mobile Archives - Page 2 of 3 - Duct Tape Marketing
Find a Consultant Become a Consultant

Tag Archives for " mobile "

6 5 Ways Your Website is Hurting Your Bottom Line

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Jake Magleby  – Enjoy!

Marketers have touted the benefits of an online presence for businesses for years. However, starting a business website is only the first step. For many would-be Internet business gurus, their bottom line is falling short of what it could be. Make sure your business is competitive on and off the Internet by avoiding these five common mistakes.

1. Unresponsive Web Design

If you haven’t optimized your web design for multiple devices (i.e. mobile phones, desktops, and tablets), you could be driving traffic from your site. According to eMarketer, local mobile searches are expected to exceed desktop searches by 2015. This means your site needs to operate seamlessly across devices in order to compete.

Smartphone

photo credit: Flickr, leo_prince008

Unresponsive designs equal cumbersome navigation and a frustrated user. The more intuitive the design (and navigation), the higher your conversions will be.

2. Slow Loading Time

Time is money, and Internet users are impatient. If you can’t deliver page results within a few seconds, you could be losing valuable traffic. According to Kissmetrics, a one-second delay in page response can result in 7% loss in conversions.

While there are many ways you can improve your page load time, consider focusing on these areas:

  • Minimizing HTTP requests
  • Optimizing images
  • Compressing larger pages
  • Combining CSS sheets

Akamai found that 47% consumers expect a web page to load within 2 seconds, and 40% will abandon the site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Don’t lose out on conversions before visitors even have a chance to see your content.

3. Unreliable Hosting Services

Small business website hosting services come in various packages. However, whether you host on a shared server, a dedicated server, or something in between, your web host should be able to do four main things:

  1.  Provide 24 hour tech support. If something goes wrong on your website, you need a guarantee that tech support will be able to help you right away to ensure the site is running properly as soon as possible.
  2.  Guarantee at least 99.9% uptime. When Amazon experienced a 40 minute downtime in August 2013, they incurred a $5 million total loss. Though a small business may not suffer revenue loss on such a grand scale, downtime directly affects your bottom line. Look for host providers like Midphase, that offer 99.9% uptime to ensure the best results.
  3. Protect your data. Most hosts will back up your web data on a separate server. This protects your information in the case of a costly security breach.
  4. Scale their services. Make sure that your hosting service can accommodate business growth and scale their services to meet your expanding needs.

If your host cannot fulfill these four promises, you could be setting yourself up for lost business.

4. No Calls to Action

Call to ActionTo turn visitors into repeat customers, consider adding a call to action after a purchase on the thank you page. Invite them to share the offer they purchased with their friends; encourage them to sign up for a newsletter; or ask them to “Like” you Facebook or follow you on Twitter.

Though you’ve already earned one conversion, a call to action can turn your single conversion into a loyal customer.

 5. Lack of Optimization

You can’t rely solely on branding to generate online leads. Marketing Charts found that 39% of customers for online merchants came from searches. What does this mean for you? You need to optimize your site for search and usability; because if people can’t find you, they can’t purchase from you.

There are many aspects to a good SEO strategy, but keep in mind these basics:

  • Include relevant keywords in your meta descriptions, title tags, and alt texts.
  • Update your contact information.
  • Add relevant keywords to your content and copy.
  • Share posts, deals, and information via social media.

Optimizing will increase your visibility in the SERPs, the traffic to your site, and ultimately your online conversions.

Though there are many factors that affect a company’s bottom line, taking time to improve your website will be worth the effort. If you have already done most of these things, investing in data analytics, such as Google Developers tools, is a great way to identify more nuanced problem areas with your website.

Evaluate your traffic patterns, click-through rates, and individual page conversions to discover small but significant ways you can improve your site and your bottom line today.

Jake MaglebyJake Magleby 1 has written extensively about effective marketing, sales, and financing strategies to help small business owners succeed in the fast-paced and ever-changing business world. He also has an interest in education and development.

Conversion Rates for Different Devices 101

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Calvin Sellers – Enjoy!

Cuddling with multiple devices

photo credit: Flickr by adactio

Digital Marketers use lots of metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of their efforts these days.  Not only do we have to evaluate all the different options for social networks, ad display networks, and content creation, but Marketers should be increasingly aware of the types of device displaying their marketing efforts.  Unless you have implemented a responsive website that displays the same no matter the device, chances are people are not having the same experience when they click your ad on a mobile device as those that click through on their PC.  Let’s discuss some things you need to consider when planning and evaluating the effectiveness of your campaigns across devices.

Device Statistics

Unless you’ve been under a Digital Marketing rock for the last year, you know that more and more people are using smartphones and tablets to access the web and perform all types of tasks that would have required a computer just a few years ago.  It’s important to incorporate this trend into your online marketing plan.  For instance, according to a study by Monetate, computer-driven traffic and tablets are converting to sales at very similar rates, 2.56% and 2.54% respectively.  Smartphones are lagging behind at only a .96% conversion rate.

This large difference in device effectiveness can be caused by the different ways users spend time on the devices.  As many as 70% of all tablet users mostly use their tablet at home where 70% of smartphone users access the internet on-the-go.  Smartphones can be used for last-second research while in a brick and mortar store or to quickly check out a new app their friend mentions.  People just may not have the time or capabilities to complete the purchase on their phone.  Many people prefer to wait until they get back to their tablet or computer to complete the transaction.  Evaluating this type of data can help you allocate your time to properly optimize your campaign so you get the most bang for your buck.

What’s the Problem?

So what  happens after you’ve decided on your targeted keywords, know where your ads are going to run, and have a killer content strategy to captivate your visitors, but for some reason, the traffic you are getting isn’t leading to as many conversions as you have anticipated?  Assuming your product or service is viable and has an eager customer base, this is probably caused by a disconnect at some point in your online sales funnel.

First we need to analyze your traffic.  Where are the leads coming from and which devices are they using when they visit your site?  Most analytics software suites, like Google Analytics, can provide these answers with a just a few clicks.  You will be able to see a breakdown of the traffic by source and device(plus a lot of other options like Operating System and the web browser visitors were using).  If you are receiving a lot of traffic from mobile devices and/or tablets but your conversion rates from this traffic doesn’t correlate with your PC traffic conversion rates, there is most likely an issue with user experience.

How Do I Fix It?

Once we’ve determined there is a disconnect in the funnel, we need to find out what is causing people to lose interest before completing their transaction.  Test out your landing pages on a pc, a tablet, and a smartphone.  Note any differences in the way the content is displayed.  Can you easily find the call to action and the buttons to click through on each device?  Does the “Click Here” button that is displaying on the top right portion of your PC screen get forced below the fold on your Lenovo tablet?

Identifying weaknesses in your online marketing strategy now can give you time to fix the issues caused by different resolutions before you throw too much time and money down the drain.  You should continue to test and make adjustments to your campaign until the experience is intuitive on all devices.  When people are interested in your product and can easily navigate their way to purchase, conversion rates soar!

Have you experienced significant conversion rate differences across devices on any of your recent campaigns?  What did you do to fix the problem?

Optimized-Profile picCalvin Sellers is a mobile technology and social media writer from Tampa, FL.  Follow him on Twitter @CalvinTheScribe.

3 9 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Text Message Marketing

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Justin Mastrangelo – Enjoy!

Young woman using her mobile phone outdoors

photo credit: Anna Bryukhanova

When we talk to businesses and non-profits about text message (SMS) marketing, there are a few misconceptions that commonly come up.

Unless you’re a spammer, it’s permission-based.

Amazingly, many organizations think you need to already have a list of phone numbers, or worse, you need to buy this list before you can start sending out text messages.  Not only is sending unauthorized text message terribly ineffective, it’s illegal and could lead to lawsuits and penalties.  The effective and legal way to do SMS marketing is to grow your own list through campaigns promoted to your targeted audience.

You don’t need to get your own shortcode.

One of the first questions we get from newcomers to SMS marketing is, “How do I get my own shortcode?”  While some large brands may find value in getting their own shortcode, most businesses and non-profits can save the expense and hassle.  Like many SMS marketing providers, we provide our shared shortcodes to clients.  This saves them money and allows them to get up and running quickly.

It doesn’t cost a lot and it’s very cost-effective.

Frequently, marketers are surprised to hear the entry-level costs for SMS marketing.  For whatever reason, even small organizations assume it will be a significant investment for them to start using this technology (it’s not!).  Once they learn how small the investment is, they quickly stop worrying about how difficult it will be for them to prove the value to their bosses.

It’s extremely easy to setup and manage.

When we help a new client setup their first SMS campaign, they’re usually surprised how easy it is.  I think this comes from the email marketing world where setting up a campaign for the first time involves a lot of configuring, template building, graphics uploading, etc.  With only 160 characters to work with, it almost always takes longer to decide the message than it does to set up the software.

Your audience wants to receive text messages from you, if they’re valuable.

Because at this point almost everyone has received at least one of those spam “you’ve won this gift card” messages, organizations assume their messages will be received the same way.  This just isn’t true and they’re always surprised after their first outgoing campaign how well the messages are received by their audience and how few people opt-out.

You can capture email addresses and other information with text messaging.

Initially, organizations are very focused on growing a big list of mobile numbers so they can “blast” out messages to many people and they often overlook the two-way capabilities of SMS.  Many organizations have captured email address, zip code, survey responses, product numbers, and more through text message.  Don’t focus too much on the outbound part of SMS and miss an opportunity to gather valuable data and feedback from your users.

It works best in three situations.

We’ve worked on a lot of SMS campaigns, and while many unique campaigns have generated great results, there are three types of campaigns that always seem to work the best.  Those that are promoted at events, at a physical location, or any campaign run over traditional media (TV, radio, print, or outdoor).  These campaigns always seem to grow the biggest mobile databases, assuming the incentive was attractive to the audience.

SMS is used by some of the biggest brands in the US, but remains relatively “untapped” by small and mid-sized businesses.

Many small to mid-sized businesses we talk to are amazed to hear how many large, well-known brands are using SMS marketing today.  They’re also amazed when they realize not many, if any, of their competitors are using it.  Quickly, the conversation turns to “why haven’t we considered this sooner” and “when can we start?” As with any form of marketing, whenever you can reach the audience where your competition isn’t, the more effective it can be.

It’s not just for a “young” audience anymore.

We don’t hear this one as much as we used to, but every so often we have to pull out the stats (81% of mobile users use SMS) to prove texting is not just something teenagers do any more.  Look around, everyone uses it!

justin-headshot-150x150Justin Mastrangelo is the Founder of the JA.TXT text message marketing software platform. As President of the parent company, JA Interactive, he has worked with businesses, nonprofits, and agencies to cost-effectively reach new audiences through digital marketing and technology. Justin launched the JA.TXT platform to give these same organizations an opportunity to start strategic mobile marketing campaigns using text messaging (SMS).

How to Leverage Mobile Technology to Gain Insights Into Your Marketplace

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Willie Pena – Enjoy!

small_4773693893

photo credit: blakespot

In the next few years, marketing will be almost totally mobile. Mobile gadgets offer a bevy of versatile tools and methods for collecting data from consumers on the go — and almost everyone is on the go but ever-connected to people and businesses through gadgets like iPads, smartphones, Kindles, tablets and other devices.  These devices present unprecedented opportunities for a company to learn about its target audience and customize its business and promotions to respond to consumer needs.

Mobile Apps are the Future of Marketing Research

There are many benefits that make mobile marketing research more attractive than traditional forms of research: mobile research is faster, less costly, way more interactive and attracts far more respondents than print and phone surveys. Since mobile devices typically come with an array of apps, it is through apps that many businesses will funnel their future marketing efforts.  By using apps, companies can take advantage of touch screens, swipes and other responsive mobile technology features while asking customers questions in polls, games and other interactive platforms.

Because mobile technology, such as the innovative iPad, encourages users to express themselves beyond words, businesses can create apps and digital surveys that allow users to draw, record audio feedback, record video reviews or share images of themselves and their friends or family using products. The traditional survey model will shift as businesses design app-based questionnaires that take advantage of the inventiveness and options available on mobile devices.

Geolocation Will Give More Insight Into Customer Habits

With most mobile devices coming equipped with GPS technology, companies can use tracking software to verify  survey respondents’ locations with more detail. In cases where companies interact with consumers during shopping, such as through promotional text messages or popular QR codes that shoppers can scan and read on their smartphones, businesses can study in-store activity, consumers’ traveling habits, where customers go before and after a visit to a company and what leisure places might to be patronized by consumers.  Often, consumers will even volunteer this information by posting places visited on social media.  All this data is useful as it can show if buyers visit competitors, what neighborhoods or locales have people who are more likely to embrace a particular brand and in what contexts consumers might likely use a product. Geolocation can help create a more in-depth profile of people within a target or niche audience.

Routers will Help Gauge Customer Behavior

GPS isn’t the only way marketing groups can probe audience behavior. People using mobile devices while running errands and shopping often are at the mercy of hotspot routers to maintain Internet access. These routers will be increasingly used by market researchers to study and track consumer behavior; some frameworks may allow researchers to identity and study impulse purchases. At the very least, marketers can analyze consumers’ searches for related products, product features and service descriptions  —  possibly while a customers is on the verge of entering a business to complete a transaction.

Invitations to Take Surveys will Get a Lot More Lively

Businesses can take advantage of several inventive ways to ask mobile device users to take surveys, whether its through mobile ads/banners, video feeds, BlueTooth messaging, rich media animation, apps, search page listings, newly popular automated voice services or even sponsor messages built into mobile devices upon purchase.  Some companies, particularly those in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry are creating special mobile sites that allow shoppers to click a photo or link to immediately contact a special call center; these call centers can be used for spontaneous surveys to gather details on shopper needs, preferences and concerns. By using mobile technology to expand how to solicit consumer feedback, businesses will be able to better understand brand engagement. While some people might ignore a traditional mailed survey or emailed link to a survey, consumer might find these dynamic mobile invitations too fun to pass up.

Sophisticated Mobile Advertising Analytics Provide Insight

Advanced software is becoming increasingly available to study the mobile advertising impact. Marketing researchers have often relied on analytics applications designed for traditional websites and for people who use personal computers. Such software does not provide reliable mobile data; however, special new mobile research tools can provide accurate and reliable information on click-through-rates for mobile campaigns, general mobile traffic and customer details.

Willie PenaWillie Pena is a freelance writer, video producer, visual artist, and music producer. He prefers the Oxford comma. Catch his rare blog posts on williepena.com, or connect with him on LinkedIn.

6 Mobile Copywriting Tips and Four Apps to Assist

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Teddy Hunt – Enjoy!

technology flickr image

photo credit Via Flickr by FaceMePLS

With 79 percent of Americans working remotely at least part of the time, it seems the days of copywriters chained to cubicles are far behind us. However, leaving the desk behind can take some getting used to. Read on to discover tips for copywriting in a mobile work environment, and 4 helpful apps to assist you in doing so.

Stay Connected with Technology

Many of us step out of the office to recharge our batteries, but you shouldn’t cut yourself off from your workplace altogether. A smartphone allows you to receive phone calls from your clients and respond to their emails while you’re away from your desk. You can also set up a landline-style number through Skype. The low subscription fee lets you make and receive local and international calls just as you would in the office. Calling landlines is cheap, but beware of dialing international mobiles. Global roaming charges can add up quickly!

Invest in a Convertible Tablet

Laptops are the traditional choice for mobile copywriters, but convertible tablets offer greater flexibility. They have the screen size you need and the keyboard you love, with the additional of benefit of being able to run mobile apps. These handy programs aren’t just for wasting time. Read on to learn about the apps that can help you write great copy on the go. Here are 4 of the best ones:

Wi-Fi Locator and Free Wi-Fi Help You Connect

Mobile copywriters need to research, send email, and log stories on the go. The Android-compatible Wi-Fi Locator and its iOS counterpart, Free Wi-Fi, track your location and tell you where to find the nearest t-mobile broadband hotspots. Handy maps make it easy to head to the places you can log on.

Evernote Turns Note-Taking High TechEvernote

Once upon a time, copywriters wouldn’t be seen without a well-worn notebook. These days, that notebook has gone digital with the launch of Evernote. To call it “the ultimate note-taking app” might sound like an overstatement, but its ability to capture text, images, and video is impressive. In fact, it’s created such a buzz that 89 percent of Evernote users downloaded it on a friend’s recommendation.

Use it to record your interviews or simply to jot down your own thoughts when inspiration hits. The ability to tag items helps you stay organized, no matter how many assignments you’re working on.

Omnifocus Keeps You on Track

OmniGroupWith a multitude of external distractions, staying focused can be one of the greatest challenges for copywriters on the go. The Omnifocus app makes the job easier by prioritizing your workload and breaking it down into smaller, more manageable tasks. The reminders function ensures no job slips through the cracks. Omnifocus is currently available for Mac, iPhone, and iPad, and details can be synced across these devices. An Android version is also in development.

(Image via OmniGroup)

Mozy backup

Mozy Backs Up Your Important Data

Almost three-quarters of businesses have lost data in the last two years. If you think it won’t happen to you, then consider these sobering statistics. A staggering 140, 000 American hard drives crash every week, and more than 2 million laptops are stolen annually.

Backing up your data using a cloud system like the Mozy app will help you keep business as usual should the worst happen. The app can automatically back-up the files on your laptop or tablet while you work.

Keeping Pace With An Accelerating World

Perhaps the most important takeaway that you could get from this article, though, is that copywriters need to do everything they can to keep pace with today’s rapidly changing marketplace. The more quickly you can generate great ideas and deliver stellar copy, the more competitive you will be in your endeavors as a professional copywriter.

And if you aren’t currently very mobile in your own copywriting practices, it can be to your advantage to do so. In fact, many remotely working employees have reported a 25 percent increase in productivity, so it makes sense to take your copywriting out of the office. What other tips do you have for copywriting on the go?

teddy_hunt_avatarTeddy Hunt is a freelance content writer with a focus on technology. When not behind a computer, Teddy spends the majority of his free time outdoors and resides in Tampa, Florida.

1 How and Why to Make Your WebsiteTablet and Mobile Friendly Now

Talk about mobile and tablet usage dominates computer hardware conversations and the implications are one of the hottest topics in marketing right now as well.

photo credit: waferbaby via photopin cc

Website visitors are now consuming content from our sites in a dizzying array of devices, formats and orientations. There was a time when browser compatibility was a designer’s primary concern. Today, designers and site owners need to be increasingly concerned with media compatibility or more to the point, the size and shape of the viewer’s screen.

The use of mobile and tablet devices for browsing has crept past 10% in my stats and my guess is this is undereported as some device detection goes unreported. The number one device is the iPad, with the iPhone a close number two.

Tablets, including Samsung Galaxy, Kindle, Nook and Google’s Nexus 7, as well as the still dominate iPad, are poised to make huge strides in adoption and usage in 2013 and may take usage on some sites into the 25% range.

So, yes, now is the time to get serious about making sure mobile and tablet visitors to your site have a great experience.

The first step might be to get a picture of where your site is currently. Test your site’s mobile readiness here, view your site as it might look on dozens of devices here and check out this great education resource.

Whether you decide to hire someone to do it for you, do it yourself or find a solution in the middle, one term that’s important to understand is media queries. Media queries allow web developers to change the layout of a page based on the media that’s displaying it — whether that means adapting it to fit a smaller screen or just stripping it down to the essentials before it heads to a printer.

The term and concept has been around for years – remember visiting a site that had a print friendly option – that site was using what we call today a theme switcher to change the design based on a media query.

This concept is what drives a great deal of what goes on behind the scenes in device specific design.

Below are some of the options you might explore as you determine the best strategy for adopting mobile and tablet design experiences for your website.

Build it for you

You can simply hire a designer to create a mobile friendly design and then integrate it into your current design. In many ways this is how you might get the most useful, yet most costly design. A good mobile designer should understand that good mobile design is more than simply making everything smaller. The best mobile design starts with understanding intent and delivering the must have content beautifully.

The IAB has a nice directory of mobile site builders and long time player moFuse has a hybrid

Add a Plugin

One very simply fix for WordPress blog sites is to explore a number of plugins that do the heavy lifting of detection and switching and come with mobile themes built in. Plugins such as WPTouch Pro and WPMobile Detector are good options. You might also consider simply adding a mobile theme, such as Mobile Pro as your theme.

Automatic mobilization

There are a growing number of what might be called automatic solution – services that take your current site and automatically create a mobile version. These tools attempt to make sense of the navigation and core content, but also allow for some amount of customization and addition of widgets for things like social sharing, contact forms and eCommerce functions.

Dudamobile works very well and has several large integrations including Google Mobile Ads. bMobilized is another player that includes some great customizations, including a large library of widgets.-

Adopt Responsive Design

Another growing option that is preferred by some is something called Responsive Design. The idea behind this concept is that instead of using mobile sites or themes, the design uses media queries to determine the best way to show the content based on the user’s device. The practice makes use of CSS, fluid grids and flexible images to create one experience responsive to many environments.

WordPress theme makers are quickly creating responsive design themes that can replace the need for mobile and tablet specific tactics. Studio Press has many responsive design themes and the Responsive theme also draws high praise.

For those that want to dive in and learn more about this topic check out Responsive Web Design by Ethan Marcotte, The book explores CSS techniques and design principles, including fluid grids, flexible images, and media queries

If you want to explore fluid grid design in a truly geeky way have a look at Gridpack.

Build Your Own App

Of course one final option that you might explore is the app route. There are a number of tools that make it fairly simple to build your own apps. This assumes that you have content that people will want to visit using your their device’s native operating system rather than the web.

It’s a fun option, but might not be the most useful for many businesses.

However, if you want to explore jQueryMobile is a good place to start and check out drag and drop options such as MyAppBuilder and AppMakr.

34 3 Mobile Behaviors You Must Embrace Right Now

When marketing people start talking about mobile these days, and they’re doing it a lot, they usually default to tactics – mobile ads, SMS, throw in some near field communications and we’re on the mobile track.

Text Message Marketing

photo credit: Drriss via photo pin cc

I’ve been doing this a long time and with every emerging evolution there seems to be an equally reactive rush to embrace the accompanying tactics and it’s what leads people to do things that don’t make sense.

Ten years ago everyone was hiring web designers to create websites that had nothing to do with the rest of the organization’s marketing or branding – but they had to have a website.

Then social media came along and everyone rushed to figure out Twitter and how to run a contest on Facebook.

The mobile rush is currently starting to heat up and, once again, I think most people are asking the wrong thing.

Instead of how do wet get into mobile, where can we get our own cool app or how much should we spend on mobile ads, the question is and should be this.

What behaviors are our current customers exhibiting right now when it comes to mobile and how can we tap those behaviors using some combination of existing and emerging tools.

I truly believe that’s the formula for considering any new tactic or tool. When you factor what you’re doing now that works and ask how you can use the tools to do more of that, you’ll rarely get caught up in the rush towards new for new sake.

Below are three mobile behaviors you can no longer ignore as they’ve become universal and cross industries and demographics in undeniable ways.

1) Content is getting consumed on mobile devices on the go.

I have a Nexus7, iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire. I use apps like Reeder and FlipBoard on most of those devices to consume content. And, while I’m not your average online folk, my wife does the same and so do my kids.

Our content must be made to be consumed by people using really small screens riding in a car, at the library and at the conference. Right now, there are very few business that can pull off a generally useful app, but every business should invest in making all of their content pitch perfect for the various ways it’s being consumed.

This means using plugins such as WPTouch Pro, choosing themes and designers that use Responsive Web Design and exploring mobile landing pages and content pages designed to provide very specific content to mobile surfers with tools such as Tekora or GoMobi

2) Mobile is a key element in the buying process

And, here’s the most important aspect of that behavior – mobile shoppers are proving more valuable then traditional shoppers, including demonstrating less price sensitivity according the July Mobile Retail Insights report from Mobile Ad Network Greystripe.

Okay this statement relies on murky research, but think about it – mobile shoppers, people that do research on the fly looking for somewhere to shop, eat, drink, visit, or even hire a service, are more likely to jump on the things they find first, conveniently and seamlessly.

While people are using their mobile devices during the buying or shopping process many are choosing to make actual purchases either offline (see next behavior) or using a laptop, but tablets are going to change this dramatically.

The key is to understand that mobile is a link in the buying chain and proper integration is where conversion comes from.

3) People expect mobile engagement

Once you understand this behavior you’ll stop bad mouthing text message marketing. That’s not to say that there aren’t people doing it poorly or using it to spam, but it is to say there are terribly powerful and valid reasons to use SMS and now is the time to analyze how you can use service such as EXTexting or Trumpia for customer service, flash sales and specials and appointment opening.

I’ve also seen people use SMS short codes to allow people to subscribe to their email newsletter and more and more businesses are offering receipts by way of email and text.

I allow people to download slides from my speaking events, something they would often ask me to do anyway, by sending a short code text to a specific number. This particular process allows them to get what they want when they want it without much work and certainly takes me out of the process as well.

Enabling mobile engagement through tools such a click to call, click to chat or click for driving directions is another way to help people get what they want in the highly impatient, highly motivated world of mobile commerce.

I think the key to understanding any new technology or tactic is pretty simple. First figure out how you can use it to make something your customer is already doing easier and better. If you can do that it doesn’t matter how you see others using it or not.

7 5 Trends That Will Shape Small Business in 2012

This post originally appeared on American Express OPENForum.

It’s time for my annual prediction of small-business trends.

No matter what business trends are reported in the media, small businesses will always adopt them more slowly and in ways that don’t follow the hype.

Small Business Trends

JasonLangheine via Flickr CC

Small-business owners don’t care what’s cool. They care about what’s practical and what seems obvious—and that’s not always what gets buzz. (I’ve been pretty much spot on with most of my predictions for small-business trends in 2011 and trends for 2010.)

Here are my predictions for 2012. Some of these might not seem as obvious as those in previous years. But, welcome to the odd world of small business.

Social networks evolve into markets

As social networks become more important in the lives of their users and the level of social behavior continues to evolve, they will become much more than outposts. These sites will move toward wholly functioning, self-contained marketplaces.

A growing number of people simply see the Internet as Facebook (and Facebook is OK with that). Other marketplaces such as Amazon, Etsy, Buy.com and eBay are moving toward socializing your product search and becoming decision engines.

This behavior signals the need for small-business marketers to view some outposts as destinations. Consider building a store on Facebook, Shoply, Amazon, Buy.com, Etsy and eBay.

Ramp up your participation in these markets and educate yourself about them. Stop looking at them simply as transaction enablers. These sites are growing into major cities and you need to claim and increase your holdings there before they become overcrowded.

Content becomes conversion

Most small-business owners have come to see content as strategy, rather than merely words to be produced. Blog posts, white papers and in-person and online seminars  create awareness, build trust, educate and illustrate core stories.

That much is now a given in marketing now, but content adoption, expectation and use will evolve next year. I believe you will see a lot of content, social media-driven and otherwise, that is designed to convert rather than to simply inform.

Expect free content to get better and paid content to be part of the logical path. Expect video sales letters and automated online seminars. You’ll see members-only content, ROI calculators and content-enhanced products becoming the norm.

Mobile powers local

Last year, I predicted that mobile would finally land for small business. We’ve talked about mobile as a marketing channel for years, but it seemed it wasn’t happening.

Finally, mobile has become an important medium. This is in part because of smart-phone adoption and in greater part because of the shift to mobile behavior. Every age demographic is using mobile devices to locate local businesses and those people intend to purchase.

Mobile websites, mobile offers, mobile payments and geo-location will become essential elements of the small-business local-marketing toolkit. Even Near Field data exchange, which had a science fiction ring just a few years ago, will be part of that picture.

Oh, and small-business owners will get over their fear of using SMS in smart ways.

Customer service goes community

The cable provider Comcast launched Comcast Cares, a social media push to repair a poor customer-service perception. It set the bar for how brands need to engage with their customers in the always-on, always-public world of social media.

As the toolset evolves with players like ZenDesk and Get Satisfaction, businesses of any size can provide incredibly high-tech support without losing high-touch service.

Small business will embrace the community in a peer service-provider model and start providing service in public-facing, brand-building ways. They will embrace tools that turn customer service into a shared community model, where customers help answer questions and evangelize the products and services.

Search moves to apps

My use of search-engine technology is slowly being replaced by the use of apps that provide me with answers relevant to my personal needs. My guess is that while you may not have taken note, you’re using search engines less and answer engines more.

This trend highlights the marketers’ need to go beyond SEO and PPC and move deeper into social networks, mobile marketing and app-based local marketplaces.

Apps inside social networks provide answers. Apps inside social-bookmark sites serve up interesting reading. Apps in content-curation tools like Storify provide relevant context for content. Apps on mobile devices, such as Yelp’s, help you find bars and restaurants. Apps using QR readers give you deeper information on companies and products. Apps are delivering sports scores, movie times, videos and images.

4 Shifting to the Third Screen

Marketing podcast with Chuck Martin (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

The Third Screen
The term used in the title of this post is the current favorite for those that write and speak about the growth of mobile devices in our everyday life. The mobile screen has now outpaced screens one and two, the TV and Computer monitor.

Focus on the mobile device has really picked up of late in marketing circles and will probably go down as one of this year’s hottest topics.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is Chuck Martin, CEO of The Mobile Future Institute and Director of the Center of Media Research at MediaPost Communications Inc and author of The Third Screen: Marketing to Your Customers in a World Gone MobileThe Third Screen.

I love the title of the book because it reinforces the idea that it’s not that marketing has change, the world around us has changed, and that requires a shift in how we apply our already stated objectives to this evolving space.

In this interview Martin sets the table for “why now” by sharing what had become overwhelming evidence that mobile behavior is overtaking pretty much any other kind of business and consumer behavior.

From a business standpoint there are some interesting aspect inherent in the current use of mobile – the buying intent of a mobile surfer is often very high. In some cases they are literally searching for a place to shop right now.

In addition, the size of the screen also changes the psychology of the surfer. Snack sized facts, ease of contact, laser sharp calls to action and minimal need for navigation – all things that might hamper a desktop visit – are an essential part of the mobile experience.

Mobile intensifies the importance of inbound marketing (being found) and couples it with the need for ease of discovery (just the facts mam)

I still get pushback from some small business marketers that can’t seem to get past the idea of spam text messages for lead generation as the sum game of mobile. Like much of the “Twitter is total waste of time” talk that emerged in 2008, there’s truth, hype and money to be made and lost in every new direction the Internet takes us.

Use this filter question as you analyze any new tool or direction: How could this help me do a better job serving the customers I already have? Figure that out and you’ll never be led astray.

I’ll share my thoughts on how small businesses should start viewing mobile and just how they might get started in tomorrow’s post.

You can listen to the show by subscribing the feed in iTunes or a variety of other free services such as Google Listen (Use this RSS feed) or you can buy the Duct Tape Marketing iPhone app. (iTunes link – Cost is $2.99) or

31 Why Computers Don't Matter Anymore

AppleAn event occurred recently that was widely covered in financial and tech circles, but the significance of which may have been lost on most.

Apple’s market cap rose slightly above Microsoft’s, making it the largest tech company in the world. Now, market cap is based on current stock price and is a lousy measure of things to come and this is by no means a post about good and bad investments, but to me it marks a point in time that clearly points to the path we’re headed for the next decade or so.

Apple, on the verge of extinction in 1996, rose up with laptops, but then bet the farm on hand held devices and applications. Apple now makes the bulk of its revenue from iPods, iPhones and iTunes – in fact, it would be safe to suggest that Apple is not really a computer company. Apple built its store right next to the new freeway off ramp (the mobile freeway that is) and has benefited through this location dramatically.

As computers and even web browsers continue to lose significance by yielding ground to mobile devices and applications Apple is positioned to dominate for years to come. In the application world social networks like Facebook will continue to grow, cloud computing via applications will generate far more revenue than operating systems, software and hardware.

What all of this means is that Google must successfully nail a social strategy or even it’s mobile plays will cut into it search ad revenue. Microsoft may be in big trouble as it clings to shrinking government and enterprise installations too big to move elsewhere.

Small business can and should seize the opportunity to claim low cost operating efficiencies found in the cloud. Marketers must find effective ways to play in social networks. Resistance to mobile tactics such as location ads, text messaging, and mobile applications must erode as they become the preferred method of content and information consumption.