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November 14, 2015

Weird and Wonderful Thanksgiving Marketing Ideas



Halloween is done and dusted and Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means we’re heading towards the biggest spending bonanza of the year. In theory, it should be easy for retailers to capitalize. Black Friday and Cyber Monday provide opportunities for huge sales spikes, as shoppers start buying gifts for the end-of-year holiday season. 

But Thanksgiving itself - and the days leading up to it - are a comparatively quiet time for businesses. Unless you’re in the food business, there are no guarantees of boosted profits, which means you have to get creative with your mobile marketing tactics. To help you, here are some off-kilter ideas to help you stand out from the crowd:


Break a Record

There are so many strange and surreal world records out there, it’s not as hard to break one as you might think. In 2008, National Geographic Kids magazine set the record for the longest chain of shoes ever laid out, with 10,513 items of footwear, heel to toe. Doesn’t sound too hard to beat does it? Or, how about attempting to beat the record for most star jumps in a minute (which currently stands at 61). Get your customers involved with an SMS campaign - if they can beat the record and send you the video proof, offer a prize giveaway. Whatever record you (or your customers) go for, try to keep it industry relevant. 


Cranberry Bucket Challenge

The ice bucket challenge is a bit 2014, so why not update it with a turkey twist? Because they come with pre-made brand recognition, such memetic juggernauts are crying out for a decent spin, so why not get your staff and social media followers to tip Cranberry sauce over their heads. Messier and more expensive than ice? Certainly. But wilder and wackier too. A colorful, sticky mess like this could really get you some attention online - you might even approach the scale of the frozen water viral phenomenon that inspired it.


Mobile Treasure Hunt

Give your online followers an incentive to sign up for mobile alerts by offering a whole bunch of festive prizes to anyone who can find a Thanksgiving-themed plushie around any major city you can get it to. A stuffed turkey - stuffed, that is, with fabric, not sage and nuts - is the obvious choice. Set a 48 hour time limit for your turkey hunt, and run it all via mobile communications. Send occasional, cryptic text message clues, making them easier as time goes on without anybody finding the turkey.

November 05, 2015

More Than 70% of Moms Use Smartphones to Shop


It’s no surprise to see market research focused on moms. Aside from making personal purchases, moms are making important family purchases every day of the week. A recent study conducted by highlights growing trends among on-the-go mothers and reveals how they are using their mobile devices to make smarter and more convenient purchases.  

According to the report, moms are using their mobile phones to complete purchases 33 percent more often than they were just last year. This might come as no surprise—after all, nearly every demographic has shown growth in mobile purchasing. 

Of the 1,100 respondents to the survey, 70 percent report having used mobile while shopping inside a brick-and-mortar store location. Moms are doing this for several reasons, most of which focus on saving money.


Using Mobile to Save 

Some of the ways moms use mobile in-store to save money include searching the Internet—56 percent report doing this —and comparing prices at other retail locations. 

More than half of the respondents reported the use of a retailer app and 61 percent use mobile coupons. 

One of the most notable discoveries is that moms are using mobile to scan. They’re scanning to get coupons, and they’re scanning to compare prices, possibly with apps like RedLaser or similar QR code scanners. The big takeaway here is that moms are 55 percent more likely to make a purchase after scanning an item. 

For physical stores, as well as online retailers, streamlining a mom’s mobile experience should be high on the priority list. Fifty-nine percent of moms said excessive typing hinders effective mobile purchases. Four in 10 moms agree that a one-click purchasing button would increase the likelihood of them making purchases via mobile. 

“Streamline the process and offer special deals in-store; brands can sell more by connecting directly with moms on-the-go,” said Julie Michaelson head of global sales at BabyCenter.  

The use of mobile while shopping in-store is a great way to interact with a mom who is already positioned to make purchases. It can also build strong loyalty with customers who perceive value in mobile activity.  

Moms are among the savviest shoppers; using mobile to reward money-saving activities is a smart way to reach moms and reward them for doing all the hundreds of things they do each day for their families.

About the Author

Jeremy Pollack has a B.A. in English from USC and has been writing professionally since 2001. He is the founder and editorial manager of Compelling Content Solutions, A copy writing and content marketing services company.


November 02, 2015

Making Mobile Marketing Tactics More Effective


Mobile marketing is hot marketing. It’s so hot that companies are springing up daily to jump on the mobile marketing train. Marketing teams from big firms can’t always keep up with the every-changing mobile marketing strategies, which include mobile apps, text messages, SEO content, and other solutions. Specialized marketing agencies are taking over and filling in where in-house departments are lacking. All of this means we’re seeing new, innovative, and fresh approaches to mobile marketing that stem from each marketing agency’s attempts to one-up the other.  

In the ultra-competitive mobile marketing niche, we’re watching strategies and trends in the making, many of which come from a sense of urgency and most from a desire for growth in our changing times. With all of the new mobile marketing tactics, how do we know what really works? What’s the best way to gain new clients and customers via mobile marketing? Is there a best way?

Let’s take a look at some of the facts and data:


Social Media 

Social media is the most widely used mobile marketing technique. But, it’s still only used by 14.8 percent of mobile marketers. Clearly, social media marketing is a must in a comprehensive marketing plan, but it should not be the only solution you’re using. 

It’s going to take more than just getting social to reel in new users and customers. Mobile app marketing needs to include other channels like video ads, banner ads, and other marketing strategies. Remember, 85.2 percent of the time social media is not the most effective means of gaining users.


Digital Ad Spend 

VentureBeat surveyed 731 mobile developers, with more than a billion users among them, to find out how one can get the best mobile users. It analyzed data and created a chart that broke up mobile marketing tactics into 16 user acquisition channels. Social media marketing, as we’ve stated, came in first in terms of usage at 14.8 percent. Of the 16 channels, 8 can be executed without paid ads.

This means that about 50.8 percent of marketers say non-paid tactics are their most effective when user acquisition is the goal. A bit more than half of the marketing developers queried prefer strategies like ASO, incentivized installs, PR, email, web organic search, in-app tactics, and offer walls. For mobile marketing tactics that are effective, you don’t need to go the paid spend route. Paid can help fuel growth, and it’s desirable as a core focus. But, it’s not the only solution and it should be used along with other mobile marketing solutions.


Old-School Mobile Marketing Tactics Are Reemerging

As marketing techniques shift to mobile, we see old tactics reemerge as the new way to gain users. The past repeats itself as marketers strive for balance between what worked brilliantly before and the new-fangled strategies that teams feel compelled to jump on. What is the best tactic? It’s most likely a mix of old and new. What will make the difference in user acquisition from one company to the next? The business that has its marketing strategies down to a science will win. 

October 14, 2015

The SMS Liqor Store Has Arrived!

During the early 2000s, a shadowy organization called Dial-a-Booze delivered vodka and beer to thirsty Glaswegians who were poorly served by the city’s strict licensing laws (which prohibits the sale of alcohol after 10pm and before midday). It’s ‘marketing’ was entirely word-of-mouth, everyone knew what it was, and enough of them had the latest phone number to keep the party going at 3am. A text message was all that stood between revelers and a trunk-load of drastically marked-up beverages.

Despite being treated by locals as if it were a vital public service, it was, of course, completely illegal. Skip 12 years and an ocean and the concept pioneered by Dial-a-Booze has become a legit enterprise. 

Drinkeasy is an SMS-based liqor store that doesn’t stop at the already-appealing idea of drinks-to-your-door. In true hipster style, the service peddles craft spirits produced by microdistilleries. It provides specific information on the source of each tipple. This is a smart move considering 24 hour grocery deliveries are already available to deliver the big brand products at cheap prices. Simply offering Smirnoff and Jack Daniel’s to mobile drinkers is not a USP; opening the door to a world of small-batch delights, not necessarily available at supermarkets, is.

The service is the brainchild of Nick Manning and Harry Raymond, the guys behind Swig, a drink-friendly social networking app. Since launching the app, they began receiving requests for drink recommendations, prompting the idea that they could combine their knowledge of local, small-batch liqor with a delivery service.

Right now, Drinkeasy is only available by invitation. But that, along with the selection of alcohol (which is currently limited to hard liqor) is expected to change in due course.

October 05, 2015

Hotel Guest Services and the SMS Messaging Solution


Texting has surpassed email and a number of other communication methods as the go-to choice for businesses—and for the companies that support business professionals and other travelers. Hotel guest services that use text messaging tap into an easier way of communicating with guests and make them feel their needs are being attended to personally.

Why Text?

Here are just a few ways in which text messaging makes it easier for hotel front desks to communicate with guests:

  1. “The last mile.”  Many hotels are focusing on text messaging during “the last mile” – the time just before a guest arrives to check in, according to a recent TNooz business article. By connecting with guests during this time, the hotel can ensure that their questions are answered and that check-in goes more smoothly, boosting customer satisfaction and allowing the hotel staff to streamline efforts for greater productivity and efficiency.
  2. Quicker contacts.  Guests who have checked in can text the front desk with any needs, questions, or requests.  Companies like Marriott, which recently launched its own chain-specific guest app, report that customer ratings on sites like TripAdvisor have risen in direct response to the app’s use.  Customers appreciate a simple, quick way to connect with hotel staff without having to leave the comfort of their rooms.
  3. One-on-one communication.  Guests with disabilities or other special needs are often sensitive about their information being overheard by others standing near a front desk.  With text messaging, hotels eliminate this potential embarrassment by keeping conversations about a guest’s needs discreet.
  4. Better ratings.  According to TNooz, one hotel chain chose not only to implement texting, but also to test its efficacy. The chain matched two groups of guests and gave one the option to text.  Positive ratings from the texting group jumped 20 percent over the control group’s ratings, with the texters specifically mentioning the texting option as one of the reasons for their increased satisfaction.  The numbers indicate that texting works for hotels that wish to improve their Net Promoter Score or other ratings.

Bringing the Future of Texting to Today’s Guest Services

A recent white paper by the Global Business Travelers Association (GBTA) found that while not all hotels have adopted texting, those that have are encountering similar problems. The organization recommended that hotels focus on several key areas when implementing a new texting method:

  • Online check-in and room entry that perform seamlessly
  • Text or app-based concierge service offering prompt, personalized responses
  • Improving communications with airport shuttle services to make “the last mile” seamless
  • Pre-trip communications that differentiate between business and vacation travelers in order to provide a more personalized experience
  • Improving information exchanges between travelers, hotel staff, the texting service, and tracking systems, such as expense reporting software.

By harnessing technological tools like text messaging, hotels can provide exceptional service in a more efficient and productive fashion, boosting customer satisfaction and repeat visitors while gaining the most value out of expenditures on the project.


September 29, 2015

How Secure Are Mobile Payment Apps?


Today’s world is one featuring numerous ways to pay for, well, anything. The latest offerings are in mobile form, but just how safe are mobile payment apps? Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Kash, Paypal, Square, Levelup—these products make paying as easy as taking out your phone, but are they vulnerable to hackers? Are the companies behind these oh-so-convenient apps doing everything they can to keep user information safe? 

These questions and others are being asked in a new report by advocacy group, The Clearing House. The report, entitled Ensuring Consistent Consumer Protection for Data Security: Major Banks vs. Alternative Payment Providers, argues that payment app developers aren’t subject to the same regulatory oversight banks get regarding cyber security. The result is security flaws remaining under the proverbial radar until it’s too late and a breach occurs. Clearing House is owned by the world’s largest commercial banks. 

Gary Miliefsky is the CEO of SnoopWall, a company that specializes in cyber security. He says that the report highlights real cyber security concerns.  

“These alternative-payment methods certainly are providing something that consumers want, which is a convenient way to make payments,” Miliefsky says. “But I don’t think most of those consumers would be too thrilled to know that these companies might not be subject to the same demanding data-security requirements their banks deal with.” 


Security Breaches

Starbucks is one company that has already made headlines for its mobile payment app issues. The app is a favorite way for coffee drinkers to pay, however in May reports suggested it had been hacked. Experts believe the Starbucks app was targeted because it stores credit card information. For its part, Starbucks denied the app was hacked. 

"When it comes to reporting on breaches involving customer accounts at major brands, the news media overall deserves an F-minus,” cyber security expert Brian Krebs said at the time in defense of the coffee juggernaut. 


It should be noted that mobile payment options are still in their “infancy,” and that phones themselves are easy enough to hack through apps, wireless signals, and by simply picking the device up and going through it. Using a system that requires two-factor authentication is recommended, as is using completely unique passwords for each account. Mobile payment apps will certainly improve, and in the meantime it’s important to do what you can to preserve the security of your phone and all the accounts it features. 


September 22, 2015

How to Restore Deleted iPhone Texts


Deleting old text messages on your iPhone is a good way to manage its performance. Large apps can take up a considerable amount of space on a phone’s hard drive; left unchecked, text conversations can rival the same amount of space, especially if you’re using video and photos. Deleting text messages is easy, and should be performed regularly to keep your phone running smoothly. But what if disaster strikes and you need to restore a deleted iPhone text? Is it possible?  

The short answer is yes. While the world may feel like it’s about to end, the truth is that recovering a deleted text message is not impossible, nor is it as difficult as you might think. In fact, there are three ways to accomplish this task:


Restore with iTunes 

The easiest way to ensure you don’t have a brain aneurysm if you accidentally delete an iPhone text, or need to recover old messages, is with regular backups to iTunes. You can easily recover deleted SMS messages simply by plugging your iPhone in to a computer. 

Once you’re connected to iTunes, click on your phone icon in the upper left corner. Once selected, choose ‘Restore Backup,’ and all of the previously backed-up settings, apps, text messages and so on will replace the current data on your phone. This shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. 

It’s important to note, however, that this method can only replace data from the most recent backup. There’s no way to recover material you backed-up three ‘backups’ ago using the iTunes recovery method. 


Recover from iCloud 

Apple’s iCloud is a great option for retrieving lost/deleted text messages, provided that your service area is within a territory that backs up SMS messages automatically.  

First, log in to iCloud using your Apple ID and password. Look to see if ‘Text Messages” is available. If it isn’t, you’re not in a covered territory. If it is, you’re in luck.  

Next, search through the messages and find what you’re looking for. Using your iPhone, navigate to the settings menu and turn on iCloud. Also in the settings menu, turn off Text Messages. A pop-up will appear. Click ‘Keep on My iPhone.’ 

Now you can turn your Text Messages back on in the settings menu. Click ‘Merge,’ and in a few minutes, the messages you selected from the iCloud will appear in your phone. 


Third-Party Apps

Finally, if all else fails, there are a couple third-party apps that come highly recommended for recovering deleted iPhone data. Some apps cost money, which is less ideal than just recovering a backup from iTunes. But when doom is imminent, one must do whatever it takes. 

WonderSahre is an iPhone data recovery software the runs the gamut. This app works on several devices and recovers just about everything, from lost photos and videos to voicemails and text messages. Another highly recommended recovery system is Tenorshare, which works in all the same ways and offers a free trail. 


Hopefully, your world won’t come to a screeching halt because of deleted or lost text messages. The takeaway here is that deleting your text messages should be a normal part of your iPhone’s maintenance, but so should backing up the phone regularly so you can get data back if you need it. 



September 13, 2015

Is Social Media Advertising Effective?


Word of mouth sales have always been popular, but they’ve also been tough to track.  Businesses can find it difficult to determine exactly how well word of mouth is working, even when their customers are eagerly chatting on social media.  You want people to enthuse about your products to everyone they know.  How can you be sure that your efforts are making that happen?

How Do Social Media Leads (and Sales) Work?

A 2014 Gallup poll claiming that social media influences only about 5 percent of shoppers left thousands of retailers wondering if they should even bother with the social media world.  The answer is yes!  But, if you want to use it as part of your overall mobile marketing strategy, it’s important to know how social media drives sales.

Social media is social.  Users log in to their social media accounts to connect with friends, family, and co-workers – people they know and trust.  When it’s time to purchase a new item or find a qualified service provider, people turn to their own social networks for awareness, research, evaluation, and advice, as one Google study discovered.  Or they notice which of their friends have “liked” a product or company, and file that information away for later use.

In other words, if you’re trusting the click-through rate of your ads to accurately express your social media’s ROI, you’re missing most of the story.  

How to Maximize the Impact of Social Media for Your Business   

To leverage the power of social media advertising, think “awareness.”

Because potential customers are on social media networks to socialize and gather information, barging into their feeds with overt ads for your products or services can have unwanted effects.  It’s a bit like walking into a strangers’ dinner conversation and trying to sell a product.  You don’t know whether this group of people contains a single member of your target audience, and the diners are more likely to be annoyed than interested.

Instead, join potential customers at the awareness and information-gathering stage of their journey.  Here’s how:

  • Use referrals.  Encourage current customers to refer their friends to your company.  Referrals encourage new customers to associate your company with the positive feelings they already have for the referring friend.  They also strengthen your relationship with the existing customer.  A referral may be as simple as encouraging current followers to like and share your company’s content, or as complex as a formal referral and rewards program.
  • Encourage user-generated content.  An advertisement that is shared still looks like an advertisement.  To integrate your company into your target audience’s conversation, encourage customers to create reviews or other content.  When customers create content, they’re more likely to share it and to stand behind it.  They created it, and they want to be heard.
  • Stay top of mind.  A combination of traditional, targeted advertising, shared content on social media, and user-generated content maximizes your company’s ability to stay top of mind.  When the customer is ready to purchase, your name will be first in their thoughts – and they’ll be first through the door. 

September 04, 2015

Give Your Fall Marketing Strategy a Seasonal Twist


The shifting seasons provide an opportunity to regroup and re-evaluate, and perhaps come up with new marketing ideas to take advantage of changing consumer habits. Fall is especially important, as it represents the final approach to the all-important Yuletide shopping season. To give your mobile marketing strategy a new edge this Fall, consider trying some of these seasonal approaches:


1) Saving and Spending

An increasing number of canny shoppers are getting the bulk of their Christmas spending out of the way by Halloween. They’re looking around for early promotions and special offers to help save money. Target those consumers who won’t buy a thing until they see a deal. No need to mention Christmas - you can tie promotions in to Thanksgiving season, the ideal time for ‘Buy One, Get One’ offers.


2) Sports

Most of the major sports seasons begin during Fall, providing a good opportunity for marketers to capitalize. Get involved with a local team, either through sponsorship or a more indirect partnership. Remember, SMS polls are great for engaging your user base. Send surveys out to your mobile messaging contacts, asking them who their favorite college and pro teams are. Youth sports are a good avenue for marketing, and are more accessible to small businesses than national teams.


3) Focus on the Main Events

The two key holidays in Fall are Halloween and Thanksgiving. Keep an eye out for opportunities to promote your business using the language and themes of these two very different occasions. You might push ‘frighteningly low prices’ around Halloween, and push a message of gratitude to your customers during Thanksgiving. For the latter. why not send out cards to your loyal customers?


4) Don’t Forget the Smaller Ones

There are loads of lesser known holidays taking place throughout Fall: Grandparent’s Day (Sep 13th), Columbus Day (Oct 12th), Boss’s Day (Oct 16th), Daylight Savings (Nov 1st), Veterans Day (Nov 11th), First Day of Fall (Sep 23rd), and Small Business Saturday (Nov 29th). If you have an international audience, you can delight them with your knowledge of local holidays and surprise them themed offers. Give some love to Day of the Dead (same day as Halloween) in order to reach Hispanic shoppers, or have a Scottish-themed quiz on social media for St. Andrew’s Day (Nov 30th). Quick, one-day-only deals are easy to promote and won’t tie you into spending too many marketing dollars on something that isn’t working.


5) Tis the Season

Fall colors and images are pleasing to the eye. Browns and oranges, falling blossoms, piles of leaves, pumpkins, crafts, candy - the icons associated with the season are instantly recognizable. Keep these concepts in mind when re-vamping your website and social media pages during the run up to Christmas. 

Take advantage of the shift in seasons to shift your focus. Move away from summery themes toward a cozier, more contemplative autumnal vibe, make some timely special offers that put you ahead of the end-of-year commercial curve, and watch your Fall revenues blossom!

August 31, 2015

Eight Ways Technology Has Improved Air Travel


Without a doubt, technology has streamlined everything in our lives from business to pleasure. Air travel is no exception: airlines are spending money to improve their customers’ experience. We’ve all heard about the advancements in in-flight entertainment, seats that convert into beds, and the all-important increase in leg room for the average passenger. But what about advancements for the tech-savvy traveler? Well, here we have compiled eight ways in which technology has improved air travel in recent memory.


1. Digital Check In. 

Nowadays about 9% of air travelers use digital tablets or smartphones to check in before boarding a flight, rather than checking in directly once they reach their terminal. Researchers from SITA, a multinational airline technology company, expect that figure to balloon to 24% in the next three years.


2. Social Media Seating. 

Imagine a flight where you already know a thing or two about your neighboring fliers! Launched in 2012 by KLM Airlines, the Meet & Seat program has garnered much acclaim from various participants. In essence, the Meet & Seat program to allows its fliers to select seatmates based on shared interests via Facebook or LinkedIn. 


3.Booking Flights Via Mobile.

Expedia recently reported that 48% of mobile users employ their devices for aspirational travel research. In addition, there are several apps available that cater to air traveling consumers. For example, Appi Holidays is a consumer travel app that allows a user to create their perfect holiday by providing them with a plethora of destination options and activities – ones that are either well-known or a little off the beaten path. 


4. Baggage-Related Technology.

Foremost, airlines have been offering automatic luggage drop-off machines more commonly. By 2018, 74% of airline companies are expected to offer the service (from 17% today). Also by 2018, it is likely that 70% of carriers will be able to give passengers regular updates on the location of their baggage, via their smartphones (up from only 10% today). 


5. In-Flight Entertainment Improvements. 

Several airlines have been experimenting with this. Virgin America offers a seat-to-seat chatting system, where fliers can message others onboard and order drinks, as well as watch movies or TV, listen to music, shop, play games, or look at Google Maps. Singapore Airlines offers a similar service, fit with a USB device to look at your own personal media. Finally, Emirates and Qatar Airways have exhaustive entertainment options, with over 1500 differing types/channels of entertainment each!


6. Social Media Impact on Air Travel. 

Facebook has changed the way people decide where to go on a vacation. 52% of users report that their prospective holiday destination ideas came from photos and status updates they witnessed in their Facebook feed. And since two-thirds of all air travelers have social media accounts, there has never been a better time for airlines to be active on social media channels.  


7. Airport Beacons. 

Many airports around the world have started to use beacon technology to improve customers’ experience. Using Bluetooth technology, travelers can use special apps to access maps of airports, as well as navigate their way to the check-in desk in their terminal.


8. In-Flight IPad Rentals. 

There are a few airlines that have begun to experiment with iPad rentals, among them OpenSkies, Qantas, Jetstar, Philippine Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines. While a few of these services are free for longer flights, the average fee is ten to fifteen dollars per rental.


We no longer live in the dark ages, where passengers are provided a tiny seat with very little legroom. With the amount of tech that has grown to be a part of our personal lives, we can expect to see a great deal more technology in the works for airlines – all for the benefit of the everyday passenger.