Greyhound Races Towards Digital Transformation

Greyhound Mobile Site RelaunchUS Intercity bus company Greyhound Lines has begun a digital transformation of the services it provides, with the aim of reinventing the way customers plan and book bus travel for the digital age.

The new strategy, supported by digital agency Realise, begins with an overhaul of the company’s corporate website with a responsive design that enables consumers to easily research and plan journeys while mobile, and monitor their trips while on the go.

The refreshed website also helps customers find the best fares and provides travel tips and suggestions, while benefiting from simplified navigation and a clean, modern design. The site centres on customers’ needs and interests, and is a key milestone in Greyhound’s transformation.

“During the past year Greyhound has worked with Realise on several different projects ranging from customer engagement strategy to website design and development,” said Todd Koch, vice president of strategy and business development at Greyhound. “Realise has consistently delivered across all projects and has become a trusted long-term partner to Greyhound in our transformation strategy.”

“For an agency to be asked to bring an American icon that has been in operation for more than 100 years through a digital transformation is huge,” said Dave Ward, creative director at Realise. “Leveraging the latest and greatest techniques across project management, strategy, UX, design, content and development, we delivered against the brief.”

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Amazon Unveils Hybrid Drone Prototype

amazon hybrid droneAmazon has revealed a new prototype delivery drone that can fly both horizontally like a conventional plane, for high-speed delivery, and vertically, to land gently in customers’ gardens when dropping off packages. The hybrid drone is intended to make 30 minute delivery runs within a 15 mile distance.

The drone was introduced by the company in a video released on Sunday, which was presented by former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, who recently signed on to present an Amazon-exclusive series after being fired by the BBC.

The hybrid vehicle includes ‘detect and avoid’ sensors to enable it to safely fly around obstacles, and can scan the ground for a safe landing spot. However, despite these safety features, the company is still being held back from achieving its delivery drones ambitions by government regulations.

US regulator the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has strongly fought back against commercial drone use, in particular blocking the use of automated or unmanned drones that fly beyond the pilot’s line of sight. Draft regulations for drone operation in the US released in February 2015 specifically outlaw operation beyond a pilot’s vision.

Amazon may have an easier time in the UK, where the British version of the FAA, the Civil Aviation Authority, has stated that it is open to the idea of delivery drones flying beyond pilot line of sight. Amazon has said that a delivery drone system is only feasible is unmanned vehicles can operate semi-autonomously, ideally within dedicated air corridors.

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Black Friday in the UK: Slowing Growth and Broken Websites

Black Friday shopper
The past few years have seen a sea change in UK retailing, as more and more UK-based stores and brands adopt ‘Black Friday’, the American tradition of offering massive savings on the day following Thanksgiving which signals the beginning of the Christmas shopping period. While this year sees more brands than ever offering Black Friday savings, is the UK already cooling on this new winter tradition?

2014 was the year that Black Friday truly broke out in the UK, with eCommerce sales up 74 per cent year-on-year on the day. However, this year, sales only increased six per cent on the previous year, a drastic slump of growth. Average order value growth was also slow, up 7.6 per cent on last year to £98.

“The data from our performance-based digital marketing network highlights how Black Friday fell short on the expectations of brands,” said Dan Cohen, regional director at performance marketing experts Tradedoubler. “Digital marketing strategies are still not harnessing and utilising critical insight from user journey data to inform digital marketing strategies. The key for digital marketers is to reach customers where they are – this means understanding how customers behave online, the devices they are using and their route to purchase.”

Not predicting the preferences of consumers saw many brands suffer problems beyond lower than expected growth, between 20 and 25 per cent of eCommerce sites suffered outages and downtime during Black Friday, with retailers including Boots, Argos, Game and John Lewis affected.

Many of the same retailers suffered similar problems last year, but have managed to once again underestimate demand and failed to adequately prepare their websites for the wealth of desktop and mobile traffic that Black Friday can bring.

“Black Friday has yet once again proven to be a poison chalice for some retailers, most notably Argos,” said Terry Hunter, vice president of eCommerce and client strategy at Astound Commerce. “The worst thing about it is they clearly didn’t learn the lessons from last year when their site buckled under the high demand.”

“It’s not just desktop, mobile traffic has grown significantly this year,” agreed Darryl Adie, managing director at Ampersand. “With the launch of new and larger devices, consumers are able to shop on their smartphones more comfortably. Brands fully optimised for mobile, such as House of Fraser, Topshop, BHS and Go Outdoors are likely to have had strong conversion rates.”

Mobile also had a strong showing in in-store usage, according to figures from wi-fi platform provider Devicescape. Electronics retailer Game saw a 71 per cent week-on-week increase in wi-fi connections made in-store, suggesting both a climb in footfall and a large number of consumers making use of free wi-fi to browse and compare prices as they shopped.

BHS and Topshop also saw week-on-week increases over 55 per cent on Black Friday, while Asda, which decided not to participate in Black Friday this year, saw reduced activity over the weekend.

Overall, 36 per cent of traffic to eCommerce sites came from mobile devices, according to figures from eCommerce consultancy Salmon, with the busiest shopping times between 8am and midday as shoppers started early to take advantage of sales. But despite a strong showing for mobile, it’s clear that retailers shouldn’t be putting all their eggs in the Black Friday basket if they want to make an impact this Christmas.

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SMS Marketing – A Blast from the Present

Philip Herridge, Business Development Manager, Oxygen8 UK, examines the myths about SMS marketing originally outlined in the latest whitepaper written by James Harrison.

Phil_HerridgeWhen mobile truly reached the mass market in the late 1990s and early 2000s, using text messages for marketing purposes was a no-brainer. Sure, the lack of brains deployed led to the mobile ecosystem becoming a Wild West of spam and distress for customers, but regulators were pretty quick to lay down guidelines which form the basis of good SMS marketing practices today.

But towards the end of the decade, mobile phones, PDAs, cameras and MP3 players merged into what would become the world-conquering smartphone. With the help of network operators’ speedy 3G and 4G networks, it became just as easy to market to mobiles via email and social media, with marketers sharing rich content that made the poor old text-based SMS look like a relic from an ancient civilization.

So you can hardly blame companies for stepping away from SMS. Advertisers love colourful, loud and moving things, and they were pretty successful at convincing business that this was the future. Leave SMS to messages from your mum, they said.

Without explicitly saying why (perhaps because nobody asked to see the figures), marketers allowed a mindset to become embedded that suggested all these high-definition images and sounds inevitably led to greater engagement with customers.

They were wrong.

Just how wrong they have been is nicely set out in Oxygen8’s new whitepaper: “Mobile engagement: Why SMS is still the biggest missed opportunity”. Written by the company’s CEO, James Harrison, the paper confronts the myths about SMS marketing in a list inspired by his relentless uphill struggle to guide customers towards the fact that SMS marketing is many times more efficient and engaging than email and other channels.

The paper starts as it means to go on – using the mathematics of the issue to drive home the inescapable truth that SMS means engagement, satisfaction and conversion. There are 5.1 billion mobile phones in a world with a population of 6.8 billion. Rule out babies and refuseniks and that’s pretty much everyone. In the UK, 93% of adults own a mobile phone. They’re not all smartphones, of course, but every single mobile phone can send and receive text messages (i.e., emails and browser links don’t reach 100% of owners). Straight away, there’s a statistical justification for SMS being the go-to channel for any demographic.

The killer stats come on page 12, however. The open rate for SMS is 98%, and 90% are opened within three minutes (the average time being 90 seconds). You want engagement? That’s engagement. Consumers know that whoever has just contacted them, it’ll be less than 161 characters long (no more than 25 words) and can be read in seconds. There’s little temptation to put it off till later – customers will be able to make a decision straight away whether to read and follow up on the message.

Apps, browser links and emails come with their own problems. Despite the speed of 3G and 4G, message notifications are just the start of the journey – customers are then expected to wait for multi-megabyte downloads, often in areas of poor coverage, for the indulgence of being marketed to. Unsurprisingly, many don’t bother waiting. With SMS, notification means the whole message has already been delivered.

By the time you get to the part of the whitepaper where James slices and dices the eight misconceptions about SMS marketing, you’ve probably already been won over to the SMS cause. But point by point, the case being made will leave you in no doubt – SMS marketing works.

Obviously, the message still has to be right. Businesses still have to pay heed to the offering, the timing and the needs of the customer, but that’s marketing 101. When it comes to the medium, SMS is king in more situations than business often gives it credit for.

Have a look at the whitepaper and make up your own mind. Sometimes the message just needs to be there in black and white.

Philip Herridge is Business Development Manager at Oxygen8 UK

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Swatch and Visa Team Up for ‘Pay-by-the-wrist’

Swatch Bellamy Payment SmartwatchWatch manufacturer Swatch has partnered with Visa to give eligible Visa cardholders in the US, Switzerland and Brazil the ability to tap and pay with the company’s new Swatch Bellamy ‘pay-by-the-wrist’ model, which is slated to launch in early 2016.

The device uses contactless NFC technology to enable payments, and will be usable globally, but only available to customers in a limited number of countries to begin with. The Swiss watchmaker had previously announced a launch for the timepiece in China through partnerships with Bank of Communications and UnionPay.

Swatch has limited its entry into the smartwatch sector, and beyond the NFC capability, the Bellamy is a regular analogue watch without any extra functionality. However, this does mean that the Bellamy has the same battery life as any other watch, a factor that may make it appeal to those looking for a quick NFC pay solution without the constant charging of a smartwatch.

The Bellamy is named after American science-fiction writer Edward Bellamy, who wrote a novel in 1888 that described a utopian society where cash had been replaced with credit card-style devices.

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Innovation Lab: Airport Robots, Drones vs Sharks and Gentle Cybernetics

At Mobile Marketing we’re proud to help tech companies showcase their cutting-edge solutions, whether it’s on our website, in our magazine or at our Mobile Marketing Summits. Giving a platform to companies that are breaking new ground in their market brings audiences one step closer to the ideas and developments that will shape tomorrow.

In that spirit, our Innovation Lab feature takes a step beyond the world of apps, ads and handsets with slightly bigger screens, in order to share some of the tech world’s innovative ideas. They might be interesting, disruptive or just outright strange, but these are the stories that have caught our eye over the past week.

Spencer the Robot Guides You Through Amsterdam Airport
Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is one of Europe’s largest flight hubs, but suffers from a notoriously confusing layout of terminals, leading to numerous passengers getting lost and missing flights. To try and ensure this doesn’t happen, the airport is testing out a robotic helper for bewildered travellers.

Spencer is being tested from the end of this month, greeting and guiding passengers using laser range-finding eyes and detailed maps of the airport’s interior. The robot understands human behaviours, so it won’t simply push through large crowds of people but travel around them, and will check in with people following it to ensure none have been left behind.

Researchers from Sweden’s Örebro University helped develop the mapping software that enables Spencer to understand its surroundings, and airline KLM providing some of the funding to help lessen the cost of missed flights that the airport’s confusing layout was causing.

“Navigating an airport is challenging,” Achim Lilienthal, project leader at Örebro University. “There is a lot of glass and a constantly changing environment in terms of temporary obstructions, such as parked luggage trolleys and people everywhere. Objects that are temporarily permanent, so to speak, are the most difficult to work around. We are working on a general map representation that includes and allows the robot to handle temporarily permanent objects.”

Microsoft Teams with Guide Dogs for Cities Unlocked Project

Microsoft has announced a major technology update to its partnership with charity Guide Dogs which centres around smart headsets and apps that help visually impaired people to better navigate their surroundings using sound.

The improvements have been made as part of Microsoft’s Cities Unlocked project, which works with the Future Cities Catapult to reduce the stress associated with getting around urban spaces, particularly for people with disabilities.

The technology enables users to access additional information about their surroundings, either through a remote or voice commands, and works alongside navigation tools in the app which use directional audio to help build a mental image of the area they are navigating.

The first prototype, which was unveiled last year, used clicking sounds to guide wearers in the right direction, but this second phase of the project has been re-designed to be “descriptive rather than prescriptive”, according to Microsoft.

great white sharkDrones Versus Sharks Off The Australian Coast
The Australian government is putting drones to what may be their most novel use so far – protecting beach goers from shark attacks. The flying devices can be deployed far quicker than helicopters, which have been used in the past to monitor the aquatic predators, and cover a wider area.

Drones will be trialled on the north coast of Australia as part of a $16m (£7.6m) shark strategy by the New South Wales government, which also includes smart drum lines which will enable sharks to be hooked, tagged and released further out to sea.

“There is no easy way to reduce risks for swimmers and surfers,” said Niall Blair, Minister for Primary Industries. “We are delivering on a commitment to test the best science available, including new technologies, as we try to find an effective long-term solution to keep our beaches safe.”

Prosthetic Hand Is Precise Enough to Grip an Eggshell Without Crushing It

Sensory technology company SynTouch has made a revolutionary leap forward in the development of prosthetics and robotic fingers, developing technology that contains all the sensory capabilities found in human fingertips.

The firm’s BioTac fingers can sense applied force, temperature and vibration, as well as accurately detecting the corners of objects, determining texture and even sensing if something is about to slip out of a prosthetic hand.

As well as working in prosthetics, the company has worked with the Shadow Robot Company to integrate the BioTac sensor onto its Dexterous Hand robotic hand, and is readying the product for consumer availability, potentially offering prosthetic users a whole new level of accuracy and sensitivity.

41New Smart Screen Promises End of Mobile Battery Woes
The screen of your smartphone is by far the biggest drain on its battery, leading many people to drop their brightness level as low as possible when they’re out of direct sunlight to save power. However, such trade-offs may soon be a thing of the past thanks to a new display created by Bodle Technologies.

The display uses phase-change material, which pushes electrical pulses into transparent layers to produce a crisp, vivid display, even in direct sunlight, and all while drawing almost no power. The technology could even work on small smartwatch screens, reducing how often they need to be charged from every night to once a week.

The company is reportedly in talks with some the world’s largest consumer electronics corporations over the technology, which could also be used to create smart windows that block infrared waves, keeping buildings cool without the need for air-conditioning.

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Over a Quarter of $1.7bn Thanksgiving Purchases on Mobile

Amazon Lightning Deals Black Friday$1.1bn (£731m) was spent online before 5pm in the US yesterday during Thanksgiving, up 22 per cent year-on-year, with the full day’s total predicted to exceed $1.7bn.

That’s according to an Adobe report, based on 100m visits to over 4,500 retail sites in the US.

Of those sales, 26 per cent ($283m) came from mobile – lower than Adobe’s prediction of 29 per cent, but still expected to rise in the full-day figures as mobile usage increased in the evening.



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Effective Mobile Marketing Awards 2015: The Photos

Last night we held the 2015 Effective Mobile Marketing Awards Ceremony, celebrating the industry’s very best work from the last year.

Winning brands included the likes of Jaguar, Domino’s Pizza, The Guardian, Carling and Virgin Holidays.

You can find the full list of winners here. But if you’d rather check them out in their full glory – plus photos of our welcome drinks, after-party and everything in-between – check out our gallery below, or on Flickr here.

Plus, you can find all the pics from our Say Fromage photo booth here – just enter the username ‘MobileMarketingAward’ and password ‘FuturePlatforms’.

Effective Mobile Marketing Awards 2015

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Apple Sponsors Snapchat Filter for Black Friday Beats

Beats-by-Dre.jpgApple-owned headphones manufacturer Beats has become the first consumer product brand to run a Sponsored Lens on Snapchat, promoting its Black Friday sale with a Drake-soundtracked lens that lets people customise their selfies.

The lens closely resembles Snapchat’s first popular non-sponsored effort, which made people vomit rainbows, widened their eyes and gave them rosy cheeks. The Beats lens also widens people’s eyes, while placing a mirror-ball effect in their mouth, having the top of their head explode with Beats-themed confetti and, most importantly, placing a pair of the company’s headphones on their ears.

“Through the Lens, Beats is giving Snapchatters the opportunity to engage and communicate with their brand in a personal and dynamic way,” said a Snapchat spokesperson in a statement announcing the campaign.

According to Snapchat, 10 per cent of its users send lenses every day, and given the app’s reported 100m daily users, that is a huge potential audience. Special lenses are sold via the app’s store page, while branded ones are offered for free.

The company has also launched a holiday channel on its Discover publisher portal. The channel is curated by DIY publisher collective Brit + Co, with sponsorship from Google, and will run between 27 November and 3 December, then again from 18 December to 24 December.

“Here at Brit + Co, we love connecting with our readers wherever we can,” said Brit Morin, founder and CEO of Brit + Co. “We will be sharing all things creative, colourful and holiday-related on Snapchat Discover. From festive DIYs to Christmas jingles to holiday recipes, you’re going to be seeing a lot more of B+C.”

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Asda Takes to Tumblr for First Time with #BecauseitsChristmas

Asda DogsAsda has launched its first content marketing campaign on Tumblr, extending its #BecauseitsChristmas campaign.

Tumblr might be associated with a more teenage female audience, but Asda will be using it to reach mums in the run up to Christmas.

A collaboration between Tumblr owner Yahoo and media agency Carat, the campaign will see a series of sponsored editorial content released at regular intervals. This will include recipes, tips, gifs and listicles, alongthe campaign’s three themes of ‘bringing the family together’, ‘having fun’ and ‘enjoying food’.

The campaign will be supported with Yahoo Mail log-in ads and a Yahoo homepage takeover.

According to Yahoo, 85 per cent of mums on Tumblr are active sharers of content and almost 40 per cent have liked a brand or product, though it doesn’t share


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