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Monday, October 31, 2011

Digital Wallet Technology Means More Opportunities for Mobile Marketers

If you have ever struggled to find the right rewards card in your wallet like I have, you will welcome the news that a digital wallet will allow you to store all of this type of information in one convenient place. Anything that will make it more convenient for me to get a transaction completed when visiting a retailer is a good thing as far as I am concerned.

It appears that Canadians are ready and willing to embrace this type of mobile technology. A survey conducted by Leger Marketing for PayPal Canada found that 56 percent of Canadians said that they are very comfortable with the idea of making cash-free purchases. A full 36 percent of Canucks stated that they would be willing to use a mobile device to make a variety of purchases, from something as small as a daily cup of coffee to larger items, like electronics.

What does this mean for mobile marketers? The increasing popularity of mobile devices opens up multiple opportunities to interact with consumers by placing targeted ads and offering special promotions to customers through mobile devices.

If modern consumers are already embracing the idea of going shopping with their devices, it simply makes good sense for marketers to tap into mobile shopping as a way to increase revenue. Over time, they will continue to reach out to customers in this manner.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

QR Codes from untrusted companies carry malware risk

QR codes are becoming the hot new item among major brands and retailers to drive consumers to websites, promotions, sweepstakes, and more. What's easier for consumers than to scan a code with a smartphone app and instantly go to a mobile website to learn more, compare products, or complete an action in order for you to capture critical customer data? A simple click is all it takes to access this information, quickly and conveniently.

Unfortunately, some consumers have found that snapping images of QR codes has also led to infection of their phones by malware. According to one anti-virus software company, a smartphone was infected with a code that sent a number of expensive text messages.

Malware is not the only risk associated with QR codes. They have been linked to phishing scams, too. If a smartphone user is asked to provide a user name and password for his or her e-mail account or a social networking site, this is a red flag that something may not be right.

Businesses and advertisers that use QR codes should be aware of these scams and create measures that increase consumer trust, such as only working with reputable QR code companies and listing traditional contact information near the QR code for the customer, in case they want to confirm.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mobile Websites Will Drive Sales for Retailers This Holiday Season

The annual holiday shopping season is about to start, and mobile retail websites definitely have a role to play in helping consumers get the most bang for their buck. I can’t say that I enjoy shopping as an activity at any time of the year. Any technology that can make it a quicker and easier experience is something that I am prepared to embrace with open arms.

Recent surveys and data about consumer interactions with mobile web offer some very interesting results. It found that consumers are turning to mobile websites to provide them with information they need to make an educated decision. A full 63 percent of respondents said that they had visited a store’s website from a mobile device and I was surprised to find out that 41 percent of them have done so from within the store itself.

Using mobile devices to check out offerings does not necessarily translate into loyalty, though. Shoppers reported checking out the offerings from another store during the same visit.

Mobile sites can act as more than just an electronic brochure for a retail establishment. They can be an effective promotional tool for retailers. Shoppers who are already interested in researching prices and taking advantage of store coupons to find the best deals on the perfect gift will simply reach for their smart phones. Savvy store owners will make sure they are providing that information.


Friday, October 14, 2011

New Mobile Technology Turns Your Cell Phone into a Mobile Scanner

I was really pleased to discover recently that the very bright folks at MoBeam have turned their attention to developing mobile technology that will make some applications much easier for consumers. I’m looking forward to the day when I can buy tickets for a concert online and avoid having to go to the Will Call window at the venue to pick them up or waiting for the post. MoBeam’s technology, which may be available to the public by early 2012, will allow me to store this type of information electronically and then present it to a retailer, who will simply scan it and direct me to my seat.

MoBeam, a technology company founded in 2010, will also make it possible for consumers to get away from having to clip paper coupons and keep them organized before heading out to the stores. This approach should satisfy even the most extreme couponers and should make it easier for the average person to take advantage of this money-saving technique, which I am definitely supporting.

This company is demonstrating its belief that mobile technology should include this type of personal scanning by getting a cash injection reportedly from Matsui, Samsung and yet2Ventures of $4.9 million. These funds will be used to further develop the technology and bring it to major cell phone manufacturers. This new feature would then be offered to consumers as part of the cell phone’s package of features.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Holiday Shopping with Mobile Web and Apps a Popular Choice

The holiday shopping season is almost upon us, soon we will be making our lists and checking them twice before starting to search for gifts. I always look forward to this time of year, and like the majority of shoppers (54 percent), I plan on doing mine in November or December. I can’t get organized enough to start shopping for Christmas in October but 33 percent of people decide to get an early start and (hopefully) beat the holiday rush.

When holiday shopping with mobile devices, there is no need to brave the genuine crowds at the mall to get your Christmas shopping done. People who own these types of devices are very likely to use them to get their shopping done. According to a study conducted by Mojiva, about half of mobile device owners will use them for this purpose- that includes me.


Shopping with mobile apps      Shopping through mobile web

Not only will mobile device owners do their holiday shopping through mobile web or applications, they also plan to spend more on electronics than consumers who favor more traditional Christmas shopping methods. The same study found that 70 percent of them will spend $20 or more on a gift, while 40 percent will go as high as $50 on an item for someone on their Christmas wish list. Overall, it sounds like shoppers are embracing their mobile devices this holiday season. Personally, I am quite happy to skip the crowds, put on my iTunes and buy my gifts on my cell phone.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Guess Using Mobile Technology to Attract Young Buyers

Guess, a clothing retailer focusing on providing fashions for men, women, children and babies, has decided to harness the power of mobile technology and social apps to bring customers into its brick and mortar stores. I think this is a really interesting concept, since young people have already enthusiastically embraced smart phones and social networking sites like Facebook.

Here’s how the concept works: Prospective Guess customers can check in at the company’s stores using Foursquare. When they do it, they are rewarded with access to a special promotion. First up for this new venture was the Urban Jungle Check-In Challenge, which is in place to promote the company’s G by Guess clothing line.

This first effort wrapped up on September 30, and now the company will need to evaluate how well this use of mobile technology has paid off for it. I find it interesting that the campaign was directed at employees as well as consumers, and I can only conclude that adding employees to the target audience helps to keep the staff engaged in the company’s products and promotions.

To keep customers and staff interested in the number of people checking in at Guess stores through Facebook and Foursquare, an online leader board was set up. Store employees and customers alike could check it out to see how “their” location was doing. What a fantastic way to create competition between stores.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Mobile App for Last Minute Hotel Reservations Benefits Consumers is definitely on the right track with its latest mobile application for travelers, in my opinion. The company’s Tonight Only Deals for hotel reservations will be posted each day at 11 a.m. and people who are looking for a reservation at the last minute can access these deals until 11 p.m. or all the rooms are filled, whichever comes first.


Just like me, the 70% of mobile device users prefer to wait until the day of check-in to make a hotel reservation. I adore this new app and others will appreciate it as well. Just under half of desktop computer users choose this strategy to help them find a place to stay at the last minute.

Plenty of people resist the urge to make their hotel reservations well in advance, and it’s not surprising when you consider that sites like offer much better deals for those of us who are prepared to be flexible and not limit their choices to a particular hotel chain. If this applies to you, consider yourself in good company: approximately 58% of consumers will wait until they get within 20 miles of a hotel to make a reservation, and another 35% of travelers do not make a move to find a place to stay until they are a mile away. This mobile application makes the process of finding a place to stay a much simpler process. Thanks to this app and the mobile web, I will never book in advance again.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Can Mobile Technology Help to Improve Students’ Writing Ability?

At first glance, I wouldn’t have thought that mobile technology would have anything to do with helping students improve their written skills. Many companies have taken this particular bull firmly by the horns to develop a number of essay apps designed to help young people learn how to write better and put together more convincing arguments when faced with a writing assignment.

Mobile applications have been developed for use with the iPhone and iPad, which means that students can get access to writing help quickly and easily. Why focus on helping students learn how to be better writers? Well, if falling SAT scores in the written portion of the test are any indication, this is where they need the help, so why not combine it with their favorite gadget?

Being able to communicate clearly is a skill that can be learned, and it’s to a student’s advantage to master it. Not only will they need good written skills if they want to do well in school at the post-secondary level, these skills are necessary for success on the job since employers are actively looking for candidates with superior writing abilities.

If mobile technology can help young people develop the skills necessary for success, then more schools should consider using the apps that are easily available. I’m all for doing whatever works to remain focused on the ultimate goal.

Mobile Strategy is a Lot Like Playing Poker

Over the last three years of being in the mobile business, I’ve seen a lot of mobile companies come and go. Someone every day says have you heard of “XYZ Company?” It seems as though someone new is popping up with an idea and investment money every day. And by number of increased phone calls I get on a weekly basis from venture capitalists wanting to invest in mobile, we all know it’s hot, stats are crazy and everybody wants a piece of the pie. I guess I started to realize while flying to the DMA show this week, mobile is very much like the game of poker. This struck me because I’m an avid poker player and I love the game for the challenge, reading people, being creative and winning, and the mobile field is similar in many regards.

So, I started to put myself in the shoes of our client, prospects, and folks we talk to on a daily basis. Several things have become very clear about folks that are thinking about getting into mobile:
  1. They are in “research” mode and they don’t know what they don’t know.
  2. Someone has sold them or they have “tried” on mobile siloes solutions they are selling.
  3. When approaching mobile solutions, the “mobile ecosystem” as a whole is not being thought of.
  4. The database you are trying to build is really an afterthought and not a key focus.
  5. And if you’ve tried mobile before, you are looking for a better second marriage. You know what you want this time, you have goals and you want a good partner, not the “bill of goods”. We love the second time folks; they know a good mobile partner when they see one. These clients usually lead to a life of happily ever after.

So how does mobile strategy remind me of poker? It’s easy.
  • Picking your table is key, if you end up or stay too long at a bad table, you lose all your money. Same is true with mobile, if you pick a bad partner, not only will you be unsuccessful, it leaves a bad taste.
  • It’s ok to switch tables if you know you sat down to a bad table. If you aren’t seeing performance, or the technology is not what it cracked up to be and you aren’t getting mobile strategy support, move. Time is of the essence in mobile you can’t wait 12 months to get a good mobile partner.
  • The guy who wins the most hands is not the guy that wins the most money. Mobile is test and learn, not everything you do is going to be a huge success. Test, learn and repeat the good stuff, adjust the stuff that isn’t working. You need to build a foundation for success, anyone can win one jackpot but try hitting multiple.
  • Don’t play games you don’t understand even if you see others winning by luck. There will always be something new and shiny in mobile. Innovation is good, but enhancing the basics vs. inventing them in mobile builds a foundation for long term success.
  • Learn by playing the game, reading and theory are great but nothing replaces actual experience. Get going: the time is now, pick a great mobile partner and throw in some chips. After all, you don’t have to go “all-in”.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Does Anyone Know How a QR Code Works?

Today makes me wonder more than ever, do companies really know how to roll out QR codes or is this fad worse than I thought? I guess it’s the cool thing to say “take a picture of our QR code” on your marketing pieces, however, at the DMA show where everyone is a Direct Marketer, I would expect them to work. When I say “work” I use the term loosely, because I define “work” as a QR code that gives me a mobile experience, i.e. I want to take the picture of the QR code and get a mobile website, not your traditional website or an “invalid error”. So, to experience what I’ve been preaching, I took a walk around 1 (yes, ONE) aisle of the DMA show. All around, there were big tradeshow booths with huge 3 foot QR codes prominently displayed on all of the booths. There were chances to instantly win, watch videos, like them on Facebook and get a coupon. I tested 5 QR codes in less than 10 minutes, and the results even shocked me. I told my colleague that I bet 3 out of 5 were going to not work and would go to a traditional website but, to my dismay, all 5 went to traditional websites. I went up and talked to each person (not knowing I was a mobile person) and asked them why there QR code went to a traditional website and it wasn’t a good mobile experience or how QR codes were meant to work. I got a few of the following; “What do you mean, it came up on your phone, right?”, “Isn’t a mobile website just a site that comes up on your phone?” and even a few folks that told me not to tweet about it, sorry.

QR codes are meant for consumers to snap a picture and instantly get a mobile experience on their phone; they are not meant to just take someone to your traditional website. Before you roll out QR codes for any company, brand, or customer, be sure the end user experience follows QR Best Practices 101 and takes them to a mobile website, mobile video, mobile sweepstakes or lead form, not a traditional site or worse, an “invalid error.”