Archive for October, 2016


Retailers Should Focus on the Fairytale

As readers of this blog will know, the mobile marketing space is awash with all manner of very convincing facts and stats. Even for today’s blog post, I must say it was tempting to pepper this text with the latest number-based pearls of wisdom from the world’s mobile thought leaders. In the end I decided to search for what I call “summary stats” – simply, one or two nuggets of reliable information that serve as the cherry on the top of the mobile marketing argument. So here are the stats that really should drive home the argument that brands really do need to not only include mobile in the mix, but need to start planning for the imminent day when the mix takes its lead from mobile. Earlier this year, smartphones accounted for nearly half of all traffic to e-commerce sites, according to In addition, conversion rates on mobile increased by almost one third last year. With strong stats like these, you would think that retailers would be prioritizing mobile strategies as consumers incorporate mobile devices into their shopping ecosystem. Sadly, while more is indeed being done, potential customers continually feel frustrated by lacklustre mobile web experiences. Even though many consumers use mobile devices due to convenience and access, many of them don’t actually enjoy making mobile purchases. Unfortunate facts like these have the potential to turn what should be a mobile fairytale into a horror story. Today’s last word on retail and mobile belongs to MarketingLand: “While the rise of e-commerce itself has forced retailers to conduct their business in fundamentally different ways, the explosive increase in ownership and usage of mobile devices presents entirely new challenges and opportunities for e-commerce-focused businesses.” Ain’t that the truth!

Vodacom’s ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT Deals the Best Value Digital Entertainment

Have you ever thought about what it costs to entertain a human being these days? A pet can be entertained with such virtually free bits and bobs as a pinecone, a stick or even a piece of string! But a person – in 2016 – well, that’s another ballgame entirely. The cash price of a movie these days is about R26 to R71, depending on a whole host of factors that now make buying a movie ticket a researchable operation. Of course, who sits with still hands in a 90 minute movie so you either need to be a 16 year old on a first date or add the cost of popcorn. What else can we do for 90 minutes entertainment? You could go for a walk. That’s free. Or it used to be until the logos on your shoes added another several hundred Rand to the experience. Settling in with a good book is virtually free, unless you buy it new from one of our notoriously overpriced bookstores and read it in a day or two. What becomes clear from the above is that formerly free, traditional, entertainment is no longer free by any stretch of the imagination – that’s if you want to do these activities properly. You can indeed murder your feet with R22 flip flops, you can read a R10 second hand book, but really… What’s also becoming very clear is that mobile technology is stepping in to fill the entertainment void and it’s doing so at an extremely reasonable cost. You would expect state-of-the-art technology to cost a fortune but it’s looking like the opposite is true. Ancient satellite TV, for example, is about to hit the R1 000 mark for a decent selection of channels. On the other hand, if you have access to free Wi-Fi (I’m using it right now!), all-you-can-eat moves and series will cost you a paltry R99 a month on Showmax. That’s an insanely good deal. Compare this to another all-you-can-eat entertainment deal – Vodacom’s new all-you-can-eat gaming service costs a mere R1 a day, with the first day free! It’s also free to browse so you can even spend hours racking up zero costs just enjoying digital window shopping as you check out all the latest titles from the world’s most popular publishers on your phone. Another service that free to browse is Vodacom’s music offering of a whopping three million titles! The cost of this is well under what you’d pay overseas for a similar service – from just R5 per day. With all of this entertainment on offer at very reasonable prices, local mobile users in search of quality digital entertainment should feel very pleased they aren’t paying USD 10.50 for a movie in New York.
Technology in the hands of businessmen

Commercial SMS Is Welcomed This Millennium

SMS isn’t dead, it’s just gone for a commercial break. That’s the thought I was left with recently after an enlightening discussion with a group of what we all now seem to be calling “Millennials”. No, Vampire Diaries has not made the transition to real life with one thousand year-old mobile consumers, we’re talking about those of us born on the cusp of the new millennium. “Don’t SMS me, email or WhatsApp me,” is what one of the new breed said to me last week. That I was expecting. What I wasn’t expecting is to hear that text messages are indeed welcome, but not from their friends, relatives and so on. In fact, not from any actual human being. Text messaging, said the Millennial, is strictly reserved for commercial communication. And it’s welcome. Excuse me? I’d progressed through the digital age believing that one’s cellphone and it’s SMS inbox was sacrosanct. Not so. No one is willing to pay to send text messages anymore, however, that doesn’t mean that the young ones aren’t willing to receive solicited commercial messages of a useful nature that some brand is paying for. They enjoy receiving mobile banking updates via SMS, view mobile coupons delivered via text message as especially welcome, and find it convenient to have one time passwords sent via SMS. It’s unsolicited commercial SMSs that are annoying to all of us but brands communicating useful bits and bytes via SMS, well that’s no biggie.

The One Thing We All Need

Those of us who work in South Africa’s ‘traditional’ corporate sector are often surprised by some of the work practices and technology habits outside of the upstairs corner office. For example, a friend of mine who started a small business was genuinely annoyed to find that the IT support she had previously easily reached via her office desk phone was nowhere to be found on day one of being an entrepreneur. I was reminded of this story when I spotted at least half a dozen young people crowding out a local coffee shop at 07:30 am one recent morning. They were clearly not corporate types on their way to the office judging by the way they relished the free Wi-Fi connection. What surprised me is that every single one of them was accessing the web on their mobile phones. Now this may sound a bit ridiculous for a long time mobile marketing guy such as myself, but it’s quite a thing to see not a laptop in sight and people very happily doing whatever they are doing, using their cellphones exclusively. And none were 7 inch to 10 inch monsters – the phones, I mean… This one morning at the local coffee shop perfectly brought home the reality of this line about mobile marketing I read in the Huffington Post: “The majority of users, across all industries, tend to use mobile devices as their “go-to,” primary device for searches, purchases, and social media.” They really do!

Minibus Taxi Industry Goes Quick Response

We often hear poorly thought out statements about the imminent death of the five thousand year old brick and mortar store. Do we really think we are so important that we would be around to witness the demise of one of the building block institutions of human development? There is at least a generation or more to come before technology evolves to the point where there exists a viable substitute for touching and feeling in a retail outlet. What we are indeed seeing, I believe, is the merging of the brick and mortar retail experience with the digital one. The one is certainly not replacing the other and I don’t think that’s ever been the aim of digital marketers anywhere. Digital marketing is about marketing to and on mobile phones, and it’s also firmly rooted in the objective of driving foot traffic to physical shops. A wonderful example of the coming together of two business worlds using mobile technology is in the local news this very week. After at least three to four decades of driving black economic empowerment, the minibus taxi industry continues to explore new ways to get millions to work and elsewhere every single day. One of these new ways that is now being piloted is using QR codes to pay for taxi fares. Many of us have seen these funny looking digital creations printed on restaurant receipts or adverts. Aside from the taxi payment application, using ‘Quick Response’ codes typically allows mobile users to access a specific content area on the mobile web in order to obtain a special reward or to take advantage of a specific promotion. I love QR codes and encourage you to try them out. You can even create your own QR codes easily using websites like for business cards, pamphlets, and more. Who knows, perhaps QR codes will go beyond the taxi commute and catch on amongst soccer moms transporting the kids to matches!