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Posts Tagged ‘Mobile Marketing’

As consumer confidence in mobile grows, so does mobile-originating traffic to retail Web sites. In fact, according to a June 2014 comScore report, fully 60 percent of digital media time spent online by consumers is originating from smartphones and tablets, a figure that has increased 50 percent over 2013.

In February of this year, an inMobi study showed that only 11 percent of consumers report accessing the Web mostly from a computer. A recent index of 350-plus retailers saw a same-store year-over-year increase in mobile commerce revenue of 102 percent.

Any online retailer that does not yet have a mobile commerce site is now way behind the curve and is potentially losing money every day.

Mobile commerce is hotter than a five-dollar pistol and offers some tremendous opportunities for retailers who are ready to take advantage. But pitfalls also exist.

Here are five things that online retailers should not do this holiday season if they want to take maximum advantage of the mobile revolution that is transforming the retail landscape.

1. Do not treat mobile as a shrunken version of your main site
While it might be fine for a tablet, serving a resized version of your main site to your smartphone traffic can kill conversion rates and disappoint your customers.

Responsive design has been pitched as a way to display your main site on any screen, but cramming large images and content into the mobile context slows page-load speeds to a crawl, hurts conversions and causes bounce rates to surge.

Responsive design might work fine for content sites, but retailers should not expect a shrink-to-fit approach to satisfy an increasingly savvy mobile consumer base.

Internet Retailer reported in June that, among 12 top-tier responsive mobile sites, the average page-load time was more than 18 seconds.

From the article, “A one-second delay in Web site page load time translates into a 7 percent loss in conversions, according to research firm Aberdeen Group Inc. So if an e-retailer makes $100,000 a day from its mobile site, a one-second page delay could mean around $2.5 million in lost sales every year. If that’s the case, what does an 18-second page load time mean?”

Adopting a mobile-first methodology means you end up dumbing down your ecommerce site to ensure that pages display fast and well. Throwing out the ecommerce baby with the mobile bathwater is not the answer.

Smart retailers see mobile as just what it is: a separate channel with separate use case scenarios that should be treated as such.

Unshackling your mobile site from your ecommerce site pays off with big dividends, in direct proportion to the size of your mobile audience.

2. Do not over-deliver to your mobile homepage
Why would you deliver all your traffic to the same page universally when that traffic might very well be originating from a link that is very product-specific?

Deep-linking is a must these days, and allows smart retailers to sharpen the path to purchase and reduce friction.

While deep-linking a tweet, Facebook post or even a scanned physical QR code to a product detail page and tracking everything is a great first step, mobile landing pages are an even better approach.

Large brands are using branded, custom-designed mobile landing pages to immerse consumes who are pre-qualified to be interested in a certain item. These pages feature omnipresent “Buy Now” buttons to capture the intent to buy without making the consumer scroll and click all over to purchase the item.

If well designed with an easy path to purchase, mobile landing pages can deliver conversion rates many times the rates associated with normal mobile site traffic, since they deliver the consumer to the sweet spot of the mobile commerce site.

3. Do not set it and forget it
Simply having a mobile commerce site is not good enough. It is the bare minimum ante. Retailers should always be iterating and tweaking and even fully re-designing mobile commerce sites on a periodic basis to take maximum advantage of this new sales medium.

Again, mobile is not the same as ecommerce and different things work for different reasons.

Evaluating analytics to identify a mobile commerce site’s top five friction points and fixing them is a great first step.

Often a pop-up email modal or some other gimmick that works well on the ecommerce site will cause mobile consumers to instantly abandon the site. This is another reason why responsive sites tend to under-perform.
Mobile is different and it should not be assumed that what works on your main site works on mobile.

Test, iterate, re-test and refine the mobile experience to ensure you are always increasing your conversion rate and decreasing your bounce rate.

Do not be afraid to embark on a site redesign.

4. Do not ignore mobile wallets
While most press these days is around in-store mobile payments (think Apple Pay), remember that mobile wallets can also serve as friction-reducing tools for mobile commerce sites, allowing a customer’s address and payment information to be auto-filled in.

The checkout process can be a bit tedious on a smartphone, and tools such as Google Wallet and PayPal Mobile Express Checkout allow a customer to pour in their payment information and ship-to address in a single click. The upside of adding this feature can be very significant.

Rockport was the first online retailer to use Google Wallet for its mobile site and has since reported that nine out of 10 consumers who start the checkout process with Google Wallet continue through the process and checkout. When you compare this to an industry average for converted purchases, the upside is beyond obvious.

In 2013, a study by Jumio reported that $15.9 billion in mobile commerce sales were left on the table for that year due to a 97 percent average cart abandonment rate for mobile.

Sure, things are busy and it takes time to add any new feature, but something that can significantly boost your conversion rate usually comes with a rapid ROI and is well-worth doing.

5. Do not forget your physical stores
Smartphones are in people’s hands and are always on. Too often, the commerce team that handles the mobile site and the marketing teams that handle the in-store experience and display are siloed off from one another. These teams should be meeting, talking and finding ways to use in-store mobile engagement to further both their missions.

Consumers in a store are highly pre-qualified to be interested in your products. Mobile engagement can mean the difference between knowing nothing about your store visitors and adding them to your customer logs.

QR codes, NFC and SMS can all be used to deliver a link to an interested consumer that can trigger the launch of a page custom-designed to receive this traffic.

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This article was the lead story in Mobile Commerce Daily on October 24, 2014. Wilson Kerr is vice president of business development and sales at Unbound Commerce, Boston. Reach him at wilson@unboundcommerce.com.

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Mobile Marketer Senior Editor Giselle Tsirulnik recently interviewed me, regarding the role that SMS can play in mobile commerce. I am re-posting this interview and expanding some of my answers.

I hope this post gives retailers and brands insights into ways that “Trigger Point Marketing ™” like SMS can be used to link tracked mobile commerce sales with the social sharing of the specifics of  a product or price, by customers. When consumers share the news about something they recently bought among their social network, the effect can be powerful, as long as retailers can track the resulting lift via mobile commerce transactions.

Here is an extended version of what I said:

Q: What is the benefit (for a brand or retailer) of having a consumer SMS/MMS a product they are viewing via a mobile commerce site,  to a friend?

A: This sort of social sharing means the retailer or brand has a new touchpoint delivered instantly to a highly prequalified audience. Since the text arrives from a trusted friend, the person who receives it is very likely to open the text, read it, and click on the link. It stands to reason that the conversion rates for the recipient of the SMS would be many times higher than traditional marketing blasts.

By providing the tools needed for consumers to repackage and redeliver a marketing message to a highly prequalified audience within their own social graph, retailers can tap into a very potent mixture of personal referrals and siphon off additional mobile commerce sales.

Q: How could this potentially drive sales for a retailer?

A: Smart retailers are increasingly offering their customers tools whereby they can share the deal they just got. Word of mouth and personal referrals consistently ranks amongst the highest-ranked reasons consumers visit a store or retail website. If the retailer has a mobile-optimized site, an SMS sent by a customer can serve as a delivery mechanism for a deep link right into the section of the mobile commerce site where the exact product that was purchased (or product grouping) is queued up and ready to buy for the text recipient. This can directly, positively impact mobile commerce sales and, more importantly, can be tracked, measured and even used as a way to reward consumers who have spread the word.

Q: Do you think more retailers will be incorporating SMS into their mobile sites in 2012?

A: Yes, retailers interested in stay relevant will utilize a variety of new ways to have hyperlinked touchpoints spread by pleased, loyal consumers.  In a few clicks, the recipient of the text message can buy the item their friend bought and also have the opportunity to pass the word along. By adding this option pre or post-purchase, retailers can infuse their mobile commerce sites with

As SMS starts to replace email with younger generations and more and more retailers build and launch mobile commerce retail sites, this method of “Trigger Point Marketing(tm)” is a great way to drive tracked ROI. SMS is alive and well and retailers should certainly add it to their marketing mix, in support of mcommerce.

Q: Why is SMS a good medium to encourage sharing?

A: An SMS text message is instant and it is personal and it generally comes from a known, trusted sender. For these reasons, a whopping 98% of all text messages sent are opened by the recipient. No other form of digital marketing even comes close.

SMS also opens up a new channel of communication between the retailer and the consumer and builds a retailers database of contacts, since the mobile commerce platform captures the mobile phone numbers of both the sender and the recipient.

Q: What are some other ways SMS can be incorporated into a mobile commerce site?

A: When integrated into a mobile commerce site as a “social share feature”, SMS can also be tapped to distribute pre- and post-purchase links to a product in a mobile commerce site, within the social graph of the purchaser

SMS can also be used, via short codes, to drive traffic to a mcommerce site, when a hot link is sent back to the consumer, by the retailer. Additionally, SMS can be used to sign up customers to loyalty programs or allow them to opt-in for announcements of new arrivals, etc. If a shopping cart is abandoned, SMS can be used to ping the customer who did not complete their transaction, to remind them that their cart is full and they forgot to check out.

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The Final Word: Mobile commerce is no longer an option for retailers and brands that sell consumer direct. Retailers that do not have an integrated mcommerce site are losing sales every minute, literally.

The linkage between proven, incremental sales and mobile marketing has long been elusive. This fact has kept a barrier up between the ecommerce team and the marketing dept. This is finally changing and the fact that socially driven messaging can be infused with deep links within a mobile commerce page means that these two worlds are finally set to merge. When this happens, marketing will be able to see a quantifiable return on their spend and the ecommerce team will have a whole new revenue stream via mobile commerce that is, in turn, supported by mobile marketing. A win-win. Remember, SMS is but one method, and QR codes and Near Field Communication (NFC) are also viable ways to drive proven, new mobile sales via”Trigger Point Marketing ™”.

The silos between marketing and ecommerce must be demolished. The retailers and brands that realize this and embrace this notion fastest will win. The rest will be left behind.

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Wilson Kerr (@WLLK) is a former Tele Atlas exec, LBS consultant, and now leads Sales and Business Development for  Unbound Commerce.

Contact Wilson today to learn more. Mobile: 303-249-2083.

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Sometime this year, 50% of Americans will own a web-connected smartphone, yet less than 20% of online retailers have websites optimized and formatted to serve these mobile consumers.

I am calling this the “mobile commerce gap”. The reason for this inequity between demand and supply, in my opinion, is because the internal resources required for online retailers to properly develop a mobile commerce site have been pulled in other directions, even as smartphone adoption rates have exploded. As a result, a majority of online retailers are offering their mobile customers a very poor online shopping experience. This, in turn, results in poor conversion rates and missed sales, not to mention the fact that consumers are left with the general impression that the retail brand is not serving their needs.

Think about it, how many times have you visited a site on your smartphone and immediately left when you saw it was not optimized for mobile? According to Google, this happens 79% of the time!


Why this “gap”? The first distraction came in 2009 when retailers and brands alike were told they must “drop everything and build  an iPhone app”. While apps are great for some things, a vast array of surveys and studies have concluded that consumers much-prefer a mobile site over an app for commerce. The second was the social media craze of last year, as Facebook, Twitter, and the rest dominated headlines and became “must-haves”. Both soaked up internal IT resources and distracted online retailers from building the mobile-optimized sites needed to serve their increasingly-mobile customers.

So, what are the factors online retailers should consider, as they investigate offering their customers the ability to convert sales from their mobile devices via a mobile commerce site? I hope the following 5 points will clear some things up:

1) There is No “Mobile Web”

While it is true that most “standard” websites are capable of being viewed on a web-enabled phone, few consumers are willing to “pinch and zoom” their way into a converted sale on a standard site jammed into a small screen. Ever tried this? It’s not fun.

While the need for mobile-optimized sites might seem obvious, many retailers justify not investing in mobile commerce by citing low mobile-originating traffic to their  current site (usually 2-5%).  Of course, this low-traffic negative feedback loop is caused by the fact that mobile customers seldom return to a site after being greeted with such a poor user experience. The retailer then concludes there is no need to invest in the “mobile web”. Again, there is no “mobile web”.  There is only the web viewed on a mobile device.

2) Mobile Commerce is NOT Mobile Payments

There is a lot of “noise” right now regarding mobile payments at point of sale, when the phone is used as a “mobile wallet” to pay for coffee and the like. While mobile payments might-well emerge as an issue retailers need to address, this  is not the same as mobile commerce. Mobile payments involve banks, credit cards, investments in point of sale infrastructure, coupons, NFC,  loyalty cards, and a whole array of complex issues.

Mobile  commerce is simply the act of ordering something online, from your mobile phone, via a mobile-optimized version of a website. Retailers should not confuse the two, or delay the launch of a mobile commerce site while trying to understand mobile payment options and what uniform technology may or may not emerge victorious.

3) Mobile Commerce “Actualizes” Mobile Marketing

Remember, every time a consumer clicks on a marketing or advertising link to your website on their mobile phone, they should land on a site that is optimized for the device they are accessing that message on.  Whether a tweet, a Facebook post, a banner ad, a QR code, an SMS message, or an email,  the mobile consumer who acts upon the message should be able to convert that action easily into a sale, via a mobile commerce site. If you are a retailer and do not have a mobile commerce site and are spending money on social media marketing or mobile advertising, you are likely paying to promote links to a very poor customer experience.

4) Integrate, Don’t Duplicate

There are several options for creating a mobile commerce site. You could use a transcoder to “screen scrape” your standard website and shrink it to fit a mobile screen. You could “sub-out” your mobile commerce efforts to a third party, by letting them “handle it” with their own separate and duplicative mobile store. OR you could leverage and extend your current, proven and trusted  e-commerce operations into mobile via an integrated solution. This is a superior approach, in my opinion, as it means you are avoiding duplication, while also maintaining full in-house control and fueling mobile commerce from the same infrastructure you trust today for your e-commerce operations.  A software-based integration approach takes a bit more effort on the front-side, but the long-term benefits are significant, as this single effort, if done properly, can serve as the foundation for not only mobile commerce, but also Facebook  commerce and commerce-enabled iPhone and Android apps, as needed.

5) Devote IT Resources, Plan For Growth

The single biggest reason I hear retailers give for not moving on mobile commerce is a lack of IT resources. Simply put, this is a poor excuse. While it may be true that IT is backed up, the measurable, tracked ROI that mobile commerce offers should elevate this to the top of the list. The ROI is extremely rapid, by even the most conservative estimates of the resulting tracked, incremental mobile commerce sales. Retailers and brands that are out ahead of the curve will be the biggest winners, as long as they plan for growth and chose the right approach.


Compelling Numbers

Still not convinced that mobile commerce is a “must have”? In recent weeks Google and other mobile marketing players have begun encouraging retailers to sit up and take notice of this “gap”, since they can’t sell online retailers mobile marketing campaigns if they have no place for the target audience to “land” when they click though a mobile campaign ad/link.

Google and others are pointing to studies and reports that contain numbers that are hard to ignore. Here is a sampling:

  • $1.9 Billion: Worldwide online mobile sales in 2009.
  • $23.8 Billion: Expected worldwide online mobile sales in 2015.
  • 61%: The percentage of mobile users unlikely to return to a site not optimized for mobile.
  • 79%: The percentage of Google retailer advertisers who DO NOT have a mobile site.
  • 78%: The percentage of consumers who prefer a mobile site over an app.
  • 62%: The percentage of smartphone owners who have purchased physical goods via their phone in the last 6 months.
  • 2-5%: The typical percentage of mobile traffic coming to a non-optimized retail website.
  • 5X: The typical increase in conversion rates, upon the launch of a mobile commerce site.
(Adobe-Mobile Shopper Insights, Google, eMarketer, Shop.org, Coda Research, Unbound Commerce)

Want even more evidence? I recently attended the Mobile Commerce Summit in NYC and the Keynote speaker was Steve Yankovich, VP of eBay Mobile. eBay has quietly become the largest online retailer in the world and were an early adopter of mobile commerce.

The numbers Steve shared regarding their mobile commerce success at the conference were astounding. Some highlights:

  • $4 Billion: The revenue eBay expects to generate from mobile commerce in 2011, double what they sold on mobile in 2010.
  • 100%: The percentage of eBay’s m-commerce sales they report as being incremental!
  • 38 Seconds: The average time someone spends on eBay for a m-commerce transaction (versus 20+ minutes on their standard site).
  • 100: The number of people eBay reports hiring for their mobile commerce team.
  • 50X: The predicted increase in what eBay will spend on mobile marketing to support the success they have seen in m-commerce.

We are finally at a point where the numbers are so compelling that few can argue against the importance of having a mobile commerce site. The simplest way to put this is, “If you do not have a mobile-optimized commerce site, you are losing money“.

The Time Is Now

Your customers are mobile and they are very likely trying to access your site on their smartphones right now. If they still see your “standard” e-commerce site crammed onto a small screen, you are delivering a poor customer experience and, as such, are missing incremental mobile sales. Try it yourself!

Some experts expect mobile commerce to grow to become as much as 10-15% of online sales. Retailers should weigh the risks of launching a solution that is not integrated with their current operations, since what might not be a problem at first could emerge as a big issue when mobile commerce makes up a significant percentage of online sales. Find the resources, take the time, and consider building/launching a mobile site ASAP that leverages and extends current online sales operations.

You will provide consumers a positive mobile interaction with your brand that also drives significant incremental, tracked revenue. Mobile commerce is here and the time to take advantage via a mobile commerce site is now!

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Wilson Kerr (@WLLK) is a former Tele Atlas exec, LBS consultant, and now leads Sales and Business Development for  Unbound Commerce.

Contact him today to learn more. Mobile: 303-249-2083.

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Wilson Kerr (@WLLK) is a former Tele Atlas exec and started Location Based Strategy, LLC in 2007 to help clients harness the power of location. Contact him today to learn more.

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Last Monday, I attended an event at MIT in Boston. It was a standard panel-style presentation/discussion, with a moderator, sponsored by Nokia (thanks for the turkey wraps and little red gourmet cupcakes). It “sold out” in advance and I’d guess at least 200 people were there. It was, literally, standing room only.

Are Today's Agencies Enbracing Mobile?

Billed by organizers (Mobile Monday Boston) as a way for attendees to “learn the realities of mobile advertising”, the panel was stacked with ad agency people. Many attendees I spoke with saw this as a rare opportunity to hear directly from ad agencies, regarding their mobile plans. A finger on the pulse of those paying for the upkeep of the mobile heartbeat.  After all, if these agencies have the ear of the brands, then knowing their mindset regarding tomorrow’s mobile spend is very important, as the collective “Mobile Industry” springing up around all this “potential” needs to get paid today.

The Year of Mobile, Every Year

With the general mobile advertising outlook over-ripe from 3 years of unrealized, predicted mobile spending ramp-up, this night had the potential to shed some real light on the future of mobile marketing, and, perhaps, the fate of many of the companies represented in the audience. With livelihoods literally depending on brands spending real money via the mobile marketing tools many in the audience had invested so much time and money in, it is little wonder the event sold out in advance.

The Auditorium Fills Up! It Was Standing Room Only.

The predictions about the mobile ad spend have been recently correcting downward, as most brands idle on the sidelines, in a wait and see mode regarding mobile. Many dabble in mobile banner ads, a few skin up and launch product-related iPhone apps, and most have plugged into the free social media machine. But the big money is still not flowing and there is a backlog of companies waiting for the faucet to be turned on.

Are Agencies Paving The Way Or Blocking Progress?

Disclaimer: I have long-suspected large agencies of stunting the potential of mobile marketing because they fear that tracking and reporting real results regarding converted sales could shine unwanted light on all the untracked bread-and-butter mass broadcast marketing they run via traditional media. So, this night I came prepared to have my mind changed and I really expected to see and hear the excitement agencies were passing along to their clients. Why else would they have signed up for this panel? I was ready to be convinced that my conspiratorial theories were wrong (or at least have my mind set at ease).

To set the stage, here is the actual verbiage used to promote the event:

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The Realities of Mobile Advertising

Mobile advertising is getting a lot of hype, but what are brands really doing in mobile today?  What should we expect in 2011?  Our panel will discuss the realities and answer questions like:

  • How big is mobile brand advertising?
  • How does mobile fit into the big picture for most brands?
  • What are the hot issues for brands? Targeting? Buying? Ad formats? Measurement?
  • How has Apple’s promotion of iAd changed the market?
  • What are the opportunities for publishers and app developers?

Speakers:

Adam Towvim, Jumptap (Moderator), Brett Leary: VP/Dir of Mobile Marketing at DIGITAS, William Nann: Director, National Advertising Sales at Crisp, Brenna Hanly: Mobile Catalyst at Mullen, Jon Phenix: VP Sales, Nexage, and Stephen Bagdasarian: Digital Strategist & Mobile Specialist, Hill Holliday Advertising

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This was a who’s who of Boston Ad Agencies and the purpose was to have them explain their individual or collective “realities” right there, live and in front of a room of mobile industry “insiders”. Kudos to Mobile Monday Boston for putting this together, by the way.

Sponsor Nokia Kicks Off

Sponsor Nokia opened the evening with a slideshow overview of their plans to re-take a share of the booming US smartphone marketshare they let slide by. They announced a $10 Million dollar developer contest designed to lure apple-addicted code writers their way.

The slideshow touted their global marketshare and reminded us all of the gazillion Nokia phones they sell. Despite impressions here in the US (caused largely by iPhone mania), they are a real powerhouse elsewhere. The new N8 just launched in the US and the Nokia team even had a fishbowl full of business cards collected, for the purpose of handing out two new phones at the end of the night to two lucky winners. Nothing turns heads like free phones as schwag. They even branded the nametags at the conference, making it look like 200 Nokia employees were in the audience. First time I have ever seen a logo on a nametag. Pretty smart, actually.

The guy next to me took notes about all this on his iPad, and even snapped a few pics on his iPhone, as did I. Nokia is well-positioned to make some moves and has a track record a mile long but, in the US, they have a long way to go.

Patterns Emerge

Top Boston Ad Agencies Address Mobile

Jumptap’s Adam Towvim was the moderator and did a good job all night. He kept the panel moving and asked the right questions. As the conversation flowed along, some clear patterns  emerged.

The first was that fragmentation was generally viewed as a big problem in the mobile landscape and that it negatively impacted the ability of agencies to convey a concise strategy to their clients.

The second was that ad serving consolidation was needed to increase efficiencies, reduce redundancy, and allow the agencies to better know WHO was actually seeing the mobile ads and better-measure engagement, across all platforms. A tall order.

The various kinds of phones (feature phones vs smart phones vs “candy bar” phones) were mentioned as an additional challenge.  Ad exchanges and buyside technology plays (to aggregate various ad servers) were also mentioned as welcome tools.

Sponsoring or branding iPhone applications was discussed as a way that brands could get involved, but it was noted (and generally agreed) that few agencies were adequately staffed up for  this.

Brenna, the representative from Mullen mentioned that she worked on a crowded creative floor and only-recently heard mobile advertising even mentioned. She offered that only because the team had been shown a presentation on the potential of iAd had the topic even come up.

iAd was generally seen as a positive platform for creative to be conveyed on both mobile and on tablets, but soon the conversation shifted to the fact that Apple was wielding too big a big control stick and some brands were bailing out (IE Adidas).

The discussion was fairly interesting (and fair) but not very exciting. The focus seemed to be more about “glass is half empty” what-can’t-we-do problems with mobile reach and fragmentation. Branding apps and creative rich media used in addition to mobile banner ads were lightly touched on as positive. There was little “let’s dive in” energy and only a smattering of carefully worded cautious optimism. All evening, I had the nagging feeling that something was missing…what was it?

What Was Not Said

The time was 8:15 and the panel had been on stage for over an hour when, finally, it happened! Brett Leary from Digitas was talking about the potential of the iAd platform, when he mentioned LOCATION. Yes, that little teeny detail about mobile marketing was not mentioned for the first hour+ of the discussion.

As if startled awake, Steve Bagdasarian from Hill Holiday picked up the ball and ran with it, nailing  several important factors one after another that only mobile advertising can offer brands. He spoke of “marketing to context” and how mobile allows even a small campaign to yield very large results and learnings. He spoke of “completing the user experience cycle” and how the “where factor” adds a powerful new element for brands.

Finally, just as it seemed things might heat up and the true power of mobile fleshed out, the moderated session ended, and the floor was opened to audience questions.

A Murmur Of Energy

Astounded that it had taken until nearly the end of the evening for the fact that most mobile devices know where they are and can deliver contextually-relevant messaging to come up, I raised my hand and was called on first. I asked about Mobile Proof Of Presence and “checkin” transactions linked to marketing messages. I asked for each panelist to comment further and expand on the potential they saw regarding Location as a mobile differentiator.  A murmur of energy swept through the crowd.

Again, Steve Bagdasarian from Hill Holiday lead the way. He was genuinely fired up and called mobile Location Based Services (LBS) “the future”. Steve described standard banner ad click-though measurement as “not suitable” for mobile and even tied in brick and mortar “here and now” campaigns as key. He even mentioned New England-beloved Dunkin Donuts as a willing participant in some tests his agency was running.

Will Nann from Crisp jumped in and added that he thought measurement was key and Brenna from Mullen asserted that “time and place marketing” and “learned purchase behaviors” would be very important. Yes!

Brett from Digitas (remember, he first used the “L” word), asserted that mobile could “use all the elements” and would emerge as powerful, as long as tracking could work across all platforms.

Another question was asked and the discussion spun off into tablets, Nokia hurriedly handed out two new N8 smartphones via the business card drawing, and the program ended.

Conclusions: Agencies Remain Cautious

It was an interesting event, don’t get me wrong, but I was left with the distinct impression that, even when confronted with a room full of mobile industry insiders clamoring for evidence of some optimism, agencies remain cautious and, unless prodded, will not push mobile on their clients, at least until reach is better understood and confusion caused by fragmentation reduced. This implied “all or nothing” trigger point felt, to me, more like a convenient excuse, than a real client-side-generated requirement.

Hill Holiday stood out as the most-willing to “go for it” and the resulting impression was not, at least to me, one of foolhardiness. It was, in fact, the opposite.

Test Small, Learn Big: What Can Be Done

To get ahead, in my opinion, agencies need to embrace the idea of “test small, learn big” and those out there with solutions for forward-thinking brands should describe them to the brand’s agency of record as a low-risk  trial. Or they should pull the “end around” and find a cheerleader at the brand to demand that the agency address the measurable mobile opportunity with, at least, a small foray.

Mobile solutions that offer low-risk pilots and can generate demonstrated revenue lift (without causing confusion) will open the doors to more and will win early. Dashboards that allow the agencies to view/understand metrics, own them, and pass these on to their clients/brands are essential, as the agencies need to made to feel they are in charge of the results and pass them on at their pace, in synergy with other non-mobile campaign results. Agencies that bring these platforms to their brands will be seen as innovators, but the platforms must first win over the agency and be prepared to let them be seen as the winners.

Even if on a small (initial) scale, trials of these mobile marketing tools can show the brand real numbers and label the agency as forward thinking and not afraid of mobile, even during this “fuzzy front end”. The time is now and those with numbers generated over time (even if small now, on a user percentage basis) will be well-positioned to win when the user numbers catch up. The brands whose agencies push this strategy now, will beat their competitors whose agencies fail to act boldly and try some of these new, exciting tools.

Just DO It (and log the metrics)

Doing versus talking about all the reasons not to do is essential, especially in the face of mounting evidence that mobile usage and search is taking off, while at-home desktop search is falling (+247% vs -15%). While the percentages of those who engage with branded businesses via the location-enablement of their phones are still small, this opportunity to learn is big. If a consumer is out and about and searching for something, brands need to be ready to show them WHERE to locate that item and buy it, right then, in that crucial mobile-only moment. And their agencies should be telling them the best way to do it.

Are the agencies hurting mobile? I think the answer is no, but they certainly can do more to encourage trials and not link mobile marketing to unrealistic requirements like 100% defragmentation and total, complete reach, with uniform tracking across every device or platform.

Agencies also need to take the time to educate their employees on the basics of mobile marketing and LBS. This is crucial. It was clear to me that some top people at the agencies represented at this event were not fully versed in how these tools really work and the potential value of the metrics that can be generated. They need to educate themselves.

The Shotgun AND The Rifle

Most of all, in my opinion, agencies must discard the notion that mobile campaigns that provide tracking dashboards and ways to demonstrate ROI will expose the inadequacies of the other more standard media buys that do not. There will always be a place for the shotgun approach in marketing. Mobile, using the power of location, is the highly accurate rifle shot.

Where Can I Buy These Cupcakes? They Were Awesome!

All in all, it was a good evening. I was relieved that the topic of location and the unique differentiating abilities of mobile platforms was discussed, even if it was tacked on at the end of the evening and initiated by an audience question. Clearly, we in the industry need to make it easier for agencies to focus on the full half of the glass, but agencies also need to put aside the convenient excuse that they will only let their brands dive in when every single element of mobile marketing is known and understood.

As the Mad Men TV show teaches us, the basic premise of advertising has been around for a long time. Mobile, on the other hand, offers us new and different and untested potential and there is a degree of “try it” needed if brands are to be exposed to the full potential of tracking incremental sales tied to specific mobile campaigns.

Thanks again Mobile Monday for the event and to Nokia for sponsoring it. By the way, where did you get those little red velvet gourmet cupcakes? I wish I could use my phone to find the brand that makes them and then navigate to the authorized retailer near me right now that sell them. I wish the agency that handles their media would call me and hire me to help. Wouldn’t that be sweet!

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Wilson Kerr (@WLLK) is a former Tele Atlas exec and started Location Based Strategy, LLC in 2007 to help clients harness the power of location. Contact him today to learn more.

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Wilson Kerr (@WLLK) is the Founder of Boston-Based LBS consulting firm Location Based Strategy, LLC. He checks in on the forces shaping location based marketing often and can be reached at Wilson@LBStrategy.com.

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Boston, MA June 10, 2010 – The Mobile Proof Presence (MPOP) checkin game is white-hot and set to explode. In a relatively short amount of time, most people (with an iPhone, at least)  know what a “checkin” is and the most popular checkin platform (Foursquare) is adding 15,000 people daily and rapidly closing in on 2 Million users, stacking up approximately 10 checkins per second, or well-over 1 Million per day.

Broadcasting the details of their location-based interactions with real businesses 3 to 4 times per week, these users are providing Foursquare a stockpile of opt-in mobile metrics. This is no longer a fad. This is real and could finally be the legitimizing  “lift” mobile advertising has long been looking for.

Thanks to checkins, realtime social network updates are no longer just static, general “What’s On Your Mind?” posts. They now convey “What are you doing, where are you, and who are you there with.” While this has certainly been a fast-moving location-based social media phenomenon, the real momentum behind this movement (and the reason to take-note) is not individuals sharing the where/what/who, but something else.

Special Offers Becoming The Focus

 

Increasingly, Foursquare and other checkin platforms allow users to convey, “what special deal they got for being there”. This last crucial element has recently tipped the balance and allowed Mobile Proof of Presence linked to checkins to emerge as THE transformative mobile advertising force to-watch, in record time.

No longer passing out only fun, amusing “digital candy” badges, mayorships, pins, or token drink specials, these platforms are now tapping into the rich vein of actual product-linked incentives offered by well-known brands. In no small way, they are set to finally deliver on the original (largely unrealized) core premise of mobile advertising, by linking consumer behavior and tracked  mobile ROI to an existing, proven formula for increasing sales.

Every consumer-facing business with a cash register, from the smallest single-door to the largest mega retailer, knows that special offers drive lift. Printed coupon fliers, chalkboard nightly restaurant specials, “BOGO” days at the supermarket, seasonal clearance sales, and, most importantly, “punch card” loyalty programs all work. Foursquare takes the incentive programs, coupons and special offers retail businesses have used for decades to drive sales, and straps them to a new, modern opt-in engine that feeds the businesses back real-time location-parsed ROI metrics.

Lucky Magazine Partners For Shopping Specials

At long last, it seems large, well-known brands have finally decided to step around their lethargic and overly cautious agencies and get involved. By all reports, Foursquare and their closest competitor Gowalla are turning down daily inbound proposals from top brands looking to tap into the power of this new way to track lift. Traditional agencies are likely shuddering, and for good reason. Perish the thought that they finally have to step up to this new level of measured return and quantify results! I can just imagine them responding to the brand contact, “What do you mean you want us to run a campaign that tells you how many people acted upon the offer and where and when and how much money you made from your spend“? Heaven forbid.

Foursquare is using Mobile Proof of Presence to finally unlock the Pandora’s box that allows branded locations to run real checkin-based incentive campaigns that reward loyalty, showing them who was in the store or business, when, and what they redeemed as a reward for interacting with the location/brand while there. These metrics can then be tied to increased sales of real products during the time the incentive was offered. Voila! Lift.

This checkin movement is being sped along by a flood of energy and momentum linked to the  long-unrealized potential of mobile marketing, generally. Foursquare, for example, is not so much seeking this as fuel for growth as they are receiving it and serving as a catch basin for this torrent of brands finally able to get metrics empirically linked to real, tracked incremental visits by real people with real money to spend.

Gowalla, Loopt, WHERE, WeReward, and the rest are hot on their heels and there is a lot of loot to spread around. Speaking of loot, Pepsi recently launched their own, branded check-in platform called Pepsi Loot. That’s how hot this space is right now!

 

Pepsi Loot Checkin App

Consider this, Foursquare was founded in March of 2009 and has not yet spent the original $1.35 million they took to get started.  They are still a small, scrappy company that is admittedly barely in control of the tiger they have by the tail. Yes, they have location validation (cheating) issues to address that could cloud metrics and naysayers are squealing about narcissism and privacy. Still, Foursquare is growing larger by the minute and the larger they get, the more likely it is they will perfect the algorithmic tools the big brands have long been looking for.

Also, watch for the big boys (Apple, Google, Nokia, Yahoo, Facebook, etc) to step into this game in a big way, as the realization sinks in that Mobile Proof Of Presence checkin campaigns linked to real incentives tied to products people buy every day might finally be the “lift” mobile marketing has been looking for (and brands are demanding).  They better hurry.

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For an inside look into Foursquare and the forces behind their success, take the time to watch this excellent and revealing video interview with their CEO, Dennis Crowley. BTW, he was just crowned the “King” of social media by Wired Magazine (UK).

Foursquare Potential: CEO Crowned Social Media King

 

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Wilson Kerr (@WLLK) is the Founder of Boston-Based LBS consulting firm Location Based Strategy, LLC. He checks in on the forces shaping location based marketing often and can be reached at Wilson@LBStrategy.com.



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Wilson Kerr (@WLLK) is the founder and principal consultant at Location Based Strategy, LLC.

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A recent report by E-Consultancy on the Value Of Social Media, shows some interesting statistics on the level of use of social media by over 400 companies surveyed and the general “experimental” stage most are in, regarding this new way to reach consumers.

Few would argue that there is a big opportunity for companies to take advantage of the myriad of social media marketing options. But this same myriad can be confusing and the options are evolving at a blistering pace. For brands and agencies used to traditional media campaign timelines and planning, it can be daunting to simply keep up with the options available, let alone form a coherent strategy that dovetails with current messaging. Given this, it’s not surprising that few companies have a firm grasp on the subject.

The ROI Problem

A pressing question for those dipping a toe in the social media waters is how to measure ROI. According to the report, “A third of respondents (32%) are getting less than 1x the return on investment from social media.”  The survey summary also states that, “Almost two-thirds of respondents (61%) say their organizations are “poor” (34%) or “very poor” (27%) at measuring ROI.”

Few would argue that the use of social media can drive brand awareness and open exciting new touch-points with consumers, but few social media platforms offer any real metrics for showing brands what the upside for all this work is. Web banner ads, keyword search buys, and mobile ad campaigns all come with metrics and performance elements that allow brands to measure ROI. Social media platforms need to catch up and offer these tools to businesses.

The At-Home Vs. Mobile User Experience Delta

Three quarters of brands (74%) in the survey say they use social media to drive consumers to their website. This is the traditional path and works fine if old fashioned branding is your goal. As such, it’s no surprise that “brand recognition” and “brand reputation” are the second (64%) and third (63%) reasons given for social media marketing participation. For regular at-home website visitors, this is OK, but it does not translate to mobile.

For example, spending some time here at my desk visiting doritos.com and the intense flash media experience found there makes me perhaps a bit more-likely to buy some doritos. In mobile, this is a disaster and simply does not translate. I do not want a branding experience that takes 4 minutes to load on my iphone when I am walking down the street. I do not want to install Flash. I do not want to have to enter my zip code. I want doritos!

My point is that, when a consumer is “out and about”, they behave differently than when they are sitting at home on a fast web connection displayed on a large screen. Most brands do not have mobile optimized sites, let alone a store locator that interfaces with the location awareness of the mobile devices we all carry 16 hours a day. No wonder 74% of companies say they do nothing or have “only experimented” with social media. They need to grasp the implications of the differences between mobile consumer behavior and at-home web browsing, before they dive in.

The Mobile “I Want It Now” Factor

Store locators are what most companies use to promote their locations but, if they are delivered on a standard website to a mobile consumer, the zip code entry interfaces ae clumsy (and the related poor mapping that does not tap into the location-awareness of the mobile device). This, along with the obvious screen size and zoom limitations of most phones, makes these experiences suboptimal for mobile consumers.

Brands need to build a functional place for mobile consumers to “land” and then deliver quick gratification that honors the fact that a highly prequalified consumer that “asked for more” is mobile and wants actionable, location-relevant information. Once built, social media is an excellent way to drive mobile consumers to a site optimized for mobile. The primary goal should be to honor the “I want it now” factor by converting opt-in mobile site visitors to incremental customers, by delivering the locations that carry their products.

“Checking In” To A Brighter Future

It is not a bad thing that companies are moving forward with some trepidation. They can afford to wait a bit, especially as the various social media platforms work on providing analytics and tools that measure the interaction with brand entities. While some platforms have enough traffic to monetise through ads, the smarter play is to tap into the ability to quantify incremental store visits by giving the brands access to a larger store locator within an interface that users know, trust, and want use to share current location information with friends.

The hottest and best example of this is, of course, Social Networking Games. No longer fringe, these hot platforms could solve the ROI problem and are tailored to mobile from the start. The games serve as a social network trojan horse that, for the first time, captures opt-in incremental store visits and makes the process fun, useful and viral. This metric has the potential to solidify into a new ad unit of immense impact, as check-ins are poised to be the new currency of mobile advertising.

Gowalla and Foursquare are the leaders and Foursquare’s recent business tool announcement tips their hand and shows the true potential of these popular platforms. They are, “pioneering a deeper connection between place and patron.” Preloaded on almost every AT&T phone, Ulocate’s WHERE platform is another example. They recently introduced a new “Check-In” feature with their version 3.4.

The mighty Facebook is working on “check-ins” as a direct result of Foursquare and Gowalla’s early leads. This is important because, according to the report,  “Facebook is the Web property mostly commonly used in social media, with 85% of companies using this site as part of their marketing strategy.”

The Tip Of The Iceberg

Mark my words: The social media networking platforms that capture valid, verified check-ins, and deliver the opt-in incremental store visit metrics these check-ins fuel in the right way, are going to be unlocking a very big door.

With 69% of companies spending between $0 and $5K per year on social media, we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg. As Social Media platforms evolve and cater themselves to the businesses that serve as the locations for check-ins and other key realworld interaction elements, brands and their agencies should be able to make better sense of the landscape, and tap into this powerful new marketing resource.

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Wilson Kerr (@WLLK) is dedicated to helping brands and companies harness the power of location and is the founder and principal consultant at Location Based Strategy, LLC.

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Wilson Kerr (@WLLK) is the founder of Location Based Strategy, LLC a Boston-based consulting company dedicated to bringing the power of location-based marketing to companies and brands.

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Social media marketing is hot hot hot. While the disjointed components have risen and fallien with the VC tide for some time now, a coherent roadmap is emerging for marketing a brand, product or service via social media. No longer just a fad for college kids or a way to virally promote your fart app, social media is emerging as a powerful and rapidly growing low-cost, high-reward force for driving sales.  The price tag is appealing and there is no barrier to entry.

With billions now being bet by the major players on the need for brands to have a mobile ad strategy, social media has evolved in the wings from a nice-to-have to a must-have for every company that sells anything. From a local pizza joint to a consumer packaged goods goliath, the power of human interaction to spread a marketing message though trusted social networks at very low cost is suddenly here (and increasingly measurable).

When did this shift occur? I am not sure, but something clicked into place in the opening months of 2010. Maybe it was Google buying Admob or Apple grabbing Quattro or the first real cold beer handed out for a virtual Foursquare Mayor’s badge, or some combination of forces. Regardless, mobile marketing seems to have finally broken through and social media is at the tip of this spear.

Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn. Yelp. WordPress. YouTube. Foursquare. Gowalla. Myspace. Constant Contact. These are not fads. They are content-generating warp drives that harness the aggregated power of specific, personal product and service interactions distributed by a trusted collective of consumers who all opt in to play a role.

Brands can no longer just pitch the merits of their product at consumers. Push is out, pull is in. Consumers want verified, trusted information from people like themselves and know where to find it. They want it stamped as trustworthy and valid not by some pitch-team that dreamed up the slogan at a corporate offsite, but by the members of a social network that they can literally see, and that they chose to join. They have an insatiable appetite for the real interactions that generate a buzz they are a part of. How big is this appetite? Facebook‘s 350 million users post and share  3.5 Billion pieces of content to other members of their “friend” networks, each week.

Consumers know the members of their social media networks and trust their opinions. They can search for information quickly and easily to support these assertions and then walk into a business to buy something armed with more information than the salesman pitching them the product. This is a game changer and calls out the importance of what social media expert and blogger Mike Troiano calls, “Scalable Intimacy“.

Mike describes social media this way, “Social media..is about investing in relationships that create more measurable economic value than they cost. It is about engaging with the people who collectively decide whether to buy or not buy your product, like it or dislike it, recommend it or trash it, shape it or ignore it.”

As noted by Dharmesh Shah of social media software leader HubSpot, a great way to illustrate the power of social media marketing is to enter “(any brand) sucks” into Google. Or note that new social media marketing agencies are springing up, just to hold the hands of brands that tremble on the doorstep of this new frontier. Or consider the fact that 80% of the content read on the web today is not read on the site that originally published the content.

Most companies do not even have  mobile website, let alone an interactive social media hub for managing the way the blogosphere is distributing and discussing their product or service. There is a big opportunity here and a lot to learn.

How to get started? Check your city for informal networking groups like Mobile Monday and attend events, sign up for personal accounts and learn the ropes, ask questions, think about using social media to promote a non-profit you volunteer for, read blog articles from experts like Dharmesh Shah, Mike Troiano, and other thought leaders in the space. Of course, you can always hire someone to help out..

Still not sold? Still unsure if social media marketing is something you need to include in your corporate strategy? Just watch this video:

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