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27 posts categorized "Retail"

April 08, 2014

Neglect Text, Neglect Success: The Benefits of Mobile Marketing

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If you keep your eye on the latest mobile marketing solutions and SMS messaging strategies, you’ll be familiar with the statistic that’s often bandied around, but for the benefit of the uninitiated: 95% of all mobile users open and read SMS messages within three minutes of the text being sent.

It’s certainly a compelling piece of data. And yet, so many businesses are still failing to employ SMS marketing as part of their overall strategy. Some are afraid of anything relatively new and stick to what they know, others have never bothered to give it a good go. But the advantages of text marketing are manifold, and you ignore them at the peril of your business. Here are a few of the key benefits to creating a comprehensive mobile marketing strategy:

  • Speed. At 160 characters or less, your average text doesn’t take long to create (or to read). Use this fact to your advantage by turning your mobile marketing campaign into a masterclass in brevity.
  • Directness. Most email inboxes are checked once or twice a day, and commercial messages are filtered out automatically, manually or just mentally. Compare that to an SMS inbox, which is frequently checked multiple times in a single day – often as and when each message is received.
  • Affordability. For small businesses, the sheer affordability of text marketing is one of its key assets. Far cheaper than real-world billboards or television ads, you can usually buy in bulk to get an even better deal on an SMS package.
  • Eco-friendliness. More and more businesses are adopting greener practices. Apart from being ethical, it makes good business sense – most customers want to know the brand they’re dealing with has at least some environmentally-friendly credentials. In the world of advertising, SMS marketing is as green as it gets.
  • Interactivity. Engaging with your customer base is easy with SMS. Issue polls, surveys and questionnaires. Not only will they encourage consumers to visit your social media pages and website, they can provide invaluable data on personal preferences and buying habits.
  • Trackability. Monitoring metrics is crucial to understanding the success of any advertising campaign. With text, it’s a lot easier to track these metrics. Some companies offer a tracking service as part of their SMS messaging package. Use such services to review a detailed analysis of each text and you will start to understand more about how your business is functioning as a user experience.

As you can see, there are huge potential sources of untapped business out there, just waiting at the end of a cellphone to receive your latest offer – so climb on board with the text revolution!

 

 

 

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 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 21, 2014

In-Store Browsing the In-Thing in UK

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A growing number of British consumers are adopting the practice sometimes known as showrooming: comparing online prices with real-world prices while browsing in stores, and buying the cheapest version of a particular product (hint: it’s never from the bricks and mortar store).

A report published in February by OnePoll looked at a range of consumer behaviors involving smartphones during the last quarter of 2013. The results showed that using smartphones to conduct research is the new normal. Seven out of ten respondents had used their mobile device to investigate potential purchases and compare prices. Over a third used mobile price comparison sites, and 17% had visited the mobile sites of individual retailers.

Retail apps are also growing in popularity, with users accessing them from multiple locations. Around 42% of respondents used retail apps at home, and a quarter did so at work or on their way to work.

But the most compelling results relate to the use of smartphones in physical stores. Some 55% of people admitted to ‘showrooming’ during shopping trips. Out of those, more than half said they compared prices online using their mobile device, and just under half used them to gather more information on products. Around 41% used their phones to take pictures of potential purchases. Despite all the browsing activity, only 17% of smartphone owners admitted to showrooming itself.

The research threw up some interesting data relevant to mobile marketing campaigns. More than two thirds of respondents said they would be more likely to revisit a store if it sent bespoke promotions to their smartphone.

Mobile browsing-to-buy remains less common than direct mobile shopping. Only 17% of people using their smartphone to conduct research also bought with the device, and just over one in ten people who browsed in-store went on to buy from the same retailer.

For anyone devising a mobile marketing strategy in the UK, the implications are clear: if you can reach people who are already in a physical store that pertains to your business, you have a good chance of converting them into customers. Bricks and mortar-only retailers have their own mobile marketing tactics – such as apps and SMS coupons – but, short of deliberately operating from a location with no wi-fi or network coverage, there’s little they can do to stem the tide of online activity conducted from their premises.

These behaviors are now endemic – not just across the ocean, but here in the US too. Smartphone adoption rates are soaring, and the fear for offline businesses is that consumers will one day come to their store to browse online and find it closed.

March 10, 2014

iOS vs. Android Users: Who Should Mobile Marketers Target?

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There’s nothing mobile marketers love more than a good scrap about the best operating system. Ever since the first generation Androids and iPhones emerged in 2007, their relative merits have been hotly disputed; you can usually tell which side of the debate a person will be on by the phone in their hand.

Of course, there is no easy answer to the ‘which is best?’ question. So much is subjective, and some Android (or iOS!) devotees will never be persuaded to change their personal preference, no matter how compelling the arguments for doing so are. Broadly speaking, iOS generates more revenue, but Android has a greater market share. Neither of these truths are going to help you create the right mobile marketing strategy.

The very fact that this debate has raged continuously since the smartphone boom took hold is indicative of the complexity of both operating systems. Deciding which device your mobile marketing strategy should focus on requires careful consideration of a whole range of metrics. Let’s take a close look at some of the factors at play:

US Performance

comScore report revealed 133.7 million people in the United States owned a smartphone during the first quarter of 2013. Android was ranked as the top smartphone platform, with 51.7% market share next to Apple’s 38.9%.

Similar results were gleaned from a Kantar Worldpanel Comtech report, which showed Android beating the iPhone by a 9% margin. It’s important to note, however, that the cut and thrust of the smartphone market means these figures are bouncing around on a daily basis.

Plus, device ownership is far from the full story when it comes to iOS vs. Android. Whilst the latter enjoys a greater number of customers, the former generates more money from online commerce. A Black Friday report conducted by IBM showed iOS users spent an average of $127.92 per order, compared to $105.20 spent by Android users. Android users accounted for 11% of ecommerce traffic, next to iPhone and iPad users’ 28.2%. These facts are of more relevance to your mobile marketing strategy than pure ownership.

Worldwide Performance

Phones supporting Android sell significantly better than iPhones in global markets. During the fourth quarter of 2012, Android had a 70% share, compared with 21% for iOS. If your business is global, you should adjust your mobile marketing strategy accordingly as such a marked difference in ownership levels undoubtedly supersedes the greater online spending conducted on Apple’s devices (which remains true internationally).

Tablets

Mobile marketing solutions targeting tablets should always differ from those targeting smartphones, because people use them in different ways. Apple’s iPad outperforms Android tablets and, again, ecommerce revenues are greater for the former.

Apps

According to data collected by Canalys, just over 50% of all app downloads in the first quarter of 2013 were for Android, with iOS taking the lion’s share (40%) of the remainder. What this means for your mobile marketing strategy depends on the type of business you run, so study your market closely. Find out which apps your customers regularly use and, if building your own app, create one for both operating systems.

Web Use

Apple rules the roost in terms of web use, with a 60.1 % share (according to NetMarketShare). Android lags with 24.9%, which, considering there are more Android devices out there, corroborates the evidence for iOS users being significantly more active online.

Overall, it’s important not to draw too many conclusions from the wealth of data on which device performs the best. When devising mobile marketing tactics, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. We’re talking Apples and oranges (or rather, Apples and Androids) – so come up with a separate mobile marketing strategy for each, especially if your business has a global reach.

 

February 13, 2014

Should You Use QR Codes in Your Mobile Marketing Campaign?

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Quick Response codes have been popular among mobile marketing strategists for some time. They can be used to link to web content or activate emails and text messaging. Posted out and about in relevant places, a QR code is a great way of giving consumers immediate access to useful information.

But not all mobile marketing strategies are using QR codes. Some analysts have even gone so far as to predict its imminent demise. Such dire predictions are, in part, down to the emergence of invisible ink and augmented-reality apps which are increasingly being used instead of QR codes. Proponents of the new technologies say it is superior because users don’t need to take so many steps to get the information they require.

To put this in context, let’s have a quick recap of how QR codes work. When someone comes across a code – on a poster, next to a checkout, attached to a takeaway menu – they have to photograph the code, wait for it to record their information, and then be sent to a website or some other form of online content.

In contrast, new apps are offering a more streamlined way of achieving the same end – and in some cases going much, much further. Touchcode is one of the most exciting examples. An invisible electronic code, it can be printed on, say, a toy’s label and enable the user to activate the toy simply by touching their smartphone to it. For something that’s invisible, Touchcode is proving very attractive compared to the clunky eye-sore of many QR experiences. The product onto which Touchcode is placed appears no different – it only makes its presence known once it has interacted with a phone.

In Japan, newspaper Tokyo Shimbu has launched its AR News app, which allows kids to scan articles and turn them into child-centred versions of the story. It was developed as a way to make newspapers more appealing to a youth demographic, and not only simplifies the text, but also adds animated characters, graphics and kid-friendly explanations of complex news items.

It’s true that QR codes have been used in hilariously incompetent fashion. They are often pasted in completely inappropriate places, and some QR codes require users to download a scanner that will only work for that one code – not an attractive option to most consumers, especially as sleeker, more user-friendly alternatives emerge.

But they have also been used to profounf effect in many mobile marketing strategies, notably by Taco Bell, who generated 225,000 scans during their recent ESPN College Football promotion. Even more impressive was Verizon’s in-store QR code campaign that allowed customers to enter a promotion and win a smartphone. The promotion generated an additional $35,000 worth of sales during it’s week-long run after an initial investment of just $1,000 (Verizon also pulled off a QR coup in 2010 when they generated more than 150,000 scans off the back their ScanLife campaign).

These recent successes alone demonstrate that the QR code is far from dead – it’s just a question of how effectively you use them. The lessons learned from successful campaigns, and the emergent technologies that threaten to render QR codes obsolete, are that brands need to make them easy to use, and only deploy them in situations where it makes sense. They won’t work for every company – but if you can recognize when and where they are appropriate, and execute them properly, QR codes will still find a place in your B2C and B2B marketing campaigns.

 

January 29, 2014

Mobile Marketing with SMS is King in China

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It’s reckoned there are some 500 million smartphone users in China. As with the rest of the developed world, smartphones have fundamentally altered the way Chinese consumers make purchasing decisions. The world of commerce has responded by adopting mobile marketing strategies[BC1]  akin to those being used in the US and Europe. But will the same tactics be just as effective in China as they are in the West? Or do mobile marketing campaigns need to be adjusted? 

To better understand the differences between Chinese and international mobile markets, let’s first take a look at the similarities. Most smartphone users in China access the web using a mobile device, irrespective of whether they are located in the city or in rural areas. SMS is proving just as popular as it is everywhere else, with 71% of businesses primarily using texts for mobile marketing.

But not everyone is on board. According to recent Experian research that looked at 321 businesses across a wide range of industries, only 36% of Chinese enterprises had tried mobile marketing, compared to 65% of Hong Kong enterprises. 

Despite the growth in mobile, China remains in thrall to more traditional advertising channels. When asked about their favorite marketing methods, 66% of businesses chose old-fashioned paper mail, and only 34% chose email. But SMS was the second most popular channel with a 61% adoption rate.  Close to 90% of businesses agreed that SMS marketing was an effective strategy.

Overall, the future looks bright for China’s mobile industry. Apple recently predicted they would sell about 10 million iPhones in 2014. However, the company has indicated that Chinese consumers, by and large, prefer large-screen devices for checking emails, browsing the web and streaming music and video. Every other fourth generation smartphone offered by China Mobile as a display at least half an inch bigger than Apple’s 4-inch iPhone.

To tackle the demand, Apple may introduce two larger-screen iPhones this year. One commenter, Miao Zhiwen, a banker, said he would use the Apple device mainly for phone calls on account of the screen being too tiny for work: 

 “The iPhone’s screen is a little small,” Miao said. “If Apple had a phone with a bigger display, I’d have gotten that.”

Such invaluable insights into the national consumer psyche cannot be ignored by marketers. China is a vast – and expanding – market, and well worth tweaking existing mobile marketing strategies to accommodate.

 

January 11, 2014

Mobile Marketing and Consumer Privacy

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The boom in targeted advertising for mobile devices has brought with it a new set of customers concerns about privacy and ethics. Mobile data collection frequently includes location-based information, with some apps requiring access to users’ GPS co-ordinates. Others ask for contact lists or directory information. While the huge leaps made by mobile marketing strategies[BC1]  often serve the convenience of the customer, it also puts a greater responsibility on companies to be transparent about their use of personal data.

Earlier this year, two advertising regulators introduced new guidelines for app developers, designed to keep mobile marketing trends within ethical boundaries. The Digital Advertising Alliance and the Network Advertising Initiative announced their intention to address how marketers notify users when they collect data via mobile apps.

The Digital Advertising Alliance now requires its members to present users with a standard notice if they intend to use mobile data for advertising purposes. The move will allow users to choose whether to permit companies to collect cross-app data, directory data and locations information. The Network Advertising Initiative unveiled a similar program in July, although neither have said how stringently the guidelines will be enforced.

The government has considered introducing legislation to protect data privacy for mobile users. At the local level, some progress has been made, with Senator Al Franken endorsing the Location Privacy Protection Act in 2011. The proposed bill, which would require companies to obtain explicit consent before collection or sharing mobile data, has passed through the Senate, but the issue is yet to land on the table in Congress. In California, the government has partnered with major players including Apple, Google and Facebook in a bid to improve communication between app developers and consumers regarding mobile marketing privacy.

The challenge is welcomed by the mobile marketing industry, which has marked itself out as a more transparent, ethical business than many of its web-based forbears. Firms like Ez Texting are keeping up with the changes in regulation by clearly informing users about mobile marketing best practices. That means informing them of the need to offer easy opt-out choices, and providing clear advice on staying compliant.

December 19, 2013

Getting Started with Mobile Marketing

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The inexorable rise of smartphone technology shows no sign of abating.  In the developed world at least, consumers are taking constant internet access for granted. Mobile marketing campaigns must now be geared towards web-enabled devices, or they risk failing to reach an audience. If you’re just getting started, there are a few things you can you do to jumpstart your mobile marketing strategy:

Quick Response Codes

Quick Response – or ‘QR’ – Codes are everywhere these days. Even if you don’t recognize the name, you’ve definitely seen them on public walls and at the grocery checkout. Those black and white dots and squiggles that resemble a sort of monochrome, analogue rain storm are decoded by cameras on mobile devices and used to redirect customers to a specific webpage. QR Codes lend your brand a certain mystique and are a proven method of driving traffic. No mobile marketing strategy should be without them, which is why Ez texting has built a QR code generator.

Social Media

Encourage users to spread the word about your business through social media channels. Use a variety of different sites, from the big  names like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Reddit, right down to smaller, more localized networks that are relevant to your business.

Text Marketing

Text messages have a very high open rate, which makes opt-in text marketing a surefire way of reaching more people. Grow your SMS lists  by offering special deals or discounts as part of your mobile advertising strategy. Coupons are one way of offering  deals directly via text. Try it - you might be surprised by the results.

Customer Participation

Encourage your customers to check- in with your business when they are in the vicinity. There is a growing app market serving just this purpose, with platforms like Google+, FourSquare and even Facebook allowing users to share their locality with their network. It essentially takes some of the marketing burden off your shoulders and puts it onto the customers. Another way to engage is by creating your own app, or hiring someone to do it for you. Make sure any app you create is enjoyable to use as well as enhancing your service.

Analytics

Measure the success of your mobile marketing campaigns by making use of the many analytics tools available. Google analytics is the best place to start – make sure your web developer has included it in your site. If your business is primarily web-based, you can manage every aspect of your marketing strategy and see which mobile tactics are the most effective.

 

December 18, 2013

How Best Buy Used the Holiday Season to Grow their Text Marketing List

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Tis the season to rev up your mobile marketing. Black Friday, which heralds the start of the busy holiday shopping season, has passed. Brick-and-mortar retailers as well as digital entrepreneurs are searching for new ways to reach out to potential customers on the hunt for the perfect gift for their loved ones.

Savvy business owners understand the importance of engaging mobile customers to boost their profits during this lucrative time of gift giving. Entrepreneurs who neglect to join the digital revolution will not only miss out on the opportunity to increase their audience base, but they’ll also fail to take advantage of innovative technology that allows them to constantly engage with existing clients as well as new ones.

Best Buy, for instance, is demonstrating a great use of SMS marketing to build their mobile database during the holiday season. Customers who opt in with a holiday-specific keyword will be sent daily messages through the end of the year, linking to offers, with the hope that customers will remain in the database beyond the holidays to receive later marketing messages.

Additional mobile marketing strategies for retailers, such as Apple’s iBeacon technology, allow business owners to engage customers on the spot as they peruse the aisles of their store. By employing a groundbreaking indoor positioning system, the iBeacon can push notifications to a user’s mobile device, alerting him or her to an item on sale nearby or providing up-to-the-minute product information. Once customers download the app on their mobile device, they are also given an opportunity to pay for items via their cell phone, bypassing the traditional cash register.

This advanced location awareness technology is a brilliant new way of interacting with customers during the holiday season. As a business owner, text message marketing allows you to enhance your direct mail and social media campaigns and send timely holiday-based messaging to your customers to keep them engaged. Because subscribers opt-in to your digital alerts, this type of marketing is permission based and has a higher open rate than email marketing.

As the holiday shopping season shifts into high gear, SMS text marketing is a sure bet to drum up new clients and spread the word about your goods and services.