Thursday, 10 May 2018

How to Use Mobile Marketing to Get Ahead in Business

Do you own a smartphone? Who am I kidding, of course, you do. Practically everyone we come across on a daily basis has one and uses it at all times of the day. In fact, our mobile affinity is so prevalent that adult internet users spend 59% of their time on mobile. That is to say that whether we’re looking for a place to eat, finding our way around a strange city, or passing the time with some games, mobile is where we’re at.
For you, as someone who’s attached to a business, this presents an opportunity to get ahead with mobile marketing.

How to Get an Edge with Mobile Marketing

So, what is mobile marketing? According to Marketo, mobile marketing is a multi-channel, digital marketing strategy aimed at reaching a target audience on their smartphones, tablets, and/or other mobile devices, via websites, email, SMS and MMS, social media, and apps. That’s all well and good, but the basis is that it’s marketing your business to mobile users — simple as that. With that in mind, here’s how to use mobile marketing to get ahead in business.

1: Be Mobile-Friendly

First of all, you have to be mobile-friendly. After all, what’s the point of marketing to mobile users if you don’t have a website they can go to? Exactly. For this very reason, you should either get a mobile or responsive website that caters specifically to your mobile users. While a mobile site will pass Google’s tests and serve your user better than a desktop site, what you really want is a responsive site that resizes everything for the screen it resides in and delivers optimal UX for that on-the-go.

2: Advertise on Mobile

The average smartphone conversion rates have gone up by 64% compared to the average desktop conversion rates. In other words, you’re missing out if you’re opting out of mobile advertising. For starters, there are many advantages of mobile advertising, such as the fact that most people with mobile devices keep them on their person at all times of the day, meaning that you can reach them at all times as opposed to waiting until they log into a computer. Second, if you have a physical location you can make use of push notifications and location-based services to reach your audience with targeted ads and offers when they’re near your store.

As for the types of mobile advertising you can make use of, here are a few:

Static banner ads: These are the most common mobile ads you’ll come across, and you’ll find them at the top or bottom of the screen. Even though they’re the simplest of the mobile ad family, they’re also the most popular because they’re easy to integrate into any page.
Interstitial ads: These ads are interactive and display across the whole screen, something that may hinge on intrusiveness. In fact, Google penalizes mobile sites that use app install interstitials because they hide a significant amount of content from view, making them mobile-unfriendly.
Expandable ads: Expandables start off as static banner ads and expand to fit the screen like interstitials when tapped. These have high conversion rates and allow for more creative design than other ad types.
Native ads: Native ads don’t look like ads because their format aligns with the app/site they reside in, making them unobtrusive and good for UX.

3: Employ SMS Marketing

Short Message Service (SMS) marketing is marketing with text messages. Not only is it a relatively cheap and high-return way of spreading your messages, but because texts are opened and read much more frequently than other delivery methods like email, it’s the perfect way to entice your users with coupons and deals they can’t find anywhere else.

For example, take a look at what some big brands employing SMS marketing are doing and what they’re getting in return:

Carl’s Jr. offered a 50% discount on a meal combo only if participants had opted to receive SMS messages, which resulted in a full 20% of the database to redeem mobile coupons.
Pizza Hut launched an SMS promotion, which increased sales by 142%.
Similarly, Dunkin’ Donuts launched an SMS promotion, which increased in-store traffic to their Boston locations by 21%.
If this sounds good to you, make sure to keep messages short, impart a sense of urgency that makes your users act sooner rather than later, and of course, use CTAs that encourage action.

4: Get an App

Finally, seeing as how 80% of mobile time is spent engaged with apps, you’ll definitely get a leg up on your competition if you attach an app to your business. The thing is, whereas a couple of years ago mobile apps were restricted to big businesses who could actually afford to develop and roll out apps (and had the time to do so), nowadays there are templates and low-code/no-code development platforms that allow anyone with little or no coding experience to create whatever mobile app suits their need.

This means that if your competition already has an app and you don’t, you can finally catch up to them and beat them with improved features. If they don’t, you’ll have an excellent opportunity to take the lead. In doing so, you’ll be able to mold the app to your specific brand, adding a recognition factor to your business that presents it as more of an authority.

Final Thoughts

We live in a mobile-first world and your marketing efforts should reflect that. This means using mobile marketing to boost your business and get ahead of the competition. And this, in turn, means getting a site that’s mobile friendly, advertising on mobile so that you can reach your audience around the clock, employing SMS marketing to spread your messages, and pairing an app with your brand to secure your hold at the top of the food chain.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

AI in the Smartphone Industry

Everything is smarter today than it was a decade ago. Smartphones? Check. Smartwatches? Of course. Smart cars? Indeed. Smart appliances? That too. With all these smart devices populating our world, the question of their enabler comes to mind. Well, all of this — every single smart device we use day after day — is a reality because of artificial intelligence (AI).

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

True to its name, artificial intelligence is man-made intelligence; intelligence created in a lab that aims to mimic natural intelligence, which is what we and other animals possess.

No longer the stuff of Sci-Fi books and movies, AI is taking over the world. Not literally, of course — at least not yet. If you think of our brain as a network of signals and sensors, then you have a grasp of what AI can do. Like the brain, AI can digest large amounts of data and make predictions about that data.

For example, if you hear someone say “knock-knock,” you instinctively know that “who’s there?” will come right after. In a similar vein, if you’re texting someone and have predictive text enabled, typing “I’m on” will most likely pull up “my” and then “way.” In many cases, you may even get an option for a whole “I’m on my way!” text. In this instance, your phone used all your past texting data and patterns to predict what you were likely to type next.

These predictive capabilities and pattern recognition are all due to deep learning, a branch of AI that excels in pattern recognition. In fact, deep learning is improving many AI-enabled features we have in our very own smartphones, such as image recognition and Face ID, speech recognition, predictive text, translations, and much more. Let’s delve deeper.

Uses of Artificial Intelligence in the Smartphone Industry

Deloitte’s Global Mobile Consumer Survey found that 65% of smartphone owners across 16 developed markets have used an application that features AI and machine learning (talk about intelligent phones). The thing is, when we pair phones with AI, the mobile experience becomes even more personalized and convenient, leading to improved experiences as a whole.

Predictive Text

Seeing as how we touched on it earlier, the first AI feature found in our smartphones we’ll talk about today is predictive text. Let’s start with a fact: we type a lot. Whether it’s texting, emailing or simply searching on Google, we’re typing away every day. And every time we type one word after another, even one letter after another, our phones are analyzing and taking note of our habits. In other words, they’re picking up on our typing and texting patterns.

Think of it as a game of chance in which everything is determined by odds. If you (almost) always type “hey, what are” before typing “doing,” then odds are that next time you type “hey, what are,” “doing” will pop up as a suggestion. In this way, everything is connected and dominated by odds. Going further, you may have a specific text pattern for different people in your life. Your phone recognizes this and will suggest text predictions accordingly, which are tailored further based on your own general texting patterns.

Image Recognition

For most, image recognition in the smartphone realm is analogous to face recognition. For instance, Apple’s iPhone X that makes use of AI algorithms for its Face ID, which can identify faces, even with changes to appearance like glasses vs. no glasses and beard growth. Anyway, as reported by Forbes, “[f]ace ID uses a combination of light projectors and sensors to take several images of your facial features… these technologies work together to build a 'detailed depth map of your face to recognize you in an instant.’”

Apart from Face ID, image recognition is also propelling health apps that can diagnose certain maladies, such as cancerous moles. With these apps, you can take a picture of any dermal anomaly, and the app will use a database that houses troves of data on cancerous versus benign moles, including what signs and symptoms go with each, to accurately diagnose what you have.

Digital Assistants

Finally, we can’t have a discussion of artificial intelligence for smartphones without talking about digital assistants. Whether it’s Siri, Alexa, Bixby or Cortana, digital assistants are improving with AI integration. They’re no longer simply replying to direct questions with pre-programmed answers — they’re also placing online orders, calling our friends and family, sending messages, playing songs, and so much more.

The Future of AI Smartphones

The future of smartphones lies in AI. True, AI has been around for a while, but as it relates to turning smartphones into even more intelligent phones, it’s still in its infancy. That is to say that while we have Siri today, the Siri of tomorrow may actually be able to hold a full conversation with you; the apps of today may be able to diagnose cancerous moles, but the apps of tomorrow may be able to diagnose a whole medical journal’s worth of illnesses; the predictive text of today may be able to know what you’re about to type, but the predictive text of tomorrow… well, the predictive text of tomorrow will probably be quite similar, except much more accurate.

In closing, as cool and advanced as our current AI features are, the future seems like a world of possibilities. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

The Top Trends of Mobile World Congress 2018

The GSMA Mobile World Congress (MWC) is the world’s largest gathering for the mobile industry, and this year’s Mobile World Congress 2018 just wrapped up. We’ll get into MWC 2018 highlights soon, but before that let’s talk about what MWC is for those who aren’t familiar. MWC is an annual event where anyone who’s anyone in the mobile world gets together to show off their latest and greatest gadgets. Everything’s on display — next-gen AI solutions, state-of-the-art mobile accessories, everything — and it’s the perfect place to whet your mobile appetite.

This year, Mobile World Congress 2018 trends focused on:
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
Future Service Provider
The Network
The Digital Consumer
Tech in Society
Content & Media
Applied AI

And more than 2,400 companies were able to showcase cutting-edge products and services, a GSMA and Brosmind partnership was concocted to illustrate the unique role mobile is playing in supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), immersive demonstrations of the latest mobile-enabled products and services were featured in the GSMA Innovation City, 25 companies were awarded 38 GLOMOs (Global Mobile Awards) for their advances in technology, and much much more.

Mobile World Congress 2018 Highlights

That being said, let’s take a look at what you missed out on if you weren’t able to attend!

Galaxy S9 and S9+

As we all know, Samsung is a staple of the smartphone market, so it’s not surprising that they showed off their latest handsets. At first glance, you may think that the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are quite similar to their predecessors (S8 & S8+), but they actually have some pretty cool upgrades and improvements. For example, they use Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 845 CPU and a new mechanical variable aperture rear camera sensor that improves performance by letting it (camera) switch between f/2.4 and f/1.5 apertures based on the environment. 

Xperia XZ2

Sony, another tech giant we’re all familiar with, unveiled the Xperia XZ2 as a pleasant departure from its previous squarish design. New and improved, the Xperia has a mixed material chassis with a 2.5D curved glass back and is packed with the latest Sony technologies to deliver an entertainment experience that touches your senses in a whole new way. Like the Galaxy S9 and S9+, the Xperia XZ2 boasts of a Snapdragon 845 CPU for improved use, a larger battery, a revamped camera, much louder speakers, and the world's first 4K HDR movie recording in a smartphone.

Nokia 7 Plus

With 64GB of storage, a Snapdragon 660 CPU, 6-inch 18:9 Full HD + resolution display perfect for our media consumption, and an added bonus of running on Android One, the Nokia 7 Plus is already a fan favorite. Apart from an upgraded screen, more power, and greater functionality, this phone also has excellent battery life and enhanced Dual-Sight rear sensors with ZEISS optics that create a wide-angle camera that excels in low light and extra bright environments.

Nokia 8110 “Banana Phone”

Famously featured in The Matrix, the Nokia 8110, AKA the Banana Phone, is back. Like many upgraded models in MWC 2018, the 4G 8110 is new and improved and brings back the iconic slide design with new features like an app store with where you’ll find favorites like Facebook, Google Search, Google Maps, Twitter and more. As for the slide design, want to answer the phone? Slide. Want to hang up? Slide. What more can you want?

Lenovo Vital

The Lenovo Vital is one of the coolest health trackers you’ll come across. As the latest Moto Mod for Motorola’s Z line of smartphones, this device works as a biometric scanner that can measure blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen, and temperature. It’s also very simple to use — all you have to do is place your finger in the protruding dock, slip it into a rubber seal and click on the onscreen start button you’ll find in the app.

Land Rover Explorer Outdoor Phone

Closing our list today, the Land Rover Explorer Outdoor Phone is the one and the only phone those who love the great outdoors need. For one, it can survive anything — drops water submersion (including salt water), extreme temperatures, rapid temperature changes and more. Second, apart from being an indestructible phone, it also has all the features you want as an explorer like topographic mapping options, AR Skyline navigation, and instant access to a dashboard that has weather information, sensor data, and an SOS light toggle.

Wrap Up

As all the excitement dies down, we have to come to grips with the fact that we have to wait for more than we’d like for the next MWC to come around. It’s not all bad though — in the meantime, we have all the cool gadgets and services that were unveiled this year. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

The Future of Virtual and Augmented Reality

IDC reported that worldwide spending on augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) is forecasted to reach $17.8 billion in 2018, an increase of nearly 95% over the $9.1 billion spent in 2017. The thing is, neither VR nor AR are new technologies, so why the sudden year over year growth? The answer: mobile technology.

From bulky Nokias to sleek iPhones, mobile technology has skyrocketed in recent years. We’ve moved past the days where a simple game of Snake was all that our phones could take. As cell phones evolved into smartphones, their capabilities grew exponentially. For example, with a VR headset our phones can transport us to a completely new world, and with a camera, they can combine the real and imaginary to create an augmented version of both.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is something that brings back childhood memories of wishing we could jump into our favorite video games or movies and join the action, right there alongside the action heroes. It’s immersive storytelling in which you join the action, offering untold potential in terms of engagement. With virtual reality you’re no longer a spectator, you’re a participant.

When we pair mobile technology with devices like Google Cardboard, you arrive at VR all consumers can use. And if the consumer can use it, brands can produce it. Case in point, The New York Times and its NYT VR app, which became the most successful app launch in NYT history. That was back in 2015 — imagine what can happen today.
In 2018, virtual reality will be used for marketing, advertising, and anything else you can think of. Brands will use its ability to completely immerse users in a literal virtual reality as a cool and fun way of showing off and advertising their products and services, such as the ones in this post with the 10 best uses of VR in marketing.

Augmented Reality

AR, like VR, utilizes the virtual in an effort to spice up what’s real. But unlike VR, AR augments your surroundings in a complementary interaction between reality and imagination. In other words, it’s a coexistence of physical and virtual.

Big players such as Apple, Google, Facebook, and Snapchat are already making strides in the AR industry. Apple introduced ARKit and Google rolled out ARCore, two collections of tools for developers who want to bring AR features in their apps, Facebook has World Effects, an AR feature for photos and videos that enable you to drop 3D objects into your surroundings to capture and share fun moments with your friends and family, and finally, Snapchat has, well, Snapchat.

The immediate popularity of apps like Snapchat and Pokemon Go have shown us that users not only want AR, they need it. To enter the AR market in 2018, brands need to understand how consumers will interact with the technology and where to make use of it in the customer journey. For example, they can start early and use it to promote their products by putting up flyers that jump out at you when viewed through an AR app. They can also copy IKEA, who created an app with AR functionality to show off their products in their consumers’ homes, and use it after consumers are already aware of their products.

Final Thoughts & TL;DR

Virtual and augmented reality are geared to be the two very important mobile technologies in 2018. One epitomizes immersive storytelling the other transforms the world around you into an enhanced version of itself. And here’s the Tl;dr version of what we covered today:
Worldwide spending on augmented reality and virtual reality is forecasted to increase drastically because of advancements in mobile technology
VR takes us back to our childhood and turns us from spectators to participants
Pairing mobile technology with devices like Google Cardboard gives us VR all consumers can use
VR can be used for marketing, advertising, and anything else you can think of because of its ability to increase brand engagement beyond anything else
AR augments your surroundings in a complementary interaction between reality and imagination
Big players such as Apple, Google, Facebook, and Snapchat are already making strides in the AR industry
AR can be used anywhere in the customer journey to either introduce a brand’s products and services or promote them further
Enjoy experiencing these alternate realities!

Monday, 8 January 2018

Mobile Payment Solutions: A Gateway for Safer and Faster Transactions in 2018

Technology completely revolutionized commerce as it gave birth to eCommerce and, thanks to our love for our smartphones, mCommerce. The reality is that thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), the way we shop has changed, is changing, and will continue to change. In fact, due to a combination of new and emerging technology, and changes to regulations and consumer behavior, 2018 seems poised to be a year of big change in the payments landscape.

As a matter of fact, with in-app purchasing, one-click ordering, mobile card readers, carrier payments, the point of sale payments, and many more mobile payment solutions, it’s safe to say that mobile payments cannot be stopped. Starting with what mobile pay is and ending with its benefits, here’s all you need to know about mobile payment solutions.

Mobile Payment Solutions

The mobile pay landscape is vast and expansive, covering everything from everyday transactions to mutual fund and stock market investments. Thanks to IoT and smartphones, we can now practically pay for whatever we want with nothing other than our phones.

For example, Google introduced the Google Wallet app in 2011, saying it was “a fast, free way to send money through the app, in Gmail, or on the web.” A couple of years later Apple introduced Apple Pay for Apple devices, Samsung introduced Samsung Pay for Samsung Galaxy devices, and Android introduced Android Pay for Android devices.

The gist of these mobile payment applications is that we already use our smartphones for practically everything, so why not payments as well? All that’s required is to add a credit card, debit card, gift card, loyalty card, or some other form of payment card. Once that’s complete, we can use our phones to shop online, in stores, or through other apps. For in-store purchases, these services use NFC (near field communication) technology to make purchases with a single tap of the phone on a CC terminal — simple.

Apart from these ‘Pay’ apps, other mobile payment solutions we can make use of are: 
Banking applications like those of TD Bank, Bank of America, Citibank and more
Non-banking apps that have similar functions as banking apps, such as Venmo
Mobile card readers can be inserted into a smartphone’s headphone jack to charge payment cards
Carrier payments that allow you to pay through your carrier (E.g., donating money to a charity be texting a certain number)
Closed loop proprietary mobile payments in which customers can pay through their smartphones

Similar to Starbucks, other retailers like Walmart, Dunkin’ Donuts, CVS and Burger King are also using proprietary mobile payments to make their customers’ lives easier. And interestingly enough, Amazon also filed a patent that would allow shoppers to make a purchase by taking a photo and/or video of themselves — a sort of ‘selfie pay.’

The Benefits of Mobile Payment Solutions and Why You Should Use Them

40% of millennials say that they would give up cash completely; we may not live in a cashless society yet, but we’re knocking at its door. The thing is, not only is it frustrating to physically go to an ATM to withdraw cash, but the possibility of losing it (and your other payment cards) if you happen to misplace it or your wallet crosses the line — nope, no thank you.

From what we covered in the previous section and just saw with the ATM example, it can be seen that mobile payment solutions are extremely convenient. Not only can we pay with a simple phone tap, but we can even use wearables like the Apple Watch to pay for more mobility and convenience. Mobile pay also eliminates the need for paper receipts; everything is stored digitally and available for our inspection.

Apart from convenience (what can be more convenient than tapping a phone?), mobile payments are also very secure. Mobile wallets usually require two-factor verification and all financial data is encrypted. Even more, many mobile payment services offer 24/7 fraud monitoring for extra protection. As for the possibility of losing your phone and falling risk to others using your mobile wallet, no need to worry — services like Apple Pay will only work with your thumbprint.

Final Thoughts
We want safer transactions, protected data, faster payments, and overall better and streamlined shopping experiences. As Forbes states, “consumers expect frictionless checkout experiences combined with the same level of security across all devices as exists today with other more established payment forms.” Lucky for us, mobile payment solutions are there to help us out. And with all the good they bring, it can be said that for mobile pay 2018 will be a very good year. Enjoy!