LeadsCon Anyone?

Hey! It’s been a while. It’s been super busy over here at MobileLeads! This is good for our publishers and advertisers, but bad for blog upkeep. We have so many high converting pay per call offers available in our system now, and tons of new publishers driving quality calls!

We are heading to LeadsCon in Las Vegas on Monday and would love to meet with you whether you are a current publisher or advertiser, or are simply interested in getting into the mobile pay per call arena. We can answer your questions! Mobile is obviously going to be a huge topic at the conference, as it is growing every day, so come and chat with us to find out more!

Please email me (amy@mobileleads.com) to set up a time to meet!

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Driving inbound calls from Mobile Search

Our friends at RingRevenue put out a great white paper explaining the benefits of pay per call campaigns and tracking mobile search efforts. Please check out their press release and get the white paper! It is full of helpful information on mobile marketing, pay per call, and mobile search techniques.

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Line of Business Applications with Visual Studio LightSwitch

Recently I’ve been digging in to the features of Microsoft’s Visual Studio LightSwitch 2011 in the interest of developing robust internal interfaces for data management. In the past we’ve always built web based interfaces to access and administer our proprietary systems. Those applications have always taken a great deal of time to develop and maintain. With the introduction of LightSwitch, that has changed.

After reading some documentation, blog posts and other material on building apps in LightSwitch, I started my own project and began to hash out the data sources, queries and screens that make up a LightSwitch application. After only a few hours (mostly spent wrapping my head around the LightSwitch development paradigm) I had a fully functional, secure and accessible application to help manage our Advertisers, Campaigns and Orders. I call it the MobileLeads Campaign Manager. It has already been deployed to production and is in use by our staff.

image

One really nice feature is the ease of deploying updates to the application. After the first round of usability testing I was given a request to add a Status field to Campaigns. All I had to do was add the field to the table in the database (we started with a DB but you can build your database within LightSwitch), update the data source and update the screens for which the field should be present. Piece of cake! Deploying the updates to the production server was as easy as publishing the application within Visual Studio. It handles any data schema migrations for you (some restrictions apply). You can choose to deploy as a stand-alone desktop application, an n-tier web application or on Windows Azure. I’ll bet it’s even easy to switch between the options.

I’ve barely scratched the surface so far but I’m very pleased with what I’ve seen. As the MobileLeads Campaign Manager evolves I’m sure I’ll get to experience all the many rich features, customizability and extensibility that LightSwitch has to offer.

Links:

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Future of Mobile: NFC Technology

Whew. Things have been busy over here! I apologize for the lack of blog posts this month, but being busy is a good thing!

I came across an article on Mashable.com about Near Field Communication (NFC) and since this has always been an interesting topic for me, I decided to share some facts about it that I have learned from the article.

NFC will allow a device (mobile phone) to collect data from another device with an NFC tag at very close range or by touching them together.

There are three different models of NFC:

  • Reader/writer mode- this can collect and write info on a smart tag
  • Peer-to-peer mode- Two devices can exchange data with each other as long as they are both NFC enabled
  • Card emulation mode- A reader can get info from the NFC device, like a contactless transportation card or payment card.

NFC can be used in many different convenient ways. It can become a transportation card for access to public transit, devices can be connected to one another with on simple touch, it can be used like a QR code by providing more information about a product by simply touching the advertisement, it can also be used in social media and location based services by touching a device to “check-in.” The main topic of discussion when it comes to these devices is having them act as a payment device instead of having to swipe a card. All of these things are exciting in the world of mobile and will make daily tasks more convenient!

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Mac Hardware | Microsoft Software

For a while now, I have been running both Mac iOS and Windows 7 on my Mac Book Pro.  Originally, the idea was to use Windows for work and iOS for everything else.  Eventually, though, I found that I just wasn’t logging in on the iOS side anymore.  On top of that, my Windows partition was starting to run out of space.

I knew that I could wipe my system clean, reinstall iOS, sequester it to a small partition and then give the rest of the drive to Windows (effectively reversing the allocation I had been working with).  But why burn all of that precious drive space for an operating system I planned on not using?  My preference would be to turn my Mac into a dedicated Windows 7 machine.   Is that even possible?

I started digging into it on the Internet and found very little documentation on this subject.  There were a few posts on Mac forums where my question was asked, but the responses were no help – mostly, “Why would you want to do that?”.

It turned out to be pretty easy.  With the Windows 7 disc in the drive and the computer shut down, I powered on while holding Command+Option+Shift+Delete to boot from the disc drive.  On the partitions screen that loaded I deleted all of the existing partitions and formatted a new one for the Windows install.  Windows handled the rest.  After the install process finished, I used the iOS disc to install bootcamp which includes all of the Mac specific drivers (multi-touch touch pad, etc.).  Then, after about a dozen laps through the Window’s update process, I was done.

Now for the big question, why have a Mac if you’re not going to run iOS?  I have a couple of reasons:

  1. The Mac Book Pro is a beautiful piece of hardware.  It has an aluminum case, and sleek design.  It is compact and light weight.  On the outside, it looks much better than any plastic laptop I’ve seen.
  2. The internal hardware is engineered to perform better and last longer than that of less expensive computers.  The non-Mac notebooks I have owned have been obsolete boat anchors after two years, my Macs still keep up after five or longer.
  3. Mac iOS is a great operating system if you want to browse the internet or edit video, it’s pretty thin for businesses.  Microsoft Office is now available (with Outlook).  However, it is much more difficult to use and leaves me wanting more.  On top of that, I am responsible for Business Intelligence at MobileLeads and we leverage Microsoft SQL Server as a core data and analytics engine.  I use Visual Studio and SQL Management Studio to interact with our data sources and generate intelligence.  These applications are currently not available for iOS.
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We love our mobile phones…so much

We have all felt our hearts drop at that moment when we think we might have lost our cell phones (just ask JT about it). It’s a horrible feeling. I found this interesting infographic via Mashable.com and thought I would share it on our blog. Enjoy!

(click to enlarge)

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We do Click to Call, Part 3: User Experience

Last week, I wrote a fair bit about our approach to call advertising.  If you read any of that, you now know that we’re zealots with regard to Click-to-Call inbound lead generation.  We like it for lots of reasons.  It’s logical.  And, fun.  Mostly though, it aligns the three parties of a lead transaction – something that we think is very important.

Ever handy, our creative team was good enough to draw out a flow chart of how the user experience shakes out within our network.  That’s shown below; hopefully it lends clarity to the process that an anecdotal description might lack.

Click to call

That’s it for today.  I hope the pictures are helpful!

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We do Click to Call, Part 2: Alignment

On Tuesday, I began discussing our inbound call product, which we’re all very seriously excited about.  In that first post, I sheepishly admitted that a client actually had to email me in order to find out that we offer inbound, ‘Click-to-Call’ lead generation.  My answer, as you may recall, was ‘Yes!  We do Click-to-Call!’

So, here’s the deal: you should not have to email me to find out about one of our best-performing offerings.  (You should, however, email me often; you can do that by clicking here).  To better highlight the product, I’ve decided to write a three part series on the MobileLeads way of conducting call advertising.  This, here, is part two.

On Tuesday, I wrote a quick summary of what Click-to-Call advertising really is.  For those just joining us, this form of marketing prompts a consumer to skip the request for information forms entirely and simply call the advertiser.  In this post, I’ll share how this particular utility drives something that folks in performance marketing have been searching after for a long, long time: alignment.

Perhaps the best way to think about alignment in media is to first examine the agendas of the stakeholders.  In this case the parties include the Consumer, the Publisher and the Advertiser.  These entities are entirely separate and, often times, at odds in a marketing event.  A look at these individual profiles (thumbnail-sketched below) explains why most lead generation efforts fall short of their promise.  Co-registration, data lead generation, call centers and even hot transfers all tend to leave at least one party in the lurch.

The Players:

The Advertiser has the budget to buy media.  He or she wants real inquiries, though; not just names to call.  Real people with demonstrable interest.  Further, the Advertiser wants these real inquiries in real time.  And, they want to track every last penny of the media spend, so that they can ascertain campaign performance on a cost-per-customer acquisition model.

The Publisher is the lead originator.  Through their own proprietary channels, Publishers have access to people who MIGHT be interested in what the Advertiser is selling.  Leveraging this access to people is how the Publisher makes money, so he or she is likely to be upbeat about it.  But, the Publisher has questions.  How will the Advertiser help to optimize the campaign?  Why a mandatory scrubbing/return policy – doesn’t everyone understand that these are just leads?  How do I track my campaigns?  Can I be assured that this is a long-term opportunity, or am I doing lots of work for someone else’s quick gain?  Basically, the Publisher wants to avoid becoming a victim.

The Consumer. This person is interested.  He or she would like to learn more about the Advertiser’s product.  This interest, though, is fleeting.  The Consumer isn’t interested in filling out forms all over the internet, disclosing personal information just for the privilege of considering a purchase.  The Consumer wants answers to his or her questions, on his or her schedule.

These are the essential ingredients in a lead transaction; without any one of these profiles, there’s no action.  Understanding the separate agendas of these parties means acknowledging the inherent conflict that exists between them.  In most lead generation scenarios, at least one party loses.  Here’s how that can shake out:

The Consumer gives up information and becomes part of a database.  This means lots of phone calls and emails, well past the expression of interest (if there was one).  It can also mean that the Consumer begins to hear from other organizations to which his or her information was sold.  This, predictably, annoys the Consumer greatly.

The Advertiser has bought something that may or may not pan out.  At best, they might be able to reach the Consumer.  Or, the Consumer may have lost all interest by the time he or she is reached.  In either case, the Advertiser is likely to have paid for something that has no utility to them.

Finally, the Publisher has invested time and money, seemingly fulfilled his or her duty and procured leads.  However, the fate of the Publisher’s work rests in the hands of a third party who provides little to no visibility into the success of these efforts.  And, holding an Advertiser accountable for the poor contact rate will never fly.  The Publisher is in a weak position.  No metrics, no control, no leverage, no voice.  No bueno.

The above is a problem, and it’s systemic to most lead generation methodologies.  But, it’s not the only way.  There is a way to align all three parties; you just have to advertise with us!  Our Click-to-Call model is centered on the idea that we can serve the Consumer, the Advertiser and the Publisher in a manner consistent with their agendas.  Here’s why:

Because the Consumer is taking real action by dialing in, he or she gives up no personal information on the web.  This means that the data exchange happens on the Consumer’s terms.  And, because the Consumer is speaking with the Advertiser directly, there’s no chance of the information being submitted through multiple post paths.  The Consumer get’s the information he or she wants, on his or her schedule.

Because each Advertiser in our system must first dictate the minimum time duration and screening questions for each call, they will only end up paying for inquiries that meet their pre-ordained approval.  No more unreachable leads – the Advertiser gets the inquiry delivered live and in person!  At the precise time of Consumer intrigue, no less.  Show us a data lead that stands up to this, and dinner’s on us.

And, finally, the Publisher.  The one who has invested time and money and is crossing fingers in hopes of success.  Now, though, there’s a dashboard with real time reporting.  Caller ID numbers, call duration, in some cases, even recordings.  The Publisher gets to see everything.  And, the Advertiser is accountable for the numbers, too.  Unlike most scenarios, the Publisher is in a great, informed position.

So, there you have it.  Want alignment?  Work with us.  Publishers and Advertisers can start that process by inquiring here.

Stay tuned!  Next week (Tuesday, roughly), we’ll show you a snazzy flow chart that will make all these words seem completely superfluous.   Thanks for reading!

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We do Click to Call!

This post goes out to a much-appreciated client who emailed me last week to ask if we ‘do any Click to Call advertising.’  I’m thankful for the email for two very significant reasons:

  1. The answer is YES!  We do lot’s of this work.  Click-to-Call advertising is a very active medium for us.  In fact, it’s one of our largest.
  2. Given the above, interested parties need to be made aware of this!  While I appreciate the ways in which our clients (both Advertisers and Publishers) reach out to us and find us accessible, you shouldn’t have to email me to find out about one of our most valuable utilities.  Lesson learned.

Thus, this: we do Click-to-Call!  A lot of it, in fact.  As such, we’ll be devoting a three post series on the format, beginning here:

The “High Notes” – How does Click-to-Call Advertising work on a mobile network

  1. A user sees a call to action – one of our Advertisers’ ads – somewhere out there within the rapidly growing mobile web.  They could be using an app or viewing a mobile-formatted webpage; whatever the case, they see a MobileLeads client’s ad and notice that it provides them the opportunity to speak with someone, like, now.   (The ad might say “Get a better rate on your loan – click to speak with someone now.”  Or, something like that.)
  2. The user – perhaps not interested in filling out a draconian and oppressively long information request form on his or her phone – clicks/taps the ad.
  3. A confirmation appears, asking the user if they’re sure they’d like to call this number.  The user taps/clicks ‘Yes.’ (Note: the number is actually a dynamic, toll free line that is assigned to the campaign.  It routes to the Advertiser’s sales team, but not before creating a time stamp for reporting purposes.)
  4. The user is then sent to the Advertiser’s call center.

Simple, right?  You’d think so.  It’s straightforward enough – guaranteed contact.  But, this only hints at the alignment we see from this.  You’ll see in Thursday’s post why both Advertisers and Publishers both love this format.  Stay tuned!

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