Mobile Forecasts

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January 08, 2015

How Accurate Were Last Year’s Predictions for Mobile Tech in 2014?

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At the end of each year, tech journalists look into their crystal balls and attempt to predict trends and changes in the coming year. How often are they correct, though? We took a look at some of the most popular prophecies at the end of 2013, and just how accurate these predictions turned out to be.

First, some of the winners:

Prediction: "E-Commerce Will Thrive"

First of all, we know that e-commerce is thriving (with or without Amazon), so clearly this prediction was spot on. We’ve seen many emerging markets begin to adopt e-commerce, and we’ve witnessed Alibaba’s growth as the world’s Mecca of e-commerce. We’re still waiting for our drone deliveries, but no one can doubt that e-commerce will continue to grow in 2015.

Prediction: "Social Media Interactions During World Cup Will Break Records"

Not only did people around the world tweet, post, and message each other during FIFA’s World Cup games, we got to see the most widespread interactivity in the history of social media. The peak interaction first occurred during the final match between Germany and Brazil, and often featured the popular meme “Germany just scored a Brazilian goals.” They broke it again when the number of tweets broke 35.6 million, and 350 million people participated in World Cup conversation on Facebook. The prescient bloggers knew it would break records, and rightfully so.

Prediction: "Mobile Web Use Will Decline Significantly"

Many predictors foresaw that mobile web use would shrink – some even claimed that it would die. Well, it’s not dead yet: you can still search the web using the clunker-of-a-browser on your smartphone. Reports show that we have much more affinity for apps, however. Time spent using apps increased to 86%, while mobile web use dropped to about 14%. Perhaps we haven’t seen the end of the mobile web yet, but the seers of tech were right to assume that mobile consumers would use the web a great deal less. 

And now for the losers:

Prediction: "IM to Replace SMS as the Messaging Platform of Choice"

This prediction has proven to be pretty far off. Despite a decline in SMS use in 2012, we saw a surge in the use of SMS for business and personal reasons in 2014. The simplicity and low-cost nature of SMS text messages appear to have made the platform desirable for businesses, which means SMS messaging isn’t going anywhere. (Let’s not forget that SMS generates much more revenue than IM, as well.) Not to mention Facebook’s new privacy policy regarding their messaging app, which definitely turned off users in 2014. So the sibyls of tech can’t be right all the time. SMS messaging lives on!

Prediction: "Smartphones Cheaper than a Carton of Cigarettes"

Web prophecies predicted that a smartphone manufacturer in China, Xiaomi, would make a global move in 2014. They also claimed that the ubiquity of the phones in China would reduce the price to less than a carton of cigarettes. Well, neither prediction occurred. That said, we may see Xiaomi’s presence in other countries, like Brazil and India, in 2015. And the price of Xiaomi phone certainly has dropped – you can now buy a phone in China for less than 25 US dollars (but it’s not yet less than a carton of smokes).

Prediction: "Google Glass Will Be Everywhere"

Wearable tech has been all the buzz in 2014, for sure. But when the Nostradamus’ of the web claimed that Google Glass would be seen all around this year, they made a critical error. The world is not ready to embrace wearable tech, especially recording devices that sit right in the middle of your face. Tech bloggers predicted upwards of 800,000 Google Glass units sold in 2014, but they’re barely reaching 250,000. We’ll see what’s to come for wearable tech but, at this point, it’s just not happening in any significant fashion.

So just as in any year, several predictions were right and just as many were wrong. What’s in store for 2015? Only time will tell, but – judging from last year’s predictions – we’re bound to see the pendulum of mobile tech swing toward further globalization.  

January 05, 2015

Mobile Marketing for Finance Products and Services

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It’s near impossible to argue the benefits mobile marketing offers a wide variety of industries, including finance. Over a third of major U.S. bank customers regularly turn to mobile banking, and as such it’s essential that marketers take full advantage of what this ever-evolving channel provides. Chase has some 12 million customers moving an astounding $6.5 billion through mobile platforms each month, and that’s just one example. 

“For us, mobile is a critical channel, the fastest growing channel we have, and one that uniquely makes banking a lot more convenient,” says Robert Tas, Managing Director, Head of Digital Marketing at JP Morgan Chase. Tas understands full well the convenience mobile offers customers. “If I don’t have to get into my car and drive to an ATM to deposit a check, you could have saved me 30 minutes to an hour,” he says. 

Let’s take a deeper look at the many benefits mobile marketing offers the finance industry: 

Customer Loyalty

Mobile marketing functions as a true gift to finance, as late-arriving low-balance alerts are just one of the ways to create seriously unhappy customers. A simple text message notification warning customers of their account situation, however? The loyalty such messages provide banks is invaluable. 

And that’s just one way mobile ensures bank customer loyalty. SMS notifications regarding shady transactions is yet another way, as fraud and low-balance notifications are highly time-sensitive. Text also wins over email like nobody’s business, as send-to-open time for texts is 14 minutes, and email 6.4 hours. That’s one enormous difference. 

Increased Communication

Nearly 90% of American adults own mobile phones, and 75% of those send and receive text messages quite regularly. And unlike apps, text messages are compatible with every mobile device under our sun, and most open and read every single text that comes their way—95% of incoming texts are read, compared to 10% of emails. It’s therefore not a stretch to say text messaging is the best and most reliable form of mass communication currently in existence. 

Return on Investment

For companies still on the proverbial fence in regards to mobile marketing, take note: texting equals profit. The technology’s cheap and easy to use, and the average SMS user makes more transactions, has bigger “basket size,” and revolves balances, resulting in that much more income for card issuers. As a bonus, the cost of sending promotions via text is much lower than other marketing means. 

As Tracy Weber, the managing director for Consumer Interest and Mobile Banking in North America for Citi Bank notes, “To be able to delight them [customers] and provide things that really add value to their lives absolutely can go a long way in how they feel about this [mobile] category.” 

It follows that the only question left to bankers who haven’t utilized this strategy is, “Why ever not?” 

 

 

January 01, 2015

5 Tech-Powered New Year's Resolutions

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With the holiday festivities out the way our attentions turn to those New Year’s resolutions we must now fulfil. The thought of all that abstinence or exertion or spendthriftiness can be a mite depressing, which is why we’ve cast around for some technological solutions (or at the least, assistants) that will help you achieve your goals:

1) Stay Safer Online

Data privacy was one of the big stories of 2014 - even if it took a nude celebrity photo leak to snap us out of our complacency, and a high-profile Hollywood hacking scandal to confirm what we already knew: digital information is vulnerable and there are loads of unscrupulous cyber-gits out there. Keep your passwords regularly updated, and find out how to avoid bad password practices. Helping take the headache out of the task is Dashlane, a rather good password manager that makes turning insecure, easily hacked passwords into more secure versions. 

2) Cull Old Devices

For anyone who grew up before the age of mass computer gadgetry, throwing out old electronics devices is anathema. Even that Nokia handset from 1995 seems too, well, hi-tech to be consigned to the trash. Except you’re not supposed to throw old phones and computers away, that was your resolution six years ago, remember?! Your instincts are right: the components contained in old laptops and cellphones are still useful. You just need to give them to a local e-recycling program who can get the most out them. Check the EPA website for your nearest donation drop-off point. 

3) Go Mobile

Remember last year, when you vowed to engage with mobile marketing? You knew it would be beneficial to your business, and yet twelve months later you still don’t have a mobile marketing plan in place. Don’t beat yourself up, just crack on with a mobile marketing strategy this year. It’s affordable, effective, and will probably end up shaving a bunch of cash off your overall ad spend - all of which can go in the slush fund for next Christmas! 

4) Get in Shape

Wearable tech is in rude health right now, and the New Year is the perfect opportunity to start getting fit and bidding goodbye to those extra winter pounds you gained. If yoga’s your thing, try the SmartMat, a really clever piece of technology that gives you personalized feedback on your technique. At just under $300, it’s only for those committed to improving their fitness in the long run - but that’s what resolutions should be all about anyway. Get the lowdown on how the SmartMat works here.

5) Learn a Language

For many of us, being fluent in a new language is the ultimate unfulfilled ambition. Gaining such a useful skill used to entail paying for expensive courses, travelling to and from the lessons, and having to learn in a proscribed way that wasn’t necessarily right for you. Luckily, there’s a raft of new apps that have not only made learning a language more affordable and convenient, but actually more efficient as well. Lingua.ly is among the most notable examples; it lets you pick out words you like the look of from international publications. Then it builds personalized flashcards which are more appealing than rote phrasebook learning.

 

 

December 30, 2014

What Will Happen to Mobile Marketing in 2015?

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Change is inevitable (with the possible exception of vending machines), so what will become of mobile marketing in the coming year? Let’s take a look at what continues to dominate, what will change, and perhaps make a prediction or two: 

The Visual is Essential

One thing’s for darn certain: visuals aren’t going anywhere. The competition for consumer attention continues to gain momentum, and as such photos, videos and infographics are necessary to every piece of content created. A recent survey by the Nonprofit Times found nonprofits rank higher than for-profit organizations in content marketing strategies, with some 63 percent reporting current work on visual content as a big part of strategy. 

Personalization Increases

In-the-know marketers utilize analytics to create successful marketing campaigns, and in 2015 businesses will no doubt study customer behavior and interests in depth to craft customized content marketing strategies to stay ahead of the competition. Businesses are learning how to make adjustments with each new social media update, blog, etc. Measuring efforts will be easier than ever before in 2015 thanks to a number of new analytics tools. 

Consumers served content tailored to personal tastes will prevail in 2015 over marketing efforts that barely rings any bells. This includes blogs, guest blogs, articles and tweets, as brands have realized the value of personalizing content so as to reach different demographics rather than posting the same blog or tweet across all social media platforms. 

Mobile Friendliness: A Must

The mobile device surpassed the PC in usage for the first time in 2014, and brands are making adjustments to ensure content marketing efforts work for smaller screens…and shorter attention spans. Content designed for mobile devices, including location-based search terms, will be incredibly important in 2015. 

“Marketers have been advised to create and tailor different formats of content with customized copy for highly-fragmented marketing channels from TV to print to various social media platforms in order to reach their target audience,” says Pam Didner, a global integrated marketing strategist for the Intel Corporation. “It’s the right thing to do.” 

Interactive Applications for Product Storytelling Becomes Integral

Interactive storytelling will become an “integral part” of product demonstration in 2015, particularly at events such as conferences and expos. Brands are finding ways to use interactive 3D product models among other meticulously-crafted content to attract customers and give them a proverbial taste of the product without having said product on premise. 

These are just some of the ways mobile marketing will grow and change in the new year….

 

 

December 17, 2014

How SMS is Helping Small Businesses in Latin America

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The second annual Latin American Bitcoin Conference took place in Rio earlier this month. More than 200 attendees saw seminars and panels featuring 37 guest speakers from around the world. 

Among the keynote speakers were a number of bitcoin representatives. The crypto currency is making a big impact across the region. A new partnership between Coinapult and 37 Coins seeks to expand bitcoin access to segments of the population without smartphones or traditional banking methods at their disposal. Their weapon? SMS messaging.

The service allows bitcoin users the world over to send and receive payments using only a feature phone with SMS capability. For entrepreneurs in South America, it holds the promise of allowing them to operate from remote areas, lessening the burden on over-populated urban centers.

This is a crucial development, not just for SMB owners, but for the public purse as well. Millions of small businesses across Latin America are currently restricted to cash-only transactions. This raises the question: how sure can local governments be that rural entrepreneurs are doing due diligence when it comes to paying taxes? It hardly takes a cynic to assume millions of pesos, bolivianos, reals and dollars are slipping through the net.

Of course, there will always be a black market. For some, operating outside the system is a point of principal. But for most small businesses, removing the temptation is all that’s needed to reduce corruption. Give them the tools to accept trackable, taxable payments and they’ll play ball, safe in the knowledge that the added security will help their business in the long run. Legitimacy is so much more attractive when it’s easily achieved.

A similar scheme – albeit with no SMS element – has been implemented in East African countries including Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. M-Pesain allows its 16 million users to send and receive money, pay bills and withdraw cash from local ATMs. 

SMS-based money transfer systems are providing the way forward in Latin America. Paraguay has Giros Tigo, which incurs a 5% commission fee. Brazil and Argentina have similar systems in place.

Bitcoin and text messaging seem to be a winning doubles team. The key beneficiaries are often people who face discrimination from financial institutions, which view them as risky prospect for credit. Entrepreneurs trying to make headway in these conditions find it difficult to send money, pay with credit cards or open a bank account – no matter how promising their ideas are. Nothing can match text message in terms of potential: four billion people worldwide are living without smartphones (perish the thought!) and the remittances market has found it’s most promising tool yet in SMS-enabled bitcoin transfers.

December 10, 2014

Why Are Mobile Marketing Budgets Increasing?

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We see a lot in these pages about the growth of mobile marketing. But just how fast is that growth happening? And are the same trends expected in future? 

The more the industry swells its ranks and revenues, the more data we have to go on. A recent Tatango survey looked at mobile budget trends and forecasts and compared the results with previous mobile marketing metrics. So, are budgets going up in accordance with the mobile explosion? 

The answer is yes. Very much so. Some 44% of marketers said they were increasing their mobile budgets during 2014 – up from a little over 42% in 2013. Mobile is proving particularly popular with startups, who can devise creative mobile marketing campaigns on relatively few dollars.

Other surveys report similar upward trends. According to Gartner, digital marketing budgets are expected to increase by 8% in 2015. Exactly half of all respondents stated an intention to increase digital spending next year.

The message from businesses remains remarkably consistent. Gartner’s research was conducted with the participation of 315 companies located in the United States, Canada and the UK. They represent organizations with more than $500 million in annual revenue, working in six disparate industries: hospitality, tech, manufacturing, financial services, retail and media. The bigger the firm, the greater the marketing budget as a percentage of revenue; companies with revenues in excess of $5 billion report spending, on average, 11% of revenue on marketing. For companies generating between $500 million and $1 billion, marketing spend was 9.2%. 

And really, those dollars are what it all comes down to. Understanding how to exploit capital to it’s fullest potential is the primary challenge for cash-strapped startups. That’s why having an effective CFO is so important, and it goes a long way towards explaining the huge popularity of mobile marketing tactics like coupons and time-limited discounts, which are easily and affordably disseminated via text message.

The modern marketer is performing a delicate balancing act. Each strand of their campaign must be woven together into a satisfying whole. Integration is everything. The resultant consumer experience is nudging users towards a more self-service buying model, which means businesses can reduce traditional sales-led budgets without sacrificing quality. Marketing budgets in general – and mobile marketing budgets in particular – are the primary beneficiaries of this new model. If you’re yet to move ad spend into a coherent mobile marketing strategy, it might be time to start…

November 25, 2014

How SMS Marketing Drives Black Friday Sales

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SMS marketing impacts Black Friday sales in a big way. Since it’s the biggest shopping day of the year and the beginning of holiday shopping activities, marketing campaigns announcing Black Friday sales are everywhere...including on mobile devices. And really, what better way to advertise Black Friday deals and events than with SMS? The vast majority of consumers own mobile devices, which they have turned on (and carry on their person) at all times. Ninety-five percent of marketing messages sent via SMS and MMS are opened, so crafting marketing campaigns around mobile devices makes a whole lot of sense, as many retailers have discovered.

Businesses use SMS to deliver sales alerts to customers, as well as exclusive coupons, video clips, and much more. All help ensure customer loyalty and holiday business; and when the holidays are over, businesses have a whole new database of customers opted-in to loyalty programs. This means alerting customers to sales events and new products all year long.

 

Black Friday: 2012

According to IBM, mobile shopping increased considerably in 2012 compared to 2011, with 24% of customers using a mobile device to visit retailer sites. Some 16% of shoppers used a mobile device to shop in 2011. In 2012 the iPad was the main device utilized for online shopping, followed by the iPhone and the Android. And while shoppers used social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook to express gratitude about great deals and sales in 2012, that number decreased from the previous year. Shoppers referred from social networks made up .34% of online sales in 2012, a decrease of over 35% from 2011.

 

Black Friday: 2013

Last year, the amount Black Friday shoppers spent over the two-day Thanksgiving holiday rose 2.3% compared to 2012. Online sales also increased--20% from the previous year on Thanksgiving and 19% on Black Friday. Amazon.com attracted consumers by offering deals and discounts every 10 minutes, while Walmart processed some 10 million register transactions from 6pm to 10pm on that shopping day.

 

Black Friday: This Year

Social media may not play as prevalent a role in consumer shopping this year, however SMS marketing is certainly aiding retailers in their efforts to increase holiday revenue. Whether retailers will choose to implement new SMS strategies during the holiday season has yet to be seen, but one thing’s for certain: mobile marketing allows businesses to alert customers to Black Friday deals quickly, easily, and earlier than ever before. And with a simple click-through of a hyperlink, SMS receivers can make fast and easy mobile purchases. That means bigger sales, satisfied customers, and happier business owners this holiday season with SMS marketing.

November 23, 2014

The Weirdest Thanksgiving Marketing Ideas

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If Halloween heralds the start of the Fall/Winter spending bonanza, and Christmas marks the climax, Thanksgiving is the comfortable middle age of the season; it’s not always easy for retailers to capitalize on Turkey Day. Unless you’re in the catering industry, there’s no guarantee of a healthy revenue increase. Halloween has costumes and candy. Christmas has gifts and decorations. Both require lashings of mulled cider and other boozy delights.

Thanksgiving is a comparatively quiet time for consumers, which means you have to get extra creative with your mobile marketing strategy. To help you out, we’ve come up with some truly weird and wonderful ideas to help your business through the holiday with a healthy profit, and set you up for the Yuletide madness that kicks in on Black Friday…

Break a Record

With so many bizarre world records out there, breaking one is not as hard as you might think. If you’re in the footwear retail business, why not try shattering the Guinness World Record for the longest line shoes, which currently stands at 10,513 (heel-to-toe)? After all, you have access to plenty of resources, and you can tie in a giveaway for people who attend the event. For more seasonal records, try plucking three turkeys in less than 11 minutes and 30 seconds, or persuading a willing employee to break the world record for the longest hug (currently standing at 24 hours and 33 minutes). The more relevant to your industry the better, but whatever record you attempt it’s a surefire way to generate free publicity.

Cranberry Bucket Challenge

Riding coat-tail on a wildly successful meme is one way to tap into the online zeitgeist. If you can give it your own twist, even better. Arguably the biggest viral success of 2014, the ice-bucket challenge is so simple it can easily be modified – as Charlie Sheen proved with his version in August. Give it a Thanksgiving spin by encouraging staff and social media followers to dump Cranberry sauce over themselves. It’s messier (and more expensive!) than ice, but it’s also a lot more colorful and crazy. 

Mobile Turkey Hunt

Incentivize your online followers to sign up for mobile alerts by offering a festive bundle of prizes to anyone who can find a stuffed turkey in a major city (stuffed with fabric, that is, not hazelnuts and sage!). Run a 48 hour turkey hunt, and send periodic clues via text message to participants. The first to send in a photo of the bird wins. Not only is it a slightly off-the-wall mobile marketing campaign, it will grow your contact list and set you up for future efforts.

November 07, 2014

How to Reach Millenials with Your Mobile Marketing Campaign

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In the world of mobile marketing, much hay is made of millennials and how to reach them. They’re supposed to be wily, committed to free content and spendthrifts. They spend a lot of time online – but not so much money. But is this demographic really so mysterious and elusive? Are there really 12 types of millennial that you must identify and target at all costs in order to thrive?!

At this point, a group of 22-year-olds grimace, roll their eyes and go back to texting their twelve types of friend about how baby boomers ‘just don’t get it.’ The problem for boomers and Gen-Xers is that millennials have grown up in a connected world. They’ve never known anything else. Their interactions with the online world are more sophisticated and diverse than any of us can understand. There’s no point scanning the latest research paper on how long those 22-year-olds spend on their tablet. It’s more complex than that.

The ‘amount of time spent’ is such a common metric that many mobile marketing campaign managers have ceased questioning it’s validity. For millennials in particular, the amount of time spent on a specific device is far less important than what they are doing on that device. Let’s break it down:

Laptop

Millennials stand alone among the generations in their preference for laptops over desktop computers. According to Pew research from 2011, 70% own a laptop, compared with 57% who own a desktop. The laptop is their primary portal for shopping, web browsing and watching movies and TV shows.

Tablet

The tablet unites all demographics under the age of 65. Though only 4% of adults own one, that statistic remains constant for people of all generations. For millennials, it’s a luxury item used primarily for entertainment purposes – and often in conjunction with other activities, such as watching television. 

Television

Ah, yes, television. Lest we forget, young people still watch traditional television sets in huge numbers. The rise of prestige TV, in conjunction with an increasingly diverse array of options, may have heralded the end of the family viewing experience, but individually we’re watching more than ever. And instead of uniting the nuclear family, TV shows are uniting people of the same age. If you’ve got the budget, don’t make the mistake of ignoring traditional television advertising. The millennials have been dubbed Gen FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), an indication of the power of multimedia as a social glue.

Smartphone

The smartphone is like a fifth limb for Gen Yers. They’ll just as happily use an iPhone to watch a YouTube video, and the market is awash with apps aimed squarely at young people. There’s nothing they don’t use smartphones for, but the commonest activity – by far – is the humble text message. Time Magazine recently suggested that the average American aged 18-29 sends 88 text messages per day. For anyone devising a mobile marketing strategy aimed at millennials, that statistic is a mouth-watering one.

Millennials are by far the most likely group to own more devices and to use more functions on them. From a marketer’s perspective, there’s little point just blithely shifting budgets to digital. In order to reach millennials, you need to understand how they engage with the digital world, and recognize that they are calling the shots.

November 06, 2014

Gif-ify Your Texts with Popkey

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For millennials, it’s no longer enough to simply send a text message. There has to be some other ingredient. A video. A photo. A song. Look at any SMS thread from an under 30 and you’ll likely see a string of weird and wonderful emojis. 

Now it’s GIFs. The resurgence of GIFs is something few would have predicted ten years ago. In the mid-noughties, GIFs were outdated, a relic from Web 1.0. As soon as the internet had been around long enough to start witnessing retro fads, the GIF was back with a vengeance.

A new iPhone app is helping users easily find and share animated GIFs in order to express their emotions via SMS. PopKey takes advantage of Apple’s GIF-supporting Messages app in true style. 

It’s not the first GIF app, per se. Ultratext and others have come before it, but PopKey is the first to successfully integrate GIFs into a text messaging keyboard, without having to open a separate app. Here’s how it works: 

Users switch to the PopKey keyboard and search for an appropriate keyword. The results returned will be a list of static images which, once clicked on, will preview the GIF as a thumbnail. Simultaneously, PopKey copies the animation to the phone’s clipboard for easy pasting. Even if you like a particular GIF but opt not to use it, the app saves it in a favorites folder for easy future access.

There are a few drawbacks. PopKey’s GIFs aren’t particularly high-res. The app chooses speedy transmission over quality. And although you can upload new GIFs to the app, it requires you to grant access to your contacts and invite them to the service – something not everyone is willing to do. It also brands every GIF with the PopKey logo. Understandable, but slightly annoying.

But compared to emojis, PopKey’s GIFs get the job of conveying emotion done with a little more style, and a cool retro flourish.