Mobile Forecasts

60 posts categorized

June 30, 2014

How SMS is Revolutionizing Emerging Economies

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Since 2007, individual farmers in developing countries are estimated to have made up to $4000 in additional profits and saved twice as much – and it’s all thanks to SMS messaging.

First trialed in India, and now being rolled out in other emerging economies, Reuters Market Light (RML) has had a truly revolutionary impact on the lives of rural workers since being introduced. This noble scheme was designed to level the playing field for remote farmers operating in a globalized marketplace. The service acts as a watchdog-cum-information-hub for agricultural commerce, issuing crucial information to people who may not have internet access.

It’s a far cry from the sophisticated mobile marketing tactics employed in the western world, but RML has demonstrated just how powerful SMS messaging can be in the absence of smartphones and web connectivity. Thus far, millions of farmers all over the world have received vital updates throughout the season, with information tailored to the specific needs of an individual’s profile. Information like regional and global market rates for crops; local weather data and disaster alerts; advice on increasing productivity and reducing risk, and other information that could have an impact on operational costs.

The scheme is intended to safeguard vulnerable workers against exploitative middlemen who seek to undercut them. There’s no shortage of compelling testimony to the efficacy of the work being done by RML. One story tells of a grape farmer who began exporting produce to Russia after learning of the country’s higher prices. It’s estimated that a staggering 1.2 million farmers in India are using the program to improve their chances.

RML offers a moving demonstration of how the humble mobile phone can help some of the world’s poorest people without the bells and whistles of the smartphones which proliferate among the world’s richest. SMS messaging, it seems, is powerful enough to raise living standards and brings some semblance of equality to a globalized economy. Kenya has used SMS messaging payment programs to reduce robbery statistics, with an amazing 25% of the country’s GDP now flowing through the M-Pesa system.

Studies indicate that introducing ten cell phones per one hundred people in the developing world can boost economic growth by 1%. RML, M-Pesa, and others are truly improving the lot of some of the hardest-hit regions on earth, giving citizens cheaper services, better access to crucial economic data, and ultimately creating greater expectations about acceptable living standards.

 

June 20, 2014

iPhone Users Will Soon be Able to Leave Group Text Message Chats

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When Apple unveiled its new iOS 8 mobile operating system earlier this month, iPhone users everywhere expressed unprecedented delight with the upgrades. Some of the changes soon coming to the iPhone and iPad alike include features like longer-lasting batteries as well as an improved system for sharing photos. Users will also be able to access home automation apps and services allowing the iPhone to be used as a remote control for connected home devices such as certain types of lighting systems. 

However, it's not the Jetsons-era technology that appears to have gotten iOS 8 users the most excited. The new iPhone feature that has everyone cheering is the one that will now allow iPhone users to exit group text message chats for the very first time ever. The big news was announced at the Worldwide Developers Conference that took place June 2 through 6 in San Francisco.

iPhone Group Message Chats: Past v. Future

Until now, iPhone users who felt tortured by non-consensual group text messages had very few coping strategies available to them. They could simply throw their hands up and cooperate, or they could try to ignore their inboxes and those annoying message alerts. Alternatively, users could lie and say they had switched to an Android device that would not read the group text message chats.

Now, however, thanks to the system updates, users will soon be able to choose to either mute the group text message notifications (and read the text message chats later) or simply exit the group text message chat altogether with just the click of a button.

Ability to Exit iPhone Group Message Chats Dubbed 'Miracle'

Twitter absolutely exploded with the sound of rejoicing when news of the updated group text function went public. “We're free! WE'RE ALL FINALLY FREE!” one Liverpool man Tweeted. “Looks like the big man has been answering my prayers,” a Georgia man wrote.

By “big man,” of course, Darnell Augustin meant neither Steve Jobs nor those individual humans responsible for developing the updated technology – nor even Apple as a whole nor any other mortal being. 

The Twitter user was not alone in responding to the news by thanking a higher power, either. In response to the big news, one woman Tweeted: “GOD IS REAL.” Other religious invocations in response to the new feature included, “praise the lord,” “our prayers have been answered,” and “praise his holy name!”

Unfortunately, users will have to ride this newly-discovered wave of happiness all throughout the summer months, as the update is not scheduled to be released until the fall. It seems that we mortals must endure our earthly tribulations just a little bit longer before the heavenly rewards of iOS 8 will all be ours.

June 16, 2014

Where Will SMS Marketing be in 2020?

 

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The mobile landscape has undoubtedly changed the future of marketing. Thanks to touchscreen keypads, more people are sending text messages now than ever, and marketing campaigns are capitalizing on that trend. However, as technology evolves, companies must understand not only how consumers use their smartphones today but also how they will use them in 2020. 

The Future: SMS Marketing, Plus More Mobile Apps

While the year 2020 will see increased mobile customer service and messaging app use, trends also indicate that SMS will remain an effective way to convey appointment reminders, sweepstakes, voting campaigns, and other services. Thanks to iPhone, Google’s G1, and the Blackberry Storm, it is true that thousands of user-friendly mobile applications are now available. At the same time, when rethinking SMS mobile marketing efforts between now and the year 2020, one should realize that 7 out of 10 apps are created for use on iOS, not Android. SMS marketing, by contrast, is and will continue to be effective across platforms.

Messaging Apps and Mobile Marketing

In deciding where to concentrate today's mobile marketing efforts, businesses know that Facebook is the most popular app, with Google Play, Google Search, YouTube, and Pandora Radio at a near tie for second place. In the near future, however, messaging apps will be taking the lead. 

Facebook's own messaging app has become a major topic of conversation in mobile marketing due to recent discoveries that user messages were being scanned for marketing purposes. However, the mere fact that the company has introduced a separate messaging app is worthy of buzz. Doing so falls right in line with the trend that has Twitter and Instagram introducing their own messaging apps as well.

The effects of these messaging apps and others like them on the future of marketing promise to be great as companies seek out innovative ways to monetize the services. Taco Bell, for instance, has begun sending coupons via Snapchat. Similarly, Absolut Vodka is using WhatsApp to engage with consumers. Several chat services, including Japanese-based LINE and Dutch-based Nimbuzz, are enabling in-app purchases, with LINE generating revenue by allowing users to buy oversized emoticon “stickers” that they can then paste into mobile conversations.

Continued Role of SMS Push / Pull Messaging

Today, SMS marketing mostly means advertiser-initiated “push messaging” and consumer-initiated “pull messaging.” On the one hand, interrupting consumers with push messaging has the potential to negatively affect a brand. On the other hand, SMS coupons, for example, are still exchanged eight times more than their email equivalents. One growing trend that will likely continue through 2020 has been the use of push messaging to win over customers by offering them something of value, whether that be a mobile coupon, doctor's appointment reminder, or golfing weather forecast.

Popular examples of pull messaging today, by contrast, include campaigns encouraging consumers to opt in by texting to a shortcode. For instance, in exchange for texting a question, the user receives not only an answer; s/he is also opted in to receive future sales notifications, coupons, etc.

The two most popular uses of pull messaging—sweepstakes and television viewer voting—are simple ways to generate revenue and thus unlikely to be replaced any time in the near future. In addition, QR codes will continue to be an important pull messaging strategy, since 40% of consumers who scan subsequently make purchases. 

While mobile app use is clearly growing – and while text marketing may be moving toward customer service applications – SMS will also likely continue to be a powerful marketing tool between now and the year 2020.

June 04, 2014

Starbucks Brewing Summer Campaign

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As life slows down and the summer heat turns up, the need for that morning hot cup of joe may not be as necessary. By that same token, the quiet lull and warmer weather make it the perfect time for Starbucks to brew a new marketing campaign pushing its summer menu of cold drinks to an audience with less on its plate (Yes, even this ubiquitous beverage giant needs a helping hand to draw business). So, ladies and gentlemen, we enter the age of the Frappuccino.

These chilled delights are currently the star in the coffee store chain’s galaxy of beverages. And, like its new and unique menu of icy blended drinks, Starbucks is taking unique steps of putting their brand in customers’ hands - sans cup sleeve - by using the power of SMS and MMS text message advertising.

Having depended on the typical concoction of signage and other conventional ads to get the word out about new products, Starbucks has weaved a web of multiple touch points, once again using a mobile marketing campaign as a means to bring more customers into their stores.

Using Twitter and Facebook to lure fans, Starbucks has also made this campaign front and center on its website. In fact, the moment you go to the starbucks.com home page, the campaign is hard to miss, “Say Yes to What’s Next...Text SMILE to 22122.” As SMS marketing goes, once customers opt-in using the ‘SMILE’ keyword to the shortcode ‘22122,’ they will receive text messages delivered directly to their cell phones about new products and other promotions.

This latest mass text campaign is similar to one Starbucks did last year. This time, customers will be treated to an SMS trivia contest where they can win prizes. The contest is also a vehicle to incentivize subscribers to take action and recognize devices for personalized future content. But, rather than going for the ‘Venti’ approach to texting, Starbucks is limiting the number of texts to just six per month. However, with more than six million followers on Twitter, nearly 37 million likes on Facebook and 23,187 stores in 64 countries, including 12,973 here in the United States, this newest campaign is sure to off-load a few million Frapps.

While this might be a monster of an example for business owners grappling with the idea of taking their brand mobile, there are a few facts about SMS marketing to know:

  • 91% of adults keep their smartphones within arm’s reach
  • 9 out of 10 mobile searches lead to action
  • 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of delivery
  • 70% of mobile searches lead to action within an hour
  • Mobile coupons/offers receive 10 times higher redemption rates than print coupons
  • 33A% of U.S. mobile users prefer offers via text
  • 50% of recipients respond to text offers


Understanding the power of mass SMS text marketing, businesses everywhere can take advantage of the convenience, affordability, personalization, immediacy and efficiency that SMS has to offer. Like Starbucks, by connecting with customers on the single device that has the most dependable reach, more businesses can watch their cups runneth over.

 

May 30, 2014

FT Reaches Out to Young People via Mobile Marketing

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Britain’s premier business and economics broadsheet, the Financial Times (FT), last month launched a digital ad campaign aimed at the next generation of business professionals.

Digital posters are dotted around London train, tube and bus stations, imploring the public to find their ‘personalized Financial Times at FT.com.’ The mobile marketing assault includes video ads optimized for smartphones, while the usual social media suspects spread the word online.

Toni Ellwood, the FT’s boss of acquisition marketing, gave a statement at the unveiling of the campaign:

“Since the launch of our digital media acquisition campaign last year, we have seen that 40 per cent of new readers… were in the 24-34 age group – one we hadn’t specifically targeted previously.”

It’s an interesting development for the paper, which hasn’t always been so keen on the sort of mobile marketing tactics now used by most big businesses. Less than two months before the launch of the digital ad campaign, the FT’s chief technical officer John O’Donovan warned against obsessing over specific platforms, singling out mobile-optimized and responsive sites as examples of myopic tendencies among marketers.

And yet, the site was an early, aggressive adopter of certain online and mobile marketing practices that are now de rigeur among all sorts of enterprise. In 2007, FT.com became the first publisher to use a metered paywall and launch an HTML-5-based browsing experience. According to Donovan, the FT generates more revenue from content descriptions than it does from advertising - a pretty unequivocal endorsement as far as proponents of paid content are concerned.

Back then, Donovan described the FT as ‘pushing boundaries’ in the way it disseminated content through a diverse range of channels. His success cannot be ignored – but neither can the overwhelming power of mobile marketing which, frankly, is more effective than other strategies. After all, smartphone usage keeps growing year on year, and more than 90% of all text messages are opened and read within minutes of being received.

At the very least, Donovan would surely concede the point made by his colleague Ellwood, that nearly ‘half of FT.com traffic now comes from mobile devices.’ Their growing mobile audience appears to confirm the very thing Donovan denies: that a mobile marketing campaign should take precedence over other channels without excluding them altogether. 

May 29, 2014

SEO Strategies to Avoid

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Three letters represent the primary focus of any mobile marketing campaign, and have done for around a decade now. SEO. It’s come a long way since then, adapting to an increasingly complex array of strictures and barriers imposed by search engines in order to prevent people gaming the system, but the objective is the same: improve visibility for relevant industry keywords.

The fast pace of change in SEO best practices means that well-intentioned tips published a year ago may actually harm your rankings today. This is not a dilettantes game. To do it right, you need to stay on top of the latest effective strategies and, even more importantly, those tactics that have fallen afoul of Bot Logic. Smart mobile marketing tactics – or ‘white hat’ techniques – will be rewarded for creativity in the shape of increased clicks, impressions and conversions. The ‘black hat’ SEOs that still haunt our online world are fighting a losing battle. When was the last time you saw a link farm on page one for a popular keyword? I’m guessing some time around the turn of the decade.

Trouble is, the misinformed or naïve SEO strategist will be punished as fully as the cynical black hatter. Even if you adopt a mobile marketing strategy in good faith, if Google frowns upon it, you’re done for. It could set your business back months. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of ‘must-avoid’ SEO tactics so you know what not to do…

 

Reciprocal Links

There is much confusion surrounding the value of reciprocal links. Of course, links from friends, family and business associates are a natural part of entrepreneurship. This is where the ‘link as vote’ analogy is helpful. Think of your business as an election campaign. You can and should reach out to potential ‘voters’ and ask them to support your campaign for success. But if you receive an unsolicited email from someone you’ve never heard of, and they request a link exchange, accepting it would be like associating your ‘candidate’ with the wrong sort of voter. In most cases, such emails will come from sites weighed down by links already, and the greater the link:valuable content is, the lower the value of each additional link becomes. Chances are, if they’ve contacted you (usually via automated software) they stand to benefit from your link much more than you from theirs. Don’t be tempted by offers of dodgy links. Bide your time, and grow your backlinks in a more organic way, and Google will love you forever. 

Peak Keyword

Back in Web 1.0, you could happily stuff a page with keywords, safe in the knowledge that this unsophisticated metric was given credence by search engines. Those days are gone. Now, when Google bots crawl a page crammed with keywords, they will consign that page to the bottom of the results.

Link Overload

Placing relevant links in your article is a key part of creating useful content – but overdo it with extraneous links and you will be stung by the search engines.

Comments

Just as link building needs to be done slowly and with great care, commenting on others’ blogs as a way of boosting your online profile can be a positive organic approach. But as with all good SEO practices, you need a rich mixture of tactics to get real results. Even if you’re only leaving comments of value, blog commenting for the sole purpose of building links is nothing less than spam.

April 02, 2014

UK Experiencing Mobile Marketing Boom

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While companies continue to use mobile marketing tactics to promote and expand their businesses in the U.S. and in the U.K., the mobile marketing industry across the pond continues to trail its U.S. counterpart.  It seems everyone in the U.S. has a smartphone attached to their hand, which they use to send texts, make calls, look up information, browse social media and make purchases among many other activities. Smartphones and tablets are even surpassing laptops in popularity, as U.S. citizens are increasingly turning to mobile devices to retrieve necessary information. This frequent use of smartphones does not appear to be mimicked in the U.K. 

Recently O2 Media and the Marketing Institute surveyed 252 marketers in the U.K., finding two-thirds of marketers dedicating portions of their budgets to mobile rather than traditional media. Of these marketers, 14 percent obtained additional money for SMS marketing campaigns, and 7 percent redirected funds used in online / desktop marketing.

Despite these efforts, the idea that “marketing spend hasn’t followed where the eyeballs have gone” remains a concern, notes Fintan Lonergan, O2 Media’s managing director. The company works with clients such as Heineken, Aer Lingus, Ikea and Nissan, helping them connect to consumers.

In 2013, a mere 19 percent of U.K. businesses had dedicated 10 percent or more of their advertising budget to mobile marketing. “This is very low compared to the central role that mobile plays in consumers lives,” Lonergan adds. Only 7 percent of surveyed marketers said they worked for “a mobile-first organization,” with “lack of strategy” considered the biggest challenge Ireland faces in regards to mobile marketing. 

Progress is being made, however. Lonergan cites location-based targeting as a “really encouraging” development in the U.K., with more and more marketers focusing on mobile marketing strategy. In 2013, the most popular mobile marketing tactics were social media, SMS messaging, apps, mobile displays and  mobile-optimized websites.

“There is a lot of media attention on mobile and the growth of mobile and yet very little has been known about what marketers are doing within mobile,” says Lonergan. 

In the UK, Lonergan says mobile marketing has gone on “a hockey stick curve in the last 24 months,” noting a recent eMarketer study that found mobile advertising in the U.K. will likely surpass print advertising in 2014.

“Our marketing industry is lagging behind a bit, and that’s not a criticism, it’s just a fact,” he notes.

So why this “lag”? Perhaps it’s simply a matter of company funds, or maybe there just aren’t as many smartphone users in the U.K. Companies are provided with numerous other options in terms of advertising, such as email and social media, and success in those areas may prompt businesses to look at SMS marketing campaigns as unnecessary. Whatever the reason, it will be interesting to see how fast the U.K. catches up with the U.S. regarding this expanding form of advertising!

 

March 28, 2014

Messaging Apps: The Carriers Bite Back

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

AT&T’s New Benefits

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

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

T-Mobile’s New Benefits

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

The Competition

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

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

March 25, 2014

HTC One M8 Goes on Sale in UK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 06, 2014

How Mobile Devices Have Increased Customer Service Expectations

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The constant availability of digital information at our fingertips happened so fast, and so resoundingly, it’s easy to forget that ten years ago, hardly anybody owned what might be termed a ‘smartphone’.

As a consequence of such widespread mobile technology, consumer expectations have become dramatically elevated. Recent research conducted by KANA Software found that 5% of 18 to 24 year olds check their phone every minute – an alarming figure indicative of an almost pathological reliance on connectivity.

But they’re not just checking their phones. They’re using them as portals through which they can lodge complaints, and they expect their complaint to be dealt with quickly. If companies fail to respond in a way that satisfies the customer, they find themselves traduced on social media platforms and all-important user review websites. The Millenials have never known a world without the hyperspeed life of the web, and their patience is thin. Remember last century when 10 working days was the standard time period for responding to complaints? They don’t.

It’s not just young people. The survey – which polled more than 2,000 people in then UK – found baby boomers were among the most prolific online complainers. In this climate, mobile marketing solutions  must include a quick response strategy in the face of online criticism.

The first step towards meeting high expectations is to make the mobile experience a priority. Dedicate resources to ensure mobile users get the attention they require – the money spent will come back to you in the shape of more conversions.

More than that, you have to approach your mobile marketing strategy in the wider context of consumers’ journey-to-purchase. No amount of research is too much. Do your customers tend to browse products using their mobile devices, before buying in-store? Just because you aren’t generating the majority of conversions from mobile devices doesn’t mean they’re not a crucial part of the process. Identify common problems as early as possible in order to minimize the impact those issues will have on your business.

Once you’ve resolved the basic problems, devise creative mobile marketing tactics that will make your business stand out from the crowd. Find success in the mobile marketplace and you will be well-positioned for future growth across all channels.