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January 30, 2014

Is Text-to-Donate the Future of Fundraising?




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.





January 24, 2014

Apple Seeks to Boost Share of Chinese Mobile Market


Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has promised the company’s 763 million Chinese subscribers “great things” in response to repeated calls for larger display screens.

Cook made the promise at China Mobile’s flagship store in Beijing - but he wouldn't go into specifics about Apple's plans for developing a device aimed squarely at one market.

“We never talk about future things,” Cook said. “We have great things we are working on but we want to keep them secret. That way you will be so much happier when you see it.”

China Mobile is the world's largest carrier, and Apple hopes to tap their user-base in order dominate the country's smartphone market, which is currently led by Samsung. Three home-grown companies trail Samsung but outsell Apple.

China Mobile could shift 10 million iPhone units this year, according to estimates from industry analysts.  According to China Mobile, pre-orders for Apple’s iPhone stood at around 1 million units on January 15th. 

Apple's slow progress in China has largely been attributed to the relatively high cost of the device. Consumers are opting for smartphones costing as little as $100. Apple hopes to overturn that trend this year, but is facing a major challenge in the shape of their iPhone display, which Chinese consumers insist is too small. Standard practice in China is to use one large-screen device for emails, web browsing and watching video content. Every other fourth-generation smartphone offered by China Mobile boasts a display at least half an inch bigger than Apple's four inch iPhone screen. 

Rumors abound over whether Apple will address those concerns specifically for one marketplace - albeit a huge marketplace. Some expect the company to introduce two larger-screen devices this year in order to pose a real threat to the big domestic hitters. 



January 21, 2014

Instagram Rolls Out Mobile Ads

Last October, Instagram began phasing in advertising on their photo and video sharing platform. They began with sample ads placed directly in users' feeds, promoting a handful of trusted businesses that were already part of the Instagram community. Just ten brands were invited to participate. Additionally, Instagram promised not to incorporate any user content into ads.

Mobile marketing is still relatively young, and even big brands like Facebook, Google and Microsoft are figuring out their best practice for getting the most out of it. The search engine giant is leading the pack right now in terms of revenue, but Facebook is catching up fast, with the launch of FBX for mobile promising to revolutionize targeted advertising. With Instagram linked to Facebook, both companies stand to mutually benefit from new mobile strategies.

From the users perspective, Instagram’s refusal to share member photos and other content is great news. They are setting a new standard for sharing only relevant, shareable content.

Of course, this philosophy is a lot easier to bear out for what is essentially a visual platform. Creating images – even mediocre images – necessarily requires more work than creating mediocre text, so marketing departments will have to up their game if they want to avoid being spam filtered in Instagram’s new world. And with the recent addition of video capabilities to the site, users are experiencing ever-richer content.

It’s clear that we are entering a new era of mobile marketing. Some analysts predict that mobile will outstrip desktop by 2015. Whatever happens, mobile search and advertising is here to stay, and marketers ignore the changes at their peril.


December 13, 2013

SMS and Coupon Codes

Figuring out how to start an SMS campaign is not the easiest task for marketing managers. A great way to launch such campaigns is via the use of mobile coupons. There may be a specific offer relevant to your industry, or your might prefer to come up with targeted promotions for different groups of customers.

A Cellit survey recently indicated that buy-one-get-one coupons were considerably more popular amongst young consumers - around 68% of them prefer this type of coupon. A straight-up freebie with a purchase is more effective than a percentage discount.

Formatting the message in such a way that will engage your audience is a key part of any successful SMS campaign. Here are a few tips to help:

Keep it brief. When crafting your message ensure it is as succinct as can be, while still giving the customer all the instructions they need on how to use  your coupon codes. Use personal language, avoid jargon. Slang, sales-speak, they both stand out - and not in a good way.

Lead the message with your brand name so recipients aren’t just reading (and probably spam filtering) another faceless ‘special offer’. Make sure the offer can be redeemed immediately. Remember, text coupons should reflect the demand for instant value to which smartphone users are becoming accustomed.


November 25, 2013

Technology and Politics


How the soapbox went digital.

Ethics change with technology. So says sci-fi author Larry Niven. It's quite a thought in these uncertain times, when politicians' credibility as harbingers of ethics hinges on their canny use – or shocking abuse – of technology. The scrutiny they are under is enabled by technology, too. Statesman makes moral blunder. Voters film it and post on youtube. Statesman tweets his apology. Voters tweet their disapproval back. It's a sophisticated game of ethics Pong. 

Back when actual Pong was at the digital cutting edge, the marriage of modern technology and politics was very much in its honeymoon period. The televised debates between presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon are widely regarded as a watershed, the point at which public perception of politicians was based on the moving image, rather than the printed word.

But while television revolutionized personality politics, very little changed in the way technology was used to canvass opinion or harvest votes. Right up until Obama's 2008 nomination, the political campaign trail was paved with three-by-five index cards and soundtracked by the analogue click of phone banks calling potential voters. An index card would be created with the voter's details. A code denoting the voter's preferred candidate (or the direction they were leaning toward) would be added. Campaign organizers would be handed shoeboxes filled with cards that had been coded, and would call voters to rally support. 

The index card system used in field organization seems so quaint now, but it engaged voters in the electoral system – and that's exactly what desktop and mobile marketing strategies are doing in the 21st Century. Now, if anything's the dinosaur it's television, a medium barely touched on by the first Obama campaign. It was even said by some commentators that Hillary Clinton acceded her Democratic nomination because she ran an old-fashioned campaign.

By contrast, Obama raised half a billion dollars in campaign funds online, and gathered vital data on the electorate that allowed him to appeal directly to them. The president's team was young enough and canny enough to see the way the tide was turning. A combination of social media, YouTube, Twitter, mobile advertising and traditional forms of marketing helped the campaign deliver a more personalized message to voters. 

Some of the innovations developed and exploited by the Democratic presidential campaign were – and remain – at the forefront of mobile technology. A hyperlocal targeting app created specifically for Obama linked a google map to the neighbourhood in which campaign volunteers were working. Blue flags appeared on the map with targeted scripts that could be used to talk directly to voters about the issues affecting them. Mobile payments were also used to great effect, allowing supporters to contribute dollars via text message.

The Romney campaign tried similar strategies. One idea was a VP app that promised to inform supporters of the vice president pick before anyone else. In the end, traditional news media beat them to the punch. After the Obama victory, one Romney staffer said dejectedly: “We weren't even running the same race.” 

After the Republican's disastrous attempts to flirt with new technologies in 2012, it's unlikely the GOP adopt anything other than a full-blown mobile marketing strategy for 2016. After all, an estimated 1.2 trillion text messages will be sent this year, and almost every single American voter will have received at least one of them.

The beauty of text messaging for political campaigns is that those who choose to receive SMS broadcasts have granted permission by opting-in. This is usually done by texting a keyword to a short code or local phone number. Why is opting-in so good? It protects you from accusations of spamming, as everyone on your list has requested you contact them by text. This way, you know that everything you send is heading towards someone who wants the information. Add to that the fact that more than nine out of ten texts are opened and read, and you have a pretty effective platform.

Political campaign managers are using text messaging in all sorts of innovative ways:

  • Personally connecting with voters
  • Running polls and surveys
  • Announcing debates and party events, conferences and meetings
  • Getting feedback on hot-button policy proposals

These dramatic changes in the political landscape are profound. As Larry Niven pointed out, the technology itself has an impact on the way people think. It might be used to manipulate people. It might be used to empower them (as with the much-lauded application of Twitter during the Arab Spring). Either way, it's here to stay, and the Obama 2012 campaign is a perfect model of how to conduct a mobile marketing campaign that works. You should try it some time.

November 11, 2013

How Can My Restaurant Use Mobile Marketing?


Mobile marketing is a godsend for the restaurant business. Whether you’re running a franchise within a global chain of fast-food outlets, or trying to reach out to locals for a mom ‘n’ pop diner, leveraging the power of smartphones should be a central part of your marketing strategy. Here are the best applications of mobile technology for restaurants:


  1. Texting. This is the kicker. Cheap, fast, reliable – bulk texts can fulfill all sorts of dreams you may have for growing your business. You can use texting to send out menu updates, courtesy messages and reservation reminders. Set up an opt-in text list by offering promotions to customers who sign up. What’s the best way to do that? Read on…
  2. Mobile coupons. If you doubt the efficacy of this emerging form of discounting, think on this: mobile coupons have a redemption rate nearly 25% higher than printed internet coupons and around 10 times higher than mail or newspaper distributed coupons! Guess what else? They’re significantly cheaper than any other form of coupon, so if you’re considering getting into the coupon game, there really is no other option.
  3. Geo-fencing. This emergent technology uses GPS to define the geographical boundaries of a specific mobile device. It allows restaurants to trigger texts and emails to that device when it comes inside the boundaries. So if one of your customers is in the area, you can send them special offers based on their favorite dishes.
  4. Surveys and polls. Engage your customers directly by asking them what kinds of combination deals they might be interested in. For instance, would they prefer a lunch deal with two free sides or a starter and a dessert? Send out surveys to get feedback on customer service by asking for star ratings on your latest daily specials.
  5. QR codes. These are ideal for out-of-hours engagement. Set up sign on your store front with a QR code so if hungry customers are constantly walking by when you’re closed, you can think about the possibility of extending your opening hours.


Mobile marketing offers so many opportunities for localized, targeted customer engagement. For small restaurants, texting is an affordable way into the mobile marketing revolution, so if you’re hungry for customers, start changing the way you do business today.

October 28, 2013

Mobile Advertising Market Will Be Worth $76 Billion by 2018


The rapid adoption of smartphones and mobile media consumption has prompted analysts to put a projected value of more than $76 billion on the mobile marketing industry by 2018. A report from market research company Markets and Markets claims the current value of $15.13 billion will explode to $76.57 billion in five years, with an anticipated Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 38.3%.

The market for mobile and cross-channel advertising is doubling year on year, according to the report, which analyzed data from all the major vendors of web advertising space, including Google, Apple, Jumptap, Yahoo, Microsoft Drawbridge.

The research looked at various regional markets, comparing mobile advertising trends in North America, Europe, Asia and the Pacific, the Middle East and Africa and Latin America. It also broke down data according to solutions; services; devices; advertising types; verticals and organization size. The biggest growth region is expected to be Asia and the Pacific, with emerging digital economies in Africa and the Middle East not far behind. Cross-platform marketing is prising open the world economy for corners of the earth that were simply unable to compete on the global stage, even ten years ago.

The latest buzzword in digital marketing it may be, but ‘cross-platform advertising’ is really helping consumers break new ground in the way they work, rest and play. Multiscreen, multi-device access to cloud-based data has opened the door for advertisers to target customers on phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.

Throw location-based marketing into the mix, and you have the potential to target the plugged-in, switched-on, youth demographic who are rarely without at least one device. Text messaging campaigns can send promotions to customers based on their preferences and locations, allowing for more personalized offers and greater engagement.

Whether it’s a small startup in Nairobi, or an international tech firm in Silicon Valley, the cross-platform market is booming. Retail. Food. Technology. Businesses of all stripes and nationalities are taking up these new marketing tools because they provide an affordable way to reach out to new business and loyal clients alike. 

It’s an exciting time for any business currently planning their next big marketing push. There is a caveat in the Markets and Markets report, however. They sound a warning note regarding the challenges posed by cross-platform and location-based marketing, referring to privacy as one of the ‘major issues’ facing this new combination of technologies. The ability to track consumers using GPS places a much greater responsibility on companies to act ethically and with explicit customer consent. SMS marketing and web marketing firms should be alert to the need for opt-in checkboxes and easy opt-out options. For mobile marketers who launch their strategies from a point of mutual trust and clear consent, the future looks very bright indeed.





October 17, 2013

Celebrity Texting Fails

Madonna took a scolding and a ban from a movie theater for texting during a premiere. But which other famous faces have been outed as text villains?


A Texas movie theater chain has banned Madonna from their establishments after she was caught texting during a screening of 12 Years a Slave. Madge was apparently tapping away on her phone during the film’s premiere at the New York Film Festival last week and was sternly reprimanded by a patron who asked her to stop. According to reports, the star’s haughty response to the request was: “It’s for business… enslaver!”).

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema chain has a strict no-talking, no-texting policy in place, enforced by ejecting any movie-goer who violates it. The chain’s founder and CEO Time League later tweeted that Madonna would be unwelcome at Alamo theaters until she “apologizes to movie fans.”

The grande dame of pop is not the first celebrity to get in trouble over anti-social texting habits. Back in 2010, Jersey Shore star Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi landed herself in hot water after tweeting about the perils of gridlock from her car – just hours after she had struck a plea bargain to avoid jail time for disorderly conduct.

Snooki’s tweet – “Stuck in Newark traffic is no fun” – was soon followed by another in which she complained about using manual transmission, making it quite clear that she was behind the wheel at the time of writing. Although she avoided arrest, Newark Mayor Cory Brooker got wind of the tweets and reminded her via Twitter that she had committed a ticketable offense.

The same year saw the tragic death of celebrity plastic surgeon Dr. Frank Ryan who was reportedly tweeting about his dog moments before his car plunged off a Malibu cliff. Best known for performing multiple surgeries on stars of The Hills Ryan’s accident prompted a wave of public awareness about the dangers of texting while driving.

The charge has been led by Oprah Winfrey, whose campaign to get fans to agree not to text while driving has received massive support from both the celebrity and earthling worlds. Oprah’s ‘No Phone Zone’ pledge has helped consolidate safe texting campaigners all over the United States, including Justin Bieber (who recently shot an advert for the Drive Safe organization) and Sharon Osbourne. Osbourne had her own text-related shunt in 2011, and has since vowed never to use her phone while driving again.

As the social – and legal – rules surrounding good texting practices evolve, mobile communications firms are stepping up to help people send time-critical SMS messages without risking their lives. Ez Texting has introduced a raft of features allowing users to take advantage of their services even if they’re on the road often. Bulk texts can be scheduled to go out at a pre-determined time, and drip campaigns send a timed series of messages to a specific group of contacts. Recurring texts allow users to compose a message that can be send out on a regular basis whether they’re up in the air, stuck in traffic, at a movie theater or otherwise away from their desk.

Between public campaigns, celebrity endorsements, government legislation and private enterprise, we are moving closer to putting an end to needless road death caused by texting. An end to movie theater nuisances – famous or otherwise - would be the icing on the cake.

August 26, 2013

Mobile Gamers A New Target For Mobile Marketing

An article over at discusses a new trend for mobile marketing in smartphone games. With the mobile gaming industry expected to soon surpass $12 billion in revenue, it makes sense for them to be an ideal marketing target.

“Games are media, and marketers need to think about it as such,” writes ClickZ‘s Matt Kapko. “Facebook’s head of games and other executives at CBS Interactive, IGN, PaeDae, and Scopely encouraged a room full of marketers yesterday to get serious about gaming as a media channel that is on the upswing and ripe for advertising opportunities.”

A challenge, however, is using the mobile gaming medium appropriately for advertising. Matching your ad to the game you choose as a platform, in addition to advertising in a way that can interrupt a gamer's play while still maintaining their interest in your product may been trickier than is seems.

“I think targeting within the games and these overall networks matters a lot and it’s not being done very well right now,” Emrich concludes. “Unfortunately the Internet as a whole and games in particular are still moving toward direct response, and unfortunately that’s still the lowest common denominator when it comes to advertising.”

Read more about this new trend at!



August 06, 2013

Online Shopping Overseas Is Booming

According to an article over at, new reports show that cross-border online shopping is on the rise. 

Cross-border online shopping will be worth $105 billion this year, with 94 million consumers regularly buying from overseas websites, a new report released by PayPal and Nielsen showed. This is forecast to increase nearly 200 percent to $307 billion by 2018, with 130 million cross-border online shoppers.

This is likely to draw even more of a focus on web presence in retail, including mobile marketing presence. But for those who can handle the marketing challenges, catering to a more global market could be a blessing for retail sales.

David Marcus, President of PayPal, says “The emergence of these ‘modern spice routes’ is great news for businesses the world over. Our message to merchants is if you are looking for new ways to grow your sales, especially in an economic downturn, start selling directly to 94 million cross-border shoppers in these 6 markets and own a piece of this $105 billion market.


Will this create a marketing struggle for local, small businesses? Read more about this new trend at!