Small Business

230 posts categorized

July 01, 2015

Mobile Marketing Tactics for July 4th

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Independence Day is around the corner, and that means a marked increase in consumer spending across a variety of industries. As per the overall trend away from desktop, the majority of online shoppers will search on their smartphones, so it’s important to target mobile device users if you want to make the most of the holiday. 

Whatever line of business you’re in, give your July 4th a boost with some of these mobile marketing tactics:

 

Social Media Photo Competition

Use the power of social media to drive user engagement. A photo competition relevant to your industry, with a Independence Day-themed hashtag, can start the all-important online conversation. Do it right and you may even go viral!

Give Free Stuff Away

People. Love. Free. Stuff. That’s unlikely to ever change, which makes freebies the evergreen classic of the marketing world. Start an text message marketing campaign to let the world know about your free offer. The bigger and better it is, the more people will share it, and the more sign ups you’ll generate. It’s going to be a loss leader anyway - so you may as well go all out. If you generate long-term mobile contacts from a free giveaway, it’ll be well worth it. 

Tweet

Tweeting about special offers can work magic. Twitter is capable of disseminating information at incredible speeds, if an idea catches the imagination of enough people. You can even use apps like Viral to hide discounts until they’ve been retweeted a certain number of time, allowing you to control that 50% discount so that it works for you, or not at all. 

Themed Games

July 4th is a time for fun and games. Why not run a trivia quiz relating to the holiday. Offer a big prize to the winner, and multiple smaller prizes for runners up.  

Partner Up

Creating partnerships is an essential part of any business. It could be with other local businesses, but with the proliferation of social media accounts and other online networks, there’s a striking new type of partnership on the marketing scene: your employees. Most employees will be willing to spread your July 4th mobile marketing campaign to their friends and family, especially if it’s a fun video or themed song. If you have 25 employees, each with a hundred friends on Facebook…well, you can do the math!

June 24, 2015

5 MMS Marketing Tactics

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MMS marketing has been around for a few years, but when it comes to launching a new product or promotion, most business still limit themselves to SMS messaging. Mobile coupons and other offers are usually plain text affairs, and the popularity of shortcodes and keywords has caused many businesses to lose sight of the bigger picture.

This is somewhat surprising given the wide availability of MMS, which allows brands to entice customers with images as well as words. If you’re interested in harnessing the power of rich media to give your mobile marketing campaign a shot in the arm, consider the following applications of MMS:

 

Show & Tell

The visual element that’s so important to advertising has taken a backseat in text message marketing. Sure, you can (and should) include a link to your website, but in the hyper-competitive world of modern marketing, the fewer steps the consumer needs to take, the better. The food industry is probably the most obvious beneficiary of image-based advertising; MMS allows you to send the 2-for-1 pizza promo deal and a tasty picture of the pie. Visual stimulus will get mouths watering far more than mere words.

 

Text to Win

Use your existing subscriber base to introduce loyal customers to new products with MMS. To generate interaction, run a competition with the product shown as the prize.

 

Text to Reserve

Again, mobile marketing tactics that use SMS messaging can be modified for MMS. If you run a restaurant, send picture messages of the latest meal specials and offer a time-limited promo deal to respondents.  

 

Text to Vote

Running a poll or survey can be more effective with MMS than with standard text messaging. Encourage subscribers to vote on which appetizer they would prefer, along with a picture of each dish. Set up keywords to represent each appetizer (WINGS/SOUP-DU-JOUR/etc) and allow respondents to vote on the nicest looking dish, or the dish they’d prefer to see on your menu. Not only will you encourage engagement by the vote, you’ll have created targeted lists of customers based on food preference.  

 

Text to Connect

Stay in touch with subscribers with the right MMS campaign and you’ll see interaction increase. As long as you offer something of value, the underlying impetus behind your campaign can simply be to remain connected with your customer base. Keep such messages to a minimum. A ‘text to connect’ picture message should only be used if you don’t have any current promos, you haven’t reached out to your contacts for a while and you can create a special offer to be included in the message.

June 19, 2015

Are App Store Video Previews Worth the Investment?

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Trying to stand out from the rest of the apps for sale on the App Store presents a big challenge for app developers. The App Store currently features some 1.2 million iOS apps, with developers using screen shots and simple text to attract buyers. Videos were used to build momentum outside of the App Store, however Apple is changing that...or attempting to, anyway. 

The launch of iOS 8 meant app developers had the opportunity to upload 30-second videos to iTunes Connect, as well as other app updates and marketing materials. App Store visitors see video thumbnails, or what Apple calls poster frames, next to app screenshots. Store visitors simply have to hit ‘play’ buttons to launch a full-screen video showcasing what’s fantastic about the app.  

Videos are designed to provide visitors with a “realistic experience” regarding the app in question, and function more as demos than anything else. Music is important to the mood and theme of the video, though narrated videos and those featuring animated text and graphics are also accepted by Apple. The company does not allow personal data and real names to be used in the videos.  

This tool has been in use for nearly a year, but its effectiveness is up for debate. Creating a visually-pleasing video that really sells why an app rocks isn’t an inexpensive venture, with even basic productions very costly compared to screenshot designs. Video expense subsequently limits A/B testing for an app page, and the possibility of producing a variety of previews is limited as well. Screenshots, in comparison, are easy to create and allow app developers to experiment with different styles to determine what their target audience likes most.  

Another problem with app preview videos is the constantly-evolving nature of the industry. Even the coolest, most professionally-executed videos can become outdated in an instant, forcing developers to produce more general, less creative videos that “justify investment” and are essentially evergreen. This in combination with Apple’s video guidelines and rules presents a serious challenge to developers. 

Videos even spell a bit of doom in regard to app page conversion rates. The perfect “app page experience” is one that creates a “compelling user experience.” This means the longer a user takes to decide whether they want the app or not, the more the developer has to lose. Screenshots are subsequently the better marketing tool, as they simply provide users with specific app highlights rather than a “deep exploration” of the product. The idea is to quickly convince users to install the app, not compel them to think about it.  

If a developer does decide to create a video preview for an app, it helps to focus on two or three specific features the screenshot cannot convey, refrain from mentioning discounts or seasonal offers, and ensure content is rated 4+, or appropriate for all audiences. 

June 17, 2015

Email as a Mobile Marketing Strategy


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Despite growing approval and increased attention paid to mobile marketing, some critics have missed the mark when it comes to email in the new mobile world.

Since the 1960s, email has been a standard across various channels as technology has changed and improved. Email is constantly sited for its powerful conversion rates, engagement and ROI. In a recent marketing census, eConsultancy concluded that revenue generated from email marketing campaigns has proportionally increased by 28% in 2014, and was ranked first with regards to ROI. Sixty-eight percent of the companies utilizing email to correspond with customers rated the method ‘good’ or ‘excellent’. 

Lines between mobile marketing and email have been drawn exclusively to separate the two. The problem is, separation doesn’t accurately represent what’s being played out among user behavior. In fact, the separation of the two isn’t just impossible; it’s a huge opportunity.

An incredible 70% of emails are now opened via mobile—an incredible shift in user behavior towards the mobile landscape. The roll of email has become so intrinsic in the daily lives of users that it’s inescapable. Gmail and Yahoo! reported almost 70% of every email opened using their services is done using a smartphone or tablet; what’s more, 61% of mobile users read at least some of their emails via mobile. The questions dividing the mobile and desktop arenas are justified, but email doesn’t seem to have the same limitations.

It’s a safe bet that some other form of mobile correspondence won’t replace email; so learning to utilize email to reach the user on-the-go becomes the better objective. Knowing how to tailor an email to meet the specific needs of a mobile user is the key to devising a strong email-friendly mobile marketing strategy.

First, adjusting the content to be mobile responsive is imperative. The call-to-action should be plain, clear and direct, in addition to being well placed and easily tapable. This means larger buttons, clear font and limited scrolling. 

In addition to formatting the message for a smaller screen and mobile ease, mobile consciousness should be addressed. Users are in a different state of mind when using mobile, and that’s something that can be harnessed and used to a marketer’s advantage.

While email enjoys the intimate space of an inbox, mobile email offers a far more personal experience in the palm of a user’s hand. Where is the user going? What time of day is it? By considering the mobile moments in the day, and when those moments relate to the right products and services, marketers can do a better job of getting inside a user’s head spaces and further anticipating their needs.

So for the naysayers out there who assumed email was on its way out: guess again. 

June 16, 2015

How SMS can Save Summer

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As the weather starts to heat up, annual summer vacations enjoy a revival. Airplane travel has become a popular and affordable way to travel these days, yet it has taken forever for the air travel industry to catch up with the mobile revolution. In fact, while travel and hospitality seem to lead innovation regarding user experience depicted through mobile, air transportation has done little in the way of making flights more mobile friendly.

And it doesn’t stop there. There are several ways to improve a summer traveler’s experiences with the help of mobile. Here’s a list of improvements every vacation could benefit from.

 

Mobile Ticket Purchase

According to Text Marketer, one in five international vacations were booked via mobile device. Travelers love great deals, so when there’s an extra passenger seat available at a discount, communicating those savings to loyal customers can be a great benefit. Frost and Sullivan report that consumers are 98% more likely to respond to a SMS message compared to regular emails. Using mobile to showcase great deals is a win-win situation.

 

Mobile Check-in 

One of the most common complaints about air travel is a long check-in line. Instead of numerous lines for check-in, offering a mobile responsive check-in service provide allow passengers ease of mind while they make their way through security and to their final boarding gate. It’s one less step that could make a huge impact on a customer’s flying experience.

 

Retail Opportunities

When travelers are stuck with a long layover or change in flight schedule, nothing beats duty-free shopping. Retail locations in airports have become incredibly lucrative for a variety of vendors. SMS marketing coupons are 10 times more likely to be redeemed than mail or newspaper ads. Using beacon technology to offer special discounts or special offers is a great way to use mobile effectively.

 

In Flight Upgrades

Some aircrafts currently offer WiFi access for a small fee, but many planes have yet to be fully upgraded. While placing phone calls or texting may be unsafe, even in the future, it would seem that offering Wi-Fi access during all flights could make a customer’s flight much more productive and enjoyable.

 

Mobile Accommodations

In addition to improving mobile for air travel, hotel accommodations are jumping on the wagon. Hilton hotels recently announced a smartphone check-in service to debut sometime in 2016. The app will allow guests to search and purchase a room via mobile. The mobile device also acts as a room key and can quickly connect with hotel staff or services via text message.

There are several ways to save summer with unique mobile initiatives that will ultimately benefit both the traveler and companies alike. 

 

June 14, 2015

6 of the Best Summer Marketing Campaigns

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Some summer marketing campaigns are truly awesome, and remain in consumer minds for many seasons. If agonizing about your summer marketing campaign or how you can possibly craft one consumers will love, throw something on the grill and check out six of the very best summer marketing campaigns (possibly) ever: 

 

Share a Coke Campaign

The Share a Coke campaign by Coca-Cola was hugely successful, and based on the idea that people looovve their names on things. The company put names on their cans and bottles, such as those that read “Share a Coke With Alyx.” As seen by the spelling of “Alyx,” Coca-Cola went a step further and make it possible for those with unusually-spelled or unique names to personalize their own bottles. They named their campaign after their call to action, which is quite brilliant, and even came up with ways to ensure sharing. For example, the soda brand had vending machines at the Minnesota State Fair where you could personalize a can for free.

 

Pacifico’s “Well-Traveled Beer” Campaign

In June of 2011 brewing company Pacifico did a road trip from Mexico to the U.S. and stopped in five cities along the way. They brought kegs to surfer get-togethers, bonfire parties, etc. and documented their journey via photos, videos, and status updates. Brand engagement and excitement resulted.

 

Pixar and Disney’s Monsters University Campaign 

In preparation for the 2012 summer release of Monsters University, Disney and Pixar created a Monsters University website featuring information on monster sports teams, School of Scaring tours, famous alumni, news and events, etc. It looked like a real university website and created plenty of movie buzz.

 

Atlantic City Alliance ‘Do AC’ Campaign

In April of last year, the Atlantic City Alliance dealt with a casino closings and a drop in tourism by launching the $20 million ‘Do AC’ campaign. Entitled ‘Do Anything. Do Everything. Do AC.,’ the campaign was created to expand on the beach city’s image and take it from gaming destination to family-friendly vacation destination. Ads were crafted for television, print, billboard, and digital advertising. 

A bold rebranding move, it nevertheless worked, and capitalized on the idea that people want to be “seen” in AC enjoying all of its many attractions, not just casinos. 

 

IKEA’s Books on the Beach Campaign 

IKEA celebrated Billy Bookshelf’s 30th birthday in 2013 by erecting several of their Billy bookshelves (filled with books) on Bondi Beach in Australia. Beach-goers could take a book in exchange for donating to the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation. The campaign therefore promoted IKEA as a compassionate brand while simultaneously advertising the Billy.

 

Starbucks Frappuccino Fun All Summer Long Campaign

In 2014 Starbucks launched their Frappuccino Fun All Summer Long campaign, an SMS and MMS campaign. The coffee bigwig posted a message to its Facebook page encouraging consumers to text the keyword STRAW to 22122 with an image of a Frappuccino. Consumers had to draw eyes on their frappucino, and the copy read “What has a green straw and wishes it had thumbs? This guy.”

 

 

 

June 13, 2015

6 Mobile Marketing Myths

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Has your business still not taken a ride on the mobile marketing train? Considering Americans spend about two hours per day on their mobile devices, and one in seven people worldwide own such devices as of 2013, you may want to buy your proverbial train ticket. One out of every four mobile searches is conducted using a mobile device, and some 57 percent of users refuse to recommend companies without mobile-friendly site.  

If still not convinced, check out six mobile marketing myths to sway your vote: 

 

Myth #1: Mobile Marketing is Currently Enjoying Its 15 Minutes of Fame

Think the mobile marketing craze will be over soon? Think again. To quote Internet marketing expert Matt Bacak, “You’re simply an idiot if you think mobile marketing is not here to stay.” A bit harsh, but very true. 

 

Myth #2: Mobile Marketing is Crazy Expensive 

Many, many tools are now available to start a mobile marketing campaign without breaking the piggy bank. 

 

Myth #3: Optimizing Websites For Mobile Marketing Isn’t Necessary

Another popular myth surrounding mobile marketing is any normal business site is easy to read on a mobile device. This is rarely the case, and most users who find your site isn’t optimized for mobile devices are unlikely to visit the site again. 

 

Myth #4: Mobile Users Are the Same

A good number of businesses believe mobile users are limited to Millennials and Generation Y. Again, not true. According to media company Digiday, many mobile users--more than half--are 35 or older. Older generations are increasingly just as likely to use their mobile devices and bring them everywhere, so don’t dismiss them as old fogies who can barely operate a flip phone, let alone a smartphone. 

 

Myth #5: All That’s Required For Mobile Marketing is an App

While having a mobile app for your business is definitely a good thing, it’s merely one component of a larger mobile marketing strategy. A mobile-optimized website, QR codes, and texting messaging play sizable roles as well, and put together offer many opportunities for customer interaction and loyalty building. 

 

Myth #6: Mobile Marketing Doesn’t Apply to Small Businesses

Hardly. Mobile marketing offers a more personalized, more one-on-one experience, something the small business specializes in. It therefore makes perfect sense to capitalize on mobile marketing as a new way of talking to customers and ensuring their loyalty. 

Mobile marketing isn’t going anywhere, and businesses who take advantages of its many benefits are the ones sure to thrive. 

 

June 12, 2015

Millennials Prefer Apps to Ads

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Mobile marketing provides a business with the ability to reach customers and potential customers anywhere at any time. And while this is a great, great concept, other businesses are attempting the exact same thing. It therefore follows that trying to stand out from competitors gets tricky.

Those interested in reaching millennials need to realize that the key to mobile marketing isn’t about ads, no matter how snazzy they may be. It’s about apps. 

 

Why Millennials Matter 

Wondering why millennials matter in the first place? According to a study by Oracle, 85 percent of people ages 18 to 34 fit the “Millennial” label, and currently own a smartphone. This sizable chunk of the population bought a whole lot of smartphones in the past year, rising 23 percent in 2014 from the previous year. This indicates that millennials are not only using smartphones, but that interest in the devices is increasing. 

 

Their Mobile Activity

So what do millennials use their smartphones for? A wide range of things, according to Oracle. This includes paying bills, using social media, researching local businesses, and more. Millennials use their apps for the majority of these activities--for example, the social media juggernaut Instagram is an app. Oracle notes the top three reported uses regarding apps are 1) uploading media content (75 percent), 2) product purchasing (74 percent), and transferring funds to a friend (61 percent). 

It was also reported that across all usage options, millennials went for smartphones over tablets two to one. 

 

Using Apps Effectively 

The main proverbial road block regarding apps and the brands that utilize them is the near-constant maintenance and development. While not exactly cheap, it’s still very possible to utilize apps and see a return on investment. Check it out: 

  • Performance Over Features: Go for performance instead of features, as poor performance and speed are the main reasons millennials eskew apps. 
  • Account/Money Management: If possible, provide user accounts and or money management through your app. Millennials are huge fans of using apps to make purchases and deal with billing. 
  • Sharing is Caring: Share deals, discounts, event information, and other fun stuff on your apps, but don’t go overboard. While millennials enjoy receiving regular app updates, they don’t enjoy being inundated. Think of how often websites and social media channels provide updates and ensure you don’t exceed them. 

Wrap-Up

If your brand isn’t as hip in the app department as you’d like, don’t despair. Find ways of utilizing existing apps to your mobile marketing advantage, or try partnering with other companies and their subsequent apps to improve your audience’s experience. 

 

 

June 10, 2015

SMS is Preferable to Messaging Apps, Says Survey

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Sure, numerous messaging apps have cropped up in recent years, with the Facebook Messaging app being the most popular. Yet despite the rise in messaging apps, many prefer the classic text message option. According to a new survey conducted by RingCentral, most prefer SMS to messaging apps, and 80 percent of the 509 people surveyed said they used texting for business. RingCentral is a cloud-based communications system for SMBs with “desktop and mobile apps, SMS capabilities and a variety of additional features.” 

Most survey participants were between the ages of 25 and 34. Some 48 percent of respondents have one or two messaging apps on their phones, with 30 percent having three or four. This isn’t exactly shocking, as most don’t want their phones cluttered with a bunch of messaging apps they don’t use. Several (41 percent) used two messaging apps regularly, though 36 percent of people surveyed said they didn’t feel overwhelmed by using more than one method for checking their messages every day.  

As far as the actual messaging apps go, Facebook is the favorite, followed by WhatsApp and Snapchat.  

The survey also looked at how many texts participants sent and received per day, how long they go without responding to a text, and why they preferred text messages to IM. Most said they send and receive between one and 20 messages every day, respond to messages two to 11 minutes after receiving them, and prefer traditional texting because it’s the simpler, easier, faster option. About 72 percent of participants clearly favored texting. 

Arguably more direct, traditional texting is much less difficult to ignore or miss than messaging apps. And while 80 percent of survey participants said they used texting for business, email is still widely considered the more professional option. Conducting business over IM is perceived as too casual and personal.  

“This employee feedback in our survey suggests the dire needs for companies to adopt the right business communication tools, policies and procedures to empower texting, calling, messaging, and online meetings—through more efficient communication platforms—at work,” RingCentral’s Carolyn Shmunis wrote on the company blog. “As new communication preferences emerge, employees and employers must devise a system that prevents communication overload, while enabling efficient communication both internally and externally. Preparing employees with the right tools to call, text or message one another should remain a top priority to help workplace productivity and efficiency.” 

Shmunis also noted that the survey takeaway is very clear: Texting may be the preferred option to IM, however it’s still important for businesses to “be better well-equipped to communicate with all modes of communication effectively.” 

 

May 25, 2015

How to Nurture Customer Relationships with Mobile Marketing

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Lifecycle marketing refers to existing-customer marketing based on relationship status. This is even more essential in regards to SaaS customers, who renew their subscriptions if they truly love the brand and what said brand does for them. If your customers are SaaS, providing continual value is imperative to avoid unsubscribing issues. 

Nurturing customer relationships is about treating each sector or demographic differently, i.e. catering to their specific needs. With that in mind, check out a few excellent mobile tactics designed to help maintain relationships with customers: 

 

Text Reminders

Sending texts to customers keeps your business fresh in their minds, but be careful not to overdo it. Think alerts about special promotions and discounts, opportunities to receive more information about product updates, etc. 

 

Sweepstakes

Winning free stuff never gets old, and offering customers the chance to win a valuable product or service helps them feel part of your community and increases the chances of them “talking up” your brand, such as through social media outlets. 

 

Surveys and Polls

A way to obtain quick feedback from customers, set up surveys and polls so customers can respond instantly via mobile devices. By you wanting their feedback, they’ll feel appreciated, which helps build brand loyalty. It’s also a great way to get to know your customers better. 

 

Social Integration

As previously touched on, social media platforms provide an excellent way to engage customers and develop a dialog. Take full advantage of customers’ willingness to discuss your brand over social media by making it easy for them to comment, share, and post about your business. 

 

Push Notifications

Location-based mobile marketing technology is increasingly utilized, as helping customers buy something they want at the right time cannot be emphasized enough. When customers are within reach of your location, try sending texts about special promotions and discounts. 

 

Loyalty Programs

Offering promotions that provide real value to your existing customers is yet another way to ensure they patronize your business again and again. Make it even more worth customer while by offering benefits for referring friends or recommending your products and services over assorted social media platforms. Take it another step further by enticing VIP customers with the chance to enter your “insider group.” Your most loyal brand advocates, provide such customers with your very best promotions and discounts...they’ll definitely come back for more.  

Determining your mobile ROI isn’t terribly difficult so long as you keep track of how many customers respond to your messages and what they spend on your brand on average. This results in a solid demographic and a psychographic understanding of your customers, which is always helpful in regards to future campaigns.