SMB Marketing Tips

190 posts categorized

July 29, 2014

How to Text From Your Laptop

Depositphotos_28060889_xs

There are a variety of ways to send a text message from your laptop. Of course, you must have the recipient’s phone number and a connection to the internet. Now, once that’s established, start texting… And the best part is: there is no fee for you to send a single text message through the internet. (Standard messaging rates to apply to recipients though.)

Here are several ways that you can send a text message from your laptop:

1)    Send a text message from your email account.

If you know the recipient’s cell phone service provider, enter the recipient’s number the field where you would ordinarily enter a his or her email address. Next, you’ve got to couple the number with the proper domain name, depending upon the recipient’s mobile phone provider. The domain suffixes for various companies are as follows:

-        T-Mobile: @tmomail.net

-        AT&T: @text.att.net

-        Sprint: @messaging.sprintpcs.com

-        Verizon: @vtext.com

Verizon is especially versatile. If you use the suffix @vzwpix.com, you can also send photos and video over the internet. To recap: the recipient’s email address should read something like 9876543210@vzwpix.com, if you were sending a picture message to the phone number (987) 654-3210. If the recipient replies, the response will come back to your email address.

2)    Send a text message from a provider website.

Both Verizon and AT&T allow you to send texts to recipients, provided you have an account with them. Just sign in to your My Verizon Account (http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/myverizonlp) or your My AT&T account (https://www.att.com/olam/passthroughAction.myworld) and you will be able to send text messages from your laptop. T-Mobile also offers text messaging capabilities, but only to recipients that are T-Mobile customers (https://my.t-mobile.com/Login/). Check with your provider to see if they offer this, and be sure to note if you are restricted to their network.

3)    Send a text message through a free SMS website.

There are websites dedicated to sending text messages over the internet. It may be best for you to Google which websites you would prefer to use – there are a great deal of them to choose from. I recommend these three:

-        Send SMS now (www.sendsmsnow.com)

-        Ez Texting (www.EzTexting.com)

-        Txt2day (www.txt2day.com)

Many of the free SMS sites, however, may require you to sign up for service with them, and/or provide an email address with which to receive responses to your text messages. But this is a small price to pay for the ability to send free texts. Plus, these online SMS services will allow you to send bulk messages to thousands of recipients at once, after uploading a contact list.

Imagine the possibilities! You could send dozens and dozens of free text messages – right from your laptop. If you have a curated message to send to several recipients, you may want to consider one of these methods to reach out to customers. And if you can send them a text with a call to action worth responding to, those recipients will more than likely text you back.

July 25, 2014

Push Techniques & Your Mobile Marketing Strategy

Depositphotos_36608799_xs

Cell phones are rarely out of reach of their owners. For mobile marketing campaign managers, the question isn’t ‘can we reach consumers via their smartphone’ but rather, ‘how can we best reach individual consumers via their smartphone.’

Most successful mobile marketing campaigns use push notifications, SMS messaging or a combination of both. Each has it’s own set of pros and cons, which vary according to industry. Deciding when to use push notifications versus SMS is one of the key decisions you’ll make when devising a mobile marketing strategy.

Push notifications can yield a decisive ROI when smartly executed. Data from tech startup Urban Airship indicates that push notifications can prompt a 540% increase in daily app opens and a 30% increase in social media sharing. If you’re looking to communicate information and updates about a product to existing app customers, push notifications are where it’s at.

According to data collated by Responsys, 68% of people who download a brand’s app opt in to receive push notifications, but their power goes beyond apps. It’s true that most push notifications are delivered to mobile devices, but they are expanding to reach desktops, e-readers – even car dashboards. Some analysts predict that by 2020, the number of web-connected devices will reach 75 billion. With an average of ten points-of-internet-access per person, champions of the push notification are salivating at the possibilities.

It’s not all wine and roses. Like SMS messaging, push notifications should be used sparingly for maximum impact. Remember, notifications can be switched off. And unlike SMS, users don’t even need to unsubscribe in order to stop receiving them. Diehard app lovers are notoriously fickle; once the number of apps they use reaches a critical mass, they become more inclined to demote their least favorite. Avoid bombarding customers with notifications and you’re less likely to fall prey to a push cull. To minimize the number of users switching off, the trick is to walk that fine line between remaining on someone’s radar, and simply irritating them.

Bear in mind too that smartphone penetration is deep but they’re not the only game in town. A third of Americans own cell phones that are not smartphones. That’s a significant market. Those consumers can’t use apps, ans SMS is the only way to reach them, so if the bulk of your target audience is yet to adopt a smartphone, forget about push notifications and concentrate your mobile marketing strategy on SMS.

An effective mobile marketing strategy is all about balance. Balance between push notifications and SMS messaging. Balance between apps and mobile friendly content. Walking that tightrope is the difference between getting noticed and shouting to an empty room.

 

July 22, 2014

3 Data Driven Tips for Your Mobile Marketing Campaign

Depositphotos_22079193_xs
 

In 2013, mobile e-commerce was valued at $43 billion, and mobile traffic comprised nearly half of all website visits during the first quarter of 2014. It’s no wonder mobile marketing campaign managers are investing more and more in mobile marketing tactics that not only boosts their ROI, but also gathers data to help them create even better campaigns in the future.

Harrying all this impressive data into an effective mobile marketing strategy is no mean feat. There are a few things you can do to leverage the power of all the mobile usage data flying around into a positive marketing plan. Sticking to the numbers gathered by recent E-Commerce Pulse research, here are some truly data driven ideas for your next mobile marketing campaign:

Be Direct

Direct traffic is the most significant source of sales for mobile, with close to a third of all sales coming from shoppers converting while on their device. Increasingly, users are bypassing search and heading straight for the source – particularly on mobile devices with a wide range of helpful apps. To optimize this potential, be sure that your landing pages (at least) are all mobile friendly, and that the checkout process is as smooth as possible.

Don’t Forget SEM

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is thought to be responsible for 24.8% of tablet conversions during 2013. But it drives little more than half that amount on mobile – a reflection of the challenges inherent to small screen devices. On the one hand, you might think it’s not worth bothering with something that offers such a low conversion rate, but how about some blue sky thinking here? Why not up the ante: make your mobile user experience so easy that those conversions start hitting.

Social: Small but Significant

On mobile, social accounts for more orders than on desktop or tablet (68% of Facebook time and 86% of Twitter time is spent on mobile, according to the Wall Street Journal). Nevertheless, the overall sales earned, owned and paid via social media is still a small share of all mobile orders, so your mobile marketing campaign should take this into account. Social channels function more as an brand awareness generator, and a touchpoint for your business, rather than a primary point of sale, so choose your tracking metrics with this in mind. 

The mobile e-commerce market is poised to hit $50 billion in sales this year, so it’s increasingly important that retailers continue to invest in mobile marketing budgets. By gathering data from as many individual platforms as possible, you can create a single, ‘joined up’ brand experience across all platforms.

July 21, 2014

3 Effective Negative Marketing Strategies

Depositphotos_21043995_xs

Though it must undoubtedly be tempered by positivity and come attached with something of real value to the consumer, ‘negative marketing’ can be one of the most compelling ways to engage an audience. Whether it’s self-effacement, common enemies, or simply a list of the wrong way to go about things, spinning the ever-sunny face of web and mobile marketing into a scowl can work wonders for driving traffic.

Almost every industry should consider using it as part of their mobile marketing tactics, but many companies are hesitant to adopt such a potentially risky strategy. Last week we looked at the reasons why negative marketing, when done right, is so effective. Today, examine a few specific negative marketing methods…

1) Negative Titles

One only has to spend five minutes looking at clickbait headlines that pepper the web to spot two common patterns. One tactic is something we like to call ‘Inducing Incredulity’ – those titles that read ‘You Won’t BELIEVE What Happened After This Cat Ate Spaghetti’ or ‘This Free Weight Loss Method is HATED By Doctors.’ The pot of gold promised at the end of those link rainbows is always profoundly empty, and you’re left kicking yourself for trusting any content with such a profligate attitude to capital letters.

The other common – and far superior - approach to headlines is to present articles from a negative angle. Let’s say there’s a news piece about crime statistics in the United States, and you have a choice of two headlines: i)’Most Crime-Free Cities’ or ii)’Worst Cities for Crime’ – the content is precisely the same, but guess which title will generate the most clicks? It works just as well for lifestyle advice articles. Instead of ‘How to Roast the Perfect Chicken’ go for ‘How to Get Roast Chicken Wrong’. It may not be the most flattering comment on human nature, but the fact is, negative headlines translate into more clicks.

2) Shared Experiences

Creating brand loyalty relies on bonding with your audience, and one way to do this is by sharing negative experiences with them. If you can tap into an emotional touchpoint in an unexpected way, your reader will think of you as less of a corporate powerhouse and more of a friend. This is an especially effective mobile marketing strategy to launch your campaign with, as it puts you on an even footing with consumers, letting them know you share their pain. However, once you’ve created that bond based on shared negative experiences, it’s important to shift the tone to more positive, solution-oriented content.

3) Self Effacement

Nobody likes a braggart. That’s as true for businesses as it is for individuals, and whilst every company needs to ‘big themselves up’ in some way, a touch of self-deprecation is a really attractive way to get attention. Sharing your mistakes will make you seem more human, plus, if you do make a slip up, you can be the first to condemn yourself (before the blogosphere pounces). As long as your product or service is unimpeachable, you can afford to poke a little fun at your logo, CEO, or recent advertising campaign. 

July 19, 2014

From Zero to Hero: How Mobile Revolutionized Planet Marketing

Depositphotos_7629468_xs
 

Mobile marketing has gone stratospheric since the advent of the smartphone, but it’s been around in some form or another for more than 20 years. SMS messaging gave marketers a whole new channel to pursue during the 90s, when cell phone ownership first became widespread. Now, with text messages the most commonly read form of communication, advertisers are cautiously rediscovering the possibilities of SMS marketing.

But mobile marketing is about much more than SMS. The smartphone age has seen to that by putting the power and connectivity of a desktop computer into the palms, pockets and handbags of almost everyone in the western world. Some inroads were made into serious, non-SMS mobile marketing tactics during BlackBerry’s first flush of success in the early noughties, but when the first iPhone hit stores in 2007, marketing execs really sat up and began to take notice. 

As developers clamored to create apps to go along with Apple’s devices, the first wave of modern mobile marketing tactics began to take shape. The focus was very much on volume, and publishers relied largely on getting high app store chart rankings in order to gain visibility. Marketing efforts were all about short-term gains, with the main objective to generate as many downloads as early as possible in order to climb the charts. Quantity reigned supreme over quality.

These early years of app/mobile marketing were dominated by incentivized downloads – something Apple continued to allow until April 2011, despite the obvious credibility problems. Tracking performance was problematic. Platform regulations were loose, and developers took full advantage; it was essentially a land grab, the Old West of app and mobile marketing. 

By 2012, developers began thinking about the possibilities of quality and performance tracking. CPI-based campaigns gathered steam and, and better quality tracking was sought. For their part, Apple tightened its rules, clamping down on people accused of gaming the chart system by using bot farms to generate inauthentic downloads.

Around the same time, publishers became more data-focused, integrating in-app analytics software to collect metrics like usage, engagement, retention and monetization potential. There was a growing focus on high-quality user experience – but mostly with the objective of retaining customers for the medium-term.

That all began to change over the last 18 months, as a new climate took hold in the tech world. The shift is now overwhelmingly moving in the direction of stellar quality, as mobile marketing campaign managers realize that acquiring new users, even for a pittance, is not sensible unless they are retained, engaged, and monetized. Against that backdrop, some unlikely transactions have taken place – such as the $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook – but there is no doubt that the app world has raised it’s game. With GPS technology and other location-based tools fast improving, the future of mobile marketing is unpredictable, but undeniably exciting.

 

 

July 17, 2014

Mobile to Surpass Print Advertising in the UK

Depositphotos_23995033_xs
 

According to a forecast by eMarketer, mobile advertising spending will soon overtake traditional print ads. The report predicts mobile spending to grow by a staggering 96% this year, hitting £2.02bn. That’s still a shade behind the forecast print spend of £2.06bn, but the report anticipates mobile ad spend will be worth £4.5bn in 2016. The UK’s total digital advertising market is forecast to be worth £7.25bn by the end of this year, growing to £8.64bn by 2016.

This rapid growth reflects the widespread adoption of secondary mobile devices used in conjunction with smartphones. By 2018, 50% of Brits are expected to own an iPad, Kindle or other tablet.

The eMarketer report states: 

“Continued robust growth in the mobile channel is driving the bulk of [overall] digital ad growth in the UK. The dramatic growth of mobile and video ad expenditures will boost digital ad spending throughout the forecast period.”

This “mobile mushroom” is showing no signs of letting up. The numbers are truly dramatic: compare the £7.25bn valuation put on the market today with the £83m from four years ago and you get an idea of just how seismic this shift is. Mobile advertising will account for nearly 30% of all digital ad spending in 2014, according to the report.

So what’s prompted such an explosion in mobile marketing campaign spending? Most analysts agree that, in the UK at least, a strong economy, with the pound ringfenced from the worst effects of the Eurozone crisis, has instilled confidence in consumers. Plus, the efficacy of mobile marketing tactics are easy to track compared with traditional channels, causing advertisers to turn away from print (the report also predicts that the newspaper and magazine market will lose £276m in ad spend between 2014 and 2018).

A similar story is playing out on this side of the pond, with mobile spending accounting for 22.5% of all digital ad investments in 2013. A study conducted last year – also by eMarketer – indicated worldwide growth of mobile web ad spending had exceeded 100% by the year’s end, with mobile accounting for 15.2% of digital ad dollars spent globally.

The implications for your mobile marketing strategy are clear. Firstly, track the results of your print and mobile marketing campaign. Secondly, compare and contrast the success rates of your digital campaign and your traditional print campaign. If recent analysis is correct, you’ll find more and more consumers are turning to mobile to browse commercial prospects. Once that happens, you can adjust your budget accordingly, and start reaping the benefits of mobile.

July 15, 2014

Six of the Worst: Mobile Marketing Rookie Errors

Depositphotos_35768339_xs

When marketing to mobile users, just be smart. Check out this quick list of the worst mobile marketing errors and prove you’re not a rookie.

1)Overlooking Mobile Limitations

Your smartphone is not a PC or a Mac. You’ve got no mouse, and no printer. There’s a small screen and an even smaller keyboard. Data can be slow and it costs money, so don’t inundate the mobile user with GIFs and content streams. The key is to be creative with what you got: mobile users will appreciate it.

2)Not Focusing on Mobile Capabilities

Your smart phone is better than a PC or a Mac in some ways. It’s a phone with text messaging and email. It’s a video camera and player; it takes pictures and plays music. It can tell where you are and when your next appointment is. And best of all, you can purchase anything you want with it. So utilize these capabilities in your marketing campaigns... or be left in the dust.

3)Confusing Mobile Users with PC Users

Mobile users don’t have time for downloads or site navigation. They need a good .mobi site catering to the device they are using. Give them quick access, relevant data, fast-paced service, and localized info. Eliminate too many words, images, downloads and clicks. And remember: less can much, much more.

4)Making Direct Connection Difficult

Communication over the data stream is great, but nothing beats a direct connection. Make it easy for consumers to contact you via telephone, and supplement your operation to allow for inbound calls. If you can’t afford to hire phone operators, try an interactive voice response system to receive your calls. Be sure to utilize chat and IM technology as well: a whole new generation of mobile users is consuming this form of communication like wildfire.

5)Underestimating Privacy

Mobile consumers are more concerned than ever with personal privacy. Your mobile marketing strategy must follow all regulations when collecting info about mobile users. Always ask permission. Give links to privacy policies on your site and within all of your ads. Don’t abuse the info you collect on your customers: if you make some privacy errors with several of your customers, you’re likely to lose a great deal of your customer base. No joke.

6)Overtargeting Users

This is a biggie. Consumers are getting pretty savvy about the info that businesses collect about them. Since marketers track shopping trends and navigation trends, the marketing messages can become super personalized. Group your customers into categories based on their similarities, and market to these groups accordingly – that way you aren’t spending too much on highly generic ads. Try marketing based on the device a given consumer uses, or perhaps location-based advertising. In any case, if you’re drunk on highly general mobile marketing, perhaps it’s time to start getting more personal.

 

July 11, 2014

The Pitfalls of Using Long Codes in your Mobile Marketing Campaign

Depositphotos_37892823_xs

Before we tear into long codes, let’s be clear: they have some useful capabilities outside of the United States. Long numbers create interactivity and an ongoing conversation between users and businesses, and the very best examples provide a truly premium experience for participants.

All well and good, but if your mobile marketing campaign is aimed squarely at users in the United States, the benefits of long codes are irrelevant. According to the Wireless Association, long codes may only be used for person-to-person messaging, and is not allowed for SMS blasts, time-based alerts or automated search.

For many businesses, these restrictions will simply prove too much to even attempt getting round them. The ethical demands of conducting a long code campaign that not only abides by the regulations but also gives an ROI means most marketers will stick with the tried and tested short code method. So why the big fuss about long codes?

In the United States, one of the trademark concerns of the mobile marketing industry – and the regulators that govern it – is consumer protection. Network carriers are held responsible by subscribers for unauthorized communication; they also have a legal obligation to minimize spam. Long codes are known as a ‘grey route’ to market, and attract unscrupulous businesses. Legit companies should stay well away. Until such time as long codes are officially allowed by U.S. carriers, the best advice is to leave them out of your mobile marketing strategy altogether.

Meanwhile, short codes are gaining traction in both domestic and foreign markets, despite being subject to financial constraints that other marketing channels are unencumbered by. Their popularity is down to the high success rate of SMS messaging as a method of engagement. In fact, the open and read rate of text messages is reckoned to be somewhere between 90% and 98%, depending on who you ask.

July 09, 2014

How to Make the Perfect SMS Pitch

Depositphotos_12696240_xs

Using SMS messaging in the most effective way requires an understanding of the singular properties of the medium. If you approach your text marketing campaign in the same way you would an email campaign, you’ll miss out on the many advantages of an SMS-focused strategy.

Perhaps the most important differentiator between email and SMS is the character limitations of the latter. If you’ve already engaged with social media via Twitter, you’ll understand the unique challenge of crafting a message in less than 140 characters. You may have an extra 20 characters at your disposal with SMS, but the same rules of clarity, brevity and levity apply to the creation of a good message.

But there is a key difference between a social media campaign and an SMS messaging campaign. Tweets don’t require opt-in subscribers, or incur even a minimal additional cost to the viewer. To engage with your texts, consumers have to give up their cell phone number and agree to receive messages. This is no mean commitment, and it demands a new standard of ethics and responsibility on the part of mobile marketers.

With an open-and-read rate of more than 90%, it’s worth getting your SMS strategy right from the start. If you fail to impress with your first message, subscribers will simply opt out. Hooking recipients with those first 160 characters they see is essential for the long-term survival of your mobile marketing campaign. Here, we offer a few pointers on making the perfect SMS pitch…

Be Relevant

You might have a large portfolio of services to offer a wide range of different consumers. The beauty of SMS lists is the ease with which you can ‘divide and conquer’ according to personal preference. Don’t waste that opportunity by viewing your contact list as a monolithic, static entity. Instead, view each phone number as an individual organism, with highly specific needs. If you run a hotel with a public restaurant, for instance, don’t send updates on room rates to someone who only signed up for meal deals.

Be Appropriate

Striking the right tone for your audience is one of the tricks of the SMS marketing trade. This will vary hugely depending on industry, but there are a few rules of thumb that apply across the board:

  • Don’t use text speak in an effort to appeal to a youth demographic, or simply to save precious space. Unless you are aiming purely for a tween crowd, it will come across as unprofessional at best, and incomprehensible at worst. Remember, many people dislike text speak, but nobody objects to proper English.
  • Having said that, your messages should be more informal than a letter or even an email. Strike a friendly but professional tone.
  • Avoid jargon. When working in a specific industry, it’s easy to get caught up with insider jargon, so remember who your audience is before rattling off a message containing a foreign acronym.

Be Link Friendly

In all likelihood, you have a lot more to say than you can possibly fit in a text message, so don’t forget to include a hyperlink to your website. View text as a gateway to your brand, and encourage recipients to click with a clear call to action.

Be Plugged In

Segmented mobile subscriber lists are an invaluable source of user information. You should be constantly tracking the analytics of your mobile marketing campaign to see what each subscriber likes or dislikes, and adjusting your messages accordingly. The more you seem to be speaking to each customer as an individual, the better your SMS pitch will be.

July 03, 2014

Six of the Best: Mobile Marketing Trends in 2014

Depositphotos_47641923_xs

Since 2010, the best practice for mobile marketers has been to interact with clients primarily through social media. Things have changed. Here are six of the best trends in mobile marketing for 2014:

1.Location Targeting

Location targeting has been around for quite some time now, but only recently has it been elevated to new capabilities. Location targeting has become much safer, commonplace, and convenient in the last year. And it’s getting better. As consumers continue to depend upon mobile devices that can find local products and services – when and where they need it – custom ads have been developed for these exact moments. Their activities are then recorded by marketers, so that the relevant information can be examined and tracked to appeal to consumers’ buying habits and movement patterns.

2.Programmatic Buying

Programmatic buying is basically the buying and selling of the consumer’s potential ad space. When a consumer sees an ad in the course of app use, in most cases that space has been won by the highest bidder. This service is getting new traction in the mobile marketing world: advertisers are able to summon historical intent side-by-side with profile data and behavioral data in real time. Forecasters expect programmatic buying to become the most common way to advertise to mobile users in 2015.

3.Wearable Tech

With the inauguration of Google Glass and Samsung Gear, mobile designers are blurring the lines where fashion meets technology. This giant leap forward has begun to provide businesses with new frontiers to claim in the territory of wearable tech. As many tech consumers have begun to embrace this new technology, marketers in turn have embraced their technological capabilities. Ideally, the seamless interactions inherent in these devices will allow advertisers to provide unique experiences for consumers.

4.Mobile Messaging

The ever-popular messaging apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp continue to garner a larger user base. Clearly, an increasing number of people prefer to use these apps to communicate rather than text messaging or calling each other. Apps of this nature allow for a multimedia user experience in real time, which appeals to a new generation of mobile users. Mobile marketers are preparing for the influx of new users upon these platforms, designing revolutionary messaging strategies for the future of text-based communication.

5.Mobile Currency

It’s not just about PayPal anymore. Since everyone has to have a smartphone today, we are beginning to see an increase in the usage of mobile wallets. The mobile phone has become the new way to pay instead of using cash or a credit card. The demand for advertising in this space is bound to increase based on user demand alone.

6.Video Demand

Mobile video viewing has become very common due to faster wireless networks, improved technology, and an increase in data plans. Ads for this medium are likely to follow suit in the next year. Evidenced by both Vine and Instagram’s incorporation of video, as well as the aforementioned commonality of mobile video, it’s pretty safe to assume that this space will be a veritable gold mine for mobile marketers.

Within the past six months, the business of mobile marketing has undergone a revolution. The increase in mobile usage, cutting-edge tech, and the expanding consumer knowledge of mobile utility has broadened the ways in which marketers reach mobile users. It’s time to prepare for the wave of the future in mobile marketing.