How Should We View The Latest Mobile Stats?

Atop my list of mobile best practices is the need to stay current on consumer behavior and interests. This summer has brought fresh data that has ramifications for all of us conceiving and executing mobile programs.

Here are a few numbers and their importance to us:

Stats: The average Android consumer in the U.S. spends 56 minutes per day actively interacting with the web and apps on his or her phone. Of that time, two-thirds is spent on mobile apps while one-third is spent on the mobile web (Nielsen).

Meaning What? You’ve likely heard notable analyst Mary Meeker’s prediction that more will access the web via mobile than via PC by 2015 But this is 2011 and it would be foolish to spend exclusively on the web on Android devices. Instead, consider a mix of app and Internet. You have time to worry about 2015.

I look at many others in my latest post

Has Holiday Season Already Passed You By?

The retail experience has changed forever now that people rely on their mobile devices for product information while they shop.

The impact of mobile on shopping and commerce was also the focus of proprietary research I introduced last June. My findings highlighted precisely how consumers use their social networks to get input and advice at a brand’s “Moments of Trust”.  The result is profound impact on sales and loyalty.

Interestingly, Yahoo has released insights that confirm my findings and help us better understand the impact of mobile Internet on mobile shopping and purchases. Yahoo teamed up with Nielsen to interview 8,384 U.S. residents ages 13-64 via an online quantitative survey. Of this sample: 5,313 were mobile Internet users who access information related to at least one of 12 product categories. 3,071 were PC/laptop Internet users who access information related to at least one of the 12 product categories and could not access any category Internet information on a mobile device.

So, what is the place of mobile in our shopping experience? Yahoo findings indicate mobile is at the center of the in-store action, making mobile devices a great advertising vehicle for retailers. In fact, a whopping nine out of 10 mobile users have accessed the mobile Internet while they were actually in the store. What’s more, approximately 50 percent of in-store mobile web activity is related to shopping. And people also share while they shop. Almost half (48 percent) of in-store mobile users take and/or send a picture of a product they are considering buying to a friend or family member.

Among the key findings:

  • 51 percent of consumers indicated that they do make a purchase after doing research on their mobile device.
  • On average 16 percent use their mobile phones for shopping research, but interest for this in the next 12 months is extremely high at 57 percent among mobile Internet users and 41 percent among non-mobile Internet users, on average.
  • One in 5 mobile shoppers who have seen advertising during the shopping process say they always look at it. The key to being successful in mobile shopping advertising is to make sure the ads are informative.

It’s 100 degrees in many places, but towel off and lock in your mobile strategy for the holiday season. Marketers and retailers alike have to ask (and answer) some tough questions: How will you influence your customers at the point of sale? Are your salespersons ready for shoppers who have instant access to information, product reviews, and competitors’ prices? Is there a plan for consumers who are using mobile to speak about your products and services (or just let off steam) via their social networks? You can forget the holidays (and celebrating anything any time soon), if you haven’t figured even the basics of where mobile fits in your business.

More from my MobileGroove column

10 Best SMS Tips For Luxury Marketers

Mobile Marketer asked me about best practices when marketing to the affluent. Here's the story that appears today.

Rather than developing a costly mobile application or optimized site, some luxury brands are opting for SMS or MMS messaging that delivers relevant and real-time information to opted-in consumers.

Luxury brands such as Kiehl’s, Jaguar Land Rover, Cartier, BMW and Hennessy have begun to realize the affect that SMS messaging has on their customers. It is likely that this sort of messaging is one of the most personal ways to communicate with consumers via mobile.

“SMS is the means to an opted-in database where individual preferences can be learned and mobile messages can be personal and relevant,” said Jeff Hasen, chief marketing officer of Hipcricket, Kirkland, WA.

“Those benefits are especially important when your customer is affluent and accustomed to high-touch service,” he said.

As an expert in the SMS field, Mr. Hasen has compiled a list of 10 tips for luxury brands considering SMS messaging. Here they are:

1. Use SMS as a customer relationship marketing tool, not just a means to provide one-time offers.

2. Use past experiences with the customer to offer luxury customers what they actually want.

3. Do not assume all luxury customers have smartphones – SMS needs to do a lot of the heavy lifting.

4. Use SMS for time-sensitive offers and information. Ninety-seven percent of text messages are read within four minutes of delivery.

5. Consider location to boost relevance.

6. Make sure SMS campaigns fit into the brand’s overall marketing strategy.

7. Use SMS as a means to connect to richer brand experiences. For example, link back to the brand’s mobile Web site or app.

8. For this audience, over-deliver on customer service – it is more of an expectation.

9. Use SMS to drive customers to the store.

10. Exclusivity is important as it makes customers feel like VIPs, so reward the brand’s best customers with something special.

Depending on what the brand wants to accomplish, SMS can be used for many different purposes.

Some brands use SMS to call attention to new products.

For instance, LVMH’s Hennessy is promoting its collaboration with the artist Kaws for a limited-edition bottle that can be previewed by scanning 2D bar codes and SMS calls-to-action.

Meanwhile, other brands such as Kiehl’s skincare are implementing location-based SMS messaging to offer news and sales at local store locations to drive in-store purchase.

Automakers are also making use of the real-time messaging service.

German automaker BMW personalized MMS messages to alert customers to buy snow tires during winter months, while Jaguar integrated SMS calls-to-action with its television ads.

Since SMS messaging is opt-in, it is a fool-proof system to deliver information to a brand’s most loyal customers.

“A permission-based SMS program creates a dialogue with consumers, giving mobile subscribers the ability to ask for and receive exactly what they want,” Mr. Hasen said.

Has Amazon Proven That Consumers Will Accept Ads?

We got an interesting read this week on Amazon’s Kindle ereader sales. This is particularly significant to marketers since Amazon has brought to millions an ereader bundled with “special offers” and screensaver advertisements.

Amazon followed its usual tact and did not reveal the precise number of Kindles it sold in the quarter. Instead, it only noted that Kindle sales in Q2 showed an increase over Q1 sales. The figures are vague –as we have come to expect from Amazon. Meanwhile, AP reports that Q2 was also a good quarter for sales of eBooks for the Kindle device.

Specifically, Amazon said it has sold more eBooks (that it offers for the Kindle) than hardcover and paperback books.

Even more noteworthy: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reported that the $139 Kindle 3G with Special Offers — a version of the Kindle Amazon released in Q2 that is subsidized with ads — is now its top-selling Kindle device. By way of background, Kindle with Special Offers carries a slightly lower price tag ($25 less or $114) because it is effectively ad-funded. Special offers and sponsored screensavers display on the Kindle screensaver and on the bottom of the home screen. However, they don’t interrupt reading.

What are these so-called offers? Over the last months the promotions and deals displayed have included:

-- $10 for $20 Gift Card

-- Save up to $500 off Amazon’s prices on select HDTVs

-- $1 for a Kindle book, choose from thousands of books

-- Spend $10 on Kindle books and get a free $10 Gift Card

As for screensavers, Amazon says its goal is to show sponsored screensavers that Kindle owners want to see. To this end, they have created a free Kindle app (available now) and website (coming soon) called Amazon AdMash. Anyone with a Kindle (Latest Generation device) can download AdMash, a clever app that harnesses the best of crowdsourcing to let people have a say in their future screensavers. How does this work? Basically, AdMash will show you two different screensavers, and then ask you to vote for the one you like best. The community will decide. Smart.

Amazon’s Q2 numbers leave key questions unanswered about the ad-funded device. Is the price of this package bringing in new customers? If so, what are the demographics? Are they new too? (I know my mother-in-law – who is 82 – is a huge fan of Kindle, in part because it is a breeze to read.) And then there is the term ‘Special Offers.’ So far, we know the “offers” aren’t a consumer turnoff. This could be because Amazon shrewdly and purposely made the decision not to use the word “advertising” to describe them. So, who can refuse such an offer?

As I’ve written in columns on MobileGroove and elsewhere, people will accept advertising in exchange for offers they appreciate. In fact this view is confirmed by a several industry reports, including a recent one from the Yankee Group. It shows that more than 70 percent of mobile subscribers surveyed in the U.S. want offers on their devices. As marketers, we can’t ignore the Kindle. We need to add this device into our marketing plan discussions. Amazon is most certainly providing advertisers more detailed user information to make sure they can make their media buy as targeted — and effective — as it can be.

Meantime, let’s not forget that Amazon has another card to play later this year when it is expected to launch a tablet device. That’s when things will get even more interesting.

Could Mobile's Ad Spend Top TV's?

The group of those who are bullish on mobile and its place in the marketing mix grows every week. And these executives aren’t betting on a gut feeling. They have been convinced by real results. Initiatives have moved product, raised brand awareness and engagement, and given marketers more confidence in mobile marketing and advertising. As a result, more money is moving into the mobile channel.

Meet Paul Gelb of Razorfish, who redefines what it means to be bullish. (Disclosure: Razorfish is a Hipcricket client).

In an interview with Adweek, Paul, the agency’s mobile practice lead, was quoted as making the mother of all mobile predictions.  “I think mobile ad spend will overtake television,” he stated.

To put that into perspective, you need to know that a cool $131 billion was spent on television advertising in the U.S. alone last year. By comparison, JP Morgan predicts that mobile ad spend will reach about $1 billion in the U.S. in 2011.

The reasons for Paul’s optimism? He bases it on what he sees and knows about the industry. As he told Adweek (and has outlined in presentations), mobile is the first truly mass media.

Mobile beats TV on reach. Paul points out that there are over three times more mobile users than there are TV viewers. And mobile is the brand communication channel. Put another way, mobile is the most adopted technology and media channel in history with high engagement rates and 24-hour access to users.

What’s more, Paul believes that the rapid adoption of mobile is setting the stage for a dramatic shift in the advertising spend. “If you’d predicted then that smart phones could outsell PCs and that people would spend an hour a day on their phones, no one would have believed you,” he said.

And even if some remain disbelievers, the number of brands convinced of the power of mobile is on the rise. Driven by increased client budgets Razorfish’s mobile practice has grown to 45. “We can’t staff as quickly as we want,” Paul said.

In the 12 years that I spent working in advertising and PR firms, I did not see agencies increase headcount if they didn’t have the client work to back it up. The agency model is to win business, then staff against it. I’m not privy to Razorfish’s mobile revenue, but I do know they are very active and certainly wouldn’t staff up wildly in the hopes of winning business.  As for Paul’s prediction, he certainly has good reason to believe mobile will be huge. I also know that mobile’s going to be big, but forecasting too far out is problematic for me.

(first appeared on MobileGroove

2011 Second-Half Mobile Predictions - Including iPhone on Four Carriers

Neither rumors nor tea leaves will guide us to what’s coming in mobile in the second half of the year so, as I have in the past, I’ll take a run at what could make the most impact in a six-month period.

Despite the advancements by Google via its Android efforts, no device comes close to the iPhone in terms of fascination and speculation. We’re either on the verge of a complete product makeover or will soon see relatively minor modifications in the iPhone 5. This swings back and forth via hourly reports.

Just as intriguing is whether Sprint and T-Mobile will be selling iPhones by year’s end. While rumors about distribution have run wild for the last four years, the highly reliable Boy Genius Report says a four-carrier choice for iPhone holiday shopping is likely.

Of course, that scenario has many marketing implications. If it happens, get ready to revisit history by hearing from your CEO that “we need an iPhone app”. This time, with the reach and expected share, he or she would be right.

Other things I anticipate:

The convergence of mobile and social will be even more pronounced. Twitter and Facebook members are twice as active on mobile as they are online – and that’s before Facebook’s “app for every phone” introduction that brings the social network to more than 2,500 feature phones at a low cost accepted by global carriers.

At retail, look for even more mobile subscribers chronicling their “Moments of Trust” by posting comments, photos and even videos to social networks. Mobile devices have become megaphones for a large portion of users with more than 40 percent telling those in their social networks about negative or positive experiences with brands, according to research I commissioned in the spring and unveiled at Jeff Pulver’s 140 Characters Conference in New York /jeffhasen/video-of-my-140-characters-conference-talk-on

Groupon will prove to be more valuable to mobile users than PC members, providing the mobile customer ops in for Groupon Now offers.  What might stop someone from opting in? A reluctance to give Groupon access to location information as well as buying habits. As for me, Groupon online has proven to be largely a bother with such irrelevant offers as eyelash enhancement and flying trapeze lessons. I’ll take relevant offers on mobile.

Expect outrage over bills that charge for data overages. We’ve heard this one before – text messaging became mainstream once consumers were offered unlimited plans that prevented shocking bills. With the carriers doing away with all you can eat data, we’re back to surprise time in our bills.

The hype around the mobile wallet will intensify (is that possible?). Everyone is chasing the opportunity but I’ll bet you the dollar in my wallet that consumers won’t be leaving their wallets at home when they hit the malls in November and December.

With smartphone adoption making a steady march toward 50 percent share, expect more to make the claim that apps are on the way out because so many more subscribers will be able to access the mobile web. My view is we’re years away from deciding the apps vs. web question.

(article first appeared on

An End To My Groupon Spam?

Groupon’s most interesting offer to date doesn’t involve a discount but instead a deal with consumers to provide relevant offers via its new Groupon Now service in exchange for user permission to factor in location and buying habit data.

In the last week, Groupon gave mobile users in select cities the option to receive relevant, on-the-go offers (via iPhone and Android apps or the mobile Web).

In an email to users, Groupon put it this way: “If you use a Groupon mobile app and you allow sharing through your device, Groupon may collect geo-location information from the device and use it for marketing deals to you.”

Fortunately, Groupon spelled it out for us. In addition, Groupon stated in the email that it might also collect other information (including relationship information, transaction information, financial account information and mobile location information) and share it with Expedia.

I’ve been vocal about the irrelevance of many Groupon offers, pointing to the similarities between the deals I get and outright spam. Groupon Now represents a step in the right direction and Groupon should be congratulated for being so transparent.

Some users will choose to participate, and others will opt out rather than divulge personal information in return for a deal. As for me, I’ll take the relevant offers every time. I do that already by simply opting in to the loyalty clubs run by my favorite brands.

More on this in my weekly column

Take A Smartphone, Please

My first-half-of-2011 mobile predictions for iMedia Connection began with the belief that the carriers and retailers would pay us to take on a smartphone with a contract.

While that apparently didn’t happen, the movement of smartphones was a big part of the mobile story from January to June.

The half-full view of smartphone adoption is that, according to the Pet Internet project, more Americans own smartphones than hold a bachelor’s degree (that either speaks to the success of smartphones or the failure of the educational system to produce more graduates).

A half-empty view is that while many analysts predicted smartphone penetration in the U.S. to be 50 percent by the end of the year, highly-regarded wireless expert Chetan Sharma says that day will come in 2012.

If you recall, during the 2010 holiday season, BlackBerry and Windows 7 Phones, among others, were routinely presented to consumers for free. Even the iPhone 3GS sold for $24.95 at Radio Shack in a trade-in promotion.

To top that, in Canada, operator Telus gave customers a free X-Box 360 with a Windows 7 Phone in exchange for a three-year commitment.

Even with the number not tipping over 50 percent this year, brand marketing managers continue to need to plan for more sophisticated consumers with higher-end phones.

In today's post, I look at how I fared on my other predictions.

Believe Smartphone Stats or Do Pew Numbers Smell P-U?

All over the web today are stories about the Pew Internet Project’s new research on smartphone usage in the United States.

Among the headlines?

Some 87% of smartphone owners access the internet or email on their handheld, including two-thirds (68%) who do so on a typical day.

Several demographic groups have high levels of smartphone adoption, including the financially well-off and well-educated, non-whites, and those under the age of 45.

When asked what device they normally use to access the internet, 25% of smartphone owners say that they mostly go online using their phone, rather than with a computer.

The last fact had me wondering whether the 25% have access elsewhere.

According to Pew, while many of these individuals have other sources of online access at home, roughly one third of these “cell mostly” internet users lack a high-speed home broadband connection.

Do I believe the findings? Pew has long been among the most trusted when it comes to Internet use and connectivity. So I would say yes.

More on the report

Seth Godin No Fan of Twitter

While known as one of the most progressive marketers, Seth Godin is no fan – or even user – of Twitter.

“One hundred and forth characters are not a replacement for 200-page reads,” Godin said at the recent Seattle workshop I attended.

Godin does not tweet, saying among other things that it would take time away from other what he considers more important tasks. He said he reads over 100 blogs a day and, get this, a book a day (although he admits he doesn’t read the books cover to cover – only enough to know what the thought-leaders are saying and doing).

Who Will Drive 80 Miles For 80 Percent Off?

Mobile Marketer asked me if mobile is an effective tool to drive in-store traffic and keep consumers interested with offers.

Here’s what I told Rimma Kats in the story published today:

“If a mobile user is opted in, you may know when and where he or she will be at a certain time of day. For instance, if I told my favorite market that I shop between 5 and 7 p.m., it can send me offers and information when I’m most likely to buy.

“Of course, consumers in store can pull info or a deal by responding to a call to action on a shelf talker or other communications vehicle.

“I don’t have to get an eyelash enhancement offer from Groupon that is for the masses – I actually can receive something that interests me. Throw in location and the permission a brand receives from a consumer in a loyalty club and you have meaningful marketing.

“Daily deals work for the mobile subscriber if they are relevant. An 80 percent off suit is no good to me if the retailer is 80 miles away.

“But if you are close and tell me that you have something I want – and you have the inventory to satisfy all who receive the deal – I’ll at least consider it.”

The full story is here