Mobile Payments

People always have their cell phones on them. And as stated in my prior post on mobile advertising is a growing industry. Even businesses are incorporating the use of mobile devices in-store by accepting mobile payments. What?! People’s smart phones are now being used as credit cards. Through different apps, such as LevelUP, Google Wallet and Square, people no longer need to carry a physical credit card on them.

Benefits of mobile payments:

  • Lower costs
  • Increase transaction speed
  • Collect customer transaction data
  • Increase Revenues

According to Juniper Research, global mobile payment expenditures are currently at $240 billion dollars, and are projected to reach $670 billion by 2015!

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Different mobile payment apps:

  • LevelUp
    • LevelUp uses QR codes to indirectly (to keep credit card information secure) store users payment information that can be scanned by merchants
    • Benefits: richer experience for customers, including a reward/mileage system. Also doesn’t charger the merchant a processing transaction fee and can run virility campaigns for companies
    • Drawbacks: not every merchant uses LevelUp
  • Google Wallet
    • Google Wallet stores credit card information in its application, and a customer needs to enter their pin and scan tap their Android phone against the terminal to make the transaction
    • Benefits: used in some big retailers such as Macy’s, Walgreens, CVS and Old Navy
    • Drawbacks: limited reach only compatible with newer Android phones that use Sprint as a carrier
  • Square
    • Square requires users to input their name, credit card number and a picture of themselves, used for identification purposes at the time of the transaction
    • Benefits: extra security for users, and can be used on almost any Android and Apple phone
    • Drawbacks: Not all merchants use Square

Mobile-Payment

While the payment apps allow merchants to gain insight on their customers, there are a few issues with mobile payments:

  • Not all merchants use mobile payments
  • No one really needs them
  • Require merchants to purchase extra hardware necessary to process transactions

 

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Where’s my phone? – Mobile Advertising

phone obsesedNowadays, it occurs more often than not when in social settings, people pay closer attention to their cellphones than to one another. Our mobile phones are an indispensable part of our daily lives, to the point where people don’t feel whole without them. According to Daina Middleton, Global CEO of Performics, a search and performance media agency, “mobile phone users report that they consider the device to be so personal that they do not allow it to stray more than a foot away from their person 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A mobile device is more than just a communication tool.”

So what am I getting at? People love their smart phones, and there are big opportunities that should be capitalized on in mobile optimization and mobile marketing. As stated in Mobile Markter’s Classic Guide to Mobile Advertising, “where there is an identifiable audience, there is an identifiable advertising and marketing opportunity.” If your audience is on mobile, you should be too! There has been a shift towards mobile for branding, finding leads and building audiences and customer relations. The Classic Guide to Mobile Advertising elaborates on the role mobile advertising is taking in the industry, stating that “mobile advertising in 2013 will reach 7.19 billion, up 77% from 4.06 billion in 2012. The projection for 2014 is 11.14 billion, a 55% anticipated increase from the previous year.”

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Reasons to use use mobile advertising:

  • Smart phones are the future and people have connections with their phones – capitalize on the opportunities because customers are on mobile
  • Mid-sized businesses can execute targeted campaigns
  • Higher engagement through mobile optimized websites and mobile applications
  • Geo-targeting is more reliable because of mobile features such as GPS, Wi-Fi and cell ID towers
  • It’s FREE to create mobile versions of websites and can’t hurt a business

Get started:

  1. Set objectives – decide what you want to go mobile with and what it will help you achieve
  2. Integrate – how can mobile be combined with your existing marketing efforts and how does it does it help your target market
  3. Segment – use location based ad networks to personalize messages, the distribution needs to be appropriate for your various segments
  4. Do It Yourself – many tools are offered in order for you to create and customize your own mobile optimizing, it also cuts costs
  5. Personalize – it is important to utilize the customer data that can be obtained in order to create customer loyalty. Allow customers to opt-in to option such as receiving special ad offers

Size matters: Big Data

Significant data (big data) can be derived through customer analytics, giving organizations insight on their audience’s online traffic and behaviors. This information allows digital marketers to optimize their tactics and personalize their users’ experiences.

Marketers’ main goal is personalization – being able to provide customers products and offers that represent their needs. Forrester’s white paper Use Customer Analytics To Get Personal (for Customer Intelligence Professionals) lists the analytical techniques used in personalization and popular applications of web personalization:

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Benefits to using customer personalization

  • Customers are acknowledged and served appropriately (through knowledge of past interactions)
  • The ability to offer relevant content and offers to enhance customers’ experiences and promote customer loyalty
  • Increased customer retention, and new customer acquisition
  • Increased returns from growing customer base

The New York Times article, How Companies Learn Your Secrets, is a story about how through the use of analytics, marketers discovered that “new parents are a retailer’s holy grail.” It is hard to change a person’s brand loyalties and buying habits, but new parents are overwhelmed and preferences can be easily swayed.

The article explains how “timing is everything. Because birth records are usually public, the moment a couple have a new baby, they are almost instantaneously barraged with offers and incentives and advertisements from all sorts of companies.” One of Target’s statisticians was able to predict when women were pregnant based off of their purchases. This was an advantage for Target because they could personalize offers towards women during their pregnancy, beating their competitions’ offers they were to receive after the birth of their child.

The Wall Street Jounral’s article, On Orbitz, Mac Users Steered to Pricier Hotels, is another example of a company turning information into insight. Orbitz, an online travel agency found that “people who use Apple Inc.’s Mac computers spend as much as 30% more a night on hotels.” Orbitz started personalizing offers towards Mac users, who would be shown “different, and sometimes costlier, travel options than Windows visitors.”

Even Obama’s 2012 campaign used big data, to come up with the probability of swaying votes one way or another. With this information they were able to personalize the campaign and capitalize on their digital marketing. Read more about it in Time’s article, Inside the Secret WOrld of the Data Crunchers Who Helped Obama Win and the Wall Street Journal’s article Crovitz: Obama’s ‘Big Data’ Victory.

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SQL: Learn to Communicate with Databases

What is SQL? SQL, (sequel) or Structured Query Language according to Vault Analytics, “is the de facto standard coding language that is used to communicate with databases.” Or it can be thought of as another important coding language to know in the marketing industry. SQL communicates directly with databases, and through codes it can extract specific information. Running SQL queries are an easier, faster way to manage and filter through data than Excel.

How does SQL work? The article, Learn SQL The Hard Wayexplains how SQL understands the fields of tables, and can find data based on the contents of the fields. All SQL operations are based off of four general table commands:

  1. Create – inserting data into tables
  2. Read – query data in a table
  3. Update – change data in a table
  4. Delete – remove data from a table

Benefits of knowing how to leverage SQL:

  • Differentiate yourself when applying to jobs
  • Need to understand to execute projects
  • Speeds up process of finding information
  • Can better analyzing information and identify relationships within data
  • Fix your own problems with websites
  • Can create and execute your own marketing campaigns
  • Can communicate better with developers, designers and analysts

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Living in a digital age, marketing now has large role online. And as a marketing student, learning technical skills that are applicable to the marketing field are important for me to know. Moz’s article Every Marketer Should be Technicalexpands on the importance of having technical skills. Moz suggests the following are important technical skills to know:

  • Databases & SQL
  • Web Technology
  • Web Development
  • Web Design & UX
  • Copywriting
  • Analytics
  • Forecasting/Statistics
  • Excel
  • Technical SEO
  • Content Platforms
  • Email Technology
  • E-Commerce Technology

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AB Testing

“Why is Digital Marketing so fantastic? Because everything is trackable and since everything is trackable, everything is also testable. Basically, you never have an excuse to have a crappy landing page, or email campaign or banner ad because of A/B testing.”

– Mark Staton

So what is A/B Testing? According to Optimizely A/B Testing: is a simple way to test changes to your page against the current design and determine which ones produce positive results. It is a method to validate that any new design or change to an element on your webpage is improving your conversion rate before you make that change to your site code.” To perform an A/B test, Smashing Magazine’s Ultimate Guide To A/B Testing explains it as” [having] two versions of an element (A and B) and a metric that defines success. To determine which version is better, you subject both versions to experimentation simultaneously. In the end, you measure which version was more successful and select that version for real-world use.” The overall main point of AB testing is to gain insight with the goal of increasing conversion

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The A/B Testing Process:

  • Decide your goal – what are you testing?
  • Select a tool for the job – you can set up A/B tests in two ways
    • Replace the element to be tested before the page loads
    • Redirect to another page
  • Set a conversion goal – using code (e.g. javascript) you can program what characterizes a successful test for a visitor, and track the success rates, like reaching a “Thank you” page after making a purchase.

Do’s and Don’s of A/B Testing

Do:

  • Make sure that you understand how long you should run your tests – If you end a test prematurely, your test will have been a waste of time and will have potentially lost very insightful and valuable information.
  • Be consistent on which visitors see what. Preventing bundlers (showing a user a different price or different promotional offer) can be done with your tool – using a mechanism or algorithm that keeps track of which visitors have been exposed to which variations.
  • Keep A/B test treatments consistent throughout your whole webpage. If testing the color of a sign-up button, make sure the color is changed not just on your landing page, but across all your pages.
  • Frequently perform A/B tests. The more tests you perform, the better your website will be!
  • Treatment Rampup: instead of splitting up your testing 50/50 between your users, gradually implement your treatment on your test market (e.g. 99.9%/0.1% to 99.5%/.05% to 97.5%/2.5% etc.) This avoids introducing potentially bad problems to a larger audience. 

Don’t:

  • Always test your variation and control at the same time – there can be extraneous factors that happen one week that don’t happen the next, which can affect results.
  • Don’t jump to conclusions – “Statistical confidence” tests determine the significance of test results, telling you if they are important or not.
  • Don’t take regular visitors off guard – test new visitors to avoid confusing your returning visitors.
  • Don’t let emotions overrule test results – sometimes the results aren’t what was expected, but remember that you are testing for improved conversion rates not aesthetics.

So why use A/B testing? A/B testing considers affects on traffic. It shows what works best with your customers with quantifiable data. This allows you to optimize and personalize your website, making it about your customers, making you more likely to succeed.

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Code Academy: an easy FREE way to learn coding!

Coding: a tool that amplifies intellectual abilities – “the ultimate mental amplifier,” as put by David Evans in his Introduction to Computing textbookThroughout the ages, humans and animals have created tools in order for to help their physical abilities to become faster, stronger and better.

As said in the text, “tools that amplify intellectual abilities are much rarer… Only humans have developed tools to substantially amplify our intellectual abilities and it is those advances that have enabled humans to dominate the planet.” The two examples that were given were language, and writing. Language allowed humans to communicate thoughts, and use their minds more effectively. Writing created documentation, allowing people to share thoughts through time and over distances.

Then there was technology. Computing mechanizes “any intellectual activity we can imagine…” and “pervades nearly all human endeavors.” Which is why coding is so important!

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Coding is a very useful and differentiating skill to have. A non-profit Coalition for Queens recently started a program called Access Code. A training program that teaches the Queens community how to code iOS applications. “Six months after the first Access Code class of 21 students completed the 18 week course, the 15 graduates who accepted job offers have seen their income rise from under $15,000 to an average of $72,190; the other six students are either still in college or have chosen to launch their own startups.” That is a tremendous income increase, just having the basic knowledge of coding. 

And guess what? Learning to code, isn’t hard. You can learn it yourself! Code Academyis a a website that has numerous coding tutorials, all for FREE! You can learn to code different languages such as Javascript, HTML/CSS, PHP, Python, Ruby, and API.

I made an account, and spend two hours on the site. In my two hour trial, I was able to get through multiple tutorials, and over 50 exercises! (I have had some previous experience with coding, having taken a couple of computer science classes) I really enjoyed these tutorials, they were very easy to use and follow along with. They are all hands on do it yourself tutorials, that provide extra help if you need it. Here are a few screen shots of some of the tutorials I completed, and what they look like!

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In summary, coding is important and a excellent skill to know in the digital marketing realm. And if you don’t know how to do it, go make an account on Code Academy!

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Paid, Owned, Earned and Shared Media

It is known that consumers nowadays are more aware of being targets for advertisements, and often ignore them. Although they are still popular, marketers have been finding ways around direct advertisements. Using inbound marketing, content marketing and social media marketing, businesses are able to engage customers with different methods that are less invasive, more interactive and still get their message across, and achieve the ultimate goal of building an audience. When people think of traditional media promotion, most people think of paid, owned and earned media. Well what are they exactly? Here is a table from Sean Corcoron explaining the different types of ‘traditional’ media: Screen shot 2014-04-23 at 12.01.29 AM

Owned media is the channel that has the most control, is versatile and allows for high customization. Paid media is paying a third party to reach their previously accumulated audience. Its primary goal is awareness, bringing traffic to your media. It is beneficial because it is immediate, and the message is controlled and reaches the market. Earned Media: allows communication between you and your customers, which not only builds relationships, but also provides feedback. It builds trust, and is free advertising. The negative is that it can get out of control, and doesn’t have a concept of scale.

The primary differences between the three are the content control, and how you’re getting your audience. Today, marketers do not think knowing the difference between the three will be as beneficial to the development of your digital strategies. Instead, according to an article by Steve Kerho, some believe that digital content development and management should be considered through the terms paid and shared media.

Shared Media: media that is shared between the marketer and the consumer, ultimately taking away the divide between earned and owned media. This brings up the idea of user-generated content (UGC) and how consumer should be able to contribute to the content that is created on different channels. Customers want to have a voice in media channels, and want to be able to contribute. A good example is Starbucks’ “My Starbucks” page on their website. My Starbucks is a platform for customers to submit their feedback and ideas for new products, services, and offerings. This allows customer engagement and interaction between the company and the consumers. Consumers now have higher expectations about how they should be able to interact with brands.

Paid media is ‘touchy’ form of marketing, because many look down upon the use of “cookies.” Cookies, are not the kind you eat, but according to Mark Staton, “pieces of code that track your online behavior.” This makes paid media a controversial form of marketing because some think it is invading people’s privacy. An article by Ad Age goes into detail how the European Union started regulating cookie usage, and explains how your every move online can be tracked. For example, Amazon uses cookies to track your past purchases and to recommend new products, Netflix uses cookies to recommend you new movies, and without cookies this wouldn’t be possible. Google would give you search results in wrong cities!

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Now what happens if cookies become regulated everywhere? Ad Age‘s answer is through native advertising. Native advertising is advertising content that doesn’t look like advertising. This is beneficial for businesses because “users are more likely to respond positively to marketing tactics that don’t look like advertising – but instead take the form of the rest of the content on the website or platform.” This marketing tactic is engaging, builds an audience, and people aren’t necessarily aware they’re looking at an ad.

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The down side of native advertising is that it is very time consuming to create rich content, and it takes time for it to produce results. Although sometimes difficult to produce engaging content, a good example of well executed native advertising is Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed has rich and captivating content, along with advertisements that most users are unaware of. In the following screenshot of a Buzzfeed page, you can see the article about PlayStation, and then the ad for Sony Entertainment circled, and also makes multiple appearances along the right side of the page:

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It’s apparent that marketing has taken a digital turn. People see over 3,000 advertisements daily whether they are aware of it or not, and the Internet only increases this number. Social media has sponsored posts all over the pages, friends are frequently sharing content on various social networks.