Mobile’s Massive Implications

There are some really great slides and info here… highly recommended:

Business Insider – Here’s An Excellent Presentation About The Rise Of Mobile And The Massive Implications: “Revered Apple analyst Benedict Evans of Enders Analysis is giving a presentation May 29 at the BookExpo America convention in New York.

It’s on the rise of mobile and what it means for the industry.”

Make sure to check out the part on ecosystem growth.

On-Demand Marketing

Not totally on-board with everything here (by 2020 we won’t be tapping things to enable NFC connections nor will companies be texting us when we already have their app installed on our device or wearable), but this is an thought-provoking overview of just how much the web and coming improvements in consumer technology and IT infrastructure (more agile databases in the cloud etc) will change marketing itself in the next decade:

The coming era of ‘on-demand’ marketing | McKinsey & Company: “What’s next? Deploying tools that rapidly assemble databases of every customer contact with a brand, companies will need to push every customer-facing function to work together and form an integrated view of consumer decision journeys. With longitudinal pictures of customers’ touches and their outcomes, companies can model total costs per action, find the most effective decision-journey patterns, and spot points of leakage. As more contacts become digitized—and they will—the data will gradually get easier to create.”

Mobile is the linchpin of the user experience in 2015-2025, but we can’t forget wearables, such as Google Glass, and how much those will impact marketing as well.

via @similarweb on Twitter.

When Marketers Stare Back at You

Hot on the heels of Samsung’s new flagship phone being released with “eye scroll tracking” as a feature comes this interesting piece from TechCrunch on what we might be in store for when marketers can stare back at mobile users…

The Implications of the Interface That Watches You – TechCrunch: “It’s no secret that companies and advertisers have been looking for a way to boost the ROI of mobile ads, Google included. Gathering facial feedback data could act like a cheat code to help marketing get to the next level – provided it isn’t wielded like a heavy, blunt club. The possibility for abuse is tremendous here: imagine ads that periodically migrate to occupy the places where you find the choicest content in an app, or autoplaying video ads that wait until you’re paying close attention before launching into a sales barrage.”

Plunk for Mobile Site Testing

Plunk is a nifty and easy-to-use utility that allows you to upload a mobile screen image of a site you might be testing or designing, share it with others and get a report 48 hours later of where people touched their screen.

It’s totally for mobile sites and I think it’s an ingenious idea given the analytics you get:

Plunk – An easy way to test clicks on a mobile phone

“Here are 5 ways Plunk will help:
1. User intuition. See where touch screen testers want to click on your page.
2. Improve functionality. Visually review where users are expecting to find that new button.
3. Retain interaction and engagement. Test where mobile users are getting lost due to either navigation or design and keep their attention locked.
4. Mobile conversion. Feedback for creating a great design will encourage more mobile activity.
5. Bob for those apples. Stuck deciding between new mobile designs? Send them out and dive into your results to find the best one!time and money. Plunk lets you test your mobile users’ clicks to figure out what works and what doesn’t.”

You can share the image to get results to your own social networking followers or to an email beta list etc.

Very cool and handy, especially for performance marketers using mobile (as you should be).

iWatch Doubts

I’m still not sold on the concept of a “smartwatch” that replicates some of the functions of a mobile device such as the iPhone. Granted, I haven’t worn a watch in a decade but I do carry a mobile phone with me most anywhere.

Apple’s watch will run iOS and arrive later this year, say sources – The Verge: “That’s perfectly in line with what we’ve heard about the watch project, which we’re told is being led by Ive himself with some 100 engineers under him. Interestingly, we’re also told that Apple’s chosen to rework the full iOS to run on the watch instead of building up the iPod nano’s proprietary touch operating system — although the previous nano was already watch-sized and seemed like a great starting point for a wrist-sized device, Apple’s betting on iOS across product lines.”

Whatever the final form and function of the mythical iWatch might be, I’m still betting heavily on Google’s wearable platform called Glass. To me, the ability to get a heads up display of relevant contextual information as well as quickly capture images or video from your point of view with a simple voice command points to a bright future for Glass.

Google Maps App and Mobile Discovery

Smart piece that highlights some of the reasons we love the new Google Maps app on iOS and why it spells out the future of the (mobile) web…

Why Google Just Made iPhone King: Ads | Wired Business | “Google’s willingness to ship iOS apps could look smarter as time goes on. The company trounces Apple when it comes to all things cloud, not just maps and e-mail; its social network, search engine, and highly optimized data centers could give its iOS apps an even bigger edge in the coming years.”

Discovery means you’ll be able to “map” what your friends are liking, sharing and discovering themselves in an effortless and responsible manner. As we continue to kick the tires on the social web, we’re excited to see where this next discovery phase takes us.

Square and Disruption

Square Gift Cards from Square on Vimeo.

We make no secret of our love for Square and the ability to democratize transactions to the point of making our on-the-go clients very very happy. We even gave them out as stocking stuffers to clients.

We couldn’t be more excited about Square’s new gift card functionality that will surely make a few of the great folks we work with happy as well (especially during the holiday season):

Square Introduces Gift Cards: The Slow Death Of Physical Credit Cards And Cash Continues | TechCrunch: “Today, payment service Square has introduced a new way to send gift cards, through its Square Wallet app. You can now go through all of the businesses that use Square to process payments, pick the right one for your friend or family member, and then purchase them a gift card of in amount of your choosing.”

It can only be a matter of time before Square gets acquired by Apple (I think). It’s an obvious partnership and makes sense given how disruptive Square is becoming to local payment industries.

Analytics, APIs and Mobiles

We’ve been experimenting with Keen’s API-as-analytics platform (simply drop some code into your existing code) on a few of the apps we’re building for clients and have been mightily impressed so far…

Keen IO – Analytics APIs: “So many of the devices we use everyday are internet connected and could certainly benefit from great user analytics. And we want to be a part of it all. But, in the short-term, we’re spending our time on where we think we can make the biggest impact – mobile. We’ve got SDKs for iOS, Android, JavaScript, and Ruby ready for you today. Python and Windows Mobile are in the queue and coming soon.”

If you’re doing anything with iOS or Android (we haven’t ventured in Windows Mobile development), we can’t recommend poking around Keen enough. It’s not for everyone and doesn’t offer all the options of a custom solution, but definitely does the job if you need to tackle larger windmills in your app development.

Should You Develop iOS or Android Apps?

The short answer is yes, but the long answer is more complicated depending on your audience and where/how you need to be discovered…

iOS Devices Have Been Dominating Mobile Web Traffic For The Past 6 Months [Report] | Cult of Mac: “Android technically sells more smartphones than Apple, but iOS devices continue to dominate mobile web traffic. Chitika Insights has been tracking web traffic on the top mobile platforms, and iOS commands 67% of usage and Android only 33%.”

We generally start clients with iOS and web apps but don’t shy away from Android if the market is there.

iPhone Passes Outlook in Email Usage

Email marketing is an essential part of what we call Discovery Marketing. Retention is the new acquisition, after all.

We love to use resources like MailChimp or ConstantContact to help our clients find the best relationships with their customers or users. Often, we get questions about HTML emails and pretty graphics as a part of those campaigns.

We like to caution people to remember the mobile component and how much customers are using devices such as iPhones, iPads and Android devices to perform tasks like checking on email during the day, during a sports event or in the evenings.

In many ways, the iPhone and competing devices have re-opened the possibilities for email that programs like Outlook slowly smothered.

And here’s some more positive news about email usage on the iPhone that bolster our point…

“Email marketing campaigns have been a classic marketing technique since the rise of the Internet. Traditionally, people would use their computer to open up an email client like Outlook or Hotmail and sift through the contents of their inbox. Now, more people are accessing and opening emails via mobile devices than ever before. In fact, a recent email experiment in which one billion “opens” of emails were examined shows that the iPhone accounts for most email opens, more so than Gmail, Hotmail, and Windows Live combined.

So, yes… use email marketing.

But keep in mind those of us that routinely use iPhones etc as our preliminary email processing machines for real effectiveness in your campaigns!


We don’t pretend that we don’t need inspiration, too. ​

In fact, as we are grocery shopping or eating lunch or filling up our cars with gas, we are noticing and observing how businesses are telling their stories. ​

Today as we gathered for a team lunch, we noticed the diner had placed a paper 4 x 6 card on the table to sign up for their newsletter. Being the curators of ideas that we are, we picked it up and examined it and wondered if it was effective. ​

Five minutes later, we noticed the older couple at the table next to us had picked up the same 4 x 6 card. The following conversation resulted:

Woman: Did you see this?

Man: Aren’t we getting those emails all the time?

Woman: Not from here. You can get discounts.

Man: I think we probably are on too many email lists already,

Woman: But we eat here an awful lot.

In the digital world, these would be called impressions. We picked up the card and talked about it. This older couple picked up the card and talked about it. ​

The result is the diner is spreading their story. ​

See, we’re still talking about them! ​

Mobile Means Disocvery

We like to chirp on and on (and on) about the need for companies to invest in what we call Discovery (again… a blend of organic SEO, paid search and social media campaigns that all tie nice and neatly together at the end of the day and/or month).​

However, one thing that we don’t get to chirp about directly, unless you’re in a client meeting with our team, is how insanely powerful mobile marketing is for everyone.​

Mobile is not only the new hotness, it is the next wave of consumer interaction.​

Here’s a great article from Matthew Creamer in AdAge about the Marketing’s Next Five Years that makes our point pretty well…​

To put it bluntly, there needs to be more ad spending on mobile, which now comprises only about 1% of budgets, according to a recent study from the consultancy Marketing Evolution. Based on ROI analyses of smartphone penetration, that figure will be about 7%. In five years’ time, that number will need to be in excess of 10%.

75% of the world will be covered in 3G wireless data connections in 5 years. Let that soak in for a moment.​

We’re in the middle of a radical transition from laptops and desktops to iPads and mobile computing devices (which are capable of making the occasional phone call).​

Being prepared for this reality in the coming months/years is going to be (or should be) a major part of each of your strategy sessions.​

Revenge of the Podcast on iOS6?

I, for one, love the sound of this…

Starting In iOS 6, Apple Might Introduce Paid Podcast Subscriptions | Cult of Mac: “With iOS 6 this may all change. The new Podcasts app that Apple has released today contains a strange ‘Redeem’ button, similar to that found in the iTunes and App Stores, present only on devices running iOS 6. Currently, this makes no sense. All iTunes podcasts are free, and don’t require any sort of payment method. The presence of this button in iOS 6 could, however, point to a paid subscription model for podcasts starting with the release of the operating system in fall.”

I’ve downloaded the app on my test iPhone running the iOS6 beta and I’m very happy to say the least. Fantastic app and if these rumors are true, it could mean very big things for the world of performance marketing podcasts.

Some Things Never Change

It’s fascinating to me that mobile ad networks are making the same mistakes that we made with web-based performance advertisements 10 years ago…

Airpush – Developers: “Developers are paid on a CPM basis (cost per thousand impressions) rather than CPC. An “impression” in the case of Push Notification Ads includes any time an ad is pushed to a device, whether or not the user actually views the ad or not. The actual CPM rate which you are paid for a given app is driven by the CTR, CPC, and Quality for the given app.”

A mobile ad network based on real CPA or even EPC makes much more sense given what we know and the experience we’ve had over the past decade (going on two for some people).

What job do the ads do? Why would people click on them within an app? Those are the issues that these types of networks don’t address to their detriment.

Mobile is relatively young as a performance advertising and marketing space, but no reason to re-invent the wheel.

The Kids Are All Coding; Why Aren’t You?

I’m working with a group of 6th-8th grade girls in our Middle School who easily blew past the first five or so lessons on CodeAcademy today.

I was impressed how quickly and easily they groked ideas like substrings and declaring variables. Turns out they aren’t the only ones interested in coding…

Codecademy’s CodeYear Attracts 100,000 Aspiring Programmers In 48 Hours | TechCrunch: “Two days ago, Codecademy — a startup that’s looking to bring programming to the masses — launched a nifty initiative called Code Year. It’s pretty straightforward: sign up, and each week you’ll receive some programming lessons in your email inbox.

And apparently, there are a lot of people who want to learn how to code. Code Year just had its 100,000th user sign up — a remarkable milestone given that the site has only been up for 48 hours. And that number continues to grow at a rapid pace.”

We’re using CodeAcademy as the first steps of a trimester long endeavor to make an official iOS and HTML5 app for our school.

I didn’t come up with this idea… they did.

Pretty soon, these girls and their peers who are toting around iPads, iPod Touches, Kindle Fires, iPhones and Android Devices like we toted around Walkmans are going to start demanding more from their web experiences just as we of the Walkman generation demanded more from our music experiences (and we see what happened to the music industry in the course of a decade).

If you’re going to have a viable web business in 10 or 20 years, it’s time to learn how to code beyond some basic PHP or WordPress hooks.

The kids are alright.

I Love TinyLetter

Awesomely Simple TinyLetter Admin Page…

Yesterday, I wrote about the seldom discussed differences between RSS subscribers and email subscribers to websites. It’s an interesting discussion when you ponder what it means to actually engage visitors and create sustaining revenue channels and interactions beyond just a one-time visit.

One tool that I’ve been using on my affiliate sites of late to generate sustainable email lists is TinyLetter.

TinyLetter is a fantastic service that is a product of the awesome MailChimp folks (which is, itself a robust and very competent email subscription platform).

However, I love TinyLetter’s sense of style, ease of use and feeling of mutual respect between subscriber and news list owner. There’s a quirky feeling to it that leads to goodwill (or so I think).

After much testing (I’ll publish that info on the newsletter), I’m even going with TinyLetter for the PayPerTrends Newsletter (linked above or here you go):

PayPerTrends Newsletter by Sam Harrelson: “Get more in-depth information and examples of practical “Job to Be Done” case studies involving the frontiers of performance marketing in mobile and social media once a week or so (soon to be premium feature).”

Feel free to sign up if you’d like to see the walk thru process. This will be a “premium” feature in the near future (something like $5 a month) but will go into much more depth and actual case study type materials than most people are needing or want to read (plus, it is a ton of work and a lot of info on what I provide to/for clients).

Most people in the affiliate industry seem to prefer Aweber for email subscription platforms, but I’ve never liked the look/feel of their product. Plus, the testing I’ve done on my own sites suggest I’m not the only one that is more likely to join a TinyLetter list over its more “robust” competitors. Sometimes, small is indeed beautiful when it comes to conversions.

There’s something about TinyLetter that resonates well with me.

Why Are There No Affiliate Network Apps?

Thousands of affiliate marketers will be traveling next week on the way to Las Vegas for Affiliate Summit.

We affiliate types are notoriously compulsive about checking our stats on the affiliate and cap networks, on Google and in our various analytics packages (as we should be).

I can check my Google stats, email subscription numbers and analytics numbers all from the comfort of my iPhone (and even make changes as needed). However, there’s no way to easily check CJ, Linkshare, ShareASale etc network stats. Why?

With thousands of affiliates traveling for hours and hours next week, it sure would be nice to be able to pick up an iPhone, iPad (or heavens forbid an Android device or Kindle Fire) and check on our stats with ease.

Yes, you can get to most affiliate interfaces on a smart phone as you would see them in a browser. However, it is 2012 now. Time to app up.

And this, Linkshare, is just janky:

LinkShare Mobile Dashboard Launches: “LinkShare has launched a mobile dashboard (“Mobile Dash”) that allows affiliates to login from a mobile device to find and promote links.”

So, my hope is that the affiliate app space will begin to grow up a little in 2012 beyond this (do a search in the App Store for “affiliate marketing” and you’ll be embarrassed too).

Maybe by Affiliate Summit East later this year, we’ll be able to open up the CJ or Linkshare or ShareASale app on our iPhones and rest our compulsions.

Or, you can use the name AffTrack.

Edit: I was wrong. Vinny O’Hare (aka My Little Vinny) reminded me that AvantLink does indeed have a functional mobile app for its network. Thanks, Vinny and AvantLink! Will look more at your programs now.

Web Design and Fixed Screen Sizes

If you take seriously the appearance of your affiliate site (as you should… design is how it works), this is a must read thought piece…

State of the web: of apps, devices, and breakpoints – Jeffrey Zeldman Presents The Daily Report: “When I see fragmentation, I remind myself that it is unsustainable by its very nature, and that standards always emerge, whether through community action, market struggle, or some combination of the two. This is a frustrating time to be a web designer, but it’s also the most exciting time in ten years. We are on the edge of something very new. Some of us will get there via all new thinking, and others through a combination of new and classic approaches. Happy New Year, web designers!”

Granted, this debate is not for every affiliate out there but the issue of fixed-design screen sizes and how your site gets presented on a laptop browser compared to an iPad compared to an iPhone compared to an Android device with a near 5 inch screen compared to a Kindle Fire is a very real and tangible aspect of your business that you should be considering.

Why Freemiums Aren’t the Future Path

Interesting piece by Tac Anderson on the concept of Path as an Upstream Social Network (USN below) compared to traditional networks like Twitter and Facebook which he terms Downstream Social Networks (DSN below) and how USN’s could affect the engagement of marketers with lucrative data-rich networks:

What Path Teaches Us About The Future of Social Networks | @NewCommBiz: “Lets assume for a minute that as social networking evolves the social graph is filled with private USN and more open, commercial DSN. And what if most of those USN didn’t allow brands and advertising in? (Most of them will but humor me for a minute.) If marketeers and brands want to reach people inside their private USN, they need to be brought in by the members of those networks. Brands need to create experiences worth talking and sharing. A small example is when I shared my new Star Wars Moleskine I was going to be using on Path. You can see the reactions I got on Path as well as those I got on Instagram. Both of those went to Twitter and received their own reactions there.”

Basically, he ponders what if these Downstream Social Networks could thrive with a fermium model where brands and ads weren’t allowed to participate.

I’m not certain this will ever happen for a couple of reasons.

1) Social networks, unlike apps, don’t necessarily proliferate based on individual user experiences. Freemiums work on iPhone apps or even cloud based services that are more single user in nature. Social networks are, by their nature, commons that we don’t have complete control over and we’re more willing to make compromises on design, ads and privacy (hence Facebook).

2) The data-based nature of social networks is so lucrative that even new networks that are beautifully designed and based on the idea of limits (150 friends only, limited sharing etc) will certainly find more and better funding by relying on brands and marketers to subsidize the costs of running a network.

Path (and Facebook) can and should do all they can to encourage marketers to think above the “All Traffic is Good Traffic” blasting approach that many marketers use to get passive and relatively unqualified (and thereby low quality) traffic to their sites/offers/links and think towards better engagement based on some qualitative value in the exchange.

However, freemiums aren’t in our future for social networking.

This may all sound like it has more to do with brand advertisers than direct or affiliate marketers, but I’d argue affiliate marketing has the most to gain from the idea of interacting in these rich spaces of real human interactions and frictionless sharing.

Why is Affiliate Marketing Doing Well?

Nice overall piece on the current market position of affiliate marketing in the overall scheme of things and how our industry is poised to continue its growth into 2012…

How 2012’s Rise Of The Affiliate Channel Will Impact The $300B E-Commerce Industry: “There are several factors driving the increased interest in performance marketing. The three biggest drivers are the rise in affiliate deal sites, advances in technology and the overall evolution of affiliate marketing. These influences are prompting strategic online retailers to increase their intellectual and financial investments in the affiliate channel.”

I’d add “mobile” as a driver in that list.

Affiliate marketing is particularly well suited to help merchants and media buyers grow as mobile continues to become a primary mover rather than a secondary channel. Couple that with lackluster returns from social media marketing (due more to poor execution based on 20th century broadcasting techniques rather than required 21st century narrowcasting strategies) and affiliate marketing is shaping up to be the hot sector for online marketing in the coming years.