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April 08, 2014

Integrating Social Media, Text and Email

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Mobile marketing relies on creating robust strategies for multiple channels. The key areas for any winning mobile marketing strategy are social media, SMS messaging and email. If you’re developing three entirely separate campaigns for each, you need to rethink your approach.

To create a successful, holistic campaign, you need to foster a ‘cross channel synergy’ between each channel. If, for example, you have an email contact list, encourage those who usually only use email to visit your Facebook page, where you can offer a freebie to people who opt in to your SMS list. This ‘feedback loop’ maximizes engagement with your customers – but it has to be done right. To wit, an important message to understand:

Don’t Ignore Email

As mobile marketing tactics begin to focus more on texting, a lot of businesses are beginning to forget about email, regarding it as a relic from a bygone era. This would be a mistake. The many, varied reasons belong in another post – in fact, here’s just such a thing all about the value of email. Above all, think about how often you check your email. Yes, much of what comes into your inbox is spam filtered, deleted, or ignored, but the fact remains, nearly everybody has an email account – smartphones haven’t quite achieved that level of penetration.

Now we’ve established that email is far from over, how can you integrate it with your social media and SMS campaigns? Here’s three top tips for getting the most out of your integrated campaign:

  • Provide incentive. If you want people to connect with you on social networks, you need to offer them something of value. Before asking people to share a link or visit your website, ask yourself, what’s in it for them? An easy way to do this is by incentivizing Facebook ‘likes’ by offering a discount to anyone who gives the thumbs up to your page.
  • Get people Retweeting. Highlight a particular tweet in your emails, and embed a ‘Retweet This’ snippet that makes it easy for people to share.
  • Provide an opt-in form. Facebook allows you to add an email sign-up form as one of your apps. Use it! Your Facebook followers will soon be asking you to send them emails with special offers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 01, 2014

What’s So Great About SMS Marketing?

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In mobile circles, it’s well known that more than nine out of ten text messages are opened and read within minutes of receipt. Numerous studies have corroborated this impressive claim, and yet a number of businesses are still to catch on to the potential benefits of a mobile campaign.

The reasons for this vary. In some cases, businesses simply don’t want to try anything new, whether out of fear or corporate apathy. As in life, people tend to stick to what they know – especially if they are older and more set in their ways.

And yet, there are so many advantages to mobile marketing – when compared with other forms of advertising – that it to ignore it could be putting the future health of your company in serious danger. Here are five reasons mobile should be an essential, central part of your overall a strategy:

  1. It’s fast. A text message can be created, delivered, and read much faster than any other form of marketing. Look at the best Twitter and text campaigns to find out how to create engaging content in less than 160 characters, and remember, when it comes to delivering a punchy, memorable brand message, brevity and levity are your friends. Text has both.
  2. It’s cheap. For a small business, the affordability of SMS is one of the chief appeals. Compared with billboards or radio and television advertising, a text campaign gives you a big reach at a fraction of the cost. 
  3. It’s trackable. Keeping an eye on the success of your campaigns will help you figure out where to focus future budgets. With texting, it’s a whole lot easier to track metrics and create a detailed analysis of each campaign’s performance.
  4. It’s direct. Emails are checked once or twice a day at most, and the majority of commercial missives are filtered in one way or another. Text, on the other hand, is a frequently-checked medium, with many users looking at a message as soon as it has arrived.
  5. It’s interactive. Engaging customers is so easy with SMS. Surveys, polls and questionnaires can be sent to thousands of people at the touch of a button. Not only will texting encourage people to visit your social media pages and website, it can provide your business with crucial data on personal preferences and spending habits.

March 23, 2014

Three of the Most Successful Mobile Marketing Campaigns From Around the World

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If you’re embarking on a new mobile strategy for 2014, it pays to look around at success stories from the world of mobile marketing to see how it’s done. Here, we take a look at three of the most successful mobile marketing campaigns ever conducted!

American Express, Foursquare and Austin,TX

In the summer of 2010, Foursquare and American Express teamed up to devise a mobile marketing strategy that would promote customer loyalty for local businesses. The results were launched in Austin during the Spring of 2011. Some 60 local businesses offered Foursquare users a ‘spend $5, save $5’ reciprocal deal – provided they completed the transaction using an AmEx card. This ‘Loyalty Special’ sent push notifications to participants, informing them that they had successfully redeemed the offer. The beauty of this campaign was the seamlessness of the user experience: the special offer happened at exactly the same time as the sale, without the need for further action, effectively closing the loop between consumers’ online and offline behavior.

Aer Lingus

Irish airline Aer Lingus used to rely solely on emails to inform passengers of any flight delays or cancellations. This was far from perfect, only reaching around 10% of passengers. The carrier’s solution? SMS. Within a month of implementing an SMS communication program, Aer Lingus successfully informed 75% of passengers of a problem with a flight, and have since largely avoided shelling out compensation and fielding tricky complaints. This is a classic example of an indirect mobile marketing solution that worked its magic by improving customer service. Word-of-mouth did the rest.

Orange

A great example of a long-running mobile marketing strategy that’s had consistently high results is the partnership between UK cinemas and communications company Orange. Launched in 2003, ‘Orange Wednesdays’ offers 2-for-1 movie tickets to all customers, every single Wednesday. According to research conducted in 2010, Orange had issued 23.5 million freebies to date. Many customers took advantage of the scheme multiple times, and Orange claims to have generated another three million annual ticket sales for movie theaters. The campaign has been an undisputed success, taking Wednesday attendance figures from the lowest to the highest in a few short years.

So take a leaf out of some of these books when you come to devise a mobile strategy. If you offer something of value, get it to the right audience, and improve your customer service using text message technology, there’s not limit to what you can achieve.

March 13, 2014

Text Marketing and the Protection of Privacy

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Businesses of all stripes have found ways to make use of SMS messaging as part of their marketing tactics. Compared with more traditional channels (such as television or radio advertising) texting is affordable and easy to implement. Little wonder it’s such an attractive proposition – especially for small and medium sized businesses.

Equally, other forms of mobile-based outreach are taking hold as a primary form of marketing. A growing number of people own smartphones. Companies can now engage with consumers using sophisticated technologies like geo-targeting. Done right, such tactics are to the mutual benefit of businesses and customers.

But along with this boom in all forms of mobile marketing comes a raft of new responsibilities. Chief among them is the necessity for protecting consumer data. Businesses must now consider the impact that targeted, personalized advertising may have on ethical issues such as confidentiality and privacy. As exciting as the possibilities of data collection and geo-location are, they demand a whole new level of corporate self-regulation.

Clearly, to get the most out of many mobile services, consumers must surrender a certain degree of privacy. In the case of geo-targeting, businesses demand access to GPS locations in order to provide the service. The upshot it they have to be transparent and honest about the way in which they plan to use personal data.

Legislation has already evolved to deal with text marketing. New FCC regulations were implemented on October 16, 2013. Under the new rules, customers have to opt-in before a company can send text messages to them. By opting in, they have provided ‘express consent’ to be a recipient of corporate communications. Some of the obligations companies are bound by include:

  • Giving a clear description of the nature of the text programProviding the name of the company
  • Providing clear instructions on opting out
  • Giving an indication of the likely frequency of text messages
  • Giving an explanation of any additional carrier costs 

The federal government has considered introducing legislation to further protect consumer data privacy for mobile users. Some steps have been made at the local level - notably Senator Al Franken’s endorsement of the Location Privacy Protection Act in 2011, which would require businesses to obtain express consent before collecting or sharing data. The Senate has given the legislation the nod, but Congress has yet to deal with it.

Currently, the onus falls on companies themselves, so it’s vital that consumers are alert to the integrity of brands with whom they do business. As far as companies go, the existing situation provides a platform to build strong, personal, long-term relationships that are based on mutual trust. Do this, and you will develop true brand loyalty – without the need for ethical practices to be imposed by law from above.

March 08, 2014

Text Nutrition Program is Helping Kids in Malawi

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Despite the aggressive onward march of smartphone penetration in the developed world, the vast majority of people on earth are still not connected to the web at all, let alone through a sophisticated handheld device. That situation is unlikely to change any time soon.

Bridging the gap is good old-fashioned cellular technology, which is becoming more widely available in some of the more impoverished reaches of the globe. In Chikwawa, Malawi, a text message-based nutritional monitoring program was introduced in September 2012. In the intervening months, it has forwarded crucial data on children’s health to a central hospital in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe – and undoubtedly saved lives in the process.

Once a week, the mothers of Chikwawa – some 250 of them – bring their under-fives for a check up. A health worker logs their weigh, height, arm circumference and age, before sending the information by a text beginning with GM (for growth monitoring). Within minutes, the health worker receives a reply from the capital, determining whether or not the child is malnourished and needs further medical attention.

Growth Monitoring does not, in itself, identify the root causes of malnutrition, but it does expedite treatment for the most at-risk children, allowing district hospitals to get supplements to the needy. Supplements like PlumpyNut, which was developed to treat severe acute malnutrition at home. This in turn lightens the intense burden placed on the health system by eliminating the need for hospital stays. In a country with one doctor for every 44,000, measures like this are genuinely life-saving.

According to UNICEF, two in 25 children die in Malawi before reaching their fifth birthday, with at least a third of these fatalities attributed to malnutrition. Across the country, 17% of children under five are underweight, and 47% are stunted. The effects of stunted growth cannot be underestimated; where physical growth is stunted, so too is economic growth, and the effects of stunting can be passed onto the next generation, potentially hindering the country’s development for decades to come.

Before the SMS program was introduced, paper notebooks were mailed to the capital. The process could take up to a year, by which time the most at-risk children would have seriously declined – or worse. Furthermore, a study found that more than 14% of handwritten data was illegible – not an issue when it comes to texting.

Similar SMS-based initiatives have been used to great effect in other parts of the world. Some track diseases, other hold corrupt governments to account. UNICEF and other organizations are overcoming previously insurmountable problems across the developed world – and it’s all being achieved via the power of text.

March 03, 2014

Facebook Expects Instagram and WhatsApp to Drive Growth

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Facebook experienced accelerated growth during 2013, largely as a result of its monetizaton of smartphone and tablet users via mobile advertising. The company is now trading close to all-time highs, and, with the recent additions of Instagram and WhatsApp, has plenty of room for growth during 2014.

Acquired for a billion dollars in 2012, Instagram was seen as a bold purchase for Facebook at the time, as it was not yet a revenue generator. Facebook changed that in 2013, and they are starting to reap big rewards from the photo-sharing network, which now has more than 180 million MAUs.

A key change to the Instagram model was the recent addition of video capabilities. Selective ads from leading brands were added, and Instagram cleverly focused on only the most creative impressions that would fit with the overall aesthetic of the service. With Facebook’s billion-strong user base, Instagram has the potential to grow further still, with some analysts predicting revenues of more than $500 million by the year’s end.

A bigger surprise in industry circles was Facebook’s deal for WhatsApp, the popular messaging service that primarily services the youth demographic.

The massive $19 billion deal highlights Facebook’s determination to remain innovative and stay in touch with the mobile app boom. Facebook sees – as many do – the future of web activity becoming increasingly mobile-based, and is seeking to assert itself as the dominant platform.

Moving forward, Facebook remains an expensive stock, but the firm is doing all the right things – growing its user base, focusing on mobile ads and apps, and investing in product development at a thrilling rate. Facebook’s ability to monetize its increasingly large audience is proving a real boon to revenues and earnings. They are showing no signs of slowing down, and with an appetite for innovation and growth this big, who knows what 2014 will bring?

February 20, 2014

How to Make Geo-Targeting Work for You

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Geo-targeting or location-based marketing has fast become one of the most powerful tools at the disposal of retailers. This exciting new technology allows businesses to engage with consumers as soon as they – or to be more precise, their smartphone - enters a geo-fenced area close to a store or restaurant.

In the short time it has been available geo-targeting has proved immensely successful, with 58% of major brands employing some version of geo-location strategies during the first quarter of 2013.

Joe Public loves geo-targeting because it sends them relevant in-store offers only when they can actually use them. Businesses are finding increasingly sophisticated ways to use the technology. Some have begun using micro location-based techniques, whereby customers download an app to receive personalized offers as soon as they set foot in the store.

The benefits are patently obvious, and yet not all businesses suitable for geo-targeting have taken advantage. The technology is complex, and beyond the capacity of many small businesses. But there are a variety of ways to use geo-targeting, some of which are easier to implement than others.

One of the most attractive methods to marketers who don’t want to deal with privacy and legal issues is IP targeting, which identifies users based solely on IP address. There is no opt-in required, since the individual is not personally targeted, just the ISP infrastructure of which they are a part. Similarly, cookies provide a broad brush stroke version of geo-location, though they are notoriously inaccurate, being logged in one location before the user moves somewhere else. WiFi triangulation works in the same way, locating users MAC addresses and nearby wireless hotspots.

All of these geo-targeting methodologies have their perks, chief among them the fact that businesses don’t need to seek consent from their audience. To really get the most out of geo-targeting, however, you need to choose a more effective, precise and, yes, consent-based strategy. Location-as-a-service (LaaS) is a cloud based solution, triangulating users locations using mobile phone towers. Laas requires recipients to opt in, as do location-based proximity networks, which provide one of the most accurate forms of geo-targeting there is, capable of locating users within 200-900 feet of the point of sale. Location-based proximity networks are usually favored by malls and large department stores.

For the average retailer, GPS-powered geo-targeting is by far the best option, providing precision data to within a few feet of the mobile device. In most cases, persuading customers to opt-in to receive location-based offers and discounts via GPS is going to generate the biggest ROI. The only tricky part is convincing customers of the usefulness of the technology, whilst reassuring them that their data will not be used for any other purpose.

February 13, 2014

Canada Leads Global Anti-Spam Movement

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Staying compliant with anti spam laws isn’t easy. Even if you’re a stringent i-dotting, t-crossing bureaucrat, existing legislation is complex and, due to the fast rate of technological evolution, always subject to change. 

As tough as it is for marketers, it’s twice as bad for lawmakers, who must keep pace with a rapidly-shifting digital landscape from the context of traditional legal infrastructures (where change is typically glacial). Our capacity to pass new laws remains hobbled by a post-enlightenment attitude of checks and balances, where legal stability demanded slow, steady progress.

In the pre-globalisation era of unilateral regulation, this approach to corporate law made perfect sense. In the Internet Age, it makes virtually none. Legislative bodies all over the world are ill-equipped to tackle the borderless, international context of e-commerce. 

So it is with great interest that the global community awaits the upcoming introduction of Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL). It will take effect incrementally starting on July 1, 2014. Parts of the law will not take effect until July 2017.

The principal aim of the Canadian legislation is to clarify many of the grey areas that have dogged previous anti-spam measures. Consistent with new global practices for commercial email, the guiding principal here is “explicit consent”. Historically, implied consent was regarded as sufficient. The main requirements of CASL are as follows:

  • Permission. Now, granting permission to communicate with potential customers requires explicit permission – although there are some exceptions, such as pre-existing business relationships.
  • Private right of action. From the consumer’s point of view, this is one of the most important bits of legislation. Individuals can now bring a lawsuit against companies that breach the law; they have the right to apply for compensation. This piece of legislation will not take effect until 2017.
  • Three year grace period for consent. Designed to streamline the legal process by preventing frivolous lawsuits, the grace period implies consent for three years, but requires explicit consent thereafter.
  • Recorded proof of consent. Businesses must offer a clear unsubscribe option. They must also keep records of consent granted.

The legislation is of major significance for lawmakers across the world. It unites two existing strands of Canadian law relating to privacy and telecommunications. Up until now, the legal infrastructure has lacked a comprehensive framework for online commercial transactions and web marketing practices.

Compared with other G8 countries, Canada’s legislation is the harshest of its kind. The most radical elements of CASL are the extra-territorial limits placed on web communications, which will mean any electronic message sent from a Canadian IP address will be subject to the law, irrespective of its destination. The first legislation of its kind in the West, CASL does not limit its jurisdiction to fraudulent or deceitful messages – it applies to any commercial message issued without the recipient’s prior consent, effectively sounding the death knell for spam.

It remains to be seen whether other countries will adopt similar legislation. Some analysts believe the United States will wait to see how CASL plays out before changing their existing laws (known as CAN-SPAM). The crucial difference between CASL and CAN-SPAM is that the latter still works according to the opt-out method, whereby businesses have implied consent to communicate until recipients unsubscribe from the contact list. It is this single change of approach that threatens to forever change the way online marketing is conducted.

If mobile marketers can bring anything to the table, it is their experience in terms of adapting – and in some ways spearheading – the era of opt-in communications. Text marketers in the US were far ahead of the curve in this regard, and were well-primed for their own industry’s tightened regulations, which came about as part of last year’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

The lesson to be learned from the way that particular transition was handled is that invention really is mothered by necessity. Mobile marketers were more than ready for the change in legislation. Web marketing enterprises across Canada will be hoping to emulate the US mobile industry when the first raft of CASL changes are introduced this year.
 

 

February 04, 2014

Texting Can Help Diabetes Management, says New Research

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A brace of new studies suggest that text message programs can aid diabetics as they manage their condition. One major piece of research, published in Health Affairs, was prompted by the understanding that even patients with chronic conditions typically spend no more than a few hours annually in a health care setting, but their overall health was largely determined by the way their diabetes was managed at home.

Conducted by the University of Chicago Medicine, the research looked at one disease management program – mHealth – and its impact on adults with diabetes over the course of six months. The program uses automated text software to engage patients with their own healthcare, and to co-ordinate care efforts made on their behalf by nurses and physicians.

The research was conducted between May 2012 and February 2013. It observed a net cost saving of 8.8% among patients who used the technology, indicating that such programs can help reduce the per capita cost of healthcare. According to the study’s authors, the research provides evidence that text messaging can

“enable health care organizations to effectively support patients beyond the traditional healthcare setting and achieve the triple aim of better health, better health care, and lower costs."

The second study, published in the first 2014 edition of the Journal of Medical Internet Research, found that low-income Latino diabetes patients will accept text messages as a preferred form of behavioral intervention. The trial used a fully-automated text program designed to “increase knowledge, self-efficacy and subsequent disease management and glycemic control.”

In the JMIR research, five focus group interviews were conducted with 24 participants. Researchers sent personalized medication reminders and challenge messages to patients, and found the low-cost strategy to be effective at persuading patients to follow cues.

A similar program was run by the University of Minnesota. Their findings supported those published in the JMIR, indicating that Latino adolescent females – the fastest growing ethnic minority in the United States - were particularly responsive to text messages as a form of diabetes management and glycemic control.

The studies appear to support what the mobile marketing community has known for a long time: text messages work. As a widely available, low-cost technology, texting is fast becoming a vital tool when it comes to engaging patients and encouraging self-care in between doctor’s appointments.

January 30, 2014

Is Text-to-Donate the Future of Fundraising?

 

 

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Charity groups and non-profits are always on the lookout for new ways to raise money. There is a lot of competition for such finite resources as public goodwill and generosity, so it’s important to develop fundraising strategies that help you stand out from the crowd. 

One of the most exciting emergent methods of engaging with potential donors is mobile fundraising. Quick and easy for users, text donations have a proven track record, despite having only been around for a scant few years.

One of the first major successes was the United Way text-to-give campaign, which first aired during the 2007 Super Bowl, appealing to viewers on behalf of the recent tsunami in Asia. Using text-to-donate technology, the commercial raised around $10,000 within seconds, and quickly piqued the interest of other fundraisers who saw the potential of mobile campaigning. 

Another global cause to benefit from text-to-donate and mobile promotion was the Haiti relief effort. The Red Cross raised a staggering – and record-breaking - $32 million during the month following the earthquake. Observers put the success down to the simplicity of the donation process: donors could send $10 to the campaign by sending a brief text to a shortcode. The wave of public support for the cause extended to the corporate world, with numerous carriers waiving their usual messaging fees. 

The growing popularity of text-to-donate shows that, in many cases, the only barriers to fundraising are time and convenience, and not generosity. Compared to sending a check, making a phone call, or even visiting a charity website, texting is almost hassle-free for donors. With smartphone penetration expanding rapidly, and the vast majority of the public owning a cell phone of some description, potential donors often have their device to hand when an appeal comes on the television; text-to-donate eliminates the ‘manana-effect’ of even the most well-intentioned citizen.

Let’s say you want to donate to The Red Cross. By sending ‘REDCROSS’ to ‘90999’ you can donate $10 to the organization. The amount is simply added to your next phone bill (or deducted from a prepaid balance on pay-as-you-go handsets). By typing just 13 characters, donors have helped a good cause – probably without even standing up.

Like all mobile campaigns, a key benefit of mobile fundraising is the interaction with a young audience that is statistically less likely to give money to charity. And once they’ve opted in to your contact list, they’re more likely to donate again in the future. 

It’s important to be aware that not all mobile schemes are created equal. Charities don’t necessarily get 100% of the amount donated, and if the donation is deducted from a phone bill, it can take significantly longer to reach it’s destination than, say, a credit card payment made directly on a website. Inconsistencies in processing times notwithstanding, mobile fundraising works, attracting demographics who aren’t usually in the habit of giving money to good causes.

Done right, text-to-donate can help organizations develop long-term relationships with benefactors. And it’s as true for non-profits as it is for commercial enterprise: long-termer are more lucrative than one-timers.