Studies

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September 12, 2014

Facebook is Converting 100m Africans Per Month

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The African continent is signing up to Facebook in droves, with 100 million users joining the social network every month. Most exciting for mobile marketing campaign managers is the fact that 80% of those users are joining via smartphones. This is indicative of a rapidly expanding mobile marketplace in emerging economies, as smartphone adoption in many African nations outstrips desktop adoption.

In part, this explosion has been driven by a deal inked between Facebook and cellular networks which ‘zero rates’ the service. This means data used by accessing Facebook does not count towards bills or data limits. Despite drawing some criticism from net neutrality advocates, the move has undoubtedly helped emerging economies in countries like Nigeria and Kenya compete; companies across Africa are reaching new, global audiences that were hitherto tough to crack.

This is just the beginning of what looks set to be a connectivity revolution in a continent historically beset with infrastructural problems. Some researchers are predicting mobile web use will increase 20-fold over the next five years. That’s double the predicted rate of growth in the rest of the world.

The relative affordability of, say, an iPhone compared to an Apple desktop computer is allowing citizens of developing countries to engage with the online world, and businesses to grow more quickly as their local audience builds. The declining cost of data, alongside faster transmission speeds, is improving communication in some of the remotest parts of the world, with sub-Saharan Africa undergoing a mobile digital revolution. 

It’s not just the low cost of recent generations of smartphone that suits these markets. Smartphones don’t need to be physically connected - either to network or electricity cables – to the same degree as desktop computers. This convenience and portability is allowing a whole new kind of mobile consumer to take advantage of internet access. 

Recent research from mobile tech firm Ericsson predicts voice call traffic in the region will double over the next five years. By the end of this year, there are expected to be more than 635 million mobile subscriptions in sub-Saharan Africa. The report also says that 70% of users in the countries studies browse the web on mobile devices, compared with just 6% who use desktop computers.

Analysts say the Ericsson research confirms mobile’s dominance. In a recent TED talk on technology in Africa, the editor of South Africa’s Stuff magazine said:

"Africa is a mobile-only continent. There never was a landline infrastructure to begin with, apart from urban areas. Mobile has allowed anyone to have a phone in places that were previously impassable and uncontactable. It has also been enabled, from a business perspective, by prepaid payments that handily remove the equally widespread legacy problem in that very few people have banks accounts. It really is that technology leapfrog the industry likes to talk about."

 

September 10, 2014

How Americans Use Text Messaging

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According to the most recent Pew research, 90% of adults have a cell phone of some kind, and 58% have a smartphone. Nearly a third of all cell phone owners describe their device as ‘something they can’t imagine living without.’

And the thing they can’t live without most of all is SMS. Texting is the most commonly used non-voice application of American mobile phones. Previous Pew research indicated that 73% of adult cell phone owners use the text messaging feature on their phone regularly. For under 30s, that percentage is closer to 100, with twentysomethings sending or receiving an average of 87.7 text messages per day. 

Go younger still – to the under-24 category – and you start to wonder how the ‘youth of today’ gets anything done. According to the research, 97% of 18-24 year olds use text messaging, and the number of daily SMS messages send or received by individuals in this group is, on average, 109.5 – twenty-three times that of the baby boomers. The median texter in the 18-24 demographic sends or receives 50 texts per day. A quarter of them report sending or receiving more than 100 texts per day, and 12% claim to send or receive more than 200 messages on an average day. 

Using the Data

Having a clearer understanding of texting habits will help you devise a more complete, rounded mobile marketing strategy. It’s essential to integrate your mobile and email campaigns so they benefit from one another. An email/text one-two punch can really drive home your message, and both channels provide users with a way to engage directly with your business. How can you achieve this?

Well, SMS is ideal for short, time-sensitive communications. We know most recipients read texts within minutes of receiving them, so there’s no better way to issue a limited time special offer, or notify people of last minute alteration to schedules. Email, on the other hand, is perfect for sending denser content with more detailed information.

Remember too that 43% of consumers access their emails via a mobile device, so both channels are easily cross-referenced. This single point of access promises to be a major driver of consumer engagement as smartphone penetration continues unabated. Don’t let your next mobile marketing campaign do without it.

 

August 03, 2014

Hispanic Market Growth Reaches New Heights

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Though we are still in the early days of mobile marketing, new technologies are allowing businesses to share their brand in revolutionary ways. Reports about new advertising techniques and ways to reach consumers on their mobile devices are flooding the blogosphere. But are advertisers paying attention to the changing face of the mobile marketplace? The real news flash: The Hispanic Market represents the fastest growing segment in the U.S.

This information from the Census Bureau and Nielsen is not really new. Marketers have been watching for years as this minority has grown into a significant force in the advertising world. Currently about 1 in 6 Americans are Hispanics. By the year 2050, however, Hispanics will represent one-third of the entire American populace.

These statistics are even more significant when we look at buying power. Hispanics command over $1 Trillion dollars in spending capital. The media have been aware of their buying power for a couple of years now: in 2012, the U.S. media spent $7.9 billion in advertising dollars that target Hispanic consumers.

Market analysts have been mining this data to find out what makes Hispanic consumers tick. The average age of Hispanics is 28 years old, and nearly 8% of Hispanics use their mobile devices to seek out content. Neilsen studies have shown that Hispanics outpace all other ethnic groups in mobile downloads of music and photos, and they are more likely than others to watch video on their mobile phones. Most Hispanics age 18 or older spend about 4.5 hours per day using social media. About half of Hispanics use social media during purchases, in the form of product reviews, the best deals, and to share their own shopping experiences. By incorporating this data into their strategies, mobile marketers have the opportunity to take advantage of how and where Hispanics spend their money.

Hispanics are also heavy phone users. On average, they send and receive more than 900 texts per month – more than any other ethnic group. Also, they make an average of thirteen calls per day, which is 40% more than the average U.S. consumer.

Hispanic consumers have a history of committing to certain brands. They are 25% more likely to follow a brand than the average U.S. adult. In a recent survey, 38% of Hispanics admitted that they generally select certain brands when they have customer loyalty programs. In a similar fashion: Hispanics are 18% more likely to follow a celebrity. 

According to Nielsen, Hispanic video viewers are 68% more likely than non-Hispanic White viewers to watch video on the Internet, and 20% more likely to watch video on their mobile phone. This may be due to the fact that Hispanics are less likely to have internet access at home than the average U.S. consumer (14% less likely, in fact).

There is a wealth of data available surrounding customers in today’s fast-paced world of mobile marketing. Knowing the ways that Hispanics choose to do business can give you a leg up against the competition. By approaching the Hispanic population with a mobile app, service, or direct mobile marketing, marketers can successfully target a consumer base that practice brand loyalty and constant engagement. It’s time for mobile marketers to wake up to the thriving Hispanic market.

August 01, 2014

Hospitality Industry Divided Over Mobile Marketing

 

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New research from Omnico indicates that UK consumers are less likely to use mobile devices to engage with hospitality service providers when compared with other industries. Just 13% of consumers said they would use mobile to interact with hoteliers and travel agents.

This reticence is understandable when examined from the consumer point of view. People ultimately want a better user experience, but with so many metrics to consider when booking a holiday, it’s possible that small screen devices are given short shrift. Filling in multiple fields – car rental, flights, hotels etc – is a hassle even on a desktop. Even on a mobile-optimized site or app, there’s simply too much information to divest for a quality user experience. 

Thankfully for the industry, the point of purchase is just one step in the process. There is still plenty of scope to create a compelling mobile marketing campaign that simply hands off to desktop at the point of sale. 

And despite the apparently-negative data collated in the UK, mobile usage has been steadily increasing in the world of hospitality. A Forrester survey from last year identified a 450% increase in mobile bookings since 2009. Some analysts predict mobile sales will be worth $26 billion by the year’s end. That’s one in five online travel dollars! 

The biggest mobile marketing strides have been made post-purchase, with 75% of travelers using a mobile device to shop and book activities while on holiday, according to Forrester. Clearly, this is where the hospitality industry is benefitting most: reaching consumers who are already on vacation and for whom smartphones and tablets are the only readily-available web-connected device.

If you’re trying to create a mobile marketing campaign that works, focus on enriching the entire experience, not just selling vacations. Offer portals for booking restaurants. Provide information on local tourist sites. Gather user reviews that could help future customers. Break your mobile marketing strategy down into three key practices:

  • Promotion. Offer last minute deals, hotel discounts or coupons. Mobile – and especially SMS messaging - is perfect for issuing time-sensitive information.
  • Loyalty Rewards. Offer loyalty points with personalized incentives attached. Track data to give reward customers with the things they like. If they’re clocking up thousands of miles, offer air miles. If they use the same hotel chain around the world, try to partner with that hotel to offer discounts.
  • User Experience. Keep customers up to date on new destinations. Send weather forecasts, or travel directions. Stay engaged throughout their trip and solicit feedback in the form of reviews.

A balanced mobile marketing strategy is of vital importance in an aggressively competitive industry. The beauty of mobile is the ease with which you can subdivide customers according to personal preference, so even if your primary booking platform is your desktop website, stay plugged in to mobile and you’ll reap the long term benefits.

July 25, 2014

Push Techniques & Your Mobile Marketing Strategy

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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’ – we already know the answer to that – 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 23, 2014

SMS Isn’t Spoiling Grammar

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Since the dawn of the text message, there has been an overarching fear that SMS would spell doom for the grammatical climate of the future generations. But apparently, this is not the case.

In a recent study at Coventry University in Britain, researchers examined both the text messages and the grammar tests of over 240 students from elementary school, high school, and college. This study was designed to show the rate of change (if any) over the course of a year of texting and testing, and it produced some surprising results.

Initially, the participants were asked to submit their texts from the last two days, verbatim. Naturally, the text messages were missing proper punctuation and capitalization. Words were omitted here and there, others were enjambed as in the case of “hafta” and “tryna,” and within the texts there were several instances of initialisms (e.g., lol, smh). The participants were also asked to complete a series of tasks to show their skill levels in grammar and spelling.

After a year had passed, this entire process was repeated.

The research group found little or no correlation between the grammatical violations in text messages and their test scores. On the contrary, they found that students’ abilities to go back and forth between their “textisms” and actual correct grammar evidenced their enhanced literacy skills. The researchers, Nenagh Kemp, Clare Wood, and Sam Waldron, found that primary and high school students actually had faster spelling development.

College level students also proved to have better spelling after a year. Unfortunately, the lack of capitalization and proper punctuation presaged poorer performance on spoken and written grammar tests for these students. The correlation was too weak, however, to attribute this deficiency to texting alone.

The results of this test shouldn’t be that surprising, though. Previous studies have shown that when young students “play with language” they tend to have stronger reading and spelling skills. Also, studies have proven that when students choose to break tradition with grammatical convention, they consequently strengthen their grammar skills.

All in all, this study shows that grammatical violations in text messages do not reveal a decline in knowledge of grammar for people of any age. Even the youngest students in the study recognized the difference between “textisms” and actual writing. For the time being, there is no need to fear—provided everyone remains aware of the difference between these texting exemptions and grammatically-correct writing.

July 17, 2014

Mobile to Surpass Print Advertising in the UK

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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 01, 2014

Five Key Benchmarks for Mobile Marketers

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June was one of the biggest months of the year for the mobile marketing industry. Silicon Beach Fest brought the brightest minds of the SoCal tech industry together, and the Cannes Lions Festival was another roaringly successful celebration of creativity in the field of mobile communications.

One of the biggest results from the latter event was a study conducted by The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) on the best ways to build and execute effective mobile marketing campaigns. Their analysis looked at more than 450 award-winning and leading brands – including Mercedes, Nike, Ray Ban and Coca Cola - and uncovered five key insights for industry creatives.

The MMA’s CEO described the findings as “benchmarks [to give] marketers and their agencies… a concise framework on how to think more strategically about mobile”. 

Let’s summarize the five key benchmarks identified by the MMA:

Brand Activation Remote

According to the MMA, mobile should be viewed as a kind of remote control for brand engagement, consolidating each strand of a marketing campaign into a single portal, thereby keeping consumers constantly connected along the path to purchase. Once you view your mobile marketing strategy as a unifier in this way, you can more easily drive conversion and sustain loyalty.

No Time Like the Present

There is no marketing channel more capable of having an instant impact than mobile. Mobile marketing campaign managers are able to wield the timing of SMS messages with finesse, engaging with consumers in the present moment, and on their own terms. Think about the maxim ‘timing is everything’ and in how many ways it applies to mobile: users carry their smartphones everywhere, it’s always in close proximity, and it’s a device that’s unique to them (ie not shared with others).

Content Rules

Another maxim that has held true in marketing circles for years, “content is king” remains a fact of advertising. Create compelling content that people want to share, and the job of promoting your brand will be done for you. And mobile is perfectly suited to delivering a wide range of media, with modern smartphones capable of streaming rich content like video and audio, as well as the usual slew of articles, images and, yes, text messages. 

Bespoke Experiences

Customizing the user experience to individual preferences is the holy grail of targeted marketing. The closer you get to appealing to a person’s sense of unique identity, the more loyalty they will feel towards your brand. The message here is this: bring users into your circle, make them feel heard by getting them to engage, and they will return the favor by sticking with your product.

Smartphone-as-Toolkit

Many marketers make the mistake of focusing on the bells and whistles of a campaign, ignoring the fact that businesses need to offer something of real value lest they perish in the long term. Mobile is perfect for integrating familiar handheld tools into their software. Calculators, barometers, cameras – even the phone itself might be thought of as a secondary function next to the multitude of apps available to users in 2014. The point is, those utilitarian features are demanded by smartphone owners. Come up with your own mobile version of an existing real-world tool, and you are on to a surefire winner.

June 24, 2014

Smartphone Use at Work on the Rise

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Whether at home or work – or even while on the commute between the two places – people carry their mobile devices with most of the time. In 2013, 132 million people around the world used their smartphones while at work, with that number expected to grow by nearly one third to 174 million people by the end of 2014. According to recent figures, as many as 328 million workers will be bringing their smartphones to work by 2017. The fact that people use these devices while on the job presents rich opportunity when it comes to SMS marketing. 

While B2C retailers have taken advantage of such widespread smartphone use in recent years, what may come as a surprise in the B2B arena is just how many workers today use their devices to complete work-related tasks. Therefore, the rise in smartphone use at work spells enormous opportunity for B2B SMS marketing as well. Thanks to the release of the 5S, a rise in iPhone use on the job has accounted for 54 percent of newly activated workplace mobile use. And more people are also, of course, using Androids at work.

Mobile Gains Popularity as a Business Tool

Companies have been increasingly adopting mobile apps for business use. The days when employers discouraged workers from using mobile devices at their desks have been on the decline. Enterprise app activations have been up 54 percent since 2013, which is an acceleration from the 42 percent growth rate from earlier that same year. VMware’s recent announcement that it would be spending $1.5 billion to acquire AirWatch, a rival mobile device management enterprise, says a lot about the many business opportunities a mobile presence at work has to offer.

Currently, the most popular business use of mobile devices is document editing, with business intelligence apps and cloud storage also rising. More and more enterprises today are even building their own business apps. However, the fact that people are already using their mobile devices while at work now means they are more likely to respond to B2B SMS text marketing while on the job.

Smartphone Use Means Convenience and Efficiency

Until recently, the widespread presence of mobile devices at the office only meant marketing to consumers as they scrambled to fit personal online shopping and other errands into the hectic work day. Now that more and more of the workforce uses mobile devices for business purposes, however, B2B SMS mobile marketing will experience enormous growth opportunities as well. 

SMS texting is an invaluable tool for communicating with B2B clients partly because SMS texting costs only a small fraction of what phone calls do. SMS also saves money, increasing efficiency through features like mass texting and automation.

At the end of the day, more than half of workers making business-to-business purchasing decisions for their companies now use their smartphones to gather product and service information before placing orders. That number is only growing. Therefore, B2B SMS marketing has become an absolutely essential part of any B2B marketing campaign.

June 11, 2014

Research Shows 80% of Mobile Searches Result in a Sale

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Online directory Neustar Localeze recently published a study demonstrating the scale of consumer migration to mobile. The results show that 79% of smartphone owners and 81% of tablet owners use their devices to search for information about local businesses. Of those searches, around 80% resulted in a transaction between merchant and consumer, and 75% ended with the customer physically going to the brick and mortar store. 

However, only 50% of searchers were satisfied with what was available on mobile, indicating a need for businesses to better optimize their sites for mobile. This disconnect between user demand and experience offers exciting opportunities for canny mobile marketing strategists to secure greater ROIs by offering a truly mobile friendly platform through which to conduct business. 

According to Brian Wool, VP of content distribution at Neustar, consumers “want to see more information around products and services,” though he conceded that local search engines were beginning to use more specific data to improve search relevancy.

The key difference between desktop and mobile search is exactly what you’d think: screen size. Tablets and smartphones can only display so much information before the need for scrolling, so it’s crucially important that businesses prioritize the most sought-after content.

The localized content Wool alluded to is starting to make inroads into mobile marketing tactics, but it’s mostly the preserve of large corporations with the spending power to play around with new ideas. But it’s precisely these localized searches that small, regional businesses should be focusing on. It’s their best chance of competing with the big chain retailers who have the edge in terms of pricing and traditional marketing clout.

If small businesses can develop user-friendly, highly visible mobile sites, they will carve out niche markets that are just a local search away. Lots of quality content remains the best hope for improving online visibility. As Wool says, “the more you can share with the ecosystem, the better your listing is going to perform.”

The take home message for SMBs, then, is this: the majority of local searches do end in a conversion, so devising and investing in a mobile marketing campaign is a safe bet when it comes to growing that bottom line.