Experimental Lex

Playing with words.

Tag Archives: mobile

Content is King. Long Live the King.

I suppose that’s not a terribly original title. I’m sure a Google search will yield a dozen articles with this title. Oh well whatever. It still means something to me. Starting in 2012 and beyond, my mantra is to create and own content.

I started this year with this mantra in mind. I started a series of interactive math digital books and apps with the belief that this would be a rich area for content. The theory is good, the execution was not as good. Still, I am proud to have completed that project and learned something from that effort and failure.

Today, I continue to push forward in other content areas. As a lifelong programmer, my specific area of content is software. As technology evolves towards mobile devices, my content focus as a software developer should naturally be mobile apps. Of course, the skills to create apps is far distant from having good ideas for mobile apps. The best compromise is to stay focused on apps that are content-driven, which is perfectly acceptable to me. I intend to stay close to the digital publishing sector and any digital publishing tools that I create in this area will have educational and/or technological value to me.

Earlier this afternoon, I re-read an article that I have always found fascinating. It is the story of Byron Reese of Demand Media, who has made a career out of creating content based on audience interests.

In my current side project, I am working on a content production engine that delivers topical content to mobile devices. By “topical content”, I mean content within a specific interest area; content that has an audience.  Perhaps it’s the equivalent of Flipboard for X, where X is something that people are interested in. The content can be a mix of curated news and videos, as well as reference guides.  A good example would be content focused on a specific video game where the audience is very passionate about the content and wants a custom experience with social integration.

That’s where things stand right now. I plan to post more on this blog mainly for my own mental benefit. To get focused and stay sharp…

 

 

The Social/Mobile CRM Opportunity

I keep thinking there is a big opportunity for innovation with social/mobile CRM, though I am still figuring out the details.  Like last time, I think I will just riff on the topic until I get my ideas sorted out.

In the traditional CRM world, businesses are concerned mainly with sales, leads, and marketing campaigns.  For some businesses, CRM is the process of contact management in the context of getting customers and making sales.  From this point of view, a CRM is a system where you can enter and manage data relating to opportunities and leads with the objective of converting leads to customers and generating sales.

Another major area of CRM is e-mail marketing and its offline counterpart, direct mail marketing.  E-mail marketing is a really big industry that continues to thrive.  10-15 years ago, there were startups making it big by offering tools that helped businesses manage and send email blasts.  In fact, I had the privilege of working with Rosalind Resnick a few years ago.  Rosalind pioneered opt-in e-mail marketing through her company NetCreations.  She took the company public in 1999 and later sold it for $100+ million and only moments before our beloved Internet bubble had burst.  Not too shabby.

Today, I still hear stories about young (and old) entrepreneurs building startups that help businesses with e-mail marketing campaigns.  And I get especially annoyed when I hear stories from teenagers talking about making their first $million by age 18 doing exactly this. (i hate them)  If there is a lesson here (besides drop out of college and build a startup), it is that e-mail marketing will continue to be a powerful and obvious channel.  To reach the inbox of a person who has not explicitly unsubscribed is like a perfectly targeted Google ad.  The nonstop brand awareness you get is worth it and it might lead to a conversion or two.

There’s really too much information to cover on the topic of CRM systems and e-mail campaign management.  I will just say that tracking and measurement of user actions in e-mail campaigns is the critical thing.  When you open an email, that activity is tracked as an “open” event and later reported as part of the e-mail campaign metrics.  When you click on a link in a campaign e-mail, the activity is tracked as a successful “click” event.  The laborious effort of creating and delivering an e-mail campaign is validated by successful “opens” and “clicks”.

Each the CRM models discussed above is focused on a transaction within a workflow.  A new opportunity or lead is entered into the CRM, which triggers a series of followup interactions with the objective of generating a sale.  A marketing campaign that generates new website registrations (also a transaction) has the objective of converting the new registered users (aka, leads) into real long-term customers.

With this speculative social/mobile CRM opportunity, the same basic guidelines apply, although the contact management and end-game are different.  Whereas traditional CRM is focused on eventually making a sale, social/mobile CRM is more about customer service.  At the core of social and mobile technologies is the ability to interact and share while you are “on-the-go”.  In this mode, buying stuff online is not the priority.  Often, it is something that you need in the moment.  Such as, answers to questions about how to get the thing you need.

Thus, social/mobile CRM looks like another branding and customer service exercise.  Is that all there is? Perhaps.

It all depends on whether you can guide the customer down a conversion path.  Not necessarily a path to buying stuff.  The real conversion would be social sharing.  Social media is all about the network effect.  If you can get one person to share with a few more people, the overall effect can be 1,000 times more powerful than lead generation and another 1,000 times more powerful than sales conversion.  The real objective here is to understand and collect as much social data as possible.  If you walk away from the campaign with thousands or millions of new social contacts, that’s a mighty powerful thing.

My Mobile App Ideas: ClassReads and the Share Bank

Last week, I found myself on one of the Nokia websites and heard about a contest they were sponsoring. It’s called the Ideas Project .

Yes, OMG. The SXSW conference. Even if you could find a flight, it’s unlikely you would find a hotel room close to the event. And suddenly, I wanted to go real bad. Especially if the flight and hotel were covered. So I spent some time thinking about some winning ideas for mobile apps. I came up with two and here they are:

CLASS READS

The ClassReads app finds and displays classroom materials that would ordinarily be printed and distributed on paper. Class members can also suggest additional reading material by submitting them to the instructor or teaching assistant. If approved, the shared content would be published to students in the class direct to their ClassReads app. Of course, students can also access the shared content through the ClassReads website or receive content via e-mail if they wish. Alternately, I imagine the website could also be something as simple as Google Groups which has a built-in tools for managing membership and discussions.

With ClassReads, learning becomes a collaborative and social experience. It also allows knowledge and discussion to extend beyond the walls of the classroom and deliver helpful and timely content to students in real-time.

SHARE BANK

The Share Bank app is like a mobile karma bank that facilitates sharing with those in need. Many of the essential things that the homeless and poor need on a daily basis (i.e., food, shelter, supplies) are often available, yet they have no way of knowing when and where. The critical piece here is to provide them with basic cell phones with prepaid phone plans so they can request help or receive broadcast messages with details on what is available and where. Simply having a phone can dramatically improve the lives of the impoverished and homeless, and I believe that mobile carriers and phone manufacturers have a surplus of phones that they can donate.

The Share Bank app would allow anyone to easily share food and other supplies by posting the information through the app. The Share Bank app also provides a way for donors to contribute money for prepaid minutes to help those who need them. Those who contribute regularly can also earn a karma balance, which is a nice way of recognizing them for their contributions.