How The iPhone Has Made Us More Anti-Social

Are we addicted to our smartphones?

Sometime around 2011 or 2012, it suddenly became very easy to predict what people would be doing in public places: Most would be looking down at their phones. For years, mobile phones weren’t much to look at. The screens were small, and users needed to press the same key several times to type a single letter… Continue reading “How The iPhone Has Made Us More Anti-Social”

How to Get the Most out of Mobile Marketing

New campaigns need to be designed around the smartphone and other high-end mobile devices if they are going to have the greatest market penetration.

Mobile marketing is essential With the increasing popularity of smartphones, they have become the prime sell and brand awareness tool for marketers. New campaigns need to be designed around the smartphone and other high-end mobile devices if they are going to have the greatest market penetration.

Responsive Websites

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when web designers would create a desktop website and then a mobile version that resided at a different domain. This meant double the cost and twice the maintenance for e-commerce sites. Now developers use one website that is responsive to the user’s device and needs.

Market consulting company Nielsen Norman Group says that responsive websites are dynamic based on device size and orientation. That definition is a bit limited because today’s responsive designs change based on user need, preference settings and cookie-based demographics. Business owners need to make sure that every site in their marketing campaign is responsive.

Cutting-Edge Design

Only focusing on smartphones and tablets is becoming outdated, however. With the advent of wearable technology like Samsung Gear and the Apple Watch, digital marketing is positioning for yet another big change. Wearable tech skews to the millennial generation and is more interactive than other forms of mobile marketing. Geofencing and other new marketing systems are geared for this type of mobile technology. They capture the location and movement statistics of the wearer and enable business owners to interact based on that information. For example, athletes can be targeted from their exercise activities or elderly by health demographics.

Mobile Shoppers’ Minds

Mobile buying is a new enough phenomena that research is just now breaking down buying behaviors between traditional, online and mobile cohorts. Mobile shoppers tend to be faster decision makers, rely on online reviews and are more situational in their buying decisions. Systems that make this easier for mobile buyers are the new holy grail of marketing. QR codes, geolocation tags and in-store kiosks are just some of the mechanisms that marketers are using to tap into mobile shoppers’ habits.

Structure vs. Texture

Business owners can break down the user interface and marketing methodology. Structural components are the ones that make the site and its corresponding marketing campaigns work for the user. Dropdown menus, navigation bars and one-click enlargement fall under this category. Texture is more about how it looks and includes the way the information makes users feel. Research shows that males are more influenced by structure and females are more engaged by texture, so business owners should keep this in mind as they segment their market.

Color

For both women and men, the way they feel when they are exposed to a marketing message is the cornerstone of their buying reaction. In other words, if they feel good, they are more likely to buy. Color is the single strongest mediator of emotion in a nonverbal world. Generally, yellows promote a friendly belief, reds are excitement and off-white is balance. These are not hard-and-fast rules but more like guidelines, so use the information with moderation.

What Google AMP Means For Your Online Business

A new program by Google, called Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) aims to dramatically reduce loading times for mobile users who click on article links on Google’s search engine.

Woman using mobile phoneIt’s been over a year since Google rolled out its latest mobile-friendly search algorithm and marketers are just starting to get used to all the changes it has caused. There is no time to rest because the innovations keep on coming. The latest wrinkle out of Google headquarters is Google AMP, a new program designed to deliver content to mobile users faster.

How AMP Works

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, so the program’s focus is pretty clear. It aims to dramatically reduce the loading times experienced by mobile users when they click on links on Google’s search engine results pages. AMP does this with three basic tools:

  • AMP HTML: AMP pages have to be written in full compliance with a restrictive set of style guidelines (including lots of specialised “amp” tags) which are all aimed at minimising load times.
  • JavaScript Limitations: AMP pages are limited to using a (very small) predefined JS library provided by Google.
  • Pre-Caching: Google caches AMP pages on multiple servers around the world, minimising the geographic distance between the user and the content.

The results are quite impressive. AMP pages typically load four to ten times faster than conventional HTML. This puts the program’s performance in the same league as its main competitors, Apple News and Facebook’s Instant Articles.

Additionally, the way Google is currently promoting AMP is very appealing to marketers. AMP results are being displayed in a carousel “above the fold” (below sponsored ads but above organic search results) on the results page, giving them a significant visibility boost.

The Important Limitations Of AMP

Although the speed boost delivered by the AMP format is undeniably impressive, you must not overlook the fact that significant sacrifices are made to achieve this blazing-fast connection. The JavaScript library available for AMP pages is truly minuscule, cutting off a host of extended functionality. The format is also very new and limited in its capabilities. For example, forms are not yet supported. This is bad news if you are hoping to capture leads through AMP pages.

AMP is targeted primarily at major publishers, especially journalists. This is why you will currently see the AMP carousel dominated by results from major news outlets like the New York Times. It is also still in a very technical phase of its development and it requires some solid HTML experience to modify existing pages to comply with the AMP requirements.

Deciding Whether Or Not AMP Is Right For You

Before you decide to invest in the kind of code overhaul necessary to start publishing AMP pages, you need to make sure that it is a sensible fit with your current marketing strategy. There is no denying that AMP will get your content into mobile user’s hands faster. This is only a major advantage if your strategy already revolves around content delivery, though. The limitations described above sharply limit the return you will see on your investment if your marketing is geared towards other goals, like lead capture.

For the time being, a “wait and see” attitude towards Google AMP is perfectly healthy. As the format matures and expands, it may develop a lot of added functionality that makes it more useful for more diverse sorts of marketing. If you are already running a content-heavy marketing program, there is nothing wrong with diving in early and testing the waters. If nothing else, you will gain useful insights on the format as it evolves.

Although the debut of Google AMP is not quite the game-changer that last year’s “mobilgeddon” update was, it’s still a development that savvy marketers are keeping a close eye on. It is already positioned well to make a strong contribution to content marketing strategies. Who knows what role it might come play in the future.

About the author
Sparky Parker has over 35 years of related experience in marketing, internet sales and engineering. He owns and operates FrontRangeMarketeer.com, which helps local businesses generate more leads and attract new customers.

The Latest Mobile Marketing Trends in 2015

Mobile is the prime place to advertise, and here’s how it’s being done more in 2015.

If the AMC hit show Mad Men were set in 2015, it wouldn’t focus on commercials, magazines and billboards. It would be all about mobile marketing — the future (and present) of the industry.

In 2013, one of five people in the world owned a smartphone, and that was two years ago. Today, that number has exploded. Most people can’t name four people they know who don’t own a smartphone (and we’re not even including the other mobile device in the family — tablets). This means it’s the prime place to advertise, and here’s how it’s being done more in 2015.

Mobile Apps & Optimized Web

It’s one of the last places for a captive audience on the mobile platform. Unless an app offers a paid, ad-free upgrade, most free apps rely on advertising to generate revenue. And users who have no alternative than to settle for the free version will often sit through ads that pop up at the bottom of the screen.

For this reason, marketers invest heavily in mobile apps and optimized websites for smartphones and tablets the same way movie theaters still sell ad space in 2015 — the captive audience. Of course, every audience has its tipping point, and marketers are still careful to find the balance of effective and non-invasive.

A Global Audience

The mobile platform is assimilating quickly across the world, and even people of undeveloped countries are getting their hands on tablets and smartphones. No, marketers aren’t trying to sell ads in the third world, but a global audience unlocks a new opportunity to reach people not possible only two or three years ago. The Mobile Marketing Association estimated the industry at $220 billion worldwide in 2014, and that number has certainly ballooned this year. With more than 7 billion people in the world, there’s a chance to reach all of them like never before.

Location Services

This is already well implemented in desktop advertising. If you search for “Cardinals” on Google in St. Louis, you get the St. Louis Cardinals as your top hit. Do the same search in Arizona and you’ll see the Arizona Cardinals at number one. But where desktops can narrow down a city, location services on mobile can narrow down a building or venue.

iBeacon is an effective tool marketers use to advertise to mobile users based on very specific locations. Walk into a baseball stadium and get updates on deals at the team shop. Enter a marketplace and learn about some of the best restaurants. Marketers can now specify what they want to sell you based on the very spot you stand.

Social Media

All the targeted audiences, location services and optimized sites will never trump the power of organic search and sharing. Social media is still by far the most effective way to reach audiences in a powerful way. But it’s also the most difficult because it’s not advertising you can buy, it has to be genuine.

Even the most unsuspecting brands can make big moves on social media. Take identity theft protection service LifeLock, for example. It uses its Twitter account to educate followers about identity theft and prevention tips, instead of simply spamming posts with its services. That sort of strategy helps build a brand and makes social media more authentic to potential customers.

Making a Direct Connection with Your Mobile Marketing

Speaking directly to your customer’s needs is essential for mobile marketing, but that “conversation” will end quickly if you don’t have a quality website

By Sophorn Chhay

In the words of the great Aristotle, we are “political” animals, meaning that humanity values a sense of connection and community. It is unsurprising, then, that we value a direct connection with others rather than a superfluous or superficial encounter.

Imagine the difference between a casual elevator conversation and a great first date. Whereas the first may be a casual and simple discussion about the weather, a great first date conversation can resonate deeply within your soul.

Similarly, mobile marketing works best when it is making a direct connection, rather than a superficial one that will be quickly forgotten. Here is how your mobile marketing can do just that.

Deliver a Localized Message with Your Mobile Marketing

Millions of American businesses are small businesses, many of which rely on local customers to thrive. As such, it is crucial that your mobile marketing speaks directly to your audience. It does little good if your mobile marketing trends nationally, but it trended on a social media platform that is rarely frequented by your target audience in your state, city or local community.

Instead, localize your message. Speak to the consumer directly by utilizing non-app based push notifications, geotargeting and other proven mobile marketing techniques.

Here is a marketing example of how to do just that:

At XYZ Computer Store, we are having a back to school PC blowout sale for all of our [insert city name] customers this weekend only! 10% of all proceeds will go directly towards [insert local charity or community cause].

While this is one of thousands of possible examples, the key takeaway is that you need to speak directly to your local customers with a localized message that offers something of value. In turn, this will enhance the reputation of your brand and strengthen the business-customer relationship.

Track the Mobile Marketing Campaign

Imagine how difficult it would be to have a positive relationship with a spouse or a child if you could not discern their various desires and needs. Businesses run into this problem on a daily basis, which is what makes tracking a mobile marketing campaign essential.

To make a direct connection, you need to speak precisely to what your target audience prefers and wants, and this is where tracking comes into play. Tracking helps businesses discern all sorts of helpful information, including the following:

  • Where the customer is located
  • Where the message was read/received
  • Actions taken after viewing your marketing
  • The time spent engaging with your marketing/website
  • And more

Collectively, analyzing all customer interactions with your mobile marketing campaign will help your business refine and hone its approach. A refined marketing campaign that speaks precisely to what customers want will become a campaign that produces more sales and better business results.

Have a Mobile-Friendly and Optimized Website

What good is a great mobile marketing campaign that draws interest to your business if you don’t have a website that works well with mobile devices? The easy answer is that it’s no good at all.

A mobile user is on the go and will likely forget your business if he or she heads to your website, only to find that it is a pain to use on a mobile device. Speaking directly to your customer’s needs is essential for mobile marketing, but that “conversation” will end quickly if you don’t have a quality website to keep the lines of communication open.

In short, your business will enhance the business-customer connection by speaking to what the customer needs/wants, and then making it easy for the customer to get what they need/want.

About the Author
Sophorn is an inbound marketer specializing in attracting targeted visitors and generating sales qualified leads. Through Trumpia’s SMS and marketing automation solution he helps businesses and organizations communicate effectively with their customers or members. Trumpia is offering a free Mobile Marketing Success Kit so don’t forget to grab your free copy.

Point of Sale for the App Generation

There are apps that can transform the way a business is run, how staff and customers interact, and ultimately how profitable the business is.

“There’s an app for everything” is a phrase you hear a lot these days. It’s also a saying that’s becoming truer and truer by the day. Last year Apple announced its one millionth app, and the trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. While a significant number of apps are those which involve killing time waiting for public transport or killing time when on it, there are also apps that can transform the way a business is run, how staff and customers interact, and ultimately how profitable the business is.

Getting Around

One of the big physical challenges businesses face is interaction with the customer. Typically the point of sale has been a cash register, in a fixed position at the back or in the corner of a store or restaurant. The problem here has always been that whoever is working at the till is effectively pinned to the spot. Especially in a smaller set-up, where that member of staff might be the only one around, it’s been difficult to get across that all-important personal touch. In a worst case scenario, the customer might not even clock the staff member at all. With iPAD POS now available on phones and iPads, that excuse is no longer there. Staff can in effect take their cash register with them. They can move about the premises free as a bird, conversing with customers and completing transactions as they do so.

Selling the Business

Retail and hospitality apps aren’t all about selling in-store. They’re also about creating a wave of innovative communication between business and customer, even when the customer is at home or elsewhere. Marketing has been used to target potential customers for centuries, but in this app generation, that marketing has the power to be much more bespoke than ever before. By recording information such as customers’ purchase history, spend amount, and date of birth, a business is able to get a rounded picture of them and hone their marketing from here. So for instance, if a restaurant wants to offer a 25 percent discount to all customers who have spent $250 or more on meals in the past six months, they can do so. If they want to entice long-absent customers back with a similar tactic, they can do that too. Customers love the personal touch, and POS apps provide savvy ways of achieving this.

Just Browsing

The casual browser is just as important to a store as someone who knows exactly what they want. Treat the casual browser right and the retailer might make a customer for life. With an iPad point-of-sale system at hand, the retailer now has the opportunity to show potential customers images of what they have in stock on-screen. There are multiple benefits to this. For one thing, it means the retailer doesn’t need to have every single item in stock out on the shelves (space is precious after all). Say there are two similar-looking blue sweaters: one can be put out on display, and the other can be held in the stock room. Point-of-sale apps also mean that the staff member doesn’t have to keep going backwards and forwards to the stockroom bringing out more products for the customer to appraise. The POS systems allows them to flick through the store’s entire catalogue right there and then. Plus this bespoke type of service makes the customer feel special, too.

Always Being There

For owners and managers of stores, restaurants, cafés, and bars, it can be a frustrating feeling to be away from work. Everyone needs a break now and then, but senior figures away from the coal face are rarely able to relax properly. Why? Because they feel they’re not in control. That’s another issue that the app generation is changing swiftly. Detailed live web-based reporting now allows senior staff to keep up-to-date with their business in real-time from their PC, iPhone or iPad. Sales margin analysis, staff sales, time attendance, and more can be analyzed from home, or even on the beach in a far-flung country. The feeling of staying in control goes further than that. By integrating swipe cards, passwords or silicon wrist bands for users to log in with on the POS system, it’s possible to keep on top of labour costs. Recipes and photos of products on the system mean that all the staff knows exactly how to create and present any kind of dish or drink on the menu. Consistency in quality is exactly the kind of thing customers come back for.

About the Author
Impos logoiMPOS specialises in hospitality Point of Sale. They can create and tailor for what you need if you have a café, winery, restaurant or a bar. They are experts in this field and can show you how to create the best experience for you customers and your staff. Follow them on Google+ or find out more at www.impos.com.au

Tips for shopping on your tablet

Tips on how to get the most out of your tablet when it comes to mobile shopping

Online shopping became popular in the mid-nineties when computers were appearing in every household and people began to trust the internet. Since then, the retail industry has boomed with many stores creating e-commerce websites to sell their products and services online. Internet sales have boomed over the last six years with sales rising from 2.7% in January 2007 to 9.7% in January 2013.

With online shopping doing great using ordinary computers, can you imagine how much of a boost tablets gave the retail industry? Modern tablets first appeared on the scene early in 2010 (although less popular models did exist previously) and were instantly a hit. This new piece of technology was quickly snapped up and they’re now found everywhere; in offices, homes, at events and on public transport.

Many retailers saw the release of this new technology as a dream come true and quickly had apps developed for their companies. This was yet another way for eager shoppers to purchase any item they wanted at the touch of their fingertip.

Below are some tips on how to get the most out of your tablet when it comes to mobile shopping:

1) Retail Apps
If you use the internet for shopping, whether it’s to buy a new microwave or a little black dress, you know that sometimes websites can become frustratingly slow and it can take you up to half an hour to buy one item. This is where apps come in handy. Downloading apps from the stores you would like to purchase items from can speed up the process and make it more enjoyable and less frustrating.

Tablets have been created because they are portable, fast and you have the internet at your fingertips wherever you are. There are millions of apps to choose from and more than likely you’ll find an app for your favourite store.

2) Coupons and Discounts
Everybody loves coupons, especially people who’re constantly buying things from the internet. If you go down to the high street and buy your clothes, electrical devices, books or food from instore you’re less likely to get a great deal. Whereas, if you purchase your items online there are always offers available at the checkout.

There are specific coupon apps which you can use to claim discounts and get money off the things that you’re buying. Some of these apps are Coupon Clipper and The Coupons App.

3) Price Comparison
There are many price comparison apps available which you can use to compare prices of certain appliances, clothing or books from different websites. These apps are very popular with people who are looking for the best deal for a certain product. If you’re searching for a product but you’re looking to get it at the best possible price, use a price comparison app such as PricesUK and see what other companies are selling the item you’re looking for.

Online shopping has become so popular that there are now many companies who are only online and don’t open high street stores at all. This wouldn’t have been possible without the continued growth of online shopping and the continued development of electronic devices.

The retail industry is growing at an immense pace and it’s all because the use of gadgets such as tablets, laptops and smartphones.

About the author
This guest blog comes from the content team at IT Rentals.They’re company specializes in mobile devices and has the insight scoop on some of the latest and useful apps on the market.

5 Smart Ways to Improve your Mobile Conversion Rate

Your mobile conversion rate is integral to your business, especially when or if you are solely an online venture. The measure of the number of potential customers versus your actual sales tells us a lot – not only about your products, but also how your mobile website functions.

By Roni Levy

Your conversion rate, as I’m sure you’re aware, is integral to your business especially when or if you are solely an online venture. The measure of the number of potential customers versus your actual sales tells us a lot, not only about the products you sell but also how your website functions. A common misconception with a new website is that gaining more traffic is more important than anything, but in reality it really doesn’t rely on having a huge amount of traffic but having a website that runs efficiently. Mobile conversion rates are fast becoming more and more important to many businesses especially when you consider that 59% of people now access the internet through their smart phones on a daily basis.

If you are looking to increase your mobile conversion rate then here are some smart ways to do so without losing your branding or the focus of the site.

It’s all about Usability
When accessing your website through a mobile device we have to remember that people want quick results with easy to see buttons, images and products. We have all shopped on our mobile phones and been interrupted by a phone call or text message that we have to answer. Well, this is exactly what your customers will experience and thus your site needs to reflect ease of use and speed. Use small tricks like putting your primary or most important text at the top of the page. This way, you ensure that your message is seen straight away and that it will help grab consumers’ attention. Virgin mobiles phones does this very effectively by placing an attractive rotating banner with deals top and centre – a tested strategy that has increased their conversion rates.

Once you have the attention, you need to keep the site as simple as possible. Mobile users don’t want to spend a long time filling out forms and adding in details that are far too complicated to do on a small screen. Combat this by asking your users for the minimum amount of information necessary for them to complete their journey. Also look at the size of the buttons, wording and info graphics: if these are too large the site will slow down but if they are too small it could be quite annoying. Keep all graphics simple and make sure they all have a purpose. Keep in mind that mobile users have to consider their data allowance, and they don’t want to spend all their allowance downloading your images!

Make Sure You have the Trust
Making sure your customers trust your site has been proven to increase conversion rates and there are many people who are still cautious when shopping online. Being aware of this will help you understand your customers’ needs in a clearer way. If you are offering a service that requires data such as card details, make sure you are displaying signs of safety and security on the home page; this way all through the customers’ journey, they will retain this knowledge.

Another way to build trust is to have a precise and clear contact page that include a bricks and mortar address and contact number. This lets people know that you are human and if they have any problems there is a number they can use to contact someone.

Trust can also be tricky to gage when you have site content that doesn’t truly represent your brand. Think carefully about the design and accuracy of your content.

Incorporate HTML 5
Smart forms are a must for a mobile site. You wouldn’t want to listen to repetitious information over and over again just to order from a retailer, so why should your site be any different? By using HTML 5 you can ensure that when a person is typing in their name, the qwerty keyboard will appear, or numeric options for phone numbers, etc. It will also remember frequently used emails addresses and other important data.

A Singular Experience
Offering your consumers the chance to start an order on their mobile device and save it to be continued on a computer makes your service seamless, even though it is used on different devices and time has passed. This is perfect if your site uses a shopping basket or a favourites system and offers your customers both trust in you are your brand.

Have Clear Policies
We have all had to return items from time to time and if a customer cannot find the details of such policies it can be extremely frustrating. If you offer this service or a similar functionality, then making sure that you have clear and concise terms, laid out in a simple manner will help bring the customer back to your site at a later date. This is also true of any data information you store and the terms and conditions of your service. Having all this information clearly defined and easy to access only helps promote your site.

About the Author
Roni Levy is a technology writer with over 5 years experience within the sector. When not writing she enjoys learning about the latest tech and keeping fit.

What are the common mistakes in mobile web development?

What are the common mistakes web developers make in mobile web development, and how can we guide them to the correct way to avoid them

These days’ people have become more accustomed to using the Internet in mobile phones in comparison to desktops and laptops. With the launch of new smartphones, iPhones and tablets and vast improvement in WAP 2.0 which is a general requirement to access internet on smart phones, there are increasing mobile web developers all over the world. Moreover, who would want to miss the opportunity of attracting huge traffic to their website and converting visitors into potential customers. However, there are some common mistakes which need to be avoided in mobile web development and one can review about mobile web design Canada where mobile internet users are increasing on a large basis.

Over-usage of content and images: Over usage of content and images should be strictly avoided since most mobile web developers think that putting in lot of content and attractive images will attract huge visitors. In turn, visitors actually get bored and considering the website more of an advertisement they would prefer visiting better website.

Minimizing portal for easy accessibility: The website portability varies depending upon the size and width of different mobile phones. Hence, a mobile web developer should not give much importance towards minimizing the website portal size as it officially won’t affect much to the users and rather the website owner loses visitors in large numbers as there are also several laptop and desktop users.

Page loading: It is a common problem with most mobile users since they had to wait for long in order to get the website loaded they want to access and hence they lose their patience. The mobile web developer should keep in mind which audience he is targeting and hence additional detriments should be avoided so as to enable pages don’t take much time to load or become unresponsive.

Knowledge of CSS3, HTML5, WML and XHTML: Though mobile web developers have accurate knowledge of all these languages which are very essential elements required for mobile web development they do not implement these while designing mobile web site. These languages make the website look extremely attractive, pages gets loaded faster and can be easily accessed in all devices. Moreover, to cut short all mobile web development related problems can be avoided and user can ensure faster browsing.

Hyper JavaScript usage: JavaScript errors are quite common and especially in case of mobile phones as mobile web developers lay great emphasis in using more JavaScript’s thinking it would make browsing faster. They should understand it affects the website search engine rankings and search engine spiders do not identify the JavaScript language very well.

Lack of compatibility: A fresher mobile web developer or not much experienced mobile web developer often makes this mistake and so as to avoid it they must ensure that they crosscheck the website they have made in different browsers. It will give them an overview since they will be able to notify how websites are performing without design mutations and they can also make the required changes.

If a web designer follows above steps he will avoid making such mistakes while designing a website and hence the website will attract huge visitors and more traffic. Mobile web design Canada is attracting user’s attention with large numbers and with increasing numbers of mobile web developers one can ensure there are more mobile users in comparison to laptop and desktop users all over the world.

This article is a Guest Post.

Be More Effective at Using Time With These Smartphone Apps

Time enjoyed is never time wasted; take a look at these addictive mobile apps.

If you spend your free time twiddling your thumbs or gazing off into space, you’re wasting precious moments that could be devoted to an entertaining, educational, or simply fun smartphone app. There are apps to suit any taste. Whether you want to spend your spare moments learning something new, getting to know your friends, or cultivating a virtual farm, there’s an app out there to meet your needs. Start with some of these favourites.

Social Media Apps

• Facebook – The Facebook App has almost all the same features as the webpage including the ability to poke, message, friend or defriend, and write on walls. In any incarnation, Facebook is great for the pure thrill of seeing what everyone is doing.

Twitter – The edge that Twitter has over Facebook is that so many celebrities obsessively use this program to update us all on their daily lives. You’ll be hooked on checking back to see what your favorite movie stars are having for dinner (and yes, they’ll be telling you).

• FourSquare – FourSquare allows you to check in to any location that you may be at, from your favorite bars and restaurants to your own home. It’s not only useful to let all your friends and followers know where you’re shopping or hanging out, it’s also tempting to check and see who else is there and what comments others have left about a location.

• Pinterest – This newcomer to the social media scene is just as fun as anything else. With the app, you can scroll through hundreds of enticing pictures with a single sweep and repin your favourite items with a quick tap of the finger. It’s easy to waste away the hours browsing through mouthwatering recipes, brilliant decorating ideas, and more.

Games

Angry Birds – Whether you’re new to the iPhone, or a long-time user, you’ve no doubt heard of Angry Birds. This game will suck you in with level after level of strategic slingshot birds bent on attacking the invading pigs.

• Doodle Jump – Doodle Jump is surprisingly simple. In this game, you jump from one platform to the next avoiding dangers and collecting bonuses along the way. The mind-numbing simplicity makes it easy to play for hours.

• Words with Friends – If you have enough friends in on the action with you, Words with Friends is an interactive Scrabble game that you’ll return to every time you have a spare second during the day. Your battle of the brains to get the best word in can go on throughout a marathon of multiple games.

• Brain Exercise with Dr. Kawashima – This app tests your “brain age” with a variety of challenging brain-boosting exercises like memory games, math questions, and perplexing strategy challenges. There’s enough variety to keep players interested and the promise of improving your brain age with regular play is sure to keep you addicted day after day.

• Draw Something – Draw Something is a social game where you play against friends, drawing pictures and guessing what others are drawing. The more you play, the more words and colours you can unlock. This is another friendly marathon that can go on forever.

News Sites

• Reuters News Pro – For the business-minded, this app is something that will be very useful. You can personalize the information in your stock tab, access global financial data, and keep up with late-breaking news stories in all genres. The ability to check in on important financial information is very addictive when you’re invested in the outcome.

• Cracked – Though hardly a hard-hitting news site, you can get lost in a never-ending wormhole of interesting content with the Cracked app. From hilariously photo-shopped images to factual stories of the bizarre and unbelievable, the Cracked app has content that can help you effectively spend endless hours.

• Reeder – Reeder is the app version of Google Reader. You can track any feed that you’ve loaded into Google Reader with this app, making it essentially a personalized news site. Whether you’re interested in following the new designs of knitting bloggers or business trends in the hospitality industry, you’ll have an endless stream of new information to dig through with this useful app.

• CNN – The CNN news app is helpful because it offers information in a format that’s very easy to enjoy whether you have a few moments, or whole hours to waste. You can browse news headlines in a minute and find out what’s going on. The quality photos, videos, and feature articles will take you as in-depth as you want to go on an ever-changing array of stories.

If you’re not the proud owner of a smartphone yet, you should take the time to learn about prepaid cell phones; a lot of these affordable phones will give you access to these awesome apps and you’ll only pay a fraction of the price.Your free time may start slipping through your fingers, but with these great apps, it will feel like time well-spent. Because after all, time enjoyed is not time wasted.

How To Track QR Codes

A Quick Response code (QR code or QRC) is a type of barcode, but it is also used as a marketing tool to increase traffic to your web site, boost sales, and help market your business. They may seem a novelty at this point, but they’ve been used in Japan since 1994.

These barcodes get your customers interacting with your website or products by generating interest. In order to get the information in the code, your customer has to scan it with a smartphone.

Like any other marketing campaign, you want some statistics on how well your QR code campaign is working for you. QR code tracking helps you with this problem.

There are several ways you can track your QR code campaigns including full QR generation and tracking services, manual analytics, and shortened URL tracking. Most methods are free to use; however, extra features may end up costing you money.

Generation & Tracking Services
Several websites offer QR code generation and tracking services. These full featured QR vendors provide several packages to fit your budget. A few QR vendors available include PercentMobile, Sparqcode, and Ventipix.

Their analytic services integrate into your online account. Once you generate your code, you can return to your account to see the statistics on how your QR code marketing campaign is performing for you.

Manual Analytics Tracking
Manual analytics tracking for your QR code campaigns is possible with a little tech knowledge. For your own website, you can add a campaign to your existing analytics account to monitor traffic coming from your QR codes.

For QR codes not linking to your website, you need to set up a 301-redirect page. Make sure you embed your analytics code into this redirect page in order to track incoming traffic. Your analytics provider can answer specific questions on how to set up tracking QR codes through their services.

Shortened URL Tracking
Shortened URLs assist your customers by eliminating the need to type long or involved URLs into their web browser. Services such as bit.ly and goo.gl allow you to track your shortened URLs. Simply use these shortened URLs in your QR code and you can track them with your bit.ly or goo.gl analytics.

Regardless of the method you choose for monitoring your QR code campaigns, you need to keep track of your QR codes. Underperforming QR codes or inaccurate QR codes may end up costing you business or traffic if you do not monitor them. You can always change QR code data on the back end to make sure it is current and accurate.

How To Use QR Codes to Market Your Business

Quick Response codes (QR codes) are one small tool that can have a big impact on marketing your business

Marketing and branding are essential to the long-term success of your business. Quick Response codes (QR codes) are one small tool that can have a big impact on marketing your business to the general public. Surprisingly, most people don’t know what they are.

QR codes are small barcodes that hold up to 7,000 alphanumeric characters. From a business angle, a basic use of QR codes would be to embed a URL that brings the customer to your web site.

The technology is free and helps to get potential customers interacting with you. It also provides them with vital information regarding your business. However, there are additional ways you can use QR codes to market your business.

Gain Online & Foot Traffic
A brick and mortar business might place QR codes by the register or on sales receipts. These tactics will help drive traffic to your web site. Give the customer an incentive by putting up coupon codes that can only be accessed through the QR code. Train them to do this by having weekly specials accessible only through the QR code.

Social Media Outlets
QR codes work well with social media networks such as Facebook. Generate a QR code with a link to your Facebook page. This increases traffic to your Facebook page and generates more “Likes” for your page. Your customer’s “Likes” are shared with their friends who may just stop by to see what you are all about.

Offer Incentives
The best things in life are free – or at least at a reduced cost. Creating coupons, discounts, and sales encourages your customers to purchase your products. To use this strategy, you need to create a page on your website to hold the coupon or discount information.

Once this is done, create a free QR code with the URL to this page in it. Post this QR code on your advertisements, flyers and product information to encourage your customers to participate in your incentives.

Direct Marketing Strategies
Most companies send out flyers, emails or newsletters to potential customers hoping to entice their business. Adding a QR code to this print media creates visual interest and gets your customers to interact with your flyer.

Your QR code can direct your customers to a microsite set up for them, a landing page, or your blog. It is important that you are directing your customers to a specific page instead of just your homepage. Your customers need to know what it is you are specifically trying to sell them.

Make the most of QR Codes

QR codes provide a massive opportunity for businesses – assuming they are used effectively, tested and actually do something.

Quick QRThe box-shaped symbols called QR codes are nothing more than a rather fancy version of the bar code. The only difference between the two is that a QR code carries a lot more data than a traditional bar code.

The QR code was developed by a subsidiary of Toyota in order to improve the speed by which they assembled cars in the factory.

When you look closely, you will see that the average QR code has multitudes of black dots inside a square. Just as a barcode is computed, these dots represent either a 1 or a 0 in binary code and when combined in a series the dots and spaces make up what the QR code is saying.

Normally, the QR code is read starting from the bottom right corner going up to read the first line, then it shifts one row to the left and starts down again. This up and down reading method allows a considerable amount of data to be written inside the QR code making it a much more sophisticated version of the barcode.

What makes using QR codes a good idea for business owners is this large amount of data that can be stored inside them. While the standard bar code can only store a fixed amount of numbers, the QR code can store much more, including things like a hidden sales message for example.

With the advent of high definition cameras available in most smartphones these days it is possible for consumers to decode anything stored inside a QR code. You only need to have a special program (app) that quickly decodes QR codes in order unlock its secret message.

So, business owners can put special announcements, promotions, discounts, coupons and more inside QR codes for consumers to find. Once they have scanned in the QR Code, they can be enticed to take full advantage of the special offer. You can even put prizes in QR Codes that the customers can scan and then download into their phones.

You could perhaps also post a massive QR code as a sign outside your office simply to arouse interest in what it is. In short, the only thing that will limit what you can do with QR Codes will be your imagination.

However, while the code itself may post something as simple as a discount code or a web page link you do have to be a little careful of what you use the QR code for. You just cannot post the QR code without having to think what your objectives are. In order to maximize the effect of a typical QR code, it has to be able to DO something for the customer, or a visitor.

Many businesses, for instance, use the codes to offer an additional free gift, product or service to customers – in other words using the codes to give something extra. Merely using the codes to get people back to your website is not a good use for them.

Try not to include too much in your QR code because the dots tend to be much finer as a result. If the dots cannot be clearly picked up by a typical camera phone, you just lose an opportunity. This is why you must test that codes that you want to use.

Also, if you are posting QR codes in your advertising posters try to avoid putting these posters in places where there is no signal or internet connection..! Seems obvious, but you’d be amazed at the numbers of businesses that waste the opportunity!

Top 5 iPhone Psychology Apps

By Ruben Corbo

Psychology is a useful subject and it is found everywhere, both academically and when interacting with others. The wide-spread use of cell phones not only allows easy communication, but they are a good method of acquiring reference material. Apps are available for the iPhone that can enhance knowledge of psychology, but also provide inspirational quotes and other positive messages to help people reduce negativity and view life more positively.

Psyc Explorer
Courtesy Flickr User: Wonderlane

PsycExplorer
PsycExplorer makes rich and useful content available in one easy application. Designed for students, professionals, and anyone who is curious about psychology, this app provides information on current trends in psychology through blog posts, videos, research, and other multimedia resources. The developer, Michael Britt, Ph.D., is a psychology teacher and is experienced in podcasting and online learning. Therefore, users of PsycExplorer will enjoy information that is credible and from trusted sources for $2.99.

3-D Brain
Courtesy of Flickr User: koolmann1

3-D Brain
The brain and its functions are the foundation of every branch of psychology. Whether learning about the brain is necessary for studying or purely for self-interest, the ability to visualize the structures of the brain makes the learning process easier. 3-D Brain is a free app available that takes learning beyond the textbook. The virtual brain is fully integrated with the touch screen, so users can rotate the brain and zoom in for a closer look at brain structures. 3-D Brain provides various links to other sources of information in addition to information on the function of various brain structures. Additionally, the app provides information on various types of brain injuries and disorders. Viewers can more readily understand the functions of the brain by viewing case studies and the impact of injury to specific areas.

StudySets Psychology
Courtesy of Flickr User: jarrodtrainque

StudySets-Psychology
Psychology can be a tricky subject, and with so many divisions of psychology it can be difficult to have all the important information available when needed. StudySets-Psychology provides its users with a wealth of information to study psychology, which can be conveniently loaded onto cell phones. The available topics cover a diverse range of emphasis areas such as personality, cognition, learning, history, and many more. The app includes other essentials like notable people in psychology and vocabulary. Links to outside sources such as Wikipedia are also integrated into the app to simplify searching for additional information. StudySets-Psychology is available for $2.99. However, a free version is available. StudySets-Psychology Lite allows users the opportunity to test a scaled-down version before purchasing the full app.

Live Happy
Courtesy of Flickr User: emdot

Live Happy
Psychology is more than textbooks; it can also serve as a useful tool to help people improve their quality and outlook on life. Positive psychology is a fairly new branch of psychology, but it is making waves in the field. Live Happy is an app developed from the research on happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D. at the University of California, Riverside. This app is more than information on leading a happier life, it is a tool. Users are able to get a customized plan that may include tasks like keeping a journal, taking pictures of moments the user wants to savor, performing acts of kindness for others, etc. Much of the information and tasks in the app are used to set goals, redefine how individuals look at their life, and hopefully achieve their own happiness. Live Happy is now available at the reduced price of $0.99.

Sigmund Freud
Courtesy of Flickr User: mansionwb

Dream Psychology
Sigmund Freud is one of the most notable figures in psychology. His work in the development of psychoanalysis and influential perspective on child cognitive development and other areas of human behavior are still referenced today. One of the most intriguing areas of Freud’s work is the interpretation of dreams. The Dream Psychology app allows users to easily access Freud’s information and perspective on dream analysis. For $3.99, users will enjoy the opportunity to investigate their own dreams and determine if they may have hidden meanings. This app is a fun and informative way of becoming familiar with some of Freudian theory.

The availability of psychology apps is good for psychology students, but anyone can benefit from the information. Furthermore, one of the components of psychology is good mental health. Finding apps that keep life in balance and provide fun and productive outlets are also great resources.

This is a guest article by Ruben Corbo, a writer for the website Cell Phone Expert where you can compare plans for cell phones. This article was inspired by Ruben’s experience with motivational speakers like Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy, Dr. Wayne Dyer, and Rhonda Byrne. These motivational speakers have inspired Ruben to continue composing and producing music as well as writing.  

What would Google do?

Google UK head of mobile advertising, Simon Morgan, considers the most significant developments in the field of m-commerce and crunches the mobile numbers

Over the past year we’ve seen smartphones overtake PC sales for the first time. The number of people on the mobile web globally has doubled, reaching one billion and in the UK there are now 20 million mobile Internet users. If we think of search as being a barometer of consumer interest, in just 12 months there has been a huge shift.

Loyalty and the rise of the coupon

The finance, retail, travel and entertainment industries have seen their percentage of search queries coming from mobile entering double figures. In the financial sector we are seeing 12 per cent of all financial queries coming through mobile. There are currently one million active mobile-banking users in the UK and that number is growing rapidly. Another fast-growing trend is mobile offers, loyalty and couponing. Searches for coupons from mobile devices have grown 800 per cent year on year.

In retail in 2010 only 4 per cent of all queries were coming through mobile; this year it’s 13 per cent. Our research shows that 24 per cent of consumers are using smartphones to make instore comparisons. They are also using phones to carry out on-the-spot reviews, checking-in to stores and telling friends about it.

Consumers are not just using phones to compare. They’re using them throughout the buying cycle. Twenty-eight per cent use them at the start of the purchase consideration funnel for ‘inspiration’ and 15 per cent use it in the middle for ‘evaluation’.

Wish you were here

Travel has seen the biggest jump from 4 per cent last year to 14 per cent this year. Travel as a whole lends itself to the mobile platform, so it’s no surprise we’re seeing these results. Our latest case study from IHG demonstrates how one travel business used mobile to its full potential and got some great learnings. Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) wanted to learn about its mobile user — whether they were using apps or the mobile web. They set up two campaigns to test both. They discovered that app-users were the loyalists whereas the mobile web users (searchers) were mainly new customers. That’s a trend we’re seeing across the board – apps are great for branding and retention but the mobile web is great for generating new leads. IHG saw a 91 per cent increase in mobile revenue year-on-year which is fantastic.

Angry birds and pesky pigs

Mobile phones are also a key source of entertainment as shown by the 200 million views on YouTube mobile globally in the past year. We are also becoming addicted to gaming apps. Proof is the time spent playing mobile game, Angry Birds, is the equivalent of 125 years every single day! With so many people connecting to the Internet via a mobile phone, it’s staggering to think that only 17 per cent of advertisers today have a mobile-optimised site. For businesses this is the single largest barrier between them and the mobile user. With 28 per cent of users purchasing products from their smartphones, the time is now to build your mobile destination. My advice for marketers would be: take action. It’s time to stop thinking and start ‘doing’ mobile. Marketers need to develop a mobile strategy and integrate this into their media mix.

Crucial pointers:

  • Remember, every one of your desktop users is a mobile user too.
  • Bear in mind that 53 per cent of us are dual screening.
  • Build your mobile destination and connect with your users.
  • Mobile users want it quickly and easily – it’s the marketer’s job to make it so.

 Finally, my last words of advice are: refine and iterate with data. Whether it’s in Adwords or through analytics, this is invaluable information that you can use and apply to everything from developing a strategy to building a mobile destination, to connecting with your users.