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The Popularity of Ad-Blocking Software

For years now businesses have used the web find new customers through advertising.  However, as ads have grown more prevalent, users have looked for ways to block them.   This poses a big risk to businesses who depend heavily on web based ads to drive new customers to their business.

The trend of blocking ads is now carrying over to mobile because of its enormous popularity and rapid growth.  In fact, Apple just announced at its world-wide developer conference that it was adding support to it next major operating system update for software developers to create ad blocking software for its Safari browser.  (http://www.wired.com/2015/06/apples-support-ad-blocking-will-upend-web-works/)

This is very bad news for businesses who depend on the mobile web to find new customers via mobile ads.  You can bet that many developers are already working on software to block mobile ads and that software will be ready to ship as soon as the new iOS is ready to ship.  Android already allows ad blocking software so more an more users are already learning how to block mobile ads.

With that in mind, what is a business supposed to do?  The ultimate solution is to create a raving, loyal fan base that wants to see its ads and to be a part of it.  This is accomplished as much or more through non-technical means as much as through technology.  This includes a heavy focus on customer service, which is where many companies fall short.  A business needs to create an unforgettable customer experience while a customer is inside of their four walls.  Once they have that, technology can provide a tremendous boost to their customer retention and return rates.

Luckily technology can also be a part of the unforgettable experience so it can be implemented in parallel to help a business create more and more valuable customers.

One of the most important things that a business can do is to get its own mobile app.  There are a couple of very important reasons for this.  The first is that neither Apple or Google has any plans to block ads that are sent within or through a mobile app.  What this means is that if a business has its own mobile app it will be able to send deals to its customers any time that it wants to.  A mobile app also helps create a customer database which allows a business to target its customers in a more personal way.  In addition, a mobile app can provide a loyalty program as well as event notifications.  Last but definitely not least, a mobile app helps create a presence for them on one of the most important pieces of real estate there is right now and for years to come…their customer’s mobile phone.

 

Mobile Apps, Mobile Web, and Mobile Enabled Web Sites

Mobile apps have far surpassed the mobile web in consumer usage but there is still significant  confusion in the business world over what the differences are and what the proper strategy should be for each of them.

The first order of business is to clear up what each of the terms means.  The mobile web simply refers to browsing the Internet on a mobile device.  Ironically, the browser that is used to surf the web is just another app on a consumer’s phone.

A mobile app is a specialized application written specifically for a mobile device.  It is designed for the smaller screen size and uses the native capabilities of the phone just like applications on a computer use the capabilities of the computer.

A third bit of confusion comes from the term “mobile-enabled Web site” which is all the rage right now.  It sounds sexier than it really is, but nonetheless it has risen in importance recently due to changes in how Google ranks web sites.  As you are aware, a web site is an address on the world wide web that provides a place for you to put pages which include information and other elements about your business.  Most web sites, at least in the past, were best viewed from a computer.  This is simply because a computer had a much bigger screen than a phone, and all sites were initially optimized to use the bigger screen size.

As it turns out, many people surf the web on their phones, and viewing a site made for a large screen on a much smaller screen is not that pleasant.  Hence, mobile enabled web sites were born.  This just means that the site that is optimized for a big screen can dynamically switch it format to be much more friendly to a user visiting it from a small mobile device.

So, now you have it, the differences between the mobile web, a mobile app, and a little more insight into what mobile enabled web sites are.

Now back to where we started, and that is the meteoric rise of mobile app usage.  According to a study done by Flurry (http://flurrymobile.tumblr.com/post/115191864580/apps-solidify-leadership-six-years-into-the-mobile), mobile app usage now commands 86% of all time spent by consumers on their phones.

Because consumers now spend so much time on their phones, in-app advertising has become both increasingly important as well as increasingly effective.  In order to avoid throwing around more jargon and be the contributor to more confusion, the definition of in-app advertising is exactly what is sounds like: advertisements that appear inside of an app rather than on a web site, mobile enabled or not.

The key thing to note about in-app advertising is that various studies (http://www.forbes.com/sites/roberthof/2014/08/27/study-mobile-ads-actually-do-work-especially-in-apps/) have found that in-app advertising is twice as effective as mobile web, or web enabled advertising.  Twice means that an in-app add is 100% more effective than an ad on the mobile web.  That is a significant number and needs to be paid close attention to.

The difficulty is that now you as the business owner or manager have to come up with the best possible digital strategy to use your budget most effectively in order to grow your business.  The good news is that we are here to help.  The bad news is that you need all of it but for different, focused, reasons.  Please see our blog post on Digital Marketing Strategy for more details.

Click here to see how mobile apps compare to web sites.

Using Events to Grow Your Business

One of the marks of a successful business is the strength and size of its repeat customer base.  Repeat customers cost less to get in the front door and they typically spend more once they get there.  One of the keys to success then is to build a loyal following.

One of the less used yet highly effective techniques for doing this is to hold a regular set of events.  The events can take many forms such as celebrations, open houses, and seminars.  We will touch on each of those but first a word on why events are an effective way to build a loyal customer base.

The first reason that events are successful is purely social.  People like to be with other people and they like to get to know other people who are passionate about the same things that they are.  What better place to do this than at your business?  The good news is that it doesn’t matter what your business does, from restaurants to retail because there is always someone enthralled by what you do.  In reality, if that wasn’t the case you probably wouldn’t even have a business.   Use your passion to build passion with your customers.  Enable them to broaden their networks by creating an environment that enables them to get to know more people.

The second reason that events are powerful tools in building loyalty is that in today’s world consumers of all types and in all industries are baffled by an ever increasing number of ever increasingly complex products.  What that means in simple terms is that it is hard to know what the best product is for any given situation.  This is as true for power tools as it is for jewelry.  It is for food choices both at the grocery store as well as clothing choices.  Just this week alone I was in a North Face store and they had some awesome new Summit Series pants.  The good news is that I was in the market for hiking pants at that very moment.  The bad news is that I couldn’t tell from them or their tags what specific type of hiking (the Grand Canyon or Mt. Everest) they were designed for.  So, I did what most baffled consumers do, and stuck with my standard hiking shorts from another store.

This situation is perfect for a seminar on the uses of various types of clothing.  Seminars provide useful information and access to “experts”.   Great seminars are interactive and allow people to ask questions, to touch and feel.  Really great seminars are almost workshops in the sense that they also let people do things or try things.  Picture a behind the scenes tour of a restaurant where people can get to know the chef, learn about food preparation, and maybe help cook a meal that they afterwards eat together.  The possibilities are endless and applicable to all industries.

Events such as seminars provide a sense to the consumer that the business cares for them by sharing their time and by providing added value.  This in turn helps to build mindshare with the customer so that when they need or want what you sell or provide, the first thing they do is think of you.

Not only does this set you apart from your competitors, but it also gives you a chance to proactively create more demand.  In other words, the more a consumer knows about what you offer, the more they will want it.

The Zuldē Integrated Mobile Marketing Platform provides all of the tools you need to create events, push them to your customer’s mobile phones, and allow them to RSVP.  It also reminds them to help increase attendance at your event.

The Value of a Customer Database

Here is a very common scenario:  A customer walks in to your restaurant, eats, enjoys their meal, leaves a good tip, and then leaves.  What is wrong with this picture?  The missing link of course is that in most cases the restaurant has no method in place to capture the customer’s information such as name, phone, and email.

This is such a common practice that it leads one to believe that most people do not understand the value of such information and if they do, they don’t know how to gather it.  Let’s tackle each of those issues one at a time.

Most of the research, and most of the business experience tells us that repeat customers are the most valuable customers.  One of the reasons for that is that the initial customer acquisition cost is much higher than bringing them back in, assuming of course that there is a system in place to proactively bring them back, which leads us to the importance of a customer database.

For those non-techies among us, a database is simply a collection of information, which in this case is Customer Name, Phone Number, and Email Address.  In general this collection of information could be on a napkin, on a legal pad, or in some type of computer program.  Of course the information is much more useful in a computer because it can be much more easily accessed and used so when we talk about a database it will be in the context of a computer.

As mentioned above a database consisting of customer information can be used for many types of marketing including email blasts and texting.  The beauty of having such information and of being able to do digital marketing is that now you can proactively reach out to customers to drive business rather than hoping that they randomly come back in.  Not to mention the fact that personalized, one-to-one digital marketing is much cheaper and much more effective than typical mass media.  Last but not least, it can be done at any time, without any of the typical delays associated with old-school marketing.  What this means in the end is that customer information is very, very valuable and not gathering it is an expensive mistake.

The next issue to discuss then is how customer information can be gathered.  In the good old days this was done with a fishbowl sitting on the counter that people dropped business cards in.  This was fairly effective, especially if there was an accompanying offer to get a free lunch from the weekly drawing.  It is not clear what the businesses did with all of those cards, or why it was worth a free lunch, but nonetheless they at least got the names.

Fast forward to the 21st century and not only do we have many methods to gather names but we also have lots of ways to use the data.  One of the easiest ways to get customers to give you their contact information is to have your own mobile app.  The reason for this is that you can proactively motivate your customers to download the app with an offer for a free or discounted menu item, just like the good old fishbowl days.  They are happy to provide the information to you for something free.  And since the data is collected electronically, and stored in a database, a whole new world of digital marketing will open up to you.

Building a Business with Digital Marketing

One of the most common questions that we are asked as we interact with both customers and prospective customers is “How do I attract new customers to my business?  In the good old days this was done via mass marketing channels such as newspaper, TV, radio, and yellow pages.  Now there are many more ways to reach consumers and a successful business needs to have a strategy for all of them.

In addition, it isn’t enough anymore just to bring a customer in the first time.   In order to be really profitable, you need to capture information about them that you can use to bring them back again and again.  Repeat customers are far more valuable than new customers.

With that in mind, a successful digital strategy has two primary components: one to bring new customers in, and one to retain them.

A company’s web site is its primary tool to bring new customers in.  The reason for this is that all prospective customers use search engine’s to find a business to meet whatever need they have, and the web site is what the search engine uses to provide that information to the consumer.  So, if the web site is bad or not maintained, then the search results will be low and the business will not be found.  That just means in simple English that the customer who would have come to you goes to your competitor with the better web site instead.   We will discuss this further in following blog posts but the main take away is that you need to continue to invest in your web site.  You cannot just create it and let it stagnate because that will cost you a lot of business down the road and will ultimately prove to be a very expensive mistake.

The next component is customer retention.  This is by far the most important of the two but often the most neglected.   Once you have spent all the money getting a new customer, why wouldn’t you invest a little more to keep them coming back more often and spending more money?

One of the best tools for this is a mobile app, and not just because that is what we sell.  A mobile app allows you to do a couple of important things.  Maybe first and foremost is that it allows you to reach out to your customers on a device that they almost always have with them and that they check over 150 times per day on average.

Another very important aspect of mobile, at least on the Zuldē platform, is that it automatically creates a customer database for you.  Typically this is a very difficult task for most businesses because they have no systems in place to gather that all important customer data.  So in most cases, you have spent all of your advertising money to bring a customer in, and they eat or drink or buy some stuff, and then they just meander out the door and you have no idea who they were or how to ever reach them again.

With the Zuldē Integrated Mobile Marketing platform, not only can you capture all of your customer’s important contact information and then use it to create a complete digital marketing program.  This includes location based messaging via mobile, native mobile push messages for reminders, text messaging and email.

With mobile and web combined you will have a complete digital marketing strategy to build your business in an increasingly digital world.

Nightclub and Bar Show 2015

We just got back from attending the Nightclub and Bar trade show in Las Vegas where we had a fantastic show.  A picture of our booth is included above for all to see.  During the show we rolled out our new “Buy a Drink” feature as well as our full service marketing program.  Both were very well received and will be the subject of future blog posts.

All of the owners and managers that we spoke to were very enthusiastic about the prospect of finally having their own mobile app.  One of the big benefits that they immediately grasped was that not only did they get an app, they got an entire digital marketing program to go with the app.  This includes the ability to market to their customers with all of the digital channels currently available: the native push messaging associated with mobile as well as email, text, and web.  Not to mention all of the social integration that helps to build a local market with potential customers who have never been to their establishment including Facebook. Yelp, and Urban Table.

This makes the Zuldē marketing platform an extremely powerful tool for building a business and making it much more profitable.  It is well known that existing customers are more profitable than new customers, and Tribefind Pro has been optimized to help create more valuable customers.

Five Pillars of Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing is exploding, but it is very difficult for most businesses to take advantage of it in a way that promotes their brand and their unique style.  This article will outline the major components that every mobile marketing strategy should address.  Subsequent articles will delve into each of the pillars in more detail.

The overarching idea though is that these five pillars need to be integrated into a common platform that is available on a mobile device.  It is important to note that none of these pillars stand on their own or are sufficient in and of themselves to be considered a complete mobile marketing strategy.  In other words, it is not effective to use one company’s loyalty program, and another company’s mobile deals.

In order to get maximum benefit from the mobile wave, it is very important that all five of the mobile marketing pillars work together.

The five pillars of mobile marketing are:

  1. A unique, branded mobile app
  2. Redeemable Deals
  3. Event Notification
  4. Loyalty
  5. Customer Referrals

Pillar One: A Unique, Branded Mobile App

The first pillar of mobile marketing is to have a mobile app.  Mobile apps provide the constant branding and native features of the phone that make mobile marketing compelling.   Although mobile enabled web sites provide at least an entry point into mobile marketing, they are not sufficient as a true mobile marketing platform.

One of the most important reasons for this is because they are completely passive.  This means that a customer has to remember to go out and visit the site.  The very nature of mobile though is proactive, vibrant, and personal, which can only be achieved through an actual mobile app.  In addition, a good marketing app always builds a personal relationship with the customer.

In summary, a mobile-enabled web site provides both an entry point  into mobile marketing and a good support system to an overall strategy, but you need to have your own app.

Pillar Two: Redeemable Deals

Customers love a good deal.  They love them more when they are personalized, relevant and delivered to them on their mobile phone, ready to use at any time.  One of the most important features of a mobile marketing strategy is the ability to identify targeted customers and to deliver unique, personalized mobile deals to them.

It is also important that each deal contains both graphical elements as well as text.  This allows the deals to be more compelling and pleasing to the eye.

In addition, deals should be able to be redeemed, which makes them the equivalent of an electronic, single use coupon.  A redeemable deal delivers the holy grail of marketing, which is the ability to track exactly how effective each deal is, because it can be tracked from being sent out to its actual redemption.

Pillar Three: Event Notification

Events are a marketing mainstay of many businesses.  This includes events such as grand openings, re-openings, product demonstrations, manufacturer days, birthdays, special sale days, and others.  The mobile marketing should support the targeting of the right audience for the event as well as the ability to “sell” the event using both graphics and text.

In addition to proactively notifying the right set of customers for the event, the mobile marketing platform should make use of the interactivity of the smart phone and allow a customer to signify of they are going to attend or not.  This aids tremendously in the planning for the event.

All in all, events are an important marketing tool and the mobile marketing strategy should take them into account.

Pillar Four: Loyalty

A strong loyalty program is very important in building a strong repeat customer base.  Because most people have their phone with them most of the time, mobile is a perfect platform for a loyalty program.  Not only does it prevent them from losing their loyalty card (which is kind of like anti-loyalty because now they don’t get any additional benefit from returning to your store) it also prevents theft through counterfeiting.

The key to a much more modern, useful, and repeat business building loyalty program is to have it on a mobile platform.  This may be one of the most important pillars in a mobile marketing strategy.

Pillar Five: Customer Referrals

One of the most important reasons to have marketing at all is to attract more customers to a business so that it can grow.  As such it is also a key piece of a mobile marketing strategy, and what better place to have it than on a mobile device?  Like its close cousin Loyalty, a customer referral program is a natural on a mobile platform.

The strength of a mobile customer referral program is that it builds on the strengths of the mobile platform.  It is personal and takes advantage of information that is already known, such as friend’s contact info.

All mobile marketing strategies should include a customer referral program to dramatically increase their new customer traffic.

In summary, a strong mobile marketing strategy sets out a roadmap that allows a business to take advantage of the latest marketing megatrend, which is all about mobile.

 

Stayed tuned for more information as we explore these topics and more in this blog.

The Importance of Loyalty

Would you like your business to be 88% more profitable than your competitors? According to an article in Retailing Today (http://retailingtoday.com/article/loyalty-programs-one-hottest-trends-retailers-2013) a couple of years ago, all you needed to do was to implement a loyalty program and you would magically be more profitable than you were before.   If that seems to be too good to be true, then maybe it is.

It is true however that loyal customers are more profitable than customers who shop once and never return. The key is to turn a shop-and-never-return customer into a loyal, return-often-and-spend-a-lot-of-money customer. Obvious but not easy so here are a few tips:

  1. Implement a loyalty program.

This is not the end all and be all but it is an important part of creating loyal customers. It is important to give the customer a way to measure their loyalty.   As Edward Deming, the father of modern quality once said: “ You can’t improve what you don’t measure.” In addition, it has been proven time after time that loyalty points have the psychological impact of getting something for nothing so they are a powerful motivator.

We will provide more information on various types of loyalty programs in a subsequent post.

  1. Provide more value than your competitors

To many this seems to be just another way to say “Lower your prices”. However this is not what we mean by providing greater value.   In this day and age of instant information many things have become more confusing, not less. There are so many solution and product choices with so many different features and characteristics that it is hard to make a choice. In addition, many products have become much more technical, from clothing to power tools that it is difficult to know which features are the best for your application.

One clear way for a company to add value is to hold seminars, classes and product demonstrations. Event based marketing is a key to providing more value to your customers.   We will talk a lot more about events in subsequent posts.

  1. Make customers feel special

People love to be treated with special care. Businesses can do this by providing member only deals to customers who are willing to “join” their club. Joining is the first step because it helps you to identify who your customers actually are, which is the first step.   In many businesses customers come and go without ever having to identify themselves. While this makes the transaction faster, it does not give a business a way to reach out in a personal way to that customer ever again. The key is to provide a fast easy way for a customer to voluntarily join your business’ group.

All of these topics will be discussed in a subsequent post on event driven marketing as well as the best methods for getting customers to join your loyalty or other member-based program.

 

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