Tag Archives: mobile

Mobile ads…please stop sucking. Five tips for making mobile ads better.

mobile ads

I play a lot of solitaire on my iPhone.

It’s my go-to game when I’m taking the train, talking to someone boring or just passing the time mindlessly.

Sure there are other games out there, like the insanely addictive Pokemon Go.

But I can’t be walking around tryin’ to catch ’em all, walking into people and draining my battery in the process.

And I really am not about the brightly colored, sensory stimulating, action/adventure games in abundance in the App Store.

I’m good with a simple game of solitaire.

I play a free version of the game created by MobilityWare.

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Because it’s free, between each game – win or lose – they serve an ad.

I’ve played well over 10,000 games of solitaire, so I’ve seen thousands of ads.

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Some of the ads are for other games, apps, insurance, cars, television shows or movies.

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Some are static ads, video, or interactive surveys or animated game tutorials.

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Most of the time I just ignore them, but recently, I’ve been paying attention and I’ve noticed something interesting: mobile ads suck.

More accurately, the companies that serve mobile ads suck.

I know I’m generally a caustic dude, prone to being overly critical.

But in this instance, I’m being particularly objective.

Mobile. Ads. Suck.

A few months ago, a recruiter reached out to me about a position with a company which specialized in mobile ads.

Their client was looking for someone with deep native mobile experience and wanted to forward my resume.

When she sent along the job description, I checked them out and thought it made sense to do some research.

If they called me in, I could articulate what I thought about the current state of mobile ads and not sound like a total dolt.

So I started to pay attention to the ads being served between my countless games of solitaire.

What I observed was that mobile ads suffer from all types of fuckery.

But these are the top five offenses I observed (and things you should avoid if you’re serving mobile ads in your app).

1. Size matters. A mobile screen is small. So why wouldn’t your ad fill  the entire screen? If you’re trying to make an impact, you’re not going to do it by forcing users to strain their eyes to make out your shitty ad. Make sure that the ad platform or service you use delivers high quality, fully scaled content that fits the dimensions of the screens being served.

So UPS, what were you planning on doing with the other 1/3 of the screen?

So UPS, what were you planning on doing with the other 1/3 of the screen?

2. Orientation. I typically play solitaire in portrait mode. And for the most part, the ads that are served automatically mirror the orientation of my screen. But every so often, there’s one that doesn’t. Not only is the ad in the wrong orientation, but it’s also locked in that orientation, forcing me to turn my screen to watch/read it or access the exit button. If you’re delivering mobile ads, be sure that they’re not in a fixed position. And if the optimal viewing perspective is portrait (or landscape), make sure that you’re not forcing your user to only view it in that orientation.

This ad started off in landscape mode, but re-orientated, when I turned my screen.

This ad started off in landscape mode, but re-orientated, when I turned my screen.

3. Give us free! One of my absolute pet peeves is when there is no way to exit out of an ad. Most ads have an “X” prominently displayed on he screen when they show up, allowing me to immediately close it and resume playing solitaire. Others have a slight delay, with the “X” appearing about five seconds after the ad is displayed. But the offenders have no means of exiting their ads or worse still, when you do click on the “X” another ad appears forcing you to exit it again! Motherfuckers! Can I play my solitaire? Always give your users an out.

I thought that pressing the x in the upper right hand corner would do the trick, but no!

I thought that pressing the x in the upper right hand corner would do the trick, but no!

The trick was on me. I had to exit out of this ad twice!

The trick was on me. I had to exit out of this ad twice!

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How about this ad with no “x” at all!

4. Short and sweet. Have you seen those ‘countdown’ ads, which show you how much time remains in the ad? How about the ones which count down how much time before you can exit out of them? Presumably, they do this because they know folks have short attention spans and don’t want to suffer through ads. And these are the better ones! Many ads are just too long and for no good reason. Ads are intrusive and if you’re going to intrude, make sure its no longer than it has to be. Best practice says a video ad shouldn’t be more than 15 seconds, and if you’re going to be delivering ads between content, make sure users can exit out at will. Per Tip No. 4, don’t make them watch to the end if they don’t want to.

5. Call to action. The point of any ad is to get the viewer to do something after they engage the ad. This engagement is the call to action. It’s the thing you want the viewer to do, the step you want them to take or behavior you want them to engage in. So many ads had obtuse, ill placed or no call to action at all. Don’t be among this group and make sure you have a clear, unambiguous, prominently placed call to action in your ad.

"See All"? That's your call to action? Boo Hiss!

“See All”? That’s your call to action? Boo Hiss!

So there you have it, the top five tips for not having sucky mobile ads.

If you’re managing ads yourself, observe these tips. If you’re working with a mobile ad network, make sure you’ve got the ability to review the ads being served to make sure that they meet these standards.

Feel free to share your experiences with mobile ads and any tips you might have for making them better.

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Filed under advertising, mobile ads, opinion, social media

Top Tech Trends of 2015. A top 5 list.

homer

As 2015 draws to a close, we’re inundated with lists.

Best of lists.

Epic fails lists.

Prediction lists.

Everyone’s trying to get in on that end of year metrics booster as people search for reports, studies and stats on how well we did this year or how well we’re predicted to do next year.

I am no different.

But I’m not particularly interested in offering any scientific or metrics-based opinions.

I’ve read no studies to support any of what I’m about to say.

No reports inform my perspective.

In fact, I’ve been told by at least one person, that my list is bunk.

Kick rocks.

I know what the fuck I’m talkimbout’.

Anywho, I think we can all agree that 2015 was a banner year for tech.

This year, we saw curved screens, wearables, virtual reality, and streaming music explode.

Everyone had skin in the game and we (consumers) benefited from all of it.

Everywhere you looked, technology was changing the way we did things, the way we saw things and the way we interacted with the world around us.

And that trend is likely to continue unabated.

So here are my top 5 tech trends of 2015 (in no particular order).

Wearables are a thing.

wearables_tech

Without question, 2015 was the year of wearables. Anyone who was anyone wanted to create a wearable device, demonstrating that they ‘got it’ when it came to wearable technology. While brands like Tag Heuer had their head turning high end $1,800 Android watch, one wearable stood out among the rest: The Apple Watch. Heralded as the device that would ‘free people from their phones’ (considering the fact that it’s a tethered device – that’s a bit of an overstatement, but nonetheless) Apple sold more than 4.2 million watches in the second quarter of this year, making it the most successful wearable device ever. I’m not a fan (be on the look out for my expert’s review) of the Apple Watch, but I’ve got to give props where they are due and the Apple set the bar for wearable lifestyle integration.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

the-cloud

2015 was the year that Cloud came into it’s own. Principally, in the form of highly publicized hacks. Who can forget last year’s infamous Apple iCloud hack. Seeing Jennifer Lawrence’s naughty bits brought the issue squarely into – ahem – focus. Ashley Madison’s subsequent hack once again showed the vulnerability of data in the cloud. But where many see problems, cloud providers and security experts see opportunity. The demand for cloud services will invariably increase due to the advantages of high computing power, low costs, high performance, scalability, accessibility and availability, and cloud vendors are reaping the benefits with 50% annual growth rates. Data breaches will continually be the bane of virtual data storage, but cloud is definitely the future and the trend clearly got a foothold this year.

Drones, drones everywhere!

amazon drone

In 2013, when Jeff Bezos introduced the planned delivery drones of Amazon Prime Air on 60 Minutes to the befuddlement of Charlie Rose, it was a fantastic and futuristic moment. Two years later, drones are an every day part of our lives. Whether it’s the small toys for kids, the more advanced camera toting variety or Amazon’s delivery drones, drones have become a defining element of 2015. Drone were so prolific this year they prompted legislators to draft bills prohibiting them and the FAA to issue regulations regarding flight ceilings to prevent their unfettered use in airspace by the general population. Drone technology continues to advance as innovative applications are constantly being developed.

Mobile became a gateway.

mobile gateway

Mobile is the gateway to everything. The explosion in social media, wearables, IoT, streaming, cloud all owe their origin to mobile. Mobile has become one of the largest contributors to retail, providing a cushion to waning brick and mortal sales. The use of mobile in stores, to scan barcodes, search for comparable items, and pay all from the same device has increased the frequency and number of touch points that can be exploited by brands to help influence consumer behavior. The sheer amount of data generated by mobile users is a treasure trove for brands interested in harnessing the value of that data. As users become device agnostic, opting to use the device appropriate for the moment, mobile will become synonymous with ‘mobility’ and not devices.

Social Media

social media

Photograph: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Social media has become a disruptive element to virtually every space. From finance to politics to the reporting of world events, social media has helped spread information light years faster than traditional media. Breaking news is no longer coming from news outlets, but from people on-the-ground broadcasting events in real time to online followers and members of their digital social networks. Nowadays media outlets are piggybacking on stories sourced from social media, with the more savvy media outlets devoting entire units to social media listening. Social media has also grown niche audiences, speaking to its power to engage both mainstream and previously less engaged or insular communities.

The items that didn’t make this list (because I was lazy or harangued by my more critical peeps – you know who you are) include: machine to machine, 3D printing, digital pay – I could go on.

Suffice it to say, this is just an entré for a deeper discussion for 2015’s top trends.

What other trend stood out for you in 2015? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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Filed under Apple Watch, iPhone, mobile, social media, technology

Mobile is dead. Long live mobile. 5 tips for brands in an untethered world

mobile is dead

I recently heard a director of digital and e-commerce of a retail brand say, “we don’t really care about mobile” and nearly shat myself.

I’d recently had Mexican, and it wasn’t agreeing with me.

I’m kidding…their statement did almost cause an involuntary bowel movement.

Luckily I have a strong sphincter (read: I do kegels) and the crisis was avoided.

I was, however, momentarily stunned by the statement of someone I assumed knew that mobile commerce was one of the largest contributors to retail revenues in 2015 – to the tune of a projected $104 billion according to Internet Retailer.

With mobile accounting for more than 30% of all US e-commerce traffic, I chalked the executive’s statement to early morning alcohol consumption, clandestine drug use or undiagnosed Turrets.

But as I thought on it further, I realized that perhaps the functional addict of an exec was actually on to something.

A decade ago websites were the holy grail for e-commerce.

Five years ago SMS was an absolutely essential component of brands’ marketing strategies.

A few years ago having a mobile site or app was critical to a brand’s success.

And now brands are weighing the importance of having a wearable strategy.

All this to drive traffic, increase engagement and conversions on websites, mobile sites, and apps.

With the advent of IoT, wearables, ‘smart’ devices, and thin clients are going to enable incomprehensible levels of engagement – making the actual platform used to connect virtually irrelevant.

This shift is changing the way we interact with the world around us and the brands that want to reach us.

So in honor of the wayward exec I maligned, here is my top 5 list for preparing for an IoT world.

1. Accept that people are always on.

We are always reaching for our devices. Sleep seems to be the only time we’re not literally on our devices. But with devices like the Apple Watch doubling as a nightstand clock/alarm clock, we’re closer than ever to achieving actual ‘always-on’ status. At a glance, we can get weather updates, stock tips, heath status, schedule and virtually any random piece of information one desires. No longer are we required to ‘boot up’ a computer or suffer some cumbersome process in order to get information. Today, we can just ask Siri, Cortana or any of a dizzing number of virtual assistant (even on our damn tvs!) and activate/initiate some desired action. With IoT, there’s no going back.

2. Be diffuse but don’t dilute.

water down

Once upon a time, mobile sites we trimmed down versions of full desktop sites. The thought process was that with the smaller real estate, users wouldn’t be able to process the same amount of information, and that information overload was the equivalent of a poor user experience. So many brands opted for ‘brochure’ mobile sites, stripped of the functionality available of desktop sites save a few basic options. Today we know better. With smart phones housing increasingly powerful processors, greater real estate for presenting content from larger screens, and loads of data about mobile user behavior, having a mobile site that functions like a full desktop site or offers the same utility, and is adapted to mobile user behavior ensures that you’re enabling your users rather than hampering them. In the age of IoT, brands will become adept at applying the lessons learned in mobile to wearables to avoid watering down utility.

3. Meet your audience where they are.

meet people where they are

I’m sure you’ve heard of brands adopting a multi-channel or omni-channel strategy as it relates to targeting their users. Basically, these terms refer to the evolving mindset that you can no longer build it and expect them to come. Today, you’ve got to meet them where they are, which increasingly requires that you first understand where they are, and second how to engage them in those spaces. You cannot simply say, “I’m going to make my website available on mobile and tablet devices and wearables” (unless you want to fail miserably). Yes, you should have an approach or strategy for intelligently being present in the spaces your users are, but don’t blunt the efficacy of your presence with a one-size-fits-all mindset.

4. Build bridges back to you.

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I once received an email offer in my inbox with no hyperlink to a landing page or the website for the offer itself. There was no specific call to action or clear indication of how to take advantage of the promotion. Outside of communicating that there was a sale, the brand didn’t make it particularly easy to take advantage of it. Major miss. If you’re a brand with a compelling offer, make sure that you make it super simple for recipients of that offer to take advantage of it. For example, if you’re offering 20% off at checkout and that ad is my entry point, make sure there’s a cookie that auto fills the promo code box at checkout and the user doesn’t have to backtrack to find the code.

5. Think like a user.

personas

I recently read an article about a shopping app, in which the app’s creator was the first user/shopper. The article went on to explain how the app’s creator continued to use the app to shop, even though he had thousands of shoppers and a staff of thousands. Why? Because knowing the user experience from a first person perspective was critical to ensuring that the app contained to meet the needs of shoppers. As a brand, it’s one thing to have an idea and quite another to see how you idea manifests in the real world. Make sure you’re putting down your marker, stepping away from the white board, and walking in the shoes of your users to know exactly what their experience is in the real world. As a corollary to this point, make sure you build personas which speak to the different types of people who will engage your brand, so you’re thinking through not one user journey, but the many possible user journeys of the various users.

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What’s a CD? Top 10 signs you’re dealing with a digital native.

digital native jokes

I recently took a train ride with David Polinchock (@polinchock), a technologist I had met over decade ago through James Andrews (@keyinfluencer) when I was still in private practice.

David was part of the Entertainment Technology Center, a division of Carnegie Mellon’s research arm that sought to leverage academic brain power with business.

Back then, we launched a sponsored research project to develop the DigiBoxx, a self-serve kiosk for music, where you could refill your iPod or MP3 device with music on the go.

This was 2003 (or ’04) long before the arrival of multi-gig devices capable of storing buttloads of music.

And while we didn’t have license the first to address all those pesky copyright issues, we did develop a working POC and that was a start.

Fast forward to 2015, and David and I are still pushing the envelope.

No longer the bright-eyed optimists, we chatted nonetheless about how far technology had come and what we saw on the horizon.

When the conversation turned to our kids, he talked about his daughter’s Digital Natives presentation at SXSW.

Come again? Say what?

Apparently, he had pitched SXSW to stop talking to old fogie stogies like us about technology and have actual digital natives – who only know the world of gadgets  speak from their unique perspective.

I was simultaneously offended, envious, and intrigued.

Who the fuck are you calling old?

I love SXSW. Why can’t I go?

Why aren’t my kids presenting at SXSW?

When I finally worked through my mixed emotions, I tuned back in to hear him describe a world view he gained listening to his daughter and her co-presenter.

Oh right…..some 12 or 13 year old child prodigy who builds his own computers co-presenter.

This is the era of Digital Natives.

Talking to David made me think about how technologically different the world is for today’s youth than it was for any other generation.

We’re not so far removed from floppy discs, but kids today only know USBs.

Their Boost mobile starter phones have more computing power today than desktop computers in most financial institutions a decade ago.

But rather than drone on endlessly about what digital natives are and are not, I figured I’d grace you with one of my top ten lists.

Here are the top ten signs that you’re dealing with a digital native.

1. They’ve never bought a CD. It’s not that they’ve never purchased music. They just don’t need all the bells and whistles of album jackets, jewel cases and shrink wrap. Long gone are the days where you rushed to the store to cop an vinyl album. Then went 8 tracks. Then cassettes. CDs are media evolution’s latest victim. Digital natives get their media the minute it comes out – online. And if they do buy it, it’ll be on iTunes.

2. Netflix is their Blockbuster. Remember rushing to Blockbuster to rent the latest hit movies on DVD? Digital natives don’t. In fact, they probably don’t even know what a Blockbuster is. Digital natives dial up their movies on Netflix or Hulu or HBO Go. Maybe they hit a Redbox (to give their parents that nostalgic home movie watching experience). But watching movies at home (or on the go) is a digital streaming experience.

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Good riddance to you sir!

3. Screens are keyboards. Digital natives know only the world of touchscreen inputs devices. They tap not type. They text 50 wpm using just their thumbs. When I was in high school, I took a typing/word processing class. The target was 50 words per minute, and you were considered expert if you typed above that. Today, the screen on a mobile device is the equivalent of a keyboard and digital natives feel right at home typing – I mean tapping – away on their screens.

4. They’re OS agnostic. Digital natives are equally versed in iOS and Android. Unlike the old guard, they take no sides and have allegiance to the device that meets their needs in the moment. Today it’s more about utility than brand. If it works right, they’ll buy it. Brand be damned! Hence competition between device makers remains fierce.

5. Google is a dictionary. Digital natives Google everything. When I was a kid a dictionary and the encyclopedia were how I figured things out. Didn’t know how to spell a word or it’s definition? I looked it up. Want to know the capital of Kazakhstan? I looked it up – it’s Astana – BTW. Digital natives simply Google it. Can’t spell? No worries, Google will offer you the correctly spelled word as an option.

6. Apple radio station. ITunes is dead. Today, your iPhone has Music. No more iTunes. Digital natives live in a Beats Music+Apple world – which you get free for 30 days BTW. Pandora, Spotify, SoundCloud, MixCloud, and countless digital radio stations have made it such that terrestrial radio stations hold low sway over digital natives, who configure and share their own playlists and find artists through underground videos on the interwebs.

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7. Emoji is a language. When my kids got their mobile phones, virtually every text message included emojis. Not just one mind you, but streams of smiley faces, tear streaked to connote laughter, thumbs down to express disagreement – you get the picture. Emojis are in such high demand with digital natives that whole marketplaces developed for Facebook and Apple who both saw fit to add a bunch more to their keyboards.

emojis

8. Everything swipes. Tinder, Fruit Ninja, Zillow, everyone uses swipe navigation to streamline the digital natives’ user experience. Swipe navigation makes using mobile devices seamless allowing them to engage content in increasingly sophisticated ways. And as 3D technology and AR move content off screens into 4D space, digital natives are primed to creatively leverage these applications.

9. Gaming as a social activity. If you’re a parent, you want your kids outside getting exercise, socializing and interacting with other kids. For digital natives, gaming is social. Most gaming systems (and virtually all computer games) let you play against other gamers virtually. And with immersive VR worlds and Google Cardboard, you can still be outside inside.

10. Multi-taking is the norm. Digital natives are comfortable using multiple screens simultaneously. Measuring how many screens a viewer uses while watching a program is a thing marketers track and want to know because digital natives rock multiple devices as matter of course. This always on always accessible characteristic defines digital natives.

digital multi-tasking

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I just wanted a coffee but the Dunkin’ app stole my money. Update – Problem solved!

Fix your damn app - and site!

Fix your damn app – and site!

If you know me, you know that I’m mobile obsessed.

Yes. Obsessed.

For the past nine or ten years, I’ve been immersed in mobile.

Mobile marketing, mobile websites, mobile apps, mobile devices.

Mobile. Mobile. Mobile.

As a self-professed advocate, I’m constantly extolling the virtues of mobile.

Especially apps.

Apps, to me, are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

They’ve got all the utility of a mobile site, without the need (for the most part) for an internet connection.

Utility apps are my favorite.

If I can get something done faster, in fewer steps, or using my phone in lieu of pulling out my wallet, or keys or ID, then it’s worth it.

So when Dunkin’ Donuts came out with their Dunkin’ app, I was ecstatic.

I’m always going to Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks.

I blame the wife – a coffee whore (and I mean that in the kindest possible way) and the kids.

I’m constantly making runs for egg and cheese croissants, donuts and coffee.

I was parting with my cash regularly with no other perk than a free donut if I filled out their survey online – very analog.

Dunkin’ Donuts perks were a big donut hole.

Unlike Starbucks, whose loyalty program gave me free coffee, iTunes music and app downloads, discounts, coupons, the works.

Starbucks treated me like they cared.

Dunkin’ not so much.

But then one day I discovered the Dunkin’ app, and immediately set out to add it to my collection.

Having previously used the Starbucks app, I figured the Dunkin’ app would be along the same lines.

Download the app. Charge it up. Present it at the point of sale. Earn rewards. Get perks.

Simple, right?

Wrong!

For one, there are like three or four different apps in the app store (albeit by different developers – but you get my drift).

So many choices!

So many choices!

Once you figure out which one you’re supposed to be using, it required an advanced degree in game theory to figure out exactly how to use it.

All I wanted to do was put some money on the damn thing!

Is that so hard?!!

Eventually, I was able to figure it all out, put money on my account and complete a transaction using their app.

The sense of accomplishment was short lived, though.

A few days after I got the app working, I upgraded my 64GB iPhone 6 Plus to the 128 GB version, and had to restore by new device from my iTunes backup, which essentially wiped all my stored passwords and forced me to log in to each one anew.

By itself, that wasn’t so bad, since all my passwords are stored in 1Password and I simply had to cut and paste to get back up and running.

That is, except for the Dunkin’ app.

For some reason, it wouldn’t take my password.

So I did what anyone faced with a similar scenario would do, I clicked “Forgot Password” fully expecting to walk through the fairly routine process of recovering or resetting my password.

But that would have been too much like right.

Instead of getting a confirmation screen telling me that my password (or instructions for resetting my password) had been sent to my email, I got a “We are currently experiencing technical difficulty and are unable to process your request” message.

Dunkin' app technical difficulties

Wait. What?

Confused by this seemingly ill-timed error message, I tried again – and got the same message.

Technical difficulties processing a “forgot password” request?

A horrible user experience at a critical moment.

Oh, did I mention that I was standing at the register of Dunkin’ Donuts, with several frustrated customers behind me watching me fumble with the app?

My frustration was all the more palpable because (prior to swapping devices) I had loaded my account with $25, which I could not use.

Flustered, I pulled out my bank card and swiped – angrily – snatched my order from the counter (which I no longer wanted) and stomped away in a huff.

For the next few days, I repeatedly tried to log in – unsuccessfully, before relenting and visiting the Dunkin’ Donuts website.

And you know what happened when I got there?

The same damn thing that happened on the app!

We are currently experiencing technical difficulty and are unable to process your request.

Really? So you're planning on fixing this when?

Really? So you’re planning on fixing this when?

Sonofabitch!

On your site? Technical difficulties on your site?

Is sending an email with password recovery instructions a technically challenging activity?

This borders on lunacy.

So what am I left with?

What am I to make of this?

Well that’s easy.

Dunkin’ Donuts is stealing my money by preventing me from accessing my account and make purchases using the funds I’ve uploaded to the Dunkin’ app.

Their “technical difficulties” are subterfuge allowing them to hold my monies hostage and force me to use my bank card depriving me of precious points, perks or rewards.

Dunkin’ Donuts, get your act together.

Fix your technical difficulties.

Or give me back my money.

The Starbucks app still works and I need to reload.

Note: Prior to penning this post, I sent Dunkin’ Donuts an email on their site, an email from the app, and tweet asking for assistance. As of this posting they have been radio silent.

Update 2/12/15: Dunkin’ Donuts’ customer service send me a response giving me the steps to recover my password, which I had already done – and was still broken.

Update 2/27/15: Problem solved! After waiting on hold for an hour to speak to a customer service representative, we determined that I had registered with “.con” at the end of my email address, instead of “.com.” I told the rep who helped me that the more appropriate error message to keying in an incorrect email address should have been something like “The email address you have provided is not in our records. Please check the address and try again.” and not “Sorry, we are currently experiencing technical difficulty and are unable to process your request.” With the error message DD provided, one would never realize that they may have made an error keying in their email address, as I did.

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Filed under mobile

WTF!? It’s 2015. Get a f*@!ing mobile site already!

IMG_2339.JPG

I’m f*@!ing pissed!

Why?

I’ll tell you why.

Because it’s 2015 – 2015!! and motherfuckers are still making me view their shitty full sites on my mobile device.

Even though there are more than 6.9 billion mobile subscribers in the world and the fact that mobile browsing has overtaken desktop browsing, less than ten percent of the 700 million websites are optimized for mobile.

So that means even with my beautiful 6 Plus, I’ve still got to double tap, pinch and swipe to view the content of most sites on my phone.

I don’t get it.

Why wouldn’t you want your content to be viewed in a way that is readily consumable by your audience?

I mean, you built a website to put your stuff in front of potential customers, right?

So doesn’t it make sense, now that you know that everyone on the globe has – and regularly uses – a mobile device, to build a mobile site.

Or at the very least optimize your content to be accessible to mobile devices?

There are countless benefits for making a mobile version of your site.

Simpler navigation.

Prominently placed calls to action.

Streamlined options.

Leveraging the utility of native mobile browsers.

Click-to-call.

The majority of which is lost if you’re forcing your users to contend with a full HTML site.

Trust me, if you built a mobile site, you’d have far more engagement and conversions than you currently do.

Don’t believe me?

Check out your analytics.

See how many visits you’re currently getting from mobile browsers.

I’d put money on the fact that you’ve got more visits from mobile browsers, Android and iPhone devices than anything else.

What does it all mean?

It means that if you customize the browsing experience for folks visiting your site from mobile devices, you’re going to see decreased bounce rates, increased time on site, increased page views, potentially higher conversions and more revenue.

It’s a win-win!

If you require convincing that a mobile site is the way to go, you’re probably of the ilk that thought radios, the telephone, and the Internet were passing fads.

If you, on the other hand, know you need a mobile site and don’t know where to start, hit me up and I’ll put you on the right path.

But whatever you do, for the love of God, get a mobile site – STAT!

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5 Resolutions to make Your Brand more Social in 2015

2015_loading

It’s that time of year again, where folks publicly state the things that they are (or aren’t) going to do in the upcoming year.

Cats resolve to do everything from losing weight, getting organized, finding a new job, drinking less, to saving money, eating healthier or reducing stress.

By and large, we make personal or individual resolutions, but very rarely do we devote this type of attention to our brands. But if  you think about it, was 2014 a stellar year for your brand? Aren’t there things you wish you had done better last year?

I’m sure there are.

But you didn’t.

In fact, you probably couldn’t have been more social because you don’t know what you were doing wrong.

Lets think about this for a moment, shall we?

Your Facebook page could have been more engaging. Right?

Right.

You probably could have posted more on Facebook, uploaded more flicks on Instagram, responded to more people who commented on your blog, or reciprocated more follows on Twitter. Right?

Right.

To be plain, you could have been more social.

But you weren’t.

Worry not my friend!

Here ere are five resolutions to make your brand more social in 2015.

Resolution No. 1. I will go mobile this year.

Mobile. Mobile. Mobile. Did I say “mobile?”2015 will be the Year of Mobile. Brands who adopt a mobile-first approach, will far outpace those which fail to accept the fact that the mobile is the sweet spot for brands – especially in the retail and self-service industries. Mobile is the primary means through which folks are getting online, browsing and making discrete purchase/payments. With Apple Pay, PayPal, Google Wallet and other mobile payment platforms, it’s the key to unlocking tight sales and generating revenue across screens.

One brand that has taken the importance of mobile and social to heart is Williams-Sonoma. The Williams-Sonoma family of brands, which include Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, pottery barn kids, PBTeen, West Elm and Mark and Graham, have embraced mobile with mobile web properties that are simple to navigate and resulted in expansive growth of their brands online. In their annual report, Williams-Sonoma cites e-commerce as their “fastest growing business” and a “significant part of their sales success.” Other brands should look to companies like Williams-Sonoma, to see how mobile can be effectively leveraged in 2015.

Resolution No.2. I will implement a loyalty program.

Loyalty is becoming increasingly valuable to users who are looking to stretch their dollars. Who doesn’t want to be rewarding for spending money on the brands they patronize? More importantly, in this “look at me” world we live in, folks are quick to share that free coffee they just earned on Starbucks on Facebook (or Twitter) or invite friends to take advantage of a special offer (especially if it means they can earn more loyalty points for doing so).

Loyalty is especially important in the retail space. When the price of an item is virtually the same regardless of vendor, loyalty is sometimes the difference between making the sale or not. Best Buy has a particular good loyalty program, which rewards patrons for spending with them. Best Buy customers earn points for every dollar they spend, which can be redeemed for reward certificates. Loyalty members also qualify for discounts, free shipping and hosts of other special promotions. Starbucks, Sephora and Walgreens each have loyalty programs that reward customers who enroll.

Resolution No.3. I will use text messaging to engage.

Mass push notifications (aka text messaging) are a rudimentary, but effective way of interacting with your current or potential customers. Even though it seems counterintuitive in this age of smart phones, apps and responsive mobile sites, texting is still effective for reaching millions of mobile users who relish the quick tidbits of information that can be shared in 160 characters or less. One great thing about text messages is that, in addition to their brevity, you can embed links, which will let the user access greater detail, if they want, with a simple click.

Beyond the ability to broadcast messages to large numbers of people simultaneously, text messaging is far less intrusive than email, as users opt-in to receive them. Thus, there is a far greater likelihood of your messages being read and acted upon. There are a number of brands effectively using text messaging to engage with their audiences, including retailers like Abercrombie & Fitch, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Aeropostale. Each of these brands understand the importance of text messaging, alongside their other targeted marketing efforts.

Resolution No. 4. I will use social media more.

Instagram has become the de facto platform to connect with this social demographic. But Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Google+ (among others) still have a place with millions of users. This year, resolve to connect with your audience across multiple SM platforms. Even if you’re not creating unique content for each channel, at a minimum, make sure you’re broadcasting across all of them.

In 2014, brands like Fiat, Jockey and Burton, all made effective use of social media. By focusing on greater engagement, thoughtful campaigns and a commitment to truly using social media platforms, these brands were able to connect with and grow their respective bases in 2014.

Resolution No. 5. I will refresh my content regularly.

There is no worse sin in social media than stale content. Something new happens every day, so there’s no reason for your content to be static. Whether it’s a new sale, coupon, discount, store opening, product release, acquisition, whatever, updating your website or social media profiles with the new is always a good look for your brand. More importantly, by regularly refreshing your content, you give your users a reason to visit your site, social media space, or mobile app frequently.

I’m not talking about being social for social’s sake.

There’s nothing to be gained from spending all day on Facebook (or any other social media platform) if there’s no appreciable ROI.

I am talking about leveraging social media to enhance your brand and strengthen the ties that bind you with your current and potential audience.

As customers become increasingly more mobile and social, adopting a strategy that accepts this as a starting point becomes critical to the success of any initiative.

If you’re struggling to figure out how to adopt of develop a more social strategy or implement mobile effectively, or if you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment.

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Filed under branding, mobile, social media

My Top Ten Takeaways from INBOUND14

INBOUND 2014

At this time last week, I was leaving INBOUND14, HubSpot’s annual conference, which brought together some of the biggest and brightest in marketing, technology, e-commerce and business.

Over the course of four days, I sat through numerous keynotes, talks, breakouts and hands-on learning sessions, led by industry titans like Malcolm Gladwell, Simon Sinek, Guy Kawasaki and Martha Stewart.

Yes. I said Martha Stewart.

I finally had a chance to go over all my notes in Evernote (I’m kinda digging Evernote, y’all) and I’ve put together a list of my top ten takeaways from Inbound 2014.

1. It’s all about context.

While everyone is talking about mobile, mobile, mobile, we should be talking about mobile in context to the overall user experience. Our focus should be on how optimizing users’ interaction with our brands regardless of entry point (desktop, tablet, mobile or kiosk).

2. Experience over technology.

If you line up two similar products, side-by-side, the one that performs better is the one that’s going to win. When you’re competing for users’ time, attention and money, you’ve got to create an exceptional, seamless, quality user experience, for all touch points.  Brands should focus on ensuring that their website, mobile site, application, or products enhances the user experience.

3. Blend the physical with the digital.

Users are expecting brands to provide them with greater information to enable them to make informed decisions in real time. The best brands are allowing users to seamlessly move from physical (a product with a QR code) to digital (which is scanned and provides product information and “Buy Now”, “Add to Wishlist” or “Email to a Friend” options) are the brands that are going to win.

4.  Think customer first.

Old school marketing put the brand voice first. New school marketing puts the consumer voice first. Today’s engagement focuses on the consumer and is tailored to address their needs. More listening and less talking. When designing online, mobile or interactive experiences, the focus should be on building (or deepening) brand equity rather than selling.

5.  Rethink mobile.

Stop thinking of the mobile device as THE entry point, and start thinking of it as AN entry point. Rethinking mobile means placing the consumer at the center of your strategy (and not the device). It means realizing that sometimes a user is not going to want to interact with you via mobile, and being okay with that. It means to stop comparing mobile to desktop (and expecting engagement, conversions, page views, time on site, etc.) to be the same. It means that if the user is spending any time with your brand over any medium, you’re doing something right.

6.  Stay fluid.

It’s very easy to be set in your ways. But it’s better to be agile and responsive. You should always be listening, be prepared to react and be willing to change. Users respond favorably when they know you’re listening, paying attention to their concerns, and implementing solutions that make interacting with your brand easier or more fulfilling.

7.  Think holistically.

Sometimes, the best way to engage users may, in fact, be offline. Since we always have our mobile devices with us, brands have the ability to seamlessly marry our off and online worlds. By paying attention to more traditional modes of communication (billboards, text) brands can create numerous opportunities for engagement, where the medium is subservient to the message.

8.  Subtract, don’t act.

One theme that was repeated throughout the sessions, was the importance of simplifying your apps to accommodate the user’s primary objectives when interacting with your brand. Brands like Hilton and Torchy Tacos simplified their apps to “bare bones”, which pushed engagement and increased their bottom line.

9.  Think about why we are mobile.

While most of us equate “mobile” with “phone” it really means “the act of moving about freely.” Your mobile strategy should be about enhancing that sense of freedom, and not restricting it. Brands should focus on understanding the behavior of their users, and devising strategies that meet us where we are, rather than forcing us to interact in rigidly defined ways.

10.  Facilitate experiences.

When it comes to mobile, your primary objective is to help people do what their doing better. Moreover, your mantra should be: “Don’t interrupt. Enhance.” Rather than simply push a new app, update or feature, focus on what your customers are doing and seek ways to enhance the user experience.

If you’re interested in checking out some really great recaps of the sessions, visit inbound.org.

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Filed under branding, digital advocacy, mobile, technology

Why tablet web? Why not? 6 reasons why tablet web is right for your brand.

I’m frequently asked why a brand that is currently seeing their tablet users converting at high rates on a non-tablet optimized website, should invest in optimizing their site for tablets.

If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Right?

Wrong!

As many online retailers are starting to see the ranks of tablet customers swell in their online user base, this conversation of tablet web optimization begins to take on added significance.

An Adobe Digital Index Report issued last year reinforced the fact that tablets are providing online retailers new opportunities to engage customers in shopping experiences that are extending engagement, conversion, loyalty and retention.

As the WWDC keynote yesterday pointed out, many brands are seeing higher rates of conversion on tablets than on PCs.

As such, tablets are becoming an increasingly important component of the e-commerce toolkit for brands and businesses.

My response to the “why” question is usually long-winded and rambling.

Me? Long winded and rambling? Nooooo.

So I’ve decided to collect my thoughts and offer them here.

6 Reasons You Need a Tablet Optimized Site:

It was originally going to be 10 Reasons, but I started to lose steam after 5.

form and funciton

1. Form and function. The truth of the matter is that desktop sites were not designed for tablet use. The navigation for a desktop site and that of a tablet are different. The desktop relies on a mouse for point and click, while a tablet relies on a finger or stylus. While a user can select items using their finger on a desktop site from a tablet, it’s not as fluid and is more often than not frustrating. This frustration (of users attempting to select items on your site that are too small or poorly spaced) can be avoided entirely if your site is optimized for use on a tablet.

touch the screen

2. Tablets are for touching. One of the primary benefits of a tablet experience is the ability to touch the screen to access and manipulate content. A desktop site accessed from a tablet loses much of the ability to engage a visitor with tactile interaction. A tablet web site that incorporates standard gesturing into the user’s experience can enhance the overall interactivity of that experience and enables a user to easily access content elements. A site which a user cannot swipe through to see additional items, easily access menus, pinch, zoom, rotate or otherwise manipulate the screen (the way they can with native applications) significantly detracts from the inherent fluidity of tablet navigation.

No-Clutter

3. Reduce clutter. The desktop site contains multiple levels of content designed for consumption on a PC. The best tablet web sites are designed in such a way as to remove clutter and reduce distractions. Each screen focuses on a core user task or piece of content, leaving a simplified experience for the user. Menus are tucked away or vanish when not being used, banners and ads cede to the more functional elements of the user experience.

kiss

4. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Well designed tablet optimized sites provide utility with simplicity. Navigation is clean and intuitive with navigation elements that are easy to find. Simple design tends to enhance, rather than distract from, the user experience. By making it easy to move about your site, reducing the number of steps required to access desired content (without having to rely on clunky and distracting breadcrumbs or other extraneous navigation elements) you’re enhancing the user’s ability to interact with your brand and convert.

less is more

5. Less is more. Most websites are extremely complex jam-packed with content. This complexity rarely translates well into a mobile or tablet environment. In contrast mobile sites are built with simplicity in mind. There are fewer options, with only the core elements available to the user. Tablet websites should adopt the simple form of mobile, while simultaneously taking advantage of the larger form factor available to present content.

No White Space

6. Reduce white space. On a tablet, space is at a premium. Unlike the desktop, where users are used to seeing empty spaces, tablets are designed with as little empty space as possible. Since the majority of what tablet owners do with their devices is shop, eliminating white space and utilizing that space for some functional feature or page element (larger PDPs, compelling CTAs, or special offers) is key.

Ultimately, whether you make the leap to tablet optimized web goes to how you value your customers.

While they can use your desktop site from their tablets, they shouldn’t have to.

More importantly, you shouldn’t want them to.

You should want your users’ experience with your online properties to be optimized for the device they are consuming them from.

To be clear, in my opinion a native tablet app provides the best user experience, but if you’re testing the waters, then a tablet optimized web experience is the way to go.

In this age of tablets and mobile technology, optimization should be every brand’s highest priority.

If it’s not your’s, you’ve got to ask yourself, “why not?”

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Filed under advocacy, digital advocacy, tablet web