Friday, October 31, 2008

Green Investing Part 3: Finding and Assessing

Finish Rich has a few useful suggestions for finding and evaluating Green Investments. If you are eligible for a 401(k) plan at work, find out if your “investment menu” includes a green fund. If it doesn’t, speak to your plan administrator and express your interest in having an SRI or a green fund added to your choices.

Begin researching a few green funds Many green funds have posted double-digit returns, and some were up over 30 percent in 2007. This does not mean you should invest your entire retirement savings in a green fund. Many of these funds are narrowly focused and volatile. Others are more broadly diversified. So before you invest, do your research carefully and consider green investing as a piece of your overall financial plan and diversification. A great place to start your research is at Morningstar, which evaluates funds, their diversification, and their levels of risk.

Find out how your current investment holdings perform in terms of sustainability by visiting Climate Counts, a nonprofit organization that brings together companies and consumers in the fight against global warming. Climate Counts provides a scorecard for companies in eight sectors based on their commitment to fighting global warming.

Find a financial planner who specializes in socially responsible investing. Go to Social Investments Forum, and click on “individual investors” to find a financial services directory and other tools.

Next: Green Investing Part 4: Top Performing Green Funds and Resources

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Green Investing Part 2: The "Green Wave"

According to an article entitled, Finish Rich, "the financial consequences of a changing climate and the global crisis it is presenting are staggering in their implications for both corporations and consumers. Those that adapt to become “eco-conscious” will flourish financially—and those that don’t may be financially devastated. The fact is, companies are already dedicating billions of dollars annually to becoming eco-friendly, and many of these companies are quickly returning millions of dollars.

As (bestselling author) David Bach points out in GO GREEN, LIVE RICH, the emerging “green economy” presents the single greatest investment opportunity of the 21 st Century. “Green investing is finally coming into its own, which is great news for the environment—and your ability to build wealth,” he says. “Green investing is simple, it’s about investing in opportunities, companies, and services that both support and promote efforts to reduce CO2 output, improve the environment, and turn the tide on global warming.”

To catch the “green investment wave,” Bach suggests investing in the new breed of SRI (Socially Responsible Investing) index funds and exchange-traded mutual funds (ETFs) that screen out companies that engage in ethically and environmentally destructive practices and screen in those that have embraced sustainability and have demonstrated a strong sense of environmental and social responsibility. While the number of “green funds” available will explode in the coming years, many of the funds already available have outperformed the S&P 500, proving that investing green is a viable strategy."

Next: Green Investing Part 3, Finding and Assessing

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Green Investing Part 1: Objective Research and Analysis

Despite wild fluctuations in the stock market, Green is becoming a major economic power. However to be a successful investor in this area you must remain objective. Emotions are often harmful to the value of an investor's portfolio, this is particularly true in Green investing. For many investing in Green businesses, decisions are based on their hopes rather than on objective research and analysis. A successful (Green) approach to investing implies more than the ability to recognize a good concept or anticipate a trend, to be a bottom line investor you must also research and analyze a company's finances and business practices. Examine the management, the uniqueness and positioning of the product, the industry, and the competition. Consider also the future growth prospects for the company and the industry. Above all, effective analysis must review the plan for integrating green technologies or concepts into sustainable profitability.

Investors may also want to consider Green Chips, (exchange traded funds or "baskets" of green energy companies). Although sustainable energy gets a lot of attention, there are many smaller opportunities that offer favorable rates of return. Assess risk by anticipating obstacles, and the individual set of pros and cons that come with each investment. To help minimize your risk, diversify your portfolio.

When eco-convictions hold sway over analysis, invest only what you can afford to lose. When analyzing a Green investment, research the details and remain objective.

Next: Green Investing Part 2: The Green Wave

Monday, October 27, 2008

Solar Energy and the Credit Crisis

Despite global economic malaise, solar energy appears destined to pierce through the dark clouds of uncertainty. According to a CNET article, "Even with the teetering economy, solar companies are bullish that tapping free energy from the sun is a solid financial move." Numerous solar thermal companies have sprouted up in the past five years, offering different design and engineering configurations. There are some relatively new approaches like thin film solar and there are some new takes on old technology like SkyFuel's parabolic trough made from reflective plastic. According to Chris Huntington, vice president of business development at SkyFuels, using plastic reduces costs 25% below existing solar trough technology and can deliver electricity at about 15 cents per kilowatt-hour. That's in the range of the other solar thermal technologies, but still more than a natural gas or coal power plant.

Another major clean tech solar technology is thin-film solar, using non-silicon semiconductor materials and removing the silicon reduces the material costs and gives this type of solar cell the distinction of being light and flexible. But as explained in Earth2Tech, "thin films, aren’t yet as efficient as silicon-based solar, and can remain pricey due to their high production costs."
Key players in the solar energy private sector include, Nanosolar, Miasole, Konarka,Uni-Solar, HelioVolt, SoloPower, PowerFilm Solar, Solexant, PrimeStar Solar, Innovalight. Publicly traded companies include, First Solar (FSLR), DayStar Technologies (DSTI), Ersol (ERSLF).

Although wind power remains the undeniable leader in clean energy generation, over the past 2 years solar energy has peaked the interest of many investors. Clean Tech Law and Business reports that, "in 2007, solar energy start-ups raised the lion’s share of new investments in the sector, or roughly $600 million in capital raised in 39 deals. The looming threat of global warming and soaring energy prices have attracted vast amounts of capital into clean energy companies in the past few years. In 2007, the sector attracted $2.2 billion in venture-backed investments, up 45% from 2006. Biofuels production jumped from 4.9 billion gallons in 2006 to roughly 6.5 billion gallons last year. Meanwhile, in 2007, the United States added 314 megawatts of new solar energy systems to the grid, up by 125% from the previous year." Demand is growing driven in part by state-level renewable portfolio standards. Utilities in California, for example, need to purchase 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2010.

Despite the solar industries successes, they have to adjust to the lingering credit crisis in capital markets. Prompting Clean Tech Law and Business to say "While investors and analysts are still bullish on the sector’s long term prospects, the next year or two could see a major shake up in the crowded solar energy space."

In the short term lower-tech solutions may gain some traction. "Having a less cutting-edge design than other firms is an advantage in a tight funding market" Huntington said. "The cost of borrowing is going up everywhere and there will be a tighter credit market. But if any money is going to be spent on CSP (concentrating solar power) plants in the near future, I think it's going to be on tried and true systems like the parabolic trough," he said. Alternatively, ongoing high-tech innovation has reduced the cost of solar enough to compete with conventional energy generation technologies in many markets. But as pointed out in Clean Tech Law and Business, "success in both wind and solar energy depends on scale, or the ability to lower costs by producing large amounts." However, with the current liquidity problems, it is becoming increasingly difficult to raise capital for growth. Energy projects depend on scale and scale depends on capital. Due to the prevailing credit conditions, several companies have shelved or delayed their IPO plans. To make matters worse, as a principal underwriter for solar energy companies raising money or financing debt, the collapse of the investment-bank Lehman Brothers has seriously undermined the industry.

Despite these setbacks, the solar industry as a whole is expected to grow to $51 billion in 2015 from $11 billion in 2005, according to a projection by Clean Edge Inc., a market research firm focused on clean technology — and the thin-film solar market is forecast to grow to account for 20 percent of the overall solar market in 2010 from just 8 percent in 2006, according to GreenTechMedia. Thin-film PV alone is expected to grow to $7.2 billion by 2015 from just over $1 billion today, according to research firm NanoMarkets.

The credit crisis will likely claim several casualties in the clean energy sector, but as pointed out in Clean Tech Law and Business, "those who can stick out the downturn will likely do as well if not better than originally expected in a few years from now. In a poll of nearly 300 venture capitalists, corporate buyers, bankers and entrepreneurs, 79% of the respondents expect 'a strong stream' of IPO activity to begin in 2010 or later, according to a recent survey by the auditor KPMG."

Global economic woes make the present seem bleak, but solar's future is undeniably bright.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Economic Policy: Regulating Beyond the Bailout, A Green Stimulus

It is important to start asking the question, what comes after the bailout? To date, the bailout amounts to $8,750 for each American household. Many states are already in recession, and across the nation the ranks of the unemployed are steadily growing. Describing American economic woes, President Bush jokingly remarked "Wall Street got drunk." Like a modern day Nero, Bush fiddles while Rome burns. The newest Republican presidential candidate is well known for his admission that he has difficulty understanding the economy and most recently members of the McCain camp accused Obama of being a "socialist." Sadly, this is a summary of Republican economic policy.

Redistributing wealth and regulation does not make Obama a socialist, just as recognizing free markets and market forces does not make McCain a laissez-faire capitalist. The economy is indeed complex, a factor compounded by the panic taking hold in the stock market. however, terms like 'laissez faire capitalist' and 'Marxist socialist' are antiquated extremes that do not reflect the balance required for a just and prosperous society.

Republican's are waging an uphill battle against the truth. The Bush administration has resisted disclosure of the economic crisis just as they resisted disclosing the results of their own environmental assessment. When Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke was asked by the Speaker of the House why he did not contact her, he indicated that he was following orders from the executive. The Fed has been anything but proactive, they have waited for each crisis to break before action was taken.

Deregulation is a central tenet of Republican doctrine, yet despite the conservative belief that regulation inhibits growth, Republican presidents have under performed their Democrat counterparts. As reviewed in Truthdig, Truman had the highest growth in the gross domestic product, the lowest Misery Index (inflation plus unemployment), and the lowest inflation. Clinton had the highest growth in jobs and the largest reduction in the deficit. Johnson had the biggest increase in personal disposable income after taxes and the highest growth in hourly wages and John F. Kennedy had the highest growth in industrial production. They all had one thing in common, they are Democrats. Even if we exclude the meltdown of the stock market under Bush's watch, the DOW has done better with Democratic presidents than it has with Republican presidents, all of which refutes the notion that Republicans are better stewards of the economy.

It is clear that too much regulation can be harmful to growth, but current events make it painfully clear that regulation is necessary. However neither the Treasury Secretary, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, nor the Republican candidate seem prepared to regulate in meaningful ways.

The loopholes evident in Treasury Secretary Paulson's plan indicate that he may be too deeply ensconced in the economic old school to make the changes required. As reported by Bill Moyers journal, "During his 32 years at Goldman Sachs, where he knew many of the players now floating to earth with taxpayer parachutes, Paulson accumulated $700 million. And now he says he's afraid that if he clamps down too harshly on compensation for his old friends, they might not be enthusiastic about participating in his plan to save our economy."

As a specialist in the Depression you would expect Bernanke to know better. We have laws that help regulate every aspect of our societies, free markets should not be exempt. Laissez faire capitalism in financial markets has given a competitive advantage to the unscrupulous. Regulation should reward responsible business practices by criminalizing and penalizing fraud and corruption.

You would have to be a very poor student of history to disagree with the bailout, the question now is how can we best stimulate growth? If we employ what we have learned from the New Deal, an unprecedented stimulus package can be expected. Large scale Green infrastructure projects, particularly energy programs, are ideal candidates that will stimulate the economy, help the planet and spawn new industries in the process.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

America Votes: Environmental Politics

Tuesday November 4, Americans will be voting in Federal elections. Here is a summary of the two parties environmental policies.

As reported in Grist, Obama supports a cap-and-trade system that would reduce emissions by 80% below 1990 levels, and opposes off shore drilling unless tied to incentives for renewable energy. He supports investment in renewable energy to meet 10% of American electricity needs by 2012, (25% by 2025) and 150 billion dollars of federal investment in renewables, efficiency and clean tech over 10 years (producing 5 million new jobs). He also offers qualified support for nuclear and clean coal, while oppossing traditional coal facilities.

McCain supports a cap-and-trade system that would reduce emissions by 60% below 1990 levels. He also supports enforcing existing fuel efficiency standards, lifting the ban on off shore drilling, nuclear energy (45 facilities), nonspecific support for biofuels and clean coal.

The Bush administration appears committed to its deplorable environmental record until the bitter end. To illustrate this administration's belligerent disregard for the environment, as a parting gift, the President's appointees have proposed giving coal companies the right to dump tons of debris directly into rivers and creeks. (Before this takes effect, there is a 30-day period for public comment and review).

Given McCain's environmental policies and the environmental legacy of the current Republican administration, it is easy to understand why the Democrat's message of change is resonating with voters.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Green Entrepreneurs

According to an article in AZBIZ, "Green is a dream come true for entrepreneurs seeking new business ventures. Entrepreneurs who are entering the market now know that capitalizing on 'green' is the best way to grow the market. We are seeing a wave of young entrepreneurs who care about the environment, graduates of Green MBA programs who are spawning entirely new categories of niche businesses."

As reported in the article, some Green businesses have become overnight successes. The renewable energy systems installation company Technicians for Sustainability - has experienced very rapid growth. When Tucson Electric Power stopped providing solar power systems for customers at the end of 2006, Technicians for Sustainability quickly saw its gross sales grow to nearly $1 million.

With their widespread appeal and ability to reduce costs, earth saving products and services offer powerful opportunities to visionary entrepreneurs.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Bailouts May Prove Helpful to Green Businesses

According to a recent article in WWAY, some government bailout money appears to be finding its way to Green businesses. This counters those who are concerned that Green may implode under the weight of recession. Because of the values with which it is associated, Green demand appears to be more insolated from economic downturns than traditional demand. Advanced Green Technologies are but one example of a firm that says they have seen an increase in calls since the government approved a 30 percent federal tax rebate with the bailout. North Carolina's AGT installs solar panels to use sunlight to provide electricity for the home. AGT General Manager, Rick Campagna, said the credit should help North Carolina go green. “It's going to be able to continue to create strong viable opportunities for North Carolinians to be able to adapt and use this type of technology. Not only on their businesses you’re seeing here, but on your homes as well.”

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Green's Bottom Line: Staying Competitive in Volatile Economic Times

The volatile state of the global economy demands that businesses must be even more competitive to survive. There are many reasons why small and midsize businesses should go green, but for many, the most compelling is its positive impact on the bottom line. As reported by USA Today, "Tens of thousands of small companies -- from mom-and-pop stores to manufacturers -- are going green by cutting energy costs and reducing the "carbon footprints" from their facilities, offices and fleets of vehicles."

There are many benefits to Green and for business owners and consumers alike, saving money is an important factor driving demand. As illustrated by Japanese investment in their environmental industries, spending leads to environmental and economic payoffs.

According to Leith Sharp, Director of the Harvard Green Campus Initiative“[E]nvironmental sustainability is not just right, it is also the financially viable, business-minded thing to do.” Despite the overwhelming logic of Green, many businesses are not managing their environmental impacts. These businesses often fail to factor the costs of inaction. There are costs to the reputation of a firm that ignores consumer demand for Green and there are financial costs associated with less efficient energy usage. Surviving economic instability demands cost efficiency and giving your consumers what they want. Consumer demand for environmentally sustainable businesses is destined to grow and businesses which fail to act will be left behind.

Green is bolstered by the scientific consensus on climate change, energy concerns, strengthening environmental legislation and increased public awareness of sustainability issues. However for Green initiatives to be truly sustainable, they must be married to financially viable business practices. Green efforts must be able to serve both the planet and the bottom line. As reported in People and Planet, "New evidence emerges daily proving the business case for corporate environmental responsibility and its benefits for recruitment and retention."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Japan is an Environmental Model for the World

Japan is a model for the many ways that governments and corporations can be more Green while gaining political favor and bolstering their national economy. This according to CIGI Online, a research paper released by the Centre for International Governance Innovation.

Japan is getting Greener while some seem to be rejecting Green. Yesterday the Canadian electorate voted for a minority Conservative government defeating the Liberal plan which included carbon taxes. In the Canadian province of BC and in Germany there has been a backlash against carbon taxes. At first glance it would appear that the economy trumps Green. It may be more accurate to say that many fear additional taxes, particularly during a period of economic volatility. Although there is an international consensus on the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decrease the impacts of global warming on the environment, perhaps the world is not yet ready for carbon taxes. But Japan has demonstrated that being Green does not have to mean dire economic sacrifices. In fact, Green is a powerful driver of Japanese technology exports. Their example illustrates how being Green is entirely consistent with economic growth.

According to the research paper's author, Senior Fellow Carin Holroyd Japanese government policies and initiatives are enabling the country to meet targets set by the Kyoto Protocol. Japanese efforts include initiatives to combat global warming, production and use of low emission technologies, recycling laws, and "Eco Towns." Japan has been successful in moving toward a sustainable environment through a combination of national, governmental leadership and a commitment to public engagement. Rather than focusing on punitive restrictions and costly regulations, Japan has emphasized changes in behavior that can be taken by every person, family, company and community. This position has drawn support from business and citizens.

Japan's government has been proactive in adopting new, environmentally-friendly technologies and that this in turn has encouraged the private sector to undertake "green" product, service and process development, Japan's corporate sector is becoming more environmentally conscious and is discovering new business opportunities in the process. In Japan, academic, government and commercial research scientists have all been mobilized to develop solutions to environmental challenges, the paper states."

This effort has produced very meaningful results. "The amount of carbon dioxide emissions by GDP of Japan is the least among major industrialized countries in the world and public transportation accounts for 47% of all movements of people in Japan. The country emerged as a global environmental leader after the oil shocks of the 1970s, and has pursued a reliance on clean energy, particularly nuclear power, resulting in a number of major reclamations projects and conservation measures.

International protocols are the primary currency of global governance, Japan's approach to environmental protection and awareness is worthy of study because it demonstrates that the effort of a single government can bring the imperatives of Kyoto Protocol to bear on the national scene and provide a measure of guidance to other national seeking to tackle the same challenge."

The Japanese model is an example of how Green can have broad spectrum political support, contribute to the national economy and reduce pollutants. The crisis in financial markets underscores the awareness that environmental targets need to be balanced against national economic realities. However, to stave off even more dire economic consequences, our economies will need new investment. Governments will likely try to stimulate their economies through infrastructure programs, and this is an ideal time to incorporate Green as part of that economic stimulus. In the private sector, Green will have to show a profit to survive. Even as Wall street collides with Main street you can find countless opportunities to apply Japan's example.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

How to Make Mobile Work: Summary of Key Points

1. Getting Started: Establish your marketing objectives. Determine the type of experience you want to enable or the business problems you want to help solve.

2. Strategy: Develop a long-term strategic vision for tapping into the mobile medium. Make sure that your strategy is technically feasibility. When developing your strategy, think of mobile within the larger ecosystem, and tie into the wider digital world.

3. Research: To make mobile work research your audience, discipline or category, know who they are and how they use their mobile devices.

4. Consumers: Mobile marketing must offer something useful for consumers. Put the consumer first by giving them what they want, a mobile experience that is easy, convenient, fast, and green. Consumers want a good time, somthing they are going to get a benefit out of. Make sure to give your audience the ability to opt out at any time.

5. Design: Make sure the microsite has a “navigate back” button to preempt user frustration in case they get rerouted or hijacked. Use high click-through rates to guide interested users to a map application. Tailor the experience to the mobility and utility of the phone.

6. Content: Depending on the product and its corresponding demographic, mobile content can review price, provide (short) video content or various search features. The most effective forms of content include, information, entertainment or interaction. Provide the most relevant type of information, (i.e., Ads that lead to information they need or offers of value to the consumer). The most effective campaigns use entertainment that is engaging, surprising and delightful as the catch with a valued reward at the end. Give people an opportunity to interact with the advertising and do something with it like fostering interaction between people using their mobile devices.

7. Presentation: Mobile messages must be big, simple, straight, but don’t try to cram in too much, respect the limited space and small screen sizes.

8. Call to Action: Mobile ads should have a clear and direct call-to-action that is tied to an appealing incentive. A clear yet creative call-to-action and a direct incentive that is related to some type of prize or reward.

9. Immediacy: Consumers' expectations of interacting with brands through mobile is going to be one of immediacy. A mobile presence must be frequently updated. If you are going to set up a very active, information-rich, real-time-supplied mobile site, you've got to have the infrastructure ready to be able to support that. You need good third parties who can feed you information.

10. Time Frames: Depending on the technical requirements of your campaign, be aware that setting up a mobile presence takes time. For example, a campaign that employs text alerts, text reminders, trivia or polling can take as much as 12 weeks just to get the short codes approved.

Remember that mobile is similar to your TV's remote control , if your mobile messages do not garner your audience's interest or are not user friendly, they can turn you off at the click of a button. But with the right combination, an effective mobile campaign offers a direct line into your audience's life.

Monday, October 6, 2008

How to Make Mobile Work For Your Business: Applications and Video

The widespread availability of new technologies is expanding mobile's reach and mobile applications and videos are helping to fuel this growth. Although custom applications and video are very attractive to users, they also present a host of challenges. As reported in a recent article of Mobile Marketer, "The iPhone has kick-started the mobile Internet and made it available to average man and woman in the street, and a few years down the road, people with Android handsets will be accessing the open Internet and mobile Web apps much, much more than in the past. Overall, the usage from end users is going to skyrocket."

A recent Ad Age article indicates that,"[mobile can be] a good vehicle for extending reach. In some cases it's good for finding unduplicated reach. It's a good way to pick up some reach from other channels that aren't performing. One of the ways that we're getting brands to mobile is we've gone out and really found a way to move underperforming dollars out of channels like e-mail and direct mail. ... In a lot of cases for a lot of clients, those channels are starting to diminish in terms of response rates, open rates, and we have started to move dollars over to mobile, because it can perform in comparison, and it is reliable from that standpoint."

Applications are an important part of the future of mobile. They are growing in popularity because they provide consumers with "richer experiences compared to mobile websites." iPhone, Nokia, Flash Lite, BlackBerry, and T-Mobile all have an application environment. "The challenge is to create unified experiences across all these different handsets and not only with applications. The type of application you use depends on where you are in the funnel. If you're at that awareness phase and you want to get reach, I think sponsoring an apps, sponsoring several different types of apps will give you that wider reach. If you want to get into more engagement, loyalty type of measures, then you want to develop your own app, because you want that persistent presence on that handset device."

Video for mobile should respect the limits of the technology, it should not include a lot of panning. and it should make extensive use of close-ups, without a lot of color in the background. Respect mobile's limits in carrier speed and bandwidth. When you compress video for mobile, compress the video so that it is much smaller than traditional web video.

Next: Summary of Key Points

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Making Mobile Marketing Work for Your Business: Design Tips

In Mobile advertising there are many variables to consider and a lot of information to digest. Here are 11 tips for the design and set up of a mobile site.

1. Publishers should approach the mobile Internet from the consumer’s point of view and then design around that.

2. If monetization is the goal, plan for it well in advance. (Who will sell the inventory? Who will serve it? And who will measure it?).

3. Build your requirements into the site structure to support advertising.

4. Set up sales support structures to accommodate the type and volume of traffic you are anticipating.

5. Coordinate marketing support with the launch of the mobile site.

6. Learn about the players involved in serving the ad. Determine the limits on type, size, and weight of ads, find out if there are specific tags that need to be inserted for targeting and tracking, who controls the different aspects of ads.

7. Understand all the options and expectations of return. Know the different forms of mobile advertising, their respective rates of return and corresponding implementation difficulties. (Just the differences between mobile display, search and MMS can be huge).

8. Advertisers should know what sites or networks will be relevant and contextually work well with their ads.

9. Publishers and advertisers should take the time to educate themselves on the variables.

10. Make sure everything works together, (within the mobile environment and between mobile and online).

11. Be clear about the expectations of all the parties involved.

Mobile is an effective branding channel, and the immediacy of features such as click-to-call make mobile a powerful direct marketing medium. However, mobile's utility as an advertising medium depends on the marketplace and how well you are set-up to react to response.

Next: Applications and Video / Summary of Key Points

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Making Mobile Marketing Work for Your Business: Presentation Tips

There are many considerations to the presentation of a Mobile Marketing campaign. Here are 11 recommendations for an effective Mobile presentation.

1. Logo should live top left and link back to the homepage.

2. The search function should be visible prior to needing to scroll down the page, as this is the most commonly used tool within a mobile site and within a PC/Mac shopping site.

3. There shouldn’t be more than three to four scrolls on any page as a longer page could lead to longer load times and frustrate customers with the page load.

4. All imagery should be optimized for a mobile environment, not the PC/Mac environment. The URL or Web address should remain the same as your main PC/Mac site to allow the ease and comfort of use from your customers.

5. Category navigation should be simple and visible prior to needing to scroll down the page.

6. Break down the categories into thorough sub-categories in order to make the site as user-friendly as possible and to eliminate the need for long scroll pages with long download times.

7. [Use] security measures already in place for the company’s main PC/Mac site for the mobile site as well. For example, all software should live behind the firewall that has already been proven, tried and tested. This will ensure that your customers feel just as safe shopping your mobile site as they do your PC/Mac entity.

8. [Use] “layered notices” to let the main points of terms, conditions and privacy laws be a short line with a link to direct the user back to the main PC/Mac site for more extensive details. This offers a comfort level to users that all privacy laws are adhered on your site.

9. The “Contact us” link should be visible from all pages.

10. Use drop-down menus whenever possible to make the most use of the small space across the mobile canvas.

11. Ensure that site pages are built to fit across the broad spectrum of all size phones. i.e., "not using images that lock to a specified dimension but spec’ing the phone screens in order to ensure the pages will work well on all platforms"

Next: Design Tips / Applications and Video / Summary of Key Points

Friday, October 3, 2008

Making Mobile Marketing Work for Your Business: Researching Your Target

Finding and getting to know your target market is key to achieving success in the Mobile marketing arena. As discussed in earlier posts, new media provides the opportunity to target a wide-ranging group of highly interactive and motivated consumers. According to one study, 50% of marketers said they use data-driven marketing techniques to determine a target market for each channel. And 30% said they agree with the statement "You use sophisticated modeling tools to analyze existing customer data (behavioral, preference and demographic)."

Understanding your target demographic's mobile consumer behavior, implies that you cultivate a basic understanding of your users and how they interact with mobile. Research your target demographic to determine what types of phones and browsers your consumers are using and what types of information they are looking for. Mobile marketer sites several good examples to illustrate the mobile usage patterns of different consumer groups. "...sports fans check scores and highlights on the mobile Web while viewing sporting events. The highest traffic is recorded on evenings and weekends. Women tend to visit the mobile Web late at night and early in the week, repeating a pattern seen on the traditional Web. Young girls browse late at night, particularly on weekends. Equally interesting, entertainment and online services are visited most evenings on the mobile Web, especially on weekends as site visitors make their weekend plans. Local news is viewed mostly in the mornings, while national news is read continuously through the day."

Know your audience and their mobile behavior. For those who understand these keys, mobile is a powerful marketing medium.

Next: Presentation Tips / Design Tips / Applications and Video / Summary of Key Points

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Making Mobile Marketing Work for Your Business: Understanding the Differences Between Mobile and Online Marketing

Particularly in our current economy, mobile marketing is hot and destined to get hotter, but how is mobile different from online media sources and most importantly how can understanding this difference help you to put this new marketing channel to work for your business?

Although there are some things that the online experience does better, as pointed out in a recent Mobile Marketer article, mobile possesses real power as a branding medium that is superior even to online marketing. InsightExpress, a digital marketing research organization, claims that the mobile medium outperforms the online medium across major awareness, association and purchase intent measures. Indeed, some of the metrics in those areas show as high as 18.8 percentage points of difference between mobile and online performance. And it makes a lot of sense that mobile might work better than other media for branding. First, the environment is uncluttered. Next, there is relatively little content versus the wired Internet. Consequently, users are more likely to investigate any advertising presented. Mobile clearly presents an opportunity for brands to send their message with little competition for users’ attention, thus creating a greater communication impact."

Mobile should be understood as a unique and separate channel distinct in many ways from the online channel. According to another Mobile Marketing article, "That is not to say that publishers need to create all new content for mobile. Users will, however, interact differently and at different times of day with mobile content as they would online. People use their phones very differently than they use the Web. Formats that are successful online do not always translate well to the mobile Web experience. Mobile search also is quite different from the online experience. In mobile, a small percentage of mobile content is currently found by search. And of those using search, close to 30 percent is done to find property names such as CNN or Sports Illustrated on the mobile Web."

Mobile advertising has click through rates (CTRs) that outperform the Internet by as much as 10 times. But measures that go beyond the click also show the effectiveness of mobile as a direct marketing vehicle. Google, a longtime leader of new technology, is looking to expand into the mobile arena. Google and Verizon Wireless are reportedly making a deal that would add Googles search interface to the carrier’s mobile devices. Google’s recent activity underscores the incredible potential of mobile. Google is seeking cross-platform tie-ins between the mobile Web and the PC Web.

A good Mobile marketing campaign should integrate other media like the web. Offline and online interactive advertising should be integrated into a mobile presence, particularly at the beginning of such campaigns. (Publishers should become familiar with the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Mobile Marketing Association guidelines and standards for advertising). The challenge is to develop a common platform for both mobile and online content. Although mobile sites must work together with online sites, you should always design your content specifically for mobile.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Making Mobile Marketing Work for Your Business: Interactive Digital Marketing For the Young and the Not So Young

New media is enabling marketers to target a wide-ranging group of highly interactive and motivated consumers. This is the first in a series of seven posts on mobile marketing. This post reviews some of the key features of the digital environment that are fueling mobile's growth.

As reported in a recent Adage article, "Interactive- and digital-marketing budgets have experienced a healthy increase. The first quarterly Epsilon CMO Survey reveals that nearly two-thirds of chief marketing officers said their interactive/digital marketing budgets have increased in the past year, while 60% have seen their traditional advertising budgets go south. The findings reflect marketers' growing need to better target their campaigns, according to Steve Cone, CMO of Epsilon. The results show that because of the economy, companies are really trying to identify the consumers that are very active in communicating with each other through social computing, blogging or podcasting. The more popular interactive and digital channels that marketers said they are keen to start experimenting with are social computing (42%), which includes word-of-mouth, social-networking sites and viral advertising; blogs (35%); podcasting (31%); and mobile devices (29%), which include phones and PDAs. The study found that some marketers have already started incorporating these tactics, with 19% of respondents already using blogs, 18% making use of podcasting and 22% using mobile devices as part of their marketing mixes. Blogging is a major activity among a relatively educated, affluent and not-as-young-as-you-would-imagine age group. And when you're talking about podcasting and mobile devices, that's a younger demographic. Marketers are trying to target the broadest age range of consumers, and that's reflected in how these break down from top to bottom. You can find hundreds of thousands of people who are really active in these areas, and they are going to be extremely receptive to offers of relevance. The study also revealed that CMOs are relying on analytics, CRM techniques and other measurable marketing strategies when determining who they want to go after."

Of all digital media, mobile is the channel that is growing most rapidly. As reported in Mobile Marketer "It’s no exaggeration to say that mobile advertising is about to revolutionize the way that marketers reach out to consumers for branding or customer acquisition or customer retention purposes. A well-targeted mobile ad campaign will strengthen bonds between brand and consumer." Mobile Web usage was up 29.4 percent from the first quarter of this year to the second. There are many reasons why Mobile marketing is destined to keep growing including the fact that mobile is a less expensive, targeted channel in an uncluttered medium.

As reported in a recent Mobile Marketer article, "A common theme voiced by mobile marketers is that to get high response rates from young consumers, they have to issue a simple, [clear]direct call-to-action that is tied to an appealing incentive and with the need to be informed that they have the ability to opt out at any time. The call-to-action must [offer] a direct incentive that is related to some type of prize or reward. The messaging of the campaign should be very straightforward and feed control to the respondent."

While the youth demographic may be the most receptive to mobile campaigns, other groups are catching on quickly. According to Dan Miller, the executive vice president of Neighborhood America. “Mobile phones are the one common device that we have with us all the time, and the youth demographic is key, but its appeal is extending across all demographics. Over time, mobile is appealing to broader and broader demographics, from older people and high-end, high net worth all the way down to blue-collar workers—the complete socio-economic spectrum...”

Digital marketing is tapping into new communication trends. In this downturn, the metrics that come with digital tactics are crucial and a significant reason why this demand is increasing. The way you approach the call to action is also important, particularly with younger audiences. However, as noted above, interactive digital's base is not exclusive to the young as it is growing accross many age demographics. In the digital marketing milieu, mobile is emerging as the hottest commodity in the expanding digital marketing universe.

Next: Understanding the Differences Between Mobile and Online Marketing / Research Your Target / Presentation Tips / Design Tips / Applications and Video / Key Success Factors