Category apps

It Pays to Use These Shopping Apps

According to a recent article on Forbes.com, Apple reported that there are about 1.25 million apps in its app store, while Google boasts over 800,000 apps.

With this many options available, it is amazing that any individual app can find a way to stand out from the crowd.

When an app does gain widespread acceptance from mobile users, retailers and brands need to take note.

While I don’t have a specific formula for creating an uber-popular shopping app, I can tell you that a good place to start is by delivering value to users.

It is for this reason that I’d highly recommend shopkick and Ibotta to consumers, retailers, and to the companies that make the products that are sold at their stores.

Win, Win, Win With Shopkick

I’ve been a fan of shopkick ever since I bought my first smartphone in 2011.

As I pointed out in a post in July of 2011, shopkick provides a win, win, win for retailers, the companies that make the products that the stores sell, and most importantly, consumers.

Retailers that partner with the app benefit by the increased foot traffic that shopkick brings.

The companies that make the products that line the store’s shelves benefit by increased sales. Being included in the list of items to be scanned acts as an advertisement each time shopkick users open the app.

Additionally, companies that partner with shopkick to get their products included in the items that shopkick users scan to earn kicks often literally get their products into consumers’ hands. And, once they have the products in their hands, it is a lot easier for consumers to put the items in their shopping carts.

Furthermore, shopkick has added lookbooks to the app. These lookbooks give brands another way to advertise their products to customers.

Consumers not only benefit by earning kicks that can be exchanged for gift cards or other rewards, but they are also introduced to products that they might find useful in a fun and entertaining way.

Shopkick users can now also earn kicks for making purchases at participating retail stores. This not only helps users gain kicks faster, it helps stores link shopkick use to actual retail sales.

Not convinced about the value of shopkick? Then feel free to ask any of their over 4 million users what they think. I’m guessing many of the responses will be favorable.

Save Money With Ibotta

I’m a huge fan of the Ibotta app. In fact, I haven’t been this excited about a shopping app since I first was introduced to shopkick.

And, it appears that I’m not alone.

According to an article on TechCrunch, the app climbed to 100,000 registered users in the first 75 days following its release. That article was written in December of 2012.

While I don’t know exactly how many registered users it currently has, Ibotta has a loyal following. In fact, a recent survey conducted by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) found that Ibotta is one of the 20 most frequently used apps among smartphone and tablet users.

What is the reason for this success? That question can be answered by one word: value.

The easiest way to tell if anything is delivering value is by measuring whether or not it saves users money.

That it does.

I have been using the app for about a month and a half and in that time I have saved $43.00. (I use the app about once a week.)

Not only has it saved me money, it has also encouraged me to try some products that I normally wouldn’t have purchased—many that I will purchase again in the future. That is the goal of any good advertising.

What makes this different from shopkick is that users actually have to make a purchase to earn the reward. I would think that this is enough incentive for retailers and brands to want to get involved with this app.

The way the app works is that users are asked to do small tasks to earn the opportunity to get money back from the app after a specific product is purchased. Only products listed can be redeemed for cash and they have to be purchased from participating retail stores. (Purchases are verified by having users submit receipts and scan UPC codes that are on the products that they purchased.)

What makes the app more interesting is that Ibotta offers bonus badges to users who complete certain specific tasks (e.g., invite new users, buy a set number of specific products, transfer money earned on the app to PayPal, etc.) In some cases, these badges also come with a monetary reward. That makes the badges that much more valuable.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of apps out there to choose from. This makes it difficult for any particular app to gain widespread acceptance.

When shopping apps do gain acceptance, retailers and the companies that make the products that they sell can definitely benefit by their involvement with the app.

As explained by looking at two of my favorites, shopping apps can help increase foot traffic, increase awareness of different products or services, and even result in increased sales.

Furthermore, involvement in shopping apps could also be a creative way to help keep the non-shoppers occupied while the shoppers in a group shop.

While there isn’t a set formula to create a popular app, the best and most recommended way to do it is to deliver value. This is something that I feel both shopkick and Ibotta have accomplished. It is for that reason that I would highly recommend both apps.

To sign up for shopkick, click here. To sign up for Ibotta, click here. In both cases you get a bonus for signing up. And, if you use the links I provided, so do I. Thank you in advance.

Photo credits: Fruitnet.com  and Jay Reed on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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The Geography of Marketing: Staying Connected

The number of people who own smartphones worldwide continues to rise. Therefore, mobile marketing is becoming more important for businesses around the globe.

While the technology that is used in mobile devices has improved markedly in recent years, there are still issues that marketers need to be aware of that can influence the overall effectiveness of their mobile marketing campaigns.

In episode #436 of UNTETHER.tv, Rob Woodbridge interviewed Jasmeet Sethi, Regional Head of Consumer Insights for Ericsson ConsumerLab in India.

In a blog post introducing the episode, Woodbridge explains that Sethi believes the greatest challenge he faces is understanding the user experience for consumers in emerging markets.

“Forget your perceptions of UI/UX if you are thinking of swipes or “pull to refresh” or tap and hold, user experience to Jasmeet means something altogether more fundamental,” writes Woodbridge. “We take for granted the almost pervasive access to high speed wireless data we have at our fingertips but, as you know, in certain parts of emerging countries that doesn’t exist. This is a critical first step in understanding how to build for these markets – if your app or mobile service requires an always-on connection to the stream, it will not work in much of India. This, and many other basic usability requirements, could do irreparable damage to great brands and limit success in these huge markets.”

Back in the United States of America

While having limited access to an always-on data connection and slow download speeds are definitely going to be problems in emerging markets, these issues are also problems for marketers here in the United States. Therefore, the lessons that Woodbridge and Sethi are trying to teach marketers around the world are also valuable to those marketers who are trying to reach U.S. consumers.

According to a report that was released last year by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 77% of adult mobile Internet users in the United States said that they experience “slow download speeds that prevent things from loading as quickly as you would like them to” at least occasionally. In fact, nearly half (46%) of adult U.S. mobile Internet users reported that they experience this problem at least once a week. (Note: Data from this study was also reported in an article written by Amy Gahran on CNN.com in August of 2012.)

An even simpler way to illustrate this problem is to go to the maps that show the 3G and 4G coverage areas for any mobile network operator in the United States.

According the current coverage map for Verizon Wireless, Verizon 4G LTE is available in 480 cities and covers 87% of the U.S. population. However, there are still many areas of the country that still don’t have access to Verizon’s 4G network. In fact, there are major areas on the map where 3G coverage isn’t available. While these areas aren’t places where many people live, they might be places where people travel to. Either way, they are locations where mobile marketing might not be the best option at this point in time.

It should be noted that there are many places around the country, including in the metro areas of Atlanta and Minneapolis/St. Paul, where I have experienced regular data connection problems when I used my 3G smartphone. This includes outdoor spaces, as well as in malls and major retail stores.

In episode 6 of the Digital Dive Podcast, co-hosts Emily Binder and Melanie Touchstone talk about connection issues that they encountered in the metro Atlanta area when vendors used their mobile devices to accept mobile payments with apps like Square or LevelUp. In episode 7, they arrive at the conclusion that the problem is fixed when vendors are connected to a 4G network. Therefore, 4G might be the solution that marketers and entrepreneurs are looking for.

However, keep in mind, that although 4G LTE is available in most urban areas, not everyone has upgraded to a 4G-enabled mobile device.

Therefore, if your mobile marketing campaign requires an always-on data connection, it is highly recommended that you test to make sure that consumers can connect using various types of mobile devices in the geographical areas where the campaign will be running, and definitely test to make sure that they can connect using a 3G network. In fact, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to test at different times of the day using different mobile devices before implementing your mobile marketing campaign. Then, continue to test the data connection availability and download speeds from time to time while the mobile marketing campaign is running.

Final Thoughts

As Woodbridge and Sethi point out in the post introducing episode #436 of UNTETHER.tv, data connection issues and slow download speeds can limit the success of mobile marketing campaigns and possibly cause irreparable damage to great brands.

Although they were talking about marketing to consumers in India and other emerging markets, similar issues are still problems in many parts of the United States.

While having a 4G connection might solve many of these problems, 4G is not available everywhere. And, even in places where it is available, many consumers won’t be able to access it because they haven’t upgraded to a 4G-enabled mobile device.

Therefore, before your business implements a mobile marketing campaign that requires an always-on data connection, it would be a good idea to test the data connection availability and download speeds in the geographical areas where the campaign will be running using a variety of mobile devices during different times of the day. And, definitely make sure that consumers can connect using a mobile device on a 3G network. Furthermore, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to test the data connection availability and download speeds from time to time while the mobile marketing campaign is running.

Finally, if your business plans to offer mobile payment options using Square, LevelUp or some other similar service, it is probably a good idea to make sure that your business is connected to a 4G network. It is also a good idea to test to make sure that everything is running smoothly before you use the service to process transactions during peak sales hours.

Photo credits: LGEPR and ETC@USC on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Only Half the Story: Instagram Now Has More Daily Active Users on Mobile Than Twitter

You may have read the Mashable article that reported that Instagram now has more daily active users on mobile than Twitter.

Yes, it’s true, according to comScore Instagram had 7.3 million daily mobile users in August, compared to 6.9 million for Twitter.

However, Twitter enthusiasts need not worry at all. After all, the numbers that were reported by comScore are only based on mobile users and many of Twitter’s users access the site via its website on their PC.

In fact, according to eBizMBA Inc., as of September 2012, Twitter is the 9th most popular website.

Furthermore, I think it’s misleading to compare Twitter and Instagram, because they are two very different types of social networking sites. In fact, even though Facebook now owns Instagram, Instagram and Twitter currently have a very symbiotic relationship. That is, many Instagram users use Twitter to share their photos with other people in their network—particularly those who aren’t using Instagram. This benefits both Twitter, as its users can share additional content, and Instagram, as its users can have their photos reach a larger audience.

Therefore, the fact that Instagram has more daily active users on mobile than Twitter is only half the story.

In fact, I don’t think that it’s a story at all.

In the end, Twitter is still a great place to for advertisers to focus when trying to generate buzz about their products or services. As I plan to point out in the next post, this is particularly true when used in conjunction with some other event or as a part of a larger marketing or public relations campaign.

Photo credit: eldh on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Facial Recognition Technology and Privacy: Is a Deal Really Worth It?

When you mention facial recognition technology, many people cringe and think of an invasion of privacy that will lead to the government tracking their every move and taking away their civil liberties.

On the other hand, when facial recognition technology is mentioned to other people, they get excited about all the possible cool things that can be done, from improved security systems to marketing opportunities.

Where you stand on this issue is probably going to determine how you feel about a new high-tech loyalty program that is being tested by redpepper, an advertising agency with offices in Atlanta and Nashville.

But, before we get into that further, I want to refresh your memory about another use of facial recognition technology that I talked about in a post last month.

In the post, I mentioned digital signage that is using facial recognition technology that helps identify basic demographics (gender, approximate age, body type, etc.) of the consumers who are looking at the digital sign and then uses that information to deliver relevant ads to them.

Personally, I think that this use of facial recognition technology is harmless because it is only identifying the characteristics of the person, not who the person is. In other words, the consumer’s face is not being matched to a large database to identify their exact identity.

It’s a good thing that I didn’t argue that such a database doesn’t even exist, because only a few days later, I learned that there is a database that I didn’t even think about—Facebook.

Here’s where redpepper enters the story.

Facedeals

As an article on the Los Angeles Times website reports, “A new app is being tested in Nashville, Tenn., that can check in people on Facebook and send them offers using facial-recognition cameras.”

“Called Facedeals, the new service uses cameras installed at businesses’ front doors to read people’s faces as they enter,” the article continues. “If the people who come in are users of the app, they will be checked in, and based on their “like” history, they would receive a customized offer.”

Keep in mind, the idea of getting a deal based on checking in is not new. Businesses around the country are doing the same thing using Foursquare and other location-based social networking sites. In fact, last year I wrote a blog post about Concentrics Restaurants in Atlanta, Georgia. With the help of PlacePunch, Concentrics Restaurants was doing a really great job of offering deals to loyal customers who checked in on Foursquare, Facebook, Gowalla or Yelp.

It appears that the main difference is that Facedeals uses facial recognition technology to check a consumer in every time they enter an establishment that participates in the program. In addition, Facedeals also customizes the deal offered based on the participants “likes” on Facebook.

You can find additional information about Facedeals on the redpepper website.

Privacy Issues

If you search YouTube, you will find that there are people who are letting their opinions be known, both for and against Facedeals.

As you would expect, the normal privacy issues are being brought to the forefront.

Personally, I’m not against using facial recognition technology in this manner. The main reason for my stance is that it is opt in.

However, other people could argue that Facedeals could still track you based on your Facebook profile information even if you don’t opt in and just not tell you. But, let’s face it, the government might already be doing this.

The only problem that I have with Facedeals is that by automatically checking you in on Facebook, all the people who you are connected to on Facebook would know where you are every time you enter a participating establishment. (Without the facial recognition component, you get to choose when to check in and where to share the information.) This could be fixed by having a setting that allows the user to decide not share the check-ins on their Facebook page.

Conclusion

In the future, more technologies are going to be introduced that will push the envelope and challenge both our imagination and how we define our expectations of privacy.

Everyone is aware that facial recognition technologies exist.

However, some people are going to fight to limit its use.

Businesses that plan to use facial recognition technology need to be aware that they serve customers who embrace this type of technology and those who are vehemently against it. Therefore, they need to decide whether or not using a service similar to Facedeals is worth the effort.

Ultimately, though, it is the consumer who gets to decide. If enough people who are against this type of technology voice their opinion to the business owner, the business owner will be forced to listen. On the other hand, if a majority of customers embrace the technology, then its use will become a more common occurrence in businesses all over the world.

Therefore, it is going to be interesting to see how the people of Nashville welcome Facedeals.

My question to you is: If you were given the opportunity to participate in this type of service, would you choose to opt in?

Photo credit: david drexler on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Where Consumers Live Can Influence the Efficacy of Your Marketing Efforts

Where people live influences many of their behaviors.

Even in the United States, there are subtle differences based on region and the size of the city that consumers live in.

I really began to notice this as a teenager.

For most of the year, I lived in a small to medium-sized city in Central Wisconsin. However, I spent my summers with my father in a city about 15 minutes from Ann Arbor and about 40 minutes from Detroit.

In the summer, I would be exposed to clothing styles that were somewhat different from the ones that I was accustomed to seeing in Central Wisconsin. However, where I really noticed a difference was in the music that I heard on the radio, as I would get to hear radio stations from Detroit that would play music that sometimes didn’t become popular in Central Wisconsin until months later, if at all.

Later on in life, I also spent some time living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Atlanta, Georgia.

In each location, there are many things that are the same. However, there are subtle differences that make each city unique.

Technology and Target Marketing

In the last few years, social media and mobile phones have changed the way that consumers all over the United States live.

However, people living in big cities like Atlanta, Chicago or Minneapolis are getting exposed to the latest and greatest in technological innovation. These major metropolitan areas are the testing ground for some of the new apps and social networking sites.

In contrast, people living in rural areas and even those who live small to medium-sized cities are only being exposed to the major players in the social media world.

Sure, these people might be aware that some of the new apps or other social networking sites exist, but they don’t have the chance to use them or they try them and lose interest because there are fewer people in the area who use them, and thus, these users don’t experience the immediate benefits that their counterparts in larger cities do.

I would speculate that people in large metropolitan areas are going to be more receptive to new technologies of all sorts as they are developed because they are being exposed to more of the technological advancements that are currently available.

This is something that marketers need to keep in mind as they decide whether or not to use the latest advancements in technology to get the word out about their products or services.

For example, I recently wrote a post about digital signage that can deliver different ads based on the physical characteristics of the person who is looking at the sign. This type of technology might be welcomed by the folks living in New York City, Los Angeles or Seattle. However, if the same signs were placed in smaller towns, the people might get freaked out about it because they are not getting exposed to the other technological advancements that are out there. (I don’t have data to support this hypothesis. The only way to know for sure is to test it.)

What I can say, though, is that marketers who are targeting consumers living in large metropolitan areas have a lot more cool new toys at their disposal when they are trying to reach their target audience. Using these same tools in a smaller city probably won’t produce the same results.

Conclusion

Consumers living in large metropolitan areas are being exposed to a lot of different things that their counterparts living in smaller communities may not experience for months or years, if ever.

As a result, people who live in smaller communities are not getting to experience the gradual change in technology as it is developed. Therefore, these consumers might not be as receptive to the major advances in technology that can revolutionize the way that marketers communicate with their customers and prospects.

Furthermore, because usage of various social networks varies based on the community, campaigns that work in one place might not be as effective in a different part of the country.

Therefore, marketers who live in large metropolitan areas need to research how receptive consumers in other areas of the country are to new technologies before using them to market their products or services. If they don’t, they might end up wasting a lot of money on ineffective marketing campaigns. Or even worse, they might create a backlash that the public relations department will need to fix.

Photo credit: Navin75 on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Have You IWalked?

Have you ever walked through a historic part of a city and saw a building and wondered if anyone famous ever lived or worked there?

Well, if you live in or plan to travel to Boston, New York City, or Washington D.C. in the near future, IWalked Audio Tours has you covered.

IWalked Audio Tours is a Boston-based audio tour production company that was founded in 2010 by Scott Woznicki.

In a June 11, 2012 press release, Woznicki explains that the company was born out of a passion to learn more about his new home in Boston, Massachusetts.

“I was inspired from living in London. I found a fantastic series of live audio walking tours that really opened my eyes to the city. I wanted to recreate that experience here,” states Woznicki.

According to the press release, “Each audio tour produced is recorded in real-time and provides step-by-step guidance for its listeners. You can actually hear the traffic passing by, adding to the ambience and experience. In addition, listeners are treated to a comprehensive portrait of sites along their traveled path. This isn’t your ordinary museum audio tour that leaves you hanging between destinations, as listeners are engaged throughout the full-length 1.5 to 3 hour tour.”

For those of you who don’t plan to be in the Boston, New York, or Washington D.C. areas, you can still benefit from Woznicki’s expertise, as he is very active on most social networking sites. If you have a question about the history of a historic building or landmark anywhere in the United States, he’d be a good guy to ask.

For full disclosure, I’ve been friends with Woznicki for about twenty years now, as we both attended the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County (UWMC) our first two years in college.

In the future, I plan to interview him about how effective each of the social networking sites has been in driving people to his business.

In this post, I want to encourage readers to connect with IWalked Audio Tours on Facebook,  Foursquare, Google+, PinterestTumblr, Twitter, or YouTube. IWalked Audio Tours also has a very interesting history/travel blog.

And, of course, if you are going to be in Boston, New York, or Washington D.C., be sure to take an IWalked Audio Tour.

If you are a history buff, you won’t regret it. Trust me.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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From Mobile Phones to Minority Report: The Future of Advertising Begins Now

Technology is changing the way that consumers shop. It is also changing the way that brands and retailers advertise the products and services that they have for sale.

In a post that I wrote earlier this month, I pointed out how mobile phones are becoming a bigger factor as more consumers reach for their smartphones to research and purchase products.

Retailers have taken note and are providing opportunities for tech savvy customers to find additional information about products and services, find available discounts, and make their shopping experience more enjoyable.

For example, IBM Research is testing augmented reality technology in its IBM mobile app.

According to an article on trendhunter.com, “The app acts like a personal shopper, using augmented reality technology to provide shoppers with more personalized product information as they’re browsing through store shelves.”

However, many shoppers won’t want to take the time to pull their mobile phones out when they shop.

This is where digital signage can help.

The First Step to Minority Report Advertising

If you watched the 2002 movie “Minority Report” that starred Tom Cruise and Colin Farrell, you probably remember the scene in the movie where Chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is walking down a hallway in a subway station and the advertising is being targeted specifically to him as a result of retinal scanners identifying which people are in the area.

To some people, the idea of this type of ad targeting is creepy. To others, it’s exciting.

In this post, I’m going to ignore the privacy concerns and other issues related to this type of targeting, because we’re not quite there, yet.

What is currently being experimented with is facial recognition technology that helps identify basic demographics (gender, approximate age, body type, etc.) of the consumers who are looking at a digital sign. With this data, the digital signs are able to deliver ads that are relevant to the consumer. For example, a digital sign in the men’s department of a clothing store might deliver an ad for Levi’s jeans to men, while women might get ads for the dresses on the other side of the store or maybe even ads with a gift-giving theme.

Just think about it, many stores are already using video displays to advertise the products that they sell. Why not leverage them to deliver more relevant content that can increase sales. And, as an added bonus, retailers can also track basic ad performance and make changes to the content displayed. For more information, check out the Immersive Labs website. They are one of the companies that is taking the lead in this type of technology.

Final Thoughts

Mobile phones are going to play a huge factor in connecting retailers and brands to their customers and potential customers.

However, for consumers who don’t feel the need to reach for their mobile phones while shopping, other technologies are out there to help get their attention when they are in a store’s “brick-and-mortar” location or any other place in the terrestrial world.

By using digital signage similar to what was featured in the movie “Minority Report,” retailers and brands can deliver relevant ads to consumers that can help increase sales of the products and services that they are selling.

The future of advertising begins now. And, to me, that’s exciting.

Photo credit: eyeliam on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Smartphones Are Changing the Way We Shop

One of the biggest challenges that retailers face once they get consumers into their stores is finding ways to get customers to see the products that they have for sale.

For this reason, many store owners go to great lengths to make sure that the design and layout of their store is optimized for the way that consumers shop and that the merchandise is properly displayed.

However, even with the use of endcaps and optimized sightlines, the fact that humans need to look ahead when they walk through a store makes it difficult for some products to get noticed.

In his book, “Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping—Updated and Revised for the Internet, the Global Consumer, and Beyond,” (affiliate link) Paco Underhill mentioned a study that he did to see how much of what is on display at supermarkets is actually seen by customers–the so-called capture rate.

According to Underhill, “About one fifth of all shoppers actually see the average product on a supermarket shelf.”

Smartphones Can Help Consumers Find Products

Mobile phones have given consumers the ability to research and purchase products from their mobile phones.

Smart retailers have taken note and are making an effort to make sure that their store is front and center when these consumers use their mobile phones to search for product information.

But, the power of mobile phones doesn’t need to end there.

Many retailers are partnering with apps like shopkick not only to get consumers into their stores, but also to interact with specific products.

I wouldn’t be surprised if in the near future some major retailer partners with a tech startup to use the sound technology similar to what shopkick uses for walk-in rewards to notify consumers about product specials or discounts as they walk down the grocery store aisle. This would help solve some of the issues that I talked about earlier. (However, I would hope that this technology would be opt-in and used very sparingly, as it could get annoying really fast.)

Other technologies that retailers could use to let consumers know about specific products or services include geofencing, near field communications (NFC), RFID, QR codes, augmented reality, and location-based apps similar to Foursquare.

Furthermore, as Ivy Chang pointed out in a blog post last year, retailers can bring their stores to the consumer by using technology to create remote store-fronts at subway stations (or any other location for that matter) that allow people to scan QR codes with their smartphones and have the products delivered right to their homes.

Final Thoughts

Technology is constantly changing the way that we live our lives.

Smartphones are one example of this, as they are giving retailers additional ways to connect their customers to the products and services that they have for sale.

While store design and merchandising are always going to be important factors in increasing sales, smartphones are going to play an increasing role in helping make consumers aware of discounts or specials and connecting them with additional product information that will help them make purchase decisions.

With this in mind, retailers and the brands that make the products and services that they sell need to be forward thinking and find ways to use smartphones to connect with customers before the competition does.

Photo credit: jeremydeades on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Beyond the Check-In: The Sweet Sound of Location-Based Marketing

The number of people who own smartphones in the United States continues to rise. According to comScore, for the three-month period ending in December of 2012, 97.9 million people in the United States owned smartphones, up 12% from the preceding three month period.

Therefore, as I mentioned last week in a guest blog post on the Strategy E-ssentials blog, it is becoming necessary that businesses develop strategies to help consumers find information about their products and services when consumers reach for their mobile devices. Although it is not the only tool in a business’s mobile marketing toolbox, location-based marketing is going to become more important for businesses of all sizes in the very near future.

The Future of Location-Based Marketing

In my post on the Strategy E-ssentials blog, I talked about a few of the cool things that are going on in Location-Based Marketing. This not only includes using location-based social networking sites in a brand’s marketing efforts, but it also includes giving consumers additional information with location-informed ad content and using geofencing to send targeted messages to consumers when they enter or exit a certain predetermined geographic area.

Sound-Triggered Smartphone Ads

If you have read my blog for the last few weeks, you know a little bit about what brands have been doing with Shazam and IntoNow to help facilitate interaction with consumers while they are watching television.

The concept of using sound to trigger advertising messages or deliver additional content to a consumer’s smartphone is not limited to the time when they are near a television, a computer or even a radio.

As I mentioned in a blog post last summer, stores that have partnered with the shopping app, Shopkick, use a device that sends data via sound waves that are above the range of human hearing to a smartphone with the Shopkick app running—thus enabling Shopkick users to activate the reward of the day.

New York digital agency Densebrain is also doing some cool things with their new program called Sonic Notify.

As an AdWeek article posted last December points out, “Repurposing the bus-tracking technology, Densebrain devised small beacons—designed to be hidden from view—that can be attached to shelves, and which emit inaudible, high-frequency sounds that trigger smartphone messages. The audio code can also be overlaid onto an existing audio track. As long as consumers have downloaded an app integrated with the technology, the smartphone will respond to the sound without user activation.”

This technology can be used to alert consumers to special offers when they are in brick and mortar retail stores or restaurants, or it can be used to provide interactive content during television programs. And, it could also be used during live concerts and sporting events.

In fact, it is being used in the Made Fashion Week app that debuted this month during New York Fashion Week. Using the Sonic Notify technology, the app displays information about each look as models walk down the runway.

Final Thoughts

Location-based marketing is becoming more important for businesses of all sizes.

It’s important to note that location-based marketing doesn’t only include check-in apps, but other technologies like location-informed ad content, geofencing and sound-triggered smartphone apps, as well. And, these are just some of the current technologies out there.

I can’t wait to see what they think of next.

Photo credit: CHRISTOPHER MACSURAK on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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From Touchdowns to GRAMMYs

Last week, I wrote a blog post that pointed out that brands are now taking advantage of the fact that many people have access to a smartphone, tablet computer or a laptop when they watch television.

As I pointed out in that post, brands that aired commercials during the Super Bowl allowed viewers to get access to additional content or discounts on their products when viewers went to their website or their page on certain social networking sites. Some brands also partnered with companies that own smartphone apps to help facilitate the interaction with their brand.

The Game Has Just Begun

Integrating social media into a brand’s marketing mix is a relatively new thing for everyone. In fact, it is a whole new ball game—one that is just getting started.

Social networking sites also make it easier to be a Monday morning quarterback.

Monday morning quarterbacks are good for brands if people discuss what they think went right and what they think went wrong with each marketing campaign, particularly if the criticism is constructive.

Brands are going to make mistakes. The key is to learn from them… and the only way to do that is to analyze the situation, exchange ideas and then make adjustments in the future.

Shazam

One of the things that really piqued my interest this year was how brands used the Shazam app to help people who watched the Super Bowl gain access to additional content, enter sweepstakes, make donations to charities and receive discounts that were being offered by brands just by tagging the commercials that were aired during the game. Additionally, viewers who tagged the game itself could see real-time statistics about the plays and the players, participate in polls, vote for their favorite ads and buy Super Bowl merchandise.

In a press release that Shazam issued on Monday, Andrew Fisher, Shazam’s CEO, pointed out that, “The Super Bowl was our first major live network television event where we enabled people to interact with all aspects of the game, including the ads and the spectacular halftime show. Knowing the size of the Super Bowl audience, we had high expectations for how many people would be engaged during the event and with the numbers in the millions we were blown away.”

With that said, I noticed a few things that brands should consider in the future.

First, I was planning to tag all of the Super Bowl commercials that were Shazamable. However, a few commercials into the game I tried to test the app to see what would happen. In the process, I found out that they weren’t including the Shazam logo on many of the ads that were Shazamable, at least in the market where I watch the game in.

If a logo was included, it would have definitely encouraged more people to tag each ad with the Shazam app.

Second, because it takes some time to open the app and tag a commercial, I found that I missed the message that many brands were trying to convey when they aired their commercials. (It’s a good thing the commercials are also posted on YouTube.)

In an article on fastcocreate.com, Shazam’s CEO addressed these issues. He also mentioned that brands need to offer a valuable incentive or reward when viewers use the app to tag a commercial. This is a lesson that should be heeded when brands ask consumers to interact with them anywhere (e.g., when consumers are asked to scan QR codes, use smartphone apps, use social networking sites, etc.)

Shazam—It’s GRAMMY Time

If you didn’t get a chance to use the Shazam app during the Super Bowl, don’t worry, you will get your chance to use the app again soon… really soon.

In fact, Shazam has partnered with The Recording Academy to offer additional content to viewers during the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards.

When viewers use the Shazam app to tag the live broadcast of the awards ceremony, they will be able to access a live stream of behind-the-scenes footage, keep track of the artists performing live so they don’t miss a minute of the action and have the ability to look up the nominees in all the major categories with links to purchase music from iTunes and Amazon.

Shazam is also giving one lucky person and their guest the chance to win a VIP trip for two to the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards in 2013. (See the Shazam website for additional information.)

Final Thoughts

As I have said before, it is important for brands to take advantage of the fact that consumers have access to smartphones, tablet computers and laptops when they watch television.

This could include inviting consumers to engage with them on their website, any social networking site or via a smartphone or tablet computer app.

This is exactly what many brands did during last week’s Super Bowl.

As I also mentioned, I found it particularly interesting how brands used the Shazam app to engage with consumers.

I definitely think that this is a great use of this technology, and I think it is only going to become more prevalent in the future.

However, because the notion of engaging with consumers online or via smartphone apps is a relatively new idea, brands are going to have some failures mixed in with their success stories.

The key is to learn from the mistakes and make adjustments.

It should be noted that the next chance that brands will have to engage many consumers at the same time is only a few hours away.

If you get a chance, you might want to check out what brands do to interact with consumers during the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards. It is going to be particularly important that they send the right message given the tragic news that we received just a few hours ago.

Rest in peace, Whitney Houston.

Photo credit: CousinJacob on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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