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126 posts categorized "SMB Marketing Tips"

April 17, 2014

Mobile Keywords: How They Work and When To Use Them

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In the context of mobile marketing, a “keyword” is not merely a search term, as it is when one thinks of Google and how potential customers find a commercial website on the internet. Rather, the use of  mobile keywords, by contrast, is a simple and highly effective strategy for engaging with consumers who have mobile phone access – by persuading such consumers to “opt in” to your consumer database (for future marketing), while simultaneously allowing consumers to take the lead in a conversation with you about your products or services.

Texting Keywords to Shortcodes

Here's how mobile keywords work: A company specializing in hair care products, for example, runs an advertisement for a product that aims at making hair more shiny and bouncy. One thing that this particular advertisement does is to invite consumers to text the keyword “shiny” to what is called a “shortcode” phone number, using their mobile phones (texting the keyword to, say, the phone number 12345). In return, the customer is told that she will receive a mobile coupon, which she may redeem simply by showing the message she's received to the cashier at the point of purchase. Thus, thanks to the mobile keyword campaign, not only has the consumer made a purchase; by initiating the text exchange, she's also agreed to “opt in” to the database of customers who have given permission to receive future promotions from the company. 

What the Consumer Gets

When employing a mobile keyword campaign, the text response that the customer receives can be a coupon, as in the previous example. However, it could also simply be a message that gives more information about some aspect of the company's services or products that connects to the chosen keyword – which should be a maximum of 25 alphanumeric, non-case-sensitive characters.

For instance, some colleges and technical schools have found it useful to get the attention of interested individuals by running ad campaigns asking prospective applicants to text a word like “info” or perhaps even just the name of the school to a shortcode. In return, potential applicants may receive information about a location-specific recruiting event—since automated responses may be customized by geography, for example, using GPS—or a link to a website that contains information about programs of study and how to apply.

The Return on Investment for Companies

One of the greatest things about mobile keyword marketing campaigns is the long-term return on investment that such campaigns offer. By waiting for consumers to respond to a specific invitation to initiate dialogue, businesses eliminate the risk of offending potential customers through more intrusive techniques, such as telemarketing, and thus lay the foundation for a positive rapport.

Once a consumer has “opted in,” his or her phone number is available not only for future marketing campaigns but also for ongoing follow-up, which may, for instance, involve sending the same customer a series of related messages after a certain number of days or months have passed. In much the same way that people today keep their mobile phones always nearby, thanks to mobile keyword marketing campaigns, your business need not ever be far from a customer's mind, either.

April 14, 2014

Text Marketing: Short Codes Vs. Long Codes

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When employing mobile marketing tactics, one must choose between using long codes and short codes. There are “pro”s and “con”s for each, regardless of which you use for your mobile marketing campaign:

Benefits of Long Codes (Some Questionable)

While long code per message fees are higher, the set-up and monthly costs make them ultimately more affordable. Messages can be sent internationally, and messages and calls can come from the same number. Their most appealing features, though, are also their biggest downfall: because no customer opt-in is required and set-up is quick and easy (due to the lack of a vetting process), abuse of long codes for spamming purposes runs rampant. Long code use over a U.S. carrier network is actually considered stealing because carriers are paid for the right to send texts via their networks.

Drawbacks of Long Codes

In addition to the problems already named above, long codes are hard to remember, don't support video or picture messaging, can't be used for billing, and are limited in speed to the number of messages per second that can be sent. There's also no option to make these free to end users. While short codes include an option to pay the cost up front instead of charging the consumer for use, this is yet another thorny issue that makes long codes problematic. 

However …

What it comes down to it, any message sent to a U.S. long code requires that the parties must be actual people. In theory, therefore, it's conceivable how, in an age when mobile devices are employed in ways once seemingly unimaginable, long codes could be used legitimately for applications involving more personal business exchanges, such as for financial, gaming and dating sites.

Short Code Drawbacks

This is not to say that short codes don't carry their own sets of problems. First, short codes, for some companies, are prohibitively expensive, with set monthly costs hovering around $500. Short codes must be individually activated for each country, as well as approved by each carrier. Short codes also cannot be called.

Short Code Advantages

Just as the assets making long codes convenient also make them problematic, the features making short codes a hassle are simultaneously what they have going for them. First, they require a vetting process that can take weeks – which also means they are less susceptible to spam and thus offer consumers better protection. The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and other regulatory bodies have put consumer protection rules into place requiring companies using short codes to ask permission before making contact. They must provide, in exchange, a certain amount of value. This benefits not only consumers but also businesses, since it establishes a much better rapport with consumers. It also doesn't hurt that businesses can – and do – make this exchange free to end users. Short codes are also more memorable, allow for thousands of messages to be sent per second, and can be used for billing.

The full advantages and disadvantages of short and long codes is a complicated issue, further complicated by the fact that carriers often change their capabilities and rules (as well as the fact that companies lack resources to keep track of – and test – each update).  Short codes, with a few noted exceptions, are the way to go in the U.S., however; and the very miniscule amount of text spam that most of us receive is a true testament to their efficacy.

April 11, 2014

Client Retention Through Text Marketing

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Mobile marketing strategies that include SMS messaging are a great way for spas, hair salons, doctors' offices and other enterprises that rely on a steady stream of appointments to retain clients between visits. As many professionals who have embraced the practice can already tell you, despite the fact that SMS text messaging can be fully automated, the truth is that patients, guests, and clients will still walk away with the feeling that you personally took the time to reach out to them. Therefore, automated texts are an effortless way to generate great feelings of customer loyalty (and to help keep that feeling alive).

Boosting Appointments

One of the most obvious types of automated text messages to send to clients in order to keep them thinking about your brand outside of time spent in store or office is the reminder or appointment confirmation text. The added bonus is that this thoughtful correspondence will also lead to fewer missed appointments. Twelve weeks, for instance, is an awfully long time for a loyal customer not to visit her hair salon; therefore, an automated text reminder (perhaps with a special promotion attached to it) sent to someone you haven't seen for a few weeks could be just exactly the nudge such a client needs. Such a moment is also the perfect opportunity to offer your guest the option of texting or emailing an appointment request, further boosting the efficiency of how your company runs and potentially filling up your calendar with profitable business. 

Other Occasions for SMS Texting

Additional reasons and occasions to send out promotional texts are all around, if you just pay attention. SMS messaging can be used for special holiday promotions (Mother's Day, Valentines Day, etc.) In addition, they can be used to remind customers how much they love your business, while also extracting key information from them through customer surveys that give you insight into ways to improve service (and also give you some buzz-generating rave reviews to re-post on Facebook – with customer permission, of course!)

You don't need a holiday in order to celebrate a special event. If your staff members have created their own walking team, for instance, for an upcoming fundraiser, then automated text messages to your customer base are the perfect way to solicit donations and put your small business in a really positive light among members of the local community. You can also keep things light by engaging customers with fun survey questions.

A Few “Don't”s

With all of that said, what you want to avoid doing is overwhelming clients by sending automated texts to the same individuals too often (i.e., more than twice a month at the very most). Also, be certain that those receiving the texts have opted in; never spam, hack, or buy phone numbers. All you'll get in return is a some terrible publicity and potential legal ramifications.

Also, keep messages short. Remember: these are text messages, not the great American novel. Last but not least, do respond to direct questions that your texts generate from those clients receiving the message. After all, hearing back from clients is great because it means they're engaged; you've reached them! Don't go to all of that trouble just to turn right around now and ignore them.

Use SMS texting to engage with and retain customers in an appropriate way that creates value for your clients.

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!

 

 

 

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 14, 2014

Weekend CTRs Significantly Higher

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Recent research comparing click-through rates (CTRs)  found mobile device users much less likely to click on ads during the week as opposed to the weekend. Findings published on AppFlood claims click-through rates are 30% higher on weekends after analyzing some 300 millionmobile ad impressions in the United States between August and September 2013.

Click volume is reportedly the same on Saturdays and Sundays, beginning around 8am and continuing at a steady rate until about 6pm. Weekday clicks go up once the workday is over, or around 6pm. Click rates on weekdays tend to decrease throughout the evening, but pick back up around 11pm, indicating people are looking at their mobile device screens before bedtime. Differences in mobile and desktop/laptop usage were also evident, with mobile use remaining fairly steady throughout the week and weekend, particularly around 7pm to 9pm on weekdays. Desktop/laptop use is less frequent on weekends, and after 5pm, or commute time, on weekdays.

So why the dip in CTR on weekends with laptops/desktops, but not mobile devices? A possible explanation is people use their laptops all day at work, and can’t even think of going near one on weekends. This eschewing of laptops doesn’t necessarily translate to smartphones, as people generally have their phones on them at all times and use them to look up any number of things, from show times to restaurant directions to answers to common questions. A mobile phone is usually on and ready to use at all times, whereas people have to sit down and turn on a laptop or desktop, which can seem arduous when trying to enjoy the weekend.

An effective mobile marketing strategy is one that researches and utilizes underlying motivators that cause people to click on an ad, read a blog or follow a link. Marketing strategists can therefore use CTR patterns to create engaging campaigns that cater to specific audiences. For example, do people appear to click on a travel company’s vacation ads on Saturdays during the day? Create mobile marketing solutions that cater to such prospective clients. What about those who click on local attraction ads when browsing for fun weekend ideas on a Thursday or Friday night? No matter what the product or service, a mobile marketing strategy must pinpoint its target audience and how best to cater to it.

If you’re a mobile marketing strategist looking to maximize campaign output, review your company’s CTR numbers and create solutions that target your audience at certain times on specific days. Understanding when and why your audience is most active is one of the cornerstones of a successful mobile marketing strategy! Good luck!

 

 

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.

 

March 05, 2014

5 Best Practices for Retaining Your Opt-In SMS Marketing List

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Okay, so you amassed a substantial SMS marketing list, but what about retaining said list? After all, creating a list is one thing, but keeping it is something else! Check out five of the best practices for retaining your opt-in marketing list and use them to create effective SMS marketing campaigns:

 

1. Positive Disruption

It seems everyone is on their phones these days, and while getting bombarded with advertisements is never fun, receiving exclusive offers, coupons and discounts through text is! Ensure you’re sending customers discounts they can only receive through their phones as opposed to email or snail mail. Most people will be delighted to receive a coupon for 10% off their next vehicle oil change or an alert regarding “big sale” dates and times.

 

2. Market Research

As with most things, it’s important to do a little research before creating a text message campaign. Decrease your opt-out rate significantly by learning what your customers want to hear and receive, which will certainly help you create a much more effective SMS marketing strategy. Learn what’s worked in the past and what hasn’t, what customers are really looking for from a business like yours, and any other helpful information you and your team can use.

 

3. Time Zone and Timing

Successful SMS marketing campaigns pay attention to timing...and time zones! Besides researching the best times of day to send SMS alerts, remain aware of customer time zones. Sending messages at 6am on a Sunday or 12pm on a Tuesday night is not going to help you retain your SMS marketing list, no matter how great the promotion or discount. Customers will appreciate time zone awareness, which will bolster your relationship with them and even help expand your brand via positive client reviews.

 

4. Ease of Mobile Experience

Always, always, always send customers easy-to-digest text messages that don’t require a lot of time and or external device use. For example, very few people are going to be interested in coupons they have to print, especially if they don’t have easy access to a printer! Create an effective text messaging campaign by sending customers deals and discounts with barcodes for easy scanning at the register or ones that otherwise don’t require a lot of work.

 

5. Monitor Opt-Out Rate

Finally, successful SMS marketing campaigns and strategies include monitoring customer opt-out rate. Look at what worked and piqued customer interest, as well as what didn’t work and resulted in opt-outs. This is an essential part of crafting your next text message campaign, so don’t forget to keep a weather eye on those rates! 

Keep these tips in mind and see if your next SMS marketing campaign isn’t light years ahead of your last one! Good luck, and stay creative!

 

March 01, 2014

How to Use Mobile Directories to Optimize for Local Search

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If you’re a local business relatively new to the world of mobile marketing, you will still be discovering new ways of leveraging consumer attention away from competitors. Perhaps you’ve just got a handle on your social media campaign, or you’ve optimized your website for common search terms, but you’re unsure where to turn next.

Equally as important – though oft-ignored – are online business directories. Each one acts as a conduit through which potential customers can access your service, so the more directories you add yourself to, the bigger your reach. You don’t need any particular technical expertise to get listed, just some time and effort, so adding yourself to as many business directories as possible should be a priority of your mobile marketing strategy.

As usual, the big players like Google, Yahoo and Yelp are a sensible place to start. Take a look at these fifty directories and add your business to as many as possible. But don’t limit yourself to the most commonly used directories – it’s a huge playing field populated by major brands, all packing a serious financial punch. Augment these listings with more localized directories by searching for ‘business directories Florida’ (or wherever you are situated). The smaller your operation is, the more specific you should be in terms of location; there is no point advertising your services to people all over your state if you can only serve customers within your county.

As easy as it is to achieve, getting listings in multiple directories can be time consuming, and not a little tedious. To speed up the process of filling out the same information on multiple forms, use Firefox’s neat add-on tool – it also helps you maintain consistency across all listings. Be sure to include a map of your store location in every directory that allows it. Don’t try to create your own personalized map – you can’t do better than Google Maps, which has the advantage of contextualizing your street address in a map of, you know, the world. Users are far likelier to engage with an embedded Google Maps image which they can click through to obtain directions.

Remember, 52% of all local searches are being done on mobile devices. If you haven’t climbed on board with a comprehensive mobile marketing strategy, you may have no idea how much business you are losing out on. Yes, SEO and social media are vital to your online presence, but directories are one of the most useful, easy-to-implement mobile marketing solutions around. Take a day out of running your local business to set up as many listings as possible – it’ll be worth it.