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Archive for October, 2010

Mobile Marketing trends: Smartphones conquering Africa?

October 29th, 2010 No comments

Research and Markets has published an interesting study of mobile communications and mobile data markets in 38 African countries. Due to the launch of prepaid services and the declining price of phones and tariffs, there are almost billion people in Africa who are now able to afford a mobile phone. Even if the biggest demand is in the major cities, mobile phones are also used in rural and other disadvantaged areas to increase accessibility.

The major highlights of the report:

  • Mobile market penetration in Africa is expected to pass 50% during 2010
  • At least eight African countries will have broken the 100% mobile penetration barrier by the end of the year while some African mobile markets are still growing at more than 100% per annum
  • Overall growth across the continent is expected to slow to 17%
  • Mobile ARPU has bottomed in some markets but is still falling rapidly in others
  • Some mobile operators are rolling out national fibre-optic backbone networks and are entering new service sectors under converged licensing regimes
  • Mergers and Acquisitions are expected to intensify in an increasingly crowded market

Smartphones and Africa – not as impossible combination as we could imagine.

The high price has kept most of the Africans off them so far, but after the boom of the affordable Smartphones these compact ‘mobile computers’ have grown both in its popularity and capabilities. They were originally targeted at the businessmen, yet they have begun to challenge the rest of the mobile phone market – and laptop market as well. Executive Fred Baumhardt stated at Microsoft SA’s Tech-Ed Africa 2009 conference in Durban, that mobile devices such as Smartphones are entering the market four times faster than PCs or laptops. They have the potential to bring Internet connectivity and replace the need for other gadgets, providing considerable cost savings to many small businesses and consumers in Africa.

One example of the African Smartphone country is South-Africa:

According to a study by World Wide Worx, 75% of South African companies have already used Smartphones within their organizations. Two years ago there were almost none.

“These results show that enterprise mobility solutions are no longer just nice to have. They’re essential for businesses that want to be competitive, responsive and efficient. Smartphones are now mainstream devices within South African businesses, but the smartphone revolution has only just begun. Enterprises should now be looking at what smartphones mean for their businesses in a more strategic and holistic fashion”, declares Deon Liebenberg, Regional Director for Sub Sahara Africa at Research in Motion (RIM).

What makes Smartphones also relevant for the organizations is the size of the country. An organization’s building may still be in one place, its people, activities, information, documentation and data can be accessed from anywhere.

The top 10 most popular Smartphones used in SA to access the internet, according to AdMob Mobile’s Metrics Report April 2010:

1. Nokia N70
2. Nokia 6300
3. Nokia E63
4. Apple iPhone
5. Nokia 5800 XpressMusic
6. RIM BlackBerry 8520
7. Nokia N73
8. Nokia E71
9. Nokia 6210
10. Nokia 6110

However, what comes to mobile phone usage itself, South Africa is no longer as dominant as it once was. In 2000 it accounted for 74% of Africa’s mobile connections, but in 2009 the percentage had dropped to 19%. There has been strong growth in Nigeria and Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania and Cote d’Ivoire have also increased the amount of African mobile connections.

What will be interesting to see is whether a continent far behind on technology will actually jump over the computer/laptop phase and acquire straight a compact affordable Smartphone.

Social Media: “Like” button and other Social Plug-ins Dos and Don’ts

October 21st, 2010 No comments

Social plug-ins are easy to implement and have the potential to increase reach and life span of your service/product. By adding social elements to conversations already happening around your sites and facilitating the two-way communication with the consumers and content sharing, you can both increase your brand awareness and loyalize the existing customers.

With Social Plug-ins media, entertainment and e-commerce brands with constantly changing content can quickly create buzz around their products and create a social experience for the people already visiting their page. Since the purchase decisions are influenced by Word-of-Mouth, recommendations/interests of friends in Facebook and the buying process made easy on the website can quickly push the consumer towards the purchase decision. For other type of brands, the Social Plug-ins are an effective way to build loyal database, to increase brand awareness and for example with Live streaming to create an online event that consumers think is worth spreading around.

What makes it so profitable is that the consumers who click that “like” button or use other social plug-ins on your site, show clearly their affiliations with you and that kind of engagement is gold. Targeting and reaching quality leads becomes easier, but…

Yes, there is always “the but” like in everything that has something to do with Social Media. Before adding any Social Plug-in into your site, you need to consider if you have any time in your schedule to invest on this. The risk here is that if you are not ready or do not have time to take this seriously, you can quickly lose that engagement. If you do not communicate with fans, use only hard sale or communicate too much, your fans can easily silence and block your messaging by simply “hiding” those communications in their news feed or by “unliking” you and telling their friends you are ignoring or spamming them.

How to keep the fans tuned in?

Do not spam them, do not only hard sale, do not forget about them, do not ignore them and invest time for some serious community management. Adding Social Plug-ins is a priceless opportunity to expand your database and build brand awareness, loyalty and engagement, but if you do not invest time and effort the momentum is lost.

Before adding the Like button or any other Social Plug-ins, plan carefully your strategy. Assess the frequency of communication, keep the content relevant – not for you, for your fans – and target these consumers only with truly interesting updates and offers. Simply adding a Social Button does not mean you will increase your sales without doing anything. People like and go back to the sites where there is an actual reason to come back. If your Facebook page leading from your site looks like a giant ad or exactly the same as your present site without any place for engaging conversation or comments, your fans will “dislike” you quickly.

Pay attention to your fans, let them speak, let them tell how much they love your brand and keep the content relevant and interesting. Answer their questions and read their suggestions or issues. Even a small gesture from the brand can create very positive WOM around the web and there is no better way to know what your best customers like than actually listening to them. Social Plug-ins can increase your sales, but only if you use them wisely.

Read more details on the Social Plug-ins here.

Social Media: Increase your Sales by Adding “Like” Button & Other Social Plug-ins in Your Website

October 20th, 2010 No comments

 If you have ever been in Facebook, you must have “liked” something. Now it is possible to use this well known button also on your own website. According to The Wall Street Journal, in just four months from the launch, “Like buttons” were already used on more than 350.000 websites, which experienced a considerate shift in sales after the implementation of this social plug-in.

 What is a social plug-in?

 Social plug-in is an initiative from Facebook to allow website owners to integrate their content into Facebook. Long way short, it means that when you start using these plug-ins on your website/blog, whatever interactions your visitors make with the plug-ins will be shown in their Facebook profiles. This means that your visitor’s friends will be able to see what they have done in your page in the Facebook news feed and visitor’s Facebook profile.

Which Social Plug-in to use?

First of all, please note that for your visitors to use these plug-ins, in most of them they need to be logged into Facebook first.

Like button:

One of the most popular and effective plug-ins. The Like button lets the visitor share your content from your site back to their Facebook profile with one click. When the visitors click the button on your site, a story appears in the visitors’ friends’ news feed with a link back to your website.  Now this means that their friends may see it and click/like it as well. And so will their friends, and their friends, and so on…

Your page will also appear in the “Likes and Interests” section of the visitor’s Facebook profile, and you have the ability to publish updates to the visitor. Your page will show up in same places that Facebook pages show up around the site e.g. search, and you are able to place targeted ads on people’s profiles who “like” your content.

Once the visitors has told publicly they like your brand, it gives you an opportunity to directly target them with messages or offers and create a loyal customer base.

Find more technical information of the implementation here.

Like box:

The Like Box enables users to like your Facebook Page and view its stream directly. The plug-in is an option for Facebook Page owners to show a feed of information about the page – recent stories, how many users like it, and the previous like button. The difference with the “Like” button is that it creates a more permanent connection between the Facebook user and your Facebook page. This means that all the updates you make in Facebook will be shown in the visitor’s main news feed and increases the possibility of new visits to your site. 

The Like Box enables visitors to:

  • See how many users already like the page, and which of their friends like it as well
  • Read recent posts from the page
  • Like the page with one click, without needing to visit the page

Find more technical information of the implementation here.

Recommendations:

The Recommendations plugin gives visitors personalized suggestions for pages on your site they might like.  This Plug-in can display personalized recommendations even if the visitor has not logged into your site, because the content is hosted by Facebook. To create these recommendations, the plugin takes in account all the social interactions with URLs from your site. If the person is logged into your site, the plug-in will highlight things his friends have liked/visited.

Find more technical information of the implementation here.

Login button

The Login Button shows profile pictures of the visitor’s friends who have already signed up for your site.  You will be able to define how many faces you want to display next to the login button and the plug-in adapts automatically; for example if you specify a maximum of three rows of faces, and the visitor only has only friends to fill two rows, the height of the plug-in will be only what is needed for two rows of faces.

This additional feature can increase your login rates and loyal customer base. If the visitors can see the friends who already have logged in, they are more likely to login as well increasing your database. There is a similar plug-in “Facepile” available.

Find more technical information of the implementation here.

Comments

The Comments plugin lets visitors comment on any content on your site, be it article, photo, section or other kind of content.  The visitor can then share the comment on Facebook on their Wall and in their friends’ news feed. This gives brands even more in-depth insight into what interests their potential customers and what issues they should address. Based on these expressed preferences, brands are able to contact these visitors and deliver them targeted messages. Please note: downside here are the Spam and unpleasant/offensive comments.

Find more technical information of the implementation here.

Activity feed:

The Activity Feed plug-in shows the visitors the most interesting activity what their friends are doing on your site, for example when they like content on your site and share it from your site back to Facebook. Again this is hosted by Facebook, so the visitor does not necessarily have to be logged in your site. If a visitor is logged into Facebook, the plug-in highlights content from their friends. If the visitor is logged out, the activity feed will show recommendations from your site, and give the visitor the option to log in to Facebook.

Find more technical information of the implementation here.

Live stream:

This is a great plug-in for a real-time event such as live streaming video for events, concerts or speeches, webcasts, live Web chats with a celebrity, webinars, multiplayer games…the list is endless. Live stream plug-in lets your visitors share activity and comments in real-time during the live event.

Find more technical information of the implementation here.

Before implementing the Social Plug-ins, read what you should do and what you should avoid here.

Mobile Marketing: Mobile Usage and Behavior in Japan, U.S. & Europe

October 19th, 2010 No comments

“As we look across markets, dramatic differences in mobile media consumption, brand adoption and user behavior become evident…For brands seeking to establish a multi-market presence, understanding usage dynamics across geographies is essential to implementing a successful global mobile marketing strategy.”

Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president of mobile

ComScore published in October 2010 a very interesting comparative report on mobile usage and behaviors in Japan, the United States and Europe. To find out how consumers interact with mobile media across these three markets, the study gives a detailed picture of the mobile content consumption, demographic comparisons and top social networking brands across markets.

There are considerable differences between the three: Japanese use mobile to access mobile media, U.S consumers use it for Social Networking and Europeans love texting.

Connected Media

In Japan more than 75% of the mobile owners use connected media (browsed, accessed applications or downloaded content), while only 43.7% are using it in the U.S. and 38.5% in Europe.

Select Mobile Behaviors in Japan, United States and EU5 (UK, DE, FR, ES and IT)
Jun-10
Total Mobile Audience Age 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
  Percent of Total Mobile Audience
Japan U.S. Europe
Total Audience: 13+ yrs old 100.00% 100.00% 100.00%
Used connected media (Browsed, Accessed Applications or Downloaded Content) 75.20% 43.70% 38.50%
Used browser 59.30% 34.00% 25.80%
Used application 42.30% 31.10% 24.90%

Japanese mobile users also show stronger preference of applications and browsers compared to mobile users in the U.S. and in Europe.

Messaging

What comes to the messaging, the biggest difference of user behavior between the markets is that 81.7% of the Europeans use text messages, while Japanese prefer sending emails. The American mobile users were more likely to use instant messaging services on their mobile than the other markets.

Messaging Usage
  Japan U.S. Europe
Sent text message to another phone 40.10% 66.80% 81.70%
Used major instant messaging service 3.30% 17.20% 12.60%
Used email (work or personal) 54.00% 27.90% 18.80%

Social Media/Entertainment

While 21.3% of the American users use the mobile for Social networking/blogs, only 17% of the Japanese and 14.7% of the Europeans get connected & blogging through their mobile.

Social Media/Entertainment      
  Japan U.S. Europe
Accessed Social Networking Site or blog 17.00% 21.30% 14.70%
Listened to music on mobile phone 12.50% 13.90% 24.20%
Took photos 63.00% 50.60% 56.80%
Captured video 15.40% 19.20% 25.80%
Watched TV and/or video on mobile phone 22.00% 4.80% 5.40%
Played games 16.30% 22.50% 24.10%

However, 63% of the Japanese like to capture photos and 22% watch TV/video on their mobile. Europeans capture videos more than other two and 24.2% of them is listening to music and 24.1% is playing mobile games.

Finance/Retail/Travel/Others

Quite few people accessed their bank accounts, the percentage staying under 10% in all markets, yet 16.1% of the Japanese accessed financial news or stock quotes through their mobile. Online retail and travel services were also low in all markets; most of the numbers not reaching even 7%.

Maps, traffic reports and weather are another story. 16% of the Americans and 15.7% of the Japanese access maps, 12.6% of the Japanese access traffic reports, and 34.1% of the Japanese and 22.3% of the Americans access weather forecasts through their mobile. In Europe these areas are not popular, the percentage varying from 5.9% to 13.7%.

Demographic Segment

The study measures also the mobile media consumption across the genders and age segments.  The usage rate is more balanced across age segments in Japan than in the U.S. and Europe.

Mobile Media Usage in Japan, United States and EU5 (UK, DE, FR, ES and IT) by Demographic Segment
Jun-10
Total Mobile Audience Age 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
  Connected Media Audience Index*
Japan U.S. Europe
Total Audience: 13+ yrs old 100 100 100
Male 102 110 116
Female 98 91 84
Persons Age:
13-17 114 130 133
18-24 117 139 154
25-34 114 144 135
35-44 111 117 103
45-54 105 85 78
55+ 80 39 57

* Index = % demographic segment / % demographic base*100

In Europe, 18-24 year olds are 54% more likely to access mobile media than an average mobile user, while persons aged 25-34 are 35% more likely to get connected.

In the U.S., 25-34 year olds are 44% more likely to use mobile media, while 18-24 year olds are 39% more likely to use it.

Another interesting fact was that females in the U.S. were 9% less likely than males to get involved with mobile media and European females were 16% less likely than males to use mobile media.

Top Mobile Social Media Brands

Across markets the top mobile social media brands were the same ones as the social media brands generally. Facebook leads the way in the U.S. and Europe and local social media brands ruled Japan with Mixi, Gree and Mobage Town. The Twitter fever in Japan raised the brand on 3rd position in the market. In Europe considerable preference for Youtube might explain partly Europeans preference on video capturing.

Top Mobile Social Networking/Chat/Blog Brands in Japan, United States and EU5 (UK, DE, FR, ES and IT) by Audience Size
Jun-10
Total Mobile Audience Age 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Japan U.S. Europe
Mixi Facebook Facebook
Gree MySpace YouTube
Twitter YouTube MSN / Windows Live / Bing
Mobage Town    

Looking through the statistics from these three complex markets, I think Mark Donovan is right. To create a successful International mobile marketing strategy, it is essential to know how the consumers use their mobile in each of these markets. For example, SMS marketing and games might work in Europe, email or interactive marketing might be more effective in Japan and in the U.S. social media and blog marketing might be a success.

Everything depends of course of the target audience, which makes the demographics handy, and the relevant content/message/advertising. Good thing to remember here is also the emerge of the Smartphones, which change the user behaviour considerably allowing the mobile user access to different applications and faster connection among the other benefits. The high mobile media use in Japan makes sense since the market is more advanced than the others on this aspect, but I have a feeling that at same time next year the results could be very different in the U.S and Europe.

Great comparative snapshot of Japan, the U.S. and Europe anyhow!

Mobile Marketing Trends: Smartphones – Android challenges iPhone in the U.S, Nokia rules Europe

October 13th, 2010 3 comments

Despite huge media coverage, the iPhone OS is actually not that popular it seems.

According to a recent study by Nielsen measuring the recent acquired Smartphones in the U.S, iPhone OS has experienced a decrease in popularity while Android OS is experiencing a steady growth.

This data combined with the ComScore study in July 2010 claiming that Blackberry owns 39.3% of the Smartphone market share in U.S. compared with 23.8% market share  iPhone has backs this up. Android OS follows the two with 17%, a number that is constantly increasing. Windows Mobile holds 11.8% of the market share, Palm 4.9% and Symbian (Nokia) only 3.2%.

What comes to Europe, it is a completely different story. The recent study by comScore reveals surprisingly that the five largest European Smartphone markets in Europe are still ruled by Nokia. A high 51.2% of Smartphone-owning respondents in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy have a Symbian OS by Nokia.

In UK and France, Symbian (Nokia) is the most popular Smartphone OS with 37.3% and 35.4% of the market share respectively. However, in both countries it is challenged by Apple’s iOS with more than 30% of the market share in France and almost 30% in UK.  In UK the third challenger is Blackberry with 16% and in France Windows Mobile with 13.8%.

In Germany Symbian (Nokia) has 51.6% of the total market share, compared with iPhone OS with 21.2% and Windows Mobile with 16%.

Surprisingly or not, the Symbian (Nokia) rules Italian and Spanish Smartphone market with a high 72.5% and 69.3% respectively. iPhone and Windows Mobile have a long way ahead in these two countries with their percentage remaining very close to 10%. And no, these two markets are not immature markets what comes to the Smartphone adoption.  They actually have the largest percentage of mobile users with a Smartphone in Europe – with 34.1% for Italy and 31.9% for Spain.

The UK, Germany and France have 28.5%, 20.3% and 19.3% Smartphone penetration respectively – while the US has 22.8%.

Now why is that?

One of the reasons could be that Smartphones such as iPhone are very expensive, or require at least £50 a month contract for two years, while Symbian phones are available at a reasonable cost to anyone who wants a Pay as you Go phone. One example is the Nokia 5230 that has sold more than 10 million handsets and has most of the features user wants from a Smartphone. It is classified in competence at the same level as the mid range Android devices and very close to the 3G and 3GS iPhones.

And why should I care?

Because if you want to get involved in mobile marketing, you need to know which mobiles your target audience is using for the simple reason that the mobile apps need to be developed with a specific operating system in mind.

If you want to reach the most of the market, but at the same time want to create buzz in press, you will not be able to choose between Apple and Android for app development in the U.S. nor between Symbian (Nokia) and Apple in Europe. For the best coverage you need to pick both and stay updated on the latest mobile trends and numbers. Press will love the iPhone app, the consumers the Symbian or Android app.

Now in 2011 everything has changed again with the new Nokia Microsoft partnership. Please find more information here.

Social Media: How to Find Real Influencers & Get Them Talking About YOU

October 7th, 2010 No comments

Influencers…one of the hot words of the 2010. Long way short, the culture has changed and people search real recommendations from real people, not brands. Some real people have more influence than others, brands should identify them and encourage them to tell everyone how great their products are. OK this far.

Where it goes wrong is the way brands are identifying and reaching these influencers. Most of the brands rely only on numbers and reach such as quantity of Twitter followers, Facebook friends or LinkedIn contacts and number of impressions the posts get. But what is real influence and who has it? To be honest, real influence is not about number of tweets or followers, it is all about context and expertise.

Scientists at Northwestern University, Illinois, ranked the most influential people “tweeting” based on how individuals shaped trending topics. According to the study, Twitter’s most popular influencers (mostly celebrities e.g Justin Bieber who alone accounts for 3% of Twitter’s servers) are actually not that influential. Surprisingly or not, the real most influential users on Twitter were individuals with lower profiles, but a great expertise in their own fields. People listen real people, but when you think about  it -  is a celebrity one? They are not perceived as a real persons anymore, but more as brands with its own strategy and products.

What comes to the other metrics, some companies sell the idea of “easily identified influencers”. For example Sponsored Tweets declares that brands can buy influence just by paying influential Twitter users to tweet their messages, but its efficiency is quite questionable. To be honest, searching real influence in efficient manner on social media platforms is like running a real-time PPC campaign: monitoring market trends, adjusting campaign in the real time to target the right keywords (influencers) and modification of the message so it is aligned with what people are looking for. Tip: Instead of reach numbers, look closer at retweets and trend setters.

However, real influencers unlike keywords cannot simply be bought. There are two problems with “pay-for-play” strategy:

  • First of all the cost and ROI. Courting influencers with free products or trials to create buzz can be expensive. Note that with regulations from the FTC, people who receive products for trial or payment from brands need to tell it in their review. This is perceived normally by consumers as bribing and decreases the efficiency of the influencer’s reviews.
  • The second challenge (or problem how you like to see it) is that these people may not want to pass or use your message on marketing purposes. They actually might tell the world you were trying to pay them and influence their objectivity. Ouch.

But what if we turn the question around? Instead of attempting to turn influencers into our advocates, we would turn our advocates into influencers?

Many of your customers are dedicated advocates who love your products, your brand and your industry. Other people trust that these advocates’ opinions are authentic, and are influenced by them. The problem here for the brands has been that these normal people do not have the reach of influencers.

But they could, if we forget (and stop wasting money on) the popular, yet irrelevant influencers and instead identify real brand advocates and concentrate helping them be seen and heard by more people. By empowering the customer to act as advocate beyond his personal networks, could turn him into a influencer. In the end, how much would it cost to give him some help with blogging, twitter, facebook, linkedin and other social networks? Surely less than paying more than 10.000£ for a single Britney Spears tweet.

User-generated content (UGC) is the key. These fans are delighted to be asked to share their opinions, since it shows that their favourite brand knows who they are and cares about their opinions. And since they are real persons, the potential and current customers trust their opinion while making their purchase decisions.  By enabling and encouraging this conversation, you are creating a collective influencer network that can drive more sales.

Back to the starting point: how to identify these potential influencers? It is simple – let other customers decide. For example, let site visitors vote on the helpfulness of other customers’ feedback and you will get the ranking. Give public recognition for your top contributors, which will encourage other advocates to react. As an example, Apparel retailer Free People created an email campaign featuring their top reviewers and increased their review volume by 93% that week. They also received more quality reviews after the campaign with more information and details.

Whichever way you prefer, courting or helping, do not forget how important it is to be honest and respectful.  Do not use hard sell, tell these people you would like to hear their opinion and it really counts. Top influencers or potential top-influencers love hearing it, but please do not lie. They might love you or your money, but they are not stupid.