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The importance of online micro-communities

The importance of online micro-communities

Online micro-communities help to define a customer’s needs and definition. If you follow a fitness ‘guru’ on Instagram, you have probably seen sponsored posts promoting health supplements or gym memberships. This reflects the prevalence of micro-communities in social media. A brand can most easily gain traction among people with relevant interests.

Focused content means targeted engagement. Sticking to what is pertinent to your industry will lead to higher revenue. The best way to grow and keep your following is to only promote relevant content.

A critical action is discovering which social networks your target market. Seeking out popular users in relevant industries is also vital. Their support will direct followers to your page.

Using the power of micro-communities is a straightforward way to find your target consumer group. Once you have cultivated an audience, that user following will expand out. Those with similar interests can be introduced to your brand through social media engagement, such as their peers’ ‘likes.’

“Likes” are not the same as engagement.

Engagement should be valued over community size. 5,000 Facebook Likes is nice, but 5,000 people on a mailing list or using your company’s hashtag is even better. Promote your brand, not just your business.

Having 10,000 to 100,000 followers is statistically proven to be an influencer’s sweet spot. As a page’s follower count grows, their interaction levels tend to decrease. The term is ‘micro influencer’ for a reason.

The effects of going viral are short lived. It rarely leads to continued success. Broader recognition can mean easily getting lost in the sea of other huge brands. It is therefore vital to recruit influencers with a more specific demographic.

Asking Kylie Jenner to promote your investment firm will get you some clicks. Will they convert to revenue and continued engagement? Probably not.

When promoting your company, stick to what makes sense. Utilize the right kinds of social media. If you don’t know how to engage, find people who do. The benefits of finding the right niche will be invaluable.

Application Programming Interfaces (API)

Application Programming Interfaces (API)

When companies go design their new shiny corporate app, a software engineer might tell the boss that the proposed mobile application will have to ‘talk’ to other computers. In order to facilitate this digital chit-chat, an added program may be needed to facilitate that electronic conversation. These coded exchanges are often facilitated by an Application Programming Interface (API). These may sound complicated, but they really aren’t. An API is just a way for one software system to interact with another. APIs form a set of rules and protocols that are designed to help programs communicate. Through an API, different software solutions can be integrated and work together. This is incredibly important for all levels of software development. 

How Does an Application Programming Interface (API) Work?

Imagine that you are from France and you only speak French. An acquaintance of yours is from Italy and only speaks Italian. How can you talk to each other? Many programs interact exactly like this; they have their own internal methods and processes that they use to complete tasks. A third-party program will need to learn to “speak their languages” and help the first two programs to understand each other. This is needed if they are going to complete a task.

You’re probably most familiar with APIs through eCommerce portals: online shops. When you’re buying something online, you’re often given the option to pay through PayPal. But how does PayPal know how much to charge you? How does it know what items are being purchased and who to send the money to? The website is using PayPal’s API: a series of directions that PayPal has published for interacting with their system.

When you buy a shirt through an online shop, the online shop sends that data through PayPals API. PayPal then collects the information, which has been formatted properly for its use, and uses it to charge you. It then sends information back to the online shop, regarding whether or not the transaction was successful. To you, the user, this transaction will appear quick, easy, and seamless. But there’s a lot going on in the background!

How Can APIs Be Integrated Into Mobile Devices?

Mobile applications often take advantage of APIs for advanced features. One of the most common examples is the Google Maps API, which includes all of the information that Google Maps does and is available for both Android and iOS. The Google Maps API has been the foundation of many critical apps. Other commonly used APIs include weather services, social media integration, and local directories. Through APIs, developers can gain access to a suite of features and a wealth of data that they would otherwise have to collect themselves.

Can an API Be Dangerous?

By now, you may be wondering whether an API could be used against you. Can it take you places without your knowledge? Can it transfer your information without you knowing? Put simply, yes: once you hand your information over to a software system, it can use that data as it wants. If you load an app that has a Google Map API, then Google may very well be able to see your location. And an API itself can become a vulnerability within a system.

This underscores the importance of maintaining your own security and using only reputable software vendors. In fact, many recent security leaks have occurred due to third-party software solutions. That being said, most software today contains some element of API usage, and it is impossible to avoid. For mobile devices, security settings can often be managed to control what you do or don’t give out — to anyone.

APIs provide an incredibly useful and necessary method of communicating between programs. For developers, they allow project teams to take advantage of resources that they would otherwise have to build themselves. For users, they ensure a better overall user and are often seamless in integration. Either way, APIs are an essential part of software development.

Live streaming video

Live streaming video

Live stream video is the superpower of the video marketing world. It offers the potential of a memorable marketing video while multiplying engagement with its interactive nature. Viewers can respond to the video in real-time, creating a conversation between customer and company. Unlike other forms of media that are strategized, planned, and produced, live stream video has a natural feel that allows customers to see a company in an organic environment.

Why use live stream video?

Live video ultimately creates the illusion of face-to-face interaction. You may not have time to sit down individually with each of your customers, but through live video, you can make them feel as though you have. It embraces conversation and develops a dialogue between a company and its customers. Unlike the thousands of other advertisements that consumers are exposed to daily, live streaming doesn’t leave room for edits, coverups, or patches. The format provides transparency — a characteristic that continues to hold more power with each year.

How to get started with live streaming video:

  • Ditch the script. Micro-organizing everything can make your video appear stiff and rehearsed. Take advantage of the organic nature of live video by finding a healthy balance between preparation and improvisation.
  • Bring in a fresh voice. Do interviews, ask others’ opinions, or create a mock panel. Changing things up gives a unique perspective and keeps consumers engaged and interested.
  • Have fun. It’s okay to crack a joke or stumble over your words. Be willing to be spontaneous, and let your customers get to know you.

Top trends in live streaming video:

  • Q&A sessions give the illusion of a face-to-face conversation. Consumers have a short attention span, but live video creates an environment that fosters immediacy. They’re much more likely to ask a question in this type of environment than they are to email someone and wait for a reply.
  • Special announcements — Announcing a new product or feature via live video helps build anticipation and excitement. Your customers are much more likely to get pumped about the big news when they see that you are.
  • Live events — Giving consumers a glimpse of a live event builds excitement and encourages customers to celebrate with you.
  • Behind-the-scenes looks — Giving a sneak peek of what goes on behind the curtain not only peaks curiosity; it also develops loyalty because customers feel knowledgeable about the company.

Research shows that consumers will watch a live video eight times longer than an on-demand video. Its unique personality cuts through the clutter of other forms of media and likely will continue growing as digital technology develops.

Using market segmentation

Using market segmentation

The internet creates useful technologies for personalizing your marketing content. This is market segmentation. The medium allows you to address your audience by name, give them specific recommendations based on their interests, or send them discounts that they’re more likely to respond to. These technologies allow you to utilize market segmentation and develop strategies to personalize content like no other medium can do.

What is market segmentation?

Market segmentation is a form of targeted marketing that allows you to personalize your marketing campaigns to the taste of the individual client. It uses information about your consumer audience—such as demographic or psychographic—to personalize your marketing strategy. It also allows you to automate this campaign strategy instead of analyzing every client profile individually. You might want to send different email campaigns to clients of different ages, or varying advertisements to clients in different locations. In short, consumers get specified advertisements, and your business wastes less time targeting the wrong audience.

Why use market segmentation?

In addition to leading to an average 19% increase in sales, a personalized web experience allows you to develop strong relationships and client loyalty. Do you know that appreciation you feel when your barista knows your drink before you order? That works for marketing too. Users are constantly bombarded with advertisements. Personalizing your campaign to the individual develops a unique and valuable human connection.

Four points for market segmentation:

  • Determine what your most valuable clients have in common. Age? Zip code? Education? This can give you hints about what they value and what they will respond to. It also gives you insight into what consumers you should be targeting to bring in new clients.
  • Use dynamic content—HTML content that changes based on the viewer. Dynamic content might recognize them by name or change the content of a form based on their occupation. In short, it makes the client feel recognized and valued.
  • Collect data before you collect an email. Doggyloot, a retail company that sells products for canines, asks subscribers how big their dog is before they sign up for emails. The idea is that products for big dogs are only sent to customers with big dogs. The result? Their click-through rate for these personalized email campaigns is 410% above average.
  • Utilize social media. While automation can be great for setting up campaigns, it can also be frustrating for clients when used too much. Social media allows you to create real person-to-person interaction. The consumer feels cared for when they’re not forced to talk to a robot to get their question answered. Plus, talking with your customers helps you know what they need and personalize the marketing campaigns you send them.

Ultimately, market segmentation works for the benefit of the consumer and the business. The consumer is only getting advertisements that they’re interested in and the business is getting the most from their marketing campaign. Although working to target demographics can take a little more work, it ensures that your marketing strategies are worth the work you’re putting in and will bring the best results.

Data visualization

Data visualization

Data visualization tools create graphic representations of business data to make information understandable and meaningful. By doing so, they can bring insight to your marketing strategies and shed light on trends, patterns, and possible changes that affect your business. These insights change with growing technology. The modern visualization tools make viewing data simpler, more accessible, and easier to apply to your marketing strategy.

These tools essentially allow you to look at data from a bird’s eye view. The wider scope means more accurate results. So instead of taking a small sample of data and applying it to your larger consumer audience, you can rake through your entire customer database for more precise results.

Data visualization also gives you the freedom to uncover trends within highly specified categories in your customer database. You can analyze customer data based on purchase history, demographic, or response rates to campaigns and use it as you fine-tune future strategies. The tools even give you the ability to study correlations between specific services or products so you can personalize future offers to your customers.

One of the primary reasons data visualization is important is that it helps to draw meaningful conclusions from the data and make the most of the numbers. By doing so, it can reveal patterns and trends and give hints into upcoming opportunities to interact with your consumer audience. This is especially significant because it not only gives you a direction in which you can move forward; it also gives insight into previous campaigns. Getting a more granular knowledge of your strategy can show you where you’re wasting money and where to focus your spending in the future.

Data visualization tools do all of this while cutting down on time and resources. There’s no longer a need to hire a specialized IT worker to sift through the numbers. Even marketers with a very basic knowledge of analytics can easily navigate and react to the system.

As technology rapidly advances, data visualization allows for more complex analytics at an almost instantaneous rate. Quite literally, it allows you to do more with less by giving you a more comprehensive analysis of your data with fewer resources.

The function of ad servers

The function of ad servers

Business Basics

When we pull up a webpage, the page in front of us appears to be a single, seamless webpage, seemingly created by a single computer. However, that page is actually the end product of several computers working in concert with each other. Together, these computers or servers, each provide content that is compiled to create the final webpage that a user sees.

Ad servers provide a specific set of advertisements to a web page. Websites provide content that draw an audience to a specific web page. Publishers monetize this content by running ads for companies looking to reach that audience. Those advertising spaces on the web pages begin as an empty space that are filled with the appropriate advertising only milliseconds before it loads. Ad servers make that selection possible.

In generic terms, each server has its own function. The publishing server provides the bulk of a webpage’s content. The ad server provides the specific advertisements that have been selected for that user at that moment. The function of an ad server is to place the most efficient advertisements in front of a user. The conversation between these computers is the function that creates the displayed webpage.

An ad server is a platform that stores information and manages the display of ads. It works in the background to determine which ad is selected through a process of analyzing the targeting criteria. The marketer has established these criteria and the performance goals of the campaign. In addition, ad servers provide a way to test which ads perform better, helping marketers optimize the campaign. Publishers, or content-producers, use ad servers to determine which advertiser will be promoted while advertisers use ad servers to select which specific ad from the campaign to show to each user.

Ad Server functions:

Ad servers provide several functions that make the marketing process convenient and efficient:

  • First, they allow marketers to specify which ads to run on which sites and provide them with an easy way to edit the creative elements. Instead of contacting every publisher to update an ad, the marketer can provide updates to a single server.

  • Secondly, they are useful in targeting advertisements based on user’s geographical location and time of day.

  • Third, ad servers let the marketer set a start and a stop time for a campaign. This time-limit is then used in the algorithm that determines which ads will be shown.

  • Finally, ad servers provide all the statistical reporting of performance in one place, making it easier to analyze than getting several reports from different websites.

How ad servers assist agencies and clients:

A person at the marketing agency, called a trafficker, will upload the ads onto the ad server before listing the ad space their buyer has reserved and the specific targeting criteria. The ad server will store this information and provide the trafficker with an ad tag (an HTML code) for the trafficker to send to the publishers. When the publishers decide to serve the tag, the ad server is called upon and selects the most relevant ad to pick based on the criteria. It takes into account the format of the ad (banner, mpu, etc), how many impressions, and how much time is left, amongst other factors. After the ad is published, the server tracks the impression and any associated clicks to establish how people are responding to the ad.

Several ad server systems are available for your business. The system you select will be determined by a number of factors including your products, market share, budgets, and other variables. Ad servers aid marketers by making trillions of decisions a year at a speed difficult to comprehend. The process is as complex as it is effective. The end result is a crafted page that loads in a blink of an eye.

Unlike print, websites allow for the ads that appear on a page to change based on who’s viewing it. This advantage makes online advertising a customizable and more cost-efficient experience. It allows marketers to bypass some of the steps in the purchase decision chain by targeting people closer to the end of it. The better you understand the function of an ad server, the more you’ll understand the process of placing an advertisement online. 

Vital customer engagement (or how not to leave your customers at the door)

Vital customer engagement (or how not to leave your customers at the door)

Customer engagement (CE) is the living and breathing relationship that exists between a customer and a company. This critical relationship is a critical factor that helps to determine the success or failure of a company. The challenge to every business is that almost all buyers have different needs and wants. Consumers aren’t unanimous, even within similar demographics. There are different ages, lifestyles, ethnic backgrounds, etc. There’s an excellent chance that the motivating factors for one middle-aged customer may differ significantly from another. It’s incredibly important for a business to operate with their customer base as individuals.

So how do we go about the act of engaging a client? Here’s a few starting points to orient your mobile app marketing and digital advertising efforts:

  • An engagement marketing strategy is crucial. How will your company reach out to potential customers? How will you respond to their inquiries? Detailed analytics are necessary to help answer these questions. Actively learning about a customer’s lifestyles, rather than lumping people together based on a singular demographic. Remember, numbers are cold, your customers are real people. Think of them in that fashion. The more accurate and detailed your customer database is, the stronger foundation you will have for engagement.
  • Learn to predict consumer behavior. When looking at the unique lifestyle of your consumers, where can you see areas where they can benefit from your service or product? Big-box retailers like Walmart and Target do so by using data mining to notice trends in purchases. Walmart used data mining and discovered that Strawberry Pop-tart sales increased sevenfold before a hurricane in southern states. The reaction? Place Strawberry Pop-tarts at the cashier area of a store. More exposure to the pop-tarts increases sales even more. In the end, all parties benefit. Walmart and Kellogg’s experience increased sales, while customers have an emergency food source in case of natural disasters.
  • The benefits of customer engagement are limitless. Customer retention is critical. Customers can see the value in a company that puts the effort into satisfying their customer base. Satisfied clients can be the most powerful form of marketing. The family and friends of current customers are potential future customers. Nothing is more valuable than a recommendation from peer-to-peer. One survey even concluded that 92% of customers trust peer recommendations, compared to 47% trusting TV or magazine ads.

Customer engagement is beneficial, if not necessary, to a company’s success. Perhaps one of the most satisfying aspects of customer engagement is the company-client relationships built upon it. Increasing interaction cultivates and grows these relationships. Knowing that your company makes a positive difference in the life of your customers is a huge reward.

The cost of running your own social media

The cost of running your own social media

Running your own business is more than a full-time job. If you are like most entrepreneurs, you’re probably already working between 40 to 60+ hours per week handling the day-to-day operations of your company. A huge question that frequently hits the corporate boardroom is “in addition to running my own company, should I also handle my company’s social media?”

First and foremost, we applaud the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s this drive that motivates each business owner to reach for their greatest dreams. Everyone has their own goals and abilities. The drive to “do it all” is often found at the core of success. But everyone has limits on two of their most basic resources – time and ability.

Let’s be frank – You probably would not try to fix your own transmission, perform a medical procedure on yourself or defend yourself in court. If you saw someone else trying to do this, you might be tempted to ask “Is that ego or ability?” The operations of your corporation and managing the corporation’s social media are two separate, full-time jobs. If you can honestly handle both of these corporate tasks, then we tip our hat to both you and your achievements. Not many individuals are able to muster both the time and intellectual resources needed to accomplish this set of tasks. If you cannot perform flawlessly in both arenas simultaneously, it’s only a matter of time before one or both of these two paths will become compromised.

Learning a new skill set, in order to communicate with other professionals, is critical for your growth and survival. However, there’s a huge difference between actually developing a functional skill set and “thinking” that you possess those skills. Understanding the differences between these two positions could be the line between success and failure.

Running a corporate social media mechanism requires time, industry perspective and a refined skill set. The social media manager must possess a social acuity, finesse and the undeniable ability to communicate with others. In most cases, this is NOT a part-time job. Unfortunately, these are not skills you’ll acquire ‘just because you have a Facebook account’.

Corporate owners might consider the actual cost of social media:
  • Do I actually understand what it takes to do the job? The wrong manager will kill a project. It’s that simple. Just because a manager understands some of some of the project parameters, does not guarantee that they possess a broader base of knowledge and experience required to manage the entire project. A solid project manager appreciates when they do not possess the expertise for a given objective. There is a time when knowledgeable experts are needed to facilitate a process or project. 
  • Can I do the job? You need to ask yourself – objectively – “Do I have the ability to dedicate myself full-time to my company’s social media needs?” Can an entrepreneur effectively fulfill the social media needs of their corporation and then spend an additional 60+ hours per week running their company?
  • What is your long-term objective? Do you want to be able to communicate with functioning teams or do you need to be in control of everything? There’s a huge difference between managing teams and trying to micromanage everything and everyone around you. One behavior is healthy. One is not.

A wise choice to consider is hiring a team who can objectively handle your social media needs. Whether this is an internal or an external team is the next question. That answer will be determined by your corporate needs, budget and audience. Knowing the limits of your own skill base is the first step in defining both your corporation and its social footprint.

If you are interested in exploring various social media possibilities for your corporation, contact Colure’s project managers.

What is the difference between a web app vs a mobile app?

What is the difference between a web app vs a mobile app?

In a day when there’s an app for almost every need or function, companies providing these digital problem solvers often ask “do I need to develop a mobile application just to provide a simple function?” The answer is no. An application that operates on your web browser may be the answer. Web apps have filled the void to provide those functions. Web apps provide the feel of a mobile app with the power, accessibility, and stability of web-browser.

From a technical viewpoint the web is a highly programmable environment that allows mass customization through the immediate deployment of a large and diverse range of applications, to millions of global users.” – Acunetix

One user defined the differences as:

a website is defined by its content, while a web application is defined by its interaction with the user. That is, a website can plausibly consist of a static content repository that’s dealt out to all visitors, while a web application depends on interaction and requires programmatic user input and data processing.” – kerrek-sb 

Defining you needs is the first step to deciding how to proceed. Many variables will affect your selection. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind as you progress:

  • Design with the user in mind. This decision may mean thinking beyond your personal opinions. An aesthetically pleasing won’t satisfy customers if it’s hard to use. Think simple. Sensory overload with images and options will only turn customers away. Try to keep the app’s main functions first, with more advanced settings tucked away. Ask yourself: if my app only did one thing, what would it be? Build off of the main focus, adding additions only where it enriches the customer’s user experience (UX).
  • Balance personal creativity with traditional functions. Colors have meaning and emotional responses. Choose a palette that represents your goals and functions. Experiment with different color schemas before the app is released. The color blue may give your app a calming feel and is the choice of many social media giants. A red color scheme may elicit strong emotions like passion or urgency but also serves as a warning color. Decide how you want your users to feel when they use your app.

It’s important to beta test your app. Try to seek a large group of beta testers to help define the strengths and weaknesses of your app. The benefits of a solid beta-test have been well established. It may be a cost, but an untested app will lose profits in the future. Your goal should be to have the best performing, most efficient app in your field. Otherwise, why would customers choose yours over a competitor?

Develop your app to fulfill the needs of your clients and to answer those questions you seek to conquer. Proceeding with the proper format for your app will facilitate greater function for everyone involved with the process.

Micro-communities and Influencers

Micro-communities and Influencers

Marketing to micro communities – or niche marketing – is an effective method to place your company directly in front of a specific audience. Focusing your efforts to a limited segment of an audience can often create momentum from within a community.

Niche communities tend to be relatively small, tight-knit, and interconnected. Within these communities, there are certain individuals who are more pronounced than other members. These individuals are usually well-respected trendsetters with many followers. Their trendsetting ability earns these people the nickname of ‘influencers.’ Targeting these influencers is key to niche marketing. 81% of companies who use influencer marketing report positive results.

The jewelry company Benique saw a 300% increase on their return on investments (ROI) after starting their campaign. They provided free samples to influencers in return for reviews to their audience. They then collaborated further with the influencers who truly loved the product. Although finding influencers took time, the results paid off.

Context matters when seeking the right influencers. Don’t base your search on a given number of followers only. Katy Perry may have 62 million Twitter followers, but her approach to marketing her music may not be the best choice to promote a software company. Her mass following may actually be a disadvantage. Her overall engagement with followers is low and many of these followers are probably teenagers who are not interested in software. Search for influencers who can create action within your intended audience.

Working with influencers is a business relationship. Popular influencers may receive offers from your competitors. There should be some compensation from your company. The compensation doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary. The web hosting company Cloudways had trouble creating relationships with influencers when they began their marketing efforts. After several unsuccessful attempts, they tried a new approach. Cloudways offered to interview influencers and feature the interview on their website. This allowed the influencers to receive promotional exposure from Cloudways. The business-influencer relationship ended up being beneficial to both parties.

Traditional marketing techniques have moved from their role as a primary tool to augmenting the specific application of niche marketing techniques. The function of each marketing method becomes an additional tool in the ever evolving, media-based world. Creativity is essential to drive your brand’s success. Using influencers in a creative way will keep your business ahead of the competition and in front of those community members who lead the pack.

MAUs: Monthly Active Users vs Driving Downloads

MAUs: Monthly Active Users vs Driving Downloads

Business Basics

Online businesses need to identify their customer base to understand the relationship between themselves and their clients. How do companies measure success? Why do businesses keep track of their performance? How often should companies even keep track of certain information? These are questions critical to a business’ survival. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) allow companies to measure almost every facet of their respective businesses interactions. With this data, they can understand their performance relative to the marketplace.

For some companies and mobile apps driving app downloads is the KPI but for those companies that operate solely digitally, a central KPI measurement is the Monthly Active Users (MAU). A standard definition of the MAU is defined as the number of “unique” users over the course of 30 days. This performance indicator is commonly used by social networking sites, digital gaming platforms, e-commerce businesses, and mobile apps. MAU measurement allows digital services to know who is using their product and how they use that product.

An active user is not just a person that may randomly access a site/service. An active user is determined as an individual who has created an account through email or username to access a site or service.

There are also two types of active users. There are first time users and recurring users:

  • A first time user is a new user who has accessed a site for the first time.
  • A recurring user is a user that frequents the site. It is important to clarify data to this extent when you are trying to track performance.

Ultimately it is up to the site or service to distinguish who they believe is an active user. Traditional social networking services like Facebook and Twitter have both have differing definitions:

  • Facebook defines a Monthly Active User as anyone that is a registered Facebook user, who has accessed the service through the website, messenger app, or mobile app at least one time in the last 30 days.
  • Twitter employs a slightly more complicated approach than its competitor. You must follow a minimum of 30 accounts and be followed by a third of the number of accounts you follow to be considered an active user. To put that in simpler terms, if you are a registered user who follows 30 accounts, with at least ten followers, and uses the site at least one time in 30 days, you are considered an active Twitter user.

It is crucial to measure user activity on digital platforms when examining performance, especially with mobile app marketing. Calculating the metrics of Monthly Active User data is a practical industry practice. The proper manipulation of this data will help companies find the information they need to succeed.

If you need help tracking your audience’s habits, contact Colure.

What is Native Advertising?

What is Native Advertising?

Consumers have become increasingly adept at either ignoring or electronically blocking advertisements from their screens. To battle this trend, “Native Advertising” was created to grasp the readers’ attention. This is the practice of crafting a SEM (search engine marketing) advertisement to look specifically like the content already on a site.

This advertisement is often added into a news feed, blending in with the endless stream of stories from that day’s events. In this way, the advertisement tries to slip past the reader’s defenses, in the area of the web page readers often see as reserved for “real news content”.

This type of advertising is dressing a paid advertisement in the “clothing of content”. Often you will see this if you read a newsfeed, such as Yahoo! News. In their newsfeed, you’ll see a long line of stories. Interspersed with the news articles, there will be great articles and content pieces, with interesting headlines and eye-catching images. All look like original content, but state that they are “promoted by” or “sponsored by” a particular company. This is the separation between sponsored advertising content and news content.

Mashable promoted an article touching on summer music playlists created by a new upcoming pop group.

For those interested in that pop group or in music, in general, this would probably look worthy of reading. Compare this article to an advertisement that interrupts your browsing experience by flashing on the side of your screen or that makes you click out into another window. The native ad experience is executed by “cloaked choice”, not by force.

While native advertising is a popular option, it does have it’s setbacks. Traditionally, news articles are not directly sponsored by an advertisement. However, the ads do often closely surround the news. There is a level of trust that goes into visiting a website and reading content that you believe has been placed there by journalists. These are reporters who value your readership.

If that relationship is tainted by paid advertising, it can taint that brand, but more importantly, it could damage the trust the consumer has for that site. The site must balance the funds raised by the advertisement against the cost of the consumer’s trust.

Parallax responsive websites increase user experience

Parallax responsive websites increase user experience

Parallax scrolling is an incredible tool used to ramp-up your mobile application’s user experience (UX). Keeping the user engaged and focused is part of developing a quality experience that will bring the user back to your app time and again.

Parallax scrolling is a computer graphics technique which creates a 3-D environment using 2-D elements. By establishing a differential between the display of foreground elements and background elements, a sense of depth (parallax) is created. In the end, it’s visually entertaining. The visual applications are endless.

Here are 2 websites that entertain us using this technique. They demonstrate the incredible power of parallax scrolling. Look at this example that takes you under the sea, and here we see an infographic of your brain!

The amount of displayed parallax often differs between platforms. A website viewed on a desktop may show a tremendous amount of the scrolling differential between visual elements. That same site, viewed on smaller platforms, will probably reduce the amount of displayed parallax. What you see on a desktop probably will be a much richer and fuller UX than what is presented on a smartphone. This is the nature of responsive website elements. The use of this tool is currently a strong growth trend for both responsive websites and mobile apps.

Regardless of the size of your company, creating a responsive mobile website and mobile app is a smart way to market your service or brand. Today over 50 percent of American adults own a smartphone, and 80 percent of Internet users use a smartphone. These statistics show how mobile applications have become a necessity rather than a luxury. In order to stay relevant with today’s online marketplace, quality engagement is key.

Due to an abundance of mobile applications, deciding how to differentiate yourself can be a challenge. Tools like parallax scrolling can help overcome those challenges. Parallax scrolling creates depth and movement of images that add to the application design and sophistication.

Developing an application that grabs user’s attention is the key. The developer’s goal is to engage the individual. The experience itself is meant to impress the onlooker, tell a story, but also to clearly state the benefits of that service or company. This tool is designed to make your web and mobile applications stand out as a ‘one-of-a-kind’, one to be remembered.

Parallax scrolling provides a new fun way to experience a mobile app. It is a tool that developers use to provide depth and texture to their content. By carefully structuring content, users may not mind spending time exploring your app or your business. When you are ready to explore the graphical world created by your next mobile application, contact Colure’s project management team.

Keep your brand relevant

Keep your brand relevant

Manipulating a corporate brand to be a part of the news cycle and not the “background clutter” requires timing, social acuity, and the ability to read the pulse of the public. This is known as “agile marketing”. This marketing technique is the opposite of crafting a large project. This requires being aware of current events, trends, and having the ability to act on them swiftly to appeal to your audience and/or to the masses.

Six years ago, the infamous Oreo Cookie Dunk in the Dark tweet went viral, taking the 2013 Super Bowl Blackout headline. A single marketing team used that event to their brand’s advantage. Here, Oreo saw an opportunity to comment on trending news. Since then Kit Kat has taken the agile marketing spotlight with its tweet and trending hashtag #bendgate, which referenced the past iphone6 bending fiasco.

“In today’s fast-paced, multichannel world, marketers no longer have the luxury to spend months crafting large projects; they must innovate and produce on the fly and respond immediately to market disruptions.” – Forbes staff writer Jennifer Rooney

No matter if your company is large or small, relating your brand or service to noteworthy information can draw attention to your company. Agile marketing demands your business be able to adapt and to be flexible to the outside noise-makers.

Many of these agile marketing examples can be seen utilizing Twitter and Facebook to express their one-liners. However, agile marketing is still a fairly new marketing tool. In 2019, we are sure to see more brands use this technique. Recently, during the ESPY’s, a television advertisement by Airbnb grabbed viewers’ attention. Airbnb is known for its home sharing service decided to use the theme of “trans kind” in their advertisement during the awards show. This ad smartly aligned with the ESPY’s choice to award Caitlyn Jenner for her contribution to sports and her relationship with the transgendered community.

With company demands to be relevant, so are the needs of flexibility and speed. These needs make agile marketing a necessity today. Because of the “always-on and always-connected” individuals, agile marketing may one day become the norm.

Marketing is an interactive process that brings together the breadth of both the advertiser and the public. Being able to read the pulse of both parties is critical. Once more, being able to appreciate the space they both occupy marks the difference success and nothingness.

Marketing shift from globalization to personalization

Marketing shift from globalization to personalization

The latest marketing trend consists of shifting from globalization to personalized interaction. Personalization means getting closer to your audience, getting to know them and touching their hearts. Personalization is the current path to success. Personalizing is transporting your consumer to another place, giving him something to think about, making them crave better engagement. Personalization means engaging and embracing your customer.

Today’s business world has automated much of the process of communication. It is mission critical to make the consumer feel genuinely needed and desired. When a company creates a personalized experience with the audience, the trust level between the consumer and the company usually increases. This is the User Experience (UX). This relationship will be the mechanism by which a company may very well sink or swim.

Know your audience

To personalize, the marketer must know their audience on a personal level (names, gender, age and more). What’s more, they must engage that audience on a meaningful level. This means engagement in a way that is meaningful by the consumer’s standards – not the business’ standards.

Personalizing means looking for something that will have an impact upon the client at a personal level. This calls for constant creativity, as the marketer has to predict the wants and needs of the consumers. Clearly, this is a critical challenge for corporations of all sizes.

Personalization affects every company these days. Because it has become so popular, companies that do not practice it may very well lose their audience share. As personalization has revolutionized communication, each communicator must take an active role in order to keep their audience alive.

How to calculate an advertising budget

How to calculate an advertising budget

Every company must stake its own space in the marketplace to survive. In order to successfully interact with your customers, each business must decide on the best course of communication. This function is facilitated by your company’s marketing budget.

Each business owner is an expert in their given area of practice. Everyone needs customers, yet often, stakeholders haven’t been provided with a game-plan of how to reach those customers through advertising.

We’re providing a roadmap for your future marketing budget. The purpose is to help the business owners focus their resources for the best ROI on their investment. If you begin with a focused process, your odds of success greatly increase.

Dollars and sense

When deciding on a typical marketing budget, there is no definitive answer on the dollar amount a business should spend. How much you plan to allocate depends on a number of variables including the industry you are in, the size of your business, its growth stage, your annual revenue goals, your projected sales, your cost per acquisition, whether you are willing to spend on websites, mobile apps or some other long term project.

It may be helpful to examine some methods of determining marketing budgets and average percentages that companies use in their calculations. You need to determine your marketing budget wisely and not depend on what is left over after your business expenses are covered. We are here to give you some guidelines that you can use to determine your marketing budget.

As a general rule of thumb, Colure Media suggests that the marketing and advertising budget should be on an average 10% of the company’s overall revenue. This budget should be split between brand development costs including the channels you use for marketing and the costs of promoting your business (campaign, events, and advertising etc.). The percentage of revenue calculation should account for possible additional factors such as new product launch, new market entries, and mergers/acquisitions.

Calculate your CPA

For companies who are unsure of their revenue goals or don’t know their exact overall revenue, we suggest calculating their marketing budgets using cost per acquisition (or CPA). Using a CPA, we help companies reverse engineer their budgets by understanding their sales goals. For example, if a company wants to sell 10000 units of something and if they know their CPA, they can calculate their marketing budget by multiplying their sales goals of 10000 by CPA.

It is very important to re-examine your CPA, as this is a number that you want to optimize. Your goal is to make it lower since you want to receive a higher rate of return on every dollar you spend on marketing. Continually look around for new and more effective methods of reaching out to your target market. The use of new and improved technology can help you optimize your cost per acquisition.

If you are seeking out the development of projects like mobile applications, website development, and mobile marketing (or some other long term project), our advice is that you pull that project out of your total budget and calculate its own budget as a separate line item. The reason being is that these long-term (5 to 7 years) marketing tactics require an initial heavy investment and small investments later on. You are better off doing an initial investment of around 8 to 10% on these large projects and then 2% of your annual revenue toward web development for the next 3 years. After that, you need to put money only for updates and maintenance for the next couple for years.

These values are not set in stone

Once you have set your marketing budget, remember that it is not a fixed value. There might be times when you will be throwing in another unplanned event or campaign. The main thing is to know whether your spending is giving you your required ROI.

One of the biggest issues facing new and existing businesses is that they may not know what their marketing and advertising budget should be. Often, businesses don’t understand the process of media planning. Many times budgets are set blindly, with a number just being thrown into the air and hoping that it lands on the success outlined in their business plan (if they have created one).

There are three components to every business:

     1. Unique product/service

     2. Profit

     3. Marketing/Advertising/Sales

At the end of the day, a business with unlimited funds can spend plenty of money and time running test after test, but they may sacrifice market share to competitors (who may have inferior products/services) who are knowledgeable and have navigated these seas time and time again. Blindly throwing money at your advertisements is not the answer. Define your goals. Examine your numbers. Start with a solid plan that can be modified, with purpose, as time passes. We hope that this will help your gain a better perspective on your marketing efforts.

If you want to discuss your advertising needs, contact Colure’s Project Managers to help you reach your target audience.

A key to corporate communications

A key to corporate communications

The marketplace is placing new demands on how corporations interact with their clientele. At the core of many consumer’s concerns is the ability to resolve an issue without any unneeded hassle.

The solution begins with anticipating the needs of your audience. Does your staff have the skills to identify the nature of an issue, the tools to correct the problem, and the latitude to engage a working solution?

As a consumer, how many times have you spoken to someone in a customer service department who clearly does not understand what you are describing, cannot access the information that is needed, nor do they possess the authority to resolve your issue?

Empower your staff

By anticipating the needs of your customers, providing proper staff training, and empowering your employees to resolve an issue, you position the company to respond intelligently to an inquiry of any caliber. The process starts with you.

Communications is a proactive and interactive relationship. The key is listening and responding intelligently to what your customer has to say. After you hear what they tell you, provide some type of proactive response that advances the situation toward a proper resolution.

Two critical needs for successful communications are:

  • An established path of open communications – Is that path flexible to meet the changing needs of the consumer and your corporation?
  • Trained “brand ambassadors” who understand your brand and your corporation. They must understand the needs of your clients. Do you have people who can effectively communicate with your customers? Do they merely read text off of a computer screen or do they actively process the requests when the public contact them?

The way we interact and the manner in which we prepare for that interaction are mission critical to the success of your brand. If a customer’s requests get lost in a web of inefficiency, the potential PR damage is probably more significant than the event that generated the initial query. No one likes to have their concerns dismissed, lost, or just ignored.

Be sure that your customer service team has a flexible, interactive pathway established before you “open the front door.” If your staff doesn’t have an answer, at least have the ability to ‘vamp.’ Be able to acknowledge, record intelligently, and pass along the genuine concerns of your clients to someone who can correct the situation.

Your corporate brand is not an image on a bumper sticker. It is the lifeline to your customer. Be sure that you understand the process of communication.

Simplify the corporate image
The internal workings of almost any corporation are complex. Structure, hierarchies, and procedures are mission critical to keeping an organization well oiled and operational. However, when a customer calls in, they don’t care about your corporate needs – they want a simple answer to their problem.

This challenge faces every corporate communications office. How do you merge these two necessities? The problems that most corporations face are being able to listen successfully and answer intelligently.

Calvin Sun wrote a great piece on corporate communications for TechRepublic. Being able to communicate successfully involves active participation. Be ready to listen. Be prepared to change for the needs of your customer, your industry, and your brand.

If you want to develop a working strategy for your customer’s needs, contact our project managers to help you get your brand to those who matter most.

It’s time for your 2018 corporate social media review

It’s time for your 2018 corporate social media review

The end of the year marks the time for a broad review of your corporate social media plan. Take this opportunity to examine your media successes and failures for 2018. Before you step forward into the next calendar year, you should examine what has and has not worked for your company.

This broad overview is a specific year-end event. This differs from the regular monitoring of your media profile. The yearly review is an opportunity to see if you have reached the broad marketing goals you set for yourself and your company.

Key Performance Indicators (or KPI’s) are the benchmarks used to measure social media performance. A KPI could be the measure of website traffic, likes, clicks, or retweets. You need to examine your audience’s level of interaction with your social media profile. Are they interested? Have they been motivated to interact with your media? Are you providing the content they crave? At the end of the day – what service or content have you provided that they value?

Your media team should be analyzing your social media on a regular basis. How often? Daily, weekly, monthly, who is to say? Every company has different needs and resources. No two groups are the same. However, the one constant common to every organization is the clear need to understand their own customers. You need to decide what works best for both you and your customers.

There is one definitive answer – choosing to do nothing will be the most costly option you can select. At that point, you are wasting resources – time, money, and most importantly, your relationship with your customers.

Keep in mind that your social media profile is a living, breathing relationship between your company and your audience. It’s critical you listen to what they are telling you. However, it’s not always a simple conversation. The difference between what your customers are saying and what you are hearing can be immense. Be sure that you take the time to provide an honest evaluation of your media’s track record.

Media analytics tools make the process of analysis clean and simple. As a manager, you’ll be able to read either a brief overview or an in-depth report. Take the time to examine the story that is being presented to your team. As a business owner, this is a conversation you must understand. You don’t have to have fluent media skills, but you must be able to speak the language. You have to understand the basic concepts.

The key steps here are:

  • Research and Plan – Do Your Homework
  • Execute
  • Review your Analytics
  • Modify your Media Plan
  • Re-Execute

Let your media team do the heavy-lifting for you, but as an owner, you need to understand what they are saying. A small investment of time will yield a great reward. Learn the simple mechanics of social media analytics.

This is a polite reminder to re-examine the performance of your corporate social media portfolio for 2015. Before you do anything else, schedule a review near the end of Q4 2016 or whenever you perform your next yearly corporate media review. Don’t allow another year to pass without this critical review.

As you read these words, hopefully, you’ll smile and tell yourself “I’ve already had my yearly media review”. If this is a new concept for you, I challenge you to review your 2015 media results soon. Before you step forward into 2016, be sure to review your performance for 2015.

If you have questions how to proceed, contact Colure’s Advisory Team to help you mold your media profile for 2016.

Analytics in business

Analytics in business

Analytics is a multidimensional field that uses mathematics, statistics, predictive modeling and machine-learning techniques to find knowledge and patterns in recorded data. It studies past historical data to find patterns and potential trends to analyze the effects of certain decisions and events.

Social media is an example of a platform that can produce its own analytics. Most social media sites will provide users with analytics, but will also provide data to other websites through big data as well.

Analytics contains a data that can help us identify what happened, how, or why an event happened, what’s happening now and what is likely to happen next. There are many ways to gather data through graphs and charts and even numerical data

This can pertain to any field or industry that rely on data to understand the data as it progresses. It is often most useful for many businesses and companies due to its predictive qualities. Analytics can be used for websites to determine how well or not well their business is doing.

The most popular form of analytics within businesses and companies is predictive analytics. Predictive analytics have surged in popularity due to the desire to predict customer behavior. Web analytics are important to a companies’ website because they deliver data about the website, the traffic from its visitors and their behaviors, so they can measure what is and isn’t working. This helps to improve your website’s performance rates.

By using analytics, you are able to track where your traffic is coming from, what attracts the most visitors, and what days of the week are the heaviest with traffic. This information has value in helping you to improve and maximize your online marketing and sales leads and to improve the user experience.

Analytics can open doors to new information that have never been seen before. They provide a deeper insight into the behind-the-scenes of your business to see much more than revenue. Companies often don’t realize the need to improve or change things in order to be more successful until they see that data that suggests otherwise.

If a company or business doesn’t analyze the current state of their website and business, then they won’t be able to identify areas that need further development and improvement. It is critical for businesses to understand the analytics of the numbers and graphs that pertain to their company. Without understanding, the data means nothing to a business.

A company must understand and be able to discuss their companies’ analytics to experts even if they aren’t experts themselves. This shows that they have basic knowledge of the information that they are receiving on how their business is doing so they know where to improve, whether it is their online presence and marketing or physical revenue.

What is cost per registration (CPR)?

What is cost per registration (CPR)?

In order to measure the fiscal health of a company, businesses must measure key performance indicators (KPIs). One critical measurement is determining the cost to acquire one new paying customer. For subscription base companies this model is known as cost per registration (CPR), or cost per acquisition.

The New York Times is in the media industry. In a simplistic model, the media outlet sells subscriptions as one of its revenue streams. For every subscription that the Times sells, some money is spent to cover the cost of advertising. Their net gain is the amount spent on advertising subtracted from the funds raised by the new subscriptions purchased.

No business can avoid this cost. To stop all advertising is to lose subscribers. Subscriptions cannot be attained without advertising. Yet, if there is no reliable consumer base, the Times cannot afford to spend money on ads.

Casual readers who have not purchased a subscription cannot be counted upon as a revenue source. Their inconsistency does not allow them to be relied upon for long-term sales. However, they can be persuaded to become subscribers. Special promotions that are tailored to their situation or lifestyle will increase subscription sales.

For example, repeat visitors to the Times’ website could be re-targeted for a free trial to the print version of the paper. If enough of these readers decide to continue with the service, the Times will have made more money in the long run. Or, existing subscribers could receive a discount flyer for the New York Times’ weekend edition. The revenue lost by giving a discount will hopefully be negated by a wave of new subscriptions.

A careful balance between advertisements and subscribers is the only way to maintain a successful, profitable business. If properly organized, any additional costs taken on in this model will be negated through sales revenues.

What is deep linking?

What is deep linking?

Time is money

Anyone who has used a search engine knows that you can easily waste hours looking for a particular piece of content. If your customers spend too much time or energy searching for your product, sooner – more often than later, you will lose them to readily available content. To combat this waste of time and energy, the practice of “deep linking” has evolved to take that customer to a specific target.

Deep links differ from broader linking practices because the deep link usually bypasses the landing page of the destination website and takes the customer to a specific location deeper inside of a website.

Deep links help to establish control over the conversion process by providing direct access to a specific goal. By taking control of the journey through customer’s conversion funnel, programmers can sidestep the need for a search and take the customer directly to the destination service, good, or data.

Deep links and mobile apps

Companies can include these deep links in a mobile text or an email format. The flexibility and speed of mobiles apps have bridged the continuity gap between the web and the mobile universe. Corporations are able to tailor the customer’s user experience (UX) to be faster and more functional. The journey has been crafted to fit the wants of the customer with the needs of the business.

A deep link is a URL that opens and directs a user to a specific location within an app. When a developer creates an app, they can register a URL scheme with iOS. For example, in our app Agenda, we registered “agenda” as the app’s URL scheme, so any URL that starts with agenda:// will deep link to the app,” – Savvy Apps.

Deep links differ in complexity, due to their intended function. They can range from being very basic to very complicated. Many variables will define the complexity, such as function, audience, and medium. A goal for your website may be the download of a corresponding mobile application. By downloading the application, the user can access the information in an email or text more quickly than going to the website. “When the app has been downloaded, the user can be taken to specific content immediately,” – Branch.

This type of mobile device behavior will only increase in order to keep users engaged and to be able to deliver content and information whenever the user needs/wants it. Deep linking makes applications more appealing, even if the user may not want to download it. Eventually, applications will be favored over websites because the functionality of the application will overcome the functionality of the website. User engagement and experience will drive the continued creation of deep linking.

If you are interested in learning how to connect better with your customers, contact Colure’s mobile development team.

Mobile Technologies and Wearables

Mobile Technologies and Wearables

Technology that helps to improve fitness is continuously growing and expanding. The goal of many of these apps or devices is to transfer information seamlessly from the physical world into an app. This particular niche has proven to be a goldmine. The wearable technology industry is projected to be worth $34 billion by 2020. Tracking is currently a large component of these technologies. By providing the ability to track steps, flights climbed, and calories burned, the fitness technology provides detailed insight into a wearer’s life and fitness habits. From there, the wearer can improve or maintain fitness levels.

This booming industry could be either an opportunity or a threat of independence to traditional gyms and fitness clubs. One fitness club, Equinox, took the opportunity when Apple and Nike released HealthKit. The fitness chain engineered its own digital platform with Apple. Personal trainers could now access customer’s accurate data to tailor fitness programs to the customer’s needs.

One non-traditional fitness app made by a gaming company boosted their net worth by 7.5 billion dollars. The company, Nintendo, created the app Pokemon Go with Niantec and the Pokemon Company. This app features the use of a smartphone’s GPS and camera system to make a highly interactive game. The player must walk around in the real world to move their virtual avatar in the game. The avatar will randomly encounter Pokemon. Then the app uses the camera to place the creature as if it is in your “real” environment. You also need to take a certain amount of steps to achieve accomplishments. The Pokemon franchise is so huge and well known that players of all ages download the game. Many users reported that the game is helping them boost their fitness since walking is a necessary component of playing the game.

All this tracking and fitness apps and technology creates a jackpot for mobile advertisers who use data. Since most use GPS, companies can get a detailed look at the lives of their consumers. Additionally, they can receive information about your general state of wellness, health conditions, diet, etc. from these apps. All this data could be sold to create more detailed advertisements, similarly to the online data tracking that already exists. This may be an issue of privacy for many. Others may enjoy having advertisements that are more relevant to their needs and wants.

The fitness technology industry is exploding with growth. Companies who take advantage of this trend will have the potential to reap major benefits. Contact Colure’s mobile advertising team to provide a solid go to market plan for your next mobile app.

User-Generated Content (UGC) in your ads

User-Generated Content (UGC) in your ads

User-Generated Content (UGC) can be a useful way to produce exposure. Many customers who use UGC are more likely to trust a recommendation from another person over the actual content being presented. This is because people usually trust other’s experiences. When certain companies try to win customers over with branded content, this can easily lead them away from the product. UGC allows users to create content based on their likes and wants.

Instead of TV, radio commercials, or billboards, UGC allows users to create their own content while sparing expenses of the businesses. Companies won’t always know if these commercials or ads will sell their customers, which is where UGC becomes useful. It becomes more genuine and sincere because the users that are generating content are not being paid to do so, they are simply sharing experiences.

People are generally likely to trust online reviews just as much as ones that could be in-person. UGC is also a way of exposing people to content that may be able to work better than advertisements. Many people in today’s age will click through ads or fast-forward through commercials. On the other hand, if someone recommends you to a certain product or website, you are more likely to see what it has to offer.

User-Generated Content also allows customers to be more active in the decisions business may or may not make. By generating the content to their needs, it allows businesses to note and modify their products and the way they advertise them. UGC leans more towards creating buzz and not simply just trying to sell based on advertisements. It can be seen as companies talking to customers, not just talking at them through these advertisements. Social media is a great place for UGC and has been found very effective at creating this user content.

Sometimes businesses are not the most effective people to sell their products, but customers might be number one. UGC is important because the customers are unbiased, they do not work for the company or get paid by the company, they are simply expressing opinions and feelings based on the products that they use.

If you want to explore options for content in your advertising, contact Colure’s project management team.

Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) Beacons Are Making Mobile Apps Smarter

Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) Beacons Are Making Mobile Apps Smarter

Advertisements today can be overwhelming to consumers. Especially in the last decade as advertising has come to focus on online consumerism, customers are constantly bombarded with popups for the latest and greatest products. The negative response to this shift in marketing has led to a need for innovative and unique technologies that avoid overwhelming consumers while still reaching an audience. Indoor location technologies, such as Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) Beacons, is one of these innovative designs.

What are BLE Beacons?

Bluetooth Beacons are wireless devices that draw attention to a specific location, within a finite space. A clear example of a beacon is a lighthouse: its light draws attention from offshore ships, letting the ships know their distance from the lighthouse and the shore. Bluetooth Beacons do the same thing in a virtual environment, allowing brick-and-mortar businesses to send out signals to mobile devices in the immediate area.

Bluetooth Low-Energy Beacons, also known as Bluetooth 4.0, are just as their name suggests. They do the same thing in practice while maintaining low energy consumption.

How do BLE Beacons work?

The wireless device draws attention to its location by periodically putting out a radio signal. This radio signal consists of a small packet of data, usually advertisements. A beacon at a sports store, for example, might periodically send signals for current deals on hiking boots. Compatible mobile devices within close proximity to the beacon (usually about 100 meters) would then receive those advertisements, triggering applications to prompt responses like push messages or actions.

Why use a BLE Beacon?

Bluetooth Beacons, in general, allow businesses to deliver highly contextualized and personalized advertisements to their customers. Unlike other indoor location technologies such as GPS and NFC, Beacons are hyper-localized and specified for indoor environments. This means that the customer isn’t going to get advertisements for every store in the mall, but they also don’t need to be standing directly next to a product to receive an advertisement.

BLE Beacons also cost 60-80% cheaper than classic Bluetooth Beacons (although classic Bluetooth is recommended for more complex applications). Their low-energy consumption allows them to last much longer than the classic Bluetooth Beacon. The BLE Beacon stays in sleep mode unless it is actively configuring a connection, so it can last up to 3 years on one coin-cell sized battery.

Who benefits from using BLE Beacons?

Both Classic Bluetooth and BLE Beacons can be beneficial to a company. Classic Bluetooth can handle larger amounts of data, but BLE Beacons are ideal for transmitting advertisements to applications that periodically use small amounts of data. This, in addition to their low-energy consumption and cheaper cost, means that small businesses may benefit from using a BLE model over classic Bluetooth location technology.

The value of in-store retail sales influenced by beacon technology increased by $40 million between 2015 and 2016. The benefit of being able to personalize advertisements to customers continues to appeal to businesses, and it’s expected that 4.5 million beacons will be active by 2018.

Content is the core of all media

Content is the core of all media

Business Basics

A brand’s voice and personality depend on the type of content used to craft that image. How you decide to manage that content is intimately involved in every step of the purchase decision-making process. It is the most stable mechanism for a brand promotion.

Customer engagement, which is a strong predictor of company growth and brand loyalty, is built by providing value to the consumer. This action is most often achieved through value, usually achieved through useful content. “Emotional engagement is far more important to consumers than promotional content,” thus making the quality of the content the main factor in its success.

A reputation…is it owned or earned?

While everyone recognizes the role of content in owned and earned media, it’s harder to determine if the content has a place in paid media or if paid media is rendering content useless. Owned, earned, and paid media sources are almost always used together in unison. They’re used to build off each other, but they have key differences worth elaborating.

Owned Media refers to all channels that a company manages and curates, like websites, blogs, and social media. Its main strength is the control it gives a company over their brand image. Its main weakness is its limited reach—though 89% of marketers are using social media around 16% of Facebook fans see the brand’s content on their newsfeed.

Earned Media includes all mentions of a brand on third-party channels. Sometimes referred to as organic advertising, search engine optimization and mobile app store optimization. It is the shared, the reviewed and the viral. Its main weakness, that of having no control over what is being said when, is counteracted by its main strength, the power of word-of-mouth to influence people’s decisions. The skepticism people have when viewing ads is equivalent to the trust that comes from another person’s recommendation.

Paid Media is comprised of all of the advertisements that you have paid. These include Adwords, sponsorships, and content written by others for a fee. Many times, this can appear as sponsored items, appearing in a news channel feed. Another name is “native advertising”. It is expensive, yet, far-reaching. This is a highly targetable resource. While many have frowned upon it, paid media is important to a marketing campaign because, without it, your best content might remain hidden. It is not a replacement for “true content”, but it is a valuable tool in taking owned media and pushing it to possibly blurring the line toward earned media. Competition online has made it hard to sift through information on the basis of interest alone and paid media allows one to place an ad before eyes who are searching for it.

At the core of all three strategies lies content. It is content that draws people to your website. It is content that makes people want to talk about your brand and share it with their friends. And it is content that keeps people engaging with ads even when they’re savvy enough to recognize and avoid them. Paid media will reach an audience, but it will rarely keep them watching more than they have to.

Content is what makes consumers say, “Wow, I didn’t even know that was an ad for something!” Questions for the ad industry become “Where do we draw the line between advertising and content?” and “How visible do we make that line?”

Exploring a complementary user experience

Exploring a complementary user experience

An excellent user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) is necessary in today’s interconnected world. In our lives, it’s common for users to use multiple smart devices in multiple environments. As users move between devices, it makes sense to transfer a user’s UX across those platforms. An example of this type of event may start by watching a Netflix movie on your living room television. After a while, you get up and continue watching that film on a laptop in the garage while you work on the lawnmower. That singular experience is maintained through different environments and platforms.

The key is providing a seamless UX within a user’s network. Each device becomes an extension of that network; each is a compliment for the other devices in that network. A complementary user experience allows for mobile applications and experiences to intermingle across these platforms. The true essence of the event is found in the experience, not the network.

Mobile gaming apps are another type of application that can benefit from complementary designs. SMHK Funklab’s game Padracer uses an iPhone as a steering wheel and an iPad as a racetrack. Extra iPads can be added to the game as well. The creativity behind Padracer led to its success as one of the first mobile games with a complementary design.

There are two main types of complementary designs: collaboration and control. In a collaborative design, two different devices have different functions. Padracer falls into this category. Control designs allow for one device to remotely control the other which typically serves the main function. An example of this would be using your smartphone to switch the song playing off Spotify from your laptop. Devices in the complementary ecosystem can also fall into two categories: must-have or nice-to-have. A must-have device is required for the app to function. In the case of Padracer, an iPad and iPhone are must-have devices that are necessary to use the app. Additional iPads add to the experience but aren’t required. These extra devices fall under the nice-to-have category.

A complementary design can unlock endless options for a business to provide an enriched experience for app users. More and more companies are discovering how a complementary UI/UX can lead to company growth. A study by AppDynamics discovered that 65% of people have very high expectations for app performance. Additionally, 30% of customers would spend more money on a company with a good app. If your business uses a mobile app, consider how multiscreen compatibility could boost your user experience.

Cross-platform development is critical

Cross-platform development is critical

Thanks to the cell phone, our world has become mobile and immediate; information is always ready at hand. An individual’s entire life can fit into their palm or pocket. That phone might be either Android or iOS based, the two dominant mobile platforms. Developing your mobile app for both platforms is critical in today’s marketplace.

It has become progressively important for companies and businesses to have a heavy mobile presence since smartphones and tablets have captured a dominant share of the market. Mobile application development, a pathway to marketing and branding, includes the need to create applications that run on various mobile platforms. A mobile platform is simply an operating system. 

Developers create applications that are targeted at specific audiences. Often, cross-sections of these audiences disperse between various mobile operating systems. The need to ‘skip’ across various platforms provides the companies the ability to reach different audiences with one application, regardless of the platform. Cross-platform services save time, money and allow code to be easily shared between different platforms. It provides a greater reach to users.

With many solutions, often come with both pros and cons. Mobile development is no different.

Advantages with cross-platform mobile app development:
  • Deploy your app to various platforms reaching a greater audience.
  • Saves time. Allows developers to write code in one language.
  • Reduces development costs. This allows companies to save money by not investing in one team specific to that platform.
  • Simple for developers. The frameworks to create cross-platform applications are designed for scripting languages which allow for a smooth transition to the mobile device.
Disadvantages with cross-platform mobile app development:
  • Technology does not include all features of all mobile devices and operating systems. App developers are continuously updating the apps whenever companies add new features. The framework will need to be updated to support the new additions.
  • Tools are restrictive. Designing an app compatible with cross-platform frameworks can challenge developers, prohibiting them from using their own development tools and suites.
  • Code inefficiency. The inability to work on every platform’s native language. When the translation engine become ineffective, the coding efficiency decreases.
  • Slower code and process. Due to the cross-compilation process, the code writing runtime may slow down.

As with any development process, there are benefits and liabilities associated with using a cross-platform application development system. Cross-platform tools are not a universal solution. Having a development team with a working knowledge of the development environment is critical.

Contact Colure’s development team to help integrate your mobile applications with your existing systems, fitting your specific needs.

Understand social media marketing (SMM)

Understand social media marketing (SMM)

Business Basics

Every hour of every day, social media allows people to consistently create and share information. This constant interaction has driven companies to fully embrace social media as a vital marketing tool. It aids them in displaying their products; manufacturers connect with their returning and future customers. With over 2.3 billion active social media users, a company’s robust, social media presence will continue to solidify the company’s earnings.

Social media marketing (SMM) allows companies to market their brand on social media sites to increase traffic to their websites and stores. The goal of social media marketing is to raise brand awareness on a platform that the customer uses daily. By displaying ads on a site, home screens, or creating a company page with updates, customers are repeatedly exposed to the company profile and products. If the customer likes what the company has to offer, the customer is likely to share videos, images, ads, and articles about the enterprise. This media span reaches potential clients who have not seen the brand’s web presence. SMM allows companies to increase their brand recognition and draw in, as well as retain, customers.

Shoe manufacturer TOMS saw a huge boost in their brand recognition with their #withoutshoes campaign on Instagram. In 2015, Toms designated one day a year as “One Day Without Shoes Day.” Each year on that designated day, the company asks users to post one barefoot photo on Instagram with the hashtag #withoutshoes. For each post, one pair of shoes is donated by TOMS to a child in need. Not only did the campaign rapidly spread, but TOMS also established itself as a socially conscious driven brand. This type of savvy promotion allows customers to feel that their photo contribution and any purchase of TOMS shoes will add to a larger, positive impact on the company.

Camera manufacturer GoPro frequently uses their Instagram account to show the quality of their product. GoPro extensively uses user-generated content for its Instagram page. Besides their company photos, GoPro encourages users to send in pictures of their best shots with their GoPros. This type of social media marketing not only promotes their product but helps customers to consistently use their GoPros and send in their photos with hopes of being featured on the account.

The prominence of social media in society has created a strong personalized sense of marketing. The life-blood of social media is built upon allowing people to create and share information with others. By marketing brands through ideas, social media allows people to be exposed to products they may not find elsewhere. This type of industry is not bound by a geographical location nor an allotted time slot; it is readily available. Whether the appeal comes from an ad, company page, or a friend’s referral, social media marketing is essential in staying relevant in peoples’ lives.

Explore consumer-generated content

Explore consumer-generated content

There is probably no greater assurance in life than that of human testimony. Seeing someone provide support for a product or service may be all you need to make a final purchase decision. If you take a look around, user-generated content is everywhere. Content created by actual consumers is becoming the go-to method to increase customer loyalty. The first-person narrative is quickly becoming a primary marketing channel.

This technique, coupled with the growth and effectiveness of social media interaction, is a deadly combination. This method gives businesses the ability to pass the brand-building responsibilities to the consumer. The purchase cycle begins with the customer and ends with another client. Why create external content when original user-generated content is available?

This new advantage leans on the customer’s interest to hear more views of people who were once in their position. The direction selected by those and have had a positive outcome with a particular product or service.

The more convincing a user can be in their first-person content, the more enriching the experience will be for the customer who is receiving that message. Satisfaction can come from a picture filled with joy & commitment, a story with an excellent description, or an experience filled with uncontrollable emotion. Comfort can come in many forms, as long as it is a testimony that inspires your users to investigate an innocent way to brand your business. Close to 60% of retailers and 61% of brands are using consumer-generated content in their social media campaigns. The most efficient campaigns focus on these five principles:

  • They concentrate on the basics
  • They stay in it for the long run
  • They listen to the customer
  • They let the customers share their story
  • They allow everyone to be a stakeholder

86% of millennials say that user-generated content is a good indication of the quality of a brand. Let’s help each other and share the experience.

If you need guidance to cross that bridge from one customer to the next, contact our Development Team.

Voice activated digital components (AKA – digital assistants)

Voice activated digital components (AKA – digital assistants)

The recent developments in voice activated technologies have opened the door for explosive growth in the realm of digital interaction between humans and machines. Technology platforms across the board have embraced user control activated by voice commands. Individuals can ask their phone any question and a response will be given. The voice recognition by the operating system is as valid a command input as that from a computer keyboard. These developments created the birth of the ‘digital assistant.’

With the sound of your voice, random data can be searched, reminders can be given about certain events on your mobile calendar, requests become completed actions. Convenience for the user plays a huge factor: it is easier to talk to your phone than to type on it.

The range and depth of these computer responses are impressive. Joe Hindy, The Android App Guy on Youtube, posted an interesting side-by-side comparison of three frontline voice activated platforms – Siri, Google Now, and Cortana. It’s not a perfect demonstration, but it clearly demonstrates how the competing products perform.

Siri

When Siri was introduced in 2011 on the iPhone 4S, it was a sensation.  Back then, PCMag described this new technology “Siri is a speech-recognition computer application. It has both speech input and output, meaning you can speak to it, and it can speak back to you.”  Prior to Siri being introduced as part of the operating system, a voice-activated app was available at the Apple App Store. The technologies were focused on a specific market share, those who may have had difficulties working with a smartphone. The function was similar to Siri but had nowhere near the capabilities of the current Siri. That company was acquired by Apple, and the mobile app was pulled from the App Store. Later, that same technology emerged as the Apple tool we now call “Siri.” It was a cool new addition that Apple built into its iPhones. From then on, it has become a staple of the iPhone user experience.

Google Now

In 2013, Google Now was created.  This program is Google’s answer to the virtual assistant. Google Now “can answer questions like Siri and search the web, but more importantly, it cannot only assist, but pre-empt your requirements using your calendar, email, historic behaviours, and location.” quoted from Koozai.com. Google Now is like an upgraded version of Siri.

Cortana

In 2014, Cortana for Windows Phone 8.1 was introduced.  Cortana is a Halo-inspired personal assistant.  It is Microsoft’s answer to Siri and Google Now.  What started for the Windows Phone is now on every desktop using the Windows 10 operating system.  “Cortana is powered by Bing, and can perform many of the functions one has come to expect from artificial intelligence-style assistants, such as setting reminders and powering vocal updates to one’s calendar” – CNET.

Amazon Echo

Also, in 2014 was the unveiling of Amazon Echo.  Amazon Echo is an at the home tower and  “lives as a piece of hardware, not just a layer of software available through a mobile device. It has built-in speakers and lets users sample and purchase music as well as stream that music on demand,” according to CNET.  Amazon is trying to make a statement with Echo by offering this virtual personal assistant.

“A June 2014 study by Thrive Analytics found that over half of US adult smartphone users (56%)” use their voice-activated assistants. – Emarketer.

The Future is Now

Millennials will continue to drive the use of virtual personal assistants and will be the deciding factor on whether this trend will stick or be a bust. The digital stage has been set to respond to the sound of our voice. Interaction with a digital assistant is now part of our daily routine. How that interaction is crafted will depend upon the minds of the users and dreams of mobile app developers.