Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mobile App Measurement is Changing for the better.

When it comes to mobile app measurement, the times they are a changin’. And that’s an excellent thing, if you are someone who cares about the role that mobile app measurement can play in driving better marketing decision making and richer consumer insight.
In digital, lots of new services and platforms surface every year. Some meet critical needs. Some don’t. Some survive. Others don’t. That’s part of what makes this wacky world of electrons such an exciting and dynamic environment in which to work.
When a solution type “sticks”, there’s usually a fast progression that begins with clients seeking the rock bottom price for basic features. That quickly changes when first progressive companies – and then most companies – expect a great deal more. They still want a great price, but recognize that price and value aren’t synonymous.
Mobile app measurement began as a service primarily focused on gaming companies, and primarily concerned with attributing installs to the specific media provider that drove them. These are important metrics, and ones that the various companies in the space have more or less perfected. There are many data challenges in the app space, but ultimately this business boils down to counting. While a number of us can do very well.
Lots of companies found the least expensive mobile app measurement platform that could do these basic tasks, and were satisfied, at least for a time. Heck, we used to offer a limited free option that did some of these basic things. And it made clients happy. For a while.
With mobile app measurement, though, marketers begin to see how much more measuring that should be doing. First to understand the interplay of various media vendors. And then to facilitate a rich understanding of what customers do in-app. In-app activity matters a great deal, of course. After all, the average American spends more than half of their connected time in apps, and what they do in those apps provides the foundation for — scratch that, IS — your mcommerce business.
Most leading app attribution platforms provide some visibility into in-app consumer actions. But if you are looking for real insight into what your consumers do in your app and what makes them take these actions, you need to sweat the details of the differences between platforms.
Here are six sweaty things (sorry for the metaphor) to consider as you evaluate your measurement alternatives.
  1. Mobile App Measurement and Time Horizons: To truly understand customers, you need to choose a platform that lets you understand consumer behavior and change over the lifecycle of their app relationships. Lots of platforms limit lookback to 30-days. One month. Hey, I don’t know what sort of business you work on, but I have NEVER worked on a business that had (or at least wanted) customer relationships to last for 30 days or less. And yet, if you choose one of the low cost providers with a 30-day lookback, you will have to forego critical insights like true LTV, ARPU, purchase frequency calculations, whether customer choose to spend more with you over time, and a great deal more. If you find yourself satisfied with a 30-day lookback …well, I hate to be the one that says it but … you may find yourself needing a new job before long.
  2. Mobile App Measurement and Events Measured: Marketers need rich and granular information about customer actions in order to understand consumer motivations, identify bottlenecks, and drive continuous improvement in customer experiences. If your provider limits the number of events you can track, or causes you to give yourself self-imposed limits because each measured event costs you money, you may find it difficult to do your job as well as you might want. Data-driven marketing requires data. It’s right there in the name. And arbitrary data limitations can create real problems as your formulate optimization strategies and programs.
  3. Mobile App Measurement and Media Companies Measured: People take a lot of actions before they install an app, and lots of other actions before they make an in-app purchase. In order to understand the drivers of customer actions, you need to be able to see and understand everything that the consumer is experiencing. If you can’t easily access consumer event data from across all partners, you have a partial view that can drive sub-optimal decision-making.
  4. Mobile App Measurement and Usability: If you don’t use your tools, you can’t get benefit from them. Well-designed user experience makes it easier for you and your team to get all of the information and insights that you need from the tools that they use.
  5. Mobile App Measurement and the World Beyond the Install: More and more marketers are seeking ways to engage their install base, drive purchase intent, and foster frequent transactions. Unfortunately, measuring and optimizing such “remarketing” tasks requires a platform focused on delivering robust solutions to these tracking challenges, not workarounds. Understand any limitations in this area as you evaluate your options.
  6. Mobile App Measurement and Vision for the Future: Every company worth its salt has a plan for how it will improve and expand its services. Make sure that the provider you choose can articulate that vision – and that it’s one that you share. For example, our focus at Apsalar is to provide a broader range of data and insights services that bring unbiased, third-party perspective to more tasks as we help brands put their in-app insights to work. Improving marketing effectiveness. Lowering costs. And providing the insight necessary to drive better customer experiences.
That's our vision and what we're doing. You may, or may not, think it's right. But the point is to ask the companies you are considering, and see what you think about where they're headed. It matters. This space will continue to evolve, and successful companies will make the right bets on the direction it will take. 
But make no mistake. The mobile app measurement world is changing. And it’s change for the better.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

5 ways to win over a traditional marketing executive

We all sell for a living, and one of the toughest challenges can be getting a traditional marketer to approve concepts and budgets for innovative digital programs. Some try to slam concepts through, and often fail to get buy-in. Others recognize that winning the budgetary affections of a traditional marketer requires some finesse -- like a well-choreographed dance.
Here are five steps that can help you dance your way to consistent wins.

Channel Arthur Murray

The late, great Arthur Murray popularized ballroom dance in America. His legacy is a company that now has more than 260 dance education studios worldwide. And what they do in those studios is teach dance in ways that are fun, supportive and step-by-step. Pun intended. Teaching that ensures that the new dancer feels their own progress with each lesson.
Most traditional people have tons of curiosity about digital. They read the trades. Their kids are Snapchatting and Instagramming all day. They get its power on an intellectual level. But you can't dance if no one takes the time to show you the steps. It's the same with digital. That traditional marketer won't get into what you are selling without getting out on the metaphorical hardwood and trying.
If you want to sell a Pinterest program, get your boss on Pinterest. If you want to sell a big tablet initiative, get them to agree to give up their PC for a day, and lend them your iPad. Trying to sell in an app? Show them a competitor app. Digital is participatory, not passive. By making participation part of your pitch, you will be amazed at what you can push through. That traditional marketer will thank you for your efforts. There's a difference between not being capable of dancing, and not knowing how.

Do the "foot in the door" two-step

Here's a dance every change agent has to know. It's often easier to sell a traditional marketer on a concept first, and then talk money later. Intuitively, many digital initiatives are so inherently rich and game-changing that they get people excited. If you work for an online travel agent, for example, who could argue with the value of having your loyal customers having an app with then 24/7 so they can buy tickets, rooms, and car rentals at any time?
Without the pre-sell, you are asking people to take money away from something they understand and put it against something they may not really "get" at first glance. But if you do the two-step, they get used to the idea -- and get behind it -- before the checkbook has to come out.
Sometimes, we digital people want to move so quickly that we try to ram everything through in 10 minutes. But innovation often takes a little finesse to sell. Ideas excite both the rational and emotional sides of our brains. Spreadsheets are usually compelling to only one side. Sell the concept first. And gain agreement and commitment to the principle. That's your foot in the door. Then go back a little later for budget.

Master the strategic line dance

Some people can get excited about digital programs because they are groundbreaking and cool. And some digital people think that sometimes experimenting with new technologies should take priority over strong strategic alignment. I personally disagree with that, but understand why others think differently. But no matter for our purposes here.
What's important to remember is that for someone not fully convinced of the power of digital, ensuring that your recommendations have a strategic foundation is important. Focus on recommending programs that have a tight strategic fit -- that are clearly capable of helping your brand meet a critical business challenge. Get in line with the brand strategy and you'll get some good time out on the dance floor.

Ask for one dance, not their full dance card

Rationalize the size of your request with the extent to which a strategy or tactic is proven to work for your category. A $50K test is a lot easier for a traditional marketer to buy into than a $1M full year program.
One of the best things about digital is that there is usually a way to do a proof of concept before you make a major commitment. Credit all the years when budgets were lean for the willingness of even large companies to accommodate small(ish) test budgets.
What's critical here, as with all digital programs but especially here, is that you establish success and failure measures before a program begins, and have a robust measurement system in place to do the counting. Most companies prefer a third-party to verify results -- otherwise the vendor is "grading their own papers."

Sweep 'em off their feet with a languid habanera

There's nothing more annoying to a traditional marketer than being told they are obsolete dinosaurs. I am 1,000 percent convinced that digital would have gotten budget traction a lot faster if we hadn't positioned it as something that was going to thrash ho-hum TV and Print overnight. Newsflash: people watch more TV than ever.
If you have disdain for your traditional peers -- newsflash: your disdain shows. They can feel it. Get over your arrogance. Recognize that all media, traditional and otherwise, have strengths, and that digital is just part of the story for a big brand. Think about innovation and the ideas you want to implement in the context of the entire marketing mix. How does digital make the overall plan better?
And recognize that that dinosaur you need to convince probably knows a lot about a lot of things that you don't know. You don't slap a dance partner in the face and then get them to cut a rug with you. Dance with them, respect their knowledge and perspective. And never be a wallflower again!
Thanks to iMediaConnection for publishing this first

Friday, July 17, 2015

Walking the Mobile-First Walk

mobile first
Everyone talks about being mobile-first these days, but what does (or should) that actually mean? How do you ensure that you mean it when you say it? And more importantly, how do you ensure that you reap the all the ROI benefits of a mobile-first approach? Well, here’s one marketer’s take on what mobile-first means strategically, and how that should affect your planning and thinking.
Mobile-First Reflects Consumer Realities 
Marketers have always sought to reflect consumer needs and preferences in the ways that they connect with people. Our focus isn’t on forcing behavior but rather reflecting it and leveraging rich consumer insights to better meet human needs. With regard to planning and executing consumer touches, it’s all about finding the consumer when they are most receptive. These days, that often means mobile, because the majority of connected consumer time now takes place on mobile devices.
Mobile-First: Putting the Concept into Action
To truly reflect this, brands need to take a so-called “mobile-first approach” to customer engagement. “Mobile-first” is a term thrown around a lot these days, but it should be more than buzz words for you – it needs to guide the way you plan and execute a customer engagement plan. The following seven principles provide a sound foundation for taking a mobile-first approach:
  1. Begin Engagement Planning with Mobile. Don’t do mobile second. Do it first. Evaluate websites, brand experiences, and other elements of marketing on the small screen first. Mobile isn’t a box you check. It’s core to driving engagement and satisfaction.
  2. Get a Rich Understanding of How Your Consumers Use Mobile. Understand their basic mobile usage, and also how mobile and smartphones play into the consumer purchase journey for your brand and category.
  3. Recognize that Mobile isn’t Just Another Screen. People have a different relationship with mobile devices than with PCs. They keep phones with them all the time, view them as more personal, and rely on them for information and shopping at home, while traveling, even in stores.
  4. Ensure a Value Exchange with Mobile Marketing Experiences. A real value exchange is even more important for mobile brand experiences. Using mobile to deliver small screen TV, for example, may have a place in your mobile marketing, but leaves a great deal of mobile’s capabilities untapped. Think about how a brand experience can be enriching rather than (just) intrusive.
  5. Think Global and Local. Mobile has become an amazing way for brands to create global experiences for literally dozens of countries. Mobile is something we share with billions of people world-wide. It is also a great way to activate consumers by making people aware of nearby ways to interact and buy.
  6. Define an Integrated Role for Mobile. Different screens and touchpoints are good for different tasks. Think about the best ways to use mobile to facilitate the consumer journey. Don’t expect mobile to carry all the water, but rather use it for the sorts of personal, informational and immersive experiences it can deliver uniquely well.
  7. Test and Optimize. The sorts of programs you build shouldn’t be thought about as static – unchanging. Use mobile data to help you understand what is working well, and what can be improved. Understanding the relative effectiveness of vendors, and the actions consumers take as a result of your brand experiences, will help you evaluate your effectiveness, measure ROI, and identify ways to do things better in the future.
Mobile-First Marketing: Final Thoughts
Taking a mobile-first approach ultimately means that you recognize the primacy that mobile devices now play in consumer experience. But there’s no set “mobile-first” tactics list – rather it is about understanding your brand, your consumers, and how mobile can help you meet consumer needs and communicate your value proposition more effectively. The keys are insights into what consumers do with phones, along with creativity to create experiences that are especially appropriate for your brand.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Apsalar Introduces Apsalar Audiences for Facebook

Apsalar Audiences for Facebook
This important new Apsalar service enables marketers to identify segments of app users and use them as Facebook Custom Audiences for precision targeting across the world’s leading social network.
We’re excited to announce the launch of Apsalar Audiences for Facebook, a new service that enables our clients to easily define and export app user segments for use as Facebook Custom Audiences. Using these Custom Audiences, brands can connect and engage with these known customers in advertising programs across Facebook and Facebook Audience Network.
Apsalar Audiences for Facebook empowers marketers to define groups of their app users based upon any consumer action that they track using Apsalar Attribution. App users are identified based on device advertising IDs like IDFA, IDFV or Android Advertising ID.
Once the audiences are created, they can then be seamlessly delivered to Facebook Ads Manager as a Custom Audience, so that the individuals can be targeted with specific creative messages tailored to their needs. Delivering these audiences is made easy through Apsalar’s platform integration with Facebook.
“Presenting tailored messages to consumers based upon their interests and behaviors has never been more important,” said Michael Oiknine, Cofounder and CEO of Apsalar. “By enabling our clients to select specific app users and use them as Custom Audiences, this new service is an important new way we help our clients maximize ROI for their marketing investments.”
Apsalar Audience for Facebook enables an unprecedented level of targeting specificity, and can support a broad range of marketing objectives. For example:
  • To cost effectively drive incremental revenue, marketers can identify their existing customers and use Facebook to drive incremental purchases.
  • To address cart abandons, brands can create a segment of recent cart abandoners and use it as a Custom Audience, delivering special creative messages reminding them to return to the app to finish their transactions.
  • To drive first purchases, app marketers can identify app users that have not yet transacted and leverage the power of the Facebook as a marketing platform to reach these specific individuals with special messaging and offers.
  • To drive incremental purchases, a marketer could identify all people who have purchased items in a single category and then market related items to them across Facebook.
  • To reactivate former customers, a brand can create an audience of people who have not used the app in N days, and then use it as a Facebook Custom Audience to deliver ads that foster app relaunches.
Apsalar Audiences for Facebook make it easy for app marketers to focus on specific groups of app users with accuracy or scale. By creating a Facebook Custom Audience using device advertising ids, brands can now deliver the right message to the right individuals with remarkable precision and accuracy.
“Custom Audiences empowers any marketer to reach customers they already know through Facebook,” said Stefano Menti, of Facebook. “This new Apsalar service will help its clients leverage Custom Audiences to better deliver on their key business objectives.”
The Apsalar Audiences for Facebook service is available to Apsalar clients worldwide.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Ad Fraud Made Easy to Understand, Even If It Still is An Unpleasant Topic

I enjoy putting together little digital education pieces, and hope you find them useful. In my view, our industry can be so insular that we forget that not everyone has time or inclination to study every digital topic on 9 different levels. Marketing generalists especially are inundated with info, and so I thought that simplifying some of these hot topics might be useful for some.

Anyway, today’s topic is ad fraud!

What is Ad Fraud?
Ad fraud is the practice of deliberately attempting to drive ad impressions that have no potential of being seen by a real person. Ad Fraud is a crime – it is deliberate, premeditated, and designed to rob advertisers of value for their advertising spend.

Much ad fraud is driven by bots – software designed to automate repetitive tasks online. Of course, not all bots are bad. Not by a longshot. Search engines, for example, uses bots to examine millions of pages and apps every day to understand what content they offer. They use this information so they can deliver the best possible results with their search engines.

Such bots are obviously not malicious. They are not designed to defraud advertisers, though it is possible that a search engine bot can trigger an ad impression while doing its job.

Bot-driven ad fraud is different. These bots are deliberately developed to load ad views so that the criminal entity earns advertising dollars.

Net net, impressions delivered to bots are not necessarily ad fraud. It is the malicious intent that makes some of them fraudulent. Non-malicious bot impressions are better addressed under the topic of viewability.

Some Examples of How Fraud is Perpetrated
There are a multitude of ad fraud tactics – here are just a couple of examples:

1.    Bots that secretly take over consumer PCs and spawn page views unseen by the user.
2.     Networks of hijacked computers (“botnets”) that fake consumer traffic. Virtual machines that mimic consumer PCs and rapidly spawn thousands of page views.
3.    Videos that automatically play but which are extremely small or even invisible on the page.
4.    Software that emulates multiple clicks every time a consumer makes a real click

Ad fraud, and the fight against it, is a continuing arms race, with each protection breakthrough spawning a new approach to perpetrating fraud.

How Prevalent is Ad Fraud
All researchers who have studied ad fraud have identified it as a significant amount of total web traffic. The Association of National Advertisers (ANA and online fraud detection firm, White Ops, conducted one of the largest industry studies, in which they found that 11% of display and 23% of video impressions were caused by bots and botnets. Another leading industry association, the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), stated that almost 36% of web traffic was fake.

Detecting and Preventing Ad Fraud
The best defense against ad fraud is information combined with tools to take action in intelligent ways.

On the PC web, media companies are using strategies to identify bots by, for example, treating thousands of impressions in a short period from a PC or group of PCs as suspect. Non-human activity often “looks” different when analysts examine it closely.

In the app world, where my company Apsalar plays, we help clients identify and combat ad fraud through a variety of methods. One of the most important is by helping clients identify vendors that drive app installs that don’t later lead to app loads and in-app purchases.

While not every app legitimately downloaded is later used, vendors with a high incidence of fraudulent activity drive much higher proportions of nonproductive downloads. So much app media is purchased on a cost per install basis, so this is important insight.

When clients are empowered to see which vendors and users are real people and which are likely fraudulent, our industry does better. When brands don’t have data or partners to help defend their investments against fraud, the risk is significantly higher. Apsalar is constantly developing new ways to detect and prevent fraud. For more information on our approaches and the larger issue of fraud, get in touch with us.

And you can download a PDF of this content, as well as marketing basics topics, in our “Take 5″ section of the Apsalar website. The idea of Take 5 is to create short papers that explain a seemingly complex digital topic – in less than 5 minutes of reading. Hope you like ‘em!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Primer on Android Advertising ID

Since yesterday’s post, an introduction to IDFA, generated so much interest, we’ll continue the education theme this week by providing an introduction to Android Advertising ID.
Android Advertising ID is a device identifier for advertisers to use in anonymously understanding user activity on Android devices. An Android Advertising ID is somewhat analogous to an advertising cookie, in that it enables an advertiser to understand that a user of a particular phone has taken an action, like a click or an app install. Android Advertising IDs take the place of cookies in mobile advertising delivered to Android devices because cookies are problematic in the mobile world. For more information on why cookies don’t work in mobile, refer to our “Take 5″ eguide entitled, Why Do They Say Cookies Don’t Work in Mobile?
Advertisers want to be able to associate advertising actions to specific, anonymized individuals. Android Advertising IDs (and their iPhone siblings, IDFAs) help an advertiser identify the specific phone where the ad action takes place. Third-party cookies, which are commonly used on the PC web for tracking, tend to have short life spans – anything from 1 to 30 days on average.
By contrast, the Android Advertising ID doesn’t change unless a user decides to change it in their phone settings. Few consumers feel a need to take this action, so Android Advertising IDs can offer a better foundation for a persistent and anonymized consumer profile. Also, an advertising ID is the same for all of the apps and browsers on a phone, so it can be a powerful way to aggregate customer behavior across all of these disconnected environments. Thus, device IDs like Android Advertising ID and IDFA are very useful as the foundation for customer profiles in data management platforms, or DMPs. They enable a brand to accurately aggregate data about a customer to a specific, anonymized profile.
Before Android Advertising ID, advertisers could track actions on Android phones using a device identifier called Android ID (or ANDI.) The big advantage for the Advertiser ID over an ANDI is that it provides consumer choice. An Android ID is a permanent device number, and sharing it could not be turned off. By contrast, users have the option to opt out of Android Advertising ID tracking, or to change their ID periodically. If an app is downloaded from Google Play, it has an Android Advertising ID. If the app is downloaded from another store, tracking and measurement companies like Apsalar are permitted to track using the ANDI, but must not connect the Android Advertising ID to the ANDI.
When consumers take actions as a result of ads, like clicking a banner, playing a video, or installing an app, media companies can pass the Android Advertising ID with information about the consumer action that took place. Most media companies do pass Android Advertising IDs. Some media companies, including some large social networks, do not pass device IDs to advertisers, but do allow you to target specific IDs within their properties. Apsalar helps advertisers by associating in-app and omni-channel consumer actions to these semi-permanent identifiers. This helps them create powerful customer profiles and rich audience understanding, in addition to juxtaposing the relative performance of different media vendors. The Android Advertiser ID also enables an advertiser to individually target audiences of specific individuals that have taken actions in the past. This sort of individual targeting is becoming increasingly common as programmatic media and social media advertising grow in popularity.
You can download a PDF of this content here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

All About IDFA

One of the most common questions we’re asked at Apsalar is to explain IDFA, the advertising ID in iOS (iPhone) phones. Given that, I thought I’d put out a short and simple explanation here.
IDFA is the abbreviation for identifier for advertisers on iPhones. An IDFA is somewhat analogous to an advertising cookie, in that it enables an advertiser to understand that a user of a particular phone has taken an action like a click or an app install. IDFAs take on the tracking role for mobile that cookies play in the PC web because cookies are problematic in the mobile world. For more information on why cookies don’t work in mobile, download Why Do They Say Cookies Don’t Work in Mobile? from the resources section on our site.
Semi-Persistent Device Identifiers
Advertisers are naturally interested in understanding the anonymized individuals that take advertising actions. IDFAs (and their Android siblings, Android Advertising IDs) help an advertiser identify the specific phone where the ad action takes place.
Third party cookies, which are commonly used on the PC web for tracking, tend to have short life spans – anything from 1 to 30 days on average. By contrast, the IDFA doesn’t change unless a user decides to change it in their phone settings. Few consumers feel a need to take this action, so IDFAs can offer a better foundation for a persistent and anonymized consumer profile.
Also, an IDFA device advertising ID is the same for all of the apps and browsers on a phone, so it can be a powerful way to aggregate customer behavior across all of these disconnected environments. Thus, device IDs like IDFA are very useful as the foundation for customer profiles in data management platforms, or DMPs. They enable a brand to accurately aggregate data about a customer to a specific, anonymized profile.
Before IDFA, advertisers could track actions on iPhones using a device identifier called UDID or universal device ID. The big advantage that IDFA offers over UDID is consumer choice. Apple introduced IDFA to offer consumers a choice when it came to interest advertising and tracking. A UDID was a permanent device number, and sharing it could not be turned off, whereas users have the option to opt out of IDFA tracking, or to change their IDFA periodically.
IDFA is the only ID that Apple allows advertisers to use to understand the advertising actions on its phones. This reflects their commitment to the ideas of privacy and choice, while also enabling a robust advertising industry in which brands target likely responders and drive revenue for app and mobile web publishers.
Using IDFA
When consumers take actions as a result of ads, like clicking a banner, playing a video, or installing an app, media companies can pass the IDFA with information about the consumer action that took place as a result of the advertising. The IDFA enables an advertiser to individually target specific individuals that have taken actions in the past. This sort of individual targeting is becoming increasingly common as programmatic media and social media advertising grow in popularity.
You may also occasionally hear about an ID called IDFV, This stands for Identifier for Vendors. An IDFV is assigned and shared by all apps from the same company. Sometimes companies with multiple apps base their marketing efforts and analyses on IDFV, because they only change if a user uninstalls all apps from a particular vendor.
You can find more specifics about IDFA here and here.

Monday, June 29, 2015

First-(Party) Things First

1st-party data
Today’s eMarketer article on data shows that marketers are increasingly convinced of the importance and efficacy of first-party data as a driver of improved marketing performance. That’s great news because it shows that the market is fast coming to appreciate how important customer signals are for the future of marketing.
There are many types of information that companies can collect about their customers. Here are a number of examples:
  • Website registration data
  • Past online purchase information for customers
  • Past in-store purchase information that can be traced to a specific individual, using a credit card record, cheque, registration form or loyalty card/program
  • PC web browsing and behavior data
  • Mobile web browsing and behavior data
  • In-app browsing and behavior data
  • Email CRM program email addresses and records of email interactions (opens, clicks, send to a friend, etc.)
  • Customer interactions with your social media presences
  • Call center records
It’s easy to see how, collectively, these varied sources of data can provide a foundation for understanding individual customer behavior or aggregated audience characteristics.
Taking ownership of a brand’s first-party data is an absolutely critical task for today’s marketer. It is only through collecting and interpreting this information that a brand can take a truly customer-first approach to its customer engagement efforts. And study after study show that there is no better predictor of future customer actions than past customer actions.
One of the most exciting aspects of a first-party data strategy is that it helps right-size the role that surrogate marketing metrics like demographics play in a brand’s targeting efforts. For decades, marketers have used demographics like age and gender and family status as primary drivers of media and other targeting. And demos were very powerful. But while demographics can and probably should play a role in marketing in future years, it’s important to recognize that they are simply tools to focus dollars on groups that seem to have a higher propensity than average to buy a product. Now that we can understand the actions and characteristics of each buyer, we can take a more reasoned and individualized approach to marketing communications in which demographics like age and gender play some role, though perhaps not the primary role.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Many Strengths of Mobile CRM

Marketers have always loved the strategic promise of CRM – the idea that we can actively manage our relationship with each customer based upon her wants, needs and preferences. But historically there was often a gap between that promise and the marketing reality for most brands. For much of the 2000s and even into the 2010s, CRM was often used as a euphemism for weekly or even daily email blasts to an entire database. While there were some companies that took a more thoughtful and strategic approach to CRM, many simply used it to describe blanketing inboxes with emails. One size fits all emails.
Fortunately, that’s changing pretty quickly. While some brands still view email blasts as the alpha and omega of CRM, more and more brands are asking people what kinds of messages they want to receive, how often, and in what format. That’s fantastic news for the customer. And for any brand looking to maximize sales and customer engagement.
In 2015, some of the most intriguing CRM developments relate to using smartphones as a primary CRM delivery vehicle. At conferences and in trade journals we’re hearing the term Mobile CRM with greater frequency. Let’s talk a little about what the term means – and should mean – as consumers spend progressively more and more of their connected time on phones rather than PCs.
First Things First: CRM
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management — a way of planning, executing, delivering and measuring your brand’s relationship with its customers. CRM platforms or tools use technology to effectively and efficiently manage the data and insights you have about each customer, so that you can have an orchestrated and appealing set of interactions with each person.
Mobile CRM
A little digging showed us that Mobile CRM is a term currently being used in two different ways. Business-to-Business CRM solutions often use it to describe ways that salespeople can interact with customer and prospect data. The focus is on how the seller accesses the information, not on how messages are delivered to customers.
The way we use the term at Apsalar is to describe coordinated communications programs with consumers, using mobile-based communications vehicles like:
  • Push notifications
  • Mobile site personalization
  • Mobile app personalization
  • App message centers
  • SMS/text messages
  • Offers in/to ewallets
  • And, yes, emails
Why Interest in Mobile CRM is Growing
The latest consumer behavioral data show that the consumer spends more than 60% of their connected time on mobile devices. Given this, it makes sense to focus on delivering CRM messages to consumers where they spend the most time. That doesn’t negate the potential value of emails opened on PCs. But it does suggest that those emails alone aren’t enough.
In addition, consumers generally carry their cellphones everywhere, and are within a few feet of them for the vast majority of each day. This is very different from their relationships with PCs. By tailoring a CRM program to a consumer’s mobile availability, brands can often find far more and far richer moments of opportunity in which to deliver their messages.
Using Mobile CRM, brands can also capitalize on the consumers’ ability to take action at virtually any time and from virtually anywhere. This means that they can drive more impulse purchases, and even deliver special communications based upon where a consumer is at times throughout the day.
Mobile CRM and Apps
Recent comScore data show that consumers spend the majority of their connected time in mobile apps. Given this, and given that app experiences tend to be richer, more engaging, and more entertaining than other web content, brands can deliver more effective messages in these environments. For app publishers, mobile CRM makes sense because the consumer is already using the device with the app on it. Therefore it is easier to drive app launches and other consumer actions with mobile CRM than with PC-based CRM.
At Apsalar we don’t provide Mobile CRM services. As part of our vast network of partners, we work closely with Mobile CRM companies by providing data to power customer engagement platforms. Our focus is on collecting, managing and enabling brands to action customer data via the platforms of their choice. Mobile CRM – like any true CRM program – uses data as its foundation. The more of the right consumer data in a CRM platform, the better your CRM results.
The Apsalar DMP provides customer behavioral and demographic data, improves and enhances customer profiles, and uses device advertising IDs to seamlessly integrate with virtually any CRM or Mobile CRM platform on the market.  Our historical strength in collecting and measuring app marketing activity and in-app events provides the mobile app data that is absolutely essential to truly understand customer behavior on phones or in aggregate. If CRM is something you want to know more about, make sure that getting the right data to maximize the effectiveness of your CRM program is a high priority.
Published first on the Apsalar website

Joy, Pain and Everything In Between

It's been a week of incredible joy, terrible pain, and astounding surprises.

There's this:

I am 51. Knowing how far America was from this when I was born, I never ever ever expected this to happen in my lifetime. Let alone the White House lights. ;-) Ever. If you want some sense of how far the nation has come, I suggest you check out The Boys in the Band,  

Having just read Antonin Scalia's dissent, I can only chuckle a little and think back to my 10th grade history teacher, Caroline Loose, who said,

"When people complain about judicial activists, what they really mean is people that disagree with them."

Judge Scalia, I forgive you. The reference will make more sense in a paragraph or two. ;-)

And a reminder that the people who got America started on the road to this amazing moment were a bunch of drag queens and other "misfits". All hail the misfits!

And then there is the amazing eloquence of the community of faith of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. I still feel deeply affected by what's happened in South Carolina. It's hard to explain why exactly. These things seem to occur in America every couple of weeks.  But the idea that a man would enter a prayer meeting, be welcomed and asked to participate, and then shoot those in attendance. It boggles the mind. 

I think what REALLY gets to me about this is that the AME Church was created because blacks were unwelcome in the Methodist Church. This was not a scism driven by theological differences but rather because of hatred and prejudice. And, round about 200 years later, by which time surely that sort of misguided thinking should be understood and regretted, 9 people were shot in cold blood. During a PRAYER MEETING! Now, the UMC didn't pull the trigger. That's not what I mean. The UMC is quite progressive as Protestant denominations go. And I believe that the AME and UMC have ecumenical agreements in a step toward one Christian community. But you  get the idea.

And a couple days later, their friends and families forgave. (!!!)

The horror of the shootings. And the profound and astounding forgiveness given by the families and friends of those that were lost. The President's eulogy is filled with the pain and the hope and optimism that the families and friends display every day of their lives. God Bless you all! You are an example to everyone on earth. Tunisia, France, and the mosque attack in Kuwait today give us a sense of the evil that men can do. Its important, though, that we remember what love can do as well.