The single most important element of the new 3G iPhone

Picture 16.pngUndoubtedly the iPhone is a game changing device that has turned the US mobile device market on its head. How many of the new devices that are coming out from manufacturers would exist today without the competition the iPhone provided.

With all of its features and its cool interface, there is one part of the new 3G iPhone (which launches today July 11th) that is the most important for marketers. That is GPS. For the first time ever, GPS will be fully integrated on a user-frindly, consumer device. It's intuitive, unlike previous phones where you had to hack to get it to work. Not only that, but the developer SDK allows you, the marketers, to create applications that use this technology.

Ask yourself, what would you do differently if you knew exactly where your customers were? Would you create an app that links people together who are physically close? Would you offer messages that were relevant to their present location? Here are a number of options that GPS location adds to the marketing mix unlike any time in the history of marketing.

Ask yourself, what would you do differently if you knew exactly where your customers were?

Geo-tagging - Now that the device knows where you are, it can add geo-tagging information to almost any data you collect. Shoot a photo at the Grand Canyon and upload it to Flickr and Flickr will pull the geo information and place the photo on the right place on the map. Send a message to Twitter and it could update your location to the nearest city name or even the exact location you're standing (creepy I know).

Proximity Awareness - Think about the possibilities of Facebook knowing where you are and where your friends are in real time. Facebook's iPhone app could alert you when any of your contacts are within 1/2 mile of your location. You could private message them to see if they can meet up or send them an SMS message.

For marketers, you could create an application (that people opt-in to by installing it) that allows them to receive promotions and offers whenever they are within a radius of a store. If Starbucks hasn't done this already I am not sure what they're waiting for. Users could adjust their radius or disable the messages at any time.

Mobile Commerce - This goes hand-in-hand with proximity awareness and is very powerful for marketers. The iPhone will allow easier commerce transactions to happen in a more trusted environment. From the application store to mobile song purchases, if you are serving up relevant, geo-targeted messages you can now follow that through purchase with micro transactions. This takes mobile messaging to a new level of effectiveness for marketing organizations.

Localized Search Relationships - Using search on the iPhone is effortless. Now, however, add in the location where the user is standing. Instead of searching for Chipotle and having to scan for the one near you, the phone will present you the closest location, give you the phone number and offer directions (which works like a car's GPS system with turn-by-turn options). Refer back to mobile commerce and apply that to search that is local and it's another way to drive business and conversions.

So, what do you think? More and more devices will surely follow suit. Are you ready for location? What value can you add to your customers that would help them adopt your product or service? What can you do before the competition to really set yourself apart?

If you're visiting this post on an iPhone check out my iPhone version (hat tip Chris Brogan).

Geo-location applications to keep an eye on:


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Related Posts:

UPDATE: Thanks to Jim Kukral's question I looked for car-based GPS info on the new iPhone and found the following video. Since this video veers away from the Apple device and into the actual AT&T service plan I want to have full disclosure in telling you that AT&T is a Fleishman-Hillard client.

Others bloggers are thinking the same thing I am:

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The future of social, mobile networks

verdino_phone.pngGreg Verdino is away on vacation, but he asked me to guest blog on a topic of my choosing while he was gone. On top of being honored to be included with other great bloggers, like Doug Meacham, Ryan Karpeles and Jonathan Baskin, I knew I had to push myself to keep up with Greg's high standards.

The post that I wrote is a press release from the future (2009 to be exact) where Facebook releases a mobile operating system. It's where I think that the mobile, social web could go to truly bring value to the users and leverage mobile technology.

So, if you get a chance, head on over to the post on Greg's blog and check it out. Would love to know what you think.

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Google is stalking me...I kinda like it

google_blinds.jpgI'm not a complete Google fanboy, but I do respect the company and what they do. I also happen to use a lot of their products. As news rolls in about the company's recent acquisitions (most notably YouTube and Doubleclick) I wanted to come up with a format to show you just how pervasive Google is becoming.

So come on. Take a trip with me through my day with Google.

545.jpg clock_small.jpg5:45am: Ugh. The day starts to my blaring clock radio. There is an ad running that Google has sold through ClearChannel.
615.jpg clock_small.jpg6:15am: I get up, take a shower and go to the home office to check my Gmail account.
645.jpg clock_small.jpg6:45am: Once the email is done I let the dogs outside and turn on the TV. There is a spot running placed by Google.
730.jpg clock_small.jpg7:30am: I start up the car and hear another ad placed by Google.
blog_outdoor.jpg clock_small.jpg7:45am: Driving to work I pass 5-10 ClearChannel billboards. Probably pretty likely Google will place ads on those as well.
800.jpg clock_small.jpg8:00am: I roll into work and sit down. Having stopped at Starbucks on the way in I open the paper to see what's happening in Cleveland. Again, more ads placed by Google here too.
830.jpg clock_small.jpg8:30am: I jump online, check Google News and my GMail acccount again.
900.jpg clock_small.jpg9:00am: I surf my favorite blogs, most of them have Google AdWords placed on them even in the feeds. I am reading those feeds with Google Reader.
945.jpg clock_small.jpg9:45am: I check my copy of AdAge and see a couple more ads placed by Google.
urinal.jpg clock_small.jpg10:00am: Finally! I am free's another Google SMS alert on my phone. No peace.
1010.jpg clock_small.jpg10:10am: I check the top clips on YouTube (Google owned). Hey, that's HeeHaw 1.1.
1030.jpg clock_small.jpg10:30am: I continue writing a client brief in Google Docs (formerly Writely).
1100.jpg clock_small.jpg11:00am: Head to the kitchen and see a couple of ads running on TV through the Dish Network which Google placed.
blog_carphone.jpg clock_small.jpg12:00pm: I'm heading to lunch now, but I can't find that new trendy sandwich shop. I ask Goog411 and get the address and phone number.
115a.jpg clock_small.jpg1:15pm: I am back at the office now and my phone vibrates again. I have new Gmail. I check it and respond from my phone.
130.jpg clock_small.jpg1:30pm: I am going to a meeting after work and I don't have the address yet. I turn to Google Maps and send the directions to my phone for easy access in the car.
230.jpg clock_small.jpg2:30pm: I take a break from work and veg out with an online racing game. Throughout the game are product placements and pre-rolls. Google places those too through AdScape. I wrecked and lost the game.
245.jpg clock_small.jpg2:45pm: I check my RSS feeds again through Google Reader. I go through about 150 feeds and post the best to my blog roll (it's embedded on the left column of my blog).
300.jpg clock_small.jpg3:00pm: I check on the stats for my blog over the past week using Google Analytics. Interesting to see where readers come from. Hello New Delhi!
315.jpg clock_small.jpg3:15pm: Just in surfing the web I come across 2 or 3 major sites that run Google for searching site content. MySpace is one of those.
445.jpg clock_small.jpg4:45pm: I see some display ads running on a couple of sites powered by DoubleClick's DART system. Google owns them now too. More on this development in a future post.
530.jpg clock_small.jpg5:30pm: One last check of my Gmail and I wrap up a blog post and head home.
600.jpg clock_small.jpg6:00pm: I get home, turn off the phone and sit on the couch with Copeland. Just then, the phone rings. Is that Google calling me? They certainly have my number.

As overwhelming as this may appear, I know I am missing things that Google offers. Leave me a comment with the other ways in which you are impacted by Google in your everyday life.

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The bleeding edge: QR codes

img.pngAlthough QR (quick response) codes have been around since the mid-90s in Japan (born from manufacturing), they have only recently come into the mainstream consumer's focus. Japanese mobile consumers are using these codes along with special software and their phone's camera to shortcut having to type information into a mobile browser. (The QR code to the right is the URL for this blog in QR symbology.)

These codes are creeping up online, in magazines and newspapers and even on TV to allow users to quickly jump to their website or share a host of other information. All a person has to do is point their phone at the code and it knows what to do, taking the user to the end destination. See for yourself and create one using this generator.

Realistically, the success rate of something like this in the US is going to be equally proportional to the number of US mobile subscribers who use mobile web. Right now that number is low (but growing). Without a support base of subscribers who find entering information into their phones difficult, this could go the way of the Cuecat.

Here is a video of it in action, you may not be able to read what it says, but you'll see how it works.

Competition is out there (see this post on Engadget) and although QR is an ISO standard, it is not a universally agreed upon convention. Interesting to note, there are also 3D versions of these codes which are capable of storing 1.8Mb of data. That could be a document, small music file or short video clip. Imagine the possibilities. Walk into a store, see a CD you like, scan the code and possibly listen to a clip of the track right there.

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Mobile marketing 101: The push


This is the first in a series of posts I am going to do regarding mobile marketing strategy and tactics. You can't surf through the web today without seeing some iteration of mobile marketing. Everyone from the Wall Street Journal to AdAge is covering the ways in which marketers are creating new, mobile customer engagement opportunities.

While I'm sure some of these campaigns are founded in keen strategic insight, and not by "me too" marketer-envy, there are some significant challenges to overcome. The mobile web is, compared to the web we access from our computers, in its infancy. We're talking about straight up 1996, buttonized, non-engaging user interfaces and one-size-fits-all content. The problems I see with the mobile web are about 5% in technology and 95% in a lack of understanding on the part of marketers. Go to most major sites on the web today and take a look on your phone. It's ugly, it's impersonal and 99% of the time it's the same site you see on your desktop but scrunched and battered into an almost incomprehensible form.

Does it take a lot of work to get your mobile initiatives up and running? The answer is yes. I won't lie. You have to change your thinking and apply different rules. You may even need to make up new rules. The format and architecture is new and can't be borrowed from someplace else.

Is it worth it to do this? Absolutely! If you go to a site that is made for mobile, you will see what I mean. The formatting is clean, the response is quick and the information you need is right there in front of you. You find yourself appreciative of the effort that company has taken to make sure your experience is a good one. Try going to on your device and let me know what you think.

We need to put things into perspective. Mobile marketing is new. Devices are improving all the time and standardization is slowly beginning to creep in. Acceptance of mobile marketing is also just starting to pick up. I posted late last week on a study that the Mobile Marketing Association published, which found that only 2% of all US phone users have engaged in any form of marketing on mobile devices.

Mobile marketing is a growth area for sure, but should not be treated the same as a website. It needs new thinking, new strategy and new tactics to make sure you're reaching the right people with the right message.

So, let's look at mobile push marketing. To re-iterate my previous post, only after a user confirms their opt-in to receive your message should you engage in any marketing campaign with them. Unrequested push marketing is spam and could lead to a major backlash and loss of subscribers. Mobile users should be treated like a delicate flower, show lots of love, and only give them content when they ask for it.

One practical example of push marketing that works is content alerting. You see this all the time with sports sites where users can sign up to receive score updates. The information is generated as it happens and each instance is not specifically requested by the user. These short messages are great ways to add value to an advertiser or promote an upcoming contest. This method works well with content that is followed closely and updated frequently. Best practices here would include batching information (sending scores at the end of the game or inning and not every time a point is scored).

Other examples of push marketing are using advertising on other related content sites, sending one-time surveys or picture messages (if opted in for), weather and other site content updates and sending instant coupons to users. The coupon idea will be discussed later this week and has some major hurdles to jump before it becomes a reality for users. The more customized and relevant the message the more value your customers will see.

So, do your customers use mobile technology? One way to determine some level of interest is to look at your current web site's stat reporting software (HitBox, WebTrends, etc.) and look in the browser info section to see if mobile devices are hitting your site. You may also want to run a short poll or survey to get more information on what customers would find useful. Some businesses may be tailoring something like this to an internal audience who all use one device. In this case more specific campaigns can be created and opting in could be automatic (i.e.; all sales people receive real-time quota info or pricing updates).

No matter what your industry this is something you could be participating in now with some planning and dedication to the medium. Next up I'll talk about creating mobile versions of existing websites. That's one example that every single marketer should be looking at to meet the status quo, but to do it right takes some new thinking.

Past Mobile Marketing 101 posts:

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Mobile marketing 101: Yes means no (until you say it twice)

yield.gifI am starting my series on mobile marketing today and one of the key points to lay out first is the idea of the confirmed opt-in. This has become the de-facto standard for gaining acceptance from a consumer before reaching them on their mobile device.

What does this mean you ask? Normally, say for an email newsletter, you complete a form, click a checkbox that says you want to be contacted and viola. You receive an email with a link to confirm your intentions to join the list.

The same is true for mobile campaigns. It's actually more important in mobile due to the fact that it may cost the user money (text message fees, airtime, etc.) and the juvenescence of this form of marketing in the eyes of the consumer. (Some mobile campaign creators will actually triple confirm their users. This is a little excessive, but possible.) This confirmation can happen through a website, text message, email, phone call or through snail mail (*gasp*), but it needs to happen.

So this is the first standard that any marketer should follow for any mobile campaign. This is a new touch point for your brand. Consumers are very protective of their mobile space and will defend it against unsolicited marketing more than any other medium. If done right this can be a nice asset in your toolbox. If done wrong it can be a PR nightmare.

The MMA has a code of conduct document you should check out before doing anything else.

Past Mobile Marketing 101 posts:

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Mobile marketing 101

There are a lot of different ways marketers are using, or are thinking of using mobile technologies to reach consumers. Over the next couple of days I am going to show you what tactics are currently in use, their goals and challenges and see what the future may hold.

The mobile marketing space is REALLY the wild west right now with a lack of regulations and standards. Smart marketers should use the tactics that reach their target most effectively (yes this sounds like common sense, but many companies are recommending solutions which do not work for this very reason).

Tomorrow I'll start with push marketing technologies. If there are any topics you would like me to cover please let me know in the comments for this post.


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Mobile marketing acceptance

Laura Marriott, Executive Director of the Mobile Marketing Association and ClickZ contributor, has a nice article on the growing consumer interest in mobile marketing. Some of their findings:

  • 48% increase in phone usage
  • 69% use text messaging, 44% use it daily
  • 16% have use TV voting
  • 25-34 year olds were most familiar with Common Short Codes
  • There was a 4% decrease in interest for marketing on phones
  • Youth are most receptive
  • Only 2% have engaged in any form of mobile marketing
  • Highest interest is in alerts, downloads and coupons (push on demand)

So, while marketers are going more and more to the mobile space, the reality is that it's a strategy in transition. Marketers who can find ways to engage customers on their devices which they are accepting of will take the lead. Marketers going to the pre-college market could make inroads for mainstream acceptance.

In the next week I will be posting a series of articles outlining what is happening in mobile and how marketers can make sure they're ready when their customers are. Stay tuned.

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Google extending browser to mobile

personalized_home.gifI'd posted earlier this month about a feature on where the user can have listing information sent directly to their mobile device. I saw this article on LifeHacker (a great site with lots of great time savers) about Google's click-to-call feature.

Basically, Google Maps is allowing users surfing the web to call a business based on the listing information and connect it to the user's mobile device (or any phone really). So let's say you're looking for a dry cleaner. You go on Google Maps and search based on where you are. Once the filtered listings come back you find the one closest to you and there is a link to call. Google then asks for your phone number and calls you, then connects to the business. Viola. You're talking.

Businesses who can extend their services to take advantage of mobile technology will be more ready to take advantage of the true mobile web. These basic steps are necessary to build confidence and show the true power of portable, relevant, time saving technology.

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