October 30th, 2013

SMS Isn’t Dying, But It Needs Some TLC

HandsTexting

With the rise of the smartphone, it would appear that SMS text messaging is obsolete and a thing of the past. However, is SMS really dead? There is no question that its use has declined especially with the growing popularity of Instant Messaging mobile applications. However, it may be a bit premature to assume that SMS is no longer relevant.

Many insiders in the mobile industry, in fact, have conflicting opinions about the true status of SMS and where it currently stands against the major players like Facbook IM and apps like WhatsApp. With that in mind, here are a few thoughts on why SMS might be perceived as struggling.

Reasons for the Decline of SMS

  • A few mobile plans do place a restriction on the number of texts you are allotted before being charged for each additional text message sent thereafter. This may drive users to look for other alternatives.
  • Features like broadcast text messaging have largely been replaced with more efficient ways of communication, such as status updates through Facebook. With the number of smartphone users on the rise, more consumers than ever have access to major social networks at their fingertips and can freely use them at no charge as part of their inclusive data plan.
  • Instant messaging is rapidly gaining traction among mobile users. The fact that you can send unlimited messages and freely chat with family and friends without worry of going over your allotted limit and being charged for it also makes it a more desirable option. Additionally, IM uses far less data unless, of course, you implement the use of videos, audio or photo sharing.

In a nutshell, Popularity of SMS marketing has declined — not because it isn’t effective, but because the popularity of texting in general has decreased as other methods of communication are explored.

If you’re like many people, you might assume then that it is only a matter of time before SMS completely falls by the wayside. However, this may not exactly be the case. Some even contend that SMS is still king when it comes to messaging.

SMS Guest Post.002

Why SMS is Still Relevant

  • SMS is platform independent; think about that for a minute. Of the hundreds of millions of mobile phones out there, even the most outdated models still in use are capable of sending and receiving text. This means you can practically reach anyone via text as long as they own a mobile phone. No other messaging technology as of yet can make this claim.
  • Newer forms of messaging often entail having to install the latest app. To complicate matters, certain apps may not be available on certain devices. iMessages, for example, is restricted only to Apple devices. Similarly, BlackBerry Messenger is restricted to Blackberry users. Of course, there are apps like WhatsApp that works across multiple platforms though the person you wish to message will need to have the same app installed as well.
  • Just about everyone will open a text message they receive. According to statistics, 98 percent of text messages are opened and read within 15 minutes of being received. This is a fact that savvy marketers are keen of and exploit to their advantage since they can get the message to you regardless of what apps you have or don’t have installed.

There is Still Life in SMS

To put it in context, nearly 8 trillion text messages were sent in 2011, which comprised of roughly two-thirds of all mobile messaging traffic. SMS is also up in developing countries where it has become more popular than voice calling.

While some developers are waiting for the death of SMS, they will probably be waiting for a long time because most figures and statistics show that text messaging is actually increasing in certain areas. Another statistic also revealed that on a global scale, only about 16 percent of mobile phones in use are app-enabled. While the media tends to jump on the IM and smartphone bandwagon, the statistics seem to tell a different story.

SMS Guest Post.001

SMS is Down but Not Out

With the many advantages it continues to hold, SMS is not going anywhere. Of course, IM app developers will attempt to use every sales tactic in the playbook to convince you that IM is the new future and that by sticking to SMS you will be left in the dust. But if SMS is right for your company, then you can certainly use it effectively, maybe more than ever.

 

Ashley Williamson is a freelance writer and an occasional guest blogger interested in business, marketing, and SEO related topics. She is currently writing on behalf of Silverstreet, a company that specializes in mobile messaging. When she is not working, she likes to travel and read as much as she can. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.

August 10th, 2011

Microsoft Tag vs. QR Codes: The Debate Continues

A few months ago, a member of the 60 Second Marketer community started a discussion on our LinkedIn group that asked, “I am curious about everyone’s thoughts on Microsoft Tags vs. QR Codes.”

You can join that discussion by clicking the link above. In the meantime, you might also enjoy our analysis of the comments and information we received about the Microsoft Tag vs. QR Code debate. (Some very level-headed information was kindly provided by Nick Martin, the Online Community Manager at Microsoft Tag.)

Here’s our report, written by Nicole Hall at Mobilize Worldwide.

While these two codes both fall into the category of a 2D code, many people have differing opinions on which will win out to become the most widely accepted technology. So what is the fuss really all about?Microsoft Tag vs QR Code

We took a look at the 5 factors most commonly discussed in the debate to help you decide which code is best for your business.

Open vs. Closed Source: One of the biggest differences between the codes is whether they are open or closed sources.  QR codes are open source, meaning they can be created by many companies, and each company’s code reader should be able to read every other company’s QR codes. Meanwhile, Microsoft Tag’s technology is closed, meaning you can only create and scan Microsoft Tags using Microsoft’s platform. While some believe the open nature of QR codes will help them gain traction and become more widespread in the market place, others argue that by controlling the entire scanning process, Microsoft will be better able to assure quality, and thus rise to the top.

Adoption Rates: Though QR code companies and Microsoft are both extremely tight lipped about their numbers except to say that they are experiencing extreme growth, many 3rd parties have speculated about each code’s share of the market. According to Nellymoser, who is a partner of Microsoft Tag, Tag has an overwhelming presence in the print publications industry, with campaigns in publications such as Allure, Sports Illustrated and USA Today.

However, in most other areas QR codes seem to be dominating the space. In fact, Burson Marsteller recently reported that 22% of the Fortune 50 companies are using QR to promote their business. Companies using QR codes include retailers such as Walmart, manufacturers like Ford Motors and entertainment companies such as HBO, to name a few.  Additionally, ScanLife QR code readers are preloaded on to many Android devices, increasing the adoption rate amongst these owners. Microsoft Tags are not preloaded on any devices, despite the fact that Windows Phones are also a Microsoft product.

Scanability: Scanability is one of the hottest topics in the debate over codes, but unfortunately there is no definitive evidence one way or the other.  While Microsoft has put out research indicating their codes are successfully read up to twice as often as QR codes, 3rd party research is not available to back up these claims. Anecdotal evidence however, indicates that the codes tend to be fairly evenly matched, but that QR codes scanability can be hampered depending on what codes and code readers are being used.

Customizability:  One of Microsoft’s initial selling points was that, unlike QR codes, they could incorporate colors and custom logos into their tags. But now QR codes are catching up on this front. The codes can operate successfully with a 30% margin of error, meaning designers have been able to get creative with graphics and logos. Microsoft Tags can also include your logo, but typically work by layering a field of dots over a picture, as opposed to actually incorporating it into the design. This makes it easy to create a custom code without a graphic designer, but many argue it does not look as sleek. Check out some examples below and decide for yourself. And, for more cool QR codes, check out Mashable’s article.

Iams MST

Custom Microsoft Tag for Iams

Jay Baer MST

Custom Microsoft Tag for Jay Baer book, Now

corkbin

Custom QR Code for Corkbin

magic Hat QR

Custom QR Code for Magic Hat

 

Cost: It is completely free to create Microsoft Tags and to download their reader. Additionally, their metrics, which include the frequency, time frame, and geography of all scans, come free of charge. Microsoft has guaranteed that all of their services will remain free until at least 2015, and they will give 2 years notice before charging for any service, so a price hike is not a concern for their users. This cost structure differs slightly from most QR code companies which do not charge to create or scan codes, but often do charge a “premium” rate to achieve similar metrics.

While there are some definite differences between the two codes, much of their popularity will come down to individual preference. Regardless of which code wins out, the continuing adoption of one or both of these codes is a definite win for mobile marketers.

Posted by Nicole Hall, Account Manager with Mobilize Worldwide. Mobilize Worldwide develops mobile apps, mobile ad campaigns, mobile websites and just about anything else related to mobile marketing for brands interested in growing their sales and revenue using this new and emerging medium.

May 24th, 2011

How to Reach Your Customers Using Android, Apple, Blackberry and Windows.

Let’s be honest, as awesome as we’ve been told it can be, mobile marketing can be extremely frustrating. We hear all the time about awesome technologies and cool mobile campaigns going on in other countries like Japan, but have yet to really see widespread use of mobile in the States. So what’s the deal?

Balancing Reach and Budget in Mobile Marketing

With so many different phones, carriers, and operating systems, trying to reach all of your customers can be a nightmare.

As anyone who has tried to launch a mobile campaign can tell you, one of the biggest problems with mobile in the US is the segmentation of mobile devices and carriers.

The huge variation in the capabilities of phones and operating systems makes optimizing your mobile campaigns for a large number of people both expensive and time consuming. So that leaves those of us with lower marketing budgets with the difficult question of which mobile devices and operating systems we should optimize for.

The first thing to take into consideration when deciding how to optimize your campaign is the breakdown of feature phones to smartphones. Currently, Nielsen estimates that by the end of 2011, more than 50% of the market will be smartphone users. Meaning, that even though smartphones appear to be everywhere, 50% of the market will still not be able to access your content if you go with mobile tactics like QR codes, mobile apps, or sites. To access these people, you will need to stick with SMS campaigns, or new JagTag campaigns, which function essentially like SMS campaigns but allow for multimedia messages instead of just texts.

However, if you do decide to reach only the smartphone market, you will still encounter the issue of what operating systems and phones you should optimize for. Sites and mobile apps need to be optimized for specific screen sizes and operating systems, and each optimization takes additional time (and money) in development and testing. So if you have to prioritize, where do you start?

The simple answer is to start with the big four operating systems: Android, iOS, RIM and Windows7. But even within these categories, there are large breakdowns in share and OS versions.

Though the stats are changing every day, the current breakdown between BlackBerry, Android and iPhone users is a pretty tight race. However, as new Android phones keep rolling out, they are grabbing a 50% share of all new smartphone purchases, making it an undeniable force in the mobile space, and necessary to optimize for. The good news here is that all versions of the Android OS are highly capable and have enough market share to warrant optimization and testing.

The next most popular OS is iPhone’s iOS, with 25% of new smartphone purchases. The iOS is also fairly flexible and holds enough share to warrant testing and optimization, though versions earlier than 2.0 are no longer very visible in the market.

So the real issue comes in with the remaining big hitters in the smartphone space: BlackBerry and Windows Phone. BlackBerry has been on the market for years, and as such has a lot of different versions and phones that are available to be optimized for. However, they are only currently grabbing 15% of new smartphone sales, so optimizing for versions 6 and 7 of the operating system, should be satisfactory.

Finally, the Windows Phone, with 7% share of new phones has stumbled in the past and only recently re-entered the scene. As such, their most recent OS, version 7, is really the only heavy hitter in the game and the only one that needs to be considered if you’re working on a budget.

The potential of mobile is undeniable, but brings with it many unique challenges that haven’t been faced by marketers in the past. For big brands, it may be possible to address all levels of phones, operating systems and versions, but many of us need to make sacrifices during our first entrance into the mobile market. As such, these simple guidelines may help you navigate the tricky world of reach versus budget.

Posted by Nicole Hall, Account Manager with Mobilize Worldwide. Mobilize Worldwide develops mobile apps, mobile ad campaigns, mobile websites and just about anything else related to mobile marketing for brands interested in growing their sales and revenue using this new and emerging medium.

May 17th, 2011

16 Mobile Marketing Statistics and Resources You Should Know About

We’ve heard some pretty great promises about mobile over the past few years; promises that in many cases have yet to be fulfilled. And while I still have faith in the power of mobile as a medium, it’s understandable that some people are becoming wary of the potential of mobile. Because of this, fluffy promises and pretty screenshots may not cut it when you’re trying to pitch a mobile campaign to your CFO. So here is a round-up of some of the strongest stats (and their sources) to support your argument for mobile.

Mobile is EVERYWHERE:

  • There are 271 million mobile subscribers in the US.  Charts Bin
  • 82% of adults have a cell phone.  PEW
  • 31% of mobile subscribers own a smartphone.  Nielsen
  • There are five times as many cellphones in the world as PCs.
  • 25% of Americans use only mobile devices to access the internet, as opposed to desktops.  On Device Research
  • By leveraging MMS and SMS, brands can reach nearly 95 percent of mobile phone subscribers on both smartphones and non-smartphones alike.   Mobile Marketer

Mobile is Immediate and Contextual

  • The average person has their cellphone within reach 14 hours a day.  
  • 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes of being delivered.  Singlepoint
  • 9 out of 10 mobile searches lead to action, over half leading to purchase.  Google
  • 79% of smartphone users use their phone to help with shopping, with 74% ultimately making a purchase as a result.  Google

Mobile Outperforms other Media

Mobile Marketing Statistics You Should Know

  • Mobile coupons receive 10x higher redemption rates than print coupons.
  • Mobile ads perform 2 to 3 times better than online ads in key metrics such as brand favorability, awareness, and purchase intent.  InsightExpress
  • 70% of mobile searches lead to action within one hour, as opposed to online searches, 70% of which lead to action within 1 month.  Microsoft
  • The Weather Channel reports some of their advertisers receive 6- 7 times higher click through rates on mobile than on the desktop version.  Ogilvy

Of course the argument for mobile marketing is different for every company, but hopefully these facts will help you support your claims and win over even the biggest stat-cruncher in your company.

Posted by Nicole Hall, Account Manager with Mobilize Worldwide. Mobilize Worldwide develops mobile apps, mobile ad campaigns, mobile websites and just about anything else related to mobile marketing for brands interested in growing their sales and revenue using this new and emerging medium.