The Head Down Revolution

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If you live in a major metro market, then you know what it’s like to walk down the street and see 90% of the people with their heads down buried in their phone. I was one of those people, until I found myself standing in the middle of the street in Manhattan writing a text and nearly getting hit by a taxi. From that point on, I made sure that I was always looking up. But I am definitely in the minority. And this post is not about the safety, or lack thereof, when it comes to texting. It’s about how marketers can capitalize on this Head Down Revolution.

According to Statista, the U.S. mobile phone penetration has reached 81%, representing 223 million consumers. And those consumers spend an average of 4.7 hours per day glued to their smartphones. More importantly, is the role that texting now plays in our everyday lives, especially when it comes to marketing. For an eye-opening example, texts have a 99% open rate compared to 20% for email*. Pretty amazing, huh? Now I imagine that smartphones are currently in the midst of fine tuning their hardware to introduce features that can block such correspondence. But who knows when that will come?

So until that day, marketers have a humongous opportunity to take advantage and focus their outbound efforts on the behaviors of the smartphone user. A behavior that is now second nature, and while receiving a text from a brand may seem like a nuisance at first, it is certainly less of one than an email. Also, if you’re sending info or content that isn’t selling, but more serving them something of value, then you’re more likely to be able to maintain that dialogue.

And isn’t a dialogue what we want? It opens the door, and leads to traffic. And when you have enough traffic, ultimately it will lead to transactions. It’s this approach to marketing, partnered with the aforementioned tactics, that can build the awareness and engagement you’re looking for.

Now how about a little “social experiment”: The next time you’re walking down the street, take note of how many people’s’ heads are down. It truly is a sight to see. Just think, those eyes could be engaged in your brands message. And if the message is “timed” to when your customer is in the market for a new product, it becomes relevant and timely — a very powerful combination.

*Credits: Jack Loechner — Editor of The Center for Media Research; SinglePoint; Statista

Notifications for Everything

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Yo. What seemed like something that was just too simple to actually be practical, the Yo app has grown to over 1 million users and tons of press. The app lets you send a message to your friends who use it. All you do is tap their name and they get the message “Yo.” It seems useless considering this is just slightly easier than sending a text with the same content, right? Well, today’s update to Yo adds a few updated features that makes it even more useful.

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There is a new feature called Yo Index, which allows you to receive automatic Yo updates in conjunction with other services. For example, you can sign up to receive a Yo message when your package arrives from FedEx or when your Citi Bike rack runs out of bikes (as well as when one is returned there). Anyone is able to submit a feature for index meaning the possibilities are endless. It looks like a way to streamline notifications and receive them for just about anything via one single app. This feature seems to hold a lot more possibilities and usefulness than just being able to say, “Yo” to your friends.

What Sparks our Fire: An app evolving to become both useful and impressively effective.

What would you like Yo notifications for?

Sleep Tight

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Buying a new mattress? While it may not be something that you have to take care of regularly, it sure is a hassle when the time does come. Retailers carry a large amount of slightly different mattress, which you can go and sit on for about 10 minutes at a time to try and then you pick one that you will sleep on for a few years. Not to mention the difficulty of getting it delivered and brought into your house or apartment to the bedroom.

Casper is a new startup based in New York City that sells just one mattress in five different sizes. What makes Casper special is the convenience factors that they easily provide. First off your mattress comes with in five days anywhere in the US – and same day delivery in New York City – packaged up the size of a mini fridge. And once you set that bed up, you have up to 100 days to try out the mattress, and if you’re not satisfied you can send it back for a full refund.

The reviews of the product also point out that the bed is exceptionally comfortable – which is highlighted by the fact that Casper did over $1 Million in sales in just their first month.

What Sparks our Fire: Innovators making turning a rigorous process into something hassle-free

What other industries need someone to step up and make it hassle-free?

The Changing Times

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It’s nothing new or surprising to learn that traditional newspapers are struggling. Online news sources are both cheaper and more efficient for consumers. But, there is still something to say about the quality and trustworthiness of old-school newspapers, especially the likes of The New York Times or The Washington Post.

There are reports that The New York Times may soon introduce another subscription, a shorter newspaper, to try and keep it’s print business as profitable as possible. The newspaper would be offered at a lower price point and likely include a digital subscription. This version could have a positive influence on the younger audience who want a quick-to-read newspaper that fits their lifestyle of needing information in the most efficient way possible.

It will be interesting to see the influence this change will have on print newspaper advertising.

What Sparks our Fire: The New York Times looking for new ways to continue engaging consumers and addressing the shift to digital.

Would you be interested in a shorter version of The New York Times?

Say Goodbye to Parking Tickets

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Getting a parking ticket can easily ruin a day. They are frustrating to receive – especially when wrongly accused. The price of a parking ticket is just marginal enough that for many people it isn’t worth the time to fight it, causing them to simply pay the fine.

Fixed is here is help you out. The app, currently only available in San Francisco, coming soon to Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York, will fight your parking ticket for you. All you need to do is upload a picture of the ticket into the app and a representative will file the complaint and handle the rest. Fixed will only charge you if they win the case (According to VentureBeat they’ve won 20-30 percent of their cases so far). So if you lose you pay the ticket, but if you win you pay just 25% of what the fine would’ve cost you, to Fixed – a bargain considering it’s a 75% savings with no time spent.

The company has just completed $1.2 million dollar round of funding which will help them expand to more cities across the country. Keep Fixed in mind next time you get a parking ticket and don’t have the time to fight it.

What Sparks our Fire: An app that helps save both time and money.

Have you ever gotten an undeserving ticket you just paid instead of fighting?