Social Media Marketing

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May 01, 2016

Apps vs. Mobile Site

 

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As a small business owner, you’ve probably wondered whether to focus on making your website mobile friendly or utilizing the skills of a talented app developer. Both offer mobile marketing strategy advantages in light of industry, budget, and target audience, yet considering the amount of conflicting advice floating around, deciding which one to go with is often challenging. 

In 2013 a Compuware survey found that 85 percent of consumers enjoy apps over mobile websites. However, this hardly means one is better than the other, or that there isn’t just as huge a market for mobile sites. It’s like saying a percentage of people prefer the beach to the mountains—there’s still plenty of reasons to market mountain-based attractions. 

The decision to go with apps over a mobile website or vice versa depends on your mobile marketing strategy and related tactics.

 

Mobile-Friendly Websites

A mobile-optimized website is essentially a responsive design that recognizes when a visitor is using a mobile device and then converts the site to a version that’s easy to read via mobile. Therefore, you don’t necessarily need to produce different or additional content for a mobile site, as you would have to for an app. This makes mobile marketing management a much more streamlined process, and allows you to focus on other aspects of your business, rather than concerning yourself with content all the time. 

Mobile websites arguably drive more traffic than apps, so consider your ultimate goals behind site use: are you looking to improve consumer loyalty, or increase revenue by expanding your customer base? A cross-channel site may be your best option depending on what you wish to accomplish. 

 

Apps

The main advantage of having an app for your business is that it lets you make excellent use of a tablet or smartphone’s hardware and native functionalities. Cameras, GPS, speedometers, gyroscopes, and other useful pieces of technology found on the vast majority of modern devices are easily worked into your app’s operation. 

Another advantage of apps is that they rarely require an internet connection to run. Most apps store data locally on a phone or tablet’s hard drive, so users may enjoy them even if no internet connection is available. For example, some news apps download and store content through a Wi-Fi connection so users may read about current events until the app is able to sync with another connection. 

App infrastructure and development tools are more sophisticated and user friendly than ever thanks to demand for app developers, with major operating systems offering a serious selection of frameworks for developers to work with. Most frameworks are free. 

 

Wrapping Up

Again, which one you decide to go with depends on what your ultimate marketing goals are, how big your budget is, and more factors. If you have the means and the employees to handle a mobile-friendly site and an app, why not try both and see if one offers more benefits to your company than the other. You also might find that your team is efficient enough to provide content to each channel, thus increasing brand awareness and reach. Whatever you decide, remember that it’s a very good idea to offer at least one of the two options to your target audience. 

April 17, 2016

Mobile Marketing and the Emoji Question

 

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New research indicates that mobile marketing campaigns are increasingly turning to emojis to make their messages pop. Marketing automation company Appboy surveyed close to 9,400 campaigns on Android and iOS platforms, and found emoji usage had increased more than seven-fold year-on-year, as of March 2016. The report found e-commerce marketers and retailers were the most likely businesses to use emojis in mobile marketing campaigns.

Why are mobile marketing managers using emojis? Simply put, it’s because the rest of us do, and it’s seen as an easy way to add some color and individuality to a campaign. With so much activity happening in the world of mobile marketing, it’s highly competitive and volatile; some 800 million users got their first smartphone last year alone. Another 600 million will join them this year.

With such vast numbers, it’s crucial for e-marketers to understand who they’re trying to reach, and with what kind of message. In this context, emojis become one contributing factor to the success of a mobile marketing campaign. Used well, they set the right tone for a brand image. 

 

Using Emojis

So how do you use them in the most effective way? One of the most common mistakes brands make is to use emojis in place of text, where text would communicate more effectively. Emojis should complement your written message, not replace it, so for your first campaign, try incorporating one or two relevant emojis. This will give you a chance to feel out your audience to see if they respond well to emojis. Not everyone does!

Remember too that a constant stream of unhelpful, if fun, messages will result in irritated customers opting out of your contact list or deleting your app. Don’t get over-excited with the new plaything and start barraging your user base. Stick to the mobile marketing strategy of only issuing messages when you have a special offer to promote, or other information that will be of genuine interest. Incorporate emojis into these, rather than trying to build a new mobile marketing campaign around emojis.

A recent BI Intelligence report takes a look at mobile marketing tactics such as emojis. One of the key findings was the importance of marketers leveraging different tactics according to demographic and audience size. It’s vital to respect the personal nature of mobile messaging, and be highly vigilant for over doing it. Emojis are a good example of mobile marketing tactics that can go wrong if misapplied, but work wonders when done right.

March 31, 2016

Is Twitter Stagnating?

 

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Twitter launched in 2006, and within a year fell into the “global phenomenon” category. The social media platform’s origin story is a bit muddled, thanks to the ousting of various creators, however the invention of the hashtag brought with it the chance to promote and comment on worldwide issues, interact with celebrities, emphasize brands, products, and services, and so much more. Yet, despite the changes Twitter made to the world of media, some argue the platform is stagnating, if not dying

Let’s take a look at why Twitter is faltering, including the issues with which chief executive and founding father Jack Dorsey is currently dealing: 

 

Losing Money

Twitter has been losing money for a while now. The social media juggernaut is currently on a $2 billion revenue run rate, and in 2015 it earned $1.4 billion but lost $539 million. The company reported that, in its last quarter, it lost $137 million on $502 million in revenue, with industry experts noting that the $2 billion rate isn’t going to do much. 

 

Not Enough Heavily Active Users

The social media platform has plenty of users, but there’s a decline in the number of people who tweet on a consist basis. Users aren’t taking the time to share the social media option with others and convince them to sign up, among other problems. Dorsey touched on the importance of helping people extract value from the service as soon as possible, which raises the issue of whether people are eschewing Twitter because it’s challenging to use or because there’s simply little interest. 

 

Slow User Growth

Another issue Twitter’s bigwigs are facing is a slowdown in user growth. The social media platform is subsequently not only losing money, but also keeping away investors. Twitter will launch new products and features in hopes of appealing to new users and investors, however current changes haven’t affected the slow user growth rate so far. 

 

Abuse Issue

Some point to Twitter as a tool for abuse or bullying. Late Night With Jimmy Kimmel’s ‘Mean Tweets’ segment is an example of this, as celebrities come on the show to read negative tweets about themselves, often with hilarious results. While this is the lighter side of the bullying that takes place on Twitter and other social media platforms, industry insiders say that the “abused have become the abusers,” resulting in an age of stagnation and numbness. 

 

No Longer Retaining Talent?

Peter Currie, Twitter’s lead independent director, recently commented during a conference call that Dorsey not only attracts talented people, but also keeps them. However, many of the talented folks Dorsey and his associates have hired are leaving the company. They view it as a sinking ship and put in their two weeks in order to work with companies where they can truly thrive. 

Dorsey is also a part-time CEO, which is seen as another big problem affecting the social media platform. 

Is Twitter on its way out? If so, which social media options will take its place? 

 

March 15, 2016

Facebook May Bring Back SMS Integration

 

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If you loved being able to message your Facebook friends without having to go through the site, you might have been bummed when Facebook pulled the functionality from Android phones almost three years ago.

The company did away with its Facebook Messenger App due to lack of interest on a broad scale. But now, thanks to a new application of which Android Police has obtained screenshots, it looks like you may once again be able to text your Facebook pals with the ease of opening up one phone or tablet app.

 

The Mysterious Messaging Application

Apparently, the mysterious app is a test application. Facebook has told The Verge it’s “testing the ability for people to easily bring all their conversations – from SMS and Messenger – to one place.” 

The app seems to bring a combination of functions and features, similar to those found in Google Hangouts, together to give users a simple way to send and receive SMS texts as well as Facebook messages.  

Facebook reps say that the test application will be an easy way to see SMS messages and respond to them, all in one place. Users will be able to identify in Messenger whether they want to access their SMS messages in the application, so that the messages they read frequently will be stored together.

 

Will Facebook Take Over How We Use SMS Messaging?

It appears that Facebook might want to take charge of how Android users read, send, and store their SMS messages. The company has recently launched support for its Android Messenger app that allows for multiple account integration. 

When Facebook first came out with its Messenger App in 2012, the social media giant said that it would not be possible for users to store texts or use the app’s features on the web version of its platform. However, this time, things might be different. Facebook hasn’t commented on whether or not the new Messaging App will come with the same restrictions, but we’re guessing that it might not – or at least that it will be more user friendly in terms of SMS integration, because the company will certainly want to take an aggressive stab at beating out Apple’s iMessage application that is already allowing seamless text coordination.

 

How Do You Get the New Messenger App?

Right now, select Android users are able to get the new Facebook Messenger App. To see if your device allows you to switch over to the new functionality of SMS integration, you can check for a “Change SMS App” option in Messenger’s settings. Facebook says that the feature is optional, so you absolutely don’t have to route all of your SMS messaging into this central location if you would rather not do so.

 

January 31, 2016

The Best Ways to Monetize Apps

 

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Knowing which monetizing strategy will work best for a mobile app is like trying to figure out what’s in the secret sauce atop your favorite burger. You can see bits and pieces of familiar condiments and spices, but when you try to make it at home, it’s never exactly the same. Maybe that’s because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, or secret sauce, for monetizing apps. 

As strange or cliché as this hamburger analogy sounds, it’s safe to say that most burger recipes are uniquely their own; and that’s typically the way all successful apps find their way to the top of the charts. Creating a unique app is most certainly the first step in creating a viable monetization strategy—your secret sauce—and your ticket to a wildly successful app. 

If no two apps are exactly the same, it’s logical to assume that no two apps make money in exactly the same way either. There is, however, a good chance that most successful apps use similar strategies, in a variety of combinations, to optimize strengths and dull app weaknesses. Understanding which mobile marketing strategy - or combination of mobile marketing strategies - will be most effective for your brand is a core requirement for success. 

Here’s a look at some of the best ways to monetize apps using popular strategies. Think of these techniques like you would ingredients to the secret sauce on your burger. Ask yourself what works best with your app, and try combinations until you’ve made something delicious…I mean profitable. 

 

Freemium Apps 

It’s a play on words, and it also accounts for 93 percent of all downloaded apps in 2015. Freemium apps are just what they sound like—they’re free. So, in order to use this ingredient effectively, your app had better offer a premium, or upgraded version, for a small fee. 

This strategy only works well, though, when there are clear advantages to the paid version; it also has be to a first-rate, highly useable, and addictive app. If this sounds like your burger, then feel free to say it’s free; but be sure you’ve got a better version of the app available for purchase. 

 

In-app Purchases

Depending on the meat of your app—the genre, if you will—in-app purchases are a great seasoning to add. The trick here is to make a game that’s highly addictive and charge users small fees to enhance their addictive experience with features like profile personalization, game currency, or increased usage. 

Once a user makes the first purchase, he or she is usually hooked. Game apps like Candy Crush Saga made an estimated $630 thousand a day with this technique. You can, too, if you make an appetizing app. 

 

In-app Advertising

Think of in-app advertising like you would an assertive spice blend—use too much, and your burger is ruined. Successful in-app advertising does two things: compliments multiple ad networks and functions within well-designed ad space. 

In other words, in-app advertising should not be the only revenue source holding your app together. Additionally, thoughtful and strategic ad placement is very important to the ad’s success. An occasional banner add at the bottom of your favorite app isn’t so bad; pop-up ads flashing across your smartphone screen every 30 seconds are not the way to go. 

 

Sponsorship 

Finally, sponsorship is a great way to offer products or services most relevant to your consumer. Prominently displayed sponsors will pay for both impressions and clicks if this strategy is implemented correctly. 

The important thing to remember about this monetizing tactic is that what you’re selling, and when, is critical to the user’s experience and general acceptance of the advertisement. 

For example, the RunKeeper fitness app partnered with third party Kiip to showcase products that would appeal most to runners, particularly during times the app was aware the runner had just started or completed a run. Timing is everything, and sponsorship monetization needs that and good products to be successful. 

Building your app’s unique monetization strategy will require some trial and error; but the payout for the time investment can make all the difference in your journey. What’s in your secret sauce?

November 14, 2015

What Are 'Mobile Moments' and How Can They Help My Mobile Marketing Strategy?

 

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Christmas shopping used to be a hectic business. Typically, a day or two was set aside sometime in between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve - depending on how organized you were - in order to head to the mall and fight the crowds for the ever-dwindling supply of gifts. 

In the age of the smartphone, everything has changed. From browsing to buying, every stage of a transaction can now be performed on a mobile device. According to recent Google research, 54% of holiday shoppers will use their smartphones to shop throughout the season, and smartphone-based commerce has gone up by 64% over the last year. In fact, almost a third of all online purchases now happen on mobile phones.

So how can your mobile marketing strategy benefit from this continuing trend towards smartphone commerce? The key is understanding how people use their devices. 

A recent study claimed that people use their smartphones as many as 150 times in a single day, spending around a minute on each ‘session.’ A rounded mobile marketing campaign will tackle each and every kind of activity: text messages, emails, social media and web searches. Because each session is typically so brief, the trick is capitalize on these ‘mobile moments.’ 

Mobile moments - or micro moments - are those brief snatches of time when people turn to their smartphone in order to take a specific action, like finding the answer to a question, booking a plane ticket, downloading an app or buying something online. Mobile users approaching these moments have an express, immediate intent. That intent may be to buy. It may be to browse, or compare user reviews. But whatever the reason shoppers turn to their phones, your business should take the opportunity to be there - and be useful. Here’s how:

 

Comprehensive Online Listings

Google’s research shows consumers are 38% more likely to visit and 29% more likely to buy from companies whose online directory listings are complete, up-to-date, and accurate. Further, you should regularly update the listings with seasonal info and include images and business hours. The more information you can parlay in your listings, the better.

 

Predict Expectations

The digital marketplace is a diffuse, niche-led realm, and users will respond to a wide variety of different messages. The key to a successful mobile marketing plan is recognizing which message will have the most impact on which user. For text message sign ups, location-based notifications are a solid way of reaching potential customers at the moment they’re most likely to buy. Throw in a discount, and suddenly you have a customer with two compelling reasons to visit your outlet: 1)they’ll save money, and 2) they’re within walking distance. 

 

Take Advantage of the Holiday Season

Many retailers live and die by Q4, when the annual spending bonanza kicks in, with more people buying more stuff than at any other time of year. That’s why now - before Thanksgiving - is the perfect time to implement changes to your mobile marketing strategy. Invest in a mobile friendly website and start promoting festive deals so you can hit the New Year with a running start.

October 17, 2015

3 Ways Mobile Has Influenced Social Media

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Where would social media be without mobile? On-demand access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram et al has made us take it for granted. For many social media addicts, anything less than hourly engagement is punishing. Smartphones have satisfied (or pandered to, depending on your perspective) this urge for constant connectivity.  

B2B marketers who are new to digital marketing may feel clueless about how to launch a mobile marketing campaign. To help you get started, we’re going to take a look at the key ways in which mobile technology has influenced the way people interact with social media, and offer some tips on how to capitalize on this shift in online habits:

 

Mobile is Mainstream

Mobile is no longer the ‘alternative’ to desktop browsers. According to social media mogul Jeff Bullas, 71% of social media users access their network via a mobile device. This trend has been heading steadily skyward since the first web-enabled small-screen devices hit the market, and social networks have responded accordingly. The most effective mobile marketing strategy will reflect this. 

Budget permitting, a dedicated mobile app is best, but it’s quite possible to optimize an existing website in a mobile-friendly fashion. The columnated design of major social networks like Facebook were conceived, in large part, with this in mind. Be sure to use a visually striking header image, and make the bio section an attention-grabbing tagline capable of communicating your core brand message. In addition, use highly shareable, rich media content like videos and images.

 

Cache has Cache

Print media is no longer the king of the crop in terms of credibility. Social networks and online sources are by far the most common ways people consume news. For B2B marketers, becoming a credible source of industry news is a really good way to extend your reach. Become a ‘thought leader’ on your industry, using primary sources from within and without your own company. It could be interviews with experts or direct coverage of industry events - anything original that will appeal to readers and make them more likely to share your content across their own networks.

 

Intuition Breeds Loyalty

The easier your promotional efforts are to engage with, the better the user experience will be. Interactive ads ask for feedback and involvement from users, which in turn solidifies brand recognition: the longer a person spends with your marketing, the more familiar with and loyal to your brand they’ll become. Similarly, native ads (those that appear as regular, non-marketing content) generally offer greater value. The more immersive the experience, the less likely users are to switch off. Approach your content in as creative a way as possible. Avoid sales-speak. Talk to your audience as people, not cash-cows waiting to be milked.

Think a little differently, without a transparently profit-driven approach, and the long-term benefits will be far greater than an old-school aggressive sales pitch. In an age of endless, free content at the click of a button, an effective mobile marketing campaign is one that puts the user first. 

October 08, 2015

6 Halloween Marketing Ideas for SMBs

 

Everyone’s favorite spook-tactular holiday is approaching, and with it comes the opportunity to drive more customers to your small business. Check out a few of the super-cool Halloween-related possibilities for small business marketing to implement while you enjoy the beautiful fall season: 

 

Welcome Trick-or-Treaters

Participate in a trick-or-treat event with other area businesses, or simply welcome costumed tykes into your store. Put treats that relate to your business in bags, such as candy featuring your business name, pencils, erasers, small note pads, and pencils. Kids love getting small toys in addition to candy, so feel free to be as creative as you want.

 

Create a Haunted House

Turn your business into a haunted attraction, and have your employees dress up as various ghosts and goblins. For example, if you have a retail business with aisles of merchandise, turn each aisle into its own special “haunt.” Encourage employees to get really creative with their costumes, which they’ll be all about if they love Halloween. Provide a discount that’s attractive to parents bringing their kids to your business, such as 10 or 15 percent off certain merchandise. Giving away coupons to customers upon their completion of a haunted house is also a fun possibility. 

 

Offer a Halloween Promotion

Send email coupons or codes to customers that are only good on or around Halloween. Text message codes are another possibility. Decorate your store as extensively as you want—or as much as your budget allows—to further draw people in and look for decorations in dollar and “five below” stores. Dress up in a creative costume and have employees do the same, which again they’ll likely be excited about. 

 

Hold a Costume Exchange

Show your dedication to the community by hosting a costume exchange. It’s not only a great way for customers and potential customers to cull and subsequently procure new costumes for cheap, but it’s also a way to familiarize locals with what you offer. Besides, people will likely jump at the chance to get rid of old masks of politicians and find something fun without spending a small fortune. Halloween costumes are expensive, after all!

 

Throw a Halloween Party

Make your business Halloween party central! Host an open house that allows consumers to learn more about your business while enjoying mystery punch and pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies. Designate a section for games, which will keep kiddies occupied, and offer freebies such as temporary tattoos, face painting, and of course plenty of candy. Ensure party-goers leave with goodie bags that feature more freebies and lots of information about your business, including business cards. For best results, make certain all freebies feature your business name and contact information. 

These are just some of the many ways to use Halloween to your small business’s marketing advantage. Have fun and get creative, and don’t forget to ask employees for their input and help. Most people love Halloween, and are excited to participate in anything involving the spooky holiday. Have fun! 

September 11, 2015

Make the Most of Grandparents Day

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The ultimate sleeper holiday for savvy marketers, Grandparents Day (September 13th) is somewhat overlooked, slipping under the radar less than a week after Labor Day. 

Why don’t more businesses capitalize on it? After all, who are we talking about here? A significant portion of grandparents are Baby Boomers, the generation with 70% of the disposable income in the United States (according to grandparents.com). The generation representing 35% of the population, with spending power projected to reach $15 trillion by the decade’s end.  

For marketers, this is the grandmother-lode. Not only do Baby Boomers have the money and inclination to spend it, they’re easier to reach than many people assume. Daily, 71% of Boomers spend time online daily. More than half are on Facebook, and two thirds regularly use SMS messaging. When it comes to mobile marketing tactics, that about covers all the bases. 

What’s interesting about this spending power is how it’s wielded. We already know that children are influencers and parents are buyers. Grandparents have double the number of generations beneath them, buying for their children and - even more lavishly - for their children’s children. Boomers spend $52 billion on their grandchildren before they’ve even got round to buying for themselves (and get around to it they do!). Clearly, we should be focusing much more attention on Grandparents Day. Let’s consider Boomer spending in two distinct forms: for themselves, and for their descendants…

 

Spending on Themselves

Baby Boomers are probably the wealthiest generation in history - and they’re not afraid to spend their hard-earned cash. Over the past year, 36% of Boomers have attended at least one sporting event; 22% went to the theater; 14% visited an art museum; 12% went to a rock concert. They’re also 11% more likely than the rest of the adult population to have eaten at a steakhouse or seafood restaurant in the last month. Apparently. Add to that the increased spending on holidays, cars and other forms of entertainment, and you have a pretty lucrative market.

 

Spending on Their Kids… and their Kids’ Kids

Tapping into the grandparent/grandchild relationship is the smart move for marketers. Get Boomers excited about mobile apps - they’re quick and easy to purchase, and the grandkids will probably prefer it to traditional toys. Use social media to differentiate the desires of children of all ages.

Remember, Baby Boomers are a lot more tech savvy than you might think. Furthermore, they know their grandkids are digital natives, and they want to engage with them on a technological level. They have the money to spend on themselves and their offspring, so why not devise a mobile marketing campaign that encourages cross-generational engagement? Happy Grandparents Day!

September 05, 2015

5 Ways to Mobil-ize Your Fall Marketing Strategy

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As kids return to school and tans start to fade, you know summer is officially over. For mobile marketing campaign managers, the shifting seasons provide an ideal opportunity to regroup and devise some thematically-appropriate ideas. To help you, we’ve put together some mobile marketing tactics sure to boost revenues during Fall…

 

Autumn-ate Your Website

Give your homepage a Fall makeover to show your audience that you are up to the minute. A themed blog post or two can - if this one is anything to go by - will give you fresh, topical content! 

 

Think of the Children!

Offer school-related special offers and promotions. If you’re in clothing retail, push seasonal outfits - try the local college campus to reach students, and give them discounts to engender brand loyalty.

 

Support Local Sports Events

Most of the major sports seasons kick or tip off during Fall. Capitalize on this by getting involved with your local team. Many large high schools have established, sponsored athletics programs, and small schools currently lacking something similar might be amenable to you approaching them with ideas. Of course, sponsorship requires an outlay of money, the return on which may not be easy to track. One thing you can be sure of: if you get your name attached to a team, there’s a guaranteed weekly audience for the rest of the season. If you’ve got the budget to go all out with free t-shirts, samples and coupons, it could turn into a lucrative long-term partnership.

 

Thematic Social Media Engagement

As with your website, letting your audience know that you’re constantly in tune with current events will project a positive brand image. Use social media to engage your audience, and share seasonal links and special offers. Social media is a great tool for receiving feedback, so listen to what your audience has to say and respond in kind.

 

Mark the Main Events

Fall is punctuated by two main holidays: Halloween and Thanksgiving. You’d be crazy to ignore these massive commercial opportunities, so make sure your office does something for each. If appropriate for your business, why not run a Trick or Treat day for kids? Encourage your workforce to dress up, and document the event for sharing on social media. When Thanksgiving rolls around, send out cards to your customers to let them know you’re grateful for their business.

Making the most of Fall is easy with mobile. You can easily scale up a mobile marketing strategy that seemed to work at the micro level, and if you want to keep everything low-budget, there is still much you can do - you just have to get creative.