The SMS Marketing Blog

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Perks That Work: Getting the Most out of Your Employees

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Running a small business requires a lot more creativity than running a major corporation. Throwing money at every single problem is not an option. When your resources are limited, you have to think smarter and work harder. 

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but the adage is scant consolation for cash-hobbled entrepreneurs with grand ideas which simply can't be executed without a few hefty checks being written. All too often, budgetary constraints lead to a frustrating number of creative ideas being nixed at the proposal stage.

One of the ways in which SMBs feel financially strangled is their inability to offer the perks-of-the-job absorbed so easily by Fortune 500 companies. Competition for the best employees is fierce, but even if you can’t offer the same salary as the biggest brands in your industry, you can attract bright minds by offering the right perks.

It’s not all about free meals and X-Boxes. If potential staff members can see real world benefits as part of the package, and they have faith in your company culture, they may well take a smaller salary. After all, if they believe in your brand, they will understand that it’s only a matter of time before their wages will rise in line with the company’s fortunes. With that in mind, we’ve trawled the employee packages offered by a variety of small and medium-sized businesses to give you a few ideas for perks that really work.

 

Cycle to Work

D.C. company Summit LLC hit on an innovative way to keep younger employees excited about going to work. They saw that more than 50% of their workforce did not drive and responded by purchasing annual memberships to the Capital Bikeshare program. Of Summit’s 75 employees, more than half opted to sign up for the program, which costs $75 per membership. Like all good benefits, the advantages of the scheme were felt equally by management and staff: avoiding traffic and public transportation delays increased productivity by ensuring staff showed up earlier. The positive effect of exercise on cognitive function is well-documented. For the future health of staff and revenues, that’s a few thousand dollars well spent.

 

Free Laundry

Venice-based JibJab Media offer a free laundry service to all staff-members who arrive to work by 10am on Mondays. The contents of one laundry bag gets washed, folded and returned to employees the following day. Crossing such a simple chore off the daily lives of staff does wonders for loyalty, and it’s a relatively low-cost endeavor.

 

Mandatory Out of Office Hours

In this smartphone age, so many workers are expected to be constantly ‘on’ – and it’s a major cause of anxiety among those who feel they can’t switch ‘off’. One CEO has boldly coined the phrase ‘Zmail’ to describe his no-email policy between the hours of 10pm and 6am. Dan Calista, head of healthcare management consultancy firm Vynamic, asks employees with the urge to email at 11pm to write a draft and send it the next morning. The policy was implemented in response to an internal survey that showed 40% of employees were stressed out at work. Now, Vynamic reports a lower-than-average staff turnover rate, and they send regular reminders about the policy – before 10pm, of course.

How to Improve Text Message Security

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Mobile phone security risks are abundant with standard, unencrypted text messages among other elements of mobile use. Accordingly, more and more users are looking to encrypted phone call and text message options for privacy protection. A number of apps available for iOS and Android are designed to improve text message security, encrypting both text messages and phone calls. Let’s take a look at some of these apps, but remember no app can protect mobile devices from physical access. Unless a phone features a passcode, anyone handling the device can read messages, view pictures, check out call history, etc.

 

TextSecure and Signal

Created by former Twitter security researcher Moxie Marlinspike’s Open Whisper Systems, TextSecure allows users to message everyone on their phone list. End-to-end encryption is only available when talking to other TextSecure users; however, notifications are sent if the conversation isn’t secure. Available for free on Android, TextSecure utilizes independently developed algorithms, including those that create a new security key with each message.

 

Telegram

Described by its creators as the encrypted, cloud-based, quicker version of WhatsApp, Telegram makes it easy to share messages and media with up to 200 people at once. Choices include ephemeral chats, which are never saved, and cloud-accessible messages for users wanting to return to conversations. The “secret” chats leave “no trace” on the Telegram server.

 

Wickr 

Offering “military-grade security,” Wickr is for those who want to know their messages and photos aren’t readable past a certain time. Metadata is stripped from photos before they’re sent, and messages automatically disappear following a set amount of time after being read. The app makes customization simple and allows users to decide how many people they want to find them, create group chats, and “shred” remains of deleted files.

 

Surespot

Surespot features tools for independently managing different identities on a single device to distinguish personal and professional communications. Voice chat is also integrated, as is flexible photo control for locking, unlocking, and deleting photos from recipients’ phones. The app requires a password that cannot be recovered or reset. Users may look at one another’s public keys offline to ensure no “man-in-the-middle” attacks.

 

CoverMe

CoverMe securely stores a variety of media data, including passwords, photos and documents, and makes it possible to hide identities and phone numbers. Calling and texting with non-users is possible via the CoverMe phone plan, but only phone calls and texts with other users feature end-to-end encryption.

These and other security apps offer the text message security that businesses often require to communicate with employees and clients. And of course, they’re useful for the everyday user as well.

 

Mobile Marketing Mushroom in Ireland

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Mobile marketing campaign managers in Ireland are flush with success right now. The country is undergoing a mobile device boom, as consumers increasingly turn their attentions away from desktop and towards smartphones and tablets.

A study compiled by marketing company ZinMobi looked at some of the country’s leading retail, restaurant and fast food brands and found mobile marketing tactics were the most effective way of delivering the biggest ROI. ZinMobi’s boss, Brian Stephenson, said the results were indicative of a growing awareness of mobile marketing tactics, and a concurrent drop off in use of conventional methods. Says Stephenson:

“What excites me about these results is the way that brands have recognised mobile as the instant marketing channel with campaigns quicker to deploy, and delivering instant results.

“We believe that every business knows enough about its customers... to deliver highly-targeted and trackable campaigns,” he added.

The study also found that mobile marketing tactics were regarded as the quickest to set-up, and 61% of respondents said they delivered the fastest results. The research found only 10% of companies did not plan to be using some form of mobile marketing campaign by this time next year; right now, 26% of Irish companies do not use some kind of mobile marketing strategy. These figures clearly show a growing awareness of mobile marketing among firms who are late to the party.

Companies with a well-established mobile marketing strategy are expanding their current campaigns in order to better engage with consumers. Mobile coupons and special offers are proving highly effective methods of retaining and nurturing existing customers.

These trends reflect an overall swing towards mobile in Ireland. Mobile web access is up 59% on last year according to a report from StatCounter. The more consumers move towards mobile devices, the more we’re likely to see marketers follow suit and creating mobile-specific campaigns. Ireland, like the rest of the world, knows which way the wind is blowing.

 

4 Effective Geo-Targeting Techniques

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More and more advertisers are implementing geo-targeting in their marketing campaigns, but challenges form when limiting location, specifically in regards to volume. Cookies and private browsing also limit ad number, yet a few creative location-targeting techniques are helping advertisers improve ROI. Geo-targeting focuses on city, state, region, country, zip code, designated market area (DMA), radius around a point or location extension targeting, or some combination of these. Let’s take a look at four effective geo-targeting techniques for advertisers wanting to fine-tune campaigns without losing volume:

 

1) Exclusion is Okay

AdWorks makes it possible for advertisers to exclude certain locations so ads don’t appear there, such as a convenience store chain excluding locations free of their stores. Running reports indicating where locations clicks are coming from, sorting by low-quality clickers and excluding these areas or using bid adjustment all contribute to improved ROI. Bid adjustments refer to increasing or decreasing bids in specific locations for performance optimization.

 

2) Use Keywords Only

Another geo-targeting technique is using keywords rather than locations to limit targeting. For example, a car dealership could create a separate campaign targeting people searching for “car dealerships Philadelphia” as opposed to relying on geo-targeting only. Because car dealerships serve specific areas or regions, people looking for dealerships are more likely to use geo-modifiers when searching. Using keywords therefore functions as a competitive strategy and a way to drive traffic.

 

3) A Mobile Focus

Mobile-only AdWord campaigns are important when looking to geo-target mobile audiences. This is especially essential if targeting on-the-go professionals, such as real estate agents, as well as consumers looking for specific services when “out and about,” such as towing help if stranded.

 

4) Implement Weather-Related Bid Adjustments

Google Scripts makes it possible to make bid adjustments based on weather. For example, marketers can send ads for indoor activities on cold and/or rainy days, and those for outdoor fun on warm and sunny days. A simple spreadsheet is all that’s required to create this bid, and advertisers are excited about the possibilities that weather-related geo-targeting offers. The weather affects purchase and activity decisions, so ads based on how warm it is or not on a certain day is a powerful marketing tool.

A little creativity is all that’s necessary to make geo-targeting work for your business! The potential of precise, location-specific marketing cannot be underestimated, and is set to revolutionize the way people do business. 

How Geo-Targeting Has Become a Precision Marketing Tool

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Recent geo-targeting improvements has this marketing tool poised to become the “next big thing” in mobile advertising.

Once upon a time, advertisers sent ads into universe, not knowing if they would be viewed or attractive to the user. Geo-targeting provided advertisers the ability to leverage smartphone GPS data and subsequently create ads relevant to the user’s location, and track user proximity to competitor businesses. This serious increase in ad relevancy has resulted in marketers looking to further develop geo-marketing practices. 

Two Techniques

Geo-tracking also offers targeted messages to consumers who patronize various businesses more than once. Two popular techniques that go beyond standard geo-targeting involve creating targeted ads based on either the user’s “passion points,” i.e. favorite businesses/establishments, or favored brands. Monica Ho, the vice president of marketing at xAd in New York, notes about one-third of the company’s brand campaigns are utilizing sophisticated geo-targeting techniques, a significant increase compared to previous campaigns. Indeed, the company’s location platform has grown an astounding 300 percent in 2014.

New Strategies

New strategies regarding geo-targeting include addressing the issue of delivering mobile ads “at scale with location-based targeting,” since most consumers don’t share their location unless engaging in specific activities. Another problem is ad placement at the “expense of reach.” However, Michael Boland, senior analyst and vice president of content at BIA/Kelsey in Chantilly, Virginia, notes “...using location instead to profile and target audience segments broadens the locus of targeting beyond impression-depleting locales.”

The Challenge

The problem with geo-targeting is frightening off users when marketers make it obvious they know where they are and what they’re looking for. This is also the most effective way to engage with customers, however.

“If someone in Atlanta mentions getting engaged on Facebook and starts asking brides where they got their dress, a local bridal shop could combine that interest with geo-location data and reach out with information about a sample sale," said Kam Desai, cofounder of newBrandAnalytics.

"Combining location with interest for a targeted promotion that’s very relevant to that particular consumer," he said. "If you’re sharing authentic, relevant information, consumers will value that. Knowing location is just another tool to be able to customize campaigns more effectively."

Additionally, marketers are looking to user location history for ad creation. This is thanks to the combination of mobile and big data. 

“Signals being captured by smartphones and processed through apps and cloud platforms are unlocking all kinds of valuable data by which to target ads not just by location but location-oriented factors like weather and demographic patterns,” Boland noted.

Marketers will no doubt continue their work with geo-targeting, resulting in even more sophisticated ad campaigns. 

Are Selfies the Future of Mobile?

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Defined as a photograph “one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to social media,” the selfie is poised to be the future of mobile marketing, duck face and all.

The folks behind Opera Mediaworks certainly believe in the marketing power of the selfie. The company recently partnered with Celtra and now offers advertisers the ability to integrate selfies into ad campaigns.

The partnership “brings together Celtra’s expertise in empowering advertisers to deliver meaningful, highly-captivating brand messages to their audiences in the most effective and measurable manner and Opera Mediaworks’ vast global ad platform, which serves 64 billion impressions a month to more than 800 million consumers.”

This selfie ad format allows advertisers to create highly-personalized campaigns geared towards “precisely-targeted” audiences, and therefore up the ante much like geo-tracking. Today’s consumers can browse the internet, download favorite music, stream movies and do pretty much anything else on their phones, resulting in a desire for personal experiences with favorite brands rather than a more generic or traditional interaction. Selfies are about “branding yourself” as much as they are about brands...think images of famous people holding or using assorted products.

The Celebrity Selfie

The ubiquity of the celebrity selfie is partially responsible for turning the concept into a money-making opportunity, with Calvin Klein recently launching a selfie campaign using celebs and fans posing in their Calvin briefs. The pictures feature the hashtag #mycalvins. Ellen DeGeneres’ snapshot from the 2014 Oscars featuring Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts and a number of other stars was dubbed “the most retweeted selfie of all time,” once again demonstrating the selfie’s impressive function as a communication tool.

World Domination

Selfies aren’t just for American audiences, or for those who keep their feet on the ground. The Philippines is one country capitalizing on the selfie, with their Postal Corporation recently creating selfie stamp tourism souvenirs as a way of encouraging locals to send personalized packages. NASA is getting in on the selfie action, with their Instagram account featuring selfies of astronaut Mile Hopkins...in outer space.  

Simplicity At Its Best?

Taking a selfie isn’t exactly challenging, and the popularity of selfies and their corresponding hashtags provide an easy advertising option for brands looking to create more personal relationships with consumers. Every smartphone features a quality front-facing camera, and even if the selfie is as narcissistic as critics say, there’s no denying its power as a marketing tool. 

Mobile Marketing Budgets are Smaller Than They Should Be

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Mobile devices have quickly become powerful marketing tools, yet brands are still not investing in mobile advertising as they probably should. Despite practically “everyone” owning a mobile device, mobile marketing accounts for a mere 5 percent of the average brand’s budget. Why? Usual reasons include difficulty tracking performance and gauging ROI.

According to recent Forrester research, 62 percent of marketers surveyed felt “confident” about measuring mobile ad campaign ROI, yet only 18 percent felt “very confident” in their ability measure ROI. Marketers want to see hard numbers if heavily investing in mobile, which many experts find “counter-intuitive.” 

“Consumers now spend over half of their leisure time on mobile devices,” says Gal Oppenheimer, senior product manager of built.io, a mobile back-end and application development platform. “Mobile advertising is clearly important, but it needs to get easier to track brand awareness and consumer spending.”

Other experts say marketers are too busy comparing mobile and desktop metrics, which is essentially a waste considering how different the mediums are. Marketers are used to cookie-based tracking, but such tracking doesn’t really work in the mobile world. A single cookie isn’t capable of tracking consumer actions as they go back and forth between mobile browsers and apps, nor can they follow consumers who click on mobile app download ads. The latter is a common mobile ad unit that encourages consumers to download a brand’s app. 

Mobile marketing is definitely a work in progress, yet current efforts are encouraging. Groupon, for example, works with at least three different mobile ad networks, and places ads on a wide range of publishers’ mobile sites and apps. The online retailer works with mobile advertising vendor Fiksu Inc. to discover which mobile attribution methods are best for tracking ad effectiveness.

Facebook is also working on a solution to the “mobile puzzle.” The social media giant introduced a mobile ad unit in April of this year, Audience Network, which allows marketers to target and place ads across an assortment of mobile apps utilizing what Facebook knows about its sizable user base. The network is designed to result in more relevant ads on apps, which leads to improved click-through rates, and subsequently a better ROI for the advertiser and more revenue for app developers.

Marketers are still hesitant, but if tracking abilities improve, more money will go into mobile ad efforts. “Forrester found that if marketers could track more reliably, 86 percent would allocate more of their budgets to mobile,” wrote Mike O’Brien in a recent post for ClickZ. “And 93 percent would run more cross-channel campaigns, something only 13 percent said they felt confident measuring.”

 

iBeacon Goes Mainstream in Mobile Marketing

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According to CMO.com, iBeacons and geomarketing are quickly becoming mainstream tools for marketers.

The iBeacon is defined by Apple as "a new class of low-powered, low-cost transmitters that can notify nearby iOS 7 devices of their presence.” It relies on Bluetooth low-energy proximity sensing to” transmit universally-unique identifiers”picked up by compatible apps or operating systems. These identifiers may be looked up via the internet to determine the device's physical location, or result in action, such as a push notification or check-in on social media.

Geomarketing involves geographic information used in the planning and executing of marketing strategies. It allows marketers to target advertising campaigns and subsequently appeal to consumers based on where they live or shop.

A U.S.-based team researching mobile marketing found some 18 percent of mobile marketers are utilizing Apple iBeacons, which is expected to double in 2015. Additionally, 49 percent of marketers noted they would use device positioning to deliver content, while 48.8 percent plan to add such capabilities to their mobile marketing strategy over the next year.

The Adobe Digital Team Index recently found 33 percent of average mobile users look to their mobile devices for help when shopping in-store, and 9 percent have used mobile wallets over the past three months. This percentage rises to 22 among “mobile elite” users. Adobe also discovered bounce rate referrals from social networks are higher on mobile devices than desktops at 61 and 53 percent, respectively.

Adobe’s digital team researched other mobile dynamics and trends as well, including social channels. They discovered Pinterest is the “most mobile” social network, with 64 percent of its referred traffic coming from either smartphones or tablet devices. Twitter is at 62 percent in terms of mobile use, and Facebook at 41 percent. Tumblr has the highest revenue per visit from mobile devices--$2.57--with Facebook coming in second at $1.85.

The company’s Mobile Benchmark Report was based on aggregate data from some 18 billion visits to retail, media, entertainment, financial services, and travel websites in June 2014. Behavioral data from companies using Adobe’s Marketing Cloud solution, Analytics and Mobile Services platforms was also studied. The report researched, in total, 700 million mobile app use sessions, 3,000 mobile users, and over 10,000 U.S. websites and apps.

With so many companies jumping on the iBeacon and geomarketing bandwagons, mobile ad campaigns will only become more and more location specific. 

How Smartphones Are Helping the Fight Against Drug Addiction

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Can smartphones help users overcome drug addiction? 

Research says Yes! Back in 2011, an 80-person study by the National Institutes of Health found smartphones highly beneficial to those overcoming drug addiction. The study was based out of East Baltimore, Maryland and featured smartphones programmed to let addicts track when they craved and used drugs. Phones were set up to beep randomly three times each day, and ask questions such as “Where are you?”, “What are you doing?”, and “How are you feeling?”.

"We want to know the events surrounding that," lead researcher Dr. Kenzie Preston said at the time. "We're really interested what's triggering drug use, relapse."

Phones were partially disabled to lower their street value; however, associate scientist David Epstein noted no issues with phones becoming lost or getting stolen.

"We tell them, if you lose or break one of these, we'll replace it and that's fine," he said. "But if you lose or break a second one, we're going to detox you from the methadone and you can't be in the study anymore. And we hardly ever have to do that. People know that they'd rather stay with us."

The study was meant to pinpoint the precise moments addicts decided to use, as Epstein remarked on the difficulty addicts have recalling the specifics of their relapses. This isn’t to say addicts lie about their relapses; rather it’s more about how the brain functions.

"People, whether it's someone who's addicted to drugs or anyone else in the world, make up stories that sort of explain their behavior," he said during the study. "But if you could've been monitoring them in real time, you would see that things didn't happen quite the way they remembered."

Smartphones allowed researchers to obtain data in real time. The study also included addicts carrying pager-sized GPS monitors to track their movements, which made it easy to log where addicts go. For example, an addict could be sober for weeks, then visit a certain block or neighborhood and have a relapse. Knowing where addicts were hanging out helped researchers understand what type of environments encouraged drug use.

Epstein said the study could lead to new smartphone-based treatments.

"A sort of clinician in your pocket," he said. "You can give them on the spot feedback... and that does seem helpful."

 

 

5 Ways to Hemorrhage Cash with your Mobile Marketing Strategy

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A solid mobile marketing campaign is a great way to increase revenue over time and otherwise promote brand awareness. However, plenty of businesses are actually losing rather than making money from mobile campaigns. So what are they doing wrong? Rather than discovering wasted time and money on your own mobile marketing strategy, check out five actions to avoid:

1) Wrong Ad Placement

Many businesses, big brands included, “fall for the lure” of television and radio ads for their mobile apps. Don’t rely heavily on television and radio ads to draw people to your mobile site or app. Instead, use traditional advertising for branding purposes and as a supplement to mobile ad networks and incentive-based download programs. The latter is a proven channel for mobile user acquisition.

 

2) No Optimization

Optimizing your website for mobile device use is essential to avoid losing money on a marketing strategy. It’s also a surefire way of deterring visitors, so when considering how to promote your business, be sure that mobile site optimization tops the list.

 

3) Unattractive Offers

The best small business ideas include enticing customers with fabulous offers. Any mobile marketing strategy that fails to pique prospect interest is doomed to fail, as it results in missed business opportunities and general brand damage. Avoid this by creating a campaign that encourages potential customers to engage with your business through their mobile devices. Think loyalty and time-based discounts, coupons, mobile-only offers, bulk purchase deals, and similar promotions.

 

4) Lack of Social Media Integration

Consumers mainly use mobile devices to check email and social media, so failing to integrate your mobile marketing strategy with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other channels means seriously reducing your audience. Tweets, Instagram pictures and Facebook posts are just some of the many social media-based options for reaching your target demographic and informing them of your app or mobile offers.

 

5) Not Following Up on Initial Marketing Efforts 

Don’t make the mistake of letting marketing efforts wash down the drain following initial engagement. Acquiring customers means sustaining their interest, so rather than wasting time and money, “strike while the iron is hot” and begin building a relationship immediately. An automated system that is already in place after an initial download begins the engagement process or requests that the user opt-in. Either way, you’ll make certain your brand stays fresh in the minds of consumers.

Avoid these mistakes, identify metrics associated with the success of your campaign, and earn money effectively rather than lose it ignorantly