in one place,” Localytics has raised $34 million in Series D funding so far.  

The company initially focused on app analytics, but CEO Raj Aggarwal noted that customers also called for tools that made it easy to move forward with their newly-acquired data. This prompted the Localytics team to add push notifications, integration with sales and business intelligence software, email marketing, and in-app messaging. Aggarwal explained that businesses are in need of “all the insights and tools to engage users and meet their expectations for an amazing app experience, in one place.”  

He pointed out that apps are an essential component of the digital experience, and as such, businesses need their marketing and product teams to use the same tools. Disparate data sets are quickly becoming a thing of the past.  

Localytics offers real-time, granular data analytics that answer questions such as, “How frequently do consumers visit my app?”, “How long does the average user spend on my app per visit?”, “What are people doing in my app?” and “Why aren’t my app users converting?” among other relevant queries. The insights portion of Localytics shows which demographic your app targets, what features pique consumer interest the longest, how many purchases were made over the last 15 days, and what makes some users “more valuable” than others. 

As far as marketing services, Localytics offers push messaging that helps re-engage customers, in-app messaging that lets users know about new features, and features answers to attribution questions, such as where to invest in terms of advertising. A/B testing is also part of the app’s marketing services, and helps determine what drives the most conversions, and which call to actions are best for specific campaigns.  

Localytics is currently used by some 32,000 apps, including those for eBay, ESPN, Fox, The New York Times, and the upcoming HBO Now app. 

The company will soon introduce a new predictive marketing feature, which is designed to aid businesses in discovering which customers are most likely to abandon the app. Once such customers are identified, they’ll receive targeted messages convincing them to keep using it. This marketing feature also determines which customers are willing to spend more on the app, and subsequently tempts them with targeted deals.

Current Localytics investors include Sapphire Ventures, Foundation Capital, and Polaris Partners.

 

March 27, 2015

Mobile Marketing is Going Hyper-Local

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Mobile marketing has taken huge strides towards fulfilling the potential of geo-targeting technology, allowing local businesses to make the most of their sphere of influence. The only way for geo-location techniques to go is inward, reaching ever-more specific parts of the local economy.

Mobile marketing is doing just that, placing an increasing emphasis on attracting foot traffic to brick and mortar retail outlets. The industry is now able to service international brands with bespoke campaigns in multiple locations using region-specific methods capable of targeting users to a single square foot. 

This ultimate refinement of mobile marketing tactics is a real game changer. A heady cocktail of beacons, GPS, location information gathered from existing interactions and other geolocaters is ushering in a new era of hyper-local mobile marketing so precise it’s hard to imagine how it could improve further.

Having such devastatingly effective mobile marketing tactics available at the local level is helping small businesses maximize their efficiency on tight budgets. For a relatively low cost, small businesses can quickly, reliably reach the widest audience they can serve, via a combination of in-app messaging, web ads, text messages, MMS and push notifications. 

So what next? With such sophistication already on display, where targeted mobile marketing could go now is anybody’s guess. Some mobile marketers are considering adjusting their services to allow for weather, which would let marketers better judge the prime time to pitch discounts. It might not be relevant to every business, but purveyors of ice cream or rooftop cocktails could really use knowing if it’s about to rain the moment they’ve sent their 50% discount coupon to hundreds of people. Other local data like traffic conditions may also begin to play a part in geo-location technology. 

The tools at our disposal allows imaginative approaches to marketing to flourish, unencumbered by technological limits. Nobody can say for certain what the next few years hold for mobile marketing - that’s why it’s so exciting. But if the rapid rate of change we’ve seen take place over the past decade continues, we can be confident that the mobile landscape of 2025 will look very different to the one we see today.

March 26, 2015

Pace is Using SMS to Tell People When Their Bus is Arriving

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The speedy reliability of the text message has proven useful to all sorts of businesses. As a long term mobile marketing strategy, SMS messaging is capable of nurturing the loyalty of existing customers and winning over new leads, but it also happens to be the most effective method for issuing time sensitive messages.

Bus arrivals and departures information falls firmly into this latter category, a fact not lost on Pace, who have followed the example of countless bus companies around the country by establishing a text message service for riders. The Chicago-based company had, until recently, been relying solely on its online bus tracker to disseminate information, but gave in to high demand from customers for an SMS program similar to that offered by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA).  

To use the service, riders must send a text message containing the word “Pace” followed by the relevant bus stop number. The bus tracker is available as both a pure text format (for people with feature phones) and a rich graphic version for smartphones, tablets and desktop computers.

A spokesperson from Pace said the firm had held off launching a text message service when CTA unveiled theirs. The success of CTA’s venture - and the increase in bus rider expectations it prompted -  convinced Pace that the “availability of real time information is a key source of customer satisfaction.” 

Pace makes no bones about directly following CTA’s lead, even using the same company to provide the service, and for a while considering joining the same contract. 

With a bus system that covers more than 25,000 stops and six counties, their reticence to undertake such a huge task is understandable. Even post-launch, Pace admits to having no timeline for completing the replacement of old signs with new signs featuring the shortcode and bus stop numbers. In the meantime, riders can access this information from the Pace website.

March 25, 2015

The Benefits of Adding MMS to your Mobile Marketing Campaign

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For companies that aren’t sure about how to integrate MMS into a mobile marketing campaign, the first step is to understand MMS capabilities then realize those through useful cases that haven proven effective in various enterprises. Taking a creative stance, positioning the right use of MMS in a marketing campaign is virtually limitless.  

First, let’s understand what Multimedia Message Service (MMS) allows an enterprise to do. An MMS message can send rich media content directly to mobile devices anytime, anywhere. It’s a powerful and effective tool that strengthens customer loyalty by keeping them informed with time sensitive information. An MMS message speaks consistently to branding throughout all marketing channels, with messages that are equipped to handle image, video, audio or mixed SMIL. It’s truly a 21st century marketing solution that engages customers via mobile device, which they are likely to have with them at all times.

 

MMS Use Cases 

MMS communication utilizes these capabilities to increase revenue by upselling customers with unique offers, special services and more. Recognizable applications of MMS are used by millions of people already in the form of useful services, like providing a boarding pass for a more efficient check-in at the airport. Financial institutions also provide useful applications by providing bank statements and security warnings. Further, important emergency alerts can be sent via MMS, warning users of dangerous weather or traffic. 

Now let’s consider the creative uses of MMS messaging to connect with customers. Shipment notifications would allow users to receive speedy information from a local shipment station. Customer service providers can communicate with customers by trouble shooting common problems and sending helpful video/audio messages. The result of providing this improved service would reduce the contact center costs. 

Wellness centers and pharmacies could continue a discussion with customers long after they leave the store by updating important medical information, providing healthy living tips or special offers on new products or services. What’s more, brick and mortar stores of every variety can more effectively engage customers by offering product information with QR codes placed on shelf locations. Once the code is scanned, a customer could watch a video featuring additional product information.  

MMS messaging works best when it provides useful information and services to the end user. The more a user increases their engagement with the message, the more likely the they are to build the kind of lasting brand relationships all enterprise should seek with their customer base and audience.