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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

mHealth Apps Growth to Reach $1.3 Billion

We understand how important mobile applications are to the healthcare field and predicted its rapid growth late last year. However, we were still surprised to learn that according to a report released by research2guidance, the market is expected to grow to $1.3 billion in 2012. This figure is a substantial increase over the numbers for 2011, which came out to $718 million.

With the number of mobile health application users predicted to reach 247 million in 2012, this method of using technology is here to stay. Since it is gaining in popularity, mobile health creates an opportunity for advertisers to reach specific target markets. Drug companies and others involved in the medical field will be able to get their messages directly in front of people who are interested in buying their products.

In some cases, revenues from mobile health applications will come from direct transactions. In other situations, money will be generated from providing patients with sensors that allow them to track information at home and forward it to their physician so that a specific medical condition can be monitored.

While some members of the public will resist mobile health applications, people who already own smartphones are probably more likely to embrace it. With smartphones becoming almost a necessary accessory for a certain segment of the population, I can see that people in this demographic will look at mobile health apps as just another type of application available to them.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mobile Security and Consumer Behavior Poll Results Surprising

Recently, the results of a survey conducted by National Cyber Security Alliance were published, showing interesting trends in consumer behavior towards mobile security. The "Report on Consumer Behaviors and Perceptions of Mobile Security" looked at the answers given by 1,158 American smartphone users, and presented an interesting snapshot of how they view mobile security.

Most of the respondents (67 percent) cited protecting their passwords as their most pressing mobile security concern. The respondents' attitude toward their personal information was very interesting, I thought. While 90 percent mobile phone users realized their device contains personal information, only about one-third of those surveyed stated that they were very concerned this fact.

When it comes to protecting data pertaining to their work, respondents seemed relatively unconcerned. Only about 34 percent of individuals surveyed stated that they were very concerned about keeping information relating to their jobs safe.

These survey results underscore the idea that while smartphone users know that security threats exist, they do not know enough about the specifics to be concerned about them. Another gap in consumers' knowledge about smartphone technology is that device owners are not aware of the steps they need to take to protect themselves.

Since security issues for smartphone users are not going to go away, consumers need to be educated about what they can do to keep their personal data safe. The results of this study point to a disconnection between consumers' knowledge and about security issues and the steps they need to take to stay safe.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mobile App Developers Must Keep Privacy Policies Simple

I think that a major component in doing business is establishing trust with the customer. When it comes to mobile marketing and mobile applications, developers need to be very clear about their privacy and security policies if they want to create it.

Consumers are concerned about what happens to their personal information, and I would say that they are right on the money to be cautious. Now that we are seeing mobile applications being used by healthcare workers, for example, the people developing these tools (which are designed to improve services to patients) need to be very conscious of the fact that medical records and other very personal information is being transmitted electronically.

I would think that basic privacy and security procedures that need to be followed in any instance would include things such as getting consent from users before collecting information from their social network profile. If an app tracks where a mobile device is located, the user needs to be aware of this so that he or she can decide whether to download it or not. Users also need to be aware of whether their personal information will be collected and shared with any third parties.

If mobile app developers keep consumer privacy and security issues in mind, this consideration will go a long way toward having the user feel more comfortable about downloading them. Mobile marketers also need to cover the privacy bases when they are developing plans for targeted consumer campaigns.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What Will the Future of QR Codes Look Like?

Are QR codes on their way out? I have been giving this some thought, and here is my take on the matter. Like everything else involving modern technology, QR codes will continue to evolve. Over time, they will likely become more specialized and user-friendly.

When QR codes were introduced, marketers seemed to take to them right away. Consumers, however, were slower to embrace this type of communication. Part of the problem with QR code marketing is that consumers cannot tell from looking at it what the benefit of scanning it with the smart phone would be for them.

It can be argued that QR codes are a more sophisticated version of a barcode, and we are all very familiar with those. When someone goes into a store to buy an item and a cashier scans the barcode to ring up the sale, it is a very straightforward process. The customer knows that the barcode contains a description of the item and its price. With QR codes, however, the consumer is not familiar with how scanning it will provide a benefit for him or her, and that makes QR codes a tougher sell.

However, the creative uses for QR codes exist, and the potential is almost limitless based on evolving smartphone technology. QR codes can drive leads, deliver customized content, unlock special offers, and more, marketers just need to start thinking creatively about how to use QR codes to really engage the consumers snapping them.

In all likelihood, QR codes will continue to exist in some form, but they will need to be become more specialized if consumers are going to embrace them in the way that marketers are hoping. They might need to offer the benefit to the customer in a specific situation, such as being able to scan and pay for an item on the go, before they become more mainstream.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mobile Marketers Need to Keep Target Audience in Mind

With the mobile marketing wave continuing to gain momentum, I thought it would be prudent to take a moment to focus on how businesses should always keep the consumers' needs in mind when they are developing a mobile engagement strategy. This method of reaching out to customers gives businesses access to the buying public like never before, but it is not without its pitfalls.

One thing that business owners and marketing types need to keep in mind is that mobile marketing is different from traditional web marketing. Unlike trying to connect with your customer base through a console, this type of marketing must be directed to the person on the go. How can you make the experience unique and engaging for the customer? This is where you must to focus your attention if you plan to develop an effective mobile marketing strategy.

Since mobile devices are meant to be carried by the customer, you need to consider where your customer will be when he or she receives your message and how you can entice the customer to visit your brick and mortar store or mobile site.

Mobile devices also make it easy for your customer base to share information with friends. The effective mobile marketing campaign should include something that the customer will want to share with others right on the spot, which means the message needs to be catchy and relevant.

Keeping these ideas in mind will help you develop an effective mobile marketing campaign.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mobile Marketing Helps Businesses Reach Larger Audience

If you are still on the fence about whether mobile marketing for your business is a good idea, consider that this method of reaching out to potential customers gives you access to a much larger target market than you may able to reach through other marketing methods. I would ask you to keep in mind that more potential customers have access to mobile phones than most other forms of media. The fact that there are so many buyers with this technology means that you have the potential to increase sales dramatically through an interactive marketing campaign.

Consider using text messages as a way to promote your business, share information to your customer base, and offer savings coupons. This method of promotion is interactive and it allows you to develop relationships with your buyers, which in turn will lead to sales.

Your potential customers are using their smartphones and tablets to search for information and check out pricing before making a purchase. All your mobile marketing campaign is doing is tapping into something that your customer base is already very much interested in and building on it.

Using mobile technology to connect with potential buyers is not the wave of the future; it is already here. Businesses are already maximizing this type of technology. With the growth in mobile phone sales, this trend is only going to continue over time.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Majority of Marketers Planning to Use QR Codes

I thought the results of a study conducted by Scanbury were very interesting. It found that marketers are very much aware of QRcodes and that most of them are planning to use them in the future.

Approximately 50 percent of marketers are using the codes in some manner. According to the results of the study, 86 percent of marketers surveyed said they planned to use QR codes at some point in the future. These numbers are very encouraging for the marketing industry, despite the fact that a number of consumers are not aware of how QR codes work and what they should do when they see one.

I was especially interested to find out that the marketers surveyed stated that the three preferred choices for placing QR codes were on product packaging, in magazines or newspapers, or on direct mail items. Another study conducted by Martin Chadwick Bailey found that most QR codes that are being scanned are found in magazines and newspapers.

I would hope that marketers are taking heed of these results when they are planning their QR code campaigns. A company could invest a considerable amount of time and resources adding QR codes to billboards, websites, packages, etc., but if consumers do not know what to do with them, then this type of campaign will not be successful.

I hope that over time, consumers will become more knowledgeable about QR codes and scan them to access more information about a product.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mobile Health Apps to Grow in Popularity

I was very interested to read that the use of mobilehealth apps by doctors and patients is poised for growth. This makes perfect sense to me, since consumers are already using their tablets and smartphones for internet searches, shopping and other functions.

According to the Analysis of the U.S. Broadband mHealth Applications Market, the number of tablet users will increase to 82 million by 2015 from the ten million people who owned one in 2010. What I initially did find surprising was the report's conclusion that the majority of people who would be using these mobile health apps would be older Americans. It did not fit in with the idea I had that smartphones and tablets were something that would appeal to younger people.

When I gave the matter some more thought, I realized that it makes sense that people living with chronic health conditions and their caregivers would be interested in using mobile apps that can help them doctors keep track of their condition.

If using a handheld device can help to track a patient's blood pressure, glucose readings, or medication dosages directed by a doctor, then this is a very welcome development for medical care. I predict that the popularity of mobile health applications will continue to grow over the next several years. Probably the only thing holding health care consumers back from using them is lack of knowledge, and that obstacle will not last much longer.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mobile Websites Are Becoming a Necessity for Retailers

Retailers who want to remain competitive must invest the resources necessary to make sure that they have a good mobile website. I see this as the big shopping development of the future. Consumers are embracing the idea of using a mobile device for shopping like never before.

As this technology improves, I think we can expect to see the numbers continue to rise over time. In the past, it was important for businesses to have an online presence using keywords that would attract potential customers. While that is still the case, now company websites also need to be optimized for mobile users.

Retailers who are slow to get out of this particular gate will find that they are missing a big piece of the potential revenue pie. With many consumers focusing on getting the best deal for products they are buying, I can see them spending some time using a tablet or smart phone to shop around before they set foot in the store. As more people become comfortable with online shopping, busy consumers are more likely to simply look for products electronically rather than taking the time to visit a brick-and-mortar store.

I know that businesses are competing for the same dollars from their customer base no matter how they choose to shop. The brands that will be left standing 12 months from now will be the ones that have taken the steps necessary to optimize their sites for mobile consumers.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Smartphone Sales Pushing Increases in Mobile Marketing Budgets

This isn't the age old question of, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" The fact is that the increase in smartphone sales is driving companies to increase the amount of funding they are prepared to devote to their mobile marketing efforts.

Digital Marketer is predicting that marketing to customers using mobile phones is going to start replacing methods that are more traditional. According to Nielsen, approximately 43% of cell phone subscribers in the US own smartphones. Despite this fact, purchases made using mobile devices are still relatively low.

In my opinion, this means mobile phone users represent a large, untapped market for businesses. They have the technology in their hands - literally. All consumers need now is a way to use their smartphones that will lead to them open up their wallets.

Now it is up to businesses to adopt strategies that will make it easy for them to reach out to their customer base. Within the last year, smart phone sales have risen dramatically. There are enough smartphone owners to justify spending budgeted money on mobile marketing.

Sales estimates for 2011 indicate that m-commerce originating from smart phones was approximately $5 billion. Given the fact that sales from the year before were approximately $2 billion, this increase means that m-commerce is about to be the next Big Thing.