The Increasing Importance of the Mobile Office

Posted by Graham Henry | Posted in mobile, Opinion | Posted on Feb 22, 2012

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Mobile Office Building

No, not like that; the Mobile Office I’m talking about is your smartphone/tablet. In a world where physical offices are becoming increasingly less relevant and speed is essential, mobile management has become a key component in modern business. With devices now reaching a point of near-synchronicity with desktop computers, we are presented with a possibility of, in some cases, eliminating fixed locations entirely. Still, challenges remain on both sides of the process, the most poignant of which being how to best implement mobile technology for the growth of your business.

    The Past

    Apple Newton PDARemember PDAs? Looking at an iPhone or tablet, it’s difficult to think that less than 15 years ago, a boxy, green screen was what passed for cutting edge. Still, the Personal Data Assistant was a major step toward widespread acceptance of mobile computing. In fact, in many ways, it never left; cell phones integrated the technology by the late 90s and have carried those features ever since (address books, calendar apps, etc.).

    The next major step came in 2003 with the release of Research In Motion’s BlackBerry Smartphone; as the device grew in popularity, so did the use of mobile email. With professionals communicating on the go, less time was wasted making decisions. Four years later, in 2007, the arrival of the iPhone popularized the use of touchscreens, allowing users to operate devices without clunky mechanical typing.

    The Present

    Apple iPadThe iPad is, without question, the biggest leap forward in mobile computing in the past four years. While it first relied on brand loyalty to achieve sales, thanks to apps and upgrades, it has since developed into a mobile phenomenon; people read them on the train, they take them to meetings, they use them in presentations, etc. Combined with the communication tools and potential on the latest model, this trend is developing into a key part of many businesses.

    The Future?

    Foldable Tablet ConceptMoore’s Law tells us that we’ll be able to continue making computers smaller and smaller until we hit the atomic level (we already have, kind of), so we can at least guarantee that mobile will become better, faster, and cheaper as time goes on. What that means for mobile business is anybody’s guess, but we can be sure that whenever change comes, it’ll be big.

Facebook, Website, and Email Design Solidarity

Posted by Justin Rondeau | Posted in Advice, email, Facebook, Landing Pages, mobile, Social Media | Posted on Jan 31, 2012

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Unify the User’s Experience

Currently there are many places companies rest their hat. It used to be that having a website was sufficient, but obviously that has long since changed. Customers would come to websites learn about your products and then purchase a product. As websites gained minority, companies would inform their customers about their new virtual homes via email.

Email is still, and will continue to be, an effective marketing tool. However, new virtual homes have emerged in the past few years. There seems to be a never ending rise of new social networks, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, Reddit, Digg, Delicious, etc…

Companies have been trying to keep up with the ever emerging social networks, and by doing this are fracturing their online identity. Granted the UI of each social network is more rigid than the website a company owns, however most networks allow for customization of the pages. This customization gives companies the opportunity to unify their digital marketing efforts between their website, emails, landing pages, and social marketing efforts. And just to throw a monkey wrench into the ring, all of these things need to be mobile optimized as the adoption rate of smart phones continues to increase.

With so much to consider (and we aren’t even discussing print marketing), how do you effectively build a digital presence? some people would try to just mirror their websites on Facebook, disregard mobile thinking ‘My site is optimized enough’, create landing pages and emails that lack any of the necessary visual clues that would maintain solidarity among their marketing mediums.

This type of work can be overwhelming, but if you remember this tip you will have a fundamental understanding of how to approach this whole ‘digital marketing’ thing.

Websites, Emails, Landing Pages, Social Networks, and mobile phones are distinct but require similar visual cues.

You want each of your sites to resonate a similar branding, but you shouldn’t just copy and paste you website’s layout for any of the other digital marketing mediums.There are really two things to keep in mind when developing pages the variation in form and the type/amount of content provided.

Form

I remember my 7th grade teacher saying this to the class almost daily ‘Form Follows Function’. Though this was about different physiological traits, it still holds true for digital marketing. Users have been trained to view and interact with each marketing medium differently. Keep this in mind when you develop your website, emails, and the works. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Websites
Think of your website as your company’s very own online encyclopedia. People want to know who you are, what you can do for them, how it works, etc… If you do not supply this information in a coherent, digestible, and easily navigate-able (I know it isn’t a word but give me a break) then your website’s form will not follow the function that user’s expect.

Email
If a person is receiving an email it is safe to say they know who you are (insofar as you aren’t a dastardly SPAMmer). Emails need to have a clear call to action that is above the fold. Best practices for emails have pushed for a eye catching design that is in the F-shape pattern.

Images are often turned off by default in a recipient’s inbox. This being the case it is important that you have a healthy ratio of text to images. If you are sending an email that is one gorgeous image done by your incredibly talented graphic designer, you will likely miss out on the chance to convert that customer since all they will see is a red ‘x’ or nothing at all.

Landing Pages
Landing pages will have a similar feel to a website, but think of them as a highly specified ‘island’ geared at getting a particular action for anyone visiting the page. Since this is an information ‘island’ only provided the bare essentials and minimal navigation. Focus on benefits of your products, and layout the content above the fold.

Facebook Pages
Though there are many different social networks, Facebook still accounts for 95% of the time spent on social networks in the United States. If you don’t have a page get one, and if you do have a page make sure to optimize it properly. A Facebook page ought to be the following: Like-Gated and oriented vertically.

By Like-Gating your page, you will be giving exclusive content to your fan base and entice new visitors to like your page. Since people are looking for deals when they visit your page, this will help bring unique visitors into your community. From here, you will want to have a page that is vertically oriented. Facebook users are far more inclined to scroll so you do not need everything above the fold. Obviously your main call to action, whether it be a ‘Visit our website’ or ‘Sign up for our mailing list’ should remain above the fold but add more to your page. Videos have been known to keep people on a page longer, try adding rich content.

You can get away with content below the fold because Facebook has trained users that if they want more they will have to scroll. Since your page is narrow like the wall users already know they must scroll down to stay updated.

Mobile Optimization & Mobile Pages
If you aren’t considering mobile apps or optimizing your marketing efforts you are fighting a losing battle. Mobile phones, simply put, small. Websites can recognize the device that is viewing it, you should have a mobile friendly version that has large text and big buttons.

The worst thing you can do on a mobile phone is make it difficult for the user to access your content. if a user has difficulty clicking a link, they will move on. As more people are accessing all things Internet on their phones, you will need to adapt.

Final Thought on Form
Form is crucial for your digital marketing success. Make sure that you unify the experience by using similar color schemes and images. You want people to recognize your brand regardless of where they interact with you, so solidarity is key.

I’ll cover the differences in CONTENT tomorrow.

What constitutes mobile?

Posted by Dylan | Posted in mobile, Opinion | Posted on Aug 03, 2011

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What does mobile mean now?

How cell phones have changed

There are numerous buzz words floating around the internet nowadays. Among them, and arguably one of the oldest is ‘mobile.’ The terms ‘mobile’ and ‘internet’ both sprung up around the same time, though were very different. Over the years however, they have started to grow closer to each other, and I believe we now stand at a point where they are inexorably linked to one another.

The Internet

In the beginning there was the Internet, which was a large, slow, wired network that allowed files to move back and forth along wires. While this freed a lot of information to be moved around more easily than before, the internet still required you to be at a bulky computer as well as stick around for a long time if you were downloading a file of any size over a 56k dialup connection. The Internet became more accessible with the invention of wi-fi, which allowed for wireless connections. As a result, the internet became more mobile. Combining wi-fi with laptops, one could be anywhere in a house, in a coffee shop, or even an airport and still be connected to the outside world.

Cell Phones

Cell phones have been mobile from their outset as is made clear by their alternate title of mobile phones. And when they first appeared, that’s all they did, make phone calls. There had been wireless phones previous, but they were impractical to carry around on one’s person, thus not really being “mobile.” The first cell phones were still large and bulky, but they were contained in one solid structure and could be held up to an ear comfortably. As time progressed the networks that these cell phones operated on became faster and could accommodate more bandwidth. This led to the rise data also going over the airwaves as well as phone calls. The Internet was coming to cell phones.

Today

Nowadays we expect our phones to have access to the Internet. Apple’s introduction of the iPhone in 2007 revolutionized the way that cell phones interacted with the Internet. Previously there were two separate World Wide Webs, one for computers, and one for cell phones. The two looked very different and were largely incompatible. The iPhone could browse website like a computer. This pushed more and more users to access the Internet from their phones, which caused developers and other phone manufacturers to develop for an increasingly connected world.

So what does ‘mobile’ mean now? Mobile means Internet, as in a device that fits in a pocket or a handbag with access to the Internet through web browsers and dedicated apps. We expect to be connected at all times, to find any information we want, truly when we want it. Technically mobile doesn’t have to mean a phone after the introduction of the iPad and similar tablets, but that is still the most common option for people in search satisfying their Internet desires. What do you think mobile means? Let us know in the comments.

Why your small business should consider mobile emails

Posted by Dylan | Posted in Advice, email, mobile, Tips and Tricks | Posted on Jun 07, 2011

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Designing an email campaign? Don’t forget about your mobile readers!

So you set up an email marketing campaign, perhaps even using our High Impact eMail 5 tool (wink wink), complete with beautiful HTML designs. Regardless of how you develop your email campaigns, more than likely you have yet to consider a particular set of recipients: mobile readers. I’m sure many of you reading this have a smart phone that is capable of creating emails and many text based emails look great on your phone since they will be re-sized and wrapped to fit the width of your screen. However, most HTML emails simply fail to deliver on a mobile platform.

Mobile email views are growing

Mobile is a growing trend

Flashy HTML emails are suffering on mobile platforms because they are image heavy and have long unsightly hyperlinks. Traditional email campaigns are designed to be viewed on a screen that is at least 11 inches, but smart phones max out at 4.5 inches. Most phones are smaller than 4.5 inches and the ubiquitous iPhone has a 3.5 inch screen. Now that more and more people are buying smart phone, you must cater towards mobile readers. In fact the last quarter of 2010 saw smart phone sales finally overtake PC sales, 100.9 million to 92.1 million. Furthermore Nielson predicts that smart phones will make up a majority of all cell phones. Lastly, according to this article, the number of people who used email almost every day on their smart phones jumped 40% from the end of 2009 to the end of 2010.

Mobile growth in the US

Consider the User Experience

Preparing your emails for the mobile community is not as difficult as you might think. The real key is to make body text smaller and header text far more prominent. Mobile readers will not take the time to read too much of the body text, so pull them in with headlines that are large enough to read after being rendered on a mobile phone. If you plan on converting mobile readers, make sure your buttons are properly mapped and big enough to click without zooming in, assuming a reader will zoom in is a terrible assumption! More importantly, you have to think about the user experience after they click through, you should develop mobile ready landing pages (or apps) to better accommodate your mobile reader.

Remember think ‘Clear & Concise’

Subject lines are even more difficult to write for mobile phones, even fewer of the subject line is visible. Your subject line should be short and sweet, though if it must be long make sure to put the most important words at the very beginning (the first four or five words). The same goes for the body of the text. The ‘above the fold’ content is much smaller on a smaller screen so make sure you get straight to your point. It is also important is to always make sure that you include a text email in the rare off chance that your customer’s mobile email client (or their desktop one for that matter) doesn’t render HTML. Also try to make sure that the links you have in your email are neither too crowded nor too long, because there is nothing more frustrating than seeing a paragraph of underlined blue text.

And as always: Test Test Test

The best way to test it of course is to take out your own phone and see what it looks like! With so many other people using their phones to view email, it would be detrimental to your email campaign to disregard mobile views. Just check your website analytics and see how many visitors are from mobile phones, I think the number will surprise you. Remember, users who read your email on their phone will likely not read that email again, so disregarding mobile reads may significantly decrease your all important conversion rate.