SMB Marketing Tips

248 posts categorized

July 29, 2015

Marketing Has Gone Hyper Local

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When geo-targeting technology first began to emerge a few years ago, small regional businesses of all kinds were given the opportunity to market themselves to larger numbers of potential customers than ever before.

As a mobile marketing tool, geo-location was a gift to retailers looking to attract more walk-in business. It enabled businesses to target users to within a square foot, sending time limited discounts and special offers only to those people most likely to take advantage.

As region-specific mobile marketing tactics become more sophisticated, SMB owners have a dizzying array of options: beacons, GPS, location information garnered from previous interactions - they’ve all ushered in a new era of hyper-localized marketing. 

Such accurate technology is helping local businesses maximize efficiency on tight budgets. Even without geo-location, mobile marketing tactics are already the most cost-effective way to reach more people. With it, that cost-efficiency improves further still, granting small companies a way to reach the widest customer base they can realistically serve. 

It looks like an exciting future for targeted mobile marketing. The technology has already reached lofty levels of sophistication, but there are a few places it can go. Some mobile marketing analysts are looking towards pitching discounts according to what the weather’s doing. It’s certainly not relevant for every type of business, but bars serving cold drinks on an outside patio would love to know if it’s about to rain just before they’ve sent half-off mobile coupons. Other local data like traffic conditions could begin to play a role in geo-targeted advertising. 

One thing’s for sure: these tools are allowing creative, imaginative marketers to realize their wildest dreams without being thwarted by technological limitations. If the rapid rate of development continues at the same pace, mobile marketing tactics will look very different in a decade - exactly how different is anybody’s guess.

July 28, 2015

SMS Messaging: Conversation Before Apps

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Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art? For a GUI (Graphic User Interface) designer, that question is becoming more relevant as the nature of the mobile user influences app development—perhaps towards a post app world? 

That’s a scary thought for a GUI designer, or a developer who unintentionally overlooked the simple truth that text messaging is far and away the most commonly used feature on a smartphone. Almost 97% of all smartphones users engage in text messaging; this familiarity creates incredible potential for a new generation of text-based application that can solve any problem an app can solve, through a more convenient interface: the text screen. 

 

Text-Based Apps Are Nothing New

The above, however, is not a new revelation. In fact, some apps controlled exclusively via text or SMS messaging already exist. Magic, for example, can help you reserve a table, check a bank account, or buy a car, all via text between a user and a concierge (an actual human being) who assists with these requests. WeChat is another app that uses text to bypass traditional apps altogether—effectively creating a universal portal to all things mobile.

According to a recent study by Pew Research Center, across all age groups in the US, text messaging is the most popular feature used on a smartphone. In this way, life is beginning to challenge the artist; while app designers may have intended to make our lives easier by developing apps to meet out every need, at the end of the day, people are universally more comfortable texting—having a virtual conversation to get at what they want. 

There are some people, like Matt Galligan, co-founder of the news aggregation app Circa, that believe we’re headed towards an overhaul of basic software and design. Galligan feels that something called “MessageKit” will be Apple’s catchall for apps located in iMessage. Instead of opening different apps with different design characteristics and UI controls, all the apps would perform their same functions but via text command or queries inside a fluid conversation.  

Apple’s new iOS 9 has already made some considerable shifts in its latest version, one of which is prioritizing app content for Internet search queries made via mobile. While there’s nothing like “MessageKit” available quite yet, it’s an interesting theory that attempts to recognize the user’s reality in a predominantly designer-shaped mobile world. 

One foreseeable drawback is that our familiarity with texting may causes people to use these services at inappropriate times. For example, texting while driving is already a major concern in densely populated areas. Additional text-based services may further encourage our desire for instant access, even behind the wheel.  

It’s ironic that an entire generation gets labeled as ‘less socially communicative’ because it’s always on smartphones, and yet, somehow, that same generation may bring society back full circle, where the digital dialect of texting is used to reinsert what was missing from our mobile lives: conversation. 

 

 

July 23, 2015

How to Design a Mobile-Friendly Website

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Creating a mobile-friendly website boils down to simplicity and elegance. You may already have a terrific website that you love, but you’re going to have to overhaul it if it doesn’t play nicely with mobile users. Essentially, a frustrated mobile website visitor is a soon-to-be former customer. Here at EzTexting, we want to help you take the guesswork out of mobile design. With that in mind, we’ve outlined several key design concepts for your new mobile website:

  • Simplicity is Key. Don’t bury your mobile website visitor in banner ads, images, and other content. On a desktop monitor, there is room to spare for descriptions and bios, but on a mobile device, you have to streamline your content. Keep your info in the form of short and easy-to-read blurbs. Additionally, you should make all calls to action more available with finger-sized buttons, and limit the number of fields that a mobile user might have to fill out.
  • Concision Within Context. Keeping your mobile website tight requires a foreknowledge of how your customers intend to use your site. Pay attention to mobile users’ needs, which are often quite different from the needs of desktop users. Take the time to determine why they are visiting: Are they booking reservations? Looking for a phone number to click-to-call? Or are they gathering information about your company? Whatever the case, make the options your customers desire easily available, and eliminate images (or even entire pages) that are extraneous to your mobile website.
  • Responsive Design. Likely a familiar concept, responsive design allows a programmer to adjust style sheets to behave differently when a mobile user accesses your site. This is the perfect solution for businesses that want to tweak their existing design for mobile usage.
  • Design for Screen Size, and Beta Test. To ensure a seamless mobile experience, design your website with the typical mobile screen size in mind. Buttons (and spaces between buttons) must be large enough for the average user to tap effectively. Create copy that is clear for each blurb, and again, don’t overcrowd pages with content or images. Finally, test and test and test again. Beta test your mobile website across all types of devices: Androids, iPhones, and tablets of all sorts. Each kind of phone will have a different filter with which to view your website; be sure to troubleshoot all of those bugs that pop up before unveiling your new site. 
  • Don’t Forget Your Brand! Sometimes mobile website designers are altogether too concise, forgetting to include branding images, slogans, and other elements of your company’s identity. If your page is getting a little overcrowded, don’t fret; with a little creativity, you can incorporate your logos and style concepts into your design without negatively affecting the mobile user’s experience.

The above suggestions should help you get the ball rolling on improving your mobile user experience. When you are ready to take your business a step further into the mobile universe, give us a call at EzTexting. We’re at the ready to enhance your mobile capabilities, and we’re looking forward to hearing from you!

 

July 22, 2015

How to Drive High Quality Traffic through Mobile Advertising

 

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Advertising is the shape-shifter of the business world. It has gone through more changes and taken on more forms than anyone could count. 50 years ago, advertising consisted of radio, print, and concrete materials. Pens and nail files with business information were the name of the game to gain exposure. Since then, as we all know, the business world has become more interconnected than ever, with your potential consumer only a click away. Customers hold the buying power in their hands and can take that power with them, wherever they go, at any time of day. I’m talking about the power of mobile.

So how do you achieve the high quality traffic, boosting your business, and creating long-term clients through mobile marketing? Well, the truth is, the answer is different for everyone. However there are some key points, a mobile mapping blue-print to follow, that can lay the ground work for gaining the visibility, quality, and conversion rate you desire.

 

Knowing Where Your Consumers Spend Their Time

Mobile marketing should be thought of as an opportunity to target potential customers with quality advertising content that can be personalized and optimized to each consumer base, instead of settling for quantity. However, engaging in quality advertising through mobile starts with knowing where to find that potential consumer base.  

Mass media marketing platforms like public radio, TV commercials, newspaper, or even print magazine ads might sound good, but they are only a nostalgic means to a non-profitable end. Smartphones, tablets, laptops—these platforms are the new launching pads for quality targeting and customer access. In an article by Venturebeat.com, it was revealed that consumer’s time spent on digital is now 46% compared to 36% on TV. The digital age has empowered the individual. It’s time to listen and understand how younger generations are consuming information and making buying decisions in order to even begin crafting quality mobile advertising efforts to successfully market your product or service in today’s world.

 

Get Responsive

First, is your business equipped for mobile platforms? It can be an immediate turn-off for potential consumers to find an outdated, unresponsive website. From design, screen size, and having an interactive, engaging mobile site—there is nothing more important to quality mobile advertising than being able to grab the consumer’s attention within the first few seconds.

 

Use Every Medium 

Part of grabbing and retaining a consumer’s attention means expanding the scope of your mediums in use. Videos, pictures, gifs, memes, blogs, social media campaigns, testimonials, surveys, questions, contests, best of lists—your business’s mobile presence can’t just be about a website and paid advertising (although that’s part of it); it should cover all the current hotspots where people are spending their time.

 

Remain Flexible

In the end, your philosophy on the business’ mobile advertising efforts should always remain open and flexible. Gain as much knowledge as you can on how to maximize your mobile budget, where to utilize paid advertising, why and if developing an app is important to your business (spoiler alert it is), and what programs (Facebook and Google Admob, etc.) are the best when it comes to utilizing paid mobile media advertising. 

The options in mobile advertising are limitless, as are the potential gains. Even though the digital age has empowered consumers, it has allowed businesses of all sizes and shapes to reach and engage consumers like never before. Mobile advertising is no longer the future—it’s the present, and it’s time to take notice.

July 09, 2015

MMS Mythbusters

Billions of rich media messages are sent and received every month, but Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) as a marketing tool remains widely misunderstood. Check out our infographic, MMS Mythbusters, to learn five common myths about MMS and uncover the truth behind these misconceptions. 

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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.