4 Ways School Apps are Engaging Students, Parents and the Community

CATURDAY
It’s that time of year again – back to school! While mobile devices have found their way into the classroom, we thought we’d take a look at some of the innovative ways schools and administrators are using mobile apps to engage students, faculty, parents and the community. Here are 4 ways school apps are getting an A+ in leveraging the power of mobile:

1. Engaging students and parents

Mobile apps aren’t just for shopping and gaming, they can also be used to provide utility and connect people to information that matter most in their daily lives. Apps can help provide up-to-the-minute news to both students and parents on school happenings and extracurricular activities, and can become a quick reference point for school policies, course calendars and notes. Apps can also provide additional value by linking to maps, bus routes and even sharing the daily lunch menu.

Carleton-589x500

Carleton University provides news, links to campus services and academic information to students on the move!
Apps can also integrate with existing student information systems – like attendance records, grades and teacher comments – to give students (and parents!)  real time progress reports. Universities and colleges are also making use of apps for distance and online education, making it easy to submit assignments online and via mobile

2. Access to information

With mobile penetration soon to outpace desktop PCs, providing easy to access information via a mobile app is also getting information to those who may otherwise be unable to connect to schools in the digital world. “A lot of people just can’t afford to necessarily have a computer at home or to have internet connection, well that’s changed in the past few years in terms of the accessibility of smart phones being really close to universal. And this is the way to access people, the computer that we carry around in our pocket,” says Phil Roeder, from Des Moines Public Schools, speaking of the new app the school district recently developed.

3. Opening the lines of communication

Parents can become even more engaged in their child’s school day and education thanks to apps. Besides publishing the latest news, schools can also send out push notifications to parents when there are emergency announcements (like school closings) and users can integrate their own calendars to keep track of important dates and school events. This can be especially useful to parents who are on the go and have their mobiles always within reach. Schools are also making it possible to connect directly to faculty and staff from the mobile app via click-to-call and click-to-email features. At the high school or university level, making it easy to contact teachers for questions or concerns can assist prospective and current students alike.

Engagement-614x459

Apps can send alerts, integrate with smartphone calendars and provide a forum for discussion. Apps (L-R): Surrey Schools, York School District 1, Chippewa Falls Unified SD

4. Community involvement

Schools and school districts are also leveraging apps to communicate and solicit involvement from the public. By making it easy to contact board members, publishing board meetings, promoting fundraisers and linking to community events via social media, schools are engaging the public at large and establishing themselves as an influential part of the community. Some have even developed messaging features such a “tip lines” where community members are invited to voice their opinions or concerns on topics relating to the school. Are you an educator or school board member wanting to bring your school mobile?

Contact us for a free demo !

app vs mobile websiteTaking your customer experience from the desktop to mobile can be daunting. Here’s what to consider when deciding when to optimize your website for mobile or build an app.

Let’s say you’re comfortable with your website presence—you’ve hung your shingle on the internet, and your site has great search rankings. But most people can’t find the time to park themselves in front of their computers to soak up your home page anymore. Checking out your business is now integrated into the rhythm of their daily lives instead of a standalone action. Your users are more likely to look you up on their mobile device while picking up the kids from school, having lunch in a restaurant, or simply parked on the couch watching TV.

What does this mean for you? If you only have a website accessible via desktop browser, are you sure you’re giving your customers what they want, when they need it? If you haven’t already, you should probably consider the mobile dimension of your business. Nielsen reports that 71% of Americans have a phone capable of accessing the internet, and it’s estimated that just under one quarter of the world owned a smartphone by the end of 2014.

If you’re not easily accessible when and where your customers are looking for you, you become irrelevant. However, creating a mobile site and app will take varying amounts of of resources from your development team, so how do you know what’s right for your company?

Creating a mobile optimized site vs creating a mobile app

Your site may look great on a desktop, but what happens when users see it on a mobile device? If it looks like a zoomed-out mess of tiny images and copy, it’s time to optimize. The fastest and easiest way to make your mobile site as accessible as possible to your customers is by optimizing it through responsive design. There’s a plethora of resources on responsive design online, but in short, it’s a way to present your site on smartphones and tablets with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling. Responsive design scales and optimizes the contents of a site to quickly surface what’s most important to the user.
Optimization in action

To use a real world example of mobile site optimization, if a news site were to responsively design their site for mobile usage, it would consider what information is essential to their users. In the case of this news site, perhaps the most important content would be the top news articles of the moment. Consequently, it would simply present to the mobile user the most important elements of the homepage—such as logo or header, top articles, footer navigation and contact information—with an option to access the full desktop version of the site somewhere on the screen (just in case!). If the user accessed the site with a tablet, the site would automatically scale to provide additional information and take advantage of the additional screen real estate. What this means for the news site readers is that they can quickly keep up to date with the content they want.

When it’s time for a mobile app

If you’d like to take your consumer mobile engagement to the next level then you may want to consider creating a mobile app. An app leverages a mobile device’s inherent functionalities to enhance your consumer experiences in ways that can’t be easily accomplished on an optimized site. An additional bonus is that you can then claim space on a user’s mobile home screen with an app icon, thus increasing your brand visibility.

Some examples of functionalities you can use in a mobile app:

Location information

Photo access

Contact list access

Notifications

Social platform integration (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest)

It’s a good idea to not load all of these mobile functionalities onto your app willy-nilly, as that’s the fastest way to frustrate anyone trying to use your app. Stuff too much into your offering, and your user will get lost in the noise and wonder why you are loading them with all of these unnecessary “features” and miss out on any potential value you’re trying to provide.

In order to create the most addictive apps, consider your core value proposition and how mobile functionalities can link those values to be relevant to your customers. By testing your prototypes with your target demographics, you’ll save time, money, and your development team’s sanity—not to mention preserve your brand image with the finished product.
A final word on diving into mobile app development

If you’re delving into mobile from the world of the web (hint, hint, you should!) just remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Creating an app on the iOS platform for iPhone is a completely different ballgame than creating an Android app—and then you add a third dimension of fun (and development cycles) if you’re targeting a third mobile platform such as Windows.

And don’t forget the app stores. You’ll need to factor in the time it takes for the various app stores, like App Store and Google Play, to approve your app for publication. App reviews can take days or even months depending on the app’s complexity, and may require several rounds of refinement before it’s accepted into the store.
So, are you ready to go mobile?

phone-bgTime to go mobile

Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard Google’s recent announcement regarding mobile-friendly websites:

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.

Even without this announcement, mobile should be already a priority for search marketers due to its rapid adoption and expected growth. Users are flocking to mobile, so websites without a good mobile experience will soon find themselves losing out to competitors.

Over the last couple years, Google has strongly encouraged webmasters to focus on mobile-friendliness by increasing the visibility of sites (and apps) that are doing it well. Google has also made a great effort to assist webmasters in optimizing their mobile experience, releasing a guide to mobile best practices and creating a mobile-friendly testing tool.

How do you know if your web pages will be mobile-friendly or not? There are a few ways, but Google said the easiest way is to see if your current pages have the mobile-friendly label in the live mobile search results now. If so, the mobile-friendly testing tool should also confirm this. Keep in mind, the a href=”http://searchengineland.com/mobile-usability-reports-come-google-webmaster-tools-206885″>mobile usability reports in Webmaster Tools can be delayed by crawl time and general webmaster tools reporting delays.

Take out your phone, look up your web site. See if there is a gray mobile friendly label in your description snippet. If it is in the search results, if you see it, that means that Google understands that your site is mobile friendly and if you don’t see it then we don’t see that your site is mobile friendly or your is not mobile friendly.

not adpating to mobile web will hurt youOn April 21, Google will roll out significant changes to how it ranks websites on searches conducted on mobile devices. The full story is available here but essentially this means two things:

Google will favor mobile friendly sites over non-responsive sites when searches are conducted via mobile devices.
Google will take advantage of deep-linking technology to deliver information from mobile apps on its search engine results pages in a similar fashion to the way it currently does with websites.

As email marketers, we should already know how important mobile technology is to our industry. If you need a reminder, the fact that 65% of emails are first opened on a mobile device should buck your ideas up a little. However, email is just one component in the cross pollinating, online ecosystem (including paid search, SEO, conversion optimization, etc.) affected by the rapid rise of mobile engagement. Yes – you might have optimized your email marketing campaigns for mobile devices but failure to optimize other online components will result in less than optimum results. You have been warned.

Remember: Successful email marketing is reliant on a constant flow of new subscriber data. The average age of an email address is only 18 months, so it is vitally important that those lists are constantly replenished. If your potential subscribers are not able to (a) find your website and (b) subscribe to your lists from a purchase or registration via a mobile device your list building efforts will suffer. Because 40% of e-commerce transactions now take place in the mobile environment, this already represents a significant list growth opportunity for your business. As Google continues to integrate mobile technology into its search results, the balance of power will tip in mobiles favor. In this email marketing professional’s opinion, mobile is already too big to ignore.

mobile website developmentHatching a new website? Online retailers must think mobile first, a Newegg exec says Soren Mills says an e-retailer’s

Site design and business strategy need to center on mobile devices and deliver meaningful content to consumers.

Retailers have to focus on reaching consumers on their mobile devices, says Soren Mills, chief marketing officer for Newegg North America, who spoke Tuesday at the IRCE Focus: Digital Design conference in Los Angeles.

And, at the same time, online merchants have to distinguish their sites; the web-only electronics retailer weaves content and community to recreate the specialty store experience in an online setting. Newegg Inc., No. 17 in the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide, sells products in 11 countries, and as mobile traffic begins to surpass desktop traffic, companies have to think differently about how they develop their mobile sites and apps because the days of trying to stuff content from an entire website into a mobile site or app are gone, Mills said. In India, Flipkart Ltd., a web-only mass merchant and online marketplace operator, gets about 80% of its traffic and about 60% of sales from mobile, so it might make sense for the company to take a mobile-only approach, he said.

For Newegg, mobile sales increased 54% in 2014, and 24% of the company’s traffic came from mobile devices. But that doesn’t mean Newegg focuses its design solely on handheld mobile devices. Newegg, which is based in City of Industry, Calif., in August debuted what it calls the Newegg Express, a van that provides same-day delivery to consumers in the Los Angeles market.

Alert ! Google is making changes that will affect non-mobile friendly websites

 Google Changes againGoogle’s newest announcement about algorithms has everyone talking. Starting April 21, 2015, website indexing is set to change yet another time. The change is apparently going to be beneficial to users and businesses that are ready for mobile close-ups. The new Google algorithm will make it even more important for companies to have “mobile friendliness.” Google is also offering a specialized tool to help companies determine how and when to find a mobile-friendly web design agency.

If you’re worried about the way your site performs on mobile, there are a few options to consider:

– Wait

Many businesses will most likely wait and see what happens with the new tweaks before acting. It’s a risk, though, considering that 2/3 of adults in the world own a smart phone, and the time to make your company mobile-friendly is long past due.

– Revamp your website

You could start over and revamp, ensuring that your mobile runs efficiently on smart phones, tablets and any other new technology that will come out in the next few years.

– Create A Mobile Alternative

Consider an app, or mobile website built by a web agency or marketing firm. Most platforms are capable of building great native apps or mobile sites that your users will love.

Most companies will be taking one of the second two options, simply because it makes sense. The world is trending toward mobile; don’t get left in the dark.

Bear in mind that with Google’s recent announcement, websites that respond to them will be rewarded with higher search results positioning and business-specific apps. So if you’re sitting on your haunches for a while, things might get a tad more competitive. Mobile web design is no longer something you can consider for the future, but something that you absolutely now if you wish to see your business succeed.

If your company is on a budget, you could be worried about building a mobile friendly site from the ground up. Actually, though, there are several design teams that can build you a fantastic, functional mobile-friendly site and/or app with mobile content, videos, headlines and so on, for an affordable price.

Smartphones change the way we think and do anything. Nearly everyone is tethered to a smart phone or tablet, and we use them for all sorts of every day functions. Businesses simply can’t go any longer without being mobile optimized. If you aren’t, you’ll be left behind. Google has only highlighted that fact.

03-150ppp-01Mobile Website vs. Mobile App: What’s the Difference?

It’s no secret that businesses only stand to benefit by making themselves accessible via mobile devices. With a mobile website or mobile app, businesses can boost sales, retain loyal customers and expand their reach. The question is, which type of mobile presence is best for your business? Or should you have both?
Both mobile websites and mobile apps let customers find and access your business from devices they use the most, but a mobile website and mobile app are not the same thing. To help you decide, here are the differences between the two and how they can benefit your business.

What is a mobile website?

A mobile website is designed specifically for the smaller screens and touch-screen capabilities of smartphones and tablets. It can be accessed using any mobile device’s Web browser, like Safari on iOS and Chrome on Android. Users simply type in the URL or click on a link to your website, and the website automatically detects the mobile device and redirects the viewer to the mobile version of your website.

What is a mobile app?

A mobile app is a smartphone or tablet application. Unlike a mobile website, a mobile app must be downloaded and installed, typically from an app marketplace, such as the Apple App Store or Android’s Google Play store.

Benefits of a mobile website

The primary benefit of a mobile website is that it makes regular websites more accessible for mobile users. It can have all the same elements as the regular version of the website — such as its look and feel, pages, images and other content — but it features a mobile-friendly layout that offers improved readability and functionality when viewed on a smartphone or tablet. By having a mobile website, customers can access your website anytime, anywhere using any device, without compromising the user experience.

Benefits of a mobile app

Although a mobile app functions a lot like a mobile website, a mobile app gives businesses the advantage of having their own corner on a customer’s device. Because users have to download and install the app, businesses have more control over their presence on a device than they would with a mobile website. For instance, a mobile app can be closed or inactive, but still work in the background to send geo-targeted push notifications and gather data about customer’s preferences and behaviors. Moreover, mobile apps make it easy to deploy loyalty programs and use mobile payments using a single platform. It’s also much easier to access a mobile app than a mobile website — all it takes is one tap, versus having to open a Web browser then type in a URL.

Features of a mobile website and mobile app

Although mobile websites and mobile apps aren’t the same thing, they generally offer the same features that can help grow your business by making it easier for customers to find and reach you. These features include the following:

One-click calling: Users can call your business simply by tapping on your phone number from your website or app.

Click-to-map: Users can use their devices’ GPS to locate your business and instantly get directions, without having to manually input your address.

Social sharing: This feature integrates social media apps and websites to enable users to easily share content with friends and followers.

Mobile commerce: Take your online store mobile with e-commerce-capable mobile websites and apps, such as with Buy Now buttons and mobile carts.

Mobile marketing: This lets users sign up for marketing lists and loyalty programs while enabling businesses to easily launch location-based text-message marketing and email marketing campaigns.

Mobile sales are explodingThanks to Televox, we have a list of mobile stats that every small business owner needs to be aware of. You’ve likely heard our constant harping on the fact that mobile is the hottest thing around, and is something that small business owners simply can’t ignore. There’s one main reason why we’re always saying that:

It’s true!

In case you don’t want to take our word for it, however, here are a few reasons to back up our point:

Mobile has beaten desktop.

This year, mobile Internet traffic exceeded desktop traffic. Not surprisingly, people don’t like rolling computer towers behind them on little carts when they’re out and about, so mobile devices have become the computers of choice for people that are on the go.

What has surprised people, however, is that people continue to use mobile devices once they get home. Chalk it up to familiarity, convenience, the fact that you don’t have to share them . . . whatever you like. But the fact is, mobile is more important than desktop, now. If your small business website isn’t mobile-optimized, you’re in trouble.

Mobile is growing fast, and continuously.

Traffic on the mobile web is growing at 3.5% each month! And 35% of smartphone owners say that they’re going to increase their usage of mobile Internet going forward. Taken together, you can conclude that tomorrow is very likely to be “more mobile” than today. If you’re waiting for the mobile trend to blow over, it might be time to throw in the towel and embrace it.

Smartphone users are now in the majority

Dumb phones are out there, but they’re no longer owned by a majority. Instead, most people who have a mobile device have a smartphone, which means that they have mobile Internet access and are hungry for apps.

Mobile devices don’t get left behind.

80% of Americans take their mobile device with them when they leave the house. In fact, 85% of Americans are never more than a few feet from their mobiles. If you want to meet consumers where they are, a mobile device is the surest channel available to you.

Mobile is local

94% of smartphone owners are looking for local info on their mobile, and 70% of these searchers have connected with a local business after a search. For a small business, this is a golden opportunity.

Mobile leads to sales.

This ties in to the last point. 70% of the people searching on a mobile device will make a purchase soon. If your business has a mobile-optimized website, you’re probably going to generate more revenue.

Do a search on your own mobile device now. Whose site functions better – yours, or your competitor’s? Don’t let a simple thing like that become a major disadvantage.

Mobile is overlooked by business owners.

Sadly, less than 5% of business websites mobile-optimized. If you want an easy way to pull ahead of the competition, mobile is it. And if you avoid it, remember that visitors tend to leave sites that don’t perform well on their mobile devices, and they don’t return.

In short, customers are lining up at your “mobile gates” in huge numbers.

mobile apps for restaurantsMore than one-third of consumers are more likely to access technology-related functions in restaurants than they were two years ago, according to new research from the National Restaurant Association.

With the rise of functionalities such as mobile ordering, mobile payments and redeeming rewards on smartphones, restaurants are able to market more efficiently to consumers, especially millennials that use mobile devices most frequently. Enticing young customers on mobile is paramount, as the study from the association’s Restaurant Innovation Summit revealed that 90 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds own and use a mobile device.

“We’re seeing that acceptance of the newer mobile options, like payment and loyalty programs, is growing at a pretty rapid pace,” said Annika Stensson, senior manager of research communications, National Restaurant Association, Washington, D.C. “A relatively large percentage – a third of consumers over 18 – said they would pay for their meals via smartphone app if restaurants offered that option.

“That is pretty significant, as people can be hesitant to embrace new approaches when it comes to accessing money.”

More technological options
The rising usage of technology in restaurants can be attributed to increased options, especially with large brands incorporating Apple Pay and other mobile wallets. The study found that 32 percent of individuals claimed they would use a mobile app to pay the restaurant bill instead of using credit cards or cash if the option existed.

However, some consumers still prefer to interact directly with restaurant employees, proving that the restaurant industry must carefully intertwine technology with hospitality, a sector where human communication is imperative.

The study displayed that customers prefer to use their smartphones for looking up information and locations for restaurants, browsing menus, reading reviews, taking advantage of special offers and ordering food on restaurant-branded apps. 25 percent of individuals said that they use their mobile devices to pay for meals several times a year.

Restaurants should aim to capitalize on rising mobile usage by offering a mobile app containing rewards, basic information and integration with a mobile payment system. It is also paramount that marketers advertise to all demographics to increase awareness of the brand and its technological capabilities.

Targeting right demographics
With 89 percent of 35-to-44-year-olds using smartphones, restaurants should also ensure to target to older demographics as well as the millennial generation. One way of doing this is to promote education of mobile apps and payment options to older audiences.

“It was a bit surprising to see that the age gap in usage shrunk significantly among frequent users of mobile service options,” Ms. Stensson said. “Usage is generally much higher among younger consumers, but when it comes to individuals who use options like ordering, paying and using rewards on their phones at least once a week, the difference between them and their parents’ generations is a lot narrower.”

What are push notificationsMobile marketing is one of the fastest growing forms of marketing for small businesses, and the trend shows no signs of stopping due to powerful features such as push notifications

So to start, what are push notifications?

If you download and use mobile apps, you’ve definitely seen these messages. Push notifications are instant alerts that show up in real time on a user’s mobile device to communicate a small message. You know those pop-ups that show a red number next to your mobile apps? Yup, those are push notifications! These notifications are being used by a large variety of businesses to improve customer communication with great success.

According to global-marketing company Responsys, surveyed 1,200 adults and discovered that six out of 10 adults have downloaded apps from their preferred brands. Of those, seven in 10 have enabled push notifications for those apps. When a younger set of people were surveyed, those percentages grew.

According to the survey, users enabled push notifications for the following reasons:

– 50% for getting access to special or exclusive offers,
– 44% to keep track of orders
– 38% to review and manage accounts
– 36% to access brands on the go
– 34% to receive notifications in real time about sales and availability
– 31% to look up inventory
– 29% to stay up to date with products and services
– 28% to receive location based notifications
– 25% to better their website experience

In-app notifications are being used a great deal, with 68% having enabled notifications for their apps, and 76% of the younger age range (18-34) having done so. The survey showed that 70% of consumers surveyed said that in-app push notifications were valuable to them, 43% of consumers said they were more likely to use a mobile app when push notifications were available.

The statistics don’t lie. Push notifications are a huge part of apps and mobile marketing now, and businesses should take note. This means huge return on investment for small businesses!

beat_competitors-300x187Regardless if you currently have an app or mobile website, as a small business owner , you are probably already aware of the effectiveness of location based marketing. However here is where mobile marketing flexes it’s muscle. Outlined below are some of the most powerful location based marketing strategies you can implement using mobile marketing apps.

1. With push notifications, you can Send location based offers
Geo-targeted push notifications allow you to easily target users by location – you can “geo-fence” a location within a few hundred meters or less. You can really boost your business by targeting your users based on their physical location, with  goods and services that are relevant to where they are. This can apply to any type of business, from bars to retailers, restaurants and more.

Here is a powerful strategy:  If you own a restaurant, you could circle off a competing location so when patrons pass by your competitor your offer shows up to entice them over to your business instead. This powerful strategy can be applied to any type of business that has local competition.

2. The “check-in strategy”
Today, people use check in features all the time, whether it’s through Foursquare, Facebook, or another new mobile application. The more people “check in” at your business, the more business you’ll do, because of the exposure you’ll gain over your customer’s social networks. Providing a “check in” ability for customers to use will help spread your business by word of mouth and ensure that you’re being seen by a larger audience.

For example, you can offer special incentives or rewards to loyal customers for “checking in” – it could be anything from a free item, a discount on a purpose, an entry in a giveaway, or something else. It’s totally up to you but make sure it’s relevant to your customers!

3. Place a QR code inside of your establishment
Most of you have seen those square pixelated images posted on public advertizing or on sticker items etc. Those are QR codes, and they work well with mobile apps. Basically, a user sees the code, scans it with their phones, and it takes them immediately to a mobile app which they can then download. You can tie in QR codes with special promotions, events or features so that users are more likely to download your app. You can also tie them into specific content that they can only get from the QR code.

4. Using your mobile app analytics to increase engagement.
It is really important to understand how your customers are interacting with your app. Analyzing the specific habits of your users can really help you market your business and provide them with what they need and want.

For example, if you see that one of your coupon features is being used a lot , therefore you may want to encourage that feature even more with a better offer or even alerting your users with a push notification!

Whether you’re contemplating or already engaged in mobile marketing, the tips above will help you no matter what.One of the greatest advantages is that these strategies are very easy to implement and can be done in as little as one day.

This is how to be cutting edge in today’s competitive market, and leave your competition in the dust.

Ignoring mobile, will hurt your businessAs more and more businesses are developing a mobile app for their customers, there are still many holding out and not  connecting with their customers on a mobile level.  A recent study showed that more than half of small businesses don’t even have a website, much less a mobile app.

The mobile app industry is just starting out, yet in a very short time has proven itself to be one of the most effective mediums for customer engagement and retention than any other marketing media that exists today.

The question is why are there so many businesses still not taking advantage of this powerful medium ?

Experts say it can be a combination of factors that can be easily avoided. We’ve detailed five of the biggest misconceptions s that might be holding small businesses back when it comes to mobile apps marketing.

1. Developing a mobile app is too hard.
Developing and creating a mobile app hasn’t always been as easy as today. The problem is, many small businesses don’t realize that technology has changed, and that developing an app is actually really simple.

2. Mobile apps aren’t really necessary. 
Many small businesses make the mistake of thinking that they are well-known enough among their customers, and that a mobile app is just a waste of time and money. They mistakenly believe that an app, while helpful to some, won’t really drum up any new business for them. To the contrary, if you don’t have a mobile app to increase repeat business, or at the very least, a mobile optimized website, you are losing out on a huge chunk of revenue.

3. Social media presence is good enough.
Small business owners often make the mistake of thinking that if they are on Twitter or Facebook, that they are getting through to all their customers. This isn’t completely the case – Facebook filters out posts from “fan” pages and business pages, so your customers only see a tiny percentage of the things you post. And with Twitter’s massive feeds, the sheer number of posts people see every day mean that your updates might get lost in the shuffle or buried under other tweets. Push notifications on the other hand arrive directly on a customer’s phone, which can be hard to miss.

4. Mobile Apps don’t provide enough functionality.
Business owners mistakenly believe that apps can’t really do much other than offer some information that’s already out there anyway, but that’s not the case. Mobile apps are built to engage your customers and encourage loyal customers to come back through in depth functionality. For example, you can message specific customers based on location or interest, interact with customers, providing them answers to emails and queries no matter where you are, rewards programs, loyalty programs, incentives, promotions, coupons, contests and other sales-generating marketing strategies, and so much more.

5. Mobile apps are way too time consuming.
Mobile apps are designed specifically to not take up too much of your time. In fact, they can often save you time, by doing things for you like updating your content, keeping data organized, providing customers with helpful information, automatic updates, etc. In addition, features like mobile food ordering or mobile reservations can reduce time spent talking with customers on the phone for their orders, automating the whole process, which is good business for everyone.

So there you have it. If you run a small business, you owe it to yourself to develop an app to interact with your customers and tap into the mobile marketing opportunity. Creating a mobile app is now  easy, convenient, inexpensive and shows a high return on investment.

girls using smart phoneEach day we see people using their mobile phones. Currently, there are more consumers reaching the internet through these mobile devices compared to a computer. Websites that are mobile-friendly provide smooth online surfing. Apps, QR codes and push notifications tremendously simplify consumer communication and task performance.

Mobile marketing is the best way to infiltrate these fantastic little devices. We have seen a rapid 500% rise in the use of mobile devices since 2010. Over 50% of online searches for local businesses are conducted on a mobile device.

Because of mobile marketing, businesses can connect with target consumers at any time and anywhere. The devices bring your message directly to the consumer as soon as you send it out through push notifications from an app. Similarly, your mobile-friendly website allows for consumers to see your message right away.

Sweetening the idea of mobile marketing is cost. Punch Mobility allows your business to create its own app at a relatively low cost. Once created, a push notification is only a matter of typing the message and pressing send and it can reach every subscriber instantly. Consider the time and money you have been wasting on traditional marketing without the assurance that people will indeed see your efforts.

Taking your content to the next level, your subscribers can easily share your message with friends and family through email, social media or text message. Take a moment to think about how much farther your message will reach at no cost to you. Subscribers are backing up your company and recruiting new customers and all you had to do was press a few buttons.

Mobile marketing can also be recorded. You can keep an eye on how many are downloading your app. Through this feature you can learn what is working in your mobile campaigns and what is not. You can see to which messages consumers respond most and open most.

These mobile devices are only gaining more traction and popularity as time passes. The sooner you realize this, the sooner your business can profit from mobile marketing capabilities and give the consumers what they want.

mobile-app-vs-mobile-web1I Don’t Need a Mobile App, I Already Have a Website.

This has been an objection that I have often heard from business owners that I thought it would be important to discuss on how they actually differentiate from each other.

Although a mobile app may resemble a website on a mobile device, they serve two very different purposes, and function quite differently.

In most cases, small business websites are essentially used to create credibility, offer information, and some will be used to sell products directly through e-commerce.

A website relies on traffic by which a visitor will browse though, and unless engaging in a direct action such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter etc, will eventually leave and possibly visit a competitor’s site. The opportunity for re-engagement with the visitor, or potential customer is lost.

A mobile marketing app is all about branding and about direct interaction and communication designed to build loyalty with current customers and acquiring new customers.

A mobile app, remains on the user’s smartphone, and is therefore ideal for frequent and repeated use. Users can directly contact a business at all times, have direct access to information at the tap of a button, take advantage of built in loyalty coupons, share the app through social media boosting your presence, and most importantly, remain engaged with your business.

In a nutshell, Websites are a more passive form of marketing, while the mobile app is a more proactive marketing tool that increases user engagement.

This is just a generalization of the differences, as I am just scratching the surface with the possibilities of mobile app marketing. There are many more features, functions and strategies, that make mobile apps the most potent and effective marketing medium that exists today.

advantages of push notificationsCommunicate With Customers Through Push Notifications

Technology called the push notification is a rising means of communication between businesses and their customers. Once a user gives permission to receive messaging from a mobile application, they can freely communicate with businesses wherever they may be.

Consumers expect instant information to arrive in their tiny mobile devices. Through push notifications they can receive messages and information from various communication applications in one place. They do not have to fully open the application to receive the messages. Depending on the user – their wants and needs – notifications could be delivered as a sound, message or badge which can be easily identified on the application’s icon.

Businesses that are successful in their mobile marketing tend to find ways to build loyal relationships with their audience. Many are using push notifications as this form of communication. Regardless of success, however, businesses have an endless task of keeping users engaged and following customer habits. Here are some pointers for executing good push notification practices.

Only send information the consumers are likely to find relevant. Send messages based on their current location and time. Most consumers would be aggravated if they received a notification while they are sleeping. Consider if you lived in one area of the globe, you would not need information about a sale for another part of the globe that wouldn’t remotely apply to you.

Remember to keep things simple. Make sure your message attracts attention and entertains, but does not intrude into their daily life. The preferences within the app and data from which messages generate responses will help a business achieve a simple and successful application.

Also monitor the number of downloads, shares and purchases of the app. These will further help a business choose the best times to send and best information for an app. Once a business can nail the best times and information for their push notifications, they can intimately connect with the audience to build loyal relationships. Some send birthday deals or wishes for a happy anniversary to let the customer know that the business is thinking about them on an emotional level.

Finally, consumers love to save a dollar wherever they can. Through push notifications a business can inform them of all the available discounts. The main goal in this aspect of a mobile app is to make the user feel as though they need the notifications.

Mobile traffic growth / Punch MobilityMobile Marketing Advantages

Having a functioning website is great, but you need to take it to the next level. Attract traffic to your website through mobile marketing. There are many methods of mobile marketing, and narrowing your options can be a tough choice.

Mobile marketing is a relatively new manner of marketing that can be very effective in raising awareness of your website. Smartphones are being used every day to surf the web. The amount of smartphones are consistently increasing, too. Through mobile marketing you have an opportunity to directly connect with mobile users on their devices. Users can read and react to your messages instantly by visiting your mobile site or physical site.

Mobile marketing can be a powerful tool for any business. People have their smartphones with them almost constantly. This means you can communicate with users instantly no matter their location. You can send a a message about a new deal or promotion with a link taking them right to your website which they can visit immediately.

With mobile devices, text messages are opened and actually read much more often than emails. Therefore, your messaging to your target consumers will most likely reach the destination and be absorbed by the consumers.

Additionally, text message marketing is very cost effective. Traditional marketing can add up when you think about the cost to produce and print the collateral. A website design package and mobile marketing strategy might be good choices for a business, especially a new business, that needs to cut down on cost.

Track your message effectiveness through the statistical data acquired in mobile marketing. You will be able to see right away with no research on your part exactly how many people read your message and clicked any links you provided to see which messages work and which do not. This tool allows you the power to change marketing strategies when you see that they are not working, unlike traditional marketing methods.

Using messages directed to mobile devices to promote your business and its website is certainly a great strategy. It will continue to rise in importance in correlation with smartphone popularity. Begin by finding a company to create a website design package. Work toward a mobile marketing strategy through trial and error until you find what works best for your business.

retsaurant mobile marketing appsRestaurant Benefits of Mobile Marketing

Print coupons are a thing of the past. Today, restaurants need mobile marketing to bring in more customers and improve profits. Here are some benefits of mobile marketing in the restaurant setting.

1. Coupons

Although print coupons aren’t as useful, mobile coupons see a 1,000% higher rate of purchase and cost less to produce, according to RestaurantReport.com. Mobile app coupons are cost effective because they do not need to be laid out and printed. Give consumers various deals to reach out to new and old customers. Offer a buy one, get one free or a percentage off for those that like to save. Or entice someone to try something new by offering a free side item when they purchase an entree.

2. Delivery

Push notifications or SMS messaging can be delivered at certain times of the day. For instance, to reach the crowd, a restaurant could send out a message right before the lunch hour or dinner time when people are contemplating where to eat.

3. Rewards

Customers want to come back if you reward them. Similar to the punch card, you can have a rewards program incorporated into your mobile app.  Without the cost of printing and layout, as with the paper coupons, you will not need to spend much to implement the program. Because the consumer will have their mobile device with them, they are much less likely to lose their rewards, making the program more efficient, too.

4. Focus

Through the response of consumers activating your coupons, you will be able to access those consumers engaging in your mobile campaigns. These are the people who will offer you their information willingly. Marketers spend millions annually to access that information.

5. Presence

Even when you are closed, you should be available to customers. Adding a QR code to your storefront or on a sign on your website will allow them to visit you even when the lights are off.

6. Communication

Using mobile marketing as a two-way conversation rather than the traditional one to many will give you great response. A quick and easy satisfaction survey will show customers that you value their opinion and want them to be a part of your restaurant. Ask your customers what kinds of coupons and rewards they would like to see. Then listen and implement their ideas.

punch Mobility mobile marketing strategyProfiting from a Mobile Marketing Strategy

Mobile marketing can bring in traffic resulting in more customers and profits for your business. This is an underutilized resource. A rise is expected in people using their mobile devices to reach the internet.

Engagement with your customers is more intimate on a mobile device because it is more personalized. Crafting a relationship with customers is not necessarily about sending them as much as you can. It’s about creating an experience through mobile-friendly websites and applications to reach out directly to your audience.

Always growing, the amount of people owning mobile devices have already overtaken the amount of laptop and computer owners. More than 4 billion people around the globe have a cell phone. This is almost five times more than computer owners! This is one of the greatest reasons to join the mobile game.

Surveys indicate that mobile users want to be able to purchase products and services through their mobile devices. This is happening all over the world, too. BuzzCity assessed 1,798 mobile users throughout the Americas, Asia, Africa, Western Europe and the Middle East. They discovered that 90% of respondents had, at some point, bought something online through their mobile device.

“The State of Marketing 2010,” released by Unica, explored a survey of marketers around the world. The study found that almost half of those surveyed have adopted social media marketing in their strategies. This is true for almost all social channels across the board, but marketers need to combine social media with their strategies, not focus on it.

Although mobile marketing is taking the world by storm, it is still a new idea. Mobile marketing can be seen when businesses and customers communicate on or with a mobile device. Currently, over 30% of marketers who have been surveyed are using at least one form of mobile marketing.

Needless to say, mobile advertisements have increased over the past few years. Mobile has a long way to go to catch up with internet advertising, however, which has surpassed television. As mobile devices continue to grow in popularity, the Mobile Marketing Association has confidence in mobile marketing prospering.

Over the next few years, mobile marketing will skyrocket. Now is the time to become involved while competition is still low before other businesses realize the significant impact mobile devices create.

Mobile ecommerce by Punch MobilityDeveloping a Mobile Business App

Due to the interactivity mobile apps can provide to customers, your business should consider building one for your own purposes. Engagement between businesses and their customers are becoming more and more sought after through apps because of the easy money transferring and marketing features which ultimately increase customer satisfaction when done correctly.

If a mobile app is right for your business, think about a few components before jumping in. Examine the platform, or platforms, you plan to use to get a feeling of how it operates. Consider which would best suit your business. Would an iPhone app work well for your customers? Or would an Android or Blackberry app work better? You might do some research on which type of mobile devices your customers are most likely to own.

App development takes a big contribution of time and money to complete. Although the effort to create an app can be major, the results will be worth it. In order to get the most from your venture consider the features that will be most beneficial to your customers. Do you need to make an app that helps your marketing or earns money directly for your business? Determine what is best for your business and its needs as well as what would be easiest for your customers.

Businesses are joining the mobile app trend every day. But, just because other businesses are creating a mobile app to connect with their customers does not mean that it is right for every business. Recognize how an app could help your business and your clients before moving forward.

Mobile apps are great for organizing business with customers and providing convenience to both parties. Apps can be accessed almost anywhere and provide an easy service. Some can even help you market your business and what it has to offer in a very unique way to attract attention from new and current customers. As such, an app should be at the top of the list of improvements to consider for your business. You might just need an app to remain in front of the mind of the consumer while technology constantly changes.

In case there was any doubt, the Internet is now primarily a mobile medium. A new comScore report estimates that in May, 51% of digital media time was spent on mobile apps, while an amazing 60% of digital time was spent on mobile devices. That’s up from 50% a year ago.

This mobile wave has huge implications for brands and Web publishers. For starters, publishers need to figure out how to generate more revenue from mobile ads, which often command much lower prices than traditional banner ads on desktop sites. That’s a big reason so much of the digital media world has embrace native advertising, which is thought to be a more effective ad vehicle on mobile devices.

Similarly, even as mobile ad spending has grown overall, many top brands have stayed on the sidelines, as they’re less than enthralled with mobile’s ad opportunities and measurement. But as mobile usage numbers continue to soar, big marketers will have to come to terms with how to target consumers on smartphones and tablets–and particularly within apps, given how much time people are spending there.

Besides the top line mobile time spending numbers, comScore has revealed some striking statistics on just how dominant mobile is in certain content categories. For example, in May, a stunning 96% of mobile time spent on digital radio occurred on mobile devices. Maps, photos and messaging also exceeded the 90% mark, while social networking saw 71% of its total time spent on mobile devices, comScore found.

Mobile engagement for social media overall has surged by 55% over the past year, reported comScore. And amazingly, Facebook alone accounted for 24% of all mobile time spent in May, says the researcher.

mobile branding for realtorsWhen you’re a real estate agent, you need three things: leads, leads, and more leads.

When you’re selling a home, you need as many buyers as possible to know about it. When you’re assisting a buyer, you need to use all the tools at your disposal to help them find a property that suits their needs. And all along the way, you need a steady flow of new prospects and clients to keep your business strong.

An app can help you with all three of these things!

How your app can help with sales

In your app, you can display your current listings so that users can browse pictures, descriptions, and learn more about your available inventory. While many users will focus on browsing the larger public databases, some buyers will download your app to keep up with the latest additions to the local market, hoping to get a jump on the competition.

Once they’ve downloaded your app, however, they can send you messages about listings, making it easier to make sales. They may also be unrepresented, which could lead to a new client. Lastly, you can send messages to users through push notifications and pursue a number of goals – you can highlight listings, inform people of open houses, or otherwise promote your business.

In short, an app is a robust avenue for connecting with sales leads, promoting listings, and potentially earning new clients.

How your app can help your buyers

Just as unknown buyers can use your app to browse listings, current clients can use it to view inventory, flag listings, and ask questions. It opens up a communication channel that can help you deliver better client service. You also can send push notifications if you come across a new listing that a client should see.

You can even include a mortgage calculator, or other useful resources, to add value for your users.

How your app can help you earn new clients

As discussed above, by offering an app, you create a number of opportunities to connect with prospects. Apps also help you stand out from your competition. In a highly competitive industry, every advantage you can get is worth having. As users continue to increase the amount of time they spend on mobile devices, the value of publishing an app also increases. Simply put, they offer you a chance to connect with people on one of their favorite platforms.

As any agent knows, giving clients what they want is one of the best ways to keep reviews and referrals high. With an app, you can better serve and better connect with your market – and that’s good for business.

digitalcouponsMost mobile shoppers redeemed a coupon directly from their mobile device last year, according to a recent study from Key Ring. Key Ring, part of G/O Digital, a Gannett Co., is the No. 1 shopping app for consumers.

G/O DIGITAL-KEY RING APPThe study found that 75 percent of mobile shoppers redeemed a coupon from their mobile device in 2013, up more than 5 percent year over year. The study also showed that 80 percent of shoppers said their perception of a retailer would change for the positive if the retailer offered mobile deals and coupons.

Consumers also reported that the biggest influence driving them to make a purchase is “an item being on sale.” Nearly all shoppers (96 percent) surveyed said that they look at weekly sales circular before shopping and more than half of mobile shoppers report that they would be more likely to look at the circular if they could access it on their phones.

“Bringing an intuitive and fast circular experience to our mobile shopping platform has been a great success,” said Key Ring CEO Chris Fagan. “Consumers win because they can access more than 170 exclusive circulars on their phone. Consumer packaged goods companies and retailers win because they can connect with shoppers during the path to purchase. Shoppers’ expectations for relevant, personal and easily accessible mobile experiences will continue to be a strong focus for marketers trying to maximize the potential of the ever-growing number of mobile phones across the country.”

The survey, conducted by Key Ring, examined more than 25,000 mobile shoppers.

Lindt redesigns Web site with streamlined checkout for mobile

Premium Swiss chocolate manufacturer and retailer Lindt & Sprungli USA recently launched a redesigned Web site that leverages responsive design to streamline checkout for mobile users.

The new Lindt.com site is more interactive and features a stronger visual look for both desktop and mobile devices. By streamlining the checkout process, Lindt has experienced a significant increase in ROI and mobile revenue.

“For our site relaunch, we focused our mobile optimization efforts to the checkout funnel, where optimization ROI is greatest,” said Christine Bullen, vice president of direct to consumer and specialty channels at Lindt USA, Stratham, NH.

“Traditional checkout flows require a lot of zooming in and out on a mobile device,” she said.

“With our IBM technology partners Crossview, we implemented a responsive checkout design to streamline checkout. With this improvement we’re seeing a 140 percent increase in conversion rate and 237 percent increase in revenue on mobile devices.”

Favorite recipes
The new site now helps shoppers refine their selections by chocolate taste preference and favorite recipes.

Additionally, the site provides additional background on the making of Lindt chocolate.

A key benefit of the new site is the simplified checkout process and streamlined registration process for the Lindt Lovers Rewards Club, enabling customers to access exclusive offers and earn dollars off future orders.

lindt-checkout

Checkout abandonment by mobile consumers can be a big problem for online retailers as customers get frustrated with the small screen sizes on mobile when they have to key in a lot information.

For example, a study from Jumio earlier this year found that 66 percent of smartphone and tablet users have abandoned their transactions due to problems during the payment process.

However, by simplifying the checkout process and optimizing it for mobile, retailers can drive a significant increase in mobile ROI and revenue, as Lindt learned.

Mobile traffic grows
Lindt is supporting the new site with exclusive products, a free shipping offer and gift-with-purchase promotion.

For example, through Nov. 15, Lindt.com orders $50 and greater include free ground shipping and a complimentary truffle.

Last year Lindt USA gave mobile a key role in its holiday marketing program via a new application that let users send customized holiday greetings to family and friends incorporating the Lindt Bear (see story).

This year, Lindt decided to redesign its Web site with a bigger focus on mobile after watching how traffic from mobile consumers continues to grow.

“We’re anticipating mobile will take an increasingly important role in 2013,” Ms. Bullen said.

“We’ve seen mobile traffic grow significantly as a portion of traffic over the past three years,” she said.

“In Q4 2013, we’re estimating mobile traffic will approach 25 percent of total site traffic. With this growth there’s an increased focus on conversion rate optimization on the mobile device.”

Women really, really like their mobile devices. According to a new study from Time Inc. and Nuance Digital Marketing, 60 percent of women name their mobiles as the most important devices in their lives (significantly higher than men, at 43 percent). Not only is their smartphone the first thing she looks at in the morning (for 78 percent), it consumes their free time throughout the day, when they use it for engaging with social media, texting and shopping. While this time spent on their mobiles would suggest opportunities to advertise to women, fully 91 percent of women dislike ads they consider intrusive.

data-Smartphones-women-01-2013

Grabbing Mobile Users Attention

Grabbing mobile user's attentionSince the average mobile reader tends to skim through headlines and snackable content as opposed to diving into long-form articles, marketers and publishers need to redefine the way ads reach their readers on mobile.

On the one hand, mobile readers who skim through headlines and articles will still be skimming over ads, but that means that marketers need to make sure their ads are even more attention-grabbing and valuable to stop these skimming readers in their tracks. Publishers can also leverage data on who is reading which articles as well as when they stop reading to drive targeted advertising.

“It requires mobile advertising be more than just re-purposed online ads,” said Joline McGoldrick, research director at Millward Brown Digital, New York. “The mindset of the consumer when skimming is, ‘Is it worth my time?’

“The ads that most successfully answer that challenge currently are ads that give something back,” she said. “Offers with tangible value can yield high impact, and 44 percent of mobile users want to see more deals and coupons in advertising.

“Additionally, interactive elements can be more engaging in rich media, providing a bigger window for brands to communicate their message or offer.”

Mobile versus online
While mobile readers may have a shorter attention span, that does not necessarily make them a lesser audience than desktop readers.

“Coupled with contextual placement and historical user behavior, ads on mobile still achieve a higher response rate than online ads,” said Sephi Shapira, CEO of MassiveImpact, Tel Aviv, Israel.

“While the mobile phone does have a shorter attention span, it offers more usage time and more user information than online media, [and] these enable effective targeting,” he said. “These unique aspects make mobile an attractive media channel for certain advertiser sectors.”

Mr. Shapira believes that even traditional banner ads can go further on mobile as opposed to on desktop.

The fact that consumers may only skim headlines on a news site homepage means that all they are seeing are headlines and ads. That may make them even more impressionable than a consumer reading a long-form article online.

Yet, publishers should still be required to be upfront about readership data and ad performance.

Know your readers
Since readers are overinformed and impatient, especially on mobile, marketers need to go the extra mile to engage them in advertising. This is when targeting comes into play.

While consumers may not be reading full-length articles on mobile very often, when they do decide to, that makes them a valuable target.

For example, if a retailer is looking to place an ad on a news site, placing ads in articles related to retail means that the readers that choose to open the article will be more likely to engage with the ad as well.

Beyond targeting consumers based on interests, marketers can also target certain articles and headlines that have been proven to perform well.

Publishers can measure the scrolling velocity of readers as well as when they stop clicking on “Next page” to inform marketers of worthy places for ads.

“A lot of publications break up their articles into multiple pages, which gives them a good statistic on when a reader drops off,” said Tony Vlismas, senior director of marketing and sales engagement at Polar, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. “They can certainly use this data, along with scrolling velocity, to support if their readers are in fact abandoning longer articles.

“In terms of advertising, if readers are skimming headlines than they are likely skimming right past display ads, as well,” he said. “For the article itself, it’s more important now to ensure display banners are above the fold or sticky, so if a reader quickly becomes disinterested in the article, at least they saw the ad.

“Naturally there is a balance to draw between disrupting the reader with ads, of course.”

Solomon Masch, director of mobile sales and streategy at Time Inc., New York, believes that ads in mobile articles can still be effective if they are placed in the right location and the right time of day.

“Publishers need to closely monitor their audiences to see where the drop-off is, and the trends by time of day,” Mr. Masch said. “For example, a user may be more likely to read a long-form article on their phone in the evening when they have more free time, whereas in the afternoon they may be using ‘found time’ (2-5 min increments of free time) to skim articles.”

Native advertising
Another way to engage impatient mobile readers is through native advertising.

“Native advertising is a great alternative, which appears in-stream on the publication’s news site, with the look and feel of the other content around it,” Polar’s Mr. Vlismas said. “Engagement on native ads is already very high.”

While readers may not read through an entire sponsored post on a news site, the fact that the post fits the context and feel of the site may be more likely to draw their attention, as short as it last.

“This ‘skimming’ behavior is one of the core drivers for native ads,” Massive Impact’s Mr. Shapira said. “When users skim their Facebook or Twitter apps they see ads incorporated into their user experience that require the same amount of attention span as posts from their fellow social networkers. The ultimate native ad is one that is not noticed by the user, the key to achieving this is having the ad format match the form and the function of the user experience into which it is placed.”

Brandon McFadden, vice president of West Coast sales for Kargo, New York, does not believe that marketers should be worried about advertising on mobile news sites.

“I just think that advertisers have to be more innovative and integrated in the ways they advertise,” Mr. McFadden said. “It provides a better opportunity for brand engagement if marketers understand that users are interested in discovering and ‘snacking’ on mobile content. This means they are more likely to engage with interesting, short form content – even brand content.

“I believe native advertising has emerged in response to the shift in users’ content consumption behavior,” he said. “Instead of reaching a consumer when they are at the beginning or end of content, these types of ads speak to one’s target audience while they engage with content.”

68% of Mobile Users Will Shop Via Smartphone This Holiday Season

chrismas mobile shoppingConsumers will be using their smartphones more for finding store locations as well as tablets to shop and browse this holiday, according to a report from Deloitte.

Deloitte’s 2013 Annual Holiday Survey found that optimism and increased confidence about the economy will result in higher spending this holiday season, with a 12 percent increase in overall intended spending. Consumers who will use smartphones for holiday shopping expect to spend $480 on gifts and $1,494 total, and omnichannel consumers plan to spend $558 on gifts and $1,643 total on mobile, in-store and online.

“Our data showed that smartphone penetration is now over 60 percent,” said Alison Paul, vice chairman and U.S. retail & distribution leader at Deloitte, New York. “Of those smartphone users nearly seven out of ten said that they were going to use their phone during their holiday shopping.

“Mostly, it’s not for buying things through their phone,” she said. “But they use it for finding a store location or checking on prices and getting more product information.

“With our past research, this shows that the mobile phone shopper, the person that’s walking through the aisle with a smartphone is actually 14 percent more likely to purchase. We believe that this is a good thing for retailers, and they should not resist. This is a good sign that a shopper is engaged and ready to make a purchase.”

The Deloitte survey polled a national sample of 5,018 consumers between Sept. 13-23, 2013.

Omnichannel shoppers
The amount that omnichannel shoppers intend to spend this holiday season is 76 percent higher than those who only shop in bricks-and-mortar stores. This points to a huge opportunity for retailers to address cross-screen, cross-channel audiences.

This year’s survey also marks the first time that the Internet ranks No. 1 for the venue that consumers expect to shop.

Forty-seven percent of respondents expect to shop online, 44 percent in discount/value department stores and 28 percent in traditional departments stores.

Among those shopping online, 38 percent said they plan to spend the majority online.

Out of the respondents that own smartphones, 68 percent will use them for holiday shopping. When asked what they will use smartphones for, 56 percent responded to get store locations, 54 percent to check/compare prices, 47 percent to get product information, 45 percent to shop/browse online, 44 percent to read reviews, 40 percent to check product availability in-store and 36 percent to get/use coupons, discounts and sale information.

Additionally, 32 percent said they would use it to scan bar codes for product information, 31 percent to make a purchase online, 29 percent to access social networks and 24 percent to get text messages or exclusive deals from retailers.

Out of the respondents that own tablets, 63 percent plan to use it for holiday shopping.

When asked what they will use smartphones for, 69 percent said to shop/browse online, 58 percent to check/compare prices, 58 percent to get product information, 57 percent to read reviews and 52 percent to make a purchase online.

Additionally, 47 percent would use their tablet to check product availability in-store, 44 percent to get store locations, 30 percent to access social networks and 30 percent to get/use coupons, discounts and sale information.

Forty-five percent of respondents said they plan to use social media as a part of their holiday shopping process. Some of the reasons cited were to research gift ideas, find discounts, read reviews and browse products.

In-store experience
The Deloitte survey also found that 22 percent of the respondents would be more likely to purchase in-store from retailer that offered self-service/mobile checkout.  Of those 22 percent, 17 percent would use the retailer’s mobile app to checkout and 13 percent would use mobile payments, while 60 percent would use price checkers and self-checkout payment lanes.

Fourteen percent would be more likely to purchase from a retailer that offered Wi-Fi for comparison shopping.

Another interesting find in the survey was that 73 percent said they will be influenced by coupons and promotional offers. Additionally, 71 percent are looking for free shipping, 47 percent for free returns, 44 percent for price matching, 36 percent for extended holiday hours and 35 percent for the ability to order online and pick up in-store.

“There’s no overstating what a giant influction point this is for bricks-and-mortar retailers,” Ms. Paul said. “They are really challenged to appeal to consumers in new and different ways than just being the place where someone transacts because you can do that anywhere now.

“What you see the most successful retailers doing is offering unique products that you can only get through them, particularly if it’s a short-lived product that’s only available during the holidays,” she said. “I think they are really beefing up the in-store experience, by making it more visually appealing and engaging.

“The third is to take sales employees and turn them into brand advocates. They are knowledgeable, they are connected to the Internet and they’re knowledgeable about the stock enterprise-wide not just in the store. These are three ways that retailers can leverage the asset that is the store and not let it become just one more location that is not very interesting to the consumer.”

Big Brands Respond as Users Switch To Mobile Over PC

punch mobility mobile shopping appsNPD Group today released new findings on the mobile shift, leading companies like Facebook, Google and Pandora to alter their business models as more people consume media on devices.

The research firm said more than a third (37%) of those surveyed use their PC less often or not at all because they are spending more time on tablets and smartphones. Web browsing and accessing Facebook are the top activities people are switching to on mobile.

The social network announced last week that 680 million of its 1 billion users now access the service via mobile, and that 23% of its ad revenue now comes from mobile.

Among tablet owners, 27% say they’re using their PC less often for Web browsing, while 20% are going on Facebook less from the desktop. Similarly, 27% of smartphone owners have reduced both Internet and Facebook use on PCs in favor of their phones.

Underscoring the impact of the mobile migration, Google announced Wednesday that it will soon make ad buys on tablets mandatory, even if advertisers just want to reach desktop users. With the rollout of “enhanced campaigns,” the change will go into effect for all AdWords advertisers by mid-2013. The step is expected to bolster mobile ad prices.

While people are still using their computers for many PC-centric activities, NPD said tablets and smartphones are gaining ground. Internet browsing is still highest among PC owners, at 75%, followed by smartphones (61%), and tablets (53%).  Facebook use follows the same pattern with PC owners at 63%, smartphone owners (55%) and tablet users (39%).

TV is impacting PC usage. A fifth (21%) of consumers that have a TV connected to the Internet are now switching from their computer to using their TV to watch video from streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Instant Video.

Mobile devices become equipped with sharing technologies like Samsung’s AllShare and Miracast, allowing users to bridge the gap between their devices and TV screens. The NPD results were based on a survey of 4,000 U.S. adults in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Facebook Boosts Targeting Options for Advertisers

facebookFacebook employees at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., Aug. 20, 2012. The company is trying to find ways to show lucrative ads to mobile users without cluttering up their hand-held screens.

Facebook Inc. (FB) is expanding an advertising service, letting marketers target customers on mobile devices based on their online activity outside of the social network.

The “custom audiences” tool will let companies gather information from visits to their websites and applications — and then use that data when marketing goods and services when potential customers visit Facebook, via mobile or desktop, the company said in a blog post today. The service already helps marketers use data they have, such as e-mails or phone numbers, to send ads to consumers.

Facebook, operator of the world’s most popular social-networking service, is expanding advertising services as it looks to better leverage its more than 1 billion users. Advertising makes up most of Facebook’s revenue, which climbed 53 percent to $1.81 billion in the second quarter from a year earlier, topping analysts’ estimates.

“A bike retailer could reach people who started designing bikes on its website but didn’t make a purchase,” Facebook said. “Or, a mobile travel app can deliver ads to people who have downloaded their app but haven’t used it in a while and encourage them to book getaways within the app.”

The Menlo Park, California-based company offers advertisers the ability to target users based on their browsing history through its Facebook Exchange, a service that tailors ads to users based on their general browsing history. Still, that data is only gathered through online activity on desktop computers. Also, the data can only be used to place ads on Facebook’s desktop version.

Facebook Exchange is suited for marketers that use outside companies to help sell goods and services on the social network, such as a wide range of goods from an e-commerce provider. The new custom-audiences service may work better for some smaller businesses that don’t hire outside ad-tech companies to place ads via exchanges, Facebook said.

Starbucks makes Mobile cornerstone of multichannel political campaign

starbucks-mobileGiving mobile a jolt
Starbucks continues to make mobile a focal point of its marketing with a new multichannel campaign to drum up support in ending the government shutdown.

Last week, Starbucks launched a digital campaign spanning mobile, Web and social to drive petition sign-ups to end the conflict in Washington called Come Together. Mobile consistently plays a role in the brand’s marketing efforts, and the decision to use SMS for this campaign is likely to reach as many consumers as possible to drive sign-ups.

“SMS is an excellent way for Starbucks to drive sign-up for this initiative,” said Cezar Kolodziej, CEO/president of Iris Mobile, Chicago.

“The large majority of Starbucks customers know how to interact with the brand via text, and the barrier for entry is much lower than via call, email or other channels,” he said.

Mr. Kolodziej is not affiliated with Starbucks. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

Starbucks did not respond to press inquiries.

Mobile, social change
Starbucks also created a microsite at http://www.cometogetherpetition.com/ where consumers can learn more about the petition and add their names to the list.

To stay up to date on the status of Starbucks’ process with Washington, consumers can either sign up for alerts via email or SMS.

The SMS portion of the campaign is clearly highlighted on the microsite with a call-to-action below that prompts consumers to text the keyword JOIN to 20757.

Once the message is sent, consumers are sent back a reply message notifying them that their support has been added to the petition.

Showrooming increases 156pc YOY: report

Showrooming via mobileThe amount of time that consumers spend researching and shopping from a competitor’s site via a mobile device in-store has increased significantly and has become a more mainstream issue for retailers in the past year, according to a new study from Vibes.

The second annual “Combat Showrooming with Personalization” report looks at what showrooming means for marketers this holiday season as price comparison continues to grow. The takeaway message for retailers is to fight showrooming with personalized in-store offers and marketing.

“Retailers should use the holidays as a reason to jumpstart their mobile engagement and ongoing mobile relationship management,” said Alex Campbell, chief innovation officer of Vibes, Chicago.

“Marketers need to integrate their mobile strategies into their overall marketing mixes, with mobile complementing and working in concert with other marketing channels such as email, display, search, direct mail, advertising, in-store and social media,” he said.

“Additionally, mobile wallet and personalization tactics that drive foot traffic and increase average order value during the holidays should also be integrated into marketers’ year-round mobile marketing strategies and plans.”

Showrooming threat?
Vibes’ report is based on an online survey of 1,000 smartphone owners aged 18 years or older. The research was conducted by Equation Research with a 3.1 percent margin of error.

Showrooming has become a more realistic threat for retailers in the past couple of years.

To keep up with this, retailers are increasingly trying to use showrooming to their advantage to build one-to-one relationships during the holiday season.

Per Vibes’ findings, 44 percent of consumers showroom frequently, and 36 percent use their mobile devices to shop for items in-store more than they did two years ago.

Of these price-sensitive consumers, roughly half have looked up a product review or a price on a competitor’s Web site after shopping in-store. To compare, only 33 percent of consumers surveyed in the 2012 report said the same.

Consumers are also taking a direct action after comparing prices via their mobile devices.

In fact, 47 percent of consumers that looked up prices while in-store made a purchase. Forty-five percent of consumers went elsewhere to shop and 7 percent did not buy anything.

Personalized marketing
To beat the odds against consumers going elsewhere to shop this holiday season, retailers should focus on building loyalty programs and in-store incentives for consumers to shop in-store.

However, not all retailers are getting this right.

For example, 89 percent of consumers said that they would sign up for mobile messages if they were customized to their preferences, but only 18 percent of shoppers have noticed personalized messages from brands and retailers.

Similarly, 60 percent of consumers want mobile content that matches their preferences and interests. This includes everything from custom sizes to brands.

Interestingly, Vibes’ report also indicates that mobile bar codes and SMS can be leveraged to trigger holiday sales.

Forty percent of consumers that either scanned a QR code or texted in a short code to get information about an in-store deal bought something that they had not planned to as a result of scanning the content. This is up significantly from 14 percent in the 2012 study.

Additionally, 42 percent of the same group of consumers said that doing so made them feel better about their purchase.

“Last year was mostly about taking the content you had and making it mobile,” Mr. Campbell said.

“This year, it’s about creating memorable experiences with the latest mobile technology such as mobile wallets that research has shown consumers are embracing as a means to connect with their favorite retailers and brands,” he said.


Copyright 2017 Punch Mobile Media