Central Desktop: Everything you need to know about BYOD

logo_central-desktop-social_media-with-byodBYOD. Looks pretty scary with all that blood everywhere doesn’t it? Well, never fear, because BYOD isn’t too scary, you just need to know what you’re getting into. My latest article at Central Desktop tells you all you need to know about ‘Bring Your Own Device’, which is why it is handily entitled ‘Everything you need to know about BYOD‘.

It goes a bit like this:

As progressive as BYOD might seem, it’s anathema to the majority of IT departments, being a world away from the structured familiarity of traditional IT hardware policy. So, for IT departments – maybe your IT department – facing up to these challenges, what can you do? Here are the pros and cons of BYOD, and the policy issues you should think about when implementing a BYOD policy.

Read the full article at Central Desktop.

20 top web design and development trends for 2013

20 top web design and development trends for 2013

.NET Magazine posted its annual predictions article today. There are some great thoughts here, and if last year’s effort is anything to go by, it will be bang on target. So for all you developers and designers out there – go take a look!

As an aside, my own contribution to this years article – thanks to Craig Grannell for asking my thoughts – is discoverability. It’s something I may cover in a post, as I believe its going to be a key area for the big content producers this year. As the amount of content increases (apps, videos, etc), finding the right content becomes more and more difficult. The company that cracks this problem is going to really reap the benefits.

* UPDATE *

Following on from yesterday’s article, I was particularly pleased to see the following article on PandoDaily this morning: “Game discovery platform Chartboost is on fire, scores Sequoia in $19 million Series B“. Maybe we won’t have to wait too long for this prediction to manifest!

Also, for those looking for additional information on 2013 Web Development trends, check out HTMLCut’s “Trends, Expectations, and Truth About Web Design 2013” – it’s a good overview of all the 2013 trends and tips articles published over the last few weeks.

What do you think will be this year’s trends? Do you agree with .NET? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

4 reasons why mobile marketing shouldn’t be an afterthought

In the past, many companies tried to graft digital strategies onto existing offline campaigns. The results were uncoordinated campaigns that failed to make the most out of the opportunities that an integrated approach could bring. They were, in effect, two separate campaigns.

The same thing is happening today, but this time it’s regarding mobile strategies. Here are four reasons why mobile marketing shouldn’t be an afterthought.

Reason #1: It will cost you more

While it’s possible to create a separate mobile marketing strategy around your existing marketing, it will cost you more in the long run.

Why?

Because the content and assets required for effective mobile marketing are not the same as for offline, or even digital marketing. Mobile content should be lightweight, adaptable and concise – creating a 200-page PDF whitepaper won’t cut it on a three and a half inch screen.

While content marketing is the new king of the marketing hill, content is expensive and time consuming to create. By creating effective content that can be used across many communication channels and finding multiple applications for it, you’ll use your budget more effectively.

Reason #2: Your campaigns won’t be truly ‘integrated’

Planning campaigns to be multichannel from the start allows the savvy marketer to make the best use of mobile as a communication channel. Marketing synergies can be created by linking offline and online channels through QR codes to drive consumer activity at the point of interaction – be it on packaging, posters, or any other touch point – rather than later on.

The immediacy of mobile marketing increases our ability to influence the customer. In fact, according to the Mobile Marketing Association, 70% of all mobile searches result in action within one hour! Whether that search is driven from offline or digital marketing activity, the opportunity that mobile marketing provides are too great to ignore. An integrated multi-channel approach to marketing will ensure that you capture the broadest possible audience into the sales funnel.

Reason #3: You won’t be taking advantage of the opportunities that mobile makes available

Mobile marketing provides a new set of opportunities to marketers. The hardware capabilities of the mobile devices allow for new approaches to customer interaction.

Not only does the camera on a mobile device enable QR codes, it also allows foraugmented reality experiences, where our message can be overlaid over the real world.

Geo-location is even more exciting. Marketers are now in a position to communicate with consumers at, or close to, the point of sale. Traditional approaches, such as discounts and coupons, can be delivered directly to the consumer as they approach a store, or during the purchasing process.

Reason #4: Purchasing behaviour is changing and mobile is becoming more important

The beauty of a mobile device is that it is with your consumer almost all the time and gives them access to information on the move. As a result, people are changing their browsing habits by accessing information away from the traditional desktop browser.

This change in browsing habits is having an impact on the way people behave offline; consumers are now much more likely to use a smartphone or similar mobile device to inform the purchasing decision. By allowing mobile marketing to be an afterthought, you’re throwing away the opportunity to influence customer behavior at a time that matters most – in-store at the point of purchase.

Not convinced?

If you’re still not sure about the benefits that mobile marketing can bring, consider this: mobile internet usage will outstrip desktop usage by 2015, and in the last year smartphone and tablet sales outstripped desktop PC sales for the first time.

By embracing mobile marketing now, you’re not just getting ready for the future, you’re making the most of now. The mobile era is here already; don’t get left behind.

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Landing Pages – the unforgiveable sin

This article was republished at Unbounce as a different version with a focus on QR codes (it was edited from the original). This article is included here only for the purposes of showing the editorial process – from first submission to published article. As stated in my previous post, I’ll leave it up to you to tell me whether you think the quiz structure works or not.

Image credit to fuzzysaurus on Flickr

There are many ways to get people to your landing page, but it’s not the channels that you use that ultimately drive conversions, it’s something else entirely. And that’s where many marketers go wrong. You see that guy in the picture above; you don’t want your users to feel like that do you, just because of something you did, or didn’t, do?

But all this negativity, it’s a bit heavy. Why don’t we lighten it up a bit by taking a little quiz? You know the type: just read the questions, decide on whether you would A, B or C, then total up the number of A, B and C’s. It’s just like reading Seventeen magazine again. Just promise me you won’t look down the page to see the answers…

Question 1

You’re sitting in your kitchen having breakfast. You’re reading the back of the cereal packet for the third time in the last five minutes, when you see a QR code tucked away next to the ingredients panel. By visiting the site you can find out exactly how many calories are in a single cheerio. Do you:

A.    Immediately start looking elsewhere on the box for a URL, spilling cereal on the table when you look on the bottom of the packet, then, when you find it, run upstairs to your desktop PC to find out more.

B.    Get your Android phone out of your pocket. Scan the code. Go to the Website.

C.    Do nothing. What is this QR code business anyway?

Question 2

You’re at the store. You’ve got a new box of cereal to replace the one you dropped on the floor during breakfast. Standing in the queue you notice a sign on the counter offering discounts for regular customers, with double-discounts at your local store. All you have to do is check in on their Website. Do you:

A.    Steal the sign surreptitiously when the cashier isn’t looking and run home to check in from the comfort of your home. Then realize you left your cereal at the store.

B.    Take out your iPhone. Go to the URL. Check-in. Get a discount.

C.    Do nothing. Who wants to check-in? Check-ins are for airports.

Question 3

You’re home from the store–and slightly out of breath from the run–so you turn on the TV. An advert for a new, even bigger TV catches your eye, and they’ve got deals for their Twitter followers. The links to their offer pages are right there in their Twitter stream. Do you:

A.    Scribble the Twitter name down on a piece of paper, then hunker down in your home office to follow them on your 32″ widescreen monitor.  Yeah baby!

B.    Pick up your brand new Samsung Galaxy. Fire up the Twitter app. Search for the account. Follow it. Click through to their deals landing page right there on your phone.

C.    Twitter? Why would I want to know what the world is having for lunch?

Okay, that’s it. It’s time to tot up those answers.

How did I do?

If you got mostly A’s:

Okay, those who answered mostly As are online, but missing a big piece of the picture. The good news: of anyone out there, marketers have the most to gain from this audience as it moves from desktop-bound activities to mobile converts.

The way people access the Internet is changing. They’re moving away from a reliance on the desktop browser and moving toward the mobile device. And that change in browsing habits is having a knock-on effect in our offline behavior. We’re much more likely to use mobile devices to inform our purchasing choices, either in-store or in our downtime.

The three scenarios outlined above show just a few of the ways in which smart retailers are using these changes in customer behavior to their advantage. The use of QR codes to connect offline printed media with an online presence is rising and they can be an efficient way to drive traffic to your landing page. There’s no fiddly typing of URLs on a tiny keyboard, you simply scan the code and are taken directly to the website. It’s also possible to brand QR codes with a logo for maximum brand impact.

Using advertising at Point of Sale is also a great way to appeal to a captive audience. By catching shoppers at the point of purchase, you have the opportunity to influence the decision-making process. If a customer is already with you, you want to make sure they come back again. The ability to geo-locate customers through their mobile devices can be used effectively to serve local offers and generate customer loyalty. Adidas successfully used geolocation to support six popup stores in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

And finally, there’s good old social media. Social networks, especially Facebook and Twitter, are becoming an integrated part of many companies marketing strategies, with the importance of these channels increasing year over year. It’s also true that the a growing percentage of activity on both these platforms is from mobile devices (55% on Twitter, 33% on Facebook). Chances are that, if you’re driving people to your social media presence, there is a good chance they are doing it on a mobile device.

If you got mostly B’s:

Well, you may be preaching to the converted here. These customers are true mobile surfers. They may be part of a growing demographic that accesses the Internet primarily through a mobile device, but for marketers this doesn’t always translate into best practice for campaigns unless their landing pages are optimized for mobile browsing. Take a look at your company’s web presence, whether it’s a campaign landing page or the main company website. Would they work in the scenarios outlined in the quiz?

If you got mostly C’s:

Well. Those who scored mostly C’s are in need of a digital refresher course. But don’t worry, more and more become converted online shoppers and eventual mobile users everyday. Keep trying to engage them.

But what has all of this got to do with landing pages?

There’s a change taking place. The way that people access the internet is changing, and with it, the way that they are accessing your Web pages. Mobile devices are becoming more and more prevalent and we can no longer predict how and where users interact with our brand, so we must be prepared to support every potential channel and engage prospects wherever they choose to engage with our products.

The unforgivable sin for a landing page is a poor user experience. If you’ve done the hard work and directed people to your page but the user experience is a poor one, you’re simply throwing away time, money and effort. Creating a strong user experience, regardless of how the user accesses your page, is paramount. By making sure your landing pages are mobile-optimized, you’re giving yourself a head-start on the road to conversions and revenue. By making it easy for you users to read and navigate the content on your landing page you will increase conversion rates. Leave them trying to read tiny type on a tiny screen and you’re fighting a losing battle.

Don’t be left out. Engage the customers who choose B.

Money in Mobile Forum 2011

BLN LogoI’m happy to say that I’ll be speaking at the 2011 Money in Mobile forum this June. Alongside Nick Lansley (Head of R&D for Tesco.com), Russell Buckley (Former MD of Admob), Ilja Laurs (Founder & CEO of GetJar) and Andy Smith (Industry Head of Mobile for Google), I’ll be looking at how a great customer experience is central to making money from your mobile channels.

It promises to be a good event, with a wide range of speakers looking at the subject from many different viewpoints, from understanding the underlying business models to front-end user experience challenges. You can find more details about the event at the website: http://moneyinmobile2011.thebln.com. If you’re going to be attending and would like to catch up on the day during one of the networking sessions,  please contact me.

Smashing Magazine – Designing for the Future Web

The future is a strange and wondrous place...

At the end of March, my first article for Smashing Magazine was published. Designing for the Future Web looked at how the web is evolving to become available across an ever-increasing range of devices, from phones to TVs, and how we must change our thinking on design to accommodate this changing landscape. It generated some good conversations, with very differing opinions brought to the discussion.

If you would like to read the article, you can catch it at: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/03/29/designing-for-the-future-web/.

What is… Groupon

Now that the dust has settled, and the hyperbole surrounding Groupon’s growth has subsided, we can now take an objective look at the service it provides. Here’s a 5-minute guide – or at least a 5-ish paragraph guide – to Groupon.

What is Groupon?

Groupon LogoGroupon is a collective buying service. Put simply, it offers discounts on products and services which only become valid once a set number of consumers buy into them. The numbers required may change, as will the amount of discount you get, but the principle remains the same: once enough people buy, the discount becomes active and everyone benefits. Consumers get the discount and businesses have the peace of mind that they have generated new customers and have enough take-up to make the offer pay off.

Sounds great in principle

And so it is. However, businesses need to be careful when they construct their offers. In January, a Japanese café was inundated with buyers for the traditional New Year’s meal “osechi”, leaving them unable to meet demand and leading to disappointment. Predictably, complaints were widely posted on the Internet. Usually, Groupon provides advice to businesses to stop this happening, but due to their rapid growth, the Japanese employees had not yet been trained to provide this service.

How did it get so big, so fast?

Groupon was launched in the US in November 2008, and its growth since then has been outstanding. It now covers over 565 cities around the world and has seen its web traffic grow from just 2 million unique visitors per month to over 15 million (source: Crunchbase). Annual revenue is around $2 billion. They are the market leader in the group-buying category by some distance.

In December 2010, they turned down a $6 billion offer from Google, a defiant move that shows the confidence they have in the marketplace and in the group-buying concept. This was after turning down approximately $2 billion from Yahoo in October 2010.

Their growth has been fueled by a mixture of acquisitions (Japan, Russia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Phillipines and Taiwan), aggressive IP protection (MobGob), partnerships (eBay, Ning) and smart deals (Gap). But also, and in some ways more importantly, they’ve come to the fore at the right time, catching the zeitgeist for the hyper-local service.

Zeitgeist… ?

As I’ve written before, following globalisation is localisation. The rise of mobile devices and geo-location technologies has led to a upsurge of interest in creating personalised web experiences. Service providers from search engines to advertisers are using these technologies to get closer to consumers, offering them more targeted information. And while pure online spend may be rising, connecting consumers with local businesses will always generate good return as that’s currently where the majority of our spend takes place.

FourSquare is also based around these principles, but works the other way around to Groupon. Rather than introducing new customers to a business, it rewards consumers for their loyalty, with regular customers earning greater rewards. Using the two services together could provide a strong basis for generating and retaining consumers.

Shoppers queuing at a till
Groupon makes the queues a little more bearable (Credit: George Yi)

Does it have any value for B2B Marketers?

There’s no doubt that Groupon started out as a pure B2C proposition. It’s perfect for lower-value, impulse-led purchases, but it may well hold value for B2B organisations as well, even though the decision-making process is much slower. March saw the first B2B deals being made available, led by IT consulting firm Ajilitee. Their daily deal offered 50% off $25,000 of consulting and proved a great success for them, not in direct sales but as a demand generation tool. Although Groupon would prefer deals to demand, this has led to Groupon putting more resource behind B2B deals through Groupon Stores and redemption-tracking software.

Despite its market-leading position, the future isn’t completely clear for Groupon. It must continue to provide relevant offers and not become a home for drab low-value voucher code discounts, and it also faces competition from Living Social. However, it’s size and stature should keep it ahead of the game in the B2C space.

And B2B? Only time will tell whether B2B collective buying services will be successful, but (excuse the pun) they should certainly not be discounted.

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