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Mobile Mania

In 2011, it’s predicted that half of all US cell phone sales will be smart phones.  In the global market, that will happen by 2013.  While Nokia is still the most dominant brand, iPhone obviously has been growing.  I learned this and more during a Webinar sponsored by Aquent and the American Marketing Association.

Unfortunately, statistics also show that only 20% of free mobile apps  were still in use after a week, and only 5 % were still in use a month later. So the question is – how do you build an app that truly engages your audience in an ongoing manner? Mobile success is not automatic – there needs to be serious effort put in to building your mobile presence.

Another issue is measurement.  Javascript – used to measure clicks – is often not present or enabled on mobile phones, and cookies may not be allowed on mobile devices and networks.  Some carriers will strip HTTP to their character limits.  So what to do? There are work-arounds, and the best option is a “waterfall” approach – try Javascript tagging first, then server-side image request, then wireline capture, and finally API collection and insertion (although this option can mean using significant IT resources).

Importantly, whatever you do or have built – look at key performance indicators that meet business objectives and analyze “high value tasks” in your mobile work – what do you want your customers doing/ what provides them with the most benefit.  And make sure your reporting is automated as much as possible; otherwise  much time will be spent compiling data before it can be analyzed.

Beyond these technical considerations, what are overall best practices for marketing via mobile? The Mobile Marketing Association has just released best practices for “cross-carrier mobile content services” to include “text messaging (SMS), multimedia messaging (MMS), shortcode programs, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and mobile Web.”

The Webinar was recorded and is still available online here.

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Twitter Danger

The public’s romance with Twitter is leaving its salad days, as H.I. McDunnough would say.

Twitter use and popularity likely peaked this summer when the world was giddy with the anticipation that the Iranian election protest might actually succeed in real change, but it has not come to pass – yet.

I read a very disturbing commentary on TechCrunch of how one soldier not only propegated incorrect information about what was happening at Ft. Hood last Thursday. This soldier thought she was doing the right thing by letting the entire world be voyeurs into the gruesome scene.  If people know from  whence the misinformation was coming, they will learn to mistrust this kind of instantaneous coverage – not necessarily a bad thing.

So does this mean that Twitter is on the wane? Probably not.  It has captured the attention of many a mover and shaker, and the APIs help it integrate with other popular tools like Facebook.  It is still a good tool for many organizations to communicate with their constituents, especially when events are happening more quickly than other media can handle, or where regular media can’t serve the needs of all potential audiences, such as during a hurricane or other emergency that effects tens of thousands of people across a wide geographic area.  But we all still need respected and trusted commentators and investigators to uncover the real story.

Perhaps this post could also be called “in defense of journalism”?

Search Engine Marketing for Non-profit Orgs

I don’t think very many non-profits have caught on to the potential of search engine marketing.  When I worked for Georgetown University, it didn’t really occur to me that this might be a good idea. We focused on the alumni in our existing database, or on alumni thinking “Hmmm, I wonder what the alumni association is doing?” or “When is reunion?”  Of course, our Communications Office and the Admissions office for the various schools marketed themselves to the general population, but not us fundraisers so much.

Many non-profits, especially those focused on local issues, spend a lot of time thinking about those issues and responding to their current constituency.  That might be perfectly fine in some cases.  In the Austin area and similar areas that are experiencing transience and population growth, there are huge numbers of people who are not yet plugged in or educated about the community and its issues.  These people are actively searching for information online and have a desire to go beyond their work or school environment.  If you are an advocacy organization of any kind, you need to be reaching those newbies, and making sure your organization’s Web site shows up in the the first page of Google searches related to your issue should be a priority. If you need volunteers, ditto. 

Of course, I’m not the first to think of this, and Beth’s Blog has some great information and resources in various Google Adwords posts.

I also am thinking to attending the SEMforSMB Conference next week to get myself up to speed on this.