Marketing WIth Mobile Coupons

Marketing WIth Mobile Coupons

Coupons have been attracting customers for over a century! Did you know the first coupon was used in the late 1800s? It was a simple handwritten ticket for a free soda, and the strategy changed the company’s direction forever. A year later, Coca-Cola was being sold nationwide. That coupon completely transformed the marketing industry. 

Today, almost 50% of shoppers search for coupons before they purchase. This tells us your target audience is already looking for offers on their favorite products and services. A survey in 2020 showed that over 75% of consumers of all ages would try a new brand if they were offered a coupon. Your product is the variable, but the coupon concept is proven. A discount is exactly what most consumers want.

Coupons may be CUSTOMER magnets, but what’s in it for YOU as the RETAILER? 

Mobile coupons offer your business a unique opportunity to attract your customer, connect through multiple digital streams and cultivate loyalty to grow your brand. And with smartphones in the hands of billions of consumers worldwide, marketing to your ideal customer with a mobile coupon keeps getting easier. 

For the retailer, a customized coupon targets a specific and ideal audience. Furthermore, the customer can utilize technology to access this unique offer with a mobile coupon. Therefore the coupon acts as a reminder to your consumer and an effective marketing tool. 

This promotional strategy is valuable in a variety of applications. For example, coupon offers are used effectively to make room for new products by offering a coupon on overstock to clear shelves. Or another advantage is the ability to advertise new products directly to your shoppers. Distributing coupons generates a buzz and encourages consumer engagement. 

When a shopper discovers your offer, the coupon creates an opportunity to connect the shopper directly to your brand. Some effective coupon strategies include inviting your consumer to join your text and mailing list and opt-in on promotional offers. This point of contact is also an opportunity to share highlights and upcoming events to encourage further consumer interaction with your company. You can efficiently deliver coupons and future marketing campaigns by establishing this connection long after the initial coupon is distributed. Any digital offer after the first coupon offers a gentle reminder for a return visit. 

Mobile coupons are customizable and measurable. Your coupon is created to meet the goals of your company. This may help control revenue fluctuations when applied correctly in a marketing campaign. A mobile coupon campaign can be customized to fit the business’s needs or goals, including time-sensitive offers or specific limitations on purchases. As you can see, coupons attract customers, and when you provide excellent customer service, they will continue coming back. Therefore by using mobile coupons as a marketing advantage, you foster customer loyalty.

Risk Awareness

There are risks to consider with any marketing idea, and this is true with utilizing a mobile coupon strategy. These risks should be carefully calculated to create a plan for your business’s success. A couple of things to consider are profit margins and revenue awareness. Knowing your profit margin allows you to create an enticing offer without increasing the chance of loss. This margin includes any profit loss from the promotion and any cost of producing the coupon. Of course, offering a discount on goods or services will cost the business something in the long run, but with a good grasp on margins, you can use coupons to create profit. Without a good plan, you risk increasing your chance of loss.  

Regarding revenue, take time to analyze data and notice how your shoppers apply your coupon. Remember that there will always be people who only shop when they have a discount; therefore, time stamping or rotating offers may be essential for your coupon strategy. Incorporating coupons as a marketing strategy into your business is something that shoppers will love, but you will need to use them wisely to impact business development.

The benefits of incorporating mobile coupons into your business strategy continue to grow. However, before launching a full-blown campaign, you should discuss your strategy’s potential pros and cons. This can help you avoid serious pitfalls. If you have any questions about mobile coupons or other digital tactics, connect with us at Alive.

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AR vs VR

AR vs VR

Augmented reality is becoming a larger and larger part of the brand landscape now. Before we get too deep down the augmented reality (AR) rabbit hole, let’s do a quick vocabulary lesson — because there are other, somewhat-similar terms that often get confused.

First, let’s distinguish between AR and virtual reality, or VR. AR is the blending of virtual reality with real life; developers create images and applications that blend in with the world around the user. The most commonly known version of augmented reality in 2016 was Pokemon Go, which broke almost all Apple download records and likely created a rush for more brands to interact with AR. Virtual reality, by contrast, is the creation of a virtual world that users can interact with — by definition, it’s going to be different than augmented reality and not contain many elements from the existing world we see every day. Virtual reality is probably a little farther off in terms of driving business and brand behavior, but Oculus Rift (a well-known VR platform) being purchased by Facebook was a step in that direction.

The final component is artificial intelligence or AI. This refers to machines who learn from experience and repetition. Presently, you’re seeing this mostly with chatbots — but in the future, AI will shape much of how business is done.

Back to augmented reality. While the market is small now, it might grow to $90 billion by 2020. Brands are rushing into the space — in part because of the huge success of Pokemon Go, and in part because it’s a next logical step in our continued digital evolution. How exactly are brands working with augmented reality? Here are a few examples.

It may soon be in your iPhone camera: Apple is working on this with teams from several startups it recently acquired. This would allow, for example, a view of a city street to be overlaid with directions, price points for nearby restaurants, coupons, or — wait for it — some type of animated creature to make you giggle.

Smart glasses: At the same time Apple is working on integrating augmented reality into their phone cameras, they’re supposedly also working on “smart glasses.” This isn’t necessarily a surprise, as the biggest tech companies out there are working on the same. Facebook has one in the pipeline, as does Snapchat. (In a nice hipster throwback move, Snapchat will make their glasses available in vending machines.)

The smart glasses concept for brands will be the next tier of “making sure you’re on Google Maps” from 5-10 years ago. Now you’ll want users to be able to engage with you through augmented reality. That could be information about your store/product, coupons, offers, or random fun characters you sprinkle near your brick and mortar to encourage people to come in.

How brands are experienced: Think about live sports for a second. The advent of HDTV has driven down incentives for people to drive to a stadium, park, buy food/drink, etc. when the views are so stellar at home. (This is mostly true for football, but applies to other sports equally as well.) But what if augmented reality comes to stadiums, and fans can overlay the field with characters, images, and real-time stats? It might be coming soon to Gillette Stadium, home of the Patriots. It was possible at Gillette because of a Wi-Fi upgrade, which would be a necessary condition at other venues.

Sports is a specific type of branding, but this idea can be extrapolated out to any number of other concepts. Trade shows could be made more informative and entertaining. Lifestyle brands could offer real-time makeup tutorials. B2B salespeople could walk prospects through a demo (and pricing) more effectively. Much research in the last few years has shown that customer experience is more valuable than traditional branding now, and augmented reality is a great chance for brands to increase the CX.

Training: This is more an internal (focused on employees) idea rather than an external (focused on customers) one, but it’s nonetheless valuable. Microsoft’s augmented reality offering, HoloLens, has partnered with an elevator company to help train 24,000 technicians. They can see problems ahead of arriving at a client site, and less experienced techs can be guided by more-veteran ones. The techs can also pull up tons of information about the elevators in question via HoloLens.

From $0 to $90 billion is a giant market jump, and augmented reality is here to stay for a while. Understanding how it could help you deliver on your brand promise is crucial to the next 5-10 years of business.

What other applications of augmented reality have you seen and liked?

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Yes, The 4 C’S Bring Sparkle, Clarity and Value to Diamonds Too

Yes, The 4 C’S Bring Sparkle, Clarity and Value to Diamonds Too


And with good reason. A dull digital campaign – a.k.a one that is unfocused and rudderless – will get you about as much attention and wow as you could expect to receive from a $400 engagement ring. In fact, digital marketing campaigns, like diamonds, can be valuable, glisten and stop people in their tracks. But, unfortunately, many are dull and forgettable with the clarity of soapy dishwater.

With the 4 C’s of digital marketing we always begin by practicing good, safe consumer relations. That means we always use a Concept. But all to often the “concept” concept is sidestepped in order to focus on what people think is most important — content. Everyone who can spell digital is touting content these days. Repeating like a carnival barker the ongoing refrain: content rules. And content is king. But without a strategy, without a tightly defined Concept to revert back to, content does not rule at all. Which means, like in the story of the emperor, the content king has no clothes.

Let’s put it this way: we can’t think outside the box unless we first have one. A box, that is. And a strong Concept is our box—the tightly defined strategy that content and breakthrough execution emanate from. As Bill Murray said: “Put me in a box and watch me work.”

When the starting Concept is strong and single-minded, all the content we put forth will be relatable and significant. Context is what makes our content relevant. When concept, content, and context are unified, the end result is a bond with the user that is united through relevance. The end result is the final C: “CONNECT”. They all work hand-in-hand. There is a mutually beneficial interaction.

We are living in the most productive, creative, and innovative time in the history of mankind.  We have limitless information available instantaneously at our fingertips. Literally. The unintended consequences of all these possibilities mean there is such a daily avalanche of junk, mediocrity, and jumble to filter through that we need a machete to cut through all the dross. More is not better. More is simply more.

In the end, Concept, Content, Context, and Connect will bring relevance, significance, and clarity to your digital marketing efforts. Just as the 4C’s of diamond buying is guaranteed to add value to a jewelry collection.

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Paid Media is Still Alive Across Desktop

Paid Media is Still Alive Across Desktop

“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” —The Desktop computer

The desktop/laptop computer is not dead. It’s alive and well and living on a desk, kitchen table or a lap somewhere.

Over the recent years, the digital world has been filled with some pretty bold statements: mobile is taking over the world comes to mind. Then there’s the desktop is dead as well as the esoteric line floating around the advertising world: desktop—the black screen of death. Yes, it’s true that users are moving holistically towards mobile and tablets as the comScore graph below illustrates.  However, this doesn’t mean the desktop is going away anytime soon.

Paid Media UsersStudies show that consumers are juggling multiple devices. The activities move from mobile to PC, mobile to tablet and PC to tablet. Yes, the majority of users begin on their Smartphone. But they often will move to their tablet or PC to complete those tasks that are difficult to do on a mobile device. Users are predominately banking, shopping/completing the purchase cycle and performing work-related activities on the PC. One of the main reasons for this behavior

is screen size. As the growth of the tablet surges, this will likely change the future of the PC and how it’s used.

There is no doubt the Smartphone will continue to take center stage, allowing us to be connected around the clock, which means advertisers have an opportunity to be in front of their audience 24/7. Which is why it’s typical to see a media plan heavy in mobile. But that thinking discounts a large part of the market not yet obsolete. In other words, advertisers should be working to target social, native and video users across all devices

The best way to reach those consumers that are crossing multiple platforms is to target that audience across Smartphone, tablet, and PC. Media plans should incorporate all facets of display and search by not only buying ads across devices but only targeting those devices to determine where their consumers are moving the needle against their ROI goals.

I’m not going out on a limb by saying that the laptop/desktop PC as we know it will all but disappear at some point. But until that time comes, we need to use it as a digital avenue so that we don’t miss out on a still large and relevant portion of the audience.

Mobile may be “it” as far as advertising/marketing goes these days. But the desktop/PC isn’t buried yet. So keep it in the media plan. As the famous poet Bertolt Brecht once said: “It may be a mistake to mix different wines, but old and new wisdom mix admirably.”


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What’s the future of the mobile wallet?

What’s the future of the mobile wallet?

Even as recently as 15-20 years ago, the primary things most people wouldn’t leave their house without were wallet and keys. After all, smartphones didn’t debut until about 2007. While people had cell phones and Blackberries prior to that, those only came into vogue in the late 1990s.

Flash forward to today: what are the three things you probably never leave your house without? Most people would say wallet, keys, and phone.

But here’s where it begins to get even odder: many people on business trips these days? They only leave their room with their phone. At many hotel chains now, such as Starwood, your phone becomes your room key. And at hundreds of businesses, your phone can also be your wallet.

This evolution from ‘standard wallet’ to ‘digital wallet’ happened relatively quickly. Because the rise of the digital wallet is an important aspect of how big a deal mobile has become, it’s relevant to look at the process of how we got here.

The first generation digital wallet
You can think of the first wave of digital wallets as the late 1990s. The big player in the space then was PayPal. These were essentially software solutions that provided an easy way to store cards for repeat online purchases. PayPal was such an important brand in the early days of the commercial Internet that many of its founders, the so-called PayPal Mafia, went on to become billionaires. (eBay purchased PayPal for $1.5 billion in 2002.)

The role of NFC
NFC, or Near Field Communications, is a set of standards for portable devices. It allows them to establish peer-to-peer radio communications, passing data from one device to another by touching them or putting them very close together.

NFC has been one of the driving forces of the digital wallet evolution. The first phone with NFC technology was actually released in 2006 — a Nokia — and at the time, the idea was considered game-changing.

Since then, however, there’s been a slow adoption of NFC technology as a standard-bearer for digital wallets. Only a percentage of the most popular phones come equipped with it, and oftentimes retailers have to shift their point-of-sale software in order to be compatible. In addition, per Wired, there are only about 220,000 live contactless merchant locations in the U.S. — out of 8 million vendors that accept credit cards.

The big three players in digital wallets — and “the beacon”
PayPal is still one of them. The other two are Google and Apple, although competitors are emerging at all levels. (More on that in a second.) Google, Apple, and PayPal are all exploring different options above and beyond NFC. Some of the notable ones are Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and QR codes. Bluetooth 4.0 has been considered a strong game-shifter in the last two years. That system works with a lower-power variant so that two devices can connect when they’re in the same range. However, no point-of-sale systems need to be changed at all. There’s something called “a beacon,” which is akin to a scannable sensor. Apple, PayPal, and Square (the device you’ve probably seen on top of phones and iPads at craft fairs) all use the beacon right now. It allows for longer phone battery life (compared to NFC) and a higher bitrate for data.

Security and user experience are the keys
The reason Apple Pay has gone above Google Wallet at the highest levels of digital wallet evolution is for this reason. The key deliverables — both for consumers and issuers — are security and user experience. Apple Pay now has tokenization of card numbers, biometric (thumbprint) log-ins, and on-device storage. In the process, they’ve been able to get a solid market share on the issuer side (credit card companies), because they offer a simple and private way to pay. Per Wired, they’re working with 11 credit card issuers who represent 83% of U.S. charge volume.

U.S. shift to chip and pin technology
If you live in the U.S., you may have noticed in recent months that many vendors are asking you if your credit card has a chip. If you’ve traveled abroad, you understand a little bit how this works — but in the U.S., we’ve predominantly had magnetic stripes on the back of our credit cards for a generation. The chip technology is called EMV, and most chip-card reading terminals can work with NFC. This supports contactless payment, which means a whole host of digital wallet options are opening up as the U.S. fully transitions to chip-based credit cards.

The next wave
There are different emerging concepts out in this space: Coin, for example, is a smart wallet that uses a physical card as opposed to storing data directly on your phone. Their website proudly displays that they’ve shipped over 250,000 devices so far. Their concept is similar to Wocket, billed as the ‘smartest wallet you’ll ever own.’ Lifelock Wallet, an app that scans 1 trillion data points per day for threats to its users, is another contender. Cuallet is one of the most interesting options on the market, in part because it’s multi-currency. One of the potentially great promises of the continued evolution of digital wallets is that they might make e-currency like Bitcoin easier to pay for goods and services with. Cuallet also allows for international and domestic airtime recharge.

A final important note on the evolution of digital wallets: companies don’t just operate in the first world, but in developing economies, people need methods to pay for things. Paper money is often not a viable option because of physical security risks (i.e. robbery), so new digital wallet concepts are developing to serve those markets. CBS’ 60 Minutes did a feature this year on M-PESA, a digital wallet/mobile payments solution taking Kenya by storm. The key difference between M-PESA and more familiar U.S.-based options? You don’t need to be linked to a bank account to use M-PESA. 8 in 10 Kenyans have a smartphone, but less than 20 percent have a bank account. Hence, this solution is ideal.

We’ll continue to see more and more evolution with the digital wallet — as a function of new credit card policies and technologies, as a function of new apps competing and interacting, and even as a function of the rise of connected devices via Internet of Things. We’re only scratching the surface with how exactly people will pay for goods and services in the coming years.

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