February 26, 2011

Retail: Customer Loyalty

  • rewarding customer for check-ins with special offers random awards
  • recognize value customers and alert store staff
  • recognize customer’s likes and dislikes 
  • strictly adhere to clients privacy settings

February 25, 2011

Mobile in Retail: Virtual Shopping Assistants

shirt size from order history
matching items and related products
QR and bar-code scanner with product info, 3r party reviews, user comments, ratings
store map and item finder
example of iRobot iPad assistant
Check-in
  • Foursquare and Facebook Places are not helping to “own” customer relationship, the retailer should strive to develop and maintain that relationship
  • check-in can help to reward customer loyalty

February 23, 2011

Advertisement placement and customer perception

There are several common ways to place advertisements:
  • splash screens
  • banner ads (AdMob)
  • product and service screens (About Us screen)
  • ad incorporated in the views (ads in games)
All of these types of adds are acceptable if designed well, with exception for banner ads that can drastically lower the perception of quality of your application.


February 22, 2011

Monetizing your application

  1. free app with ads
  2. free app; make money on additional services
  3. free app with in-app purchases
  4. free limited offer; paid full version
  5. fully priced version

The first way to make money is to offer your application for free with advertisements. You should not consider this option, especially using services like AdMob, if you are not having millions of session. If you want to try advertisements, there are several options to choose from: 

  • up to 3 full screen splash screens
  • targeted advertisements sold at premium 
  • generic AdMob style ads  

Another good approach is to provide free application and make money from additional services, which is not that different from the previous approach, except that you are advertising yourself. This option is particularly attractive for a consulting businesses, or physical goods sales organizations. The way to achieve this is by advertising your service, or product in the application, and having a clear offering in the “About Us” page. This approach is not recommended for application-as-a-product company — if you are selling your applications as a product you should charge money according to the market demand.

One of the most successful way to make money is to provide a good, free application with in-app purchases. This option is popular with games where you can purchase currency, weapons, etc., it could also be applied to digital publishing where reader purchases the full version after the content preview. Some authors sell books per chapter in this way.

The least recommended approach is to offer the limited version for free and a fully priced version. Very often basic functionality, or limited time functionality application is released separately from the fully featured, paid version. This approach has a very low conversion-to-paid ratio as it requires the user to go thru extra steps of buying and downloading of an extra application.

Finally when there is a strong market demand for your application you should not hesitate to release fully priced version. This option is attractive if you as a publisher already have the brand recognition and/or the value of the product is obvious and in demand. There are various schools of thought regarding the pricing: you can go for maximum market share at a low price, or get the similar profit at higher price with a limited number of buyers. Some companies prefer the second option as the amount of customer service required is lower and customers who pay more are generally more satisfied with the product than customers who receive it at a deep discount, or for free. The prestige of the company with higher price could also be elevated, but it should be a case-by-case decision with a consideration for competition offerings , market maturity and other relevant factors.


February 21, 2011

New Users

New users metrics show you how effective your marketing is, to increase this number you could:

  • rename the application 
  • write a good marketing description
  • improve the promotional images
  • have your friends to write favorable reviews 
  • have friends post 5-star ratings
  • promote via Facebook and Twitter
  • improve viral marketability of the app

February 20, 2011

Active Users

A growing number of active users shows you that people who downloaded the application keep on using it. If  downloads are much larger than active users, even if the last grow, you may still have a retention problem.

February 19, 2011

Sessions

This is one of the most important metrics, the growth in the graph over time shows that users keep on using the application. Related to this is the “Session length” which is specific to your application. If your application is a game, you would expect very long sessions, if it is a quick reference app you would expect short, but hopefully frequent sessions.

February 18, 2011

Testing Tools

The exhaustive list of QA tools can be found here: http://www.softwareqatest.com

February 17, 2011

Load Testing

Mobile Web sites should be tested in the similar way as regular sites for HTML, CSS, JavaScript and graphical assets in addition to how much load they have on the database, or content management system (CMS). 
Mobile applications may have minimal footprint on the server if most of the user interaction and processing happens in the app, or might have footprint comparable to the mobile Websites. The advantage of course is that no user interface elements are being send from the server, unless the HTML is being generated and "plugged in" as it was in the early versions of GMail which had vertical list of web browser elements. 

February 16, 2011

Amount and Cost of Testing

It is normal for any software development project to account for about 20% of total development time for testing. With multitude of different devices this cost should increase to at least 30% to 40% of the total cost, especially if the development team is responsible to assure that the application works on more that most common platforms. 

February 15, 2011

Mobile Testing Multitude of Devices, Screens Sizes and Orientations

The good news is that if you follow the best practices in graphical design your application will scale nicely for most of the device versions. The bad news is that you will need to purchase several devices. At this time I would recommend at least an iPad2 since it can run iPhone apps. For Android, I would recommend at least one device with 800x480 pixels screen, but also 1024x600 and 1200x800 tablets. Please read a section on screen resolutions about details.
The most obvious solution for most remaining, missing devices in your personal arsenal are emulators, that is of course if you are not a game developer, or otherwise using acceleration-meter.

February 14, 2011

Search vs. Traversing Hierarchies vs. Browsing

When users have time they like to browse relevant content, especially when doing so on the big-screen devices. If you can, try to distinguish the gender of your user as the search patterns differ. 
When users try to buy something but they don't know the exact name they might select from the general category, but they might not have patience to traverse several levels.
When users they know what they want they might search for it, but they will type the keyword only once, especially when doing so on the virtual keyboard.
The summary of the behavior is as follows: have the search field right on top of the home screen, it could be only an icon that when clicked opens into an input field, remember that Android phones already have the search button, however tablets might not. In addition to search offer selector menu to filter the results. Once they use either one, or both you should start showing relevant results and let them browse. You could detect if they are pleased with the results and chance the suggestions accordingly. A simple hot, or not ("thumbs up or down") functionality would do the job.
Displaying relevant content and other related products on the bottom so user can keep on going without searching again is usually a good solution.
Finally, remembering user previous searches is very important, especially ability to change slightly the spelling of the previous search.

February 12, 2011

Search within the application

The search completion as the user types the keywords is relatively easy to implement and Google Suggest has API for auto-completion. 
If you are working on the finite set of keywords, such as categories or lists of products I would suggest to load it once on-install to the mobile SQLite database and update the changes periodically to achieve ultra-fast experience without the network lag.

February 11, 2011

Searching for Native Applications

The most common way to find the app is to search for it on the app market, for that the following have to be optimized:

  • the name of the application must describe the app perfectly
  • the descriptions must use any keywords user might search for
  • the images and screenshots have to attractive
  • the category and age group has to be appropriate
  • use multiple languages if you are offering it internationally
  • do not use unnecessary permissions



February 10, 2011

Search by Gender and family

It is often overlooked that women shop more often for other people, as much as for themselves, therefore the search might reflect suggestions and inspirations beyond just single person algorithm, more on that in "Mobile in Retail" section.
Similar issue arises when a single login account is used for whole family as in case of movie renting services; based on the pervious choices the suggestion for a father might be whole bunch of children cartoons that lower relevancy of the whole search.
Finally, most of the men shop with clearly defined purpose. The have read the product reviews and they just want to buy it - in that case having them go thru multiple menu levels can be a painful experience.
The Search engine optimization should be done on the full Website from which user is redirected to the Mobile Web. The full site can be organized for SEO much better and contain many more relevant keywords.

February 9, 2011

Marketing to big organizations

When marketing to a big organizations you should contact as many people as possible, most of the time they have many departments that sometimes compete, lack internal communication and are ridden by awful politics. If they ever happen talk about your offering in a meeting they better be already prepared and familiar.  - "Have you heard about CyberWalkAbout proposal?" - “Yes, they made Chicago 2011 Auto Show app, we should give them a call!”, instead of, "No, I'll check it later" which almost always means “never“. As always, if you send to multiple people a little personalization and human touch goes a long way.

February 7, 2011

Marketing of you applications


  • what's wasteful marketing
  • know when to quit
  • social network marketing
Marketing is not cheap, it takes management effort, design, advertising and marketing employee time. When you approach a new campaign idea, whether it is a mobile app that promotes your business, banner ads, blog post, or social media posts, you should always think about the following:

  • time wasting: cost of your efforts vs. return on investments (ROI)
  • work flow for new clients contacting you resulting in new business
  • search engines: becoming a new trend
  • URL shortening: services such as bit.ly, goo.gl that follow the trends


It could be a mistake for a company whose name is not widely recognized to make a cool advertisement and “forget” to emphasize the company name, or don’t make it easy to follow up. Companies like Nike, Coca-Cola, etc. are exception.



February 6, 2011

Promotion, Promotion, Promotion

  take a road less traveled - don’t compete
  re-post experts 
  blog about good articles
  ask smart questions
  ask for comments
  show up - even if virtually

In addition to outlined best practices when composing the post keep in mind the following: Promote yourself among the people you don’t compete with. I have seen very successful food vendors promoting themselves among business and technology crowd. You have to “speak their language” but you should not let them think you compete with them. If you find the right market they will be happy to promote you.
It is a good practice to re-post experts’ posts with short value-add comment. There are plenty of people who will just repost the tweet. I like to use tools like TweetDeck that allows me to edit the tweet before re-posting. I like to add couple of words to enhance what was said before. If my readers see my and other peoples’ re-tweets, I want them to choose mine to quote.
As you read an interesting articles on the subject pertaining to your business, it is a good practice to post a short comment, add your thoughts, complete and enhance on your own business blog and ask for readers comments along with reference to original article. Smart questions, especially these not answered in the article work like magic. 
Thanks to the fact that we practically live in the virtual world you can participate in events from around the world. You should follow all major events around the world that pertain to your business:
anticipate the event with excitement, help organizers promote it
do some research on speakers, promote them
avoid promoting competition, but be curious
during the event follow the participants
re-tweet smart comments and little “gems” of information
add value by providing opinions pertaining to the subject
add bio info about speakers as they speak, people love it
follow up with people and send thank you for the event
#FollowFriday the best contributor
Tracking URLs
  keep track of URL clicks via bit.ly

Finally, remember that URL shortening services like bit.ly keep track of the popular topics, so you should try to make links to your website a destination.

February 5, 2011

What is #FollowFriday or #ff hashtag?

At the end of each week, on Friday, it is customary and a nice gesture to promote people that made the difference in community during that week, and to let your followers know who you think is worth following.

February 4, 2011

Who should I follow on Twitter?

It is tempting at first to follow anyone you come across, but that strategy can quickly backfire. I would recommend  following only people who are worth following, these don’t have to be people you know personally, but they should meet the following criteria:
when looking back on their posts, make sure they are of quality and content you would like to read in the future
they are respectable individuals, you don’t want to follow sleazy sales, haters, vulgar, or otherwise obnoxious people
follow trend-setters in your area of interest, you want to be the first informed person who “finds” and re-tweet some groundbreaking news
key people to whom our post may provide value
if you are attending a conference follow all participants, you never know who you are going to meet, a week after the conference you can do some cleaning up

February 3, 2011

Monetary value of Microblogging

Eventbrite.com estimated that posts on social networks sites bring in the real monetary value, on average:
Twitter post brings in $0.80
Facebook like brings in $1.34

February 2, 2011

Should I use automated posting services?

I usually don’t advise in using programs to post automatically unless the content changes and updates to provide value. I have a habit of looking at person previous posts and if I see mindless repetition, then I know it are a “fake” and ignore it, if I see valuable posts I follow them.
Recently, I got a Twitter mention from a service that picked up on the post about Tower Records, they send me a map URL of nearest Tower Record store on their site. Needless to say it was a total miss. 

February 1, 2011

How Can I Build Online Legitimacy?

Building legitimacy is one of the most difficult tasks in mass media, you know that you have achieved when:

  • people follow you without you following them
  • people quote you frequently (re-tweet)

Here are some common-sense techniques to gain legitimacy:

  • research the topic you are posting on, there is nothing more frustrating than ignorant comments, you can be wrong, but your opinion should be based on solid research
  • post tips on the subject you are knowledgeable about
  • quote smart people - recognizing other’s expertise is a good sign that you have some level of understanding
  • be careful not to follow stupid trends and people just because everyone else is following them
  • create videos that add value to your viewers’ lives 
  • create podcast, 30 minute weekly is a good formula
  • be consistent about quality of your posts, but adjust your opinions based on new information
  • participate in events and workshops, help organize, speak at, book signing

Should I create multiple accounts per social network?

I prefer to post from a single account and use #hashtags to indicate the purpose of my posts. Using single account forces you to maintain certain level of integrity that followers will expect from you. In my opinion there is no problem with tweeting from single account, people understand you may have many interests and are often interested in different aspects of your life. There are few things you should remember:

  • don’t spam your readers with multiple similar messages
  • keep the tone of your posts consistent, don’t swing from deep thoughtful discussions to embarrassingly silly comments
  • respect your readers time, if they get annoyed with you, they may not want to read you again 
  • If you think you can be more effective with multiple accounts then go for it. Tools like TweetDeck allow you to manage and post from multiple accounts without switching screens and log ins.

Uki's Google Java Technology blog