Tag Archives: mobile marketing

Valentine’s Day Spending

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!  While today is no Black Friday or Cyber Monday, it is still a major retail and e-commerce event, and a boost for stores and shipping companies early in the calendar year.  With the help of the National Retail Federation, UPS , Ad Age and the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker survey, I’d like to present you with Valentine’s Day by the numbers.

U.S. consumers are expected to spend $18.6 billion overall on Valentine’s Day gifts.

Jewelry is the big-ticket item for gift givers.  $4.4 billion will be spent on diamonds, gold and silver.

$1.9 billion will be spent on flowers today.

$1.6 will be spent on candy; 51% of those surveyed give sweet treats to their loved ones.

Who would have thought- $1.5 billion will be spent on gift cards.

$815 million will be spent on the ones who love us unconditionally- our pets.

UPS will ship 95 million flowers for Valentine’s Day, with the bulk coming from Latin America on UPS temperature-controlled aircraft from Ecuador and Colombia (big rose-growing countries).

6,000,000 are expected to get engaged on February 14; that number is up from 4 million in 2012.

3,000 TONS of flowers will move through a massive refrigerated warehouse in Miami that UPS has set up to keep flowers fresh.

Can you guess what the average U.S. consumer plans to spend on candy, cards, gifts and more this year?  The answer is $130.97- up from $126.03 last year.

So how much is the average woman spending on today? About $88.78, which is less than half of what men are estimated to spend (an average of $175.61 on jewelry, flowers, and a romantic evening out).

40.7% of smartphone owners are estimated to have used their handhelds to shop for gifts.

26.3% of Valentine’s gifts are found online, up from 19.3% last year

29% of those surveyed said they’d post sweet nothings on Facebook.

Americans spend an average of $8.49 on friends for Valentine’s cards and gifts; they’ll shell out an average of $5.12 on colleagues.

7% of consumers who in a survey said they send their Valentine’s message via Twitter in 140 characters or less.

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Face Recognition Marketing- Awesome or Too Much?

Facebook check-ins are a powerful way for businesses to reach out and offer deals to loyal customers, but very few (businesses and customers) have come to realize this.  It’s about to get a lot easier, thanks to a new technology that allows people to check-in just by showing their face- literally.

Red Pepper, an advertising agency that specializes in marketing technologies, has announced that it is in its final testing stage for Facedeals, a facial recognition- marketing app.

Facebook can already recognize faces and suggest the correct people to tag in pictures. Facedeals will use a similar technology, installing cameras at local participating stores.  If you opt into this service, the cameras will recognize your face when you pass by, based on pictures from your Facebook account.  The service will then simultaneously check you into that location on Facebook.  You will be sent customized offers and discounts based on your “Like” history.

The app uses facial recognition in an effort to connect in a more personalized way with consumers.  For businesses, there is no easier way to deliver customized deals.   “At Red Pepper, we explore technologies that can create relevant ways for marketing to intersect with consumers and their lives, as provide some added values,” said Red Pepper’s business director, Samara Andreson.

As incredible as this technology sounds, it has generated criticism and panic from some who think it is a total invasion of privacy.  Andreson points out that the app requires voluntary acceptance and is not forced on anyone.

“The idea is not to invade privacy, which is a big issue right now,” Anderson said. “Your face wouldn’t be in any sort of database unless you opt into it.”

At this point does it even matter?  I thought a person’s privacy pretty much goes out the window the minute they create a Facebook account anyways.  Facebook already knows everything about most of us because we have voluntarily provided them with the information.  It knows where we go, when we go, who we go with and what we like, which helps them to understand why we do the things we do.

While I don’t feel particularly threatened by Facedeals, I do have a few questions for them before I would personally opt into this app.  Is there a setting that would let me approve the check-in before it goes to Facebook?  Or is there at least a setting that would let me approve the check-in before it’s posted for my 1,214 friends to see?  For example, if a raunchy strip club is one of the participating locations and I happen to walk past it, will a camera snap my face and automatically check me in there, even if I never went inside?  Am I going to receive a coupon for a free lap dance that I don’t want?  If I’m going to have to worry about stuff like that, it’s a deal breaker for me.

Would you opt in to Facedeals, or do you think it crosses the line?  Please share in a comment.

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Don’t Worry, Be Appy!

In this age of smartphones and apps, we use our phones to do so much more than talk. Our mobile devices have virtually eliminated the need for everything from practical items such as day planners, digital cameras and wallets to novelty items that we probably never considered.  I mean, who wants to play Scrabble when you can just play Words With Friends?  (I’m being sarcastic- I played Scrabble about a month ago, as shown in the picture below.  But I know people who couldn’t be bothered with all those chips today.)

According to the Apple, there is over 500,000 apps available on their app store.  In March, the store hit 25 billion (with a “b”) downloads.  While we may not have yet created an app to cure cancer or end world hunger (although I’m sure there are some that are trying), people are now able to do some pretty awesome things from their computers, tablets and mobile devices.  Check it out:

Register to vote.  Candidates already use social media to get out the vote, so why not use social media to register to vote as well?  That question was answered last month, when Washington became the first state to allow voter registration through social media.  Microsoft developed the app at no cost for Facebook.  Registering through the social network makes the process a little easier because personal information such as your name and birthday are already stored.

Play Lazer Tag!  The game has been reinvented and upgraded for the smartphone era. With the new version, sold by Hasbro under the Nerf brand, you insert your phone into a Lazer Tag gun, launch the app and blast away.  The app is free but the blasters are $40 each and are designed only to hole the iPhone 4/4S or iPod Touch so far (sorry, Androids).

Get a cab.  The app GetTaxi allows users to order a cab via their computers or smartphones.  Once their order is made, the cab driver receives a notification with the person’s location.  Smartphone users are even able to track their cab through their GPS tracking.  GetTaxi has already hit it big in Russia, Israel and the U.K. and is set to hit New York City in the next few months.

Gamble.  As if Facebook isn’t addicting enough, its can now use it to gamble.  Available only in the U.K. so far, the app allows adults to play Bingo & Slots Friendzy with their credit card and PayPal accounts.

Check your heart rate on the go- by holding your iPhone up to your face.  Follow me closely on this one.  There is a new mobile app called Cardiio that’s about to be released that uses the iPhone camera sensor to detect your heart rate based off the amount of light reflecting off your face.  The company explains how the technology works on its site:

“Every time your heart beats, more blood is pumped into your face. This slight increase in blood volume causes more light to be absorbed, and hence less light is reflected from your face. Using sophisticated software, your iPhone’s front camera can track these tiny changes in reflected light that are not visible to the human eye and calculate your heart beat!”

Avoid traffic jamsWaze is a free GPS navigation tool for Android and iOS devices that is aware of traffic conditions including weather, accidents and hazards before it calculates a route for the user.  Waze also provides navigation to destinations such as grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants and gas stations, showing the lowest gas prices in the area.

Upgrade your seats.  Pogoseat is a new service that lets fans upgrade their tickets and move to prime vacant seats during the middle of a sports game.  It’s a win-win for fans and the venue: fans get s a better view and the stadium can make a little extra money.  Using Pogoseat, fans can pull up a map of the stadium, and the appt recommends the vacant seats with the best views. After choosing their desired seat, users input their payment details and are able to move to their new spot immediately.

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Foursquare Gets Even Better For Small Businesses

Foursquare has been riding the social media marketing bandwagon in a big way by becoming the best friend of many small businesses.  It’s popular with businesses because it gives them a place to put their name where it really counts—locally– and reach out to both frequent and potential customers in the area.  Not only do small businesses use the network to draw new customers, but it creates many return customers and allows these businesses to build a solid local reputation.  Last week foursquare released Local Updates, which enables brands to send customers news, updates and anything else they think the user may find interesting.

Since its launch in 2009, the free app has been used by people and their friends to make the most of where they are.   “Checking in” to a business allows the customer to share and save the places that they visit and choose new ones based on personalized recommendations and deals.  As of April 2009, there has been over 2 billion check-ins from over 20 million people worldwide.

Since the network’s early days, their Specials platform has offered incentives to users for checking in.  Merchants were able to offer both loyalty-related specials (e.g. “Get a free yoga class on your third check-in”) and specials to attract new customers (e.g. “Free appetizer with your first check-in”).  I personally signed up to the network about two years ago after I was told by a friend that an Italian restaurant by my house was offering a free bottle of wine with each check-in.

Local Updates, released last Wednesday, answers the requests of small businesses that were looking for a new way to communicate with the customers who love their businesses and are engaging with them on foursquare.  Dubbed by the network’s product manager, Noah Weiss, as the “all-new foursquare for merchants,” Local Updates allows businesses to send text or images to loyal customers (based on the frequency of check-ins or whether someone has “liked” the business), with the option to share with others.

The way the feature works is this:  whenever a foursquare user finds a business in the Explore feature, the updates will appear within the business’s profile.  Upon being notified that the user is interested, the business can keep the user up to date with the happenings of the business, whether they are customers already or potential customers.  It’s an easy way for users to keep up with news from the places they frequent, including things like special offers, a menu change, or a new shipment of the hottest shoes.  The user has the option of receiving these updates from businesses, and if they are not interested they can easily opt out at any time.  Here is an example of what an update may look like:

Foursquare is hoping that the feature will encourage word-of-mouth marketing, with the ideal course of action being for customers to have more motivation to tell their friends about the business upon receiving a message or update.  Although it is not as useful of a marketing tool for big businesses, small businesses can really benefit from Local Updates.  The free feature is an effective and affordable way for small businesses to market themselves to a large amount of potential customers while keeping their current ones happy.

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Marissa Mayer Leaves Google to Become Yahoo’s New CEO

By now I’m guessing that we have all heard the biggest news story out of Silicon Valley- Marissa Mayer has been hired as the new CEO at Yahoo.  The second-biggest news story seems to be the fact that she is six months pregnant.  Good for her, but what I’m really interested in is who she is, what she accomplished at Google and what we can expect from her at Yahoo.  Surely she has her work cut out for her, so what changes can we expect from the company in the upcoming future?

Mayer received her B.S. in Symbolic Systems and her M.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University, specializing in artificial intelligence for both degrees.  She joined the Google team in 1999 as its 20th employee and its first female engineer.  During her time there she held five different roles, beginning as a software engineer and finishing as the Vice President of local, maps and location services.  She is credited with maintaining the company’s home page for a decade and overseeing some of their most popular products including Gmail, Google News and image, book and product search.

She made her Yahoo debut Tuesday, replacing Ross Levinsohn, who ran the company on an interim basis since Scott Thompson’s resignation in May.  She is the company’s fourth chief executive in less than a year.

David Filo, co-founder of Yahoo, said in a prepared statement: “Marissa is a well-known, visionary leader in user experience and product design and one of Silicon Valley’s most exciting strategists in technology development. I look forward to working with her to enhance Yahoo’s product offerings for our over 700 million unique monthly visitors.”

By accepting the position at Yahoo, she accepted the huge challenges that come with it.  Mayer is joining the company as its fortunes have pretty much come to a halt.  Its financial performance and stock price have been steadily declining since Yahoo rejected a $47.5-billion takeover offer from Microsoft in 2008. The company’s lower profit makes it clear that Yahoo is losing the battle for people’s time and attention and marketers’ advertising dollars to rivals Facebook and Google.  Both companies have been thriving as advertisers spent more money on Internet advertising.  It currently takes Google a little more than a month to make as much money as Yahoo does in a year.

To succeed, Mayer will have to take one of the Internet’s most recognizable brands and make it more profitable.  She must apply her extensive knowledge of working on the user experience, doing for Yahoo what she did for Google.  By recapturing the audience’s attention and driving more traffic to Yahoo’s website, this will in turn help Yahoo sell more online advertising space and revive revenue growth.

She could work with Levinsohn to build on what he had envisioned- revamping the site and making it the hottest spot on the Internet by using a combination of exclusive content and material produced by a wide range of other media outlets.  He was particularly focused on improving the quality of Yahoo’s video offerings, estimating that if the company’s website was serving up professionally produced news and entertainment clips, it will attract people and they will stick around.

Mayer has yet to announce the fate of Levinsohn, declining to discuss her plans for him in a Monday interview.

Whether Levinsohn stays or leaves, Mayer will have to develop a road map for Yahoo and decide where the company fits in the Internet and mobile market that is mainly being controlled by Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.  Yahoo currently has a monthly audience of 700 million users that it plans to build on as it develops more effective ways to connect with people on smartphones and mobile devices.

As one of Google’s former top executives, it is safe to say that she knows the company’s strengths, weaknesses and vulnerabilities very well.  Her experience at Google has probably also given her some insight on the areas where Facebook, Apple and Amazon.com are vulnerable as well.  Mayer has already stated that she is confident that she can make Yahoo’s services “even more innovative and inspiring in the future.”

Yahoo needs a sharp leader who can build excitement and ultimately traffic and revenue.  It looks like after a string of short-lived CEOs they may have finally found a good match. The next few months will be an interesting test to see how Mayer handles the huge challenge that she is facing.  I believe in Mayer and wish her the best of luck.

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21 New Statistics About Online Marketing

We’ve all heard over and over again about how important the Internet is and how it is changing the way businesses advertise. HubSpot has recently released some new data about the state of the Internet marketing world that are helpful and surprising. Check it these newly-released facts:

1) The more posts per day, the less engagement — when a brand posts twice a day, those posts only receive 57% of the likes and 78% of the comments per post. (Source: Track Social)

2) The click-through rate on triggered messages is 119% higher than “Business as Usual” messages. (Source: Epsilon and DMA)

3) On average, companies respond to only 30% of social media fans’ feedback. (Source: Factbrowser)

4) The average tablet user spends 13.9 hours per week with the device. (Source: OPA)

5) Text messaging users send or receive an average of 35 messages per day. (Source: Forrester Research)

6) Email opens on smartphones and tablets have increased 80% over the last six months. (Source: Litmus)

7) 27% of TV sets shipped worldwide in Q1 of 2012 had internet connectivity. (Source: Display Search)

8) By 2016, more than half of the dollars spent in US retail will be influenced by the web. (Source: Forrester Research)

9) In any given week, less than 0.5% of Facebook fans engage with the brand they are fans of. (Source: Marketing Science)

10) 45% of the world’s 2 billion internet users live in Asia. (Source: Ecommerce Europe)

11) 61% of emails received at professional email accounts are non-essential. (Source: Mimecast)

12) 20% of Facebook users have purchased something because of ads or comments they saw there. (Source: Ipsos)

13) 17% of the top 1000 search terms on Twitter “churn over” on an hourly basis. (Source: Twitter)

14) U.S. consumers send 2.304 trillion text messages per year, up from 2.052 trillion in 2010. (Source: CTIA)

15) 40% of the accounts and 8% of the messages on social media sites are spam. (Source: Businessweek)

16) 88% of adults in the US have a cell phone, 57% have a laptop, 19% own an e-reader, and 19% have a tablet. (Source: Pew Internet)

17) 64% of smartphone owners are using their mobile devices to shop online. (Source: eDigitalResearch)

18) YouTube users watch more than 3B hours of video per month. (Source: YouTube)

19) About 1 in 3 bloggers are moms. (Source: Nielsen)

20) 73% of smartphone owners access social networks through apps at least once per day. (Source: Lightspeed Research)

21) 91% of online adults use social media regularly. (Source: Experian)

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Walmart Prepares for a Future With Mobile Marketing

According to Walmart.com CEO, Joel Anderson, mobile marketing is the future, and the store is now doing everything it can to prepare.  At the 2012 Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago last week, Anderson announced Walmart’s plans to continue to integrate mobile e-commerce into its in-store experiences over the next few years. 

These changes come as the world’s largest retail chain finally tries to catch up with some of its rivals.  For years, Walmart’s online operations have lagged behind, largely due to the pace of its clientele.  The store’s traditional customers are bargain shoppers with an annual household income of less than $50,000.  In the past few years this audience has become more tech savvy and is part of the increasing number of online shoppers. 

“I can’t overstate how mobile is changing how we interact with our consumers,” Anderson said.  “We have to embrace these changes.”

U.S. shoppers spent a total of $195 billion online in 2011.  That same year Walmart’s online sales amounted to less than 2% of revenue, suggesting that there is no better time for the store to upgrade its Web platform.  The retailer has spent over $300 million acquiring Web-related companies to build the talent base and expertise at @WalmartLabs.  They include Kosmix, a social-media firm, and iPhone app creator Small Society.  The company has also hired over 200 people for the project.

The new online marketing slogan is “Anytime, Anywhere,” which reflects the strategies that the retailer is using to make the overall shopping experience more convenient for customers.  The marketing and e-commerce teams are taking an integrated approach to blur the lines between the online and in-store experience.  For example, Anderson said steak, which is rarely, if ever, ordered online by Walmart customers appears frequently on Walmart.com’s homepage.  This is because that consumer engages with them both in-store and online, and the company wants to create a seamless experience. 

In order to include everyone in the online shopping experience, Walmart.com has started “Pay With Cash.” It is aimed at the 20% of customers who can’t purchase items online because they lack bank accounts or credit cards.  Using this new program, these customers are able to look at products, reserve them online and then pay cash at their nearest store. 

To reach out to more affluent customers, WiFi has been added to some stores and more expensive items, such as high-end Sony and Samsung televisions, have become available online only.  For these items the store can be used as a pickup center, sometimes on the same day the item was ordered. 

“What we have to do is provide anytime, anywhere access,” said Anderson.  “The customer is demanding that.  If that isn’t taken seriously, online retailers will become irrelevant.”

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