Drop your mobile marketing strategy by Gavin Lau


“You do not need a mobile marketing strategy for your company or a brand,” said TBWA’s head of digital Tuomas Peltoniemi, during the last session of Mobile Interactive 2014 organised byMarketing Magazine. Why?

“Because mobile is not just another addition to your marketing strategy. It needs to be much more than that. Mobile should be at the heart of every aspect of your marketing strategy. It is not just a device for brand building for businesses,” Peltoniemi (pictured) explained.

In a recent finding by Google Singapore, it was reported that 96% of consumers search local information on their mobile. Meanwhile 87% of the respondents claimed to research products via their smartphones and 44% claim to have made purchase.

No doubt, mobile is here to stay. Yet with the proliferation of platforms, it can often be overwhelming for marketers to see mobile as another medium to be understood and conquered.

Hence marketers need to see mobile as a mean to amplify the potential of their existing mediums, explained Peltoniemi.

Here’s how mobile can be integrated into the heart of any marketing strategy.

Email marketing

Have you considered how mobile impacts email campaigns? Probably not.

According to Litmus Research Email Analytics and Jacobs & Clevenger, today 49% e-mails are opened on mobile devices but 90% of e-mail newsletter or campaigns sent out today do not consider mobile. This results in nearly 80% of users deleting their e-mail that don’t fit the screen.

Yet if marketers could make tweaks to mobile optimise these e-mail campaigns, conversion rates likely to jump by 10% to 20%, explained Peltoniemi.

“Once a brand starts considering mobile not only does it optimise conversion rates but it is also tapping into something most marketers aren’t. Mobile needs to be a key part of any e–mail activity that you do,” Peltoniemi added.

Search marketing

According to Google, by December this year, mobile search on Google will most likely surpass PC search. Mobile search is also now a key decision tool with 45% of mobile search done by a consumer being goal oriented. At the same time 73% mobile search triggers additional action right away and a conversation.

However marketers need to be mindful that in a study done by The Google Mobile Playbook 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business that has a poor mobile experience. Ease of use and convenience on the search page would however draw back a consumer to head down to a brand’s website.

Website User Experience

Be it search, social media, or banner ads – at the end of the day there are a lot of trigger points marketers place to drive people to their brand websites. Here’s where user experience and responsive web design comes into play.

Responsive web design is vital and a must today. A business’s web design needs to be optimised for all devices be it mobile, PC or a tablet.

It is also important to note that today 41% of users see mobile as their primary or exclusive means of going online.

Social media marketing

Social networking is all about mobile. According to a study by Adobe late last year, 71% of people access social media through their phones. According to Facebook, 52% of content sharing is now also done through mobile and not desktop. It is thus vital how marketers customise content to fit into mobile on social media.

“When marketers run social media ads they need to be mindful that the ads are actually competing against real people’s lives. A brand’s paid massaging needs to be really relevant to people’s lives and you need to produce content that will resonate with them,” Peltoniemi added.

Barriers to mobile marketing

On the topic of optimising mobile advertising, Ashwin Malshe, assistant professor marketing at ESSEC Business School added that while Mobile and Web advertising have reinforcing effects on each other, there are three big barriers to mobile.These include:

  • Consumer behavior:

Consumers are largely inconsistent and marketers are still trying to work out a balance in how much information they can or should collect without coming off creepy, explained Malshe. He added that most consumers are still highly offended when they come across an ad which is disrupting their day. To date,  only 7% of people are willing to see an add.

  • Economic challenges:

Companies today are still struggling to figure out ROI measurement and which mediums to attribute a sale to. Proving ROI is not only a moving target in marketing, but also a major burden due to the time required to accurately report results. Globally, 75% of marketers face a problem when trying to calculate ROI and a common issue is connecting marketing activities to specific earnings generated.

These are the findings of a study by Teradata’s Data-Driven Marketing Survey 2013.

  •  Technology:

With so much data being around, 80% of the time large corporations are spending time sieving though the data. Only 20% of the time do marketers actually get to utilize the data and use it to target their audience. Meanwhile existing trust issues by consumers and internal coordination in a company are also needed to overcome the tech barrier present.

Digital consumers raise new expectations by Gavin Lau


The consumer retail experience is being disrupted thanks to the growth of technology and social media. These have changed the way consumers look for product information, find reviews, and shop for their clothes, gadgets, amenities, and food, all from their phone, tablet, or laptop. It is the omnichannel era, and the consumer is driving changes across the entire retail industry. Join retail leaders at  Omnichannel 2014 to learn how to better connect with the new consumer from the retailers and suppliers who are successfully doing it today.

We can point to three distinctive disruptions that are all having a major impact on how retailers and suppliers can and should connect with their customers.

1. Shoppers expect the same experience with your brand

When shoppers walk into The Gap or Best Buy, they want to see the same brand, look, and colors on and as well as on mobile sites or apps. Consumers expect a more detailed level of product information on the website than they find in the store.

This means retailers and consumers need to focus on providing as much product information as possible. They need to make content marketing efforts more about being helpful than touting specs and features. And they need to make sure they’re listening to customer feedback and testimonials and responding whenever possible.

2. Social media makes sharing of experiences easy

Thanks to smartphones and social media, everyone’s a critic, journalist, and publisher. If you go into a restaurant and have a good or bad experience with the staff or food, you can take a photo and share it and a review with your friends on Twitter and Facebook.

Nowadays, people are sharing their experiences, good or bad, about restaurants, stores, products, websites, and even government agencies and highway traffic. Many of their friends will then help spread the word by sharing those messages. So if something bad happens at your store or with your product, you’d better count on it appearing on social media.

The moral is: Customer service and quality need to be top-notch. That may only earn you a few kudos on social media, but a failure to provide those will absolutely be called out and magnified.

3. Shoppers can use mobile devices to check availability and pricing

Apps like Barcode Scanner, RedLaser, and Shop Savvy enable people to use their smartphone to scan a product barcodes, QR codes, or other systems to check the price and local availability of a particular product. Bookstore visitors can even use Amazon’s smartphone app to scan a book and order it via the website (with free shipping for those with Amazon Prime). This practice is known as “showrooming,” and some stores are embracing it while others fear it.

Some stores are using proprietary barcodes that standard devices can’t scan. As a result, many retailers are missing out on further opportunities to use this functionality as a way to improve shoppers’ experience, to give them something they can’t get at their competitors.

Stores like Burberry and Sephora are providing upscale and personalized shopping experiences. Lowe’s holds educational sessions both for adults and kids. They’re providing a valuable service or experience the other stores can’t. As a result, they don’t worry about showrooming.

New technology has changed shoppers’ expectations for the things they buy. Retailers who want to survive these disruptions need to embrace and use this new technology, rather than run from it and wait for it to go away. It’s not going anywhere, and it’s only going to get bigger.



by Gavin Lau


RobinHood is about to let anyone buy and sell stocks for free instead of having to pay E*Trade or Scottrade $7 per transaction. Today RobinHood begins inviting the 160,000 people who’ve signed up to download its glossy new app where you can efficiently track and trade stocks. “It’s by far the most beautiful brokerage app, though that’s not saying much” co-founder Vlad Tenev jokes. But while RobinHood makes Wall Street look stylish in your pocket, what’s special is what it does, and does for free. That’s letting you trade stocks with zero commission. You might assume it would cost RobinHood money to execute trades, but in fact it can make money by moving yours around. We’ve just been conditioned to assume its something you have to pay for after decades of investors handing Scottrade, E*Trade and other brokerages $7 to $10 for each buy or sell.


Those who want their trading for free can sign up for RobinHood and expect an invitation email over the next few weeks to months. Since you’re trusting it with your savings, RobinHood wants to onboard people with extreme care rather than as fast as possible. But soon it expects to be holding hundreds of millions of dollars for its users so they can make instant trades from their phones.

RobinHood gave TechCrunch the first look at its new app, and its investor Google Ventures‘ attention to design is readily apparent. The whole app is themed white or black depending on if the stock market is open or closed. Meanwhile, the app’s chrome goes green or red depending on if the currently viewed stock is up or down that day. This trick tells you at a glance whether you can officially trade or not and how well you’re are doing.


Most finance apps only let you monitor stocks like Yahoo Finance or the first version of RobinHood, or charge you to trade them like those from the big retail brokerages. RobinHood co-founder Baiju Bhatt stresses that if you want to do deep financial research, you probably want to sit down at a desktop. But if you want to check your stocks whenever you have free moment and make some trades when the courage strikes you or whenever something shocks the market, RobinHood lets you do it in a few swipes. [Disclosure: I was friends with Vlad and Baiju in college.]

You can set alerts in case your stocks move a certain percentage, or place limit orders that are executed if the price hits a certain point. When you’re ready to make a live trade, just select how many shares of a stock you want to buy or sell. RobinHood previews how much that will cost or earn you, and you swipe to confirm the trade (which triggers some delightful animations and buzzes). And because security may be the biggest threat to RobinHood, it even lets you set up a special pin code that’s required to open the app.


RobinHood says it will never charge for trading. Right now, it’s supported by over $3 million in funding from Google Ventures, Index Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Rothenberg Ventures and some angels. But it plans to quickly become self-sustained by charging other developers for API access, letting users trade on margin (money they’re owed but don’t own yet) for a fee, and through payment for order flow where stock exchanges pay the startup to bring its trading volume to their marketplaces.

For now, though, RobinHood could democratize stock trading. If you were a fat cat trading in the hundreds of thousands or millions, those little $10 fees didn’t mean much. But if you’re not rich and still want to invest, those commissions could add up to eat away at what you earn through smart trading. By replacing brick-and-mortar store fronts and legions of salespeople with an app and a lean engineering team, RobinHood can pass the savings on to its users.



Mobile payments are finally everywhere you want to be... by Gavin Lau

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 1.03.24 AM

NFC was supposed to be the future.

My next phone was going to include the technology, which would let me pay at any cash register by waving my phone instead of swiping my credit card. NFC would also let me touch phones with a friend to share a picture, tap my phone to a speaker to play music, and even unlock my phone with a ring or clip. NFC would someday even replace bar codes,according to Osama Bedier, the one-time head of Google Wallet and unofficial torchbearer of the NFC movement. Google’s contactless payments system was bound to take over the world. Until Google gave up on it.

Carriers blocked the company from deploying Wallet on phones, and retailers outside Mountain View didn’t feel much urgency to upgrade their cash registers with NFC capability. Eventually, Google transformed Wallet into a straightforward PayPal competitor. The best hopes for NFC payment adoption in the US lie with several programs created by carriers (Isis) and credit card companies (MasterCard MasterPass), which only work with a few banks and at select retailers. An NFC payments solution — in the US, at least — is effectively stuck in a stalemate. But a new startup called Loop thinks it has the answer: a wireless payments technology that does what NFC promised to do, all without forcing carriers or retailers to change anything.

Loop comes in two flavors, for now: a $39 key fob and a $99 Mophie-esque ChargeCase. Both devices hold virtual versions of your credit and debit cards, and work at over 90 percent of the country’s credit card machines without retailers having to change anything, according to Loop. The Fob and ChargeCase work only with the iPhone, for now, but they will be compatible with Android in April. In 2015, Loop expects its technology to be built into a variety of phones from its OEM partners.

It’s the NFC dream all over again, except this time it might actually come true.

Magnetic attraction

Loop co-founder George Wallner founded Hypercom in the late ‘70s. You probably haven’t heard of it, but Hypercom built the technology behind many of the credit card readers still used in grocery stores, coffee shops, and other retailers today. After making his millions and eventually selling to Verifone, the biggest player in the space, Wallner retired to his yacht. "I was not paying much attention to the payments industry," he says, at least until about a year and a half ago. A friend mentioned that NFC was being pushed as a new medium to transmit credit card information.


"I was surprised that NFC, which is a good technology, was being used in such a simple way," Wallner says. "The best way to do it is to work with the equipment [retailers] have today — not just something in between." Wallner, an engineer by trade, prototyped a new technology that would transmit magnetic-stripe credit card data, but do it wirelessly. It would effectively have the same impact and feature set as NFC payments, but would work at over 90 percent of credit card machines in the US. Wallner was about to come out of retirement.

He founded Loop with Will Graylin, an entrepreneur whosold a mobile payments company of his own to Verifone, and Damien Balsan, the former head of NFC business development at Nokia. Loop’s first products are the Loop Fob and the Loop ChargeCase. The Fob is essentially a Square-esque credit card reader, and the ChargeCase is a battery pack / case combination with small credit card reader dongle. The Fob connects to your phone via headphone jack, while the ChargeCase connects via Bluetooth. Both devices interface with the PIN-protectedLoopWallet app, which lets you scan in your cards; Loop stores your card data in an encrypted form on your phone, and inside a secure element on the Fob and ChargeCase.

You’ll need to be within a few inches of the actual reader head inside a credit card terminal for it to work, but Loop’s range is good enough that you don’t need to hit it on the nose. From there, pressing a button on the side transmits the magnetic signal for your most recently used card just as if you’d swiped it. If you’re using the ChargeCase, you can tap a card’s icon inside the LoopWallet app to transmit its signal. I tried both the Fob and ChargeCase at coffee shops, taxis, restaurants, and grocery stores, and every time, cashiers were skeptical and wanted to call their manager. Only when I was persistent ("Look, just press the button, trust me") would they do so. And to their surprise, Loop almost always worked on the first try.


The point of sale

I’m happy with Loop’s reliability, but less so with its initial product designs. The Loop Fob is a bit chunky, and only holds one card at a time. (Coin solved this problem with an onboard screen and card-switching button, but it remains to be seen how well it actually works in practice.) I ended up carrying around both the Fob and my wallet just in case, which defeats the purpose of the Fob. Perhaps if it were much smaller, like a Mobil Speedpass, I’d bring it with me everywhere.


The Loop ChargeCase is a more logical form factor that provides both backup power and payment capabilities. The ChargeCase is essentially a cheaper-feeling Mophie: it can be activated either with a quick button press on its side, or using the Loop Wallet app. Inside the app, you can flip through all the cards you’ve scanned in, then tap one to transmit its magnetic signal to a credit card reader. Tapping on my phone to pay for something feels truly futuristic, like the Google Wallet promotional videos of yore. This was the promise of Google Wallet, but it’s Loop that delivers. And Loop says it’s already working on a new version of the ChargeCase with a removable Loop card you can hand to waiters and bartenders.

Loop worked at most credit card machines I tried aside from subway-ticketing machines, gas pumps, and ATMs that require you to fully stick in a card for a scan to take place. Loop has hacked its own way to working at these kinds of terminals — it involves sticking another card into the reader slot, and then pressing a Loop device against it — but it’s not worth the trouble. Loop also didn’t work at Duane Reade, a popular chain of drugstores in New York, but Loop says this is only because Duane Reade hasn’t upgraded the software in its credit card readers. At Walgreen’s and Staples, the credit card readers accepted debit card transmissions via Loop, but not credit card transmissions. They require a software upgrade too, it seems. But despite the hiccups, Loop worked in far more places than any mobile payments app or hardware I’ve ever tried. The company solved a big piece of the payments puzzle — but in doing so, revealed another enormous obstacle blocking the path of any mobile payments startup.


In your pocket

Loop’s biggest problem is that it’s a waste of time. It feels magical to use, but isn’t worth the additional 10 or 15 seconds it takes to explain to each and every cashier. At a bar or restaurant, handing over my phone or Fob while yelling instructions over the chatter of other patrons was both awkward and impractical. And even if a friendly cashier doesn’t ask any questions before trying out Loop, they almost always ask questions afterwards. I felt like I was not only wasting my time, but the time of the people in line behind me, like the main character in that one VISA commercial.

Hardware ubiquity, as it turns out, is only half of NFC’s problem. The other half is that it requires cashiers to trust you aren’t trying to hack them by touching your gadget to their credit card reader. Even if Loop works at every register, it doesn’t compute for every cashier. Acceptance may come in time as more cashiers learn about Loop, but I have a feeling that true ubiquity would only come from corporate executives formally deploying new systems asStarbucks and Whole Foods have done with Square readers. Or perhaps even from Isis.


Loop and others say they add value by offering retailers digital rewards and custom payment app experiences, but these perks are separate pieces of the payments puzzle that should come once mobile wallets are ubiquitous. Loop also offers the ability to take pictures of your ID and loyalty cards for storage inside the Loop Wallet app, but until I start sprouting gray hairs, no bouncer is going to accept a photo of a photo ID. So I’m stuck with two or three cards in my wallet, which is really no less convenient than carrying five or six cards.

Wallner does say that Loop’s hardware is more secure than a credit card since it can’t be skimmed, providing one more reason to use it. I haven’t been able to personally verify the truthfulness of this statement, but in a world where credit card companies are liable for all fraudulent purchases, Loop’s security isn’t a killer feature.