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April 15, 2014

Mobile Apps: The Lifeblood of the ‘Always On’ Employee

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Back in January, Frost & Sullivan published their analysis of the state of mobile enterprise in 2013. The results bore great news for mobile marketing managers, forward-thinking businesses and, most of all, developers of mobile applications. 

The data showed that 48% of decision makers reported their companies used between one and ten mobile apps for employees. Compare that to ten years ago when hardly any workers even had company phones and you start to get a perspective on the exhilarating pace of change in the workplace.

In the year 2014 – or 7AS (After Smartphone) – nearly every white collar job is geographically flexible, and companies expect their staff to be constantly ‘on’. Likewise, most employees prefer to be kept in the loop, and those that are constantly incommunicado are considered a hindrance to getting things done.

For this geo-flexible omni-availability to work, a range of mobile apps are absolutely essential. Mobile workers are, by definition, constantly on the move, which is why mobile devices are chipping away at tasks once reserved for desktop and laptops. From the economic perspective, app-centric devices increase in value as the number or useful apps installed rises. The smarter the phone, the more productive the person holding that phone becomes. 

It’s not just fancy new apps that make mobile workers more efficient. SMS messaging is playing a huge role in the interaction between company and staff. After all, it’s far easier to respond from any location with a text.

The growth of mobility in business has only been possible since the technology has grown more sophisticated. Today, there are three main app functions helping companies work smarter:

  • Notification
  • Input and response
  • Instant action

With mobile, these attributes are more streamlined, more efficient, less glitch and just… well, better than their desktop counterparts. Businesses, employees, customers, mobile marketing managers – they all want to get stuff done more quickly and easily. If they can have an enjoyable experience at the same time, all the better. 

Eliminating steps from both sides – customer and business – is the key to succeeding. Well-designed apps achieve this step-elimination So do workers who can do their job whether they’re at home, in the office or on a plane. The message of an increasingly app-centric workforce is clear. If you’re looking at ways to pare down your operation, trim the fat and boost ROIs: go mobile.

 

 

April 09, 2014

5 Apps for Helicopter Parents

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Remember the old days? When kids were free to run wild without their every move being micromanaged by anxious parents? Growing up in the 80s, the best a worried mother could hope for was a call from a public telephone – if the mood struck her child.

Those days are gone. Between SMS messaging, smartphones and GPS, app developers have all the tools they need to help anxious parents keep tabs on their offspring. Kids, you might want to stop reading now. Grownups, check out our top 5 apps for making sure little Johnny is as safe as houses – and your house is safe from little Johnny!

iCam

Featured on Today, CNN and Good Morning America, iCam provides you with live feeds from any room in your house, direct to your mobile device. Each room must contain a running computer with webcams and the app installed. Probably unwise to use it instead of a babysitter, but it’s ideal for people on vacation who can’t shake that feeling that the house is burning down being broken into.

Kitestring

The ultimate in overprotective app, Kitestring can be programmed to track your whereabouts and ensure you arrive safely at your intended destination, at the intended time. Just like a worried parent, it checks up on you by requesting a response at a certain time. If you fail to respond, the app alerts your pre-programmed contacts via SMS messaging.

FBI Child ID

Created by the FBI, this app allows parents to store ID information and photographs of their children. The stored information can be quickly access in the event of the child disappearing. Crucially, it only stores info on the iPhone until parents need to send it to the authorities. The app includes shortcuts to 911 and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Find My Kids – Footprints

In the same vein, this app gives parents real time updates on their kids whereabouts. GPS has been applied to everything from vehicle navigation to mobile marketing solutions, but this is a world-beater in terms of providing parental peace of mind. Find out if your child is travelling alone and whether they’ve arrived at a specific destination.

Txt Shield

As kids grow up, concerns about sinister abductions begin to lessen. But parents of newly-driving teens have a whole new set of concerns. Txt Shield is one of a number of apps on the market aimed at preventing accidents caused by distracted driving. The app sends automatic replies to any incoming text messages based on how fast the mobile device is moving. 

April 04, 2014

Apple Patent 'Transparent Texting'

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This is undoubtedly weird. Created by Japanese mobile firm NTT Docomo as a public service announcement, the aim is to demonstrate the dangers of texting and walking at the same time. While Americans are campaigning for legislation to stamp out texting while driving, it seems Japan is more concerned with the potential problems caused by pedestrians not looking where they’re going.

For those of us who can’t read Japanese script, the text claims that one out of five people who text and walk wind up injuring themselves or others. According to a study conducted at Aichi University of Technology, only 547 out of 1500 people who look at their phones while crossing an intersection would reach the other side without colliding into someone, tripping over, or dropping their phone.

With 7.25 million iPhones sold in Japan during 2011 alone, it’s hardly surprising that the country’s number one smartphone is working on a solution to the problem of ill-timed SMS messaging and web browsing. Last week, Apple filed a patent that aims to provide customers with a live video feed of their surroundings while texting. The objective is to give text addicts a better chance of avoiding street lamps, pedestrians and cars.

The inbuilt camera will be able to continuously capture the immediate environment while texts are being written and communicated. It’s a pretty far-out notion, and says much about the compulsive phone habits of many smartphone users.

There is no indication of when we can expect to see the technology in action; there are already some apps that allow transparent overlays, but they currently require users to copy and paste a text into a relevant application. The live editing function is what’s missing – Apple hopes to change all that.

For SMS marketing purposes, the technology has some exciting implications. With the use of geo-targeting, stores could wait until consumers’ cameras are within range of their outlet before sending a text. Imagine reading a text as you walk down the street, and being able to see the retailer in the background. Creative minds in charge of mobile marketing campaigns will be waiting for this patent to bear fruit with great excitement – and Japanese pedestrians could be a whole lot safer as they walk busy streets. 

SMS Tips: Getting the Most Out of Google Voice

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Launched in March of 2009, Google Voice is a telecommunications service that provides one phone number, thereby allowing users to keep the same number regardless of phone company changes, job changes or any other life changes. Using Google Voice means your number stays the same, with features including the ability to forward calls to your cell phone, block and screen calls, retrieve voicemails and more. Since Google Voice is a free service, mobile marketing tactics are beginning to focus on it more, marketers are discovering how it may be implemented into assorted mobile marketing solutions and strategies. Let’s take a look:

First Things First

Before discussing Google Voice utilization in a mobile marketing strategy, it’s important to note the service’s limitations. Google Voice cannot send pictures or any other form of multimedia messaging (MMS), and will ignore such messages without alerting the receiver. However, many other viable options are available for sending pictures, such as email, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Sending Free Text Messages

One of the arguably biggest benefits of utilizing Google Voice in a mobile marketing strategyis the ability to send free text messages to your list of leads. Calling leads usually isn’t the most effective strategy, as people aren’t always able or willing to pick up their phones, but can still easily answer a text message. Let’s say you have a few hundred leads you wish to contact to determine if they’re still interested in your business. All you have to do is copy a number, hit ‘text’ in Google Voice, and paste the number along with the message. What’s more, the person’s reply will be sent directly to your Google Voice account, which you can also reply to. It’s as easy as sending email, and more than that, it’s free and is almost guaranteed to be read.

Google Voice Auto-Reply SMS

Want to let customers know about your new number? Google Voice Auto-Reply SMS is an easy way to do this. Another free tool, it automatically lets customers and leads know about your new contact number, allowing you to avoid continuous, confusing calls to your old one.

Sending Free Text Messages to a Range of Devices

Besides the ability to send free text messages, Google Voice provides additional mobile marketing solutions in that you can send those text messages to a wide range of devices. Mobile marketing tactics and campaigns are sometimes limited to a certain type of phone, something Google Voice eliminates entirely. Use it to send text message alerts regarding sales, events, coupons and anything else pertaining to your business to any device that accepts SMS.

“Voice” is Often Preferable to Smartphone Users 

Keypads on smartphones aren’t always easy to use, particularly if the user has large fingers! Many smartphone users prefer to text or search for something using their voices instead of their hands, so it follows that Google Voice would make an attractive part of a mobile marketing campaign for smartphone users. They can easily listen to messages and reply using their voices.

Have you used Google Voice as part of your latest mobile marketing strategy? If not, it might be time to try!

 

 

March 14, 2014

Weekend CTRs Significantly Higher

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

March 11, 2014

Texting Can Aid Diabetes Management

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A recent study by the University of Chicago found SMS messaging services beneficial to those dealing with diabetes. The study took place between May 2012 and February 2013, and featured 74 adult diabetics using a mobile phone-based program called CareSmarts. Participants’ glucose levels decreased from 7.9 to 7.2% throughout the course of the study. These results are an example of many positive implications concerning SMS messaging and the healthcare community, with mobile marketing campaigns potentially targeting those with disabilities, chronic diseases and other health issues. 

The program provided educational materials and text message alerts regarding assorted diabetes self-management activities, including medication refill reminders and self-assessments. While participants had to pay for text messages, they received $25 compensation. The study included 274 patients with diabetes who were not enrolled in the program; 67 participants completed the program.

In addition to a decrease in participant glucose levels, the study found participant healthcare costs declined by about $375 per patient, and the number of outpatient visits decreased as well. Participants also reported improvements in glycemic control and increased satisfaction with their overall health care. As for the 274 diabetic patients who did not participate in the program, no changes in clinical outcomes or health care costs were reported.

So what do these findings mean for mobile marketing tactics and campaigns? mHealth, or “mobile health” continues to gain momentum, with current “hot areas” including wireless-enabled health trackers, wireless monitoring of vital signs, and location-aware telemonitoring systems. Doctors also love SMS messaging, with about 9 in 10 physicians under age 35 owning smartphones, according to Kantar Media research. They reportedly use their phones to text other MDs, including consulting physicians, hospitalists and subspecialists. SMS messaging is edging out “cumbersome” papers and filing systems in favor of texting, as texting is much faster and contributes to quicker decisions and increased productivity.

While security issues still loom in terms of patient data, SMS messaging among physicians is very popular and practical, and healthcare organizations will no doubt look for secure texting solutions. Mobile marketing campaigns targeting healthcare professionals as well as patients continue to crop up, such as SMS messaging programs for overweight individuals. The elderly community is also a prime target for healthcare-related mobile marketing campaigns, including those that send appointment reminders or alerts concerning pill schedules.

Mobile health is quickly becoming one of the biggest stories in the healthcare industry this year. Experts such as Jon Jansen, CTO of Doc Halo, predict “lower medical costs, more effective management of chronic diseases and more innovative research” as mobile health continues to increase in popularity.

 

March 10, 2014

iOS vs. Android Users: Who Should Mobile Marketers Target?

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There’s nothing mobile marketers love more than a good scrap about the best operating system. Ever since the first generation Androids and iPhones emerged in 2007, their relative merits have been hotly disputed; you can usually tell which side of the debate a person will be on by the phone in their hand.

Of course, there is no easy answer to the ‘which is best?’ question. So much is subjective, and some Android (or iOS!) devotees will never be persuaded to change their personal preference, no matter how compelling the arguments for doing so are. Broadly speaking, iOS generates more revenue, but Android has a greater market share. Neither of these truths are going to help you create the right mobile marketing strategy.

The very fact that this debate has raged continuously since the smartphone boom took hold is indicative of the complexity of both operating systems. Deciding which device your mobile marketing strategy should focus on requires careful consideration of a whole range of metrics. Let’s take a close look at some of the factors at play:

US Performance

comScore report revealed 133.7 million people in the United States owned a smartphone during the first quarter of 2013. Android was ranked as the top smartphone platform, with 51.7% market share next to Apple’s 38.9%.

Similar results were gleaned from a Kantar Worldpanel Comtech report, which showed Android beating the iPhone by a 9% margin. It’s important to note, however, that the cut and thrust of the smartphone market means these figures are bouncing around on a daily basis.

Plus, device ownership is far from the full story when it comes to iOS vs. Android. Whilst the latter enjoys a greater number of customers, the former generates more money from online commerce. A Black Friday report conducted by IBM showed iOS users spent an average of $127.92 per order, compared to $105.20 spent by Android users. Android users accounted for 11% of ecommerce traffic, next to iPhone and iPad users’ 28.2%. These facts are of more relevance to your mobile marketing strategy than pure ownership.

Worldwide Performance

Phones supporting Android sell significantly better than iPhones in global markets. During the fourth quarter of 2012, Android had a 70% share, compared with 21% for iOS. If your business is global, you should adjust your mobile marketing strategy accordingly as such a marked difference in ownership levels undoubtedly supersedes the greater online spending conducted on Apple’s devices (which remains true internationally).

Tablets

Mobile marketing solutions targeting tablets should always differ from those targeting smartphones, because people use them in different ways. Apple’s iPad outperforms Android tablets and, again, ecommerce revenues are greater for the former.

Apps

According to data collected by Canalys, just over 50% of all app downloads in the first quarter of 2013 were for Android, with iOS taking the lion’s share (40%) of the remainder. What this means for your mobile marketing strategy depends on the type of business you run, so study your market closely. Find out which apps your customers regularly use and, if building your own app, create one for both operating systems.

Web Use

Apple rules the roost in terms of web use, with a 60.1 % share (according to NetMarketShare). Android lags with 24.9%, which, considering there are more Android devices out there, corroborates the evidence for iOS users being significantly more active online.

Overall, it’s important not to draw too many conclusions from the wealth of data on which device performs the best. When devising mobile marketing tactics, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. We’re talking Apples and oranges (or rather, Apples and Androids) – so come up with a separate mobile marketing strategy for each, especially if your business has a global reach.

 

February 20, 2014

Mobile Marketing Tactics for Precision Geo-Targeting

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Location-based marketing, also known as geo-targeting, is becoming one of the most useful weapons in the retail marketing arsenal. The technology allows businesses to contact customers as they enter a certain geographical radius.

As mobile marketing tactics go, geo-targeting is highly successful, with consumers 30-300% more likely to click a geo-targeted ad compared to an untargeted one. This success rate has not been lost on the big brands, 58% of which employed geo-location strategies during the first quarter of 2013 – more than double the 27% of the previous year.

Consumers like geo-targeting because it only gives them in-store offers at times they can actually use them. Businesses are getting ever-more sophisticated in the way they use the technology; many are starting to use micro location-based mobile marketing strategies, whereby customers download an app in-store and receive personalized offers once they enter the store.

So what about the stragglers? If it’s one of the most effective mobile marketing solutions, why aren’t all companies using geo-targeting? Despite the obvious benefits, the complexity of using the technology effectively – and ethically – is beyond the ken of many businesses, especially those who lack the financial clout for high-end tech support. Matching a person’s location to a relevant communication is achieved in a number of ways, and not all of them will be feasible. Let’s take a quick look at the main methodologies used for geo-targeting, and the implications thereof:

  • IP targeting identifies a user’s location based solely on their IP address. This is attractive to marketers as it presents no privacy or legal issues, since it does not require users to opt-in. The individual is not targeted, just the ISP infrastructure within which they are present online.
  • Location-as-a-service solutions (LaaS) are cloud based, using locations according to mobile phone towers. LaaS does require the user to opt in.
  • WiFi triangulation locates mobile devices using the MAC address and nearby wireless hotspots. Not the most accurate or instant form of geo-targeting, it’s unlikely to be taken up as a mobile marketing tactic.
  • User supplied location is information gathered from opted-in users.
  • Cookies are already familiar to most desktop internet users. They don’t necessarily provide accurate information on mobile users, as a cookie may be recorded in one place before the user moves on to another location. Cookies are also frequently deleted by users.
  • Location-based proximity networks are extremely accurate as they generally operate in store and can locate users within 200-900 feet of the point of purchase. This method is favored by big department stores and malls, but they rely on users who have opted in – something which many shoppers refuse to do.
  • GPS is the most accurate of all, providing location information within a few feet of the device. Again, it relies on users opting in to the service.

The usefulness of these mobile marketing tactics depend entirely on the objective of the business, the type of message, the target audience and the required level of engagement. The efficacy of these metrics in terms of user engagement comes down to creative mobile marketing solutions. What’s not in doubt is the potential of geo-targeting as a B2C and B2B mobile marketing strategy – just make sure you use the right method in the right way.

 

February 19, 2014

The Foundation of Mobile Marketing: 3 Key Solutions

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It’s been almost 10 years since smartphones and subsequently mobile apps were introduced to the world, thus revolutionizing the marketing industry in a way few expected. While numerous mobile marketing solutions are available for companies to utilize, three stand out as the best strategies for securing prospects and maintaining relationships with current clients. So what are these solutions, and what makes them so effective? 

Responsive Web Design

A somewhat new solution regarding mobile marketing tactics, response web design is defined as tailoring the layout and function of a website based on device screen size and viewing capabilities. Whether viewing site content from a laptop, smartphone or tablet, responsive web design allows for easy viewing minus distortions and other issues that crop up when browsing a site that does not include this feature. Responsive web design only requires one code and one content management system (CMS), making it easy to add new features, publish new content and fix site issues. A website optimized for any device also allows for much more traffic and overall site use.

Mobile Apps 

The development of mobile apps created a whole new way for businesses to market themselves. Mobile marketing campaigns continue to get bigger, better and more personalized, as they make staying in touch with users easy. Whether to employ native or hybrid apps depends on a company’s mobile marketing strategy, as native options are built solely for a specific operating system, such as an Android or iOS, while hybrid apps were created for use across numerous operating systems.

No matter which app version a company decides to use, it’s imperative that the app serve a practical purpose or otherwise feature a unique function the user won’t find anywhere else. A fantastic example is any shopping app, as it allows users to scan barcodes for quick and easy order and reorder of favorite products. Mobile apps are an ideal way to increase brand awareness and cement customer loyalty, even if the business generates a lot of traffic via their official website. 

Dedicated Mobile Website

Key mobile marketing tactics also include the dedicated mobile website, or when a site is optimized entirely for mobile use. This mobile marketing strategy is highly effective when a business is looking to analyze customer engagement and activity, but the company website isn’t fully operational or still in the “revamp” stage. An effective way to test proverbial waters, dedicated mobile websites let businesses know to what degree they will benefit from mobile marketing campaigns.

Whether using one or all of these mobile marketing solutions, it’s important to remember mobile internet usage continues to increase. Employ such solutions in mobile marketing campaigns and see if they don’t help business!

 

February 17, 2014

7 Reasons to Optimize Your Website for Mobile Users

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As mobile usage continues to grow apace, the need to optimize your website for smartphones is essential. Mobile marketing is no longer a single feather – it’s becoming the entire cap. If you have yet to create a mobile website, take a look at some compelling reasons to get started:

  1. Nearly 50% of daily Facebook users are mobile-only. Mobile ads account for around half of the company’s total advertising revenue. With such a large audience at your disposal, these facts alone mean that delaying mobile optimization is hurting your business. With 31% of smartphone users claiming in a recent Pew survey that mobile is their primary access point to the web, your mobile website must offer the same functionality as your desktop site.
  2. Mobile traffic makes up nearly 10% of global web traffic. There’s only one direction that figure is headed in future, and some analysts have predicted that by the end of 2014 more people will use mobile phones than PCs to browse the web.
  3. By next year, U.S. mobile sales are forecast to reach $31 billion. Similar stories are playing out all over the developed world. To describe mobile as a global growth market would be a massive understatement. Any business that fails to provide a comprehensive mobile-friendly version of their site will lose millions of potential customers.
  4. 50% of internet surfers are using smartphones. Making content mobile-friendly is the only way to reach them. That means providing the best possible user experience on a small screen. Even Google recommends using responsive web design. In some regards, start-ups are in the best position here, as they can build their entire brand around mobile optimization, right from the get go. Established companies need to go back to their existing online presence and question whether a mobile audience will get the message.
  5. Only 21% of all websites are currently mobile-friendly. Despite half the population using a mobile device for their web activity, only a fifth of all sites have been rendered with mobile devices in mind. According to one piece of research, mobile optimized websites reported a conversion rate three times that of non-optimized sites. The implication is clear: users who don’t see what they need on one site will quickly move onto a competitor who answers that need. Mobile optimization is absolutely essential for driving business.
  6. Mobile commerce accounts for 23% of online sales. Again, this figure is predicted to grow in the future, as more and more people conduct their activities from a smartphone. Businesses who can carve out their market share as early adopters of mobile optimization will have safely developed brand loyalty by the time the rest of the world catches up.
  7. 49% of smartphone owners have made at least one purchase on their device in the past six months. Even people who are not regularly using their phones for shopping have dipped their toe in – and these are all potential customers, looking for a good user experience. Make sure you are providing it.