5 Mobile Marketing Challenges to Expect in 2016

Barbara Spagnola - Monday, March 21, 2016

by Matei Gavril
President and CEO of PrMediaOnline.com

During 2015 time spent on mobile media surpassed that spent on desktops. Mobile marketing strategies have grown in response to this shift. As we look ahead to 2016, mobile marketing watchers are expecting several trends.

1. Increased spending on mobile ads.

For one, companies are expected to spend more on mobile ads, nearly $70 billion worldwide according to Smart Insights. With this increased investment, companies, organizations and businesses will need to have -- if they don’t already -- an effective mobile marketing strategy to ensure their online presence.

2. Adapting online marketing strategy.

Along with this increase mobile usage and mobile ad spending comes the reality and challenge of the low conversion rate of mobile marketing and higher bounce rates of mobile devices. Online marketers will be developing new strategies to deal with this and change it. Businesses can’t sit idly by and hope that things will work out. Successful online marketing in this kind of ever-changing environment requires a proactive and innovative approach.

3. Enhancing user experience.

The key to addressing the challenges of mobile marketing is enhancing user experience in 2016 is to provide consumers, customers and clients with more payment options, more company interaction options, more long-term engagement opportunities and more convenience, all of which they associate with desktop usage. People want the same kind of convenience, connectivity and opportunity they have on their desktop on the go, wherever and whenever they want.

One report states that consumers spend 86 percent of their online time on a mobile app, rather than on the Internet. This same report also suggests that 79 percent of smartphone owners use apps every day. Companies need to be looking into is creating an app for themselves. An app almost completely bypasses the need for mobile users to go on the Internet to engage with a website to conduct business. It gives customers direct access to your company, business or organization. There are apps of all kinds out there from movie apps to health apps etc.. There is no reason why your business should not have one.

In addition, instead of you waiting for them to remember you or happen upon your product or company when they’re online, your logo/icon on their phone will remind them of your product and/or service every time they scroll past it.

4. User security.

With this shift from desktop access to apps and mobile access, the onus for maintaining consumer security will fall more heavily on app designers. Companies need to be aware of this shift and put measures in place that protect app users as much as those who purchase through the website. Not doing so puts companies at risk of losing the brand trust held by their clients.

Some industry experts advise moving from customer-centric to customer-obsessive, where companies will focus seemingly exclusively on providing the best possible experience for customers.

5. Search engine results will display more than pages.

Google is already displaying videos in search results. Google has also started displaying video ads. Other search engines, and social media networking platforms including Facebook and Twitter, are adding auto-playing video ads and Vines to their search results. With video ads already starting to make inroads, it’s not too far of a stretch to imagine that apps will soon follow suit.

Mobile searching will become more intuitive to how we swipe and tap our way through our smartphones, getting further away from typing and closer to voice recognition-based searching.

With the increased usage of mobile phones to do everything from grocery shopping to booking travel, 2016 will be a year of great transition and development of mobile-friendly measures that will keep people connected with the businesses they need.

Planning Your Mobile Marketing Strategy

Barbara Spagnola - Monday, March 21, 2016
by Robert Bly
Author, Copywriter, and Marketing Consultant

In The Marketing Plan Handbook, author Robert W. Bly explains how you can develop big-picture marketing plans for pennies on the dollar with his 12-step marketing plan. In this edited excerpt, Bly offers experienced tips on creating and implementing mobile marketing tactics that work.

When you set about integrating mobile into your marketing plan, you should begin with the basics: the “who, what, and how” of your mobile strategy. And you do that by getting the answers to these questions:

  • Who are your customers and who are you trying to reach?
  • Who will want to engage with your mobile content?
  • What tasks and needs does your audience have?
  • What mobile channels will you use?
  • What tone or angle will you use to inspire your audience to get involved?
  • Why do your customers need information from you in a timely manner?
  • How will your target audience access your mobile content (which type of handheld device will they use)? How will they use your content in their daily lives?
  • How will you make your mobile content sticky and engaging?
  • How will you cross-pollinate between the selected channels?
  • How will you create sharing opportunities?
  • How will you fuel the momentum of your mobile campaign?

Of course, you’ll also want to clearly define your mobile marketing goals. Do you want to increase the number of newsletter sign-ups, generate leads, or make sales? When you set a goal, remember to make sure it’s SMART:specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Let’s get started by taking a closer look at available mobile channels.

Mobile websites

Some business owners create a subdomain set up specifically for mo­bile phones. Then if a mobile user types www.theirdomain.com into a smart­phone, the site automatically determines the inquiry source and automatically re­directs them to a mobile-friendly subdo­main. The trick is to create a mobile site that loads quickly and provides a simple, streamlined experience. Many other busi­ness owners use web hosting companies, which offer low cost, semi-automatic cookie-cutter mobile sites.

SMS and MMS messaging

If you doubt the value of SMS text message marketing, you should ponder this statistic: 95 percent of your customers who have opted into your text messaging program open (and read) your mobile mes­sages within three minutes of receiving it. Now that’s effective.

But there are two myths surrounding SMS and MMS message market­ing that purport it to be both complicated and hampered by regula­tion, but the truth is these regulations serve the marketer as well as the consumer, protecting the latter from spammy marketing, and protecting marketers from spam-related accusations. First and fore­most is the fact the two are both permission-based, which means you should always be completely transparent about your text marketing program, the need for full disclosure, and to always get everything in writing.

Mobile apps

There are countless mobile apps designed to serve up informative tips and educational snippets, help you to track your caloric intake, exercise milestones, guide you in meditation practice, or simply entertain you with engaging games -- yet consumers are always look­ing for more, and better, apps.

What this means to marketers is simple: You can boost brand awareness and consumer affinity with apps, but you must have a thorough understanding of your audience so you can provide them with an app that's functional (such as a calculator) or entertaining (like a video, game, or music), or provide some sort of social connectedness (such as an app for a user community). You may want to consider offering a free version of your app and let users decide if they're willing invest in a premium version with more features and content. This is the model used by Rovio Entertainment when they began marketing the Angry Birds game. They offered a free version, while paid subscribers were given access to more challenging levels and other free add-ons.

Mobile coupons

A growing number of businesses, like Target, Sephora, Bath and Body Works, and Olive Garden deliver coupons via mobile devices in an effort to appeal to consumers, many of whom would never think of clipping or carrying coupons. To redeem a mobile coupon, all users need to do is show the coupon bar code to the cashier, who will scan it like a regular coupon. Location-based shopping coupons using mobile devices are also gaining popularity.

Mobile campaigns and ads

Mobile marketing presents a distinctly unique way to create interac­tive dialogues with customers. But it requires matching the creative to a smaller screen size; designing messages that are short, instantly understood, and effective; and creating a call-to-action with a mini­mal number of steps.

Here’s a fact worth remembering: Research indicates that mobile ads perform about five times better than internet ads. (The most common mobile ads are simple text links and display adds that are sold based on cost per clicks, cost per acquisition, and cost per thousand.)

Mobile marketing is not about your convenience. The benefits of receiving the information or discount via a mobile device must be valuable enough to the recipient. It has to make sense to the recipient as a benefit and not seen as an intrusion. So make offers that are in-tune with the recipient’s buying habits. You have to sync your messaging with your customers’ purchase history or favorites.

If you're sophisticated enough to delve into mobile advertising, you should have access to a consumer’s buying records to know what the individual needs and wants. Hey, you can go so far as to ask your customers what they want using Twitter, then show them you listened by making those same offers. This is about creating a dialogue, rather than a monologue. You really need to be strategic about what content you send out using mobile media. A major consideration when establishing a mobile marketing strategy involves identifying the benefits to the consumer, then integrating the message in your overall marketing campaign so you can communicate those benefits through all other marketing and social media channels.

12 Simple Strategies for Building Your Mobile-Marketing List

Barbara Spagnola - Wednesday, September 16, 2015
by Brett Relander
Founder of Launch & Hustle and Digital Marketing Consultant Specializing in Social Media & Mobile Marketing

Here is a scenario to consider. Say you sent out a direct mail letter and 95 percent of the people who received it opened it and read it within five minutes. And say that those who responded to the letter did so in about 90 seconds.

So what would you do? My guess is you’d be at the post office buying more stamps.

Put in these terms, businesses begin to see the potential power and profit of using mobile marketing (aka SMS or text marketing or push notifications). About 95 percent of mobile messages are received and read within five minutes.Responses to these types of messages happen, on average, within 90 seconds.

When you factor in costs, the case for mobile marketing is overwhelming. The costs of printing and postage alone dwarf any costs associated with SMS (only 2-3 cents each) and push notifications (free in most cases). Not to mention the USPS plan to begin cutting services means even less timely responses for direct mail.

Where do you begin when you're ready? The how and why of building a good list is a great place to start.

The ‘why’ of building a good list is simple. A good list of potential customers and prospects has been a terrific marketing weapon for a long time and has become essential in the new world of inbound, permission-based marketing. Your mobile app user and SMS lists are people who have raised their hands and said, “Please market to me. I’m interested in what you have to offer and I want to interact with you.” Building a list doesn’t just tilt the game in your favor, it takes you to the big league.

The first step to building a good list is determinin whether your own mobile app (push notifications) or SMS marketing is right for you. I prefer mobile apps for the branding power. I like the free push notifications but either can work.

Next, if you choose SMS, you need to understand short codes. Even if you are unfamiliar with the term, you’ve seen them. Say you walk into your favorite bookstore, Bob’s Books, and you see a poster that says: “Text ‘Books’ to 12345 for Special Discounts and Bookstore Event Dates.” Everyone who sends a text message with the keyword ‘books’ to 12345 will be added to Bob’s Books’ SMS list.

With that one action, Bob’s customers have begun the marketing dialogue and are asking Bob to market to them. Same goes for marketing via your mobile app. When someone sees your messaging and downloads your app (be sure to tell them to accept push notifications in order to get the coupons & announcements) they are opting in to receive your marketing messages. You get the branding benefits and many other mobile app features.  

There are a couple of options to obtaining a short code. One is to register for a specific code with the Common Short Code Administration. The drawbacks here are that leasing your own code is expensive and your code is not usable for weeks as you wait for it to be assigned and then approved by your carrier.

A more practical, faster and less expensive option involves working with a text messaging company to use one of their shared codes. This means that multiple businesses will use the same short code but each business will pick their own dedicated keyword. Customers will be added to the correct list based on the keyword they send.

You need to learn the ‘opt-in’ and ‘opt-out’ rules of the road. Customers who text you must confirm that they are opting-in to your SMS list and also must be given clear instructions on how to opt-out at anytime. When working with a text message company this is usually built in for you but you should still be aware of the rules.

When it comes to mobile apps you know my company, Launch & Hustle, offers those so I won’t add to this already long article.

Now for the fun part… strategies for building your list: I've listed ideas for three types of businesses, beginning with retail mobile marketing.

1. Having your short code and keyword or mobile app on your standard in-store signage is a no-brainer. You can also include them on any special event signage, at any off-site events you host or sponsor.

2. With most text message companies you can have multiple keywords so you can segment your list and provide customers opportunities to opt-in to the type of content they want.

3. Place a sign next to an item that says, “Our text subscribers received a coupon for 20 percent off this item” with the code and keyword on the sign. When they text your keyword to the short code the customer will automatically be sent the 20 percent off coupon. It doesn’t get much easier than that and the same scenario can work for mobile app push notifications as well.

4. With your own mobile app you can setup what’s called Geo-Fencing as well. It’s like setting up a perimeter around your store (say one mile). Everytime someone with you mobile app comes inside the fence they automatically receive your push notification message. You can change it periodically to keep people close by coming back for more.

5. As you begin to transition from traditional media (direct mail, print ads, etc) to digital marketing don’t forget to merge the two by placing your short code or mobile app call to action within your traditional ads.

Restaurant mobile marketing ideas:

6. Signage in the restaurant is again a fairly obvious (but important!) strategy.

7. Have all your servers handwrite on the check a short message asking patrons to download your mobile app or sign up for text messages with the code and keyword and mentioning it as they hand the customer the bill.

8. Here is a small ad you can place in a newspaper: “Last month we sent out text message deals to our patrons allowing them to save an average of $15 off their check. If you’d like to be one of them this month, text ‘Delicious’ to 12345.” Again, the same approach can be used with your mobile app push notifications.

9. Table signage is also a great place to engage your customers. It could say, “Download our mobile app to join our customer loyalty program and earn a complementary dinner.” Or, for SMS, it could be as simple as “Text ‘draft’ to 12345 and receive a free draft beer today.” That establishes a relationship with your customers by sharing other promotions with them and gives them something fun to share with their friends.

Physicians, dentists, orthodontists mobile marketing Ideas:

10. Office appropriate signage is a good idea and not just in the reception area. Your patients are probably bored waiting for you to come to them in the examining room and would welcome the chance to complete a task.

11. Encourage your receptionists to ask if your patients would like to receive their next appointment confirmation via text message. Those who respond ‘yes’ can receive a small flyer that outlines how to subscribe or be directed to text “RemindMe” to 12345.

12. Most of your patients are also looking for up-to-date information about flu shots, allergies, school physicals, etc and would welcome a text or push notification with direct links to relevant information. This is a great way to build relationships with your patients and gives them something to share with friends, thus exposing those friends to your practice.

No matter your business or organization, there are creative ways to build your list. It becomes easier. Involve your staff, especially the ones who love their phones. You might be pleasantly surprised with the ideas they generate. As with just about everything, the important part is to get started.

7 Steps to a New Image for Your Small Business Without Spending Much

Barbara Spagnola - Wednesday, September 16, 2015
by John Boitnott
Journalist, Digital Media Consultant and Investor

Whether you’ve been in business for five weeks or 50 years, chances are your business has an image, at least with someone. You may assume that once your image has been established you can’t change it, but that isn’t true at all. From time to time, you may even find that you need to change your image to attract a new audience or change the direction of your business.

An image makeover isn’t as complicated as it sounds. With a few simple tweaks, you can alter the direction of your brand to reach your goals.

1. Conduct an image audit

Before you can figure out where you’re going, you must first know where you stand. Take an in-depth look at your current branding and try to see things through your customers’ eyes. Compare it side by side to brands that are reaching the goals you hope to achieve.

If you want to gain the interest of a younger demographic, find successful brands in your industry and review their logos, website design and marketing campaigns to see what they’re doing that you aren’t.

2. Mobilize your strategy

If your business was created before smartphones and tablets, you may already be behind competitors. Your website and search results should be built for the modern age, using responsive web design techniques and optimized for local searches.

Your address and contact information should be updated throughout the web so customers can find you when they search for the closest business of your type.

3. Rethink your colors

Data-driven design is has become an important part of branding, with businesses using proven concepts to engage audiences. Color and content placement are an essential part of successful design, as marketers have found.

But you don’t have to shell out a large sum of money to a marketing firm to learn how to design pages and logos that compel customers to take action. This starts with using colors that reflect the image you’re hoping to achieve. This color quiz can help you select the best colors for your brand.

4. Listen to your customers

Throughout the makeover process, you should be guided by analytics and customer feedback. This begins before you make any changes. Note the keywords and sources customers use to get to your site and how they interact with your site once they arrive.

Once your changes have been made, you’ll have a great baseline for comparison if you’ve conducted careful research beforehand. Invite your customers to participate in a voluntary survey during the process to learn more about their thoughts.

5. Participate in the community

In addition to your online efforts, you should also be doing face-to-face marketing work, as well. One great way to make a big splash as you rebrand yourself is to participate in local events. Even an online business can gain attention in its own hometown by sponsoring local charities or networking at a Chamber of Commerce get-together.

As your business makes an impression on the local community, customers can spread the word about your brand through social media, potentially increasing your sales.

6: Strive for consistency

As you seek to expand your customer base, be careful not to alienate existing customers. Companies like Starbucks and Target are examples of companies that have created a logo that persists despite years of slight marketing changes. If you already have a loyal customer base, only consider making only slight tweaks to your logo, if that. Work with that logo to create new marketing materials around it.

7: Be willing to be drastic

If your goal is to start from scratch with an entirely new customer base, disregard number six and change everything. Mobile wallet company Isis recently rebranded itself as Softcard, for obvious reasons. After a 1996 crash, ValuJet renamed itself AirTran after merging with AirWays.

Whether you’re recovering from a PR nightmare or have found you’ve gone too far in the wrong direction, sometimes it’s necessary to cut all ties and pivot in a new direction altogether.

Since a TV-style extreme business makeover may not be in your future, you can take matters into your own hands and make the changes you need to succeed. The Small Business Administration has Small Business Development Centers where you can get advice to help you reimagine your business.

Don't for a second think you're the only entrepreneur considering going through changes like this. Thousands of companies have adjusted their trajectories and have gone on to success. You can do it, too.

5 Development Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Mobile App

Barbara Spagnola - Wednesday, September 16, 2015
by Himanshu Sireen

Digital Entrepreneur and Tech Enthusiast

If you have a breakthrough idea for your business, you’ve probably considered bringing it to life by developing a mobile app. It’s not a bad idea. Mobile apps are extremely popular at the moment, and they’re paving the way for all kinds of new and exciting business ideas. The problem, especially for many of the smaller-sized businesses we work with at Icreon, is trying to figure out the right approach.

Here are five helpful tips that will help any business navigate the treacherous waters of app development -- while avoiding some of the most common mistakes.

1. Failing to make sufficient platform considerations.

iOS, Android, Windows: Where should my app go? While any app developer will find themselves forced to confront this question, often they fail to comprehensively dissect each option at their disposal. Some developers base their platform choice on stereotypes. It’s not uncommon to see someone develop for iOS just because they believe monetization would be easier on the App Store. While this may be true in some cases, it’s not universal. Additionally, there are many other considerations that must go into platform selection.

While iOS may be extremely popular in the U.S., Android reigns supreme on a global scale, often in much larger margins than in the U.S. So if you intend on publishing your app in multiple countries, consider Android over iOS. When you make any platform decision, make sure you’re thinking of every possibility and alternative. If you fail to do so, you run the risk of severely limiting your audience.

2. Thinking of the mobile experience as a downsized web experience.

Let’s get this out of the way: A mobile app is fundamentally different from a website. It’s different in size, it’s different in functionality, and it’s different in scope. The difference is so important, in fact, that if Apple disapproves of your app’s design, they may actually reject it. So why do so many miss this important detail? For one, some people think that their app should do all of the same things that their site does, or else it is somehow less valuable. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The reason why mobile apps are valuable is because they’re different from their desktop cousins. They can be accessed on the go, their touch interfaces are more intuitive, they can take advantage of access to device hardware and they’re infinitely customizable. A good mobile app doesn’t fall back on pre-established designs or functionalities -- it uses the available hardware to create a new and delightful experience.

With responsive web design making the desktop browser experience more user-friendly than ever, it takes more to justify the existence of a new app. Before you hop into the fray, do everything you can to pinpoint what makes your product unique, and then bring that to life as a piece of exceptionally-designed software.

3. Dropping the ball on monetization.

The nuances of monetizing an app can be extremely daunting at first. Do you go for a subscription model, or do you implement a freemium approach with in-app purchases? Maybe you ditch both, and just go with in-app advertising to make money. Every possible approach can be mixed and matched in ways that perfectly suit your project, but it can be a monumental task to settle on the best one.

Luckily, you have time to make the right decision. Start thinking about monetization early in the development process, and be pro-active about pursuing the correct path. Sites such as AppAnnie and AppTrace let you organize top apps by genre and popularity. By looking at apps in your genre, you can gain valuable insight into how the most successful apps are monetizing.

4. Thinking your app’s going to sell itself.

No matter how optimistic you are about your launch, when you publish an app, you’re tossing it into a sea of thousands of competitors. If you don’t have a comprehensive plan to increase visibility, you run the risk of having it disappear altogether.

Before you get started with your marketing efforts, it’s important that you define your audience. Are you targeting a small niche, or are you aiming for a broader market? Either way, make sure your app identifies specific issues that affect that market, and then design your app to address those issues. For identifying trends and consumer demand, try using tools like Google Trends and Xyologic.

One goal to set for yourself is to try to make an app that’ll gain featured status on the App Store. While some can make the “Staff Picks” section through quality alone, you can increase your chances by taking advantage of upcoming Apple releases. With the release of iOS 8, for instance, Apple featured many new apps for implementing the new OS’s features in innovative ways.

Even if you don’t develop your app around new hardware technology, it’s always something to keep in mind -- it could give your app the big boost it needs.

5. Trying to be the beta tester for your own app.

“Why have someone else beta test your app when you can do it yourself?”

If you’ve ever asked this question while developing an app, you’ve probably been burned by the outcome. There’s a reason why beta testers are important: They offer valuable outside perspective that will help to catch issues with your app.

It’s not just the bugs that matter, either -- some of these ideas can be crucial for making your app user-friendly. For instance, maybe your in-app purchases aren’t communicated clearly enough, or maybe your use of advertisements is making the entire experience feel a bit jarring. Because you built the app this way, it’s harder for you to be able to pinpoint these high-level flaws.

Use app-analytics tools such as Flurry and Google’s Universal Analytics to see how your testers are using the app. The more people you can have beta test your app outside your own office, the more prepared you’ll be to send your app out into the real world.


Avoid 2015 Google Penalty with a Mobile-Friendly Website Design

Barbara Spagnola - Monday, April 20, 2015

by Keyword Search Pros

In Google’s recent announcement on mobile search, a new algorithm update will begin this April 21st and affect more website rankings than ever before. Even Google’s initial quake of Panda in 2012 affected only 12% of website queries. But the new update (which will be named at birth by Search Engine Land) will admittedly affect over 40% of mobile queries.

It is unclear at this stage to what degree each site will be affected but it is known that it will hang in balance between websites being mobile optimized and not being mobile optimized. It is also unclear as to if the new algorithm will affect only mobile search queries or all of search queries.

Below, we’ll show you how to navigate the decision making process when going mobile-friendly. There are a few ways to go and each has its pros and cons which is laid out for you. Much of your direction in going website “responsive” will be dictated on how easy or fast it can be to work with and change your existing website setup.

Google initially announced it’s commitment to improving mobile search in late January and since Google is warning the public ahead of time, it is a wise decision to use this time to prepare. So if you haven’t started, waste no more time and get going!

Here is how to get compliant with Google’s requirement for mobile responsive website design.

“What do I care if my site isn’t ready for mobile?”
Unfortunately, many website owners are still in the thinking that mobile is irrelevant to their business. This is typical of companies who sell mostly or all B2B. They’ll say, “My customers only search via desktop in their office.” or “We are trying to target the purchasing manager in businesses. They don’t buy on their cell phones or tablets.”

Even though the bulk of the search IS still on desktop for those companies, there is still a fast growing necessity to be mobile responsive; mainly for 2 reasons:

  1. Google is about to drop the hammer on mobile search and that could affect desktop rankings as well.
  2. There’s an ongoing increase in assisted conversions. The growth in overall mobile search applies to business users as well as non-business use. The argument that most purchases take place on a desktop holds less water since more purchasing decisions begin on mobile devices and migrate to desktop for further research and the sale“Is my site mobile friendly.

Not sure? Here’s how to find out: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

We can assume the Google’s algorithm is going to be taking in more website data than the mobile-friendly tool analyzes but it is a good place to start. If you’re site has failed the test, hopefully you’re not surprised and are ready to take action.

Time to get responsive and be responsive. There is really 2 directions to go when becoming mobile-friendly.

  1. Redesign your entire website for mobile responsiveness.
  2. ONLY create a mobile-friendly version of your website and redirect mobile visits there.

Initially there was speculation on whether it was better to do a whole responsive redesign or a mobile only responsive design. However, Matt Cutts has confirmed that Google will know by virtue of the site’s user-agent instructions that your site is mobile-friendly.

Matt Cutts on Duplicate Content on Mobile Sites.

Pros vs. Cons in Both Redesign Options
Full Website Redesign Pros

  • When you update your website improving on look, usability, and functionality, it gets it all done at once which saves on your long term cost of being up-to-date and web compliant.

Full Website Redesign Cons

  • Will have to work harder to make it truly mobile optimized (removing unnecessary content or products, nav options, pages, etc.) on the smaller screen sizes. If this is not done properly, the user will endure a lot or scrolling to read your content or see all the products.
  • Since desktop elements usually just stack themselves in the same order, some of the more important sidebar elements (like call-to-actions such as quote forms) will drop lower in the page by default.
  • Since the entire site is being redone for mobile-friendly, the time and cost could go up since there are typically much more tedious processes when creating the styles to work on each screen size.

Mobile-Only Website Creation Pros

  • Great option for getting compliant quick when reworking your current website is structurally difficult.
  • Easier build a site that is 100% catered to the mobile experience (removing unnecessary page elements, don’t have to worry about indexing separate content because it will canonicalize the desktop version in search.

Mobile-Only Website Creation Cons

  • Don’t get to revamp your entire site and it’s possible you’ll end up having to pay more to do a redesign for the desktop version or both desktop and mobile in the upcoming few years.

Tips on Going Mobile-Friendly
Options for redesigning an entirely new website.

  1. Design from scratch using a mobile-friendly framework like Twitter Bootstrap.
  2. Or install a mobile-friendly template design (i.e. Themeforest theme on Magento, hosted shopping cart themes like Shopify or BigCommerce.)

Option on how to get ONLY the ‘mobile-friendly’ website:

  1. Design from scratch.
  2. Mobile only Template (i.e. good luck finding one).
  3. Use a template that is built for mobile and desktop but is only redirected when the user is on a mobile device. In this instance, user will only see the mobile-friendly style of the website so you don’t actually have to redesign the template for desktop use.

Other Tips:

  • Subdomain or subdirectory will work fine for separate mobile-only website. According to Cutts, having those will help people understand they are on the mobile version of your website if it wasn’t completely obvious already. (i.e. m.website.com or website.com/m/rest-of-url.html)
  • Canonicalize mobile page templates using the desktop URLs.
  • Remove additional page elements to make the experience less cumbersome (i.e. unnecessary pages, products, nav options, content, images that are just filler on desktop). This can be done by using tags that tell the browser to omit certain blocks of code when on a particular device. On a mobile-only website version, you don’t have to worry about it cause you are building it for mobile and should use less content and site options when you build it.

Next step kick up the feet and basque in the glory that is your new mobile-friendly website. You will no doubt reap the benefit of having one. Here at KSP, we don’t agree with a lot of the stuff Google does. However in this case, we see it as strong nudge getting online advertisers current with the times and that’s a good thing.

My last advice is don’t cut corners on this. There is no point to spending any time and money on going mobile-friendly if it doesn’t help users navigate your site better and increase sales.

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Mobile Marketing and the Magic of Push Notifications (Infographic)

Barbara Spagnola - Monday, March 30, 2015
by Catherine Clifford

Frequently covers crowdfunding, the sharing economy and social entrepreneurship.

If Mad Men took place in 2014, the boardroom talk would have been all about push notifications on your smartphone.

Mobile marketing is where the magic is these days, but it’s not enough to have notices of sales and discounts landing in a customer’s inbox. Now, they want those alerts in real time, flashed up on the screen of their mobile device. These instant alerts -- called “push” notifications -- are being widely adopted by consumers and if your business is not using them, you are very likely losing money.

Global-marketing company Responsys, with U.S. headquarters in San Bruno, Calif., surveyed 1,200 adults and found that almost six in 10 adults have downloaded apps from their favorite brands and of those who have downloaded apps, seven in 10 have enabled push notifications. Those percentages are higher when only the younger set is surveyed.

Take a look at the infographic from Responsys (below) to see what compels consumers to download a brand's app and then why they consider push notifications from those apps to be useful. 

Click to Enlarge+
Mobile Marketing and the Magic of Push Notifications (Infographic)



7 Stats Show Mobile Marketing is Crucial for Your Business

Barbara Spagnola - Monday, March 30, 2015
by Brett Relander

Founder of Launch & Hustle and Digital Marketing Consultant Specializing in Social Media & Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing is here to stay; businesses across all possible niches are starting to implement mobile marketing strategies successfully. And they have compelling reasons to do so.

Below you’ll learn about the seven of the most incredible mobile marketing stats and the implications they hold for your business.

1. The new leader.

Google has predicted that mobile searches (85.9 billion) will overtake desktop-based searches (84 billion) in 2015. Search ad spending for Google mobile search grew 120.8% in 2013; desktop search ads registered a growth of just 2.3%. There will be 2 billion smartphone users globally by 2015. At present, more than 57% of America’s population owns a smartphone. That tells us where the traffic is headed. Is your business configured to take advantage of the explosive growth by mobile users?

2. Thinking local.

40% of mobile searches are local in nature. A staggering 77% occur when the searcher is not on the go, but rather at home or at work. Regardless of whether you run a restaurant or department store with a local target audience or an online store with a wider audience – the benefits of mobile marketing are impossible to ignore.

3. Quick conversions.

81% of the conversions from mobile search happen within five hours of the search. This means that you need to have the infrastructure and trained manpower in place to handle the post-search phase. Searches lead to actions such as calls, facilitated by click-to-call functionality, or visits to the business premises for further inquiries. Conversion depends upon you being found on mobile devices, providing a great user experience and being prepared to service the potential volume.

4. Opportunities to connect.

The top five tasks for which smartphones are used are making a phone call (83%), checking email (74%), searches (67%), taking pictures (62%), and accessing social media (57%). Each of these tasks can be used by businesses to further their mobile marketing objectives. For example, with such a high percentage of users opting to check emails on mobile devices, you have an audience to capture for email newsletters. Make it easy for your users to take pics of your products and services, share it via social media and become an advocate for your business.  

5. Peak times.

The frequency of mobile searches increases in the period from 8 pm to midnight and mobile searches double during the holiday season. Taken together or individually, both facts have significant implication for marketers. Increased marketing efforts during these fertile times will expose your business to more people and yield greater benefits.

6. Not just the kids.

The 55–64 age-group constitutes the fastest-growing demographic on Twitter. For Facebook and Google+, the demographics are 45-54. How does your mobile marketing tie in with your social media presence to target relevant demographics with disposable income?

7. Apps preferred.

85% of mobile users feel more at ease with apps as compared to mobile websites. iOS apps generate nearly four times the revenue that corresponding Android apps do. The Facebook app (74%) is the most downloaded social media app followed by Google+ (53%) and then Google Search (53%). Instigate action through apps using mobile-only loyalty programs, push notifications to alert your customers of specials, discounts and special events, and most importantly, keep your business in the palm of your customers hand.  

And if you still need more proof, this should clinch it for you. 75% of smartphone users in the United States have admitted to taking their phone with them to the bathroom. Ok, so it's a little gross but shows that our mobile devices are an extension of us. So jump on to the mobile marketing gravy train, and be sure to carry a big ladle.


10 Questions to Ask When Optimizing Your Website for Mobile Users

Barbara Spagnola - Monday, March 30, 2015
by Kim Lachance Shandrow

Senior Writer. Frequently covers cryptocurrency, future tech, social media, startups, gadgets and apps.

Americans can’t get enough of their smartphones. Most of us compulsively check them countless times a day, then stash them by our bedsides at night, according to the Pew Research Center. We’re hooked on them because they make our lives easier.

Fortunately for businesses large and small, smartphones also make it easier for people to research and make purchases on the go. And that very (and very lucrative) mobile purchasing power is precisely why it’s critical for your company website to look great and work smoothly on smartphones -- and on tablets, too.

Here are 10 crucial questions to ask when optimizing your company’s website for mobile users:

1. My website looks okay on mobile devices now. Is it really worth it just to make it look and feel as slick as possible on smartphones and tablets?
Yes, without a doubt, says Brian Alvey, "chief scientist" at Ceros, a cloud-based real-time web content authoring platform. Global fashion, auto and retail brands look to Ceros to publish interactive marketing experiences that are designed to “work flawlessly” on all types of devices, and smartphones and tablets are no exception.

“Mobile used to be the future of business,” Alvey says. “Mobile used to be a trend. Now it’s the norm.” The bottom line: If you don’t adapt to mobile and quick, you could miss out on a prime revenue-generating opportunity, or even lose customers to competitors who already embrace mobile. 

2. Should I have a dedicated mobile version of my existing website or simply make my existing website responsive to mobile?
You have two choices. You can either opt for a single website that displays content responsively for different device and browser types, otherwise known as responsive web design. Or you can create a standalone dedicated mobile website separate from your main website. If your main site is www.examplesitehere.com, then your dedicated mobile site would likely appear as m.examplesitehere.com. The .m signifies mobile. 

Alvey prefers an all-in-one responsive site. He says he’s heard that Google and Bing prefer them as well.

3. Should I try to mobile-optimize my website myself or delegate it to someone on my staff? 
Particularly for small businesses that are light on resources, it’s best to leave it to the pros. The mobile optimization process is generally too cost-prohibitive, complicated and time-consuming to go in-house.

“Most SMBs can’t justify even a single full-time designer, so in-house isn’t an option,” Alvey says. “Unless you have the time and experience to directly manage freelance designers, I’d hire a company [to do the job].”

4. What are some of the best mobile optimization options available and what do they cost?
Luckily, there are a wide variety of solutions available for every budget. Alvey suggests deciding what you’re willing to spend, then choosing the best available option from there.

Alvey’s favorite mobile services are from popular website hosting companies like WordPress (free hosting, plus premium upgrades), GoDaddy (hosting costs $4.99 to $7.99 per month) and SquareSpace (free 14-day trial, hosting costs $8 to $24 per month). Each offers a broad array of automatically mobile-friendly, attractive prefab website designs, features and themes, plus premium add-ons.

Another is bMobilized, whose slogan is “mobilize any website... instantly.” This can be a smart option if you simply want to add mobile responsiveness to your existing website. The service’s software mobilizes your site with the click of a button. Pricing is monthly and reasonable at $15.20 per month annually or $19 month-to-month.

5. Should I just hire a contractor?
Hiring a contract web designer for the job is also an option, though it could cost you more in the end than using an online solution. Alvey says web designer fees are generally charged hourly and vary quite a bit from city to city. If you do go the contractor route, he advises that you hire locally and carefully check customer references before committing.

6. What are some key, must-have mobile site features?
Required mobile features vary, Alvey says. “Obviously, if you don’t have e-commerce, then a shopping cart is useless.” But if you do sell goods online, you should definitely include one in your mobile design. Or, if you own a brick-and-mortar retail business, be sure to prominently display your store address and hours, and perhaps a link to driving directions as well.

Another essential feature all businesses should position front and center is a “click-to-call” phone number. All mobile users have to do is click the number and their smartphone will call you, allowing them to instantly and directly engage with your business.

“Never forget that a customer who is checking out your business on their phone -- is holding a phone.”

7. What about social media integration?
Social media integration is like free advertising. It lets users generate a buzz around your brand. In most cases including social elements is a must. For example, on the mobile site for a free online deal-tracking service called Hukkster, first-time users can sign up to use it by entering their Facebook (and Google) credentials. Hukkster’s Facebook integration makes it easier for its users to share their favorite product discounts with their friends on the popular social platform, while simultaneously broadening Hukkster’s marketing reach on Facebook.   

Alvey points out that, because they’re so inherently visual, hotels and fashion companies thrive on Instagram and Pinterest, so those particular platforms make sense to integrate into their mobile sites. Whereas Twitter integration is a better fit for airlines and TV shows, which tend to experience high engagement on the microblogging service, he says.

Whichever social platforms you settle on, it’s wise to limit yourself to only two or three social media sharing buttons, not a dozen, Alvey says.

8. What’s the best way to test my mobile site before launch?
Test-driving your site helps you discover and weed out bad links, confusing navigation and a host of other potential functionality issues. Be sure to test yours on as many devices and browsers possible, “not just the ones your team or your CEO uses,” Alvey says.   

Interestingly, he also suggests swinging by Best Buy, which he cheekily calls a “free mobile testing lab,” or a similar consumer electronics retailer to check your site out on as many of their sample smartphones and tablets as possible. You’ll get a hands-on feel for what works and what doesn’t -- at zero cost.  

9. How can I track the success of my mobile strategy?
The most popular, user-friendly website traffic and usage tracking option available is Google Analytics. The free self-service tool shows you how many people visit your mobile site, from which devices and how often, along with where they live, how they found your site and much more. It also tells you which social channels drive people to your mobile entity and what content they share from it. Use what you learn to fine tune your mobile strategy over time.

10. What are some common mistakes to avoid?
One of the biggest blunders is poorly targeting which devices users will view your content on, Alvey says. “If you send my Android phone to a desktop version (of a website) or my iPad to a smartphone version (of a website), you’ve lost me as a customer.”

Other common mistakes on Alvey’s list of mobile mistakes to skip include: crowded designs with links that are too close together for people’s fingers to accurately click, not optimizing image sizes for mobile bandwidth, making people fill out complicated forms and “harassing me to download your app.”


Grow Your Business by Using Push Notifications Effectively

Barbara Spagnola - Monday, March 30, 2015
by Rahul Varshneya

Entrepreneur and Mentor, Arkenea Co-Founder


Consumers find push notifications highly valuable. Want proof? Seventy-six percent of 18 to 34 year olds have enabled push notifications on their phone, according to a survey by Responsys.

It also found that marketers witness 50 percent higher open rates on push notifications versus email, with click-through rates up to twice as high.

Now with iOS 8 around the corner for mass adoption, Apple is redefining notifications on its platform. The notifications become interactive, and as a business, you can now build engagement through your customer’s lock screen.

Apple intends to make notifications more powerful and will allow app developers to harness their power in many ways, including letting users respond/react without having to quit whatever they’re currently doing on their phone.

Notifications have been around for quite a while, but most give little importance to them. Here are some cues to get you started on understanding notifications better and using them to increase engagement, and therefore, conversions.

1. Make them relevant. Treat notifications messages like you would if you sent them out on social-media channels. Better still, focus on them like you would on writing a blog post for user engagement. The common thread is relevancy. Make notifications relevant to your customers.

2. Integrate with analytics. Relevancy of content increases when you send content to specific segments of customers. This means you have to know your customers well -- what are they buying, what interests them, what they looked at but did not buy, etc.

Tracking these metrics through analytics will help you carve out relevant notifications for a specific customer.

3. Don’t overload them. Even fanboys can get sick of communication. It’s the same with notifications. In fact, it's easier to overdo it through push notifications. Don’t push content daily unless there’s a good reason. Communicate at appropriate intervals and at opportune times to get better conversions.

Find out when your customers are more engaged with your product/service and schedule your notifications to get more traction.

4. Think differently. Don’t always push an offer or a deal. Think how Twitter and Facebook engages users by sending push notifications based on events. Some are subtle, yet generate enough interest to bring back users.

5. Give users control. This one is difficult to implement. Let your customers decide what notifications they want to receive. It may help to break up your notifications into categories so you can empower your customers with this decision.

Of course, choose your words wisely when writing copy for notifications to keep your customers hooked. Just as mass produced or generic messages do not work when you’re sending email, don’t expect push notifications to give you results with generic and non-personalized messages.