Future of Video Advertising


Shopping is Viral

Helpful mobile commerce info from HuffPost

Click. Buy. Done. These ‘M Commerce’ Statistics Show That Smartphone Shopping is Viral

Just ten years ago, if someone had tried to sell you on the “mobile shopping experience,” it would have likely resulted in a bit of laughter and disbelief. But today, the ecommerce industry caters to smartphone shoppers. In fact, mobile commerce (also referred to as “m commerce”) has become a staple to this industry. Search engine giant Google has even created an algorithm that penalizes sites that are not mobile-friendly to users, an event that was referred to by many as “Mobilegeddon.”

Yep, it’s true, 4G LTE powers a great deal of the online shopping experience these days. According to a Marketingland report, nearly 55% of all web traffic that streams into the top sites comes from smartphone handsets. But is m commerce really this much of a game-changer for ecommerce as a whole? The short answer is: Yes.

Smartphone Shopping is Trendy

More than 1.2 billion people use their smartphone to access the internet daily, according to a Trinity Digital Marketing publication. About half the population of the United States is connected to the web directly from their handset, so it’s no surprise that large marketplaces like Amazon and eBay are cashing in on the m commerce shopping craze by offering convenient one-click shopping options.

The truth told, people like the convenience of mobile shopping. A Nielson report finds that 60% of online shoppers use their smartphone to find a product first. If that same product is able to be purchased in just a click, you can imagine the health of the conversion rate when such convenience is offered to the consumer.

One-Third of Ecommerce is Mobile Driven

Attesting to the validity of the m commerce industry are the hard facts. A recent Internet Retailer report finds that about one-third of ecommerce is driven by mobile shopping. In certain markets, like Asia, the growth of mobile commerce has been exponential, with some regions reporting as much as a 250% in growth over the past 24 months.

At the present, mobile commerce takes in around $100 billion per year in the U.S. This number is expected to continue to grow in the years ahead at a steady pace. The leading Mobile 500 retailers experienced a 68% growth in 2015, according to the IR report cited above, a tally that amounted to $3 billion in total. In the years to come, expect this surge to continue.

Mobile Shopping Apps To Become New Norm

In the near future, more people will rely on mobile shopping than desktop or tablet options. A late 2015 Forbes report estimated that mobile shopping apps would exceed $280 billion in generated sales in 2015, representing a $100 billion increase from the same time in 2014. Compound that with the present day, about 14 months after this report was published, and you’d have a healthy $350 billion or more coming in from mobile shopping apps in 2016.


According to a Stanford study on mobile commerce, a large amount of spending is coming from millennials. About one in two millennials have downloaded and used a mobile shopping app in the past two years, with the most popular device being an Apple phone.

Over 2 Billion Mobile Transactions Predicted by 2017

To put the health of mobile commerce into better perspective, an Invesp report predicts that more than 2 billion mobile commerce transactions will take place from Q1 of 2016 through Q4 of 2017. Currently, about 19% of all ecommerce transactions are processed via a smartphone handset, a number that’s set to increase to 27% by 2018.


The iPhone is still the conversion leader in mobile commerce, generating an average conversion value of $117.16. Meanwhile, Android devices generate an average conversion value of $111.70, and Windows devices take in about $100.91 per conversion.

At the present, roughly 15% of shoppers use their smartphone to make purchases, nearly double the meager 8% that did in 2014. By Cyber Monday of this year, 56% of shoppers will buy at least one gift for a loved one from their mobile phone.

Mobile Shopping Statistics

  • Over 59% of smartphone users research products from their handset before making an online purchase.
  • 76% of smartphone users rely on their handset to find a store to make a local purchase at.
  • 30% of global ecommerce sales will come from smartphone users by the year 2018.
  • Mobile devices drive over half a billion in sales during Cyber Monday, a number that will continue to climb.
  • The preferred shopping method for smartphone users is via a shopping app.
  • Mobile commerce will rake in over $90 billion in sales in the U.S. by the year 2018.
  • Over 50% of smartphone shoppers say they will rely on a digital wallet to make purchases this year.
  • 75% of mobile shoppers redeemed coupons when shopping over the past three years.
  • 84% of mobile shoppers rely on smartphones to help them when making a purchase at a brick and mortar store

Amazon Rakes It In From One-Click Shopping

Amazon has got the m commerce shopping format down pat. They lead the industry in mobile sales, and a big reason for that is their convenient one-click check-out option for Prime users.

A Business Insider publication finds that mobile shoppers spend more time on Amazon (100 minutes on average) than competing sites like Target (20 minutes) or Walmart (14 minutes) combined. What’s more, customers come back to Amazon over six times per month, also more than both Walmart (two and half times) and Target (two times) combined.


When the holidays come around, Amazon grabs about 70% of the market share from mobile shopping, explains Marketingland. The sheer dominance doesn’t stop there. A Mobile Strategies report explains that 61% of consumers who use a smartphone as their primary shopping device only shop at Amazon. In addition, 93% of all mobile shoppers already are Amazon members.

Mobile Commerce’s Healthy Future

The future of mobile commerce is very bright. By the year 2020, Business Insider predicts that 45% of all ecommerce will come from m commerce. As illustrated by the chart below, this represents about $325 billion per year of an estimated $700 billion annual haul.


As one-click payment options and integrated mobile shopping carts become more advanced, the playing field will level out. Ultimately, mobile will become the new face of ecommerce. As the aforementioned information concurs, one day, desktop shopping will be as much of a memory as dial-up internet is today.


Check out the original source for graphics and more links: Huffington Post


Start with the API

Interesting article from FastCompany below explaining technological change but also the importance of positioning that technology.

You Need Full-Blown Apps Less Than Ever, And Slack’s New Buttons Prove It

Earlier this week, Slack made a big change to how its third-party app integrations work. Instead of making users type out specific commands, Slack apps can now offer a set of buttons for taking immediate action.

Some examples: Users can approve or deny expense reports from Abacus, assign due dates in Trello, or pay a coworker back for lunch with Current—all with one click from a Slack chat. The hope is that workers will spend less time bouncing between applications, and will instead just stay inside Slack to accomplish simple tasks.

This concept extends far beyond Slack, however, and is really part of a broader trend in which apps largely exist outside of themselves. Slack buttons bring us a just little closer to a scenario where downloading apps becomes unnecessary, and your favorite services never take up a spot on your home screen or desktop.

Blurring App Boundaries

With its new Message Buttons, Slack is taking a page from the chatbots on other, more consumer-oriented messaging services such as Facebook, Kik, and WeChat. While the hype around chatbots can sometimes get excessive, ultimately they’re just a new way to access apps, repurposed for the chat windows where users are spending increasing amounts of time.

“Everyone has a phone in their pocket, everyone is used to messaging each other all day long,” says Buster Benson, a senior product manager at Slack. It makes sense, then, to provide tools for getting things done directly within that environment.

“Where the real work is just making a decision, or approving something, or tagging something—and that’s really the work that a lot of us do every day—that should happen in the interface that’s closest to us,” Benson says.

Although chatbots have become a phenomenon on their own, they’re ultimately just one of many app access points that have opened up beyond your home screen.

The trend began a few years ago with actionable notifications in Android (and later, iOS), which allowed you to delete emails, respond to text messages, and check off tasks without opening the full app. Those actionable notifications then spilled over to the lock screen, so you didn’t even have to unlock your phone to get things done. (Apple is expanding on this concept in the upcoming iOS 10, with lock screen cards that seem to replace much of an app’s core functionality.) And as virtual assistants like Siri open up to third-party apps, it’s getting easier to perform quick actions without even touching the screen.

What’s driving this shift? In large part, it’s the emphasis on APIs and extensibility as the centerpiece of modern software.

With the project management software Trello, for instance, the company built an API first, then built its own apps and website on top of it. The Trello website is just a client that takes advantage of those APIs, and in theory could be rebuilt by anyone, says Trello CEO Michael Pryor.

“From a technology standpoint, it’s a really awesome way to build an app nowadays, especially if you’re building something that you want to be a platform, because the API is so important in that process in opening it up to other people.”

By starting with the API, Trello can more easily adapt to new platforms like Slack. It’s also a platform unto itself, for example allowing users to attach Google Drive documents and Github links to their project overviews. There’s even a way to set Slack reminders directly through Trello.

“It’s the same playbook, essentially,” Pryor says. “If you’re going to build an app, you have to play in this ecosystem of all the other apps, and how you’re connecting them.”

Demoting The App Launcher

If every app is just grafting its functions onto other apps and services, it’s natural to wonder what it means to be an app anymore. Are we headed for a future where the notion of installing software and launching it from a home screen becomes largely unnecessary?

Slack is approaching the question with caution. While building its buttons, there were lots of requests from developers to add more functionality, including extra buttons, drop-down lists, and text entry. Although Slack decided to start with the bare minimum, it’s not hard to imagine some apps becoming entirely self-contained within a chat window.

“It’s a learning experience for us,” Benson says. “We’re building into the most core part of the Slack product—the message itself—so we don’t want to arbitrarily add things until we’re pretty certain that want them there forever.”

The point may become moot, however, as apps themselves start breaking down into smaller component parts, making them easier to access in any context.

Last month, Google announced Android Instant Apps, which will let users stream apps onto their phones with no installation required. A hotel-booking app, for instance, could link to its list of room openings from Google Search, and a parking app could let you pay just by tapping your phone against an NFC-enabled meter.


Android Instant Apps let you perform tasks without downloading software

The main draw for app makers right now is the promise of another discovery mechanism outside of Google’s app store, says Dan Bachelder, the head of mobile for real estate-finding app Zumper, one of the Instant Apps that Google demonstrated at its I/O developer conference in May. But in the long run, app streaming could have deeper implications. Bachelder, for instance, imagines being able to instantly share part of an app with someone else, without making anyone first download the entire thing and find the appropriate sub-menu.

“Instant delivery and deep-linking into tasks is super-powerful, and something we’ve really been missing, and I’m super excited about it,” he says.

It’s the kind of scenario that easily translates to an app like Slack: Instead of relying solely on buttons to interact with Trello, you might be able to click a link that streams the project board in question. Regardless of whether you’ve installed Trello or not, you’d instantly be on the same page as everyone else in the room.

In this future, maybe you’ll still have an app launcher, at least for a handful of functions. But most of the time, you wouldn’t even think to use it.


See the original Fast Company article including graphics posted 6/27/16 by Jared Newman




Personal Assistants and Directions are now Verbal

The voice search explosion and how it will change local search

Voice search usage is seeing unprecedented growth, with personal assistant devices leading the way. Columnist Wesley Young explores why this new medium is taking off, how it differs from keyword searches, and the challenges for local businesses to compete on yet another platform.

Since I noted Timothy Tuttle of Mindmeld’s LSA16 comments about the sudden increase in the volume of voice search queries, I’ve noticed an increasing number of articles on the subject. If the attention being given voice search is an indication of its anticipated impact on the marketplace, then it’s going to be a big deal.

The potential for voice search to become a major search medium is well illustrated by the number of slides Mary Meeker devotes to the topic in her annual Internet Trends report that was just released this month. Out of 213 slides, Mary included 23 slides on voice search. And while the numbers on voice search growth vary quite widely, they all agree: explosive growth.

Explosive growth and the reason behind it

At LSA 16, Tuttle shared that within one year (last year), the use of voice search went from a statistical zero to 10 percent of all search volume. That was huge. Yet more recent numbers show that growth accelerating — Google announced at I/O that 20 percent of all searches have voice intent, while Meeker’s charts show that in May 2016, 25 percent of searches on Windows 10 taskbar are voice searches.

Many explain the reason for voice technology’s growth is the improved rate at which voice commands are accurately captured. My personal experience with Siri a couple of years back was not a good one.

I started watching one of Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne movies but couldn’t figure out where in the series it fell. So I asked Siri, “What order are the Bourne movies in?” Her reply: “You want to order a porn movie? Here are the 10 closest adult movie stores near you . . .” Fortunately, my wife heard my original query. But it illustrates the point — sometimes close isn’t good enough.

In 2013, Google’s platform had a word recognition accuracy rate of below 80 percent, according to Meeker’s figures. Just a couple of years later, that rate rose above 90 percent. Baidu now exceeds a 95-percent accuracy rate. Yet Andrew Ng, chief scientist at Baidu, stated that there is still significant improvement to make — that 99-percent accuracy is a game-changer. He believes 99 percent will make the difference between people barely using it and people using it all the time. At the current pace of improvement, we will get there soon.

A new player in search: Amazon

Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the recent boom in voice-controlled personal assistants and search is Amazon. Whether it was planned or happened by pure luck, Amazon seems to have timed the release of Amazon Echo perfectly.

As Apple suffers due to the market saturation of smartphones and voice technology improvements are creating a new and satisfying user experience, the Echo’s voice-only interface distinguishes it from the vast sea of screen-based devices that have dominated the market.

It is estimated that in 2016, Apple will see a decline in sales of iPhones for the first time in a decade, while Amazon’s Echo sales are on the rise. Unit sales are still only a fraction of the sales of iPhones, but growth is impressive. In the first quarter of 2016, Amazon shipped about one million Echos, compared to Apple’s estimated 50 million iPhones, according to charts by Meeker.

However, that Amazon number reflects a year-over-year growth rate of about 150 percent. Amazon has over 300 million users. If the Echo gets adoption rates similar to the Kindle (both Fire and Reader), that could translate into total sales of approximately 168 million units. That’s not an unreasonable projection, given reports that the Echo is now outselling the Kindle.

How voice search is being used

And the ability to use voice recognition seems to uniquely satisfy a number of valuable consumer needs that would support continued use and growth of the medium.

Meeker cites a study that 61 percent of users state the primary reason they use voice is the utility of it when their hands or vision are occupied. What comes to mind immediately is use while driving. And yet, while a substantial number, 36 percent, said they primarily use voice commands in the car, 43 percent stated their primary use was at home.

Hound, a voice query app, found a fairly even split of voice query into four categories — Personal Assistant (27 percent), Fun and Entertainment (21 percent), General Information (30 percent) and Local Information (22 percent). Some of the functions performed in each category likely include the following examples:

  • Personal Assistant — Shopping lists; calendar events; appointment reminders; to do lists; making phone calls; online bookings; dictating and sending texts.
  • Fun and Entertainment — Listening to and buying music; interactive games and social media; searching and accessing video; sports schedules; TV listings.
  • General Information — Web search; recipes; news; banking and finance; travel.
  • Local Information – Restaurants; shopping; directions; home services; pizza; weather; reviews; local events; traffic.
Marketers will need to employ new strategies for local voice search

Given the growth of voice search, it has great potential to affect how local businesses are found. ComScore even estimates that by 2020, a full 50 percent of all searches will be by voice. While it won’t likely replace existing screen-based search, voice search will soon be enough of a factor that businesses need to understand strategies for being found by voice search.

And a significant portion of those strategies will be new: No one really has an existing SEO strategy for Amazon, so that will need to be understood and developed. Right now, Amazon’s Echo relies on “skills” — the equivalent of apps — to provide data which the Echo references for responses. For example, the Echo utilizes Yelp’s database for local service providers, retail and restaurants, as well as reviews in ranking and formulating its responses. As more skills are incorporated into Echo, it will become more and more complex for a business to optimize its profile and standing among all the various sources of information.

The number of skills in Amazon is small, but again, growth is impressive. At the beginning of the year, there were only 130 skills. Today, that number is over 1,000. Amazon doesn’t yet categorize or prioritize skills like other app stores, making them difficult to discover.

The Echo defaults to Bing for any general search query that is not covered by a skill, but that search experience is also relatively poor in its current form. It will be interesting to see if Amazon partners with Bing to improve general search. I assume it would be Bing, because it’s unlikely to be Google.

Voice search is different from keywords in a search box

Google isn’t likely to partner because it is developing a home-based personal assistant of its own, aptly named Google Home. Google clearly has an advantage in its unmatched aptitude and dominance in search. Yet even with its huge index that powers the best search query response on the planet, voice search will create new wrinkles in the process that may level the playing field to some degree.

The way individuals interact through voice search and queries is different from the way they interact with a search box. Because search queries are more conversational in natural language, they tend to be longer, more nuanced and reveal greater intent. For example, a user might type in keywords “a/c repair near me” but might tell a voice assistant, “There’s a burning smell coming from my outside Trane a/c condenser unit.”

It’s also easy to see how queries may no longer be “search-oriented” in the way we define it today but rather jump over search straight into a request for action. For example, instead of searching for pizza restaurants near me, you can now request Alexa (Echo) to order you a Large Deep Dish Pepperoni Pizza with mushrooms and extra sauce and have it delivered to your house via the Domino’s Pizza skill.

Likewise, the natural progression for local search for service providers would be appointment-based. Instead of searching for electricians near me, the request might be a request for an appointment with the highest-rated local electrician who is available between noon and 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

Both of these scenarios bypass traditional search and the opportunity for competitors to try and attract your attention through paid search ads, high ranking organic listings, or even adjacent listings in general browsing activity.

Amazon Echo’s focus on skills for access to content also will put small businesses at a competitive disadvantage compared to brands and franchises that have the scale to invest in developing content for the platform. Brands that have done so include Capital One, Uber, Domino’s, TechCrunch and NBC.

I’ve previously written about how it usually does not make sense for a local business to develop an app, and the same logic applies to Echo skills. However, my suggestion that local businesses optimize their presence on vertical sites that have apps is also a solution here.

For example, Kayak is integrated with the Echo, and users can find flight information, search for hotels and get price quotes for the travel industry. A local bed and breakfast is likely to see much more return by making sure its information on Kayak is comprehensive, accurate and optimized to be referenced within Kayak than by trying to build a skill on its own that would likely never be found or accessed by users of Echo.

Another example of voice search issues to be determined: What will be the SERP equivalent? How deep or how many providers will be mentioned or listed? Another issue: how do you make sure the personal assistant pronounces your name properly? Names can be tricky, and pronunciations that don’t match spellings can lead to your business not being recognized by the user or misidentified.

Future developments

Undoubtedly, other issues unique to voice will crop up, and it’s hard to anticipate what strategies might work best until voice search matures further and we see more data behind how people will utilize the technology. Others are also working on their versions of the technology with Facebook developing a personal assistant called “M” and Apple working on a standalone device for Siri, making it available to third-party developers and adding it to the Mac desktop experience in its next OS update.

However, there’s a chicken-and-egg problem: Just as the platforms are still working on making their service complete, consumers are still figuring out how to ask for what they want. Their queries will change as the services broaden and improve their offerings.

What we do know is that voice search will not mimic the search box. As more and more consumers turn to voice search, marketers will need to figure out how voice search queries and results differ from search engine results and help local businesses navigate the way through being found in results to being found in voice search.


See original article including great graphics, originally posted by

Wesley Young on June 20, 2016 at 9:56 am




The 4 Key Traits Of Successful B2B Apps

The enterprise software applications market that will be mobile-optimized is poised to grow by 400% by the end of this year, according to an IDC report.

Those who have implemented enterprise mobility have witnessed 25% improvement in overall user experience and 24% increase in revenue from consumer facing mobile apps.

Needless to say, the growth of B2B mobile apps has been spectacular and is penetrating geographies and industry verticals, as well as opening up newer technological frontiers – Wearables, Enterprise of Things, Virtual Reality, etc.

Building a B2B mobile app company, however, is far different from catering to the B2C audience – both in terms of the customer development cycle as well as the sales and onboarding cycles.

Looking at some of the most successful B2B mobile apps that have penetrated the enterprise space, I’ve put together some of the common traits that you would find among all of them.

These are those explosive secrets to building a successful B2B mobile app strategy.

  1. They have a compelling need
    The most successful B2B apps address some of the pertinent questions when it comes to an effective B2B mobile app strategy. For instance, they understand the need for a native app versus a mobile optimized website and why that matters.

They know that their solution will be helpful to their prospects or customers and that it would make their buying decision easier. The successful apps think and plan to address the type of information that will keep engaged alive by answering their question throughout their journey.

  1. They leverage B2B marketplaces
    People are familiar with the Apple App Store and Google Play Store as marketplaces to host their mobile apps, but not many know about alternate marketplaces, some specifically in the B2B space, such as Chrome Web App Store, Salesforce AppExchange and Google Apps Marketplace.

These are some of those powerful platforms that offer the B2B developers access to millions of potential customers that are already buying off of these. These platforms provide you with the opportunity to scale growth and acquire customers nearly for free.

Entire businesses have been built on top of Salesforce using AppExchange for distribution. One such example is EchoSign that was sold to Adobe. Veloxy on the other hand is a recent example of a startup that is leveraging Salesforce successfully.

  1. They have targeted and differentiated marketing
    B2B apps have a far smaller audience than their B2C counterparts. Because the B2B mobile apps go after a limited set of decision makers in and across organizations, their targeting has to be more precise.

B2B apps are picky about the inventory or channel they use for marketing, engaging with their audience when they’re in the business mindset to ensure the buying decision flow smoothly.

A decision maker is not likely to make a purchase decision while they’re watching ESPN or listening to Spotify.

  1. They onboard users effectively
    User onboarding is extremely essential to a successful B2B mobile app strategy. If you’re trying to help businesses change their behavior, you’ll succeed only if it’s super easy and intuitive.

Failing to optimize your onboarding time will make you lose your B2B mobile app users. The more friction there is during the onboarding process, the longer the onboarding will take and this causes most dropouts. The most successful B2B mobile apps assess the time it takes for them to onboard users and then set goals and next steps to reduce that time.

Successful B2B apps have effective segmentation of users and they connect with them at every stage of their journey if they’re stuck somewhere.

When building a B2B mobile app strategy, be conscious of who your target audience is. Map out your ideal customer profile, find the right platforms, marketing channels and the correct time to reach out to them. Ensure when they get to your product, there’s an easy way to get started in using your product.

Make it simple and intuitive. And this is how some of the most successful B2B mobile apps are just that – successful.


Originally posted in HuffPost 03/31/2016 02:05 by Rahul Varshneya Cofounder of Mobile Experience Consulting Firm



Starbucks’ Loyalty Reigns

Tech-savvy Starbucks stays on top of artisanal wave

The big idea: Early in the 1990s, Starbucks was a growth darling, offering a consistently good product in the expanding market for specialty coffee and blazing the trail for what is now known as corporate social responsibility. Starbucks defined itself as an early technology leader, offering WiFi in stores in 2002 and partnering with Apple in 2007 to provide free access to iTunes. In 2011, the company launched a mobile app digitizing its Starbucks Rewards loyalty program. By 2016, Starbucks was a $20 billion company with more than 21,000 locations. But in recent years, it has encountered challenging consumer trends.

The scenario: The artisanal coffee market has evolved along with markets for such products as craft-brewed beer, locally sourced grass-fed beef and non-GMO vegetables. Small, specialized coffee companies have been attracting venture funding — Oakland, Calif.-based Blue Bottle, for instance, raised more than $45 million — and the wholesale price of coffee beans rose 40 percent in 2014. A global coffee brand could suffer in such a fast-changing market. To survive, Starbucks would need to identify revenue drivers, invest in them quickly and maintain its customer base.

The resolution: Much of the company’s recent success is due to its mobile app, which has loyalty-building features. Starbucks customers are awarded “Stars” for purchases, and they advance through reward levels as they earn free refreshments. In addition, members have access to free digital apps and content from high-profile partners. The mobile app can be used to send a digital Starbucks gift card to any email address, find the nearest store and receive targeted promotional messages.

The true breakthrough, however, is the mobile order-and-pay feature introduced last year, which functions like a pre-loaded debit card. Users can order ahead of time and skip the lines. These customers generally make purchases more often and have a larger average order size than those without the app.

By the end of 2015, more than 20 percent of Starbucks customers were paying via mobile devices. The number of mobile-using customers went up 32 percent between the third and fourth quarters of 2015. The company’s profit grew from $2.1 billion in fiscal 2014 to $2.8 billion in fiscal 2015 — a 33 percent gain.

Starbucks coffee is not craft food, but the company has capitalized on some of the same consumer sentiment by emphasizing culture and community in its marketing and social media presence. In 2008, it launched the My Starbucks Idea website, which customers could use to make recommendations. And Starbucks followed through — with a tree-planting program suggested by a customer, drink recipe changes and a recent update to how rewards points work.

The lesson: Starbucks has cultivated brand loyalty in the mass market. It has invested in technology to keep customers connected to its products and stores. It is a truly omnichannel company, using social media and mobile devices to drive in-store sales. As a result, this publicly traded company with a global footprint has maintained an edge in an ­artisanal-food-obsessed world.


Published in the Washington Post  Sunday,  April 3, 2016

— Meghan R. Murray

Murray is a digital marketing consultant who teaches at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.



Grasping the Local Web

Local marketing: What is the true local web?

Columnist Garrett French explains how local businesses can improve their online visibility by becoming a part of the local ecosystem, both online and off.

If you’re just in Yelp or the Yellow Pages, you’re not truly “local” yet. You’re missing out on audiences native to a particular city.

Yes, you have to be in these big directories. But marketing in the true local web means creating campaigns relevant to audiences where they live.

In this piece, I’ll outline our team’s recent findings on the anatomy of the true local web, with a focus on how “Web National” brands and app developers can organically access local customers in any community.

What is the “true local web?”

The true local web is composed of websites that are published by actual local organizations, as opposed to websites that are created by national publishers that don’t have a real local presence. In other words, these are websites published by entities with actual addresses in the city you’re trying to market to.

The true local web includes not just local retail or service businesses within a given city, but other organizations, as well. It includes the nonprofits. The arts. The news publishers, bloggers and events native to a location.

Who should care about the true local web?

There are three types of businesses vying for web traffic in CITY X:

  1. Businesses local to CITY X
  2. National chains with brick-and-mortar locations in CITY X
  3. “Web National” businesses that serve CITY X without a brick-and-mortar location (think Uber)

When you write about “local marketing,” most people assume you’re talking about the first option above, maybe the second. The third generally gets ignored, even though it’s arguable that these organizations are most in need of true local web connections. “Web National” isn’t a ubiquitous term yet, but we’d argue that it’s a distinct category, separate from other national brands.

All three business types care about web traffic and search engine rankings within CITY X, but their strategies for getting there are going to vary.

The true local web is more easily accessible for the local business owner. She already knows people on various town committees; maybe she bowls with local bloggers on Tuesdays. Even if she doesn’t already have these connections, they’re easy to pursue because she’s already a local in her target market.

National chains with smart marketers will encourage their brick-and-mortar store employees to leverage their local connections. Supported by their national advertising and PR strategies, each unique location doesn’t have to spend much on local marketing, thanks to the “rising tide” nature of these big chain businesses.

But how do “Web National” organizations solidify their place in the market?

They haven’t yet curated local connections, nor do they have physical storefronts and signage to draw in customers. For these reasons, web national organizations may need the most help accessing the true local web.

True local web engagement for traffic & rankings

If the true local web is an online manifestation of a city, then partnerships with these local organizations are the way to access true local web traffic and to influence local PR, social media and search rankings.

A bit about true local partnerships

Local sponsorships are the bread and butter of a community. But to find them, you have to take the time to look in the breadbox and dairy drawer!

Sponsorships are the crux of the true local web. They allow local, chain or web national businesses to join community efforts, often including a myriad of advertising for one’s dollar.

We often see local sponsorships overlooked because they’re complicated and disjointed. Each organization is unique, with its own price points, benefits and requirements. But the benefits for local visibility make them worth pursuing.

True local social media marketing

Going local with social media means attracting pages and influencers that are region-specific. This could mean individual bloggers and local celebrities, or it could mean Meetup or Facebook groups focused on a particular city.

As with sponsorships, they’re disjointed, but they also provide a way to meet potential customers without the noise of traditional marketing tactics. When you have to dig for a true local fit, there isn’t as much competition.

True local social media opportunities can be found by connecting with nonprofits, clubs, events and organizations looking for monetary or in-kind donations. Even partnering with a nonprofit for an employee volunteer day can secure social media mentions to the organization’s local following. These activities are also primed for storytelling, which is why web traffic can also be served by public relations.

True local PR

Local journalism isn’t dead. But it has moved online. The upside is that there are now many more options when it comes to outreach — a more liberal company may even consider bloggers as members of the press. After all, many of them cover a beat, share local news and hold themselves to legal standards.

But as with finding and coordinating partnerships with organizations, working with local press can be a messy enterprise. In our experience, local journalists are spread thin, and they don’t often have time to evaluate every unique pitch from an unknown source. There are two best practices for securing local press, and both could be considered part of a long-game strategy:

  • Persist, respectfully. Keep emailing (new) pitches. And don’t stop developing locally relevant stories.
  • Show up. The upside of “true local” is that journalists in a given city won’t be hard to track down. They’re wherever news and community can be found. The more a brand is involved with community goings-on, the more chances brand representatives have to meet and greet the reporters covering these events.

True local blogger engagement

Topical searches for bloggers are not new, so why not search for online influencers who live in a particular location? Try using advanced operators to search “about” pages for mentions of your target city, and see who comes up. (For additional ideas, we’ve discussed some great tactics for finding local bloggers in the Citation Labs Local Webinar.)

Local blogger engagement can work for one-off campaigns or as part of a larger event (see below). While not all bloggers in Dallas consider themselves “Dallas bloggers,” with the market saturation of online writers over the past decade, many are looking for a way to stand out from the crowd. And local blogging can be a real money-maker.

In-person engagement: Where true local tactics link together

Event engagement is as local as it gets. Events may come with a booth, tickets or a table at the dinner party. And it’s a tactic primed for creative thinking. Local presence can drive so much more than awareness; a presence at these events can be used to:

  • generate app downloads;
  • sign up new customers;
  • hand out coupon codes;
  • engage with local bloggers and press; and
  • reward existing local customers.

If you’re at an event, you should be doing everything you can to drive potential customers to meet there. Web national organizations that can’t afford to send a rep to CITY X may even recruit a local customer to be a brand advocate in the area. What better way to reward frequent customers than to give them free tickets to local festivals?

Additionally, if you spend money on local advertising, why not let people know that they can come meet you at an event?

“We Are A Proud Sponsor of the BBQ Festival! Come Get a Dessert At the ACME, INC Booth!”

If you design your event engagement properly, there might be a case for local press or bloggers to be there. There are a lot of ways to weave these pieces together by being physically in a location, at a specific event. Oh yeah, and you’ll most likely get a link and social media mention from the event, too.

Welcome to the neighborhood.


Original article by on March 22, 2016; see it here.


Personalization Wins

The Fastest-Growing App

Over the past few years, smartphones and tablets have completely changed the way we interact with media. We may still be listening to the radio, read the news and or watch television shows, but more and more often we’re doing it on our mobile devices or, to be more precise, within apps.

When the first iPhone was released in 2007, there was no App Store and the idea of a phone doing all of the stuff today’s smartphones are capable of seemed ludicrous to say the least. It was the introduction of apps that really started what we consider the mobile revolution in retrospect. Ever since Apple introduced the App Store in 2008, app usage has been growing and it continues to do so until today. According to Flurry Analytics, a company tracking usage across millions of apps, global app usage increased by 58% in 2015 (compared to 76% in 2014 and 103% in 2013).

Personalization apps (e.g. emoji keyboards or wallpaper apps) were the fastest-growing category in 2015. App sessions (that is the number of times a user opens an app) increased by 332% in this category. News & magazine apps were the second-fastest growing app category in the past 12 months. As smartphone screens keep getting bigger, consumers are increasingly open to consuming content on their mobile devices – a trend that publishers should be ready to take advantage of.

[click to view larger]

Statistica App Growth 2015









See original 1/22/16 article and chart at Statistica


In an Instant

Marketing in the Moments, to Reach Customers Online

 MOMENTS are having a moment in advertising. Or at least a micromoment.

As people flit from app to app online, they have little patience for any interruption, especially a banner ad or, heaven forbid, a 30-second commercial. Moments, whether they come during a 10-second Snapchat video or Twitter’s new collection of real-time news bites — called, fittingly enough, Moments — increasingly are all companies have to market against.

Companies that buy and sell online advertising are increasingly taking aim at these fleeting instances. They are hoping that targeting people based on what they are doing on their mobile devices at a particular time might make them more receptive to the message.

Last fall, for instance, the spirits company Campari America targeted liquor consumers aged 21 to 34 while they were in neighborhoods with lots of bars and restaurants. Using Kiip, a San Francisco firm that places ads in mobile apps, Campari offered consumers $5 off from the ride-sharing service Lyft when, say, they checked a score on an app while at a sports bar. More than 20 percent redeemed the offer, a high rate for digital ads.

“The attention span of consumers today is, what, eight seconds?” said Umberto Luchini, Campari America’s vice president for marketing. “You get one shot.”

And an ever more brief one at that. Google, which has always matched its tiny search ads to moments of curiosity, has been counseling marketers since early last year to aim at even more evanescent “micromoments.” Those are the dozens of times a day that people pick up their phones to look up information, research a product, or find a local restaurant or store. Dunkin’ Donuts uses this method to target people who search for “coffee near me,” providing a map and wait times at nearby locations.

“The advertising game is no longer about reach and frequency,” said Lisa Gevelber, a Google vice president for marketing, who pioneered the micromoments concept. “Now more than ever, intent is more important than identity and demographics, and immediacy is more important than brand loyalty.”

That means marketers must be omnipresent with apps, a social media presence, short how-to videos and the entire range of digital ads. They can be search ads, or those like Kiip’s that offer a reward, or Google’s local inventory ads that reveal what is in stock in a nearby store, or click-to-call ads that dial up a business with a tap. More important than the format, the ads must appear at the instant people need the information.

Reaching people at key junctures has always been a staple of advertising: billboards ahead of a highway exit, beer ads during halftime of the Super Bowl, digital search ads. The terminology is not all that new, either. A.G. Lafley, executive chairman at Procter & Gamble, where Ms. Gevelber once worked as a brand manager, coined the term “first moment of truth” in the 2005 book “The Game-Changer,” written with Ram Charan. It describes the point at which a consumer forms an impression of a brand.

The difference today is the rise of mobile phones as the consumers’ tool to find or do almost anything. That has introduced several wrinkles to the way marketers can influence and track how consumers decide to buy something. Global Positioning System navigation provides precise location data, apps track people’s every tap and swipe, and sensors such as accelerometers can even tell if people are sitting, walking or driving.

The herky-jerky nature of app use, much lamented by marketers, has an upside, too: There are now many more times during the day when consumers are engaging in discrete activities, between which they may be primed to see a related message.

It is not just a matter of reaching people at a particular time of day, a capability advertisers have employed for decades. Randy Wootton, chief executive of the ad technology firm Rocket Fuel, which recently announced a “marketing in the moment” approach, refers to ancient Greek concepts of time: chronos, or sequential time, and kairos, a moment of opportunity independent of linear time. The latter, of course, is the one his company claims to employ for marketers.

Another key, said Brian Solis, a principal analyst at Altimeter Group, a market research firm, is that the ads need to be more useful than they are attention-getting. According to a Google survey, 51 percent of smartphone owners have bought from a different company than they intended on the basis of information found online.

“There are more jump balls, and now we can capitalize on those moments,” said Jared Belsky, president of the New York digital agency 360i. One client, Red Roof Inn, linked flight data from the aviation software company FlightAware with Google’s search ad system to target travelers stranded at airports — but at very precise moments, such as when O’Hare Airport in Chicago experienced a major flight cancellation. Then, the system automatically raised the hotel chain’s bids for ad space enough to win the top spot in three-quarters of search results for queries such as “hotels near O’Hare.” The company experienced a 60 percent jump in room bookings from those searches.

However, to build brands, an effort that accounts for the majority of ad spending, companies need more than a moment. And few marketers currently have all the skills needed for moments-based marketing, such as ethnographic studies of their customers and the ability to match customer data to the right context, according to report released last July by Forrester Research. Without those skills developing throughout the industry, the latest scheme to reach peripatetic consumers could prove, well, momentary.


See examples of the ads at the original article By ROBERT D. HOF JAN. 17, 2016



GPS + Mobile + Data

Potential of Geolocation for Revolutionizing Retail – HBR.org article

Traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores have many disadvantages when competing against online counterparts. Online stores are always open and are available anywhere, have “endless aisles” and can use digital tools to personalize offers to customer preferences. Nevertheless, physical stores do offer customers a number of significant benefits, including immediacy, personal service, and the ability to offer a truly immersive experience. Recently, however, leading physical stores have discovered that they can also harness the power of powerful digital marketing tools and integrate them directly into the in-store experience. New technology promises to allow retailers to beat online players at their own game, transforming the customer experience and dramatically improving their positioning.

One of the most exciting areas of development is the marrying of mobile apps, location sensing technologies (e.g., GPS), and data analytics to improve the in-store experience for customers. Location sensing technologies in retail typically involve customers using the retailer’s app, or a third-party app, and ceding permission to track their location in return for a better experience or reward. The customer’s location can be determined through the phone’s GPS capability — or more accurately within the store via WiFi, light-based triangulation or beacons. (Beacons are hardware transmitters installed around the store that wirelessly communicate with mobile devices within a narrow area such as a specific department or aisle.)

Many retailers, from Macy’s to Walgreens, are already experimenting with location-sensing technologies, with most of the focus to date on navigation, location based promotional offers, and reviews of nearby products. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. One particularly promising untapped opportunity is pairing a customer’s location with “in-the-moment” feedback to generate more granular performance and satisfaction information that retailers can use in a variety of ways.

For example, a retailer might ask for customer feedback on interactions with sales associates and then use the results to rate employee performance. Employees would then be able to see how specific activities impact their scores, providing a highly visible incentive to improve. Armed with consumer feedback, the retailer can also create a “heat map” of its entire enterprise that would help pinpoint problems or opportunity areas at multiple points throughout the customer journey.

Heat map data can then be used to compare stores and departments (or theoretically, even create rankings of employees) which all could be used to optimize the retail experience for particular customer segments. By using this information to make rapid course corrections, personalize customer interactions and continuously improve customer intimacy, retailers can begin to match the adaptive agility seen in the online world.

Exciting as the possibilities are, retailers face two important hurdles in deploying in-the-moment feedback tools embedded in their mobile apps. First is getting customers to download and use their apps in the first place. Second is convincing enough representative consumers to take the time to interact.

We conducted some proprietary research that showed that while a majority of smart phone owners use their devices to assist in purchases, consumers are only willing to give precious screen real-estate to a handful of retail apps. That means the retailer’s app must contain functionality that’s compelling enough to convince consumers to download it and use it in the store. For example, Home Depot solved a major customer pain point — difficulty finding items without the assistance of a store employee — by developing an app with store-specific navigation.

Other reasons to use a retailer’s app might include privileged discounts on purchases, convenient payment capabilities, additional loyalty program incentives or the ability to simply summon a sales assistant for help from one’s phone. The features emphasized need to be appropriate to the specific retailer and create a compelling reason to keep coming back to the app.

The next challenge is convincing customers to enter into a two-way conversation with the retailer since the richest data will likely come from feedback that is provided while the in-store experience is occurring. Because the data is collected using the consumer’s own device, the retailer can tie behavior and feedback into other Big Data sets such as transaction and loyalty data, as well as demographic and segment information about the customer. While many customers will either not opt in or will choose not to share data due in part to privacy concerns, even a relatively small sample can provide striking insights if it covers enough foot traffic over a given time period. The best place to start is with devoted customers, but our experience suggests that by finding the right reward (such as discount or loyalty points), stores can convince a significant portion of customers to participate. Of course, even with this quid-pro-quo, it must be exceptionally easy for consumers to provide feedback; the interface within the app itself must be seamless.

In-the-moment feedback can help the retailer personalize the shopping experience, ratchet up the level of customer engagement or even rescue a lost sale. At the aggregate level, the retailer will gain insights into where and how breakdowns occur so that they can make fixes much more rapidly. They can also identify where things are going right, allowing for more rapid dissemination of best practices and new ideas across stores and departments. Too many retailers today track their satisfaction and promoter scores without a diagnostic of what is driving them, or a remedy for repairing or improving them. The digital tools we describe here deliver this elixir. By building a heat-map infrastructure, retailer CXOs can move from a qualitative soft science to a disciplined approach that uses management tools to propose actionable recommendations.

Today’s brick-and-mortar retailers are in an arms race with pure-play online competitors for the hearts and minds of customers. With the newly found ability of digital tools to gather in-the-moment feedback, physical retailers can focus on continuous innovation and improvement, offering their customers an increasingly personalized experience that comprises the best of both worlds. The technical tools already exist; tomorrow’s winning retailers will be the ones that most cleverly frame their strategies and build their analytics infrastructure in order to exploit them.


See original 11/2015 HBR.org article:

by Robert Haslehurst and Dan McKone