Tomorrows Technology Today

Tomorrows Technology Today

How To Choose An eBook Reader

by Kathryn Free on 11/26/12

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Black Friday is behind us and for those still needing to find some exciting Christmas presents you might consider an eBook Reader. To help you decide which eBook Reader you will need to know what to look for. There are many varieties available so knowing the features and designs are becoming increasingly more important. Below are some factors you will want to consider.

First ~ The Design

The first thing that should come to mind is the eBook Reader display technology. Do you want eInk screen or an LCD color screen or a color eInk screen? eInk technology gives the reader the feel of an actual book and eye strain is greatly reduced. eInk can also be read in sunlight but will need a light source for the evening. LCD screen offer vivid color and are back lit so can be impossible to read in sunlight and causes eye strain that will show up sooner the more you read.

The next thing to consider is size. How large of a screen would you like to read on? How easily is it going to be to carry around? Carrying your eBook Reader will also depend on how much it weighs.

Finally, navigation is important to the design of an eBook Reader. Not only navigation inside the reader but the build and style of the reader is important.

Second ~ The Content

You will want to seriously consider this point. Every eBook Reader has available titles, but how many and what formats does the eBook Reader actually read? A dedicated service is another point. Some devices only allow downloads from specifics services instead of allowing you to shop online at sites you choose.

Third ~ The Memory/Battery Life

The battery life of your eReader is not as critical but should be consider. Most have eInk readers have a long batter life whereas the LCD readers batter life becomes more crucial. You do not want to be engrossed in a book only to have your battery run out of power. How you understand batter life is by number of pages you can turn on a single charge. Along with battery life, understand how many books you will be able to store directly on your device.

Those are the main points to consider when purchasing an eBook Reader. Additional features are always an added benefit. Some features include grayscale levels, image and their formats, audio books, apps, internet access, email and so much more. A good eBook Reader will have a good combination of the critical points with added features that make it shine.

Finally, be sure your eBook Reader allows you to disappear into your book just as if you were reading a published copy.

Keep reading.

Connecting with Customers through the Power of Social Media and Mobile

by Kathryn Free on 11/12/12

Google, IBM, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft all have the same goal — to connect with consumers. Thanks to the democratization of information technology, the global retail landscape has drastically changed in the last decade.

Welcome to the Knowledge Era — it’s the Klondike again, but this time we’re not gold mining; we’re data mining. Therefore, to remain competitive, retailers must start to connect with their customers and collect relevant information about them.

One of the most effective ways to do that is to launch a loyalty program. A good program will allow you to capture relevant data and eventually make offers that truly cater to customers’ needs. Contrary to an ad campaign, where the main objective is to attract new customers, a loyalty program is designed to retain and engage customers. In this time of economic slow-down, customer retention is becoming even more important for retailers.

Loyalty programs aren’t new — they’ve been around for the past couple of decades — but with technology trends such as social media and mobility, the game is changing … once again.

While some retailers have established their own loyalty programs, they may not yet be taking advantage of social media and mobile devices. It can be a daunting task to build a customer database and design a loyalty program that effectively incorporates these new technologies. But there’s an easy solution.

First, if you don’t have a customer database, start with a gift card program and link it to a social media platform such as Facebook. There are millions of gift cards in circulation, but most don’t have any customer information attached to them. Today’s newest technology is the missing link.

When a customer redeems a gift card on Facebook, they simply type in the gift card number and hit a button. But with a two-way integration, the customer also associates their Facebook profile with the retailer. The retailer can then directly communicate with the customer, providing personalized offers, such as: “You have $15 left on your gift card balance. If you come into the store next week, you can save another $5.”

Once integrated with Facebook, a retailer has a potential customer base of 900 million — harnessing the power of social media to communicate in real time with new and existing customers. Add to this relationship a reward aspect, and you can then migrate toward a highly effective loyalty program.

The retailer can also use the Facebook or Foursquare on smartphones so when a customer “checks in” to a retail location that information is received in real time and the retailer can push out a promotion, such as: “Make a purchase in the next 30 minutes and we’ll double your points.”

The next step for retailers is to launch a ‘’official’’ loyalty program with a plastic card or a mobile app. Indeed, to be able to track in-store transactions, retailers must offer their members an ID card – no matter if it’s a plastic or a virtual card available via a mobile app. I personally prefer the mobile option because it allows a customer to earn and redeem points in store and allows retailers to send promotions directly to a customer’s phone. Over the next two years, we’ll see mobility become an increasingly important part of loyalty programs, replacing plastic cards. But for now, customers are still attached to the tangibility of the plastic card.

Once your loyalty program is running, you can finally start collecting/analyzing data about customers and start interacting with customers. Rule of thumb, every customer action or transaction is an opportunity for the retailer to communicate with that customer. But there is a caveat: When customers provide detailed information about themselves, they expect customized promotions and offers. If you’re a vegetarian, why would you want to receive deals on ribs and hamburgers? This tends to have the opposite effect of what was intended and can alienate customers.

Fortunately, with the help of a technology platform, retailers can manage the complexity of data capture, and push personalized promotions to customers in real time according to demographic profiles, shopping algorithms and consumer preferences.

Traditional loyalty programs use a “batch” model where it can take weeks for a customer to receive their points. A good program needs to be real-time, product-centric and multi-channel, able to reach the client on the right device. Real-time integration means the customer receives points within 150 milliseconds and can use those points for purchases. And it means retailers can analyze a customer’s shopping basket and immediately apply a promotion to a specific SKU.

Having a customer database behind your loyalty program means you can get detailed information and provide more accurate, personalized communications to customers on their device of choice. This is not direct marketing, nor is it an ad campaign — it’s a one-to-one communicational platform.

Whether you’re managing a single store or a large chain, retaining customers is more crucial than ever in the highly competitive retail environment. A technology platform that bridges the gap between a traditional loyalty program, social media and mobile can provide that competitive edge in a simple, yet effective, way — by helping you get to know your customers better.

A loyalty program that incorporates social media and mobile is a powerful way to create a connection between the retailer and customer, and to engage that customer in a long-term relationship. That relationship has a direct benefit: Retailers can potentially increase their invoices by 20 to 50 per cent. A loyalty program is never an expense like an ad campaign; retailers can expect to see a return on their investment within 12 to 18 months, and after that it’s pure profit.

Making Your SMS Marketing Go Viral

by Kathryn Free on 06/05/11

Email and print mail are marketing tools of yesterday. Tomorrow's Marketing Technology Today is SMS marketing and the potential is large and everyone enjoys forwarding great offers or interesting news to friends, family and colleagues. What makes SMS Marketing viral is people can share the message easily and directly with their smartphones. Due to the viral nature of SMS marketing a business can exponentially increase brand awareness as well as achieve other marketing objectives. It pays to maximize your exposure as much as possible because the likelihood of your customers to passing along your SMS marketing texts can be viral in and of itself. Below are a few '10' ideas for making your text message marketing more viral.

1. Share Is A Must

Do not overlook this basic yet simple rule. Sending a great offer or bit of news is one thing but if the recipient cannot share it with their friends you have not gone viral. You text message become the firecracker whose spark died before exploding the brilliant display of sparks. You want to make sure the company you are using allows for all types of sharing!

2. Ease of Use is key

There have been 7 success factors identified for the mobile viral marketing world and ‘ease of use' is one that is identified in multiple case research studies. SMS messaging is actually very simple but due to it's simplicity many new to the world of texting keep looking for something else to do.

3. Send VIP Offers

Do NOT offer your SMS offers everywhere. Recipients need to believe and trust that what they are being offered has added value because of the SMS received. Whether your program offers exclusive content or high value content does not matter has much as the privilege the recipient gets when they accept your offer.

When you send exclusive offers you increase customer loyalty and that is when SMS marketing begins to go viral! SMS messages that tend to be forwarded most affined are coupons, entertainment content, and applications like greeting cards.

4. Offer ‘Sharing' Incentives

Rewarding your customers with incentives is always good but when you motivate them for just sharing your SMS message you bring marketing to a higher level. Your customers with pass along not only your text messages BUT your incentive offer for their friends to pass them SMS message along.

Just keep in mind that while incentives are great motivators, make sure that your SMS messages gives your customer the feeling that they are well-informed and being helpful to their friends instead of just marketing.

5. Make Sure You Offers Are Valuable

Incentives and rewards are good but you will not build a true following unless what you are offering is valuable. For instance, if you always offer 20% of a widget then make sure your SMS Marketing Campaign offers the same widget at a higher savings. When you do this your SMS Message will be more likely to be looked at as useful and your customer will not be wary about frequency or aggressiveness of your campaigns.

6. Have A Mobile APP for Your Business

Mobile APP's are becoming what websites were about 5 short years ago – A MUST! You can start slowing. . .like MSRtech's Mobile Business Card. . .a simple APP where your customers can share and keep all your offers. These APP's are especially important around gift-giving holidays. You can turn an offer into a special way for your customers to give their friends or family members a present!

7. Identify Your Influencers

It is not the people you know but the influencers you identify and market to. Those who have a high social networking presence and tend to influence others to purchase or try certain products or companies. Court these influencers strategically by partnering or offering added incentives for passing along your offers to their followers. Make good use of analytics to identify those who read and share your SMS Messages and encourage them by treating them as VIP's.

8. Social Media

Always share your campaign via the Social Networks. When you begin you will have many more Twitter or Facebook followers than you do mobile subscribers so remember to regularly advertise the benefits of your text message marketing program with them. They will catch on and when they do you have once again expanding your SMS Marketing to a even higher level.

All of MSRtech's mobile APP's come complete with Social Networking links.

9. Op-In SMS Marketing

There are so many Opt-In SMS Marketing programs popping up. The problem is that few businesses have a mobile database and to create one the mobile user has to first ‘opt-in' before you can send blast SMS messages. This can be problematic to say the least. The ‘opt-in' procedure can be daunting and many are so afraid of viruses or lists they rarely will take time to read and understand.

MSRtech has a complete program that combines Opt-out with the Opt-in SMS Marketing model. You can contact them at 949.267.8647 to find out more.

10. Accept Mobile Coupons

Consumers are 25% more likely to redeem a mobile coupon than ANY OTHER type of advertising! That is huge ~ but majority of most businesses doe NOT GET THIS. They do not understand how to track, how to get it off the consumers phone so it cannot be used again and the list goes on.

MSRtech has made mobile coupons easy. You place your coupon and when the ‘accept' the coupon it then is no longer viewable on the consumer mobile phone. This can be done many different ways, so relax, the answer is out there!

Let MSRtech drive your business with TMM ~ Targeted Mobile Marketing.