Feb
26
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ATS Upgrades Ringless Voicemail Service

ringless voicemail

Ringless Voicemail: Voicecasting directly to the voicemail.

Buoyed by the recent success of its ringless voicemail product, Advanced Telecom Services is pleased to announce the following enhancements to its existing platform.

  • Time Zone Adjuster — If you have a list of phone numbers from all over the United States and Canada, we can now organize that list by area code.  Hence, you can start doing the ringless voicemail drops in the Eastern Time Zone and then move across the countries to the Western (and Alaskan and Hawaiian Time Zones).
  • Call Throttling — If your program might generate immediate calls to your live operators, we can now limit the amount of simultaneous calls to help eliminate long hold times or busy signals for your consumers.
  • Landline Phone Access — If the initial call attempt using the traditional ringless voicemail technology is not successful, we will attempt to reach that consumer’s voicemail box through other more traditional methods.
  • Reporting — If needed, reporting can now be provided to customers while an outbound voice-casting program is active.

To learn more about ringless voicemail, call the ATS sales office at 610-688-6000 in the United States and 416-800-2490 in Canada.

Feb
24
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Companies Using Mobile Marketing 2015

ATS Mobile customers

A good start to the new year for ATS Mobile

It’s been a great start to the 2015 year with the following companies discovering the power of mobile and mobile marketing strategies developed by ATS Mobile.

Feb
13
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Apps Development

Author Bob Bentz    Category Apps     Tags ,

Mobile Apps for businesses

A Walking Billboard in the pocket of your Customer 24 Hours a Day

That’s what an app can be for your business.

Imagine how important that is to be one of the 26 apps that the average person has on their mobile phone. What’s that real estate worth to your business?

Number of Apps Available

It seems like everybody is making apps today, even the US government thanks to President Obama’s initiative that all departments have apps. You can even get the IRS To Go while picking up your cup of Java at Starbucks.

It’s no surprise how many apps there are given how much time Americans are spending with their apps. Let’s take a look at just how many apps are available:

  • Google Play (formerly Android Market) – 1.3 million
  • Apple App Store – 1.2 million
  • Windows Phone Store – 300,000
  • Amazon Appstore – 240,000
  • BlackBerry World – 130,000
  • Galaxy Apps (formerly Samsung Apps store) – couldn’t find number
  • Nokia Store – 120,000

App Development is Expensive

When it comes to mobile marketing, marketers must be very careful when considering app development due to its cost.

Here’s a cool tool that can give you a quick estimate of the cost of app development for your project.

But, while the cost to program a new app is at an all-time high, it may be amazing to many that 95 out of the top 100 apps in the apps stores are FREE!

It’s important that you have a basic understanding of the primary types of app development that are available to you. Consulting with your developer will give you the background you need to decide what type of app you should develop.

  • Native Apps

Native apps live on the device itself. They are installed through the app store and are developed specifically for just one platform. Because they are unique to only one platform, they can use the other features that are already on the phone such as the camera, the GPS, and your contact list.

If you are in an area with no connectivity, a native app will still work and it will be fast. Think of downloading a travel guide.

A major negative of native apps is the update process. If the business wants to update, it must submit those updates to the app store and then have the update pushed to the users.

Another negative for native apps is that you have to pay a 30% fee to Apple for all purchases made on its app store.

  • Web Based Mobile Apps

Web apps are really websites that may look like native apps, but they reside on a browser. Most are written in HTML5. They are usually accessed from a web page where the user is given the option of “installing” them. The install, however, is not really the app itself, but a bookmark to the site.

One of the advantages of a web based app is that you don’t have to go to the app store to find it. Also, if the business wants to update it, it’s as simple as updating a web page; no submission to the app stores necessary.

Another advantage of web based is that there are no content restrictions. Apple, for example, has been notoriously prudish in its willingness to accept some content. Hence, it was Playboy that was one of the first companies to use web based apps.

  • Hybrid Apps

Hybrids are, as you would expect, a combination of Native and Web-based. One of the advantages of hybrid apps is that they work on any platform. Therefore, costs are significantly reduced since the code can be used on multiple platforms.

App Marketing

When you are competing against a million other apps vying for the consumer’s attention, you can see why it’s important to have a well thought out strategy for marketing your app.

While every marketing strategy is going to be different when it comes to apps, there are some basics that you need to get right to have any kind of chance.

  • Include the most important keywords and keyword phrases so that you show up when a consumer does a search in the app stores. Otherwise, it’s almost like your app doesn’t exist.
  • You need to be able to sell the app when the consumer arrives at your page in the app store. Exciting graphics and adding video.

  • Social media is big. Facebook is almost always a critical part of your app marketing plan.
  • Mobile advertising – what better place to advertise your new app.
  • Create buzz prior to your release date. Think email marketing, press releases, and all the same strategies you’d do if you were having a store grand opening.
  • Encourage positive customer reviews. If you get off to a bad start with reviews, it’s very difficult for the app to recover as it will be buried in the app stores.

It’s extremely difficult for an app to get a following, even if you represent a well-known brand. Be sure to not spend all your budget on development or you’ll have a great app that nobody knows about.

Feb
12
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Mobile Advertising

When Will Mobile Get Its Fair Share?

Look Confusing?

In the presentations that our company makes, we often site the fact that mobile gets 20% of the time spent with media, but only 4% of the advertising budgets. It’s an effective and powerful sales statistic that makes the prospect consider how it may be missing out on this valuable market.

How To Advertise on Mobile

There are several ways that and advertiser can take advantage of the medium of mobile advertising.

  • Direct Mobile Websites – buying an advertisement directly from YELP on its mobile website.
  • In App Advertising – buying an advertisement on the Pandora mobile app directly from Pandora.
  • Mobile Ad Networks – purchasing an advertisement on a variety of mobile apps and mobile websites from a company that has relationships with many such sites.
  • Social Media – buying mobile advertising on sites such as Facebook or Twitter with the tools that it provides.

Direct Mobile Websites

You could purchase directly from mobile websites themselves. A common place where a small business might purchase directly on a mobile website is YELP. YELP has a very aggressive sales team; it seems like every business I call has had a visit from the YELP rep.

Many advertisers will come to us and ask to purchase mobile advertising on sites such as ESPN or CNN. Most of these sites don’t really want to deal directly with a lot of customers so they usually have a minimum investment of at least $10,000 per month which makes such advertising only possible for larger advertisers.

YELP Advertising Mobile

In App Advertising

One could also purchase advertising directly from sites such as Pandora. One of the long-time raps against radio has been that it is “background noise” and listeners don’t really pay close attention to the advertisements. The same could be said about Pandora, except that Pandora only serves graphic advertisements when the consumer is engaging with it. In other words, ads don’t just randomly pop-up on the site, but if you are engaging with Pandora via a thumbs up or thumbs down feedback, an advertisement may appear.

In addition to the graphic advertisements, you can also purchase voice advertising on the Pandora app.

Of course, if you hate the advertisements, you can always purchase the advertising free version on Pandora for $4.99 per month.

Pandora advertising

Mobile Ad Networks

There are a lot of mobile ad networks out there competing for market share against the giants of Google and Facebook. In fact, this guy put together a list of over 415 mobile ad networks! Of course, no customer or agency could ever be familiar with all of these so you end up using a few, mostly based on the availability of inventory, price, and service.

Here’s some of the top 25 mobile ad networks. You may recognize some of the names. Millennial Media, Jumptap, and Tapjoy are networks that a lot of advertisers and agencies use. Some mobile ad networks have areas of specialization like InMobi which specifically targets gamers.

Quite frankly, the mobile ad networks don’t get results that are nearly as effective as Facebook, because they don’t offer the pinpoint advertising that is needed. They do, however, offer a better CPM (cost per thousand) and provide a lot of branding at a more inexpensive rate.

The negative is that your advertising will run on a lot of different types of sites. We once got a complaint that one of our client’s advertisements ran on a site that was exclusively about butts so it is now a running joke in the office that we are “buying butts.”

Mobile Social Media Advertising

If you can only advertise in one place, I’d recommend that it be social media, especially Facebook. Facebook knows an awful lot about you. Think of everything that you post on Facebook; it obviously knows that. Then, think of all of the sites that you visit that have the Facebook LIKE button on them; Facebook knows you are there whether you’ve clicked on the LIKE button or not. Most of us are always logged in to our Facebook page, because our computers remember our passwords.

 

Facebook advertising

 

With Facebook, there are two primary types of advertising available. Open your Facebook page on your desktop and take a look at your News Feed. There will be advertisements there. Facebook limits that amount of News Feed ads that it serves to you to about six per day so we don’t get overwhelmed with the advertising. Moreover, only 20% of the advertisement can be sales oriented. In other words, Facebook will reject the ad if you have a big SALE over it. That’s why the news feed ads don’t really jump off the page at you screaming advertisement. At times, you don’t even know it’s a paid ad unless you see the “Sponsored” on it.

mobile advertising

Take a look at your Facebook page on your mobile phone. Now, you see where the sponsored news feed advertising really shines. That’s because the sponsored advertisement takes up your entire screen of your smartphone! You can’t miss that advertising!

Now, look to the right on your desktop Facebook page and you’ll see a narrower column that actually says “Sponsored” on it. These ads are cheaper than news feed ads, but they are also clearly less noticeable. And, it is considerably less effective in my opinion.

Facebook is, of course, not the only effective social media mobile advertising medium. Linked In is a great way to target professionals via social media advertising. Some advertisers have had success with Twitter and Pinterest advertising. A lot of advertisers are very excited to have Instagram advertising roll out to the masses; today, only Fortune 500 companies are involved in the beta test.

Feb
11
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Mobile SEO

Tips for Better Mobile SEO

Why Search Position is So Important for Mobile and How to Get that Top Position

If you’re marketing plan doesn’t include mobile, then your marketing plan isn’t finished.

The same can be said of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). While much of the same elements that are critical in search engine optimization for desktop searches are the same as for mobile, there are some definite differences when you are trying to optimize a website for mobile.

First, it’s important to see the difference between click through rates by position when it comes to mobile vs. desktop searches.

ctr-mobile-study

ctr-desktop-model

 

You can see from the comparison above how gaining top positioning with a mobile search is even more important than it is with desktop search.

Listed below are some of the most critical things that I recommend when it comes to optimizing your mobile site.

  • Keyword searches should usually be shorter keywords as smartphone users are less likely to enter long tail keywords. Try http://keywordtool.io or Google Adwords Keyword Planner to find short keywords and keywords that are similar to your primary keywords.
  • When choosing long tail keywords for expensive products on a mobile site, think of what the initial search will be for. Often, an initial search for a luxury or expensive product begins on mobile and the actual purchase is deferred to desktop.
  • Geo-target your site to mobile. Think about how people search for local businesses. Out of town people, for instance, might search for “family restaurant near Disney World.” Or, they may rely on their GPS and simply search for “gym near the Hilton.” Others yet may rely on voice search through Siri. Consider adding such keywords to your prominent responsive design site pages that target mobile search.
  • A good user experience is critical. Google will rank your site based on how many bounces (those that leave the site immediately) it gets and how often the consumer returns to the site.
  • Use the “thumb test.” If you can’t navigate your site with your thumb, then it’s likely not a good user experience and you won’t get the repeat use that Google wants to see. Your mobile site needs to be easy to navigate.
  • Don’t ever use pop-ups, Flash (iPhones can’t show it).
  • Speed load time is especially important with mobile since in many cases the consumer is searching where he/she does not have access to wi-fi. We have no patience when it comes to the web: 74% will leave a site if it doesn’t load within five seconds. Insert your website on Google Page Speed Insights to see how your site ranks speed-wise versus others.
  • Include video wherever you can, but put video on a page unto itself so it loads quickly.
  • One of the advantages to using adaptive design instead of responsive design is that you can design a mobile version of your site for each keyword as well as each device. In other words, an e-commerce site could have the product searched for at the top of the responsive design page.
  • You see the importance of a “less is more” approach to mobile web design. There are many reasons to only include the most important elements in your site.
  • Be sure to register your business with sites that are primarily made for local mobile search such as YELP and Trip Advisor.
  • Make sure you have your business listed at Google My Business In the Dushinski book, this was referred to previously as Google Places.
  • Put your phone number on every page and make it click-to-call so if the consumer simply touches it, they’ll dial your business. Think pizza takeout.

With more than half of searches expected to be mobile this year, you can see just how important mobile search engine rankings are for your business. These tips will help you climb the mobile SEO ladder.

Feb
10
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Mobile-Optimized Websites

The Foundation for an Effective Mobile Strategy

Responsive Web Design

According to eMarketer, 79.1% of Americans accessed the web from a mobile phone in 2014.

Moreover, more than a third of all accesses to the internet in the USA come from a mobile phone. That number rises if the target group is Black or Hispanic. And, in vertical markets like restaurants, the number is understandably significantly higher. In countries such as India, where broadband is not popular, mobile access to the internet is the predominant form of web access.

 

Why You Need a Mobile Optimized Website

You’ve heard of Google. It’s kind of becoming a big deal. So, when Google speaks, most business owners listen. According to Google, 61% of consumers accessing a site that is not mobile friendly will simply leave for a competitor’s site.

Despite all of the evidence, however, a surprisingly low number of small businesses have a website that is optimized for mobile. In fact, only 6% of small business websites are mobile optimized, according to this study. I happen to think that’s kind of a low estimate, but nevertheless, you get the point: there’s a lot of websites that are turning away business due to not being mobile optimized!

 

 

Take the Thumb Test

Google has put together a great presentation on what makes for a great user experience on mobile. You should learn these and know them well when designing your mobile website.

But, I like to simplify things even more. I call it the “thumb test.” Open up a website on your mobile phone and navigate through it using only your thumb. Now, imagine that you are large man with really big thumbs. Were you able to easily get to where you needed to go? How many “fat finger” clicks did you make?

 

How to Optimize Your Website for Mobile

Until about 2012, most businesses created a mobile version of its website. This was a smaller, easy to navigate, version of the website. It often used a different domain like http://m.website.com.   When a consumer came to your domain from a mobile device, the visitor was simply directed to the different mobile site.

Then, things began to change for the lowly mobile only website. Google best practices announced that you really should be using the same domain for desktop and mobile users and the SEO community began endorsing responsive design as the best way to obtain high search engine rankings. Hence, Google’s announcement caused the near death of the mobile website.

 

What Technology Should I Use for My Mobile Website?

There are really four potential solutions to how you should design your new mobile website:

  • Unique Mobile Site – using the m.website or simply a unique site solely for mobile users
  • Responsive Design – fluidly changes to any screen or device size
  • Adaptive Design – changes to fit a predetermined set of screen and device sizes
  • Hybrid Approach — uses some aspects of both responsive and adaptive design

Regardless of which approach is best for your particular needs, the important thing is that you provide an improved mobile user experience and gain the search engine rankings, and sales, that your business deserves.

Feb
9
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Text Marketing: The Workhorse of Mobile Marketing

Ace Hardware SMS promotions

Text Message Marketing

SMS text message marketing is the workhorse of mobile marketing. It’s the pillar that holds up the mobile marketing building. If you can only do one thing in mobile marketing, it should be text message marketing.

That’s because text message marketing is inexpensive and offers the single best ROI of any mobile marketing tactic that you will employ. Whether you are a national retailer or simply a local Mom and Pop pizza shop, there is place for text message marketing in your marketing plan.

Opt-In Marketing

Text Message Marketing is opt-in marketing, meaning that you must have permission from your consumer before sending them a promotional text message. While getting permission may seem like a daunting task at first, it’s precisely why SMS text message marketing is so darn effective.

Until recently, you could send somebody a promotional text message if you had a previous relationship with that consumer. In other words, if you were a tire retailer and you had a list of consumers that had purchased tires from you in the past, you could send them a promotional text message.

That all changed on October 16, 2013 when new TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) laws came into effect. It caused companies to change the way they do business with text message marketing and in many cases, it required a new opt-in from consumers. Because not all previous opt-in consumers chose to re-opt-in, the new laws dramatically reduced the size of many companies’ opt-in databases. (If you’d like an attorney’s point of view on TCPA compliance, click here.

Now, in addition to numerous other requirements, you have to have “express written consent” to qualify a consumer as a legitimate opt-in to your database. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to have a signed paper for all of your opt-ins (although that is a legitimate qualifier for an opt-in), as an electronic signature is also permitted.

In most cases, a company obtains a legitimate opt-in via an interactive text message promotion. In other words, the consumer will:

Text RESULTS to 84444

Here’s another sample from the San Jose Sharks:

Text SJ to 742757

Once the consumer has opted-in to your database via an interactive text message promotion, you can now send them broadcast text messages in the future. It is the broadcast portion of the equation that is usually the big money maker for your business in terms of increased business.

 

Broadcast Text Message Marketing

Capturing the mobile phone number of your customer or prospect is very valuable indeed. In fact, one of our national retail customers has pegged the value of an opt-in to be $11 per month in increased sales. With a database well in excess of 100,000, you can see how this is significant.

But, we’re not the only one that sees a tremendous value in obtaining a mobile opt-in for text message marketing. Ace Hardware has pegged its value of an opt-in as being $183.60 lifetime!

The key to broadcast text message marketing is to send the consumers messages that are of value. That may seem obvious, but here’s why it’s so important. There is a fine line between your best customer (somebody who has liked your company to the point where they’ve ASKED to receive your advertising) and your worst customer (somebody who you have sent so much stuff to that they’ve opted-out of your text message marketing advertising).

Keep in mind that the laws regarding text message marketing require you to provide a convenient method of permitting the consumer to opt-out of your database. In most cases, the consumer simply needs to reply with STOP to opt-out.

Send too many messages that are not pertinent to the consumer and you’ll likely get an opt-out. If you’re Ace Hardware, you can see just how much that opt-out will cost you!

There’s no magical number of broadcast messages that should be sent each month. That really varies based on the product. If you opted in to the San Jose Sharks message above, you’ll see that the hockey team indicates that you may receive “5msgs./wk.”. That may seem like a lot when compared to a department store, but keep in mind that fans of a sports team are passionate about that team and they won’t mind receiving five messages per week. On the other hand, if you are a local pizza restaurant, five messages seems like it’s too much.

 

Short Code Marketing

Now, let’s make sure you understand some definitions. In the sample interactive text message promotion above, “RESULTS” is a keyword and “84444” is a short code.

A short code is an abbreviated phone number such as 84444.

In some cases, “long codes” are used for text message marketing. A long code is simply a traditional 10-digit phone number that does many of the same things that a short code number can do, albeit it’s not really intended for interactive text messaging. Some carriers frown on long codes, in part since they don’t make any money from them. That’s why I’ve only ever seen small, local businesses using long codes.

A keyword is used in most instances to provide the identifier for the opt-in. If your business owns its own short code, it then owns all of the keywords associated with that short code. In that case, the keyword will identify which promotion the consumer opted-in to.

But, most businesses will utilize a shared short code such as 84444. The reason why is that it is quite expensive to obtain and continue with a short code. A company that is in the business of text message marketing can amortize the cost of activation (about $3500) and the monthly cost ($1000 for a vanity short code such as 84444) over numerous businesses that use that same short code. The only major negative of a shared short code is that it is possible that the keyword that you wish to use is being used by another customer.

 

Why Text Message Marketing

If I can only leave you with one piece of information, it is this one:

“97% of mobile subscribers will read a text message, even a promotional one, within 15 minutes of receipt.” (Nielsen)

That’s why text message marketing is so valuable. You can reach your customers when they are most likely to buy! Moreover, your customers have opted-in, meaning that they WANT to receive your messages.

My company has done work for Subway in sending text messages for the Subway restaurants from Maine to Maryland. When does Subway send its text messages? At 11:30 AM when customers are in the office or out on the job site and starting to get hungry for lunch.

With text message marketing, you have the perfect storm for any type of advertising:

  • It’s your best prospects, because they’ve asked to receive your advertising.
  • You are almost 100% sure that they are going to see your message. Can any other medium make that same claim?
  • You can reach your customer when they are most likely to buy! If you buy radio advertising, you don’t know exactly when your advertisement will run and if you buy newspaper advertising, you have no idea when your advertisement will be seen.
Feb
8
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The Mobile Revolution

This year, I have been given the distinct honor being chosen as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Denver. I am teaching a graduate level course in the Communication department in Mobile Marketing.  Over the next few days, I will be presenting some of my articles that have been written for teaching in this class.  Here is the first of those articles.

the Mobile Revolution

Overview

In the 21st century, a phenomenon occurred in the United States and the world. A mobile phone began appearing in nearly every pocket and every purse of every person old enough to own one.

American Express coined the phrase “Don’t Leave Home Without It” long before the mobile phone, but that phrase probably better typifies the mobile phone than it ever did the credit card. Leave your mobile at home and you’re likely looking for the next place you can safely do a U-turn to go back to pick it up. If you’ve ever lost it, it’s probably worse than losing your wallet or purse. It’s our lifeline. It’s our gateway to the world.

Your Digital DNA

Never before in the history of technology has one device become the centerpiece of our lives. The cell phone you own today is your digital DNA. If you grew up in Denver, but have since moved to Austin, you’ve probably continued to maintain that 303 area code number despite the fact that you live in the 512 area code now. You will likely die with the same mobile phone number that you have today regardless of where you move.

Your mobile phone is so very personal that even spouses don’t share it. And, most people would even consider it an invasion of privacy if your spouse looked at the text messages on your mobile. When your phone rings, it plays your favorite ringtone that you selected. Only you control what apps you put on your phone. And, only you know the passwords to open them. Your mobile phone is YOU! Nothing you own is more personal.

Your Message on the Move

In 2007, my company hired an advertising agency that came up with a catchy slogan for us to describe our mobile marketing services: Your Message on the Move

At the time, that slogan did a great job of portraying the potential that mobile marketing brought to the advertiser. Now, you just didn’t have to reach the consumer on their landline when they were at home, when they were watching television or reading the newspaper (remember them?), or on their desktop computer when they were in the office. Now, you could reach the consumer when they were out and about…and nearby to your store. You could reach the consumer on their terms and you could reach them 24/7.

But, something changed along the way since 2007. Now, mobile no longer just characterizes reaching people that are on the move, because mobile has become the norm. Today, mobile is consumed everywhere, even on the couch at home—something that was not commonplace in 2007.

Cutting the Cord

That’s why more and more Americans are cutting the cord. More than 41% of Americans now live in households that are cell phone only with no landline present. With minorities and the poor mobile is even more pervasive–over 53% of Hispanics, for example, are living in homes that are cell phone only.

 

The History of the Mobile Phone

Captain Kirk's cell phone, circa 1969

The first mobile phone call was placed in St. Louis on June 17, 1946. That call was made from a car phone.

Prior to 1973, mobile technology was limited to phones installed in cars and trucks. Motorola and Bell Labs raced to be the first to produce a handheld mobile phone. That race ended on April 3, 1973 when Martin Cooper, of Motorola, made the first mobile telephone call from a handheld mobile device. Commercial sales of the prototype system, however, were still a long way off and did not become available until 1983.

Mobile as a Medium

Today, the amount of mobile subscriptions in the USA exceeds that of the total population. That is, there are about 1.1 mobile subscriptions for every adult and child in the country! See the breakdown of carrier market share here.

Thus, mobile offers the perfect storm for marketers to reach a vast, still comparatively untapped, marketplace.

In this course, you will learn about mobile marketing. Mobile marketing refers to nearly everything done on a mobile device from the most basic of services (text message marketing) to the most complex (apps development) and everything in between.

The mobile train has left the building, but there is still time to get aboard. In fact, the mobile train has just started making its long journey. No doubt there are plenty of stops along the way with seats open to savvy marketers that are willing to jump on board.

This is one train you don’t want to miss!

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